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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Job 18

Verses 1-4

Bildad’s criticism of Job 18:1-4

Obviously Bildad was impatient because Job refused to change his mind or admit great guilt (Job 18:1-2). Job had claimed that God was tearing him like a beast tears its prey (Job 16:9), but Bildad said Job was tearing himself (Job 18:4 a). We can see his disgust with what he regarded as Job’s pride in his statement that Job should not expect God to do anything particularly great on Job’s account (Job 18:4 b-c).

"A speaker who has run out of ideas can always resort to satire. No [true] pastor mocks a sufferer by throwing his own words back at him." [Note: Ibid., p. 188.]

Verses 5-21

Bildad’s warning concerning the wicked 18:5-21

Here are some of the things both Eliphaz and Bildad pointed out concerning the wicked.

EliphazThe Wicked . . . Bildad
Job 15:22-23; Job 15:30experience darknessJob 18:5-6; Job 18:18
Job 15:30 b, Job 15:32-33are like unhealthy plantsJob 18:16
Job 15:30; Job 15:34are destroyed by fireJob 18:15
Job 15:27-31lose their influenceJob 18:7; Job 18:15-16
Job 15:21; Job 15:24are terrified by anguishJob 18:11; Job 18:14
Job 15:34lose their homesJob 18:6; Job 18:14-15
Job 15:4; Job 15:13; Job 15:25-26oppose or do not know GodJob 18:21
Job 15:13are ensnaredJob 18:8-10

Bildad painted four vivid pictures of the death of the wicked in this passage: a light put out (Job 18:5-6), a traveler trapped (Job 18:7-10), a criminal pursued (Job 18:11-15), and a tree rooted up (Job 18:16-21). [Note: Wiersbe, pp 37-38.]

Another noteworthy feature of this section is the frequent recurrence of the idea that the wicked will end up in a trap, especially in Job 18:8-10. Bildad promised not only their capture but that they would experience terror, like animals hunted down by a predator (Job 18:11). As in Eliphaz’s second speech, much of what Bildad said here concerning the wicked he claimed was true of Job (e.g., Job 18:13 a, 15). "The first-born of death" may refer to "death in its most terrible form." [Note: Rowley, p. 130.] Another possibility is that this is a reference to Namtar, the Mesopotamian god of pestilence and vizier of the underworld. [Note: John B. Burns, "The Identity of Death’s First-Born (Job XVIII 13)," Vetus Testamentum 37:3 (July 1987):362-64.] Both Job and Bildad had a lot to say about death.

"Bildad felt Job did not really understand the doctrine of retribution. He probably considered Job weak on this subject because Job kept harping on how the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. In these speeches Job and his friends had nothing to say about future retribution at the day of final judgment or the balancing of the scales of justice after death. This is a truth that unveils gradually (progressive revelation) in the OT." [Note: Smick, "Job," pp. 936-37.]

Often when we counsel suffering people it is more important to help them think about God and talk to Him than it is to get them to adopt all of our theology. Job’s companions seem to have given up on Job because he would not agree with their theological presupposition. They failed to give him credit for being sincere in his desire to come to terms with God.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 18". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-18.html. 2012.