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Bible Commentaries
Job 8

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-7

The justice of God 8:1-7

Bildad’s initial words contrast with Eliphaz’s. Whereas Eliphaz was gentle and indirect, Bildad was impatient and insensitive. He accused Job of being a blow-hard (Job 8:2).

"Bildad is objective and analytical in his speech about God and man. As a result he is a neat but superficial thinker. He is a moralist, and in his simple theology everything can be explained in terms of two kinds of men-the blameless (tam, Job 8:20 a; used of Job in Job 1:1) and the secretly wicked (hanep, Job 8:13 b). Outwardly the same, God distinguishes them by prospering the one and destroying the other." [Note: Andersen, p. 140.]

Bildad’s callous reference to the death of Job’s children (Job 8:4) amounts to: "They got just what they deserved!" His point was that if Job was not sinning, God would be unjust in allowing him to suffer calamities. He asserted that God does not punish righteousness (Job 8:6; Job 8:20). He erroneously assumed his basic premise that all suffering is punishment for sin, the retributive dogma.

"Obviously the friends’ theology was far more important than Job." [Note: Bullock, p. 34.]

Verses 1-22

3. Bildad’s first speech ch. 8

Bildad agreed with Eliphaz that God was paying Job back for some sin he had committed, and he believed God would show Job mercy if he confessed that sin. However, Bildad built his conclusions on a slightly different foundation. Eliphaz argued from his own personal experience and observations (Job 4:8; Job 4:12-21). Bildad cited a more reliable authority: the experience of past generations that had come down through years of tradition (Job 8:8-10). He was a traditionalist whereas Eliphaz was an existentialist.

Verses 8-10

The evidence from history 8:8-10

Bildad’s authority for his view comes out clearly in this section. The viewpoint Eliphaz and he espoused had the backing of many authorities from the past. Theirs was not some new theory but one that had generations of support in their educational system. Bildad would have loved the song "Tradition!" from Fiddler on the Roof.

"Bildad’s position is that what is true is not new, and what is new is not true." [Note: S. R. Driver and G. B. Grey, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job, p. 78.]

Still, many heresies have long and impressive pedigrees.

Verses 11-19

Illustrations of Job’s godlessness 8:11-19

The illustration of the water plant (Job 8:11-13) emphasized the fact that in Bildad’s view, Job had abandoned God, the source of his blessing (cf. Job 1:1; Job 1:8). Bildad advised his friend not to forget God. The spider’s web analogy (Job 8:14-15) implied that Job was depending on his possessions rather than God for his security. The allusion to the garden plant (Job 8:16-19) compared Job to an uprooted bush that others would replace.

Verses 20-22

The possibility of blessing 8:20-22

By reminding Job of God’s integrity, Bildad hoped to appeal to his friend to repent. Bildad assured him that if he did, God would restore him.

"Bildad’s assertion that God will not reject a blameless man (20a) makes him the precursor of those who mocked Jesus with the same logic: ’He trusts in God; let God deliver him’ (Matthew 27:43). Job has a lesser Calvary, and each person has his own. But when we know about God’s rejection of Jesus, our dereliction can never again be as dark as Job’s." [Note: Andersen, pp. 142-43.]

Even though Bildad took a more humble basis for his view than Eliphaz did, his arguments failed to move Job. His theory, time-honored as it was, did not harmonize with Job’s experience.

People with problems get little help from rigid, closed-minded Bildads who refuse to reevaluate their theories in the light of new evidence but simply reaffirm traditional answers. We must always stay open to new evidence, new insights, and the possibility that not only we ourselves but those we follow may have interpreted the facts incorrectly.

"Bildad’s speech contains an important negative lesson about human nature in general and about the qualities of a good counselor. He heard Job’s words with his ears, but his heart heard nothing." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 905.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 8". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-8.html. 2012.
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