18 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “When will you end these speeches?
Be sensible, and then we can talk.
3 Why are we regarded as cattle
and considered stupid in your sight?
4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,
is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?
Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
Bildad enters the discussion for the second time. He decides he cannot reason with Job, so fear becomes his weapon of choice.
He ruthlessly attacked Job in his second speech with a wake up and smell the coffee kind of recant. Next he turned to scorn (verses 3-4). Then he turned to another long tale of the bad outcomes the wicked experience (verses 5-21).
He was saying that Job talked too much and should calm down. He took offense at being compared to cattle. Job had insulted their intelligence.
He asserted that Job could not change the world. He was tearing himself in anger for no good reason. He was his own greatest tormentor with his own rage.
He accused Job of tearing himself as a child does when he is having a tantrum. He said that Job actually wanted God to change the forces of nature to suit him. He accused Job of wanting to be the centre of attention.
This is what happens in dialogue when our focus is not on listening and understanding the other person we are in dialogue in. We move into fear and start to dig our heels in, assert our own worldview and attempt to control. It all comes from a place of fear because it raises too many questions about our own belief system. We all do it. Sometimes subtly and sometimes not so subtly.
5 “The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out;
the flame of his fire stops burning.
6 The light in his tent becomes dark;
the lamp beside him goes out.
7 The vigour of his step is weakened;
his own schemes throw him down.
8 His feet thrust him into a net;
he wanders into its mesh.
9 A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare holds him fast.
10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground;
a trap lies in his path.
11 Terrors startle him on every side
and dog his every step.
12 Calamity is hungry for him;
disaster is ready for him when he falls.
13 It eats away parts of his skin;
death’s firstborn devours his limbs.
14 He is torn from the security of his tent
and marched off to the king of terrors.
15 Fire resides in his tent;
burning sulphur is scattered over his dwelling.
16 His roots dry up below
and his branches wither above.
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth;
he has no name in the land.
18 He is driven from light into the realm of darkness
and is banished from the world.
19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people,
no survivor where once he lived.
20 People of the west are appalled at his fate;
those of the east are seized with horror.
21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;
such is the place of one who does not know God.”
This is a blistering speech on the woes of the wicked.
In verses 5-6 light is associated with life just as darkness is associated with death.
Bildad’s only idea in this chapter was that a wicked man is never successful. Bildad did not directly say that Job was wicked but this is clearly a loaded series of statements full of implied intent.
Bildad was certain that the wicked man could not continue to live. A candle can only burn for a few hours. Then, there is darkness. Job expected to die soon (Job 16:22).
The wicked man tries to make trouble for other people. But he himself suffers from his schemes. He is like a hunter who walks into his own trap.
Job asserted that God caused his suffering. Bildad appeared to think that Job caused his own trouble.
Verse 9 is sometimes obscurely translated as “The gin”. A “gin” is a metallic sheet pounded thin, or a spring. A trap that was set at night to catch robbers and thieves. They would be held tight until morning when they would be apprehended. Verse 10 is speaking of the two types of gin. One above ground and one that was like a pit.
Six different kinds of traps or snares are mentioned. The speaker scrambling together every word that he can find that is descriptive of the art of snaring. The art had been well studied by the Egyptians long before the age of Job, and a variety of tricks and tools for capturing animals and birds are represented on early Egyptian monuments. It looks like this had been an influential craft throughout the Middle East.
In verse 13 “death’s firstborn is a poetical expression meaning the most deadly disease death ever produced.
When Bildad referred to the man’s tent, he did not simply mean a home. He also meant the man’s life. A tent is temporary. Sometimes tent is used to describe the human body. A dwelling place for the soul.
As God rained fire and brimstone out of heaven upon Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24), so shall brimstone be scattered upon his habitation to ruin and destroy it (compare Deuteronomy 29:23; Psalm 11:6). This is a serious and weighty assertion that Job is being destroyed because of his sin.
We read earlier that the thought about a tree gave comfort to Job (Job 14:7-9). The nature of a tree seemed to imply that the dead can live again. But Bildad thought that Job’s idea was not reality. He reminded Job that a tree can really die.
It appears that he was speaking of Job’s ancestors being forgotten, and him not having any children to be his branches. We read of the tree which had no water at its roots drying up and dying.
Bildad warned Job. Nobody would remember him after his death. Job had no children alive (Job 1:18-19). Job trusted God to prove that Job was innocent (Job 16:18-21). But Bildad was of the opinion that Job was deluded about this.
This is the greatest dread of the modern roamers of the desert (Compare Jeremiah 35:19).
Bildad was asserting that Job would not be remembered by anyone. Ironically Job is one of the best remembered people in the Bible. It turned out to be the book of Job and not the Book of Bildad or The Wisdom of Eliphaz.
Bildad’s words throughout the chapter illustrate the power of words; in this case, their power to do further damage (Proverbs 12:18). Job is obviously broken already, and here is Bildad, tearing him to shreds. Much of the Book of Job could be a manual on how not to counsel, how not to deal with grief. Grieving is often met with head information when it is a state of the heart. To meet grieving with intellect will not touch it. The excellent grief recovery handbook (James & Friedman) describes this practice as “attempting to paint with a hammer. It’s the wrong tool for the job and will create a mess”. A heart issue can only be effectively met with heart counsel. ..empathy, connection, love! Head counsel of judgement, repair advice and an examination of what went wrong or caused the issue of grief will only alienate and push others away.