The Word Made Fresh
1Then Bildad the Shuhite spoke. 2“How long are you going to carry on like this?” he asked. “Think about what you’re saying, and then maybe we can have a conversation. 3You speak to us like we are cattle. Do you think we’re that stupid? 4You’re angry, and that is hurting you more than it’s hurting us. Do you think the world should be ignored because of you, or that stones will move aside?
5“The light of the wicked will flicker and die and stop burning altogether. 6Their tents will be dark and their lanterns will fail. 7Their long strides are shortened and their plans will be their undoing. 8They walk right into a net. They will fall right into a pit. 9Their feet will stumble into a trap. A web will catch them and hold them. 10Hidden ropes are across their path and snares are set for them. 11Fear dogs them from every direction and snaps at their heels. 12Catastrophe wants to eat them up and disaster waits for them to fall. 13Disease eats away at their skin and their arms and legs are weakened by approaching death. 14They are pulled away from the tent they thought would protect them and brought before the ruler of trepidation. 15There is nothing left in their tents, and their tents will be burned with sulfur. 16Their feet will shrivel and their arms will wither. 17No one will remember them; their names will be forgotten. 18They are removed from the light and cast out of the world into the darkness. 19They will have no children and no descendants and there will be no one left where they resided. 20People in the west will be shocked at their fate, and people of the east will be terrified. 21Such is certainly the fate of the ungodly, and such is the outcome of those who do not know God.”
1-4: Bildad makes his second speech. His opening question echoes the opening of his first speech, “How long?” (8:2) He correctly diagnoses Job’s diatribes as evidence of 1) anger and 2) self-obsession. What he does not take into account is that when someone is enduring long-term suffering those are natural responses. He would be wiser not to take Job’s jabs personally.
5-21: The rest of his speech is a defense of his belief that wicked people can’t possibly get away with their wickedness. He paints a bleak picture of the miserable life to which they are consigned; a life that, by the way, resembles the life Job is living at that moment.
What Job needs is comfort and sympathy. What he gets is philosophical speculation about the nature of evil and the fate of evil people. Bildad is simply wrong. The truth is that people get away with all kinds of evil all the time. Their punishment simply doesn’t automatically take place – not in this life, at least. And the reward for being faithful to God may well not be received until the resurrection and the life to come.