A. Bildad muses upon the greatness of God.
1. (1) Bildad’s final speech.
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:
a. Then Bildad the Shuhite answered: This is the final word from Job’s three friends. The shortness of this statement of Bildad (and some textual problems in Job 24) leads some to wrongly think that the text is simply confused beyond recovery.
i. “Most modern scholars have lengthened this short speech by including 26:5-14, but there is no obvious reason why this should be done. The theme is similar but not the same.” (Smick)
b. Answered and said: Yet while acknowledging some difficulties in the text, it is better to simply see the brevity of this final statement from Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to reflect the fact that the debate is running out of fuel and starts a transition to a different stage of the book.
i. Also, what Bildad says here has basically been said before. “A pithy and ponderous speech he here maketh, though little to the purpose… he chooseth to sing the same song with his fellows, concerning the power and purity of God above all creatures.” (Trapp)
ii. “The brevity of this speech of Bildad is in itself suggestive, as it shows that even though Job has not convinced these friends of his that their philosophy does not include his case, he has succeeded in silencing them.” (Morgan)
iii. “Beginning at Chapter 25, the formal structure of the book would dictate two more chapter-long rebuttals, one from Bildad and one from Zophar, to complete the third round of the dialogue. But this is not what happens. Instead Zophar has no final speech at all, and Bildad’s speech is drastically cut short. So the formal debate is never finished. At Chapter 26 the dialogue grinds to a halt, and from there to the end of Chapter 31 Job holds forth alone in a long and loose-jointed presentation… Finally in this list… there is the odd case of Elihu, the brand-new character introduced near the end of the book, who delivers what many readers feel to be the most long-winded, boring, and irrelevant discourse of all.” (Mason)
2. (2-3) The greatness of God.
“Dominion and fear belong to Him;
He makes peace in His high places.
Is there any number to His armies?
Upon whom does His light not rise?
a. Dominion and fear belong to Him: In exasperation, Bildad can only repeat what has already been agreed to by Job and all three of his friends; they have already expressed agreement on the greatness of God.
b. Is there any number to His armies: Bildad also wanted Job to know that God was an impossible foe, and that he should simply surrender to this great God who is so mighty in armies.
i. “Of his armies; of the angels, and stars, and other creatures, all which are his hosts, wholly submitting themselves to his will, to be and do what God would have them; and therefore how insolent and unreasonable a thing it is for thee to quarrel with him!” (Poole)
B. Man in light of the greatness of God.
1. (4) The question stated.
How then can man be righteous before God?
Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?
a. How then can man be righteous before God: Bildad is again stating matters that are not in controversy. Job said the same thing (Job 9:2) in response to Bildad’s first speech.
i. “Bildad is in touch with nothing, he is courageously heartless; he never thinks when he talks, but simply pours it out. The ‘Bildad’ type is often met with in the pulpit; men roll out phrases and talk the most ponderous stuff with nothing in it.” (Chambers)
b. Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman: The purpose of these questions seems to be to cause Job to understand that he is a sinner just like all, making it easier for him to confess and repent.
i. “Our whole nativity is impure. Hence in the law it is commanded, that the woman should be unclean seven days, that the child should be circumcised on the eighth day; and that the mother should remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification, Leviticus 13.” (Trapp)
2. (5-6) Man’s relative greatness compared to creation.
If even the moon does not shine,
And the stars are not pure in His sight,
How much less man, who is a maggot,
And a son of man, who is a worm?”
a. If even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in His sight: Bildad considered that even some of the glorious aspects of creation still fall short of the glory of the Creator.
i. “Some think that by stars are meant those angels who kept not their first estate: this may be so, but I cannot see it in the text. It may, however, mean the heavenly host, as it is supposed to do, Job 28:7, but I still must hesitate on the propriety of such applications.” (Clarke)
b. How much less man, who is a maggot: If the moon and the stars cannot reflect the glory of God as they should, then it stands to reason that man cannot either.
i. “A worm, to wit, mean and vile, and impotent; proceeding from corruption, and returning to it; and withal filthy and loathsome, and so every way a very unfit person to appear before the high and holy God, and much more to contend with him.” (Poole)
ii. Bildad’s final argument was based upon a misunderstanding of Job’s previous words. He seemed to think that Job wanted to convince God that He was wrong, and therefore Bildad wanted to emphasize the proper relation between the glory of God and the humility of man. “Without argument, Bildad made it perfectly clear that, in his mind, the guilt of Job was established.” (Morgan)
iii. “We may observe the irony that being maggots themselves has not in the least discouraged Bildad and his colleagues from presuming to pass judgment on their fellow maggot Job. But who are mere maggots to exercise judgment?” (Mason)
iv. “Unlike the apostle Paul who developed the doctrine of total depravity in Romans 1-3 to prepare the way for grace, we know from the rest of Bildad’s remarks that he left no room for mercy or forgiveness.” (Smick)
v. “On this disgusting and hopeless note the words of Job’s friends end.” (Andersen)
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