Much like Eliphaz, Bildad believes people suffer as a result of their own sins. But his justification of that suffering is different. Bildad reasons that God is just; as God, He is justice personified. Because He is so perfectly just, God will not punish someone who is also just. Bildad’s logical but flawed conclusion is that Job must have sinned to deserve his current pain. Surprisingly, he manages to be even less effective than Eliphaz had been, alienating Job by reasoning that Job’s children must have sinned to deserve their deaths and implying that Job’s regular sacrifices on their behalf were not enough to save them.
9 Then Job spoke to them.
2 Job: Sure, I know all of this is correct, but tell me this: how can a person set things straight with God? 3 If one wanted to argue with Him, even in a thousand questions he would not be able to answer Him once. 4 His wise heart is vast; His strength immeasurable. Who has ever challenged Him and remained safe and at peace? 5 He uproots mountains, and they are unaware when He overturns them in His rage. 6 He shakes the earth out of its place so that its foundation pillars shudder. 7 He commands the sun to go down and not rise, and He sequesters the stars so they do not shine. 8 He single-handedly stretched out the heavens overhead and walks on the back of the raging sea. 9 He fashioned the stars into constellations we know by name— Bear, Orion, the Pleiades— and the lights of the southern sky. 10 He does wonderful things, even confounding things, and performs an infinite number of miracles. 11 Still, if He passes right by me, I don’t see Him; if He brushes past, I don’t notice Him. 12 Ah, but if He were to steal like a thief in the market, who could stop Him? No one has authority over Him. Who could dare say to Him, “What are You doing?”
13 God does not restrain Himself in His anger. Even the minions of Rahab—that monster of the sea and purveyor of chaos— cower at His feet in subservience. 14 So then how do I argue with Him? How can I find the right words to state my case to Him? 15 After all, I am the innocent one here, and I still can’t find an answer. So I must continually appeal to the mercy of my judge. 16 But even if I were to call Him and He were to answer, I still could not believe that He would listen to my complaint. 17 For He flattens me with a tornado and multiplies my wounds for no reason. 18 He won’t even give me time to catch my breath; instead He force-feeds me more bitterness. 19 If it is an issue of power, there is no question He is the mighty one; and if it is an issue of justice, who would ever appoint me? 20 Even though I am right in all of this, my own mouth sentences me. Though I am blameless, my own lips cheat me. 21 I am blameless, but I don’t know myself. I hate my life. 22 Well, then this is what I say: it’s all the same. In the end, He kills off both the innocent and the depraved. 23 If a flood of disaster rushes in and kills, He ridicules the anguish of its innocent victims. 24 The earth has been given over and is under the dominion of some wicked hand. God conceals these things from its judges, covering their faces, blinding their eyes. If not He, then who is it?
25 As for me, my days are sprinting by like a runner. Seeing nothing good, they seek escape. 26 They glide past in swift silence like reed boats on the river. Now a blur, they dive like an eagle toward its prey. 27 If I tell myself, “I will forget all about my grievance against God, I will simply abandon my long face and cheer up,” 28 Then I fear the suffering to come because I know there’s no chance that You, Lord, will find me innocent. 29 So if the verdict is already in, if I have already been found guilty, why should I bother to clear my name? Why struggle in vain? 30 Though I wash my body in the pure melted snow and scrub my hands thoroughly with the strongest soap, 31 You would toss me into a putrid pit, and when I emerged, even my own clothes would hate me. 32 The Lord . . . He is no man, like me, whom I could answer, no human being whom I could face in court. 33 There is no judge to stand between us who can lay his hands on us both, 34 Who can remove God’s rod from my back and stave off the terror of Him that haunts me. 35 I long to speak and defend myself without fear of Him and His reprisals; but as things stand now and as I am within myself, that’s not possible.
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