Bildad here shoots his arrows, even bitter words, against poor Job, little thinking that, though he was a wise and good man, in this instance he was serving Satan’s design in adding to Job’s affliction.
I. He charges him with idle endless talk, as Eliphaz had done (Job 15:2, 3): How long will it be ere you make an end of words? Job 18:2. Here he reflects, not only upon Job himself, but either upon all the managers of the conference (thinking perhaps that Eliphaz and Zophar did not speak so closely to the purpose as they might have done) or upon some that were present, who possibly took part with Job, and put in a word now and then in his favour, though it be not recorded. Bildad was weary of hearing others speak, and impatient till it came to his turn, which cannot be observed to any man’s praise, for we ought to be swift to hear and slow to speak. It is common for contenders to monopolize the reputation of wisdom, and then to insist upon it as their privilege to be dictators. How unbecoming this conduct is in others every one can see; but few that are guilty of it can see it in themselves. Time was when Job had the last word in all debates (Job 29:22): After my words they spoke not again. Then he was in power and prosperity; but now that he was impoverished and brought low he could scarcely be allowed to speak at all, and every thing he said was as much vilified as formerly it had been magnified. Wisdom therefore (as the world goes) is good with an inheritance (Eccl. 7:11); for the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and, because he is poor, his words are not heard, Eccl. 9:16.
II. With a regardlessness of what was said to him, intimated in that, Mark, and afterwards we will speak. And it is to no purpose to speak, though what is said be ever so much to the purpose, if those to whom it is addressed will not mark and observe it. Let the ear be opened to hear as the learned, and then the tongues of the learned will do good service (Isa. 50:4) and not otherwise. It is an encouragement to those that speak of the things of God to see the hearers attentive.
III. With a haughty contempt and disdain of his friends and of that which they offered (Job 18:3): Wherefore are we counted as beasts? This was invidious. Job had indeed called them mockers, had represented them both as unwise and as unkind, wanting both in the reason and tenderness of men, but he did not count them beasts; yet Bildad so represents the matter, 1. Because his high spirit resented what Job had said as if it had been the greatest affront imaginable. Proud men are apt to think themselves slighted more than really they are. 2. Because his hot spirit was willing to find a pretence to be hard upon Job. Those that incline to be severe upon others will have it thought that others have first been so upon them.
IV. With outrageous passion: He teareth himself in his anger, Job 18:4. Herein he seems to reflect upon what Job had said (Job 13:14): Wherefore did I take my flesh in my teeth? “It is thy own fault,” says Bildad. Or he reflected upon what he said Job 16:9; where he seemed to charge it upon God, or, as some think, upon Eliphaz: He teareth me in his wrath. “No,” says Bildad; “thou alone shalt bear it.” He teareth himself in his anger. Note, Anger is a sin that is its own punishment. Fretful passionate people tear and torment themselves. He teareth his soul (so the word is); every sin wounds the soul, tears that, wrongs that (Prov. 8:36), unbridled passion particularly.
V. With a proud and arrogant expectation to give law even to Providence itself: “Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? Surely not; there is no reason for that, that the course of nature should be changed and the settled rules of government violated to gratify the humour of one man. Job, dost thou think the world cannot stand without thee; but that, if thou art ruined, all the world is ruined and forsaken with thee?” Some make it a reproof of Job’s justification of himself, falsely insinuating that either Job was a wicked man or we must deny a Providence and suppose that God has forsaken the earth and the rock of ages is removed. It is rather a just reproof of his passionate complaints. When we quarrel with the events of Providence we forget that, whatever befals us, it is, 1. According to the eternal purpose and counsel of God. 2. According to the written word. Thus it is written that in the world we must have tribulation, that, since we sin daily, we must expect to smart for it; and, 3. According to the usual way and custom, the track of Providence, nothing but what is common to men; and to expect that God’s counsels should change, his method alter, and his word fail, to please us, is as absurd and unreasonable as to think the earth should be forsaken for us and the rock removed out of its place.
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