Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,Job 8:1. Then answered Bildad the Shuhite — “Bildad, whose sentiments are the same with those of the preceding friend, now comes to the attack, and tells Job that his general asseverations of innocence are of no avail; that to deny his guilt was to charge the Almighty with injustice; that, if he would not yield to the arguments of Eliphaz, drawn from his experience, and strengthened by revelation, he would do well to pay respect to the general experience of mankind, as handed down by tradition; where he would find it established, as a certain truth, that misery was the infallible consequence of wickedness; that therefore they could not argue wrong who inferred from actual misery antecedent guilt: and though he might urge that these calamities were fallen upon him on account of his children’s wickedness, yet he only deceived himself; for in that case God might have indeed chastised them for their crimes, but he would, by no means, have destroyed the innocent with the guilty: he would rather have heaped his blessings on the innocent person, that the contrast might have vindicated his providence. He would have even wrought a miracle for the preservation or restoration of such a person; and he concludes that since, from the known attributes of God, it was impossible he should cut off the innocent, or suffer the guilty to go free; and, as no interposition of providence had happened in his behalf, he thought him in a likely way, by his utter destruction, to prove a terrible example of the truth of that principle which they had urged against him.” — Heath and Dodd.
How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?Job 8:2. How long wilt thou speak these things? &c. — Why dost thou persist to talk in this manner? and why are thy words thus vehement? As a strong wind which overturns all things without any moderation, and suffers nothing else to be heard, so thy boisterous and violent words will not permit the voice of truth and wisdom to be heard.
Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?Job 8:3. Doth God — Hebrew, אל, Eel, the mighty God, as this word signifies; pervert judgment? — Judge unrighteously? No: this is inconsistent with God’s nature, Which is essentially and necessarily just, and with his office of governor of the world. Or doth the Almighty pervert justice? — Hebrew, שׁדי, Shaddai, a word that sets forth God’s omnipotence and all-sufficiency. These names are emphatically used to prove that God cannot deal unjustly or falsely with men: because he hath no need so to do, nor temptation to it, being self-sufficient for his own happiness, and being able, by his own invincible power, to do whatsoever pleaseth him.
If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;Job 8:4. If thy children have sinned against him — If thou wast innocent, thy children, upon whom a great part of these calamities fell, might be guilty; and therefore God is not unrighteous in these proceedings. And he have cast them away — Hebrew, hath expelled, or cast them out; (namely, out of the world, or out of his favour; as a man gives his wife a bill of divorce, of which the same word is used;) for their transgression — Hebrew, by the hand, that is, by means of, their wickedness. Bildad argued in this way according to the maxim which he had entertained: but it does not appear that he had any foundation for judging thus of them.
If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;Job 8:5. If thou wouldest seek unto God, &c. — God hath spared thee, whom he might justly have destroyed with thy children, and thou art yet capable of obtaining his favour if thou wilt seek it. And, therefore, cease from thy causeless and unthankful complaints. Seek unto God betimes — Hebrew, אם תשׁחר, im teshacher, if thou wouldst rise early to seek him; if thou wouldst seek him speedily, early, and diligently, Job 5:8; and Job 7:18-21. And make thy supplication to the Almighty — Instead of complaining, implore his grace and favour with humble supplication.
If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.Job 8:6. If thou wert pure and upright — That is, of a sincere heart and blameless life toward God and men; surely now he would awake for thee — יעיר, jagnir, excitarit se, he would raise, or stir up himself. Thus David prays, using the same word, Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment. And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous — He would certainly have a regard to thee, and restore the concerns of thy house and family to their former splendour. He says the habitation of thy righteousness, to signify that if it were such, and he would manage his affairs with righteousness and not wrongfully, God would prosper him accordingly; and perhaps also to intimate, that because he had not prospered they had cause to suspect that he had acquired his property by fraud and oppression.
Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.Job 8:7. Though thy beginning was small — The sense is either, 1st, Though thou hadst possessed but very little at first, yet God would have wonderfully blessed and increased thy estate: whereas, now he hath brought thee down from a great estate almost to nothing; which is an evidence of his displeasure and of thy hypocrisy. Or, 2d, Though what thou hast left be now very little, yet if thou repent and seek God it shall vastly increase.
For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:Job 8:8. For inquire, &c., of the former age — That is, of our predecessors, who had the advantage of longer life and more experience, besides more frequent revelations from God than we have. They also will be more impartial judges of this cause than we may be thought to be. Inform thyself by the instructions which they have left, either in word or writing, what their opinion was about the manner of God’s dealing with men. And prepare thyself to the search, &c. — Do not slightly, but seriously and industriously, search the ancient records.
(For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:)Job 8:9. We are but of yesterday, &c. — But lately born, and therefore have but little knowledge and experience. We live not so long as they did to make observations on the methods of Divine Providence. “There are three things in this passage,” says Dr. Dodd, from Peters, “well worthy of our observation. As, first, his referring Job to their ancestors of former times as the best instructers in wisdom; then urging the comparative ignorance of the generation that then was, and the reason of it, namely, the shortness of men’s lives; We are but of yesterday, &c., human life being at this time in a swift decline, and reduced, in a few generations, from eight or nine hundred years to one hundred and fifty, or thereabouts: for, what is most to our purpose is, in the next place, his representing these long-lived ancestors of theirs, from whom they derived their wisdom, as living but an age or two before them: they were the men of the former age, or perhaps the fathers and grand-fathers of these. And it appears from the Scripture history, that Shem, the son of Noah, who lived five hundred years after the flood, might well have been a cotemporary with the grandfathers, or great- grand-fathers, of Job and his friends; and with what authority would such a one teach them! and with what attention would his instructions be received! Indeed, the fame of these restorers of the human race was so great for many ages after, that when mankind fell into the superstition of worshipping men-deities, there is little doubt to be made, but that these were the first mortals that were deified. The last thing I shall observe from the passage, is the style or manner in which the precepts of their ancestors were transmitted to them; and that is, by some apt simile or comparison, drawn from nature; and like a picture fitted to engage the attention, and by agreeably entertaining the imagination, to leave a strong impression on the memory. Such is that natural and beautiful comparison we have here; and which, by the way of introducing it, appears plainly to have been a proverbial saying delivered down from their forefathers; perhaps taught them from their cradles. Have not they then, says he, transmitted to thee this wise lesson? That, as the rush cannot grow up without mire, nor the flag without water, so neither can any thing flourish or prosper long without the blessing of Almighty God? and how should the ungodly, or the hypocrite, expect his blessing! One scarcely knows which to admire most, the piety of the sentiment, or the elegance and justness of the comparison.”
Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?Job 8:10. Shall not they teach thee? — Assuredly they will inform thee that it is as we say. And utter words out of their heart — Not partially, but sincerely, speaking their inward thoughts; not rashly, but from deep consideration; not by hearsay from others, but their own knowledge and experience.
Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?Job 8:11-12. Can the rush grow without mire, &c. — This, and what follows, he speaks as from those ancients, to whom he had referred him, and concerning whom he says, that they would give him such instructions as these. While it is yet in its greenness — Whereby it promises long continuance: and not cut down — Though no man cut it down it withers of itself, and saves a man the labour of cutting or plucking it up. Before any other herb — Sooner than other herbs, or, as לפני, liphnee, means, in their presence, or they surviving; in which sense it is said, that Ishmael died in the presence of his brethren; the rest of the herbs, as it were, looking upon it, and admiring the sudden change.
Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.
So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish:Job 8:13. So are the paths of all that forget God — Of wicked men, who are often described by this character; see Psalm 9:17; Psalm 50:22; or, of hypocrites, as the next words explain it, whose first and fundamental error is, that they forget, that is, neglect, forsake, and despise God, his presence, commands, worship, and providence; and, therefore, break out into manifold sins. But, by their paths, he does not intend their manner of living, but the events which befall them, God’s manner of dealing with them. Now this may be accommodated to the foregoing similitude in this manner, namely, Such is the prosperity of wicked men; because it wants the solid foundation of piety, and of God’s promise and blessing consequent thereupon, it quickly vanishes into nothing. The hypocrite’s hope shall perish — That is, the object of his hope, his riches, his friends, his honours, and other such like things, on which he founded his expectations; for, when these are lost, hope may be said to perish, because that from which it arose is no more.
Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.Job 8:14. Whose hope shall be cut off — That is, whose wealth and outward glory, which is the foundation and matter of his hope, shall be suddenly and violently taken away from him; or, as the Hebrew יקושׂ, jacot, may be translated, whose hope shall be irksome or tedious to him, by the succession of earliest expectations and great disappointments. Whose trust shall be a spider’s web — Which though it be formed with great art and industry, and may do much mischief to others, yet is most slender and feeble, and easily swept down, or pulled in pieces, and unable to defend the spider that made it. The application is obvious.
He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.Job 8:15. He shall lean upon his house — He shall trust to the multitude and strength of his children and servants, and to his wealth, all which come under the name of a man’s house in Scripture. But it shall not stand — That is, not be able to uphold itself, nor him that trusted to it. He shall hold it fast — Or, he shall take fast hold of it to strengthen and uphold himself by it. But his web, that refuge of lies, will be swept away, and he crushed in it. Or, by holding it fast, may be meant, that he shall endeavour to support his house by strong alliances, but it will be to no purpose, for it shall not endure.
He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.Job 8:16. He, &c. — The hypocrite, or the secure and prosperous sinner, may think himself degraded when he is compared to a rush or flag. Compare him, then, to a flourishing and well-rooted tree, which spreads its branches in a fair garden. Yet, even then, shall he suddenly wither and come to nothing. Is green before the sun — Flourisheth in the world publicly, and in the view of all men. And his branch shooteth forth — His children, who are here mentioned as additions, not only to his comfort, but also to his strength and safety. In his garden — A place where it is defended from those injuries to which the trees of the field are subject, and where, besides the advantages common to all trees, it hath peculiar helps from the art and industry of men. So he supposes this man to be placed in the most desirable circumstances.
His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.Job 8:17. His roots are wrapped about the heap — Heath renders this, He windeth his roots about a spring; he twisteth himself about a heap of stones: and he approves a slight alteration of the text made by Houbigant; who, rather more elegantly, reads, He has his roots involved, or, fixed, in a hill; he adheres to the midst of stones. This circumstance is added to signify the tree’s firmness and strength; that it was not fixed in loose and sandy ground, which a violent wind might overthrow, but in solid ground, within which were many stones, which its numerous and spreading roots embraced, folding and interweaving themselves about them. He seeth the place of stones — The tree reacheth thither, takes the advantage of that place for the strengthening of itself. By this the writer seems to express the apparent firmness and worldly dependance of the hypocrite.
If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.Job 8:18. If he, &c. — Namely, God, who is the saviour of good men and the destroyer of the wicked; destroy him from his place — When God blasts him and plucks him up; then it shall deny him — That is, the place shall deny him; saying, I have not seen thee — The reader will easily observe, that denying him and seeing him are here ascribed to the place figuratively, and the meaning is, that he shall be so utterly extirpated and destroyed, that there shall be no memorial of him left, nor any remembrance that such a man ever lived in that place. He shall no more recover himself than a tree which is plucked out of the ground, and left to wither.
Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.Job 8:19. Behold, this is the joy of his way — Or, rather, This is the way of his joy: it all ends in this: this is the issue of his flourishing state. He falls into heavy calamities, from which he can never deliver himself again. And out of the earth shall others grow — Out of the same earth or place shall other trees arise. Heath reads the verse, Behold him now; destruction is his path; and strangers out of the dust shall spring up in his room. In other words, The wicked come speedily to an end, and strangers with whom they had no affinity come in to possess what they had gathered up, in expectation of making their name and family endure a long time.
Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:Job 8:20. Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man — God, who will not help the evil doer, will not cast away a good man, though he may be cast down: yet it may be he will not be lifted up in this world; and therefore Bildad could not infer, that if Job was not restored to temporal prosperity he was not a good man. Let us judge nothing before the time, but wait till the secrets of all hearts are revealed, and the present difficulties of providence solved, to universal and everlasting satisfaction.
Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.Job 8:21. Till he fill thy mouth with laughing — What I have said in general of good men shall be made good to thee if thou art such: God will not forsake thee, nor desist from doing thee good, till he give thee abundant matter of rejoicing.
They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.Job 8:22. They that hate thee — That rejoice in thy calamities; shall be clothed with shame — That is, shall be wholly covered with it, shall be utterly confounded, when they shall observe thee, whom they have despised and insulted over, to be wonderfully restored to thy former or greater felicity. And the dwelling-place of the wicked — Either, particularly, of thy enemies, who acted so unworthily and wickedly toward thee; or, more generally, of all wicked men; shall come to naught — Having showed what good God would do to the perfect, or good man, he now declares what would be the portion of the wicked. And, as he said, Job 8:20, that God would not help them; so here he adds, that God would bring not only them, but their house, that is, their family and estate, to utter ruin.