Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
FIRST SERIES—FIRST SPEECH OF BILDAD, MORE SEVERE AND COARSE THAN THAT OF ELIPHAZ.
Job 8:1-22. The Address of Bildad.
How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?
2. like a … wind?—disregarding restraints, and daring against God.
Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?
3. The repetition of "pervert" gives an emphasis galling to Job (Job 34:12). "Wouldst thou have God," as thy words imply, "pervert judgment," by letting thy sins go unpunished? He assumes Job's guilt from his sufferings.
If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;
4. If—Rather, "Since thy children have sinned against Him, and (since) He has cast them away (Hebrew, by the hand of) for their transgressions, (yet) if thou wouldst seek unto God, &c., if thou wert pure, &c., surely [even] now He would awake for thee." Umbreit makes the apodosis to, "since thy children," &c., begin at "He has cast them away." Also, instead of "for," "He gave them up to (literally, into the hand of) their own guilt." Bildad expresses the justice of God, which Job had arraigned. Thy children have sinned; God leaves them to the consequence of their sin; most cutting to the heart of the bereaved father.
If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;
5. seek unto God betimes—early. Make it the first and chief anxiety (Ps 78:34; Ho 5:15; Isa 26:9; Pr 8:17; 13:24).
If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.
6. He would awake for thee—that is, arise to thy help. God seemed to be asleep toward the sufferer (Ps 35:23; 7:6; Isa 51:9).
make … prosperous—restore to prosperity thy (their) righteous habitation. Bildad assumes it to have been heretofore the habitation of guilt.
Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
7. thy beginning—the beginning of thy new happiness after restoration.
latter end—(Job 42:12; Pr 23:18).
For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:
8, 9. The sages of the olden time reached an age beyond those of Job's time (see on Job 42:16), and therefore could give the testimony of a fuller experience.
(For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:)
9. of yesterday—that is, a recent race. We know nothing as compared with them because of the brevity of our lives; so even Jacob (Ge 47:9). Knowledge consisted then in the results of observation, embodied in poetical proverbs, and handed down by tradition. Longevity gave the opportunity of wider observation.
a shadow—(Ps 144:4; 1Ch 29:15).
Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?
10. teach thee—Job 6:24 had said, "Teach me." Bildad, therefore, says, "Since you want teaching, inquire of the fathers. They will teach thee."
utter words—more than mere speaking; "put forth well-considered words."
out of their heart—from observation and reflection; not merely, from their mouth: such, as Bildad insinuates, were Job's words. Job 8:11-13 embody in poetic and sententious form (probably the fragment of an old poem) the observation of the elders. The double point of comparison between the ungodly and the paper-reed is: 1. the luxuriant prosperity at first; and, 2. the sudden destruction.
Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?
11. rush—rather, "paper-reed": The papyrus of Egypt, which was used to make garments, shoes, baskets, boats, and paper (a word derived from it). It and the flag, or bulrush, grow only in marshy places (such as are along the Nile). So the godless thrives only in external prosperity; there is in the hypocrite no inward stability; his prosperity is like the rapid growth of water plants.
Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.
12. not cut down—Before it has ripened for the scythe, it withers more suddenly than any herb, having no self-sustaining power, once that the moisture is gone, which other herbs do not need in the same degree. So ruin seizes on the godless in the zenith of prosperity, more suddenly than on others who appear less firmly seated in their possessions [Umbreit] (Ps 112:10).
So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish:
13. paths—so "ways" (Pr 1:19).
all that forget God—the distinguishing trait of the godless (Ps 9:17; 50:22).
Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.
14. cut off—so Gesenius; or, to accord with the metaphor of the spider's "house," "The confidence (on which he builds) shall be laid in ruins" (Isa 59:5, 6).
He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.
15. he shall hold it fast—implying his eager grasp, when the storm of trial comes: as the spider "holds fast" by its web; but with this difference: the light spider is sustained by that on which it rests; the godless is not by the thin web on which he rests. The expression, "Hold fast," properly applies to the spider holding his web, but is transferred to the man. Hypocrisy, like the spider's web, is fine-spun, flimsy, and woven out of its own inventions, as the spider's web out of its own bowels. An Arab proverb says, "Time destroys the well-built house, as well as the spider's web."
He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
16. before the sun—that is, he (the godless) is green only before the sun rises; but he cannot bear its heat, and withers. So succulent plants like the gourd (Jon 4:7, 8). But the widespreading in the garden does not quite accord with this. Better, "in sunshine"; the sun representing the smiling fortune of the hypocrite, during which he wondrously progresses [Umbreit]. The image is that of weeds growing in rank luxuriance and spreading over even heaps of stones and walls, and then being speedily torn away.
His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.
17. seeth the place of stones—Hebrew, "the house of stones"; that is, the wall surrounding the garden. The parasite plant, in creeping towards and over the wall—the utmost bound of the garden—is said figuratively to "see" or regard it.
If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.
18. If He (God) tear him away (properly, "to tear away rapidly and violently") from his place, "then it [the place personified] shall deny him" (Ps 103:16). The very soil is ashamed of the weeds lying withered on its surface, as though it never had been connected with them. So, when the godless falls from prosperity, his nearest friends disown him.
Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.
19. Bitter irony. The hypocrite boasts of joy. This then is his "joy" at the last.
and out of the earth—others immediately, who take the place of the man thus punished; not godly men (Mt 3:9). For the place of the weeds is among stones, where the gardener wishes no plants. But, ungodly; a fresh crop of weeds always springs up in the place of those torn up: there is no end of hypocrites on earth [Umbreit].
Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:
20. Bildad regards Job as a righteous man, who has fallen into sin.
God will not cast away a perfect man—(or godly man, such as Job was), if he will only repent. Those alone who persevere in sin God will not help (Hebrew, "take by the hand," Ps 73:23; Isa 41:13; 42:6) when fallen.
Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.
21. Till—literally, "to the point that"; God's blessing on thee, when repentant, will go on increasing to the point that, or until, &c.
They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.
22. The haters of Job are the wicked. They shall be clothed with shame (Jer 3:25; Ps 35:26; 109:29), at the failure of their hope that Job would utterly perish, and because they, instead of him, come to naught.