Job 8:20
Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

8:20-22 Bildad here assures Job, that as he was so he should fare; therefore they concluded, that as he fared so he was. God will not cast away an upright man; he may be cast down for a time, but he shall not be cast away for ever. Sin brings ruin on persons and families. Yet to argue, that Job was an ungodly, wicked man, was unjust and uncharitable. The mistake in these reasonings arose from Job's friends not distinguishing between the present state of trial and discipline, and the future state of final judgment. May we choose the portion, possess the confidence, bear the cross, and die the death of the righteous; and, in the mean time, be careful neither to wound others by rash judgments, nor to distress ourselves needlessly about the opinions of our fellow-creatures.Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man - On the meaning of the word perfect, see the note at Job 1:1. The sentiment of Bildad, or the inference which he draws from the whole argument is, that God will be the friend of the pious, but that he will not aid the wicked. This accords with the general sentiment maintained in the argument of the friends of Job.

Neither will he help the evil doers - Margin, "Take the ungodly by the hand." This is in accordance with the Hebrew. The figure is that of taking one by the hand in order to assist him; see Isaiah 42:6.

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.

Heb. God will not despise or reject, i.e. he will not deny them his help, as appears by the opposite and following branch of the verse; he will not suffer them to be utterly lost. Help, i.e. deliver them out of their troubles. Hence it may seem that thou, O Job, art not a perfect or upright man, but an evil-doer. But this is certain, if for the future thy heart and way be not perfect, and thou dost not cease to do evil, thou wilt be utterly and irrecoverably lost; as, on the contrary, if thou dost repent and reform, he will help and deliver thee, and restore thee to thy former glory and happiness; which promise, though it be not here expressed, is sufficiently implied in the contrary threatening, as is evident from the following words, which plainly suppose it, and have a reference to it; such ellipses of contraries being not unusual in Scripture, as we shall see hereafter, especially in the Book of the Proverbs.

Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man,.... A sincere, upright, good man; one that is truly gracious; who, though he is not "perfect" in himself, yet in Christ; and though not with respect to sanctification, which is as yet imperfect in him, yet with respect to justification, being perfectly justified by the righteousness of Christ, and all his sins pardoned for his sake: such an one God will never "cast away"; not out of his sight, being engraven on the palms of his hands, nor out of his heart's love; or will not "loath" (r) him, as the Targum, or reject him with abhorrence and contempt; he will not cast him out of his covenant, which is ordered in all things and sure; nor out of the hands of his son, where he has put him, and from whence none can pluck; nor out of his family, where the son abides for ever; or so as to perish eternally, this would be contrary to his love, to his foreknowledge, and to his covenant; so far is he from it, that he has the greatest regard for such, delights in them, admits thereto nearness to himself, sets them as a seal on his heart, keeps them as the apple of his eye, and preserves them safe to his kingdom and glory:

neither will he help the evil doers; meaning, not everyone that does evil, or sins, but such who live in sin, make a trade of sinning, are frequent and constant in the commission of it; such God will not help, or "take by the hand" (s), in order to deliver from evil, as Gersom observes; to help them out of mischief and trouble their sins have brought upon them; or to strengthen them, support and uphold them, in their present circumstances, and much less so as to admit them to fellowship and communion with him: these words, with what follow, are Bildad's conclusion upon the sayings and sentiments of the ancients, which may be supposed, and are thought by some, to end at the preceding Job 8:19.

(r) "abominatur", Vatablus; "aversatur", Beza, Mercerus, Drusius, Piscator. (s) "nec apprehendit manum", Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.

Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20–22. Finally Bildad repeats his general principle and augurs from the one side of it a happy and brilliant future for Job.

cast away a perfect man] This word “perfect” is the title given to Job by the Author, and acknowledged due to him by God, see on ch. Job 1:1. The phrase, God will not cast off a “perfect” man, becomes almost the text of Job’s reply, cf. ch. Job 9:20-21; Job 10:3.

help the evil doers] lit. hold by the hand of evil-doers, cf. Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 42:6.

Verse 20. - Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man. Bildad winds up with words of apparent trust in, and good will towards, Job. God is absolutely just, and will neither forsake the righteous man nor uphold the wicked one. If Job is, as he says, true to God, upright, and (humanly speaking) "perfect," then he has only to go on trusting God; God will not leave him "till he fill his mouth with laughing, and his lips with rejoicing" (ver 21); then "they that irate him shall be clothed with shame, and their dwelling-place shall come to nought' (ver. 22); but if, as we feel instinctively that Bildad believes, Job is not "perfect," but "an evil-doer," then he must expect no relief, no lull in his sufferings; he is obnoxious to all the threatenings which have formed the bulk of Bildad's discourse (vers. 8-20) - be may look to being cut off, like the rush and the flag (vers. 11, 12), crushed like the spider's web (ver. 14), destroyed, and forgotten, like the rapidly growing gourd (Vers. 16-19); he must look for no help from God (ver. 20); but must be contented to pass away and make room for men of a better stamp (ver. 19). Neither will he help the evil-doers; literally, neither will he grasp the hand of evil-doers; i.e. though he may support them for a while, he will not maintain them firmly and constantly. Job 8:2020 Behold! God despiseth not the perfect man,

And taketh not evil-doers by the hand.

21 While He shall fill thy mouth with laughing,

And thy lips with rejoicing,

22 They who hate thee shall be clothed with shame,

And the tent of the ungodly is no more.

"To take by the hand," i.e., ready to help as His own, as Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 42:6. Instead of עד (Job 8:21), there is no great difficulty in reading עוד: again (as e.g., Psalm 42:6) He will fill; but even עד is supportable; it signifies, like Job 1:18; Psalm 141:10, while. On the form ימלּה, vid., Ges. 75, 21, b. This close of Bildad's speech sounds quite like the Psalms (comp. Psalm 126:2 with Job 8:21; Psalm 35:26; Psalm 109:29; Psalm 132:18, with Job 8:22). Bildad does all he can to win Job over. He calls the ungodly שׂנאיך, to show that he tries to think and expect the best of Job.

We have seen that Job in his second speech charges God with the appearance of injustice and want of compassion. The friends act as friends, by not allowing this to pass without admonition. After Job has exhausted himself with his plaints, Bildad enters into the discussion in the above speech. He defends the justice of God against Job's unbecoming words. His assertion that God does not swerve from the right, is so true that it would be blasphemy to maintain against him that God sometimes perverts the right. And Bildad seems also to make the right use of this truth when he promises a glorious issue to his suffering, as a substantial proof that God does not deal unjustly towards him; for Job's suffering does actually come to such an issue, and this issue in its accomplishment destroys the false appearance that God had been unjust or unmerciful towards him. Bildad expresses his main point still more prudently, and more in accordance with the case before him, when he says, "Behold! God does not act hostilely towards the godly, neither does He make common cause with the evil-doer" (Job 8:20), - a confession which he must allow is on both sides the most absolute truth. By the most telling figures he portrays the perishableness of the prosperity of those who forget God, and paints in glowing colours on this dark background the future which awaits Job. What is there in this speech of Bildad to censure, and how is it that it does not produce the desired cheering effect on Job?

It is true that nothing that God sends to man proceeds from injustice, but it is not true that everything that He sends to him comes from His justice. As God does not ordain suffering for the hardened sinner in order to improve him, because He is merciful, so He does not ordain suffering for the truly godly in order to punish him, because He is just. What we call God's attributes are only separate phases of His indivisible holy being, - ad extra, separate modes of His operation in which they all share, - of which, when in operation, one does not act in opposition to another; they are not, however, all engaged upon the same object at one time. One cannot say that God's love manifests itself in action in hell, nor His anger in heaven; nor His justice in the afflictions of the godly, and His mercy in the sufferings of the godless.

Herein is Bildad's mistake, that he thinks his commonplace utterance is sufficient to explain all the mysteries of human life. We see from his judgment of Job's children how unjust he becomes, since he regards the matter as the working out of divine justice. He certainly speaks hypothetically, but in such a way that he might as well have said directly, that their sudden death was the punishment of their sin. If he had found Job dead, he would have considered him as a sinner, whom God had carried off in His anger. Even now he has no pleasure in promising Job help and blessing; accordingly from his point of view he expresses himself very conditionally: If thou art pure and upright. We see from this that his belief in Job's uprightness is shaken, for how could the All-just One visit Job with such severe suffering, if he had not deserved it! Nevertheless אתה וישׁר זך אם (Job 8:6) shows that Bildad thinks it possible that Job's heart may be pure and upright, and consequently his present affliction may not be peremptory punishment, but only disciplinary chastisement. Job just - such is Bildad's counsel - give God glory, and acknowledge that he deserves nothing better; and thus humbling himself beneath the just hand of God, he will be again made righteous, and exalted.

Job cannot, however, comprehend his suffering as an act of divine justice. His own fidelity is a fact, his consciousness of which cannot be shaken: it is therefore impossible for him to deny it, for the sake of affirming the justice of God; for truth is not to be supported by falsehood. Hence Bildad's glorious promises afford Job no comfort. Apart from their being awkwardly introduced, they depend upon an assumption, the truth of which Job cannot admit without being untrue to himself. Consequently Bildad, though with the best intention, only urges Job still further forward and deeper into the conflict.

But does, then, the confession of sin on the part of constantly sinful man admit of his regarding the suffering thus appointed to him not merely not as punishment, but also not as chastisement? If a sufferer acknowledges the excessive hideousness of sin, how can he, when a friend bids him regard his affliction as a wholesome chastisement designed to mortify sin more and more, - how can he receive the counsel with such impatience as we see in the case of Job? The utterances of Job are, in fact, so wild, inconsiderate, and unworthy of God, and the first speeches of Eliphaz and Bildad on the contrary so winning and appropriate, that if Job's affliction ought really to be regarded from the standpoint of chastisement, their tone could not be more to the purpose, nor exhortation and comfort more beautifully blended. Even when one knows the point of the book, one will still be constantly liable to be misled by the speeches of the friends; it requires the closest attention to detect what is false in them. The poet's mastery of his subject, and the skill with which he exercises it, manifests itself in his allowing the opposition of the friends to Job, though existing in the germ from the very beginning, to become first of all in the course of the controversy so harsh that they look upon Job as a sinner undergoing punishment from God, while in opposition to them he affirms his innocence, and challenges a decision from God.

The poet, however, allows Bildad to make one declaration, from which we clearly see that his address, beautiful as it is, rests on a false basis, and loses its effect. Bildad explains the sudden death of Job's children as a divine judgment. He could not have sent a more wounding dart into Job's already broken heart; for is it possible to tell a man anything more heart-rending that that his father, his mother, or his children have died as the direct punishment of their sins? One would not say so, even if it should seem to be an obvious fact, and least of all to a father already sorely tried and brought almost to the grave with sorrow. Bildad, however, does not rely upon facts, he reasons only priori. He does not know that Job's children were godless; the only ground of his judgment is the syllogism: Whoever dies a fearful, sudden death must be a great sinner; God has brought Job's children to such a death; ergo, etc. Bildad is zealously affected for God, but without understanding. He is blind to the truth of experience, in order not to be drawn away from the truth of his premiss. He does not like to acknowledge anything that furnishes a contradiction to it. It is this same rationalism of superstition or credulity which has originated the false doctrine of the decretum absolutum. With the same icy and unfeeling rigorism with which Calvinism refers the divine rule, and all that happens upon earth, to the one principle of absolute divine will and pleasure, in spite of all the contradictions of Scripture and experience, Bildad refers everything to the principle of the divine justice, and indeed, divine justice in a judicial sense.

There is also another idea of justice beside this judicial one. Justice, צדקה or צדק, is in general God's dealings as ruled by His holiness. Now there is not only a holy will of God concerning man, which says, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but also a purpose for the redemption of unholy man springing from the holy love of God to man. Accordingly justice is either the agreement of God's dealings with the will of His holiness manifest in the demands of the law, apart from redemption, or the agreement of His dealings with the will of His love as graciously manifested in the gospel; in short, either retributive or redemptive. If one, as Bildad, in the first sense says, God never acts unjustly, and glaringly maintains it as universally applicable, the mystery of the divine dispensations is not made clear thereby, but destroyed. Thus also Job's suffering is no longer a mystery: Job suffers what he deserves; and if it cannot be demonstrated, it is to be assumed in contradiction to all experience. This view of his affliction does not suffice to pacify Job, in spite of the glorious promises by which it is set off. His conscience bears him witness that he has not merited such incomparably heavy affliction; and if we indeed suppose, what we must suppose, that Job was in favour with God when this suffering came upon him, then the thought that God deals with him according to his works, perhaps according to his unacknowledged sins, must be altogether rejected.

continued...

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