JOB STUDIES 5

Three of Job’s friends have come to visit him in his time of suffering. After a time of silent grief, each one offers an explanation for Job’s calamity. Basically, all three have the same idea about it, but they present their views in a slightly different way, and come to their conclusions for different reasons. Eliphaz is the first to speak. He bases his views on what he believes was a supernatural visitation (4:12-16). Eliphaz is saying, “I have had this special experience, so I must be right.”

Bildad, whose first speech we see today, appeals to a different kind of proof for his philosophy but, as we shall see, he comes to much the same conclusion about Job. His views and Job’s response are found in Chapters 8-10. Bildad was a “Shuhite” (8:1), an Arab descendant of Abraham and Keturah (Gen. 25:1-2).

1) What painful possibility does Bildad raise immediately (8:4)?

2) Even if we grant this may be so, does it explain all that has happened to Job?

3) And is this an appropriate way to open a conversation with a grieving father and a very sick man?

4) What is Bildad’s suggested reason for Job’s suffering (8:5-6, and vs. 20)?

5) Is what Bildad believes ever true? (When?)

6) What is the basis for Bildad’s philosophy (8:8-10)?

INSIGHT: It is interesting to note that the expression “born yesterday” (sometimes used in the opposite sense of “I wasn’t born yesterday, you know!”) is still around today, about 4,000 years after Bildad’s time.

7) Is this always an infallible guide? (Why? Or, why not?)

8) What is the meaning of the illustration Bildad uses in 8:11? (That is, what is it saying about Job--see vs. 13?)

INSIGHT: Bildad is the traditionalist of the group. He puts great weight on what wise men of the past have said (8:8). But error is still error, even when it has been around for a long time. Sometimes a simplistic outlook is used as a shield to fend off some of the more difficult questions of life. But if it proves unable to cover every situation it is a weak and inadequate shield. Behind the anger of Job’s friends is a nagging fear. He is raising questions for which their theology has no solution. Admitting Job is right will cast them adrift on a new and unknown sea, and this terrifies them.

INSIGHT: Bildad views Job as one “whose trust is a spider’s web”--meaning something thin and easily broken (vs. 14).

9) What does Bildad seem to think Job was trusting in (8:15-17, and see vs. 13a)?

10) Is this an accurate view of Job’s faith?

INSIGHT: Job is willing to admit the basic principle that God blesses the good and punishes the sinful, but then he raises an important question.

11) What is Job’s question (9:2)?

INSIGHT: Job’s question is not meant in the sense of “How can a man be cleansed of his sin?” Rather, his point is: “How can a mere man win his case against God and show he is righteous?” (as in 9:14-15). Job then lists a series of reasons why mortal man has trouble dealing with Almighty God.

12) What is Reason #1 (9:3-4a)?

13) Reason #2 (9:4b-10)?

14) Reason #3 (9:11)?

15) Reason #4 (9:12-13)?

INSIGHT: Job proclaims his innocence, even using the same words the Lord used earlier--that his suffering is “without cause” (9:17; cf. 2:3). Even so, his case seems hopeless. In 9:14-20 Job pictures himself in court with God. And he sees God as an infinitely brilliant Lawyer for the prosecution. What argument could he possibly use against such a One. Even if he is innocent, the Prosecutor will find some way to turn his words against him (vs. 20).

16) What idea does Job express in 9:22-24, based on what he sees happening?

17) Is Job right in any part of this speculation? (If so, in what way?)

18) What is Job saying in 9:30-31?

19) It could be he is in danger of leaping to a false conclusion here. What is it?

20) What does Job say he is lacking in 9:33?

21 According to First Timothy 2:5, who would one day fill this position?

INSIGHT: The old King James Version calls this one a “daysman” (“mediator,” NKJV, “someone to arbitrate,” NIV). The word means one who can reason and argue the case between two. The equivalent in Greek is the word Paul uses in First Timothy 2:5. In modern courtroom terms, he would be called an advocate, or a counsel for the defense.

Job was longing for someone who knew his own heart, and fully comprehended the ways of God as well--and therefore one who would be able to bring the two of them together. In effect, to put his hand on God’s shoulder and say, “I completely understand what You are doing,” and put his other hand on Job’s shoulder and say, “I completely understand you as well.” This is an amazing insight into New Testament truth, because that is exactly what the incarnation has provided. Once more Job’s theology is far ahead of that of his friends.

22) What point is Job making about God in 10:4-7?

23) What fact does Job focus on in the poetry of 10:8-12?

24) Why is Job calling attention to this (see 10:3a, 18)?

25) What does Job ask of God in 10:20-21?

26) Why does the Lord not do as Job asks?