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With Bildad as a friend, who needs an enemy?
CHAPTER 18

Bildad's second speech is no improvement upon his first (ch 8). He has evidently been exceedingly nettled by Job's contemptuous words concerning his "comforters" (ch 16:2,11; 17:10); and aims at nothing but venting his anger, and terrifying Job by a series of denunciations and threats. Job has become to him "the wicked man" (vss 5, 11), an embodiment of all that is evil, and one "that knoweth not God." No punishment is too severe for him. -Pulpit Commentary

    1Then Bildad the Shuhite responded,
    2"How long will you hunt for words?
         Show understanding and then we can talk.
    3"Why are we regarded as beasts,
         As stupid in your eyes?

Bildad is irritated and is tired of hearing Job's long, angry, sometimes sarcastic speeches and accuses him of just hunting for more words to say, rather than listening to the wisdom the three men are giving him. Probably because Job charged that the beasts could teach them (12:7) and that "God had kepttheir heart from understanding" (17:4), Bildad asked Job if they are as beast in his sight.

While Job never called them beast, they have acted worse than some animals who care for their wounded, and thus "the beasts could teach them" a thing or two. On the other hand, they were beast-like in that they were heartless as a crocodile and proud as a peacock.

     4"O you who tear yourself in your anger--
         For your sake is the earth to be abandoned,
         Or the rock to be moved from its place?

Bildad sees Job as such an angry man that he is tearing his soul apart, rather than God doing so as Job charged (16:9). He also sees Job as a stubborn and proud man who refuses to see his wickedness deserves such punishment as he is experiencing. He asked Job if God should change His world order for him, probably referring to the law that the wicked will be punished.  

    5"Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
         And the flame of his fire gives no light.
    6"The light in his tent is darkened,
         And his lamp goes out above him.
    7"His vigorous stride is shortened,
         And his own scheme brings him down.

In other words, "Indeed, Job, the universal law that the wicked are punished, is shown in your life as your light is put out, as you continue to lose vigor. Your own choices in life has led you to this."

    8"For he is thrown into the net by his own feet,
         And he steps on the webbing.
    9"A snare seizes him by the heel,
         And a trap snaps shut on him.
    10"A noose for him is hidden in the ground,
         And a trap for him on the path.
    11"All around terrors frighten him,
         And harry him at every step.

Job you laid a trap and you were caught in it, just as it always happens with the wicked.

Bildad now goes into the predestined fate of the wicked and the consequence of those who "do not know God." In his speech, Bildad does not hesitate in his blunt description that he is speaking of Job as that wicked man who does not know God.

    12"His strength is famished,
         And calamity is ready at his side.
    13"His skin is devoured by disease,
         The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
    14"He is torn from the security of his tent,
         And they march him before the king of terrors.
    15"There dwells in his tent nothing of his;
         Brimstone is scattered on his habitation.

    16"His roots are dried below,
         And his branch is cut off above.
    17"Memory of him perishes from the earth,
         And he has no name abroad.
    18"He is driven from light into darkness,
         And chased from the inhabited world.
    19"He has no offspring or posterity among his people,
         Nor any survivor where he sojourned.

Nice of Bildad to remind Job he has no posterity when he leaves this earth. Such comforting words. Interesting that he says there will be no memory of Job; Bildad could never fathom that throughout thousands of years Job has been known through countless generations as the man of patience and godliness and one to emulate.

    20"Those in the west are appalled at his fate,
         And those in the east are seized with horror.
    21"Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
         And this is the place of him who does not know God."

Do you think Bildad's words bothered Job? Chapter 19:1-2 answers this question and this is where we will begin next month.

•Pat Gates

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The Tormented Soul of a Suffering Man
Pat Gates

While this chapter really should be studied in its entirety, there are good lessons that need to be emphasized so I've divided chapter 19 into three lessons, which have been shown in red, green, and blue text. These are the titles of the lessons and we will begin this month with "How Long will You Torment Me with Words?"

  • "How long will you torment me with words?"
  • "God has wronged me."
  • "Have pity on me, have pity on me."

Then Job answered and said:
“How long will you torment my soul,
And break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have reproached me;
You are not ashamed that you have wronged me.
And if indeed I have erred,
My error remains with me.
If indeed you exalt yourselves against me,
And plead my disgrace against me,
Know then that God has wronged me,
And has surrounded me with His net.
“If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard.
If I cry aloud, there is no justice.
He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass;
And He has set darkness in my paths.
He has stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side,
And I am gone; 
My hope He has uprooted like a tree.
He has also kindled His wrath against me,
And He counts me as one of His enemies.
His troops come together
And build up their road against me; 
They encamp all around my tent.
“He has removed my brothers far from me,
And my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
My relatives have failed,
And my close friends have forgotten me.
Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants,
Count me as a stranger; 
I am an alien in their sight.

I call my servant, but he gives no answer;
I beg him with my mouth.
My breath is offensive to my wife,
And I am repulsive to the children of my own body.
Even young children despise me;
I arise, and they speak against me.
All my close friends abhor me,
And those whom I love have turned against me.
My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh,
And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
“Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you persecute me as God
does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?
“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this
I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another. 
How my heart yearns within me!
If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, 
That you may know there is a judgment.”

______________ 

"How long will you torment me with words?"
(Part 1)

Then Job answered and said:
“How long will you torment my soul,
And break me in pieces with words?"
Job 19:1-2

Words can hurt. It doesn't matter how strong one is spiritually or how much self-confidence they have, or how innocent they are; false accusations and unkind words hurt. Job, knowing he was innocent of the accusations being hurled at him, was still "tormented" and crushed by the men's words.

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. (Prov. 12:18)

Unkind words hurt. We can try and deny the fact others may hurt our feelings because we believe we are weak if malicious words hurt us. We may feel free to throw barbs at the strong, believing they can take it. The fact is, words can hurt the spiritually strong and it is not a sign of spiritual weakness.

David felt the sting of the verbal sword when he wrote: "My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." Psa. 57:4

In speaking of the Servant's suffering, Isaiah writes about the Christ: 

"But I am a worm, and no man;
 A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
 They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
 Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”  Psa 22:6-8

Ridicule is mentioned as part of our Lord's suffering. The simple fact is words can hurt and when a person's spirit (and/or body) is already being crushed by the trials of this earth, hurtful words add an even greater burden and more suffering. All of us have felt the pain when the sword of hurtful words has pierced us and we know how much deeper the pain when we are already down and out due to a severe trial that is upon us.

Here was Job, severely disfigured, sitting in an ash heap, scraping boils, grieving not one, but ten children, as well as his physical losses was in great need of kindness and comforting words. Instead he was being accused of bringing this all on himself and his family because he was such a great sinner. I have experienced, on such a small scale compared to Job, misjudgment in a time of great sorrow and it amazed me the lack of compassion and understanding this person displayed. However, I had others who did understand and who would comfort. To have barbs of accusations slung at me without any means of consolation, how absolutely desolate and disheartening!

"These ten times you have reproached me;
You are not ashamed that you have wronged me."
Job 19:3

Malicious words, with no shame. Job told his friends that ten times they have reproached him (10 referring to fullness or completeness) and they were not ashamed. I'm amazed how easily these men could verbally whip this suffering man -- how they could look at such wretchedness and feel free to crush his spirit even more. It is startling to read the blunt (false) charges they so freely hurl at Job and while we may drop our jaw in astonishment, we also nod with an understanding that this is a fine example of what pride does to a man. Pride lifts us up by crushing another.

The Bible doesn't reveal what the 3 friends talked to each other about during that first week of silence with Job. In fact, we don't know if they spoke to each other or not; I myself think they probably had times they may have been alone together, perhaps while eating or taking a walk. If so, had these men discussed Job and decided before Job opened his mouth that only a great sin(s) could produce such suffering? I can only imagine the relief they felt when Job gave began talking which gave them the opportunity to spill out what they had been thinking all week. I can only imagine the pleasure it gave them to build on each other's accusations and the camaraderie it created among them. It just felt good. Didn't matter how much Job suffered for they convinced themselves they were doing God's will by giving Job that good lashing he needed.

(I don't want to add to what the scriptures reveal and this is just my idea of what may have happened.)

"And if indeed I have erred,
My error remains with me."
Job 19:4

The friends had been quick with their accusation that Job was a great sinner, but so far they have not been able to prove any of these great sins they believed Job was guilty of. Job, himself, wondering about the extent of his suffering and why he suffered, beseeched God for answers: "How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin" Job 13:23. The friends could come up with no proof of Job's great sin(s), nor could Job, for the reason being Job was not a great sinner and his suffering was not due to sin, but rather due to Satan's hatred of a blameless man.

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(Part 2)
"God Has Wronged Me"
Job 19:5-10

"If indeed you exalt yourselves against me,
And plead my disgrace against me,
Know then that God has wronged me,
And has surrounded me with His net."

In other words, "You believe my suffering is the result of my sin but this is not the case at all, for God has wronged me. He caught me in his net and there is no escape."

“If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard.
If I cry aloud, there is no justice."

In the agony of Job's soul he cries "out of wrong" (violence), but no one hear, neither God nor man. There is no just trial. There are no answers.

"He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass;
And He has set darkness in my paths.
He has stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side,
And I am gone; 
My hope He has uprooted like a tree.
He has also kindled His wrath against me,
And He counts me as one of His enemies.
His troops come together
And build up their road against me; 
They encamp all around my tent."

In Job's misjudgment concerning God's injustice to him, he concludes:

a God has walled him up where there is no escape from his torments, but only darkness.
a God has stripped him of his former glory, which included possessions, health, happiness, and honor.
a God has broken him down and his hope is dead, as a tree that has been pulled up and left to die.
a God directed his anger at him, as He does an enemy.
aGod's army has besieged him, imprisoning him in his tent for which there is no escape.

"Have pity on me, have pity on me."

There are 12 classifications of people Job mentions as ones who have turned from him:

1. Brethren were removed far from him (vs 13): May indicate (1) Brothers in the flesh, (2) Relatives, (3) Friends, (4) Fellow-countrymen. Brother Hailey concludes Job probably means #4 since he mentions the others later.

"He has removed my brothers far from me." Job sees other's rejection of him as part of God making him "a byword of the people" and "one in whose face men spit" (17:6).

2. Acquaintance were estranged from him  (vs. 13):People Job knows intimately or casually had broken their bond of affection towards Job and have cut themselves off from him.

3. Kinsfolk have failed him (14): Usually when others reject us, there is a family member we can count on to be at our side, but not in Job's case.

4. Close friends had forgotten him (14): When we are ill or in grief we expect attention from our friends; having friends is suppose to involve "friendliness," a sharing of kindness and goodwill.

5. Those who dwell in his house count him as a stranger (15):The ASV margin has "sojourn" so he is probably talking about guest in his house. Whether Job is talking about past guests who have been in his home or present guest (perhaps some friends or relatives who are comforting Job's wife?). Job has shown hospitality in the past but he is not receiving any reciprocation of friendship from these guests. Job is an alien or stranger to them.

(Other commentaries believe those who dwell in Job's house are his servants.)

6. Maidservants count him as a stranger and alien (15): We tend to think that all Job's servants were killed, but it was those servants who were tending the flocks and herds (Job 1:13-17). See comment below in regards to servant.

7. Servants give him no answer when he calls (16): The maids and Job servant (or slave) ignored his calls, to the point Job has to beg for help. They lost their respect for their master, so much so, that they would dare ignore his pleas for help. If they knew he was going to be well one day, they may have treated him differently, but perhaps not. They could have feared him; after all, their fellow servants had died and in their minds it could well be due to the fact they believed Job to be cursed. Maybe their feared for their own lives around him.

Perhaps they found caring for Job distasteful and decided they could not bear to be near him, much less touch him. Perhaps they thought he was contagious. There is also the chance they too believed he was cursed by God and a great sinner, so they dare not help him. Whatever the reason, here was a group of people who, in reality, should have no choice but to help Job, but even they did not. How sad, in that Job had probably been a good, fair master and even with this good man begging for help, they chose to ignore him. It makes me wonder why Mrs. Job would allow this. Surely she knew. 

8. Wife (vs 17):"My breath is offensive to my wife" RSV says, "I am repulsive to my wife." While I'm sure Job's actual breath was repulsive, Job was probably overall repulsive to his wife. Remember he was covered in oozing, pus-filled, infected boils; he was skin and bones, distorted in appearance from boils. His wife may have also believed he was being punished by God; remember when she said "curse God and die." Perhaps she had lost respect for him.

Of all people in the list of people who have rejected him, this is the most painful. Mrs. Job was sharing in Job's grief in the loss of their children - she was the one person who understood his grief. She, of all people, should have remembered how good this man had been to her and others and how blessed to be married to a "blameless" man. She had lived in the blessings of his labor and she had shared in all Job's blessings from God. And most of all, she should have stood by him, helping him physically and emotionally out of love.

9.  Children of mine own mother (17). (The NKJV says, "children of my own body" but children of mine own mother is a better translation.) Job was repulsive to his brothers and sisters.

10. Young children despise him and speak against him (18): Commentaries all say these children were rude and should know better and that is probably the case, however, even very young children who don't know better may speak the truth about how someone looks or smells. Either way, it hurts; sometimes it even hurts more when children turn away from us and call us names. And when rude children speak out against someone, it seems especially cruel because they usually don't hold back and will say very hurtful, embarrassing comments. When they gang up together, there is laughing and very mean jokes. I can just picture kids getting together, making plans to go have some fun with Job.

11. Familiar (close) friends abhor him (19): Other than a spouse turning against me, I believe this would hurt more than anyone, even a relative, for there are friends we may be closer to than our own brother or sister. Most of us, if not all of us, have experienced either losing a friend or being ignored or hurt by a friend. Some of us have experienced this in our times of illness and/or grief. It hurts. It's hurts so very badly because we thought a mutual trust and understanding existed in our friendship and when we find out it was as shallow as existing only in good times. Often when our own family doesn't understand us, we trust that a friend will and we may share our inmost thoughts and feelings with them; when we discover during bad times, our friend really doesn't understand us or doesn't want to make the effort to support us, it is heart breaking.

What is even worse than rejection from a friend, is when they actually turn against us and we become a type of enemy, where they have misjudged us and believe we are wrong; their feelings toward us change from love and admiration to dislike, distrust, and disgust. We thought we knew them and they knew us, but we find out they choose to believe a lie.

12. Those whom I loved turned against him (19): While the righteous do not love and offer loving deeds in order to receive payback in this life, it does hurt when love is given and evil is returned. Because Job was described as "blameless" he would have had to be a loving man, who unhesitatingly showed his love to others. Now, in his hour of need, love was not returned. If you have experienced this, and many of us have, then you know the heartache involved.

David writes about the pain of receiving evil for the good he gave others, in Psalm 35:12-14:

They reward me evil for good,
To the sorrow of my soul.
 But as for me, when they were sick,
 My clothing was sackcloth; 
 I humbled myself with fasting; 
 And my prayer would return to my own heart.
 I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;
I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.

Also in Psalm 55:12-13, David feels the pain of rejection from those he trusted and worshipped with:

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; 
Then I could hide from him.
But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.

In what will be one of the most heart-wrenching verses in all the Bible, Job cries out, "Have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me! Why do you persecute me as God does, and are not satisfied with my flesh?"

Job had concluded God had struck him with pain and sorrows and he had pleaded for answers from God, but had only received silence. Now, he pleads with his friends to give him pity and to no longer persecute him. Such a sad state that one who suffers so, should be without a friend to comfort him. Think of the most grief/pain stricken person you have known (it may be yourself) and imagine friends, acquaintances, employees, children, and even brothers and sisters in Christ standing around that person mocking and deriding him as well as receiving no visits from family. Imagine everyone telling this person he/she is in this condition due to their own terrible sins and they need to repent.

"I do care, but I just can't handle their pain." Have you heard anyone say this? Have you said it? I witnessed a person going through the worst physical pain they had every experienced and his loved one leaving him because she chose to not be bothered and didn't want the pain in her life. So how do you correlate "I care" with "I don't want to have his/her pain in my life." It really isn't a matter of "can't" handle the pain, as I choose not to. All of us can handle our loved one's pain, even if it feels like our own heart is being torn out. Love always overcomes the flesh when we put our love for others over love for self.

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"I know that my Redeemer lives"

Pat Gates

“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this
I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another. 
How my heart yearns within me!
If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, 
That you may know there is a judgment.”

While Job was tormented physically, in this chapter we read of the torment of his soul. He speaks of the unrelenting torment from the men's words spoken against him. He feels the torment what he deems as silence from God and constantly wonders why God is tormenting him so. He speaks of all his family, friends and acquaintances turning from him and finding no comfort from God or man. Job is a broken man; a man friendless, comfortless, and ready for the comfort of the dark, silent grave.

As each chapter brings a bleaker picture than the last one, a helpless, hopeless feeling comes over us. As readers we ourselves wonder when will this be over; we are mentally fatigued at the constant verbal onslaught by the friends and the defense Job makes in defense of himself. We are tired of Job's misjudgments of God and at the same time our hearts go out to this good man; we have a desire to comfort him and tell him everything will be good in the end. Something needs to change soon or we may be tempted to close the book, no longer wanting to deal with the depressing conversation and seemingly unending torture of Job.

Just when we're about to give up, Job speaks a few words that send forth a bright light of hope and gives our spirit is immediately lifted and we find ourselves smiling at the faith and courage of a righteousness man who finds hope in what seems like a hopeless situation. "

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this
I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another. 
How my heart yearns within me!

Herein is the beauty of this righteous man, Job. While forsaken by man and even in his questioning, misjudgment of God, Job, without questions, knows his Redeemer lives. He knows he shall see Him, not as a stranger, not as one estranged from God, but he will see his Redeemer as a friend. Job remains confident that God will deliver him and vindicate him.

What an example of perseverance Job is to us. While all forsake him and although God remains silent, he still trust in his Redeemer's  justice and vindication. Job never forsakes God, even though he feels utterly alone in his great grief and anguish. Unlike most of mankind during severe trials, this good man remains firm in his faith, thus reinforcing God's faith that Job would not turn from Him even though Satan's hand struck great fear, grief, and pain in his life.

Warning to his friends:

If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, 
That you may know there is a judgment.”

Job warns his friends that if they continue to persecute him and make their speeches that God judgment is upon Job, they better beware that the "sword" (judgment) doesn't fall back upon them. Again, Job is expressing confidence in God's justice and in his vindication.

We need not determine that Job understood his future and God would restore all, but rather Job knows God's character. He knows God will not allow wickedness to go unpunished and that truth and righteousness will always prevail, if not in his life, in the life to come.