Job 18:1-19:29 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does Bildad rebuke Job in chapter 18 verses 1-4 (printed below?)

Then Bildad the Shuhite said, (2) When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. (3) Why are we regarded as cattle, and considered to be stupid in your sight? (4) You who tear yourself to pieces with your anger—should the earth be devastated for your sake? Or, for your sake, should an earthquake move the boulders from their place? (Job 18:1-4)

According to Bildad, one cannot even argue with Job because his speeches make no sense (18:2). Bildad goes on to rebuke Job for voicing his complaint. He accuses Job of wanting “the earth to be devastated” by a natural catastrophe for his sake, or desiring that “an earthquake move the boulders from their place.” Note: the prophet Isaiah would pray that the Lord would appear with cataclysmic upheavals of nature for His name’s sake (cp. Isaiah 64:1-2). Here Bildad charges Job with wanting God to do so for Job’s sake! Who does Job think that he is? Furthermore, Bildad, by addressing Job as “you who tear yourself to pieces with your anger,” judges that much of Job’s agony is self-inflicted: it is the result of his chafing against God’s discipline.

2. Summarize Bildad’s speech (chapter 18 verses 5-21 printed below.) What application is it intended to have for Job?

Indeed, the lamp of the wicked is extinguished; the flame of his fire ceases to burn. (6) The light in his tent becomes dark; the lamp beside him is extinguished. (7) The vigor of his stride wanes, and he stumbles over his schemes. (8) His feet get caught in a net—he steps into a web. (9) A trap seizes him by his heel; a snare grabs hold of him. (10) A noose for him lies hidden on the ground; a trap lies in his path. (11) Terrors startle him on every side and, like a dog, chase at his heels. (12) His strength is exhausted, and calamity is ready for him when he falls. (13) His skin is eaten by disease; the plague sent by death consumes his limbs. (14) He is torn from the security of his tent and marched away to the king of terrors. (15) Nothing that belongs to him remains in his tent; brimstone is scattered over his estate. (16) His roots below dry up, and his branch above withers. (17) Even the memory of him perishes from the earth; he leaves behind no name in the land. (18) He is driven from light into darkness, and he is chased out of the world. (19) He has no offspring or descendants among his people, and there is no survivor where once he lived. (20) Westerners are appalled at his fate, and Easterners are seized with horror. (21) Surely, this will be the final dwelling place for an evil man, the place for him who does not know God. (Job 18:5-21)

In 18:5-21 Bildad describes the terrible fate of the wicked, as a warning to Job concerning what lies in store for him if he maintains an arrogant, wicked attitude. Having enumerated the calamities that await the wicked, Bildad solemnly testifies, “surely” this is the destiny of the man who “does not know God”—the man who refuses to acknowledge God’s sovereign lordship over his life and his responsibility/accountability to God his Maker.

3. What affect does Bildad’s speech have on Job? See chapter 19 verses 1-2 (printed below)

Job replied, (2) How long will you torment me and crush me with words? (Job 19:1-2)

Job describes Bildad’s speech (and warning) as vexing to his soul: he is tormented and crushed by Bildad’s words. It is a message that brings grief to Job’s soul, it strikes to the very core of his being, (thereby showing that he is not a wicked man whose heart is callous and hardened.) This is the case even though Bildad’s speech is merely words: “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?” (19:2b). That is to say, Bildad’s message does not come against Job with the devastating power of conviction because it does not apply to him: Job is not a wicked man.

4. Does Bildad’s speech cause Job to recant and repent? See chapter 19 verses 4-7 (printed below)

If it is true that I have gone astray, my error is my concern alone. (5) If you would indeed exalt yourselves above me and use my disgrace against me, (6) understand that God has subverted me and drawn his net around me. (7) Although I cry out, “I have been wronged!” I get no response; even though I shout for help, there is no justice. (Job 19:4-7)

No. Job steadfastly maintains his innocence. He denies that he is guilty of great iniquity or willful wrongdoing, admitting only to being guilty of “error.” Job employs the Hebrew term that is used to describe inadvertent sin that is part of being human; “the kind of wrongful act that everyone commits by reason of being human” (The Book of Job, Hartley, p. 283). Job insists that it is not a matter that he has been ensnared in his own trap as the consequence of his transgressions, as Bildad implies (18:7-10). On the contrary, Job protests, “God…has drawn his net around me” (19:6). Job is not suffering the just and inevitable consequence of his own sinful conduct; rather, for some reason unbeknown to Job, God has seen fit to bring these calamities upon him.

5. What bold and confident assurance does Job express in chapter 19 verses 25-27 (printed below?)

But I know that my Redeemer is alive, and at last he will stand upon the earth. (26) After my skin has been so utterly mutilated, still, in my flesh, I will see God. (27) I myself will see him; my own eyes will see him. Indeed, I will see him personally, and not someone else. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)

Job expresses a bold and confident assurance that God will at last vindicate him: God will testify to Job’s innocence and restore him to fellowship. Job testifies, “I know that my Redeemer is alive, and at last he will stand upon the earth” (19:25). Here is Job’s firm and sure conviction (“I know”) that the divine Redeemer (Vindicator, Defender) will at last appear in Job’s defense and for his vindication. Although at present He has not revealed Himself and has not come forth to Job’s immediate defense; nevertheless, Job is certain that the divine Redeemer knows the facts of his situation and will finally act on his behalf. The basis of Job’s faith in a future vindication stems from his deep and unshakable confidence in the justice of God: although, for some reason presently unbeknown to Job, God has seen fit to suspend His enactment of justice on Job’s behalf; nevertheless, because of God’s divine integrity, that day of justice and vindication will come “at last.”