Job 25:1-28:28 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. What are some of the things Bildad says about God in chapter 25 verses 1-6 (printed below?)

Then Bildad the Shuhite said, (2) Dominion and awe belong to God, he establishes peace in his heights. (3) Can his troops be numbered? Upon whom does his light not rise? (4) How then can a man be righteous before God? How can someone born of a woman be pure? (5) If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, (6) how much less is man, who is a maggot, or the son of man, who is a worm? (Job 25:1-6)

Bildad testifies that “dominion and awe belong to God” (25:2). That is to say, the Lord is the Almighty God who exercises sovereign dominion and complete control over all His creation (cp. Daniel 4:34-35); He is worthy of all reverence and holy fear (cp. Jeremiah 10:6-7a). Bildad goes on to affirm the infinite power of God—he declares that God is the Commander of an innumerable host of warriors (25:3a)—as well as His omnipresence and omniscience: “upon whom does his light not rise?” (25:3b). Finally, Bildad asserts that before the majestic God no man can be just or pure (25:4); when God, the source and the very essence of moral purity, brings the holy light of His being to bear upon man, mortal man is exposed in his sin, all pretensions to human goodness and acceptability before God are done away.

2. What does Job say about Bildad’s teaching in chapter 26 verses 1-4 (printed below?) Why does Job say this? See chapter 26 verses 5-14 (printed below) for Job’s own understanding of God’s greatness.

Job replied, (2) How have you helped the powerless! How have you saved the feeble arm! (3) What counsel you have given to one who is without wisdom! What helpful insight you have abundantly provided! (4) Who has helped you utter these words? Whose spirit spoke from your mouth? (Job 26:1-4)

The departed spirits tremble beneath the waters along with those who dwell in those waters. (6) Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering. (7) He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. (8) He binds the waters in thick clouds, yet the cloud masses do not burst under their weight. (9) He conceals the sight of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. (10) He marks out the horizon on the surface of the waters as a boundary between light and darkness. (11) The pillars of the heavens quake, being astonished at his rebuke. (12) By his power he calmed the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces. (13) By his breath the skies become clear; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. (14) And these are only the outer fringe of his works; how faint is the whisper we hear of him! Who then can comprehend the thunder of his power? (Job 26:5-14)

Job responds to Bildad by sarcastically accusing him of providing worthless counsel (26:1-4). Job acknowledges that he is without power, without strength, and without wisdom (26:2-3), and charges that Bildad’s counsel has not ministered to him: it has done nothing to help him and has made no contribution to the advancement of his spiritual knowledge. The reason Bildad’s teaching is of no value to Job is due to the fact that Job is already aware of the awesome majesty of God. Indeed, Job is even more acquainted with the divine majesty than Bildad, as he reveals from his testimony about God’s greatness (verses 5-14.)

3. How does Job describe the fate of the wicked? See chapter 27 verses 13-23 (printed below.)

This is the fate God allots to the wicked, this is the tyrant’s “inheritance” from the Almighty: (14) Although he may have many children, they are all destined for the sword; his offspring will never have enough to eat. (15) The plague will bury those who survive him, and their widows will not be able to weep for them. (16) He may heap up silver like piles of dust and clothes like piles of clay, (17) but whatever he accumulates, the righteous will wear; and the innocent will divide his silver. (18) The house he has built is like a spider’s web, like a shack made for a watchman. (19) He goes to bed wealthy, but for the last time; when he opens his eyes, he is gone. (20) Terrors overwhelm him like a flood; a tempest snatches him away in the night. (21) The east wind carries him off, and he is gone; it sweeps him from his place. (22) It hurls itself against him without mercy as he tries to flee from its power. (23) Men will clap their hands at him in derision and chase him from his community with hissing. (Job 27:13-23)

Job declares, “This is the fate God allots to the wicked” (27:13); this is what a wicked man can expect to receive from God. If the children of the wicked multiply in number, it is only that they may perish by the sword (27:14a): a reference to death at the hands of an invading army or a plundering band of marauders, ordained by God as a judgment against the ungodly. The godless man may accumulate vast amounts of wealth (heaping up silver as though it were a huge pile of sand), but ultimately it shall be the righteous and the innocent who shall inherit that wealth and come to enjoy it (27:16-17). Terrors shall overwhelm the wicked like a flood, sweeping him away into the darkness of the night (27:20-21). All this shall befall the godless man because God will cause the east wind to hurl “itself against him without mercy” (27:22); God, on the appointed day of judgment, shall exercise righteous vengeance, and that without mercy.

4. How does Job’s teaching in chapter 27 verses 13-23 (printed above) compare with what his friends have been saying?

What Job teaches is the very thing his friends have been maintaining all along, namely, that God judges the ungodly. Only the friends have been insisting that this just retribution occurs swiftly in this present world with few if any exceptions. Job recognizes that God’s righteous retribution against the wicked seldom is executed in this present lifetime, but he has the sure knowledge that it shall be administered in God’s appointed time.

5. Who alone knows what wisdom is and what does he say is its essence? See chapter 28 verses 23-28 (printed below.)

God understands the way to it; he knows where it dwells, (24) for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. (25) When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, (26) when he set a limit for the rain and a course for the thunderbolt, (27) at that time he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he prepared it and examined it. (28) And he said to man, “Listen. The fear of the Lord is wisdom, and turning away from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:23-28)

We are now informed that “God understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it dwells” (28:23). God knows where wisdom dwells; He has access to it and acquaintance with it because as the Lord of all creation, nothing is hidden from Him (28:24). God, who knows wisdom and who is the source of all wisdom, now Himself declares to man what is the essence of wisdom: “Listen. The fear of the Lord is wisdom, and turning away from evil is understanding.” (28:28) In other words, the essence of wisdom is to live a righteous life motivated by a holy reverence of God (cp. Ecclesiastes 12:13.)