May 2, 2023 - Job 8-10
So, it’s time for another friend, Bildad, to speak with Job, though it's more of a “speaking at” than a “speaking with.” Bildad doesn’t really know as much as he thinks he does. He asks, “Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?” (8:3) Theologically sound questions, but far removed from Job’s situation. Bildad’s pronouncements are more like uninformed and arrogant shibboleths than useful and helpful reflections on Job’s condition.
What a shame! Bildad’s words, on the surface, are so full of truth: If one seeks mercy from God, he will receive it; our days on earth are but a shadow; the hope of the godless shall perish; God will not reject a blameless man; etc. But none of this addresses Job’s need. Bildad is a well intentioned counselor to Job (I really believe he is); he’s also a worthless counselor.
Job responds by acknowledging the truth in Bildad’s words: “Truly I know that it is so . . .” (9:1). But Job needs someone other than Bildad to help him; he needs someone who can speak with God on his behalf. Job’s own experience is that he cannot seem to reach God on his own: “Behold, he passes by me; and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him” (9:11).
Furthermore, Job cannot simply put out of mind his troubles: “If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer, [it just doesn't work]” (9:27; the last, a bit of paraphrase). Oh, if Job could only have a face to face with God, but . . . “he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us” (9:32). Yet, Job continues to cry out to God: “I will speak . . . I will say to God . . .” So, the questions begin to pour forth from Job (ch. 10). He seems to be at a complete loss, but he also seems to sense that if he is to find answers, he will find them with God, not with man. Not just yet, but soon, Job will be able to sing these words. But, for now, that he knows his answers lie with God well, that's a good start!
Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend! -- Robert Grant (1833)