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Bildad accuses Job of presumption and impatience: he shews that the light of the wicked shall be put out; that brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation, and that none of his posterity shall survive.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 18:1. Then answered Bildad the Shuhite— Bildad, irritated to the last degree that Job should treat their advice with so much contempt, is no longer able to keep his passions within the bounds of decency. He proceeds to downright abuse; and, finding little attention given by Job to his arguments, he tries to terrify him into a compliance. To that end, he draws a yet more terrible picture of the final end of a wicked man than any preceding, throwing in all the circumstances of Job's calamities, that he might plainly perceive the resemblance; and, at the same time, insinuating that he had much worse still to expect, unless he prevented it by a speedy change of behaviour: Job 18:2 to the end; that it was the highest arrogance in him to suppose that he was of consequence enough to be the cause of altering the general rules of Providence: Job 18:4 and that it was much more expedient for the good of the whole, that he, by his example, should deter others from treading in the same path of wickedness and folly: Job 18:5-7. Heath.
Job 18:2. How long, &c.— How long will you hunt after cavils against established maxims? speak your meaning plainly, and we will reply. The sense is, that it was in vain to puzzle the cause with cavils and exceptions; that he should give a plain instance where a righteous man was ever known to have had punishment inflicted on him; or else own the truth of the established maxim, that punishment was a sure mark of wickedness. Heath.
Job 18:3. Wherefore are we counted as beasts? &c.— This refers to the 10th verse in the former chapter, where Job had, indeed, treated them very freely.
Job 18:4. He teareth himself in his anger— Thou sayest, he collects all his fury against me. But shall the earth be forsaken, &c.? Houbigant. See the introductory note on the first verse, and ch. Job 16:9.
Job 18:5. Yea, the light of the wicked— Rather let the light of the wicked be put out. Heath.
Job 18:8. For he is cast into a net— The metaphor is taken from a beast, which the hunters have driven into the toils. He runs here and there, striving to find a way out; but the net entangles him more and more, till at length it fastens upon him. Heath: who translates the last clause, he runneth to and fro in the toils; and he observes well, that, the word robber, in the next verse, having no relation to the preceding metaphor, it would be rendered more properly, and the noose fasteneth close upon him. See Houbigant.
Job 18:11. And shall drive him to his feet— And shall be spread around at his feet] Houbigant. The same metaphor seems to be continued.
Job 18:12. His strength shall be hunger-bitten— The Vulgate renders this, His strength shall be eaten by famine; which appears to be a good translation, and still keeps up the image in the former verses: as does the next clause, Destruction shall be ready at, or for his side, alluding to the arrow which is fitted to the string, and ready to be discharged at him. See ch. Job 12:5.
Job 18:13. It shall devour, &c.— Filthy ulcers shall consume his skin; an untimely death shall destroy his children. Heath and Houbigant. This sarcasm was peculiarly adapted to the case of Job, whose skin was thus consumed, and whose children had been destroyed in this manner. The reader must have had occasion frequently to remark, in this book, how often, amid the sublimity of the eastern metaphors, the author drops the metaphor, and treats of his subject simply: as in the present case; having spoken of the wicked man under the metaphor of a wild beast caught in a snare, in this verse he considered him no longer in that view, but speaks of him immediately in his own character.
Job 18:14. And it shall bring him to the king of terrors— Horrors shall attack him, like a king. Heath.
Job 18:15. It shall dwell in his tabernacle— They shall take up their habitation in his tent, because he hath no survivor: brimstone shall be sprinkled upon his habitation. As much as to say, "Since he hath no one to survive him, his posterity is utterly exterminated: horror takes possession of his habitation, and it is sprinkled with brimstone, that no person may ever after inhabit it, but that it may remain an object of terror to future ages." The image is grand, and worthy of the tragic style. Heath. But I should rather think, that the sprinkling of brimstone upon his habitation alludes to the known custom of purifying a house with sulphur, after it had been abused to wicked and riotous purposes. See Numbers 31:20.
Job 18:20. As they that went before were affrighted— As his elders were seized with horror. The plain meaning of the verse seems to be, "His elders, who saw so signal an instance of divine vengeance, were seized with horror; and whoever, in after-times, should hear his history related, would be in amazement at it." Heath.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Bildad sharply takes up the discourse, and seems the more exasperated at Job's fancied presumption and obstinacy.
1. He charges him with impertinent talkativeness; as if he took pleasure in hearing his own voice, and would never have done with his idle words, (arguments, or reasons, he will not call them,) as if they were mere empty sound, Vox et praeterea nihil. Note; (1.) They who engross the conversation, and withal say nothing worth hearing, deserve rebuke. (2.) It is too common with disputants to treat each other with contempt and rudeness; but abuse is not argument.
2. He intimates that Job was inattentive to their sound reasonings, and that it was vain to speak unless he would pay some greater regard to their discourse. Note; It is endless speaking to those who will not hear.
3. He regards himself and his friends as highly insulted: because Job had, chap. Job 17:4 spoken of them as wanting understanding, and chap. Job 12:7 referred them to the beasts for wisdom, he would infer that he esteemed them as brutish and vile. Note; Many people are apt to suspect affronts which were never intended.
4. He accuses him of mad rage. He had said, chap. Job 16:9. "he teareth me in his anger:" No (says Bildad), you are your own tormentor; your passions are your plague, Note; Unmortified passions bring their curse and punishment along with them.
5. He charges him with insolent expectation of changing the settled order of Providence: Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? shall God invert his order of government, and for thy sake cease to punish the wicked, and bless the righteous? and shall the rock be removed out of his place? the unchangeable God alter his purposes, and no longer give to a man according to his works? No: the supposition is presumptuous and arrogant. He first takes it for granted, that Job's sufferings were the punishment of his iniquity, and founds on them this heavy charge.
2nd. Bildad here largely describes the misery of the wicked, and this with a view to Job's case; but he greatly erred from the mark. For, though all that he can say of a sinful state, respecting its punishment and wretchedness, be true, yet it does not always appear in this world; for neither are all who are sinful outwardly afflicted and miserable, nor do the greatest sufferings at all prove the want of the most solid piety.
1. Darkness shall overwhelm the wicked man. His light of prosperity shall be quickly extinguished; the sparks of worldly comforts that he rejoiced in shall be quenched; his family shall be reduced to deep distress, and he shall go down to his grave in darkness and misery. Note; (1.) The joys of a wicked man are but as the sparks from a furnace, so quickly will they be fled and gone. (2.) There is a curse upon the house of the ungodly; and his ill example sways those who belong to him; they perish together.
2. He shall be ensnared and enslaved by afflictions; his strong steps of health shall be straitened by sickness; or his large possessions, round which he stalked in pride, shall be cut short. His craft shall entangle him, and be his ruin; the net that he spread for others shall take his own feet; and, wherever he walks, the snare of sin, and consequently misery, is at his heels; he shall be caught without power to escape, and the robber shall spoil him, unable to make resistance: hidden dangers surround his steps, and sudden destruction is ready to fall upon him. Note; (1.) Satan first lays the snare of sin; and if once the soul come into his net, he will as surely be a tormentor as he hath been the tempter. (2.) When God leaves a wicked man to his own counsels, he rushes headlong into ruin.
3. Terrors make him afraid on every side: within, an accusing conscience; before him, death looks ghastly, the grave yawns, an offended God frowns, hell opens. He would take to his feet; but whither can he run, to fly from God, or from himself? Note; Many a wretched soul flies to amusements, cares, and dissipations, for ease; but vain the attempt: Haret lateri lethalis arundo.
4. Famine and destruction shall come upon him, and devour him to his very skin: and the most terrible of deaths shall bring him down to his grave. All his confidences shall fail him; he shall be rooted out of his tabernacle after beholding the desolations spread around it, and no one comfort remaining; and at last, as a malefactor reluctantly dragged to execution, he shall be brought to the king of terrors, terrors unspeakable before death, in death, after death. Note; (1.) Death is terrible to nature, till grace has disarmed him of his mortal sting; but to the impenitent sinner he continues a king of terrors, the most terrible of all terribles. (2.) When God strikes, vain are friends and physicians, and every human support. In that hour, the most infatuated soul will feel every creature-comfort and confidence to be vanity of vanities.
5. His family shall fall with him. Death will erect his throne in the sinner's tabernacle, nor leave it till ruin, like that which was poured on Sodom, hath utterly laid it waste; because it is none of his, being gotten by fraud and oppression, or by his abuse justly forfeited. Neither root nor branch shall remain; struck as with the lightning's blast, no heir shall inherit his estate, neither son nor nephew; nor so much as a creature be left in his desolate habitation.
6. His memory shall perish. He thought to perpetuate a great name in the earth, but the remembrance of it shall be blotted from the annals of time. Darkness, utter and eternal, must receive him, driven from his prosperity reluctant, and chased out of the world as a savage beast whose death is a deliverance to the country. Note; However great and honourable among men the prosperous sinner appears, his end will be to lie down in shame and everlasting contempt.
7. His cotemporaries, amazed at God's judgments, shall hear of his fall, and posterity be astonished at the relation.
8. Bildad sums up his speech, with confidence of the truth of what he had spoken: Surely, such are the dwellings of the wicked, as above described; and this is the place, the miserable lot assigned the reprobate soul of him that knoweth not God; for ignorance of God is at the bottom of all sin, and ruin eternal the wages of it.
In all this description of a wicked man's sufferings, there is an evident allusion to Job's case; afflicted in his person and his family, robbed and spoiled, seeing the desolations of his house, acknowledging the terrors that he felt, and bemoaning his hopeless wretchedness: and hence Bildad would infer, that, being like the wicked in his sufferings, he must have resembled them in his sins.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 18". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20