Bildad – The Cleric
Bildad the Shuhite is the only description we are given for the second friend of Job. Shuah could be a place somewhere in the countries southeast of Palestine in the deserts of Arabia, or it may refer to his ancestor who was one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah. In many ways, he appears to be an outsider from a distant land and probably had a hard life in the desert. His rugged callousness cuts straight to the point without ‘sugar-coating’ or mincing his words. My mental picture of this man is someone with sun dried, wrinkly skin, squinty eyes and a rough raspy voice. He could be a combination of Yasser Arafat, Donald Trump and Rooster Cogburn (I realize that I have a vivid imagination!). Regardless, this friend displays a tough and abrasive approach to caring for a friend who has just lost it all. He is indifferent to Job’s condition and is intent on exposing the truth regardless of anyone’s feelings. He is arrogant from the start and increases his vehemence the more he speaks.
In many ways we know that his intent was consolation, but he became an accuser, asking Job what he had done to deserve God’s wrath. He begins with a very forward remark that practically states that Job’s children committed sins and they got their just rewards. (Job 8:4). The suggestion is made that this calamity came as a result of wickedness which warrants the punishment. This came from his surmise of the tradition of their elders which was passed down through the ages (Job 8:8-10) as well as his own study of ‘cause and effect’ (Job 8:11).
Bildad has two other speeches in which he identifies Job with the wicked men of his day and suffering from the same fate. The doctrine of depravity is underscored again and again as to the cause of Job’s plight. The friends are intent on making Job admit his guilt so that the Lord will relent from his punishment. Retribution of the wicked seems to be the only explanation for what these friends can understand about suffering.
Throughout his speeches, Bildad plays the role of a divine spokesman for the Lord. He feels he must vigorously defend the actions of God which gives him license to say things that are extreme and offensive. In this role of a Cleric, he hears the words of ‘suffering Job’with his head, but not with his heart. Do you know people like this, who are so obsessed with being right that they completely ignore the Lord’s command to be loving and compassionate?
As you study the character of Bildad, take a look at your own attitude toward those who are suffering around you. Do you look for a ‘cause and effect’ accompanied by divine retribution?
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