NO HEART OF PITY
Eternal Father, I thank you that each day I live under your unsleeping eye. How great you are!
Read JOB 18
18 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “When will you end these speeches?
Be sensible, and then we can talk.
3 Why are we regarded as cattle
and considered stupid in your sight?
4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,
is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?
Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
5 “The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out;
the flame of his fire stops burning.
6 The light in his tent becomes dark;
the lamp beside him goes out.
7 The vigor of his step is weakened;
his own schemes throw him down.
8 His feet thrust him into a net;
he wanders into its mesh.
9 A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare holds him fast.
10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground;
a trap lies in his path.
11 Terrors startle him on every side
and dog his every step.
12 Calamity is hungry for him;
disaster is ready for him when he falls.
13 It eats away parts of his skin;
death’s firstborn devours his limbs.
14 He is torn from the security of his tent
and marched off to the king of terrors.
15 Fire resides[a] in his tent;
burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling.
16 His roots dry up below
and his branches wither above.
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth;
he has no name in the land.
18 He is driven from light into the realm of darkness
and is banished from the world.
19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people,
no survivor where once he lived.
20 People of the west are appalled at his fate;
those of the east are seized with horror.
21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;
such is the place of one who does not know God.”
- Job 18:15 Or Nothing he had remains
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’1
Bildad is enraged by Job’s arguments and what he sees as his self-justification. If he had his way, he would silence Job completely (v 2). This inability to listen to those who disagree with us is concerning. It reflects a basic insecurity with our own position. It underlies the book burning and restrictions on internet usage that so often mark totalitarian states. As Christians we should not be afraid to let others express views contrary to our own. We should share our faith ‘with gentleness and respect.’2
Bildad, however, returns to his simple world view. Wicked people suffer. Good people prosper. Job is suffering, so why is he so self- centered and irrational? Why doesn’t Job stop being so stubborn? Bildad’s indignation is remarkable given that he is not the one who is suffering. We can lose sight of what really matters when our theological ideas become unhitched from compassion. Bildad lacked emotional intelligence and had no eyes to see Job’s pain. He was locked into a simplistic system that he felt explained all of life but ignored the evidence in Job’s story because it challenged his presumptions. His main priority was his own reputation (v 3) rather than comforting poor Job. Worse is to come.
Job is even accused of torturing himself (v 4). There follows a long poem (vs 5–21) in which Bildad blames Job for causing his own skin disease (v 13), bringing about drought (v 16) and destroying his own family (v 19). After his rant Bildad might have felt some relief, but Job must have been badly stung. His use of east and west to describe Job’s infamy is in stark contrast to God’s mercy in Psalm Bildad’s world view is void of grace.
Let the words of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ comfort your heart today. Choose grace as your key to understanding God’s ways. Ask for grace to be sensitive to the suffering of others.
Lord, thank you for your forgiveness, restoration, and strength. Help me to be prepared when times of testing come.
1 Ps 103:12 2 1 Pet 3:15