Job 25 Commentary: The God who created the universe has revealed himself in a book. The book that we hold in our hands. The Holy Scripture.
And there are numerous facts that we can gain about God from creation. But without this book we are left in the dark about much of what God is like and what he requires of his creatures.
And whenever we assume things to be true about God – without consulting his book – we are in danger of getting things really wrong.
This is the fate of the biblical character whose name is Bildad. We find him in the 25th chapter of the Old Testament book of Job.
And he’s continuing to assume certain things about God – apparently without much or even any biblical guidance and data – at least, not enough to come to right conclusions about the situation that his friend Job has been facing.
And at first, Bildad and his two friends came to Job – they had heard of his trials – and they intended to comfort him.
But we’ve seen through these last 24 chapters that whatever these men were doing – it was not comforting to Job.
And so, Job has just finished chapter 24 where he was arguing that evil people oftentimes go unpunished in this life – which would have been a rather scandalous thought to a man like Bildad whose assumptions about God and the world were very dearly-held – and yet apparently not informed by biblical data.
And Bildad didn’t like Job’s last speech in which he attempted to defend himself against the friends’ accusation that he was secretly wicked.
And so, Bildad is going to speak out against Job for the third and last time in this book.
Job 25 Commentary: God is Awesome and Powerful
And so, Bildad is going to start this extremely brief rebuttal to Job’s last speech – you can see that it’s six verses – by declaring that God is awesome and totally powerful.
KJV Job 25:1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
2 Dominion and [fear/awe/awesome might] [are with/belong to] [him/God],
[he maketh/who establishes/he establishes] peace in his [high places/heights].
So, the first line of Bildad’s comment makes pretty straightforward sense. He’s declaring that God is powerful. He rules everything. He has dominion. That belongs to him.
Job 25 Commentary: Fear in the Book of Job
Also fear belongs to God. That is, he deserves to be feared by his human creation. And in the book of Job, this is a fear that is not necessarily the reverential awe that we often identify as a wholesome healthy fear.
In the book of Job, the word translated as fear here is spoken by Job in chapter 3 as his response to certain things that God had now brought into his life. He never wanted to have to deal with them ever – but now God has thrust them upon him.
Eliphaz says that this fear is his reaction to that crazy night vision that he reportedly saw back in chapter 4.
Job threatened the friends back in chapter 13 that if they keep showing partiality against him that this fear will end up being their response to when God comes and reproves them – which is just what happens at the end of this book.
Eliphaz in chapter 15 says that evil people experience sounds that elicit this fear as they’re resting and at ease.
Job then says – on the contrary in chapter 21 – that actually evil people don’t experience this kind of fear because God seems to never punish them.
Then Eliphaz once more appeals to Job to realize that he’s experiencing this kind of fear as a result of his sin.
And Job basically agrees in chapter 23 – yes, he is afraid of God in this way because of God’s mysterious and seemingly-harsh treatment of him.
And so, I mention all seven of those references to this word fear in the book of Job to point out that this is not the wholesome fear of the Lord that a book like Proverbs speaks of. The way that people in the book of Job are thinking about this fear is a slavish emotion based upon punishment.
And this is the kind of emotion that now Bildad is asserting is due to God. He admits that God elicits this kind of fear.
Job 25 Commentary: Second Line
OK, so the first line of this verse is straightforward. What’s a bit more difficult is what he’s talking about in the second line of the verse that we just read.
What does Bildad mean when he says that God makes peace in his high places?
Job 25 Commentary: High Places in Job
There are five references to this location in the book of Job. This obscure reference to this place in this verse is – of course – one of those five.
In chapter 16 Job insists that this location is where his witness and his advocate are. The only one who can plead his case is there – in the heights. And I argued there that he’s speaking of God. So, where God is – that’s this place.
Chapter 32 has Job speaking of God being above and the Almighty being in this place referenced in Bildad’s speech.
Then there are two other references that speak more of a state of existence – where you were at one point low and humble and weak – but God has changed things and so now you’re really “on high” or in “high places.”
But that’s not what Bildad is talking about here. He’s talking about God’s dwelling place – in the heavens – on high.
Job 25 Commentary: Making Peace
And so, God does something in that place in which he dwells. Bildad says that he makes or establishes peace – shalom – there.
And this peace as it’s spoken of in this book focuses on the safety that one would expect – or at least hope for – in the comfort of one’s own home.
And no doubt that God does that – though the book of Revelation seems to indicate that there is even now some amount of war there due to Satan’s activities. Even the first two chapters of this very book indicate that there isn’t total peace in the heavens. Remember Satan coming to God and accusing God and Job of impropriety – once God mentioned Job to Satan, that is?
Yeah, so not all is right in the heavens. God certainly at any moment would be able to bring about peace. And he will someday. But that hasn’t happened yet – and it hasn’t happened – by his own sovereign plan and design.
Job 25 Commentary: A Strong Military Presence
OK, well, how does Bildad say that God makes and establishes peace where he dwells on high in heaven? According to verse 3 – he does this by a strong military presence.
3 Is there any number of his armies? [Can his armies be numbered?…]
and upon whom doth not his light arise?
And again – like verse 2 – verse 3 presents us with a first line that’s fairly easy to understand and then a second line that is a little over our heads initially.
Job 25 Commentary: First Line
Bildad began verse 3 by asking a rhetorical question. The point of the question is to say that God’s armies are so numerous that there’s no possible way that they could be counted.
And even though that’s fairly simple, it’s interesting to note that the word for armies is not Sabaoth or the word from which we get “hosts” as in “the LORD of Hosts.”
Rather, it’s actually a word that Job used earlier in chapter 19 to describe the way he felt God was treating him. And that was that God was sending these armies or troops against him in wave after wave of crushing punishment.
So, Bildad is looking at these armies rather positively. But for Job, these armies represent a very confusing defeat and destruction from God’s hand.
Job 25 Commentary: Second Line
So, that first line is pretty simple. But that second line again. What does that mean?
Job 25 Commentary: Light
Well, Job in chapter 24 had spoken several times about light. And in that context, he was asserting that there are numerous evil people who rebel against the light. They don’t want to know its ways or abide in its path.
And the way that Job speaks about light there in chapter 24 is kind of unique to this book up to that point.
Leading up to that chapter, Job spoke of light and used that to symbolize life. For example, he spoke of miscarriages who never see the light. That is, they don’t get to enjoy living in God’s world here and now.
But that’s not what Job is talking about in chapter 24. There, he’s using that term to speak of moral light. Not physical light – but moral principles and guidance from God. Those mindsets and philosophies and practices that – when followed – act as a light would function on a dark and dangerous trail. That’s what Job means when he was talking about the light in the last chapter.
And so, perhaps here now in chapter 25 Bildad is reacting to that. He’s trying to argue that everyone has God’s light. No one is hidden from God in darkness – like Job was asserting in the last chapter. Everyone – and all their sin – is revealed by God’s wonderful light.
Job 25 Commentary: How this Applies to Job
And of course, then Bildad is hinting that Job himself is not able to hide from God either. In Bildad’s mind, Job is meeting with the consequences of not being able to escape from God’s armies or escape from his light.
Bildad would assert that God is making peace in his heavens by punishing Job for his secret sin – which Job surely thought was outside of God’s notice.
Job 25 Commentary: None is Righteous
And in light of the fact that God is aware of everything – and that no one can escape his notice – then Bildad goes on to argue in verse 4 that no one could ever possibly be considered righteous by God.
4 How then can man be [justified/just/righteous] [with/before] God?
or how can he be [clean/pure] that is born of a woman?
And when Bildad asks this question, he’s not even thinking of what our minds go to immediately as New Testament Christians.
We read this and we start thinking that Bildad is denying that salvation from our sin is a result of being justified by our faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, Bildad may have disagreed with that – we don’t know – but that’s not what he’s talking about here. Instead, Bildad is doing two things.
First, he’s responding to Job’s insisting that he is right or righteous or justified or just. It’s all the same way to translate the Hebrew word that Bildad uses here and that Job has used as he’s been insisting to these friends of his that he is in the right and is not guilty of sin that’s bringing God’s chastening.
Job has claimed that his righteousness is still intact. He declares that even though he’s right he wouldn’t be able to answer God and though he’s righteous his mouth would condemn him – as in he can’t seem to find a way to plead his case and prove his righteousness to God. Later on, Job declares that he knows that he will be vindicated – same word translated as righteous here. And so, Job has said many time and in many ways what God acknowledged of his to Satan in the beginning of this book. The man is righteous.
And meanwhile – just as sure as Job is of his righteousness – his three friends are just as sure of his complete lack of it.
And so, Bildad – following the practice laid down by these three men already – is saying – there is no way that you will be justified before God. Because Bildad was just asserting that God knows all. No one escapes his light – not the evil people that Job mentioned in chapter 24 and not Job himself who is experiencing chastening for his sin – according to the friends’ view of reality.
So, Bildad is denying that Job is righteous before God – or that Job could even possibly be righteous before and vindicated by and justified by God. It’s impossible, he says.
And second though, Bildad is simply borrowing and rearranging a statement used by Eliphaz earlier in this book from chapter 15.
And so, I think this shows a lack of creativity and original thought on Bildad’s part. He’s really just mimicking what he’s heard Eliphaz say.
And this reality of Bildad’s simply restating a question used by Eliphaz against Job earlier might be what makes Job cut him and the other two friends off after this chapter closes.
Job 25 Commentary: Greater to Lesser
Now, from that initial argument – that no one – and especially not Job – can be justified or vindicated by God – Bildad goes on to try to offer proof of this fact.
And Bildad in verses 5 and 6 is going to offer a greater to lesser argument. That is, if this reality is true of greater things – which is verse 5, then surely it applies to lesser things – in verse 6.
And in this case, the greater things are heavenly bodies – verse 5.
5 Behold even [to the moon, and it shineth not/the moon has no brightness/the moon is not bright]; [in God’s sight…]
yea, the stars are not pure [in his sight/as far as he is concerned].
So, Bildad asserts that the moon is not bright to God. And he’s right about that if what he means is that God doesn’t need it to help him see. Light and darkness are all the same to God in the sense that he can see perfectly clear in both conditions.
That might be what Bildad means. Or maybe it isn’t. And I don’t think it’s worth spending a lot of time considering what he really means, actually.
And I say that because yet again, even this verse is Bildad restating an argument made by Eliphaz back in chapter 15. Only there, Eliphaz said that the entire heavens aren’t pure in God’s sight. Bildad is now just claiming that the starts are impure.
So, Bildad is trying to prove that it will be impossible for Job to vindicate himself before God. And as he argues that, he points to the fact that God isn’t all that impressed with the heavens and the heavenly bodies that he himself created.
And that’s kind of surprising for us – because to us those created entities out there are amazing. Furthermore, we might tend to assume that moral fault is associated only with humans. But Bildad is arguing that God finds fault even with these celestial creations of his.
Now, whether Bildad is right about all that or not – he’s definitely wrong as he uses these considerations to try to “comfort” Job – which has mainly consisted of him accusing Job of secret sin and not really listening to what he has to say.
Job 25 Commentary: Lesser
OK, but remember that Bildad is in the middle of a greater-to-lesser argument. He’s just claimed that God finds fault even in these seemingly-impeccable heavenly creations of his. That’s the greater.
And so, if the greater is the case, then the lesser is definitely the case. And in Bildad’s mind, the lesser argument is that Job – just like any human – will never be vindicated before God.
6 How much less man, [that is a/that/who is but a] [worm/maggot]?
[and the/a] son of man, [which is a/that/who is only a] worm?
Now, we need to keep in mind that the worm that Bildad is speaking of here is likely the same kind of worm that’s been the subject of several verses in this book already.
And that worm is not the earthworm – the kind that birds pull out of the ground or that get washed out of their holes when it rains too much.
No, this worm really is the maggot. The creature that is the larva of flies – that are attracted to rotting matter – typically dead things.
This is the creature that Job claimed was clothing his skin – along with clods of dirt. Job has been so ready to die and be consumed by these awful creatures that he poetically has started to call them his sister and mother – identifying them as family. These creatures cover the dead bodies of both men who have wonderful perfect lives and those whose lives are miserable.
And that’s how Bildad pictures mankind – especially in comparison to the heavenly bodies. They’re loathsome disgusting bugs that feed on dead matter.
And we need to remember that in chapter 24 Job characterized his friends’ arguments and assertions. And one of the things that he says that they claim is that the evil person always meets with swift death – and as a result, he says, the worm will feed sweetly on that person. That’s what Job says that his friends keep claiming. And interestingly enough, that’s what Bildad – as the last friend to speak – mentions here. He’s not at all denying what Job sort of mocked them for saying. No – he’s saying it with more force and vigor than before.
And that’s the last bit of worthless “comfort” that any of these friends give to the suffering Job. Because we don’t hear from any of them ever again in the pages of Scripture.
But Job – on the other hand – has a lot more to say. And we’ll continue to hear it in the coming weeks and months.