In Job chapter 26, Job answers Bildad’s “Get ready, I’m gonna teach you something now” speech with wisdom and reproof. He goes on for five chapters in his own defense because, quite obviously, this broken, weary, suffering man has really had enough. It wasn’t just Bildad. It was all the falseness and foolishness he’d endured up to this point. Job states his case.
Then Job answered and said:
2 “How you have helped him who has no power!
How you have saved the arm that has no strength!
3 How you have counseled him who has no wisdom,
and plentifully declared sound knowledge!
4 With whose help have you uttered words,
and whose breath has come out from you? ~Job 26:1-4
Job mocks Bildad. The one who is constantly under observation and interrogation turns the tables and, instead of answering, questions.
Job asks essentially three things:
How have you helped me – a weak and suffering man?
What good counsel or wisdom have you given?
From whom has your diction come?
His direct questions answer themselves. How crystal clear Job has made the foolishness, the insensitivity, the supposed instructions of his friend. Here’s what Job’s questions are saying to Bildad:
Prove yourself, Teach. I can’t find any comfort or encouragement from the little truth booth you’ve set up and keep dragging me into. So you tell me, just how does this “wisdom” apply? How can it help me? What is its use? Your pretending to convince me of that which I’ve so long known is not helpful or comforting. In fact, it’s driving me out of my mind. Do you think I’m in spiritual preschool? Do you think your “God is good, man is bad” speech has any proper place in my beyond broken heart right now? I know my God and I know how he speaks. This is not him.
Matthew Henry sums the issue up beautifully: “Was it to me that thou didst direct thy discourse?…Everything that is true and good is not suitable and seasonable. To one that was humbled, and broken, and grieved in spirit, as Job was, he ought to have preached of the grace and mercy of God, rather than of his greatness and majesty, to have laid before him the consolations rather than the terrors of the Almighty. Christ knows how to speak what is proper for the weary, and his ministers should learn rightly to divide the word of truth, and not make those sad whom God would not have made sad, as Bildad did; and therefore Job aks him, ‘Whose spirit came from thee?’ that is, ‘What troubled soul would ever be revived, and relieved, and brought to itself, by such discourses as these?’ “
The rest of Job’s reply goes on to agree with the truth Bildad spoke. He proves that he is not at all at odds with the truth or with God. No. Job is only at odds with the undiscerning, lacking-in -love attitude of his counselors.
We must get this, church. If there’s ever been a Bildad, it is certainly I. There is no place for careless truth-slinging toward the broken. The bountiful Jobs in our culture need truth with love-slinging. They need truth with mercy-slinging. The suffering need grace, comfort, and encouragement for the fire they have been called to walk through. Before we speak, let us continually ask,
Will this truly help?
Is this truly wise?
Is this from God or me?
Sincerity plus truth does not always equal wisdom.
Lord, let us not be truth slingers. Help us learn how to love one another.