2008-10-15 - Papyrus, Spiders, and Trees
Job 8:13, So are the paths of all who forget God, and the hope of the godless will perish.
In Job 8:11-19, we have an examination of the wicked or the hypocrite, using three examples. These are the words of Bildad, one of Job's three wise counselors. Let us remember that these so-called wise men were condemned by the Lord in 42:7-9 for their unwise counsel to Job, and because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has, 42:7. Job's friends condemned him for doing wrong. They said his afflictions proved he had sinned. Job's response to his affliction was sinful, but Job's friends asserted consistently that the afflictions must have been the result of some sin or impropriety in Job's life. This was not true, as we know from the first two chapters of the book of Job.
So before we look at the wisdom of Bildad, let us be careful to know and understand that the Lord, towards the end of the book, condemns the overall tenor of Job's counselors. However, there is some wisdom in the things that these men said. Not all they said was wrong, and in this passage 8:11-19, Bildad gives us helpful insights into the thoughts and nature of the wicked, and even more specifically, the hypocrite.
Bildad compares the wicked to three things: a papyrus/rush in a marsh, a spider's web, and a well-rooted tree. The rush is that tall green grass that grows up in swamps, but by Mid-Summer is brown and unsightly. We have probably all seen this. Bildad says that the hypocrite is like this. He looks good and attractive for a short time, but in the end, his true nature is shown to be what it is, and it is unsightly.
Secondly, the hypocrite is shown to be like a spider's web in Job 8:14, 15. Where does a spider's web come from? It comes from its own bowels. It is the creature of its own fancy. The hypocrite weaves out false thoughts concerning his own god, which he has invented in his own mind. Even worse, the wicked man, the hypocrite, is very fond of this god he/she has invented in their own mind. Rather than seeing themselves created in God's image and accountable to Him, they create a god in their own image and worship what their own minds have invented. Such is not the worship of the Living God of Scripture.
Lastly, the wicked is compared to a tree. We might think better of a tree with its firm roots, and stately nature, but the tree is easily cut down and quickly becomes a tree no more. The secure and prosperous sinner may think himself well, but (vs. 18) it is easily cut down, so that the passerby can say, I never saw you. So it is with the hypocrite.
The wicked make a great show for a time, but they are gone in a heartbeat, and they cannot stand before the Living God and Creator of Heaven and Earth. There is one outcome for the wicked. The way of the ungodly will perish, Psalm 1:6. All the wicked man's hopes, dreams and joys are not only shadows, but they shall be his/her very torments. The very things they joy in now - when they meet the Living God - will be their torments. Others take their place and they are remembered no more. This is the foolishness of the world. We are wise to see it, and to turn to the Lord and serve Him faithfully.
That really is the wisdom of this passage, and Bildad's counsel here is sound. We seek a firmer foundation than the sand that the world offers. We put aside the gewgaws of the world, all its neon flash, and as followers of Christ we grasp and hold firm to something more substantive, and of greater value than anything this world has to offer: The Lord Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,