Bildad the Shuhite is first mentioned in Job 2:11 as one of three friends who come to comfort Job. Bildad, along with Eliphaz and Zophar, visit Job after they heard of the calamity that had befallen him. When Bildad first arrives, he cannot believe the horrific nature of Job’s condition. He mourns silently with Job for seven days (Job 2:12–13).
After Eliphaz, Bildad the Shuhite is the second of Job’s friends to speak. In Job 8, Bildad’s perspective is that Job should repent of his wrong. If Job repents, according to Bildad, all the material things he had lost will be restored: “If you will seek God earnestly / and plead with the Almighty, / if you are pure and upright, / even now he will rouse himself on your behalf / and restore you to your prosperous state” (Job 8:5–6). The implication of Bildad’s speech is that Job is not pure and upright and that material prosperity is directly linked to one’s righteous behavior. Job responds in Job 9 with a wish that he could plead his case before God and lamenting the fact that there is no one to intervene on his behalf.
Bildad’s second speech, in Job 18, focuses on the theme that God punishes the wicked. His logic is that, since Job is being punished, he must have done something wrong. In Job 19, Job responds with a plea to be left alone: “How long will you torment me / and crush me with words?” (verse 2). He also asks for his friends’ pity (verse 21) and declares that his God is alive and knows all things. God would be the one to judge him fairly, and Job puts his trust in Him (verses 25–27).
Bildad’s third speech, in Job 25, focuses on the idea that a person cannot be righteous before God. The center of this brief chapter says, “How then can man be in the right before God? / How can he who is born of woman be pure?” (Job 25:4). Job answers in Job 26 with sarcasm, arguing that only God can know all things and fully understand the situation.
In Job 42:7 Bildad and his two friends are rebuked by the Lord: “I am angry with you . . . because you have not spoken the truth about me.” In Job 42:9 Bildad, along with his partners-in-crime, obey the Lord’s command to offer burnt offerings, and they are forgiven their sin of misrepresenting the Lord.
Bildad’s and his friends’ speeches are an example of how people often view suffering from a human perspective and assume that suffering is always the result of doing something wrong. In the end, Bildad and company discover that God had allowed Job to suffer as part of His divine plan and that Job was not to blame for his trials.