Small men cling to big names. Bildad was a small man. In order to put Job down and make him feel small, Bildad brought in the towering giant of history and tradition. Here’s how he built his line of reasoning:
“For inquire, please, of the former age, And consider the things discovered by their fathers; For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, Because our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you, And utter words from their heart?” (Job 8:8-10, NKJ)
Born yesterday? Bildad is trying to make anything Job would argue seem small. He posits that the ancients, people who lived long ago, had things figured out better than we do. Small men still do this today.
Listen to name droppers. Why do they bring celebrities or big names from the past into their conversation? Because they feel small. Sure, Aristotle, Plato, George Washington, C. S. Lewis, and Charles Finney may have had good things to say. But just because they are a blast from the past does not make them right.
Truth does not arrive with layers of dust on it. Truth comes from God. Should we discard tradition? Should we ignore “the things discover by the fathers”? Then again, some guys are so small they throw out tradition altogether. What is the right approach?
Truth comes from God. If we find a tradition that follows the truth of God as revealed in His word, then we have found a valid resource—a useful point of reference. Great men quote great men who understood great truths. Small man grasp for any big name to make self look important.
Bildad’s assessment of Job’s situation is very wrong. However, Job feels powerless and buys into this wrong analysis. Small thinking hurts others. We need a right understanding of our world according to God and the truths of Scripture. If our ancestors get invited to the conversation, goody for them. If not, we must move forward with what “thus says the Lord” and not just some rusty ritual from antiquity.