Job 36 Commentary

Job 36 Commentary

Job 36 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 36 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 36.

In Job 36, we’re still hearing from this man named Elihu. And he’s still attempting to correct Job.

Job 36 Commentary: “listen to me” 1-4

So, Elihu begins by urging Job to listen to him.

KJV Job 36:1 Elihu [also proceeded, and said,/continued and said,/said further:]

2 [Suffer me a little/Wait for me a little/Be patient with me a little longer], and I will [shew/instruct] thee
[that I have yet to speak/that there is yet more to be said/for I still have words to speak] on God’s behalf.

3 [I will fetch/With] my knowledge [from afar/I will speak comprehensively],
and will ascribe righteousness to my [Maker/Creator].

4 For [truly/in truth] my words [shall not be/are not] false:
he that is [perfect/complete] in knowledge is with thee.

And embedded in Elihu’s plea for Job to listen to him is Elihu’s purpose. Elihu wants to “ascribe righteousness to” his Maker and Creator – to God.

Elihu believes that God has been – to use a common phrase these days – “thrown under the bus.” How is that?

Well, Job has been struggling to understand why he’s suffering. He has believed that if he’s righteous then God will continue to bless him. Instead, now Job is seeming to be punished – even though he’s still righteous.

And as we saw in this book – Job has an explanation for this and his three friends do, too.

The three friends say that Job has sinned and that’s why he’s getting punished.

But Job – for his part – has been starting to accuse God of doing wrong – of denying him justice.

And Elihu wants to set the record straight. God is righteous in all that he does. And so, that’s what Elihu is going keep doing in this chapter – ascribing righteousness to God.

Job 36 Commentary: argument 5-21

So, let’s investigate Elihu’s next point in this book. How is Elihu going to ascribe righteousness to God now?

5 [Behold/Indeed], God is mighty, [and/but] despiseth not [any/people]:
he is mighty [in strength and wisdom/and firm in his intent].

So, God is mighty. And Elihu could be saying that God is both mighty and that he doesn’t despise or think little of anyone – or he could be saying that despite God’s might, he still doesn’t think little of all the little people in this world.

Because the tendency of people in this world – if they’re strong – if so think little of those who are weak. But that’s not the way that God works. He is just in that sense.

So, that’s positive. But there’s a negative that Elihu wants Job to know about.

6 He [preserveth not the life of/does not keep alive/does not allow to live] the wicked:
but giveth [right/justice] to the [poor/afflicted].

So, God deals with the wicked and the poor in different ways. He doesn’t despise anyone – but at the same time he’s not going to give special protection to the wicked. Likewise, God gives justice to the poor and afflicted – which is what Job has been challenging – thinking that God has denied him justice. Elihu says, “Not so!

Then Elihu focuses-in on the righteous and how God treats them.

7 He [withdraweth/takes off] not his eyes from the righteous:
but with kings are [they/the righteous] on the throne;

yea, he doth establish them for ever,
and they are exalted.

So, not only does God not despise the righteous poor and afflicted people of this world, not only does he give them justice – but Elihu says that it’s as if God puts them on thrones alongside kings! God exalts them! And Elihu says that God does this for that kind of person forever!

But sometimes life is hard for these people. And Elihu says as much next. Sometimes those righteous whom God exalts – well, they experience affliction.

8 And if they be bound in [fetters/chains],
and [be holden/are caught/are held captive] [in/by the] cords of affliction;

9 Then he [sheweth/declares to/reveals to] them [their work/what they have done],
and their transgressions [,] that they [have exceeded/have magnified themselves/they were behaving proudly].

So, Elihu says that there are times – and he’s not saying that this is always the case necessarily – but sometimes a righteous person – whom God is so concerned about – sometimes a person like that is afflicted. Yes, Elihu says, that does happen in this life.

And when it happens, God is often gracious to let that righteous person know what sin he committed – how that person was acting proudly, for example.

And Elihu continues to paint the picture of God drawing a righteous man who has sinned back to himself graciously.

10 He [openeth also their ear/reveals this] [to/for] [discipline/instruction/correction],
and commandeth that they return from [iniquity/evil].

So, that’s what Elihu says about the righteous. God exalts them and favors them. But at the same time, he’s not going to ignore any sin that we commit.

Well, so that’s God’s approach to them. But how the righteous react to God’s treatment of them can take two different paths.

Here’s the first way that a righteous individual can respond to God’s painful dealings with him.

11 If they obey and serve him,

they shall [spend/end/live out] their days in prosperity,
and their years in [pleasures/pleasantness].

And by the way, that is of course how things end up for Job. He does obey and serve in response to God’s dealings with him. And he does end up spending the rest of his days in prosperity and pleasure.

But here’s the other possibility in terms of how the righteous will respond to God’s chastening of them.

12 But if they [obey not/do not hear/refuse to listen],

they [shall perish by the sword/pass over the river of death],
and [they shall die/expire] without knowledge.

So, that’s the second way that those who seem to be righteous can take to God’s painful dealings with them.

And such a person will prove that he’s not really righteous, but rather he’s given another term to describe him if he responds poorly to God’s chastening.

13 [But the/The] [hypocrites/godless] [in/at] heart [heap up/lay up/nourish] [wrath/anger]:
they cry not [when/even when] he bindeth them.

14 They die in [i.e., their…] youth,
and their life [is/perishes/ends] among the [unclean/cult prostitutes/male cultic prostitutes].

So, someone who appears to be righteous shows himself to actually be a godless hypocrite by not crying out to God when he’s in trouble.

And I want to emphasize that for us. God wants us to cry out to him in our afflictions. It’s not something that he wants us to grit our teeth and bear silently. He wants us to call out to him in those difficult times that he brings into our lives.

Because if a person doesn’t do that – doesn’t call out to God – Elihu says that that person is heaping up wrath. And God will sometimes kill a person like that when they’re young. Their end is totally shameful.

On the other hand though…

15 He delivereth the [poor/afflicted] [in/by] [his/their] affliction[s],
[and openeth their ears/he reveals himself to them] [in/by their] [oppression/suffering].

So, Elihu is saying that Job should take heart. God uses oppression and suffering to open our ears to his voice. And Elihu gives Job hope that God will deliver him even in the midst of his afflictions.

And that’s the positive message that he continues into verse 16.

16 [Even so/Then indeed/And surely] [would he have removed/he enticed/he drew] thee out of the [strait/mouth of distress] into a broad place, where there is no straitness;
and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.

So, Elihu holds out hope that God can and will deliver Job out of his situations that feel constricting and confining and uncomfortable – and that God will lead him out into a free, open, broad space as it were.

But God hasn’t done that for Job just yet. And Elihu thinks that that’s because Job has been focused on the wrong thing.

17 But thou [hast fulfilled/were full of/are preoccupied with] the judgment [of/due] the wicked:
judgment and justice take hold [on/of] thee.

So, because Job has been so concerned about the kind of treatment he thinks that he should be receiving and comparing that to what wicked men deserve, Elihu says that judgement and justice have taken told of him.

And that’s likely saying that God had brought judgement and justice upon Job – because Elihu goes on to talk about wrath in the next verse – perhaps the wrath that comes with God’s judgement and justice.

18 Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke:
then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.

NAU Job 36:18Beware that wrath does not entice you to scoffing;
And do not let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.

NET Job 36:18 Be careful that no one entices you with riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.

So, Elihu says that Job needs to be careful. God is already bringing some level of judgement and justice to bear on him. And if Job isn’t careful – if he doesn’t stop being so preoccupied with what the wicked deserve versus what he deserves – then there’s this wrath from God that might be ratcheted-up and there’s a real possibility that God will take Job away with the stroke of his discipline.

And if that were to happen, there’s no ransom – no amount of money – that can deliver Job.

And that’s what Elihu reemphasizes in the next verse.

19 Will [he esteem thy riches/your riches keep you from distress/your wealth sustain you so that you would not be in distress]?
[no, not gold, nor/even] all [the forces of strength/your might efforts].

So, nothing can deliver Job from God’s wrath. So, Elihu’s message to Job is to stop aggravating God by his constant comparing of his situation to what wicked people deserve.

And then Elihu seems to say that Job’s concern that others be judged is a dangerous preoccupation.

20 [Desire/Look for/Long for] not the [cover of the…] night,
[when people are cut off in their place/when people vanish in their place/to drag people away from their homes].

So, Elihu makes it sound as if Job is waiting for the cover of night in order to drag people off from their place. That’s Elihu’s way of saying that that’s what Job’s extreme concern that the wicked get their judgement in this life right away – amounts to.

And that might seem like an extreme statement – like, would Job really drag people away at night? But Elihu finishes this sub-section in this chapter by saying that Job has turned to evil in his affliction in other ways – so what he said is not so far-fetched.

21 [Take heed/Be careful], [regard not iniquity/do not turn to evil]:
[for this/for because of this] hast thou [chosen rather than/been tested by] affliction.

So, Elihu warns Job here. He pleads with him not to turn to doing evil. Elihu thinks that Job has already turned to it in his heart – and the prime example of that turning to evil for Elihu is when Job started questioning God’s justice in this world.

In Elihu’s mind, Job has chosen evil rather than to just take his affliction in stride.

And next time, we’ll pick up our study with the next verse as Elihu extols God’s awesome power.

Job 35 Commentary

Job 35 Commentary

Job 35 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 35 Commentary: Sometimes we get the idea that God reacts to our sin or righteousness in predictable ways that make sense to us.

We might look at the effect and assume the cause. What I mean by that is we might witness ourselves or others being blessed and we assume that the cause for that blessing is that we somehow pleased God and that obliged him to do something good for us.

Or we might observe the cause and then assume what the effect will be. Under that system, we might see others sinning and we assume that God is going to really deal with them in this life. Because after all that makes sense to us. That person is sinning against God. That’s a personal offense to God. And he certainly won’t let that slide!

But those assumptions are faulty. God is above mankind and doesn’t need to immediately respond to us in kind. You’ve heard of the phrase, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” But you’ve never heard it from the lips of God.

And that is going to be the point of Elihu – the character in the book of Job whose words we’ve been taking in for the last several lessons in this book.

So, let’s turn our attention to the 35th chapter of the book of Job. Job chapter 35.

Job 35 Commentary: A Question

And here we see Elihu beginning this short chapter by asking a question intended to challenge something that Job said.

KJV Job 35:1 Elihu [spake moreover, and said,/continued and said,/answered:]

2 [Thinkest thou this to be right/Do you think this is according to justice/Do you think this to be just],
[that thou saidst/do you say/when you say],

My [righteousness/right] [is more than/before] [God’s/God]?

So, Elihu is saying that Job apparently asserted that he is more righteous than God. Either that, or Job is maintaining that he is right or righteous – and he’s doing that before God’s presence. Or Job is demanding his right – his fair hearing – in God’s presence.

Job 35 Commentary: Contradiction

And so, Job is asserting either that he’s more righteous than God or simply that he is righteous in God’s sight. But Elihu wants to challenge that assertion because of a few more statements that Job has made that seem to contradict what Job has insisted on.

How could a righteous man say the following things?

3 [For thou saidst/For you say/But you say],

What [advantage will it be unto/will it profit] thee? and,
[What profit shall I have/what do I gain], [if I be cleansed from my sin/more than if I had sinned/by not sinning]?

So, basically, Job – according to Elihu – is questioning how it even profited him to not sin.

How does that work?

Well, in Job’s mind, God works like this: you do good, you get good. You do bad, you get bad. Like my illustration at the start of this message.

What has Job done in his life? Good or bad? Good!

So, what does Job – in his mind – deserve as a result? Good or bad? Good.

But what has Job received from God’s hand? Good or bad? Bad.

But in Job’s mind, what kind of action calls for God to bring bad things into your life? Good works or bad works? Bad works call for bad things from God.

So, Job is looking at that situation and saying, “If I’m going to receive bad from God, then why did I strive to live such a righteous life? I might as well have done evil and I would have received the same result from God.

Job 35 Commentary: Look Up

And Elihu of course does not agree with Job on that point. And really – I’m pretty sure that Job under normal circumstances would have disagreed with that sentiment – that it doesn’t matter if you’re righteous of sinful.

And Elihu is now going to respond to that idea that Job has expressed. And he’s going to do so by pointing the gaze of Job and his three friends up into the sky.

4 I will [answer/reply to] thee,
and [to…] thy companions with thee.

5 [Look/Gaze] [unto/at] the heavens, and see;
[and behold/consider] the clouds [which/–they] are higher than thou[./!]

Now, certain types of clouds form higher than 39,000 feet [http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/cld/cldtyp/home.rxml]. That’s over seven miles. That’s the distance from Whitewater, WI to the south-east outskirts of Fort Atkinson, WI.

So, that’s a long distance when we’re speaking of miles from one city to another. And that’s a high altitude when we’re speaking of the distance from the earth to the clouds.

Those clouds are high. But there’s a being who is higher than those clouds. And that is God.

Job 35 Commentary: God is Unaffected

And as we’re going to see from the next few verses, Elihu’s point is that God is high – higher than those clouds – and he’s unaffected by what a person does so far below down on the earth that he’s created.

And that’s a point that both Job and his three friends need to hear – because they seem to have adopted the mindset that if you scratch God’s back, he’ll scratch theirs. That’s Retribution Theology – do good and God rewards because he owes you something basically, do bad and God punishes because you harmed him somehow.

But Elihu says that’s not how God works.

6 If thou [sinnest/have sinned], [what doest thou against/what do you accomplish against/how does it affect] [him/God]?
or if thy transgressions [be multiplied/are many], what doest [thou/it] unto him?

Now, other passages of Scripture indicate that the sins of God’s people do affect him in certain ways. He grieves over them. They make him angry. A book like Jeremiah is full of references to God reaching a limit of patience regarding the sins of his people – and subsequently needing to punish the sin and the sinners.

But in an abstract way, I suppose that we can say that sin does not affect God negatively. They don’t hurt him. They don’t detract from him or his glory or his holiness in any way. They don’t take away from his person at all.

So, that’s what Elihu says that Job’s sins don’t do.

Job 35 Commentary: Righteousness

But further, Elihu states what Job’s righteousness doesn’t accomplish.

7 If thou be righteous, what [givest thou/do you give to] him?
or what receiveth he of thine hand?

So, sinning doesn’t take anything away from God – who is higher than the clouds. And in contrast, being righteous doesn’t add anything to this lofty God.

We don’t complete God by being righteous. Doing good as one of God’s creatures doesn’t somehow add to God’s perfections. We don’t make him better in any way by being good.

So, that’s what Elihu says that Job’s sins and righteousness do not accomplish. They don’t affect God in any meaningful way.

Job 35 Commentary: Good and Evil Affect Men

But instead, a person’s wickedness or righteousness might affect himself.

8 Thy wickedness [may hurt/affects only] a man [as thou art/like yourself];
and thy righteousness [may profit the son of man/only other people].

So, a person’s righteousness or wickedness isn’t some big liability or asset to God. But they might be so to another person.

And that’s correct. When a person sins, that sin usually affects someone else. And when a person is righteous – he’s loving his neighbor – and therefore at least his neighbor experiences some benefit from that behavior.

And while God wants people to be righteous and not wicked – it ultimately doesn’t harm or benefit him either way. God is fine – whether people are good or bad.

That’s the first response that Elihu gives to Job’s assertion that it doesn’t matter if a person sins or not – since Job feels like he is receiving the punishment that sinners deserve – even though he himself was righteous. Elihu just points Job to the sky and pictures God as above those high clouds and says that ultimately your actions don’t affect God.

And I think that Elihu is getting at is that God’s dealing with Job may have nothing to do with Job’s personal sin or his righteousness. And if that’s what Elihu is saying, then he’s absolutely right. God sending suffering into Job’s life had nothing to do with Job’s behavior. It involved realities that neither Job, nor his friends, nor even Elihu knew about.

And so Elihu starts by saying that God’s dealings with people doesn’t need to be based on their own behavior.

And that’s quite a departure from what Job’s friends – and even Job himself – had been asserting. All four of them have been convinced that a person’s behavior always moves God to deal with that person in-kind. You do evil – you get evil. You do good – you get good.

And that is often the case. But not always. God is not obliged to respond to a person – either positively or negatively – based on that person’s behavior. He can repay evil for evil. But oftentimes he doesn’t. God can also repay good for good to a person. But at the same time, he’s not obliged to do so.

So, that’s Elihu’s first response to Job in this chapter.

Job 35 Commentary: Second Response

So, let’s see what else Elihu says.

And here’s how he starts his second response in this chapter – by painting a picture for us of poor helpless people being oppressed by those who are powerful in this world.

9 [By reason/Because] of the [multitude/excess] of oppressions [they make the oppressed to cry/they cry out/people cry out]:
they cry [out/for help] [by reason/because] of the [arm/power] of the mighty.

And this is a reality in this life – in both Job’s days and in our own time. Sinful people with power often abuse those who have no power.

This is not how God intended it in the beginning. It’s a situation that Job and his friends have all decried and denounced. It’s a situation that should bother us as well.

Job 35 Commentary: Not Seeking God

Nevertheless, these poor abused people who are crying out – far too often they’re not crying to the right source. They’re not seeking help from God.

10 But [none saith/no one says],

Where is God my [maker/Creator],
who giveth songs in the night;

11 Who teacheth us more than the [beasts/wild animals] of the earth,
and maketh us wiser than the [fowls/birds] of [heaven/the sky]?

So, God is the one who gives joy. He gives “songs in the night.” Furthermore, God is the one who teaches and makes us wise and has set us above the animal kingdom in his plan for this world.

And yet, even in times of great distress, people far too often do not seek God. We try to find solutions of our own making. In our troubles, we don’t turn to the one bringing that trouble – the one who alone is able to do anything about our trouble.

Job 35 Commentary: God Won’t Act

And because of that pride, God isn’t inclined to do anything for that kind of person.

12 [There/Then] they [cry/cry out], but [none giveth/he does not] answer,
because of the [pride/arrogance] of [evil men/the wicked].

So, the very people who are oppressed by evil powerful men – are now themselves identified as evil. Why? Because they don’t seek God in their trials and afflictions.

Job 35 Commentary: Defending God’s Inaction

And God can’t be expected to respond to these people by delivering them from their problems when they’re not even crying out to and seeking him.

13 Surely God will not [hear/listen to] [vanity/an empty cry],
neither will the Almighty [regard/take notice of] it.

So, Elihu asserts that God refuses to hear the cry of people who are in distress – but in that distress they don’t seek after God and don’t seek his help and don’t recognize him as the one who gives joy and wisdom.

Job 35 Commentary: Job is Being Treated this Way

And therefore, Job shouldn’t be surprised at the way that God is treating him.

14 [Although/How much less when] thou sayest thou [shalt not see/do not behold/do not perceive] him,
[yet judgment/the case/that the case] is before him; [therefore trust thou in/and you must wait for/and you are waiting for] him.

So, Elihu says that Job is claiming to not be able to see or find God. So, Job is at least looking for God – unlike the people in Elihu’s story who were crying out but not even seeking God.

And Elihu said that God won’t answer cries that are not directed to him. Well, Job is crying and he’s directing those cries to God.

And because of that, Elihu encourages Job to wait for God – to trust in God. Why? Because judgement is before him – the case is before him.

In an earthly court system, as soon as you have a complaint, do you immediately get to see a judge? No. Sometimes it takes weeks or months to get a court date set. But – rest assured – you will get your date in court and you will be heard by the judge.

And that’s what Elihu is saying – just wait for God. The judgement is before him. He’s taking note of everything. He’s even noted that you’re crying out to him. Therefore, he won’t delay forever. But he’s not working on your timeline. So, wait for him. Trust in him to make things right in his time.

Job 35 Commentary: Not Punishment

And then Elihu seems to attack the idea that Job’s suffering has to be identified as God’s punishing him.

15 [But/And] [now/further], [because/when you say] [it is not so, he hath/he has not] [visited/punished] in his anger [his anger doesn’t punish…];
[yet he knoweth it not in great extremity/and he doesn’t know transgression]:

And that verse is a difficult one to interpret. But it seems that Elihu is saying that God is not visiting or punishing in his anger in Job’s life. Job’s suffering is not necessarily God’s anger poured out on him.

And then either God or Job doesn’t know something “in great extremity.” I think he’s saying perhaps that Job doesn’t know something.

What doesn’t Job know? Job doesn’t know that God is not punishing Job in anger.

Job 35 Commentary: Conclusion

And because of all of this…

16 [Therefore/So] doth Job open his mouth [in vain/to no purpose];
he multiplieth words without knowledge.

And God actually repeats Elihu’s words here – that Job multiplies words without knowledge. And so, we know that Elihu is correct on that point.

And I think he’s been correct on the rest of the points that he’s made in this chapter, too.

God isn’t personally affected by a person’s good or evil and therefore he doesn’t need to pay anyone back of necessity – and he certainly doesn’t need to do so right away.

When people are afflicted, they often do not turn to God for help. But Job is turning to God for help and therefore, Job needs to trust in and wait for God.

Job needs to be assured that he’s not being punished by God.

And ultimately, all that Job has said about it not mattering whether one sins or lives righteously – all of that is vain – empty – purposeless. Job has been talking a lot – but in this area he’s speaking without knowledge.

And we’ll hear more from Elihu in the next chapter next time.

Job 34 Meaning

Job 34 Meaning

Job 34 Meaning
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 34 Meaning: It’s a sad reality that in our times of suffering, it’s all too common – as we’re grasping for answers and struggling to be content with our situation – to suspect that God has gotten something wrong. We might ask, “why, God?” And sometimes – though we would be embarrassed to say it – that question is really revealing that in our hearts we’re questioning God’s justice – we’re questioning whether he’s doing right in our situation.

And we’ve seen Job do just that in this book that we’ve been studying. And what we’re going to see today is that this relatively new character – Elihu – take great issue with Job’s assertion that god is being unjust.

So, let’s turn our attention to Job 34.

And Elihu here begins this chapter with an appeal for Job and his three friends to listen to him.

KJV Job 34:1 [Furthermore/Then] Elihu [answered/continued] and said,

2 [Hear/Listen to] my words, [O ye/you] wise men;
[and give ear unto/and listen to/hear] me, [ye that have knowledge/you who know/you learned men].

And we’re not given any reason to believe that Elihu is being sarcastic or disrespectful in any way. He is addressing these men – probably all four of them – Job and his three friends – as “wise” and ones that have “knowledge.”

And Elihu acknowledges that what he says is open for their evaluation.

3 For the ear [trieth/tests/assesses] words,
as the [mouth/palate] tasteth [meat/food].

So, just like a person can taste food and determine whether it’s good or not – Elihu claims that these men should be able to listen to what he’s saying and determine whether or not it’s right.

And then he encourages all of these men – and himself included – to believe and practice what is right in terms of what he’s been saying and what he will be saying in this chapter.

4 Let us [choose/evaluate] [to us/for ourselves] [judgment/what is right]:
let us [know/come to know] among ourselves what is good.

And I admit to personally being on the fence regarding how to think about Elihu. It’s more comfortable to not come down on what he’s saying as either right of wrong.

But if Elihu were sitting right here, he would strongly disagree with that approach. Elihu doesn’t want you and me to be neutral about what he’s saying. It’s either right or wrong. And he asserts that we are able to evaluate what he says and to render a judgement.

And if Elihu is right – then he wants Job and his friends to adopt his mindset and thoughts about Job’s situation.

And the words that Elihu wants Job and his three friends to test are now what Elihu will be talking about in the rest of this chapter.

And just like Elihu’s first speech, in this – his second speech – he’ll be starting with what he’s heard Job saying.

5 For Job [hath said/says],

[] I am [righteous/innocent]:
and God [hath taken/turns] away my [judgment/right].

6 Should I lie [against/concerning] my right?

my wound is incurable
[although I am…] without transgression. []

So, Job has maintained that he is righteous and innocent of all crimes that he thinks would move God to punish him in the way that Job perceives himself to be being punished. And that much is fine for Job to say.

But Job has gone further than that. And he’s claimed that God has taken away his judgement or his justice.

And we all closely identify with Job’s struggles and feelings and temptations. And I think that we would tend to overlook statements made by Job that are a little over-the-top and inaccurate in various ways.

But Elihu is not going to cut Job any slack on this matter of his accusing God of denying Job justice.

And actually, Elihu goes on to harshly accuse Job of scorning God and joining hands with wicked people in verses 7 and 8.

7 What man is like Job,
who [drinketh up/drinks] [scorning/derision] like water?

8 [Which/He] [goeth/goes about] in company with [the workers of iniquity/evildoers],
[and walketh/he goes along] with wicked men.

So, Elihu is claiming that Job drinks up derision like someone would drink water. That is, it comes very naturally to Job. It’s something that he does repeatedly and without much thought. Job scorns God often and with very little effort. That’s according to Elihu.

And Elihu is not saying in verse 8 that Job is a wicked man. That’s what Job’s three friends were claiming – that Job actually is wicked. But instead Elihu is saying that Job is acting like wicked men. He goes about – as it were – in the company of evildoers.

Job himself is not wicked. But according to Elihu Job is acting like he’s wicked. And that’s because Job is saying that God is not being just with him.

And then Elihu reports that Job has gone even further and claimed that there’s no point in finding your delight in God.

9 For he [hath said/says],

[] It profiteth a man nothing
[that/when] he [should delight himself/is pleased/makes his delight] with God. []

So, worshiping God – according to Job – is not profitable.

Now, the fact is that I can’t find Job saying this anywhere. I can’t even figure out what Elihu might be paraphrasing from what Job has said.

I suppose this is a logical conclusion of what Job is asserting. If God perverts justice against one who delights in him then – yes – I suppose the conclusion of that reality would be to recognize that it doesn’t profit a person to delight in a God like that.

You delight in him. He turns around and mistreats you. That’s the picture that Job is basically painting.

And so, that is very unsettling to Elihu. And, he demands once more that these men listen to him.

10 Therefore [hearken unto/listen to] me,
ye men of understanding:

And, Elihu is going to do his best to vindicate God.

far be it from God, [that he should do/to do] wickedness;
and from the Almighty, [that he should commit/to do] [iniquity/wrong/evil].

And if Job is accusing God of wickedness, then – yes – we all disagree with him on that point. And that’s how Elihu is interpreting Job’s words. Job is asserting that God is doing wickedly – that he’s committing iniquity. And that’s just plain wrong.

No – in fact – God is totally just and he treats men according to what they deserve…

11 For [the work of a man shall he render unto him/he pays a man according to his work/he repays a person for his work],
and [cause every man to find according to/he causes the consequences to find him] [ß à] [his ways/the conduct of a person].

So, God treats each person the way that that person deserves to be treated.

And even if it seems to Job’s eyes like he’s suffering for no reason – and that God is not treating him the way that he deserves – Elihu goes on to say that God always does right.

12 [Yea, surely/Surely/Indeed, in truth] God [will/does] not [do/act] wickedly,
[neither will/and] the Almighty [pervert/does not pervert] [judgment/justice].

And so, once again Elihu denies Job’s claim that God is perverting or denying justice to Job.

And we might not be as offended by that insinuation as Elihu is – that God is denying justice to Job. But Elihu is now going to spell out why that accusation is so troubling to him – and should be to us.

13 Who [hath given/gave/entrusted to] him [a charge/authority] over the earth?
[or/and] who [hath disposed/has laid on him/put him over] the whole world?

So, the fact is that God must do right. If he doesn’t, who’s going to call him to account? No one put him in charge of the world. He’s just always been in that position. And to question the justice of the only one who has the right to rule this place is absurd.

We are truly completely dependent upon his grace and mercy – and, yes, his justice!

14 If [he/God] [set his heart upon man/should determine to do so/were to set his heart on it], [do what?…]
if he [should…] gather [unto himself/in] his spirit and his breath; [God’s, I think, not man’s…] [what would happen?…]

15 All flesh [shall/would] perish together,
and [man/human beings] [shall turn again/would return] [unto/to] dust.

So, how dependent we are on God! We can rest assured that he’s going to always do what is right. But really, if he wanted to do anything he pleased – no one could stop him. And how thankful we all are that God always acts according to his character – and his character is always just.

Well, that idea of God’s absolute sovereignty over mankind sets Elihu off to once again appeal for these men to listen to him.

16 If [now thou hast/you have] understanding, [hear/listen to] this:
[hearken to/listen to/hear] [the voice of my words/the sound of my words/what I have to say].

And Elihu’s words are going to probe how Job could think that there would be any way for God to rule if he were unjust?

17 [Shall/Do you really think that] [even he that hateth right/one who hates justice] [govern/rule/can govern]?
and wilt thou [condemn/declare guilty] [him that is most just/the righteous mighty one/the supremely righteous one]?

So, it seems like Elihu is appealing to Job’s reason and really attacking Job’s questioning of God’s justice. Like – how could you really in your heart of hearts believe that God – the sovereign – the ultimate – that he would really be unjust?! People condemn the wicked. But you’re proposing to condemn the only being with no trace of wickedness! Do you see the impropriety of what you’re saying??

And then Elihu points out the fact that Job wouldn’t accuse a human ruler of unrighteousness to his face – and yet, he’s going to do that to God??

18 [Is it fit to say/Who says] to a king, [Thou art wicked/Worthless one/Worthless man/Belial]?
and to [princes/nobles], [Ye are ungodly/Wicked ones/Wicked men]?

No – it’s not fit to say those things to those people. We submit to rulers and authorities.

Well then… why would you accuse God of injustice?

19 [How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of/Who shows no partiality to] princes,
[nor regardeth/and does not take note of] the rich [more than/above] the poor?

for they all are the work of his hands.

So, God is going to be just to both rich and poor. He’s not impressed with princes. He’s not despising the poor. Because he made them both.

And in contrast to the eternal God, mankind – whom God has created – is momentary and temporary.

20 In a moment [shall they/they] die,
and the people [shall be troubled/are shaken] at midnight, and pass away:
and the mighty [shall be taken away/are removed] [without hand/without a hand/effortlessly].

And so, while Job would never accuse a king or prince of injustice – one of these guys who was made by God – Job is straying into the arena of accusing that very God … who created those people … whom Job would not dare accuse of injustice…

But the reality is that these kings and princes very well might have clouded judgement. But the same is absolutely untrue of God. God sees and knows all – especially in regard to the people that he’s created.

21 For his eyes are upon the ways of [man/an individual],
and he [seeth/observes] all his [goings/steps].

22 There is no darkness, nor [shadow of death/deep shadow],
where [the workers of iniquity/evildoers] [may/can] hide themselves.

And because of that, God doesn’t even need to take time to consider whether or not to punish people who do wrong. He just knows and doesn’t need time to discover the facts like a human judge would.

23 For he [will not lay upon man/does not need to consider a person] [more than right /further/still];
that he should [enter into judgment with God/come before God in judgement].

So, God doesn’t need any time to consider a person to know if he should be brought into God’s presence to be judges. God just knows perfectly who needs what. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him. He also knows the completely correct course of action for each of us without even needing to ask or consider what to do.

And God knows exactly whom to depose from power in this life and whom he would like to raise up to take the place of those people.

24 He [shall break in pieces/shatters] [mighty men/the great] without [number/inquiry],
and [set/sets up] others in their [stead/place].

And notice the emphasis on God doing these things “without number” as the KJV presents it – or “without inquiry.” In other words, God doesn’t need to search out a matter like a human king does. No – God knows everything without the need to inquire or ask questions.

And because of that infallible knowledge, God alone is able to deal with people according to his justice.

25 Therefore he knoweth their [works/deeds],
and he [overturneth/overthrows] them in the night,

[so that/and] they are [destroyed/crushed].

So, God can overthrow mighty men whose deeds displease him in the night – when no one is watching.

But God can also take care of these people openly.

26 He striketh them [as wicked men/like the wicked/for their wickedness]
in [the open sight of others/a public place/in a place where people can see];

And Elihu is going to return to a concept he said at the beginning. He’s said in this chapter that God justly deals with people according to their deeds. They earn punishment – they get it.

And so, these people that Elihu has been highlighting that get overthrown at night and struck in public by God – this happens to them for a reason. It’s because their deeds are evil.

So, why does God chasten and punish these people?…

27 Because they [turned back/turned aside/have turned away] from [him/following him],
and [would not consider/had no regard for/have not understood] any of his ways:

And here’s an example of their wickedness that calls God to act…

28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come [unto/before] him,
[and/and that/so that] he [heareth/might hear/hears] the cry of the [afflicted/needy].

And God doesn’t answer for his behavior and choices with people or nations…

29 [When he/But if God] [giveth quietness/keeps quiet/is quiet], who [then can make trouble/then can condemn/can condemn him]?
[and when/if] he hideth his face, who then can [behold/see] him?

whether it be done against a nation,
or against a man only:

So, Elihu has been speaking of how God deals with individuals – with “a man only” – for most of this chapter. But he just now in that last verse mentioned how God deals with nations.

And so, now Elihu is going to declare that God acts in the affairs of nations. And he does so in order to prevent wicked people from ruling and leading people astray…

30 [That/So that] [the hypocrite/godless men] [reign not/would not rule],
[lest the people be ensnared/and not lay snares for the people].

And God is doing all of this – bringing trouble – chastening – he’s doing this all justly according to what everyone deserves. And he’s doing these things with the repentance of these people and nations in mind.

31 [Surely it is meet to be/Has anyone?] said unto God,

I have [borne/endured] chastisement,
[but…] I will not [offend/act wrongly] any more:

32 That which I [see not/cannot see] teach thou me:
if I have done [iniquity/evil], I will do no more.

So, Elihu seems to be leading Job in a model response to God’s chastisement. The right response to God’s just – but sometimes painful – actions in your life is to repent. Be humble. Admit where you’ve done wrong. Be teachable. This is what Elihu says that God is looking for.

But in Elihu’s mind, Job is not taking this posture with God. And I’m going to read this next verse from the KJV and then from two other versions to help us understand what Elihu is saying.

33 Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it,
whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I:

therefore speak what thou knowest.

NAU Job 34:33 “Shall He recompense on your terms, because you have rejected it?
For you must choose, and not I;

Therefore declare what you know.

NET Job 34:33 Is it your opinion that God should recompense it, because you reject this?
But you must choose, and not I,

so tell us what you know.

So, I gather from this verse that Elihu is asking Job whether he really thinks that God needs to act according to Job’s own thoughts and preferences. After laying out how God acts justly, Elihu is expecting that Job will see how foolish it is for him to expect God to act in keeping with how Job thinks he ought to act.

But Elihu is giving Job a choice. Job can accept what Elihu says about God acting justly in this life according to peoples’ deeds. Or Job can reject what Elihu is saying. The choice belongs to Job.

And if Job does plan to reject – then Elihu would like to know what Job thinks on the matter.

But since Job doesn’t answer Elihu ever – therefore, Elihu will now declare that everyone who is wise will disagree with what Job says about God being unjust…

34 [Let men/Men] of understanding [tell/will say to/say to] me,
[and let a/and a/any] wise man [hearken unto/who hears/listening to] me [says…].

35 [] [Job hath spoken/Job speaks/that Job speaks] without knowledge,
and his words [were/are] without [wisdom/understanding].

36 [My desire is that Job/Job/But Job] [may/will/ought to] be [tried/tested] [unto/to] the [end/limit]
because [of his/he/his] answers [for/like/are like those of] wicked men.

37 For he addeth [rebellion/transgression] unto his sin,
he clappeth his hands [among us/in our midst],
and multiplieth his words against God. []

So, either verses 35-37 is what the men in verse 34 are saying – or Elihu is personally speaking verses 36 and 37 and is expressing a desire for Job to be judged for his statements. Either way, Elihu ends this chapter with no uncertainty as to what he thinks of Job’s asserting that God is withholding him justice – that God is not being righteous with Job.

And there are things that Elihu has said and will say that I just don’t know if they’re right or not. And yet, I do know that at key points and in important ways, what Elihu is saying is right. God will repeat several of the things that Elihu brings up – so in at least those ways, Elihu is right.

And one of those key areas in which Elihu is right is that Job – by holding to his own innocence and starting to question how a righteous God who punishes evil and rewards good could still be righteous and yet punish him for doing good.

Elihu says that questioning God’s justice is off-limits. It’s not an option on the table.

And for us, brethren, when we experience suffering in this life – let me just plead with all of us to not question God’s justice. Never doubt that God is right and that he’s wise. We might not understand God’s ways. But we must trust his wisdom.

And I look forward to continuing to receive this kind of admonition next time as Elihu continues his discourse.

Job 33 Commentary

Job 33 Commentary

Job 33 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 33 Commentary: People say things about God and other people that just aren’t right. 

And when we hear people saying those kinds of things, we’re often compelled to speak in defense of God or those other people. 

And that’s the position that the biblical character Elihu finds himself in in the 33rd chapter of the book of Job.  

So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 33. 

1-7 Job Should Listen to Elihu 

We enter this chapter with Elihu requesting that Job listen to him. And that’s really the gist of what he says for the first seven verses of this chapter. 

KJV Job 33:1 [Wherefore/However now/But now], Job, [I pray thee, hear/please hear/listen to] my [speeches/speech/words],
and [hearken/listen] to [all my words/everything I have to say]. 

Then, Elihu requests that Job take notice that he’s speaking to him. 

2 [Behold/See], now I [have opened/open] my mouth,
my tongue [which] [hath spoken/speaks/has spoken] in my mouth. 

And Job should listen, because Elihu promises that both the source and the content of his speech are pure and good. 

3 My words [shall be of/are from/come from] the uprightness of my heart:
and my lips [shall utter/speak/will utter] knowledge [clearly/sincerely]. 

And then Elihu tells Job that the God who alone gives wisdom created him. 

4 The Spirit of God hath made me,
and the breath of the Almighty [hath given/gives] me life. 

And we remember that Elihu in the last chapter (Job 32:8) declared that it’s not just old age that guarantees that a person is going to be wise. The greater your age does not necessarily indicate that your wisdom will be greater than those younger than you. That’s what Elihu claimed. 

Instead, Elihu said that it’s the Spirit of God that gives wisdom. The breath of the Almighty gives understanding. 

And so, Elihu is saying here in this verse that God made – God, who alone gives wisdom – created Elihu. And I think that Elihu is implying that since the God who gives wisdom made him, then Job ought also to listen to the wisdom that God has given him. 

And then Elihu challenges Job to respond to his words, if Job is able. 

5 [If thou canst/If you can] [[Symbol] [Symbol]] [answer/refute/reply to] me,
[set thy words/Array yourselves/Set your arguments] in order before me, [stand up/take your stand]. 

And even though this might be sounding like Elihu feels superior to Job, Elihu is now going to remind Job that they are on the same level. 

6 [Behold/Look], I am [according to thy wish/just like you] in [God’s stead/relation to God]:
I [also/too] [am/have been] [formed out of/molded from] the clay. 

And the way that the KJV translates the first part of that verse, it sounds like Elihu is saying that Job wants to speak to a man like him rather than to God.  

But of course, that’s not what Job has been saying at all. He’s been demanding God to personally respond to his complaints.  

And so, I think the alternative translation is preferable – because it’s possible grammatically – and makes a lot more sense in the context. 

So, Elihu is saying that both of these men – Job and Elihu – are in the same position – of being creatures before God. Neither is superior to the other. They’re both made of clay. 

And because Elihu is on the same level as Job – Job shouldn’t be afraid of him. 

7 [Behold/Therefore], [my terror shall not/no fear of me] [make thee afraid/should terrify you],
[neither/nor] [shall/should] my [hand/pressure] [be/weigh] heavy upon thee. 

And what Elihu might be implicitly acknowledging here is that if God were to come to Job and speak, Job would be terrified. But Job should be glad that Elihu has come – rather than God – because Elihu is just a man and won’t terrify Job. 

So, in a way – at least according to Elihu – Elihu’s presence and words should be welcomed by Job – because the alternative would be for God to come and bring the pressure to bear upon Job. 

But of course, we’ll see later on that apparently both Elihu and God are needful for Job to hear from. 

So, that’s how Elihu ends these first 7 verses of this chapter – in brief, he wants Job to listen to him. 

8-33 

Well, now that Elihu has established that Job should welcome him and listen to what he has to say, Elihu is going to take issue with a few things that Job has said throughout this book. 

8 [Surely/Indeed] thou hast [spoken/said] in mine hearing,
and I have heard the [voice/sound] of thy words, saying, 

9-12 Elihu Summarizes What Job Has Said 

And here’s what Elihu reports that Job has said. And he’s going to list them out in verses 8-12. 

First, in verse 9 Elihu says that Job has claimed total innocence. 

9 I am [clean/pure,] without transgression,
am [innocent/clean]; neither is there [iniquity/guilt] in me [i.e., and I have no guilt…]. 

And Job has indeed said things like that – in Job 9:21; 10:7; 23:7; 27:4; ch. 31. [NET] 

So, Job has maintained his total innocence. 

But God on the other hand – according to Job – is making up false reasons to punish him. 

10 [Behold/Yet], [he/God] [findeth/invents] [occasions/pretexts] [against/with] me,
he [counteth/regards] me [for/as] his enemy, 

And Job has said things similar to what we just read – in Job 10:13ff.; 19:6ff.; and 13:24. [NET] 

And so, Job is innocent. But God is inventing pretexts by which he can punish Job. And here’s the kind of treatment that Job says that he’s receiving from God as a result. 

11 He putteth my feet in [the stocks/shackles],
he [marketh/watches/watches closely] all my paths. 

And Job did say this kind of thing in Job 13:27. [NET] 

So, Elihu summarizes what Job has said: Job is innocent of any sin. God is making-up accusations against Job. And then God executes punishment based on those made-up accusations. 

12-30 Elihu Answers Job’s Claims 

But Elihu takes issue with what Job has said. 

12-14 We Can’t Understand God’s Ways 

To begin, Elihu reminds Job of God’s greatness. 

12 [Behold/Now], in this thou art not [just/right]: [I will answer thee/let me tell you/I answer you],
[that/For] God is greater than [man/a human being]. 

But, how does this statement help Job? 

Well, in our problems it’s helpful to remember that God is greater than us. In other words, he doesn’t act according to human motives and with human considerations. 

Take it a step further – God is not going to be mistaken in what he does – like a human might be. God is not going to be needlessly cruel – like humans can be. 

God is greater than man. 

And when it comes down to it, God doesn’t even explain why he does what he does. And therefore… 

13 Why dost thou [strive/complain/contend] against him?
[for/that] he [giveth not account of/does not answer] [any/all] of [his matters/his doings/a person’s words] [./?] 

And because of God’s unwillingness to explain his ways, mankind really can’t predict or even understand why he does what he does. 

14 [For/Indeed] God speaketh [once/the first time in one way],
[yea twice/or twice/the second time in another], [yet man/yet no one/though a person] [perceiveth it not/notices it]. 

So, Elihu correctly states that we can’t understand God’s ways. That seems to be the thrust of verses 12-14. 

15-18 God Warns People of Their Ways 

But on the other hand, God does understand our ways. And Elihu is going to make that point in a way that might at first seem a bit strange to us. 

15 In a dream,
[in a vision of the night/a night vision],  

when deep sleep falleth upon men,
[in slumberings/while they slumber/as they sleep] [upon the bed/in their beds]; 

16 Then he [openeth the ears of men/gives a revelation to people],
and [sealeth their instruction/terrifies them with warnings], 

OK, so stop there. Let’s evaluate and consider what Elihu is saying. 

He claims that God gives messages to people in the night – maybe even when they’re sleeping – in and by means of their dreams. God warns them – and sometimes that warning is terrifying. 

And I think I don’t have any objections to that at this point. It seems that what Elihu is saying is at least possible. God can send dreams to warn people – especially in the Old Testament he did that on numerous occasions. 

But what is the purpose of God sending these instructive dreams to people? 

17 That he may [withdraw/turn] [man/a person] from his [purpose/conduct/sin],
and [hide pride from man/keep man from pride/to cover a person’s pride]. 

So, Elihu is saying that God – whose ways men don’t understand – knows man’s ways and will sometimes send instructive dreams to men to turn them from their pride. 

And actually, as God sends these warnings to people, he does so in order to spare their life. 

18 He [keepeth back his soul/spares a person’s life] from [the pit/corruption],
and his [i.e., very…] life from [perishing by/passing over into/crossing over into] [the sword/Sheol/the river]. 

And so, that’s Elihu’s point in verses 15-18 – that God can warn people in dreams and redirect them from ways that are harmful to them. 

And what’s interesting is that Job in chapter 7, verse 14 says that God did this to him – that God “scares me with dreams and terrifies me through visions.” And of course, Job didn’t like that. It was not an enjoyable experience for him. 

But Elihu is trying to tell Job that that was a good thing for him. It’s good that God was sending him these frightening dreams. Because God is trying to keep Job from pride. And ultimately, God is trying to spare Job’s life by doing this – even though that’s not at all how Job has been interpreting it. 

1930 God sends physical pain so that the sinner will repent 

And it’s not just dreams that God sends to men as they lie in their beds. God also sends pain. 

19 [He is chastened also/Man is also chastened/Or a person is chastened] [with/by] pain [upon/on] his bed,
and [the multitude of his bones with strong pain/with unceasing complaint in his bones/with continual strife of his bones]: 

And here’s the result of God sending such pain to people from time to time. 

20 So that his life [abhorreth/loathes] [bread/food],
and his soul [i.e., rejects…] [dainty meat/favorite food/appetizing fare]. 

Have you ever had pain that was so bad that you didn’t want to eat? Well, Elihu says that God sometimes sends that kind of pain to people. 

And it gets worse. 

21 His flesh [is consumed away, that it cannot be seen/wastes away from sight];
and his bones that were not seen [stick out/are easily visible]. 

And it gets even worse! 

22 [Yea,/Then] [his soul/he] draweth near [unto the grave/to the pit/to the place of corruption],
and his life to [the destroyers/those who bring death/to the messengers of death]. 

OK, so the guy is about to die. God brings such a painful disease to this man that his skin wastes away and his bones can be seen and he’s about to die. 

Well, then Elihu pictures the situation taking a turn for the better. And he does this in an if-then format.  

And I’ll admit that what he’s saying is quite obscure and confusing. So, let’s look at what Elihu is talking about. 

23 If there [be/is] [a messenger/an angel] [with/for/beside] him,
[an interpreter/as a mediator/one mediator], one [among/out of] a thousand,
to [shew unto/remind/tell] [man/a man/a person] [his uprightness/what is right for him/what constitutes his uprightness]: 

So, Elihu is envisioning the possibility that an angelic messenger comes to this sick person. And this angel is a mediator – a mediator between this sick person and God. And this kind of occurrence is pretty rare – as Elihu says it’s one among a thousand. And the message of this angel or this messenger is regarding what’s right for this sick man – perhaps he’s saying that the messenger will show to the sick man God’s uprightness and justice in bringing this sickness to this person. Perhaps Elihu pictures himself as just such a messenger. 

Well, if this were to ever happen to a person, then Elihu says that this would be a real sign of God’s grace. 

24 [Then he is/Then let him be/and if God is] gracious unto him, and [saith/say/says],
[] [Deliver/Spare] him from going down to the [pit/place of corruption]:
I have found a ransom [i.e., for him…]. [] 

So, if God extends grace to a sick and dying man in the form of some sort of unique messenger who reminds him of what is right, then it’s not too much for God to then continue to be gracious to that man and deliver him from death. 

God – as it were – finds a ransom for that man – one that would be in the place of that man. And I think this indicates that this man is sick and dying because of his sin and that’s why God needs a ransom in his place. 

And then Elihu continues to surmise what God either says about this man or what he does to him. 

25 [i.e., Let/Then…] His flesh [shall be fresher/become fresher/is restored] [than/like] [a child’s/in youth/a youth’s]:
[he shall return/Let him return/he returns] to the days of his [youth/youthful vigor]: 

So, Elihu is picturing God being gracious to this man who was so near to death. 

And what Elihu anticipates and describes in the next verse is a really a growing closeness and delight between that man and his God. 

26 [i.e., Then…] He [shall pray unto/will pray to/entreats] God,
and [he/God] [will be favourable unto/will accept/delights in] him:  

[and he shall/that he may/he] [see/sees] [his/God’s] face with [joy/rejoicing]:
[for/and] [he/God] [will render/may restore/restores] [unto man/to him] [his/His] righteousness. 

So, notice that back-and-forth between this man and his God that is warm and accepting and joyous and close. 

So, that’s the interaction between the formerly sick man and God. 

But then Elihu talks about the response of that man to his fellow man. 

27 He [looketh/will sing/sings/confesses] [upon/to] [men/others], [and if any say/and say/saying],
I have sinned,
and [perverted/falsified] that which was right,
[and/but] [it profited me not/it is not proper for me/I was not punished according to what I deserve]; 

And so, either Elihu is speaking of the sick man’s speaking to his friends and confessing that he sinned against God and that’s why he was sick. Or this is Elihu stating that God will be gracious and merciful – like he was with the sick man – to anyone who will confess his sin to God. 

And the formerly sick man continues to speak – or perhaps Elihu continues to speak of that man. 

28 He [will deliver/has redeemed/redeemed] [his soul/my soul/my life] from [going/going down] [into the pit/to the place of corruption],
and [his/my] life [shall see/sees] the light. 

So, let me just recap what Elihu has been asserting. 

He says that God’s ways are beyond us. But the opposite is not the case – that is, our ways are not beyond God. 

In fact, God will be so gracious as to send people instructive dreams to turn them from pride. 

But if they keep going down that road of pride, he will sometimes send them sickness. And that sickness will look like it’s going to kill them. 

But even in a person’s bleakest hour, it’s possible that God would be gracious to him and turn his sickness around and heal the man. And whenever that may happen, God and that man will share a real closeness that the man will even be willing to tell others about. 

Well, moving on, now Elihu declares that this is all something that God does not infrequently – God often deals with people by sending them physical problems, he says. 

29 [Lo/Behold/Indeed], all these things [worketh/does] God [oftentimes/twice, three times in his dealings] with [man/men/a person], 

30 To [bring/turn] back his [soul/life] from the [pit/place of corruption],
[to/that he may] be enlightened with the light of [the living/life]. 

31-33 

And finally, Elihu challenges Job to answer if he can. Or if he can’t, then to just keep listening. 

31 [Mark well/Pay attention], O Job,
[hearken unto/listen to] me:  

[hold thy peace/keep silent/be silent],
and [I will/let me] speak. 

32 [i.e., Then…] If thou hast any [thing to say/words],
[answer/reply to] me:  

speak,
for I [desire/want] to justify thee. 

33 If not, [hearken/listen/you listen] unto me:
[hold thy peace/keep silent/be silent], and I shall teach thee wisdom. 

So, Elihu desires to justify Job. And you can see how he’s trying to do that.  

Elihu has just mentioned two realities in Job’s life – the fact that Job has had dreams and the fact that Job is so sick that he thinks the sickness might result in his death. 

And Elihu is giving a different interpretation of those realities than the three friends did. The three friends thought that the only explanation for these things is Job’s secret sin. 

But Elihu is not necessarily tying sin to any of this. The dreams could be to prevent a person from being proud – prevent, not stop him from currently being proud. 

And the sickness could possibly have something to do with sin – since the man, once he’s healed, is going to confess to others that he sinned. And yet, that consideration was not foremost in Elihu’s mind.  

And it’s not even confession of sin that causes God to turn and heal that man, as Elihu talked about it. No – it’s just God choosing to be gracious. 

So, Elihu is not assuming to understand all the reasons for why Job is sick and suffering. And Elihu shows a commendable ability to be restrained in his explanation and not pretend to know more than he really knows. 

Elihu declares that we don’t understand God’s ways, which is right. And he also at the same time can call-out Job for justifying himself rather than God, which is also right. 

And Elihu will continue to explain things the way he sees them next time. 

Job 32 Commentary

Job 32 Commentary

Job 32 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 32 Commentary: I think that many of us have found ourselves in situations in which two people are arguing. And they battle it out for a while. But finally, they’re done and they have nothing left to say.

But you do have something to say. And you really want to say it.

Well, that’s the situation that the biblical character Elihu finds himself in – in the 32nd chapter of the book of Job. So, let’s turn our attention there – to Job, chapter 32.

We recall from our last message in Job that Job 31 – the chapter that precedes this one – ends with a statement to the effect that “the words of Job have ended.”

And so, Job 32 picks right up from there.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 1

And the author informs us that as Job finishes his last speech, so too do his friends. They stop talking as well.

KJV Job 32:1 [So/Then] these three men [ceased/refused] [to answer/answering/to answer further] Job,
because he was righteous in his own eyes.

Now, there’s a sense in which being righteous in one’s own eyes is roundly condemned in Scripture.

But for Job here, this seems to be saying that he simply is viewing himself as God was viewing him. He didn’t commit any sin worthy of the suffering that he’s receiving. That’s not why he was suffering – because of his sin. He’s righteous.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 2

But even though Job is viewing himself as righteous – that doesn’t settle anything. We still have an innocent man suffering and his friends still thinking that he is secretly wicked and Job himself thinking in one way or another that God is misinformed about the situation.

But Job is done talking and so are the friends. And that’s why Elihu enters the picture and is angry with Job and his three friends.

2 [Then/But] [was kindled the wrath of/the anger of … burned/became very angry] Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the [kindred/family] of Ram:

Now, we’re given a short genealogy of this man. He’s a Buzite. Buz was a son of Abraham’s brother. And probably because of that, there was a land located in the desert near Edom with that name – probably named after this man.

The rest I don’t know anything about. But this information makes it possible that Job’s story took place even within the life of Abraham or shortly thereafter. And it likely took place around Edom – outside of and to the southeast of Israel.

So, that’s a little information on where Elihu comes from.

But now here’s whom Elihu is angry with.

First, Job.

against Job [was his wrath kindled/his anger burned/he was angry with],
[because/for] [he justified/justifying] himself [rather than/before] God.

Now, it can be difficult to know who’s right in the book of Job. But here’s one thing we know – that the narrator is always right. That’s how stories work – the one telling them is never wrong.

And in this case, the narrator is ultimately God. Whoever may have written the book of Job – perhaps Solomon – the doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture teaches us that ultimately it was the Spirit of God who worked through the authors of Scripture to pen exactly what God wanted to be communicated.

So, God ultimately is the narrator of this story. And what the narrator says is unquestionably right.

So, what is the narrator saying made Elihu angry with Job? That Job justified himself rather than God.

And we’ve witnessed that. Job has been justifying himself – proclaiming that he’s not guilty of any sort of crime that would call for the punishment that he’s been experiencing. And in the process, he’s sort of called into question God’s rightness in his situation.

And as that’s been happening – who’s coming out of it looking good? Is it God – who is almost senselessly – probably even incorrectly – bringing suffering into Job’s life? Or is it the innocent suffering Job that comes out of this looking good?

So, the net effect of Job’s speeches has been to make himself look good – and that basically leaves God looking bad.

And that makes Elihu angry.

And to apply this to our lives, I think we need to note that what we say and how we behave during our times of suffering can reflect poorly on our God. When we experience things that make no sense to us and that are painful and irritating – our response to that suffering can reflect poorly on the God who is wisely bringing the suffering into our life. There’s a way to respond to suffering that might make people feel sorry for you – but think wrong thoughts of your God.

And if those around you are thinking right – that kind of behavior might make them angry – like Elihu.

And so, Elihu is rightfully angry at Job.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 3

But it’s not just Job with whom Elihu is angry. He’s also angry with Job’s friends.

3 Also against [his/Job’s] three friends [was his wrath kindled/his anger burned/he was angry],
because they [had found no/could not find an] answer,
and [yet/so] [had condemned/declared … guilty] Job.

And this is what we experienced Job’s friends doing. They couldn’t figure out God’s ways. They couldn’t spell out for Job why God was bringing suffering into his life.

And so, they had declared him guilty – with no evidence that would lead to that verdict. They were leveling false accusations against a man that they knew to be righteous.

And that kind of behavior – as Elihu sat and observed it alongside of us – that made him angry.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 4

And yet, despite his persistent anger, Elihu respectfully waited to speak until Job and his friends had taken their turns speaking.

4 Now Elihu [had waited/waited] [till Job had spoken/to speak to Job/before speaking to Job],
because [they/the others] were [elder/years older/older] than he.

So, as we’re trying to figure out what to make of this new character, we need to note that his motives are described in positive terms. It’s a good thing that Elihu wanted to wait for the older men to speak before speaking himself.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 5-6

And yet, the time has come for Elihu to speak. He waited for his elders to give their wisdom – but seeing that they are displaying a serious lack of it, it’s now his turn to talk.

5 [When/And when/But when] Elihu saw that [there was no answer in the mouth of these three men/these three men had no further reply],
[then his wrath was kindled/his anger burned/he became very angry].

6 ¶ [And/So] Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite [answered and said/spoke out and said/spoke up],

And so, this is now where the narrator hands it off to Elihu. We’ve had the narrator’s infallible perspective on Elihu. Now the man himself will speak.

I am young [in years…],
[and/but] ye are [very old/elderly];

[wherefore/therefore/that is why] I was [afraid/shy/fearful],
and [durst not/afraid to] [shew/tell/explain to] you [mine opinion/what I think/what I know].

So, again, Elihu is communicating a modesty and great deal of restraint about his approach to this situation.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 7

And this is why he took that posture…

7 I [said/thought/said to myself],

[Days/age] should speak,
and [multitude of years/increased years/length of years] should [teach/make … known] wisdom.

So, the normal order of things is that those who are older should know more. And from that position of knowing more factually, a person should be able to apply that knowledge to life. That’s wisdom.

And – all else being equal – we’d all like to think that those who are older should have more of it. More years = more wisdom, or at least it should.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 8

But Elihu is now coming to find out that it’s not just the age of a person that makes him wise. No – a person needs God’s spirit for wisdom.

8 But [there/it] is a spirit in [man/people]:
[and the/the] [inspiration/breath] of the Almighty [giveth/that makes] them [understanding/understand].

OK, so your wisdom is not just a natural thing. It’s not a given that the older you are, the wiser you just naturally are. No. God is the one who grants wisdom and understanding by his spirit.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 9

And so, that leads Elihu to acknowledge now that the older among us are not always the wisest.

9 [Great men/The abundant in years/It is … the aged who] [are not always/may not be] wise:
[neither/nor] [do/may] [the aged/elders/old men] understand [judgment/justice/what is right].

And of course, this would have been insulting to these men who have just been trying to understand God’s ways and have failed miserably at it.

But I don’t think that Elihu is trying to be insulting. He’s simply speaking truth as he sees it. And what these men have demonstrated is that even though they are the oldest – they are not the wisest.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 10

And since the aged have not come up with wisdom, Elihu is going to give it a shot himself.

10 [Therefore/So] I [said/say],

[Hearken/Listen] to me;
I [also/too/, even I,] will [shew/tell/explain] [mine opinion/what I think/what I know].

Because that’s all that these guys have been giving each other – their opinions. What they think. And Elihu can do at least that much.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 11-12a

But it’s as if Elihu’s boldness in telling these older men that he’s now going to speak causes him to once again defend his doing this.

Why does Elihu feel the boldness to speak out in the presence of men who are so much older than he is?

11 [Behold/Look], I waited for [your words/you to speak];
I [gave ear/listened/listened closely] to your [reasons/reasonings/wise thoughts],
[whilst ye searched out/while you pondered/while you were searching for] [what to say/words].

12 [Yea, I/I even/Now I was] [attended/paid close attention/was paying close attention] unto you,

And so, Elihu listened and listened and listened. Just like we have over the past several months! We’ve listened to the arguments of all of these men.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 12b

And here’s what both Elihu and we have experienced.

[and, behold,/Indeed/yet] there was [none of you/no one] [that convinced/who refuted/proving … wrong] Job,
[or/Not one of you] [that answered/was answering] his [words/statements]:

But actually literally these older men had answered Job. They had given him their answers.

But what Elihu is saying is that these men did not find the right answers to Job’s objections. All of them tried to prove Job wrong but none was able to do it convincingly.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 13

And so, Elihu is afraid that these friends were planning to abdicate what he views to be their responsibility to answer Job. Elihu is afraid that they’ll just let God do what in his mind they should actually be doing.

13 [Lest ye should/Do not/So do not] say,

We have [found out/found] wisdom:
God [thrusteth him down/will rout him/will refute him], not man.

So, it seems that Elihu is fearful that these men have come to the conclusion that they can be absolved of any responsibility to answer Job by just shifting the responsibility for that to God. And as they do that they’ll pat themselves on the back for finding this wise way of handling the situation.

And it’s interesting that even though Elihu seems to be wanting to stop this from happening – yet, God is going to come and – not necessarily thrust Job down – but he’s definitely going to come and answer Job as neither the friends – nor ultimately Elihu – can do.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 14

So, Elihu goes on to state that he’s not going to give the same answers to Job as these friends have done.

14 [Now he hath not directed/For he has not arranged/Job has not directed] his words [against/to] me:
[neither/nor/and so … not] will I [answer/reply to] him with your [speeches/arguments].

So, this verse gives us some hope that what we’ll be hearing from Elihu in the next several chapters is going to be different from what we’ve already heard from these friends.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 15

Then Elihu is going to rehearse what we heard at the beginning of this chapter – that the friends couldn’t find an answer for Job and so they stopped talking.

15 They [were amazed/are dismayed],
they [answered/answer] [no more/no longer/cannot … any more]:
[they left off speaking/words fail them/they have nothing left to say].

And I’m not sure who Elihu is addressing this to. Maybe he spoke verse 15 directly to Job. Otherwise, if he’s speaking to the friends, it’s a little strange to have a person speak of you in the third person when you’re standing right in front of him.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 16-17

Then Elihu is going to once more explain how the silence of these men encouraged him to speak.

16 [When/And] I [had/have] waited, [shall I wait?…]
([for/because/but because] they [spake not/do not speak],
[but stood still/because they stop/because they stand there],
and [answered/answer] no more[;)/?/,]

17 I said,

I will answer [also/too] my [part/share],
I [also/too] will [shew/tell/explain] [mine opinion/what I know].

And that’s the third and last time that Elihu is going to speak of his “opinion” in this chapter. So, he’s going to talk – and speak of what he knows – because of the silence of these men.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 18-20

And when it comes down to it, Elihu is full of things to say!

18 For I am full of [matter/words],
the spirit within me constraineth me.

19 Behold, [my belly is/inside I am] as wine which hath no [vent/outlet];
it is ready to burst like new [bottles/wineskins].

20 I will speak, that I may [be refreshed/find relief]:
I will open my lips [and/so that I may] answer.

So, Elihu portrays himself as one who is just bursting to speak and say what he thinks and what he knows. And he’s planning to find relief by opening his mouth and letting out all of the thoughts that he thinks will be helpful for the situation.

Now, just like the three friends, if what Elihu thinks is not what God thinks, then it’s ultimately not going to be helpful. So, it will be interesting to hear what he actually has to say.

But for now in this chapter we don’t actually hear what his argument is. We just hear his getting us ready for his argument.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 21-22

But Elihu wants to assure his audience that when he does speak – he’s not going to be partial to anyone.

21 [Let me not, I pray you,/I will not] [accept any man’s person/show partiality to anyone],
[neither let me/nor will I] [give flattering titles/confer a title] [unto/on any] man. [and thereby flatter him…]

22 For I know not to give [flattering/honorary] titles;
[in so doing/if I did] my maker would [soon/quickly] [take me away/do away with me].

So, Elihu assures us all that what he says is not motivated by his favoritism toward Job to the detriment of his friends or vice versa. Elihu is going speak what he believes to be true and he doesn’t care whom he offends by it.

So, it will be very interesting to do just like we’ve done with Job and his friends – to evaluate what Elihu says and see how true and factual and helpful it is.

And so, we’ll embark on that task next time.