Job 35 – Elihu Accuses Job of Self-Righteousness
A. Elihu confronts what he believes to be Job’s self-righteousness.
1. (1-3) Elihu to Job: “Are you more righteous than God?”
Moreover Elihu answered and said:
“Do you think this is right?
Do you say,
‘My righteousness is more than God’s’?
For you say,
‘What advantage will it be to You?
What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?’”
a. Do you think this is right? Elihu had just badgered Job severely at the end of his previous discourse. He accused him of adding rebellion to his sin, of ignoring the wise counsel of his friends (he claps his hands among us), and of speaking wrongly against God (multiplies his words against God). So to emphasize the point, he jabbed a finger at Job and said, “Do you think this is right?”
b. For you say . . . What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned? Elihu accused Job of a cold calculation; of saying that he denied God’s moral order and said that there was no point to sinning or not sinning.
i. “Once again Elihu puts words into Job’s mouth, and in the process not only misquotes him but grossly misrepresents his position.” (Mason)
ii. “Elihu had missed Job’s point, that he wanted to be vindicated because he did believe God was just. Of course Job, in his struggle to understand what God was doing, had sent out two signals, one of which Elihu, like the others, had not been able to hear.” (Smick)
2. (4-8) Elihu to Job: “God is farther above you than you can imagine.”
“I will answer you,
And your companions with you.
Look to the heavens and see;
And behold the clouds;
They are higher than you.
If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him?
Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him?
If you are righteous, what do you give Him?
Or what does He receive from your hand?
Your wickedness affects a man such as you,
And your righteousness a son of man.”
a. I will answer you, and your companions with you: Elihu’s arguments and ideas were substantially the same as those of Job’s friends. Yet he thought of himself as different, and though that he could correct both Job and Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
b. Look to the heavens and see; and behold the clouds, they are higher than you: Elihu wanted Job (and his friends) to understand an idea that they had already discussed and agreed upon, the idea that God is greater than man and beyond man.
i. “The Lord showed Abraham the stars, but Elihu shows Job the clouds. . . . Elihu sees the clouds as a wall between Heaven and earth; to him they are a picture of God’s distance from man, of His unreachability and His impassiveness.” (Mason)
ii. “The further we can look unto heaven (or into it) the better shall we conceive of that infinite distance that is betwixt God in heaven and men on earth.” (Trapp)
c. If you are righteous, what do you give Him? The idea was that God was so far beyond man that there was nothing man could do to God’s benefit. Elihu felt that Job had lost his fear and godly appreciation of God.
i. Elihu had, in one sense, trapped himself in his own argument. If God is so beyond man, then what use is it for Job to repent at all? “According to the terms and requirements of Infinite Righteousness God is independent of man, according to the nature of His heart of love, which these men did not perfectly understand, He cannot be independent.” (Morgan)
ii. God is indeed God; but Elihu missed how close God comes to man. “The whole of Biblical revelation, centred and consummated in Christ, shows that human sin inflicts wounds upon God, and causes sorrow to the Holy One: and that man, living in righteousness, does give glory to God, and causes joy to His heart.” (Morgan)
iii. “If it is true that because God is so great and so high, the innocence or guilt of a petty human being is a matter of profound indifference to his Maker, on the ground that it can bring Him neither gain nor loss, we are landed, we see at once, on a very gloomy shore. We reach a conclusion fatal to all religion.” (Bradley)
B. Self-righteous Job should expect no answer from God.
1. (9-12) God does not answer the proud, even if they are oppressed.
“Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out;
They cry out for help because of the arm of the mighty.
But no one says,
‘Where is God my Maker,
Who gives songs in the night,
Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth,
And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’
There they cry out, but He does not answer,
Because of the pride of evil men.
a. Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out: Elihu understood that men cried out to God when they were oppressed or felt afflicted by the arm of the mighty.
i. Elihu wanted to explain why God did not answer the afflicted. Job initially raised the issue. “Job had devoted an entire speech to the subject of God’s apparent indifference to his plight (Job 23) and the plight of all who suffer and are oppressed (Job 24).” (Smick)
b. But no one says, “Where is God my Maker”: Elihu noted that men seek God in their time of need, but their seeking often isn’t sincere. They don’t recognize God as their Maker, they don’t recognize His comforts (who gives songs in the night), and the wisdom He gave (makes us wiser than the birds of heaven).
i. Who gives us songs in the night: “A holy soul has continual communion with God: night and day its happiness is great; and God, from whom it comes, is the continual subject of its songs of praise.” (Clarke)
ii. “Elihu’s reason is right in the majority of cases. The great cause of a Christian’s distress, the reason of the depths of sorrow into which many believers are plunged, is simply this — that while they are looking about, on the right hand and on the left, to see how they may escape their troubles, they forget to look to the hills whence all real help cometh; they do not say, ‘Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?’” (Spurgeon)
iii. Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth: “God hath given to men those gifts which he hath denied to beasts, reason and religion, wisdom to know God and themselves, and their obligations to God, and their dependence upon him. And therefore it ill becometh them to lie like brute creatures, roaring and crying out in their miseries, without taking any notice of God in way of prayer or praise; and if they do so, it is no wonder if God takes no notice of them.” (Poole)
iv. “Beasts, birds, fowls, and in many cases pond-fishes, know and seem thankful to the hand that feeds them; while man, made much more noble than they, gifted with the greatest powers, privileged with the most important benefits, considers not the Lord, nor discerns the operation of his hand. Quadrupeds, reptiles, and fowls, have more gratitude to their masters than man has to his God.” (Clarke)
c. They cry out, but He does not answer, because of the pride of evil men: When men cry out to God in such insincerity, Elihu said that God does not answer them, and He does not answer because of the pride of evil men.
i. Elihu said this with full knowledge that Job had complained that God would not answer him. Therefore, Elihu freely associated Job with the insincere, proud, and evil men.
2. (13-16) Elihu to Job: “God does not want to hear your empty talk.”
Surely God will not listen to empty talk,
Nor will the Almighty regard it.
Although you say you do not see Him,
Yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him.
And now, because He has not punished in His anger,
Nor taken much notice of folly,
Therefore Job opens his mouth in vain;
He multiplies words without knowledge.”
a. Surely God will not listen to empty talk: Elihu resumed his harsh approach towards Job. His idea was that God did not hear Job because he was a false, empty seeker.
i. “The Elihus of this world do not care about the cruelty of their perfectionist advice and its unreality. Their theory is saved; that is what matters.” (Andersen)
b. Although you say you do not see Him, yet justice is before Him: Elihu wanted Job to see that God was indeed right in front of him, present in the fact of justice. If Job would only be patient (you must wait for Him), he would see the God whom he claimed was hidden from him.
i. “To complain that you do not see him is an impertinence, when the fault lies with Job.” (Andersen)
c. Because He has not punished in His anger . . . therefore Job opens his mouth in vain: Again, Elihu was very harsh with Job. “Job, if God were to punish you as you deserve, you would not be able to even open your mouth in the vain way that you do. You also speak ignorantly” (he multiplies words without knowledge).
i. “Since verse 15 is quite obscure, we are left to guess that it means that Elihu is accusing Job of completely misunderstanding God’s unresponsiveness as heedlessness, whereas in fact God is holding His anger in. Job is guilty of despising God’s longsuffering.” (Andersen)
ii. Elihu saw that God had not yet answered Job yet, at least not in any way that Job had hoped. Therefore he said “Job opens his mouth in vain.” The idea was, “Job, if you were really a godly man, then God would have answered you by now. The fact that He hasn’t shows your ungodliness.”
Job 36 – Elihu Teaches Job about God
A. Elihu teaches Job about the justice and righteousness of God.
1. (1-4) Elihu: “There are yet words to speak on God’s behalf.”
Elihu also proceeded and said:
“Bear with me a little, and I will show you
That there are yet words to speak on God’s behalf.
I will fetch my knowledge from afar;
I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.”
a. Bear with me a little, and I will show you that there are yet words to speak on God’s behalf: Apparently young Elihu saw that his listeners were becoming uncomfortable with his condemnation and long-windedness. He begs for them to keep listening, and insists that he is speaking on God’s behalf.
i. Young Elihu spoke with a directness Job’s other friends did not use (Job 33:1, 33:31, 34:5, 34:7, and so forth). Yet he also spoke with an authority that Job’s other friends did not. Job’s other friends appealed to conventional, ancient wisdom and common knowledge. Elihu claimed to speak on God’s behalf.
ii. “It seems as if Elihu is giving himself such a certificate of genius, as if the brash young man is all unaware of its astounding presumption.” (Andersen)
iii. “I admire Elihu’s attempt at brevity; I call it an attempt, for I am not quite sure that he succeeded, for he filled two chapters more. Yet he said, ‘Suffer me a little’; and thereby promised to make his oration as short as he could. Some lengthy divines, with their many divisions, their ‘Finallies,’ and ‘Lastlies,’ and concluding observations, spin and spin, and cause their congregations to suffer, and that not a little, but exceeding much. It is well when we have anything good to say to use as few words as possible, for if brevity be not the garment of grace it is the soul of wit, and all our wits should be set to work to put gospel teaching into such a form that it will be the better received. Assuredly, short and pointed addresses are more likely to reach the heart than long and dreary sermons.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Elihu received a better hearing than the unnamed man who spoke to Aristotle, in an anecdote mentioned by John Trapp: “When a great trifler had made an empty discourse in the presence of Aristotle, and then cried him mercy for troubling him so long: You have not troubled me at all, said he, for I scarce hearkened to any one word you said all this while.”
b. I will fetch my knowledge from afar . . . One who is perfect in knowledge is with you: Though Elihu was obviously too confident in his knowledge and his words, the One with perfect knowledge was probably a reference to God here.
i. “It is certainly unlikely Elihu would claim for himself the same perfection he attributes to God.” (Smick) Bullinger observed, “From Job 37:16, it is clear that God is meant, and not the speaker.”
ii. If he was speaking of himself, then Poole has explained his idea: “And the meaning may be this, Thou hast not to do with a novice, but with one who hath accurately considered, and through God’s grace doth fully understand, these matters; therefore hearken to me.”
iii. “Here is the charismatic paradox in a nutshell. Probably Elihu does have a prophetic gift to receive ‘knowledge from afar.’ But even direct revelations from God do not make a man ‘perfect in knowledge.’” (Mason)
2. (5-12) God rewards the obedient and the disobedient perish.
“Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one;
He is mighty in strength of understanding.
He does not preserve the life of the wicked,
But gives justice to the oppressed.
He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous;
But they are on the throne with kings,
For He has seated them forever,
And they are exalted.
And if they are bound in fetters,
Held in the cords of affliction,
Then He tells them their work and their transgressions;
That they have acted defiantly.
He also opens their ear to instruction,
And commands that they turn from iniquity.
If they obey and serve Him,
They shall spend their days in prosperity,
And their years in pleasures.
But if they do not obey,
They shall perish by the sword,
And they shall die without knowledge.”
a. Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one: Here Elihu again promoted the ideas of God’s power and perfect justice. In His perfect justice, God punishes the wicked and works for the oppressed.
i. There is a wonderful thought in the phrase God is mighty, but despises no one. We might have thought that the mighty God would ignore or despise man; yet He does not. “It is because God is so great that He despises none. If He were less than infinite, He might overlook.” (Meyer)
ii. “If God were little, he might despise the little; if he were weak he would disdain the weak; if he were untrue he would be supercilious to those about him; but, seeing he is none of these, but is God over all blessed for ever, the only wise God, we have to deal with one who, though he be high, hath respect unto the lowly; who, though he humbleth himself even to observe the things which are done in heaven, yet despiseth not the cry of the humble. The magnanimity of God is the reason why he despiseth not any.” (Spurgeon)
b. He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous: Since Job had often said and felt that God had removed His eyes from Job, Elihu is clearly counting Job among the wicked. In Elihu’s mind, the freedom God has for the righteous does not belong to Job because Job is not among the righteous.
i. “The example Elihu chooses is reminiscent of the Joseph story, in spite of the plural kings (Job 36:7), which has worried some scholars. Certainly Joseph is another classic case of a person treated unjustly, and that more than once.” (Andersen)
ii. In Elihu’s mind, the righteous man was marked by many things; things that were conspicuously absent from the life of Job.
· God’s eyes are upon the righteous (He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous)
· The righteous are exalted (they are on the throne with kings)
· If the righteous are bound, God convicts them, sets them free, and are restored to prosperity and pleasures (if they are bound in fetters . . . He tells them their works and their transgressions . . . if they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity)
c. If they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword: This was another one of Elihu’s strong warnings to Job. He warned Job to repent and to not be like the disobedient who perish and who die without knowledge.
3. (13-15) The sad fate of the hypocrite.
“But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath;
They do not cry for help when He binds them.
They die in youth,
And their life ends among the perverted persons.
He delivers the poor in their affliction,
And opens their ears in oppression.”
a. The hypocrites in heart store up wrath: Elihu thought Job was a hypocrite for continuing to deny his guilt. He felt Job was putting himself under a greater and greater outpouring of God’s wrath.
b. Their life ends among the perverted persons: Elihu painted a bleak future for an unrepentant Job.
i. Perverted persons: “Baqdeeshiym, among the whores, harlots, prostitutes, and sodomites. In this sense the word is used, though it also signifies consecrated persons; but we know that in idolatry characters of this kind were consecrated to Baal and Ashtaroth, Venus, Priapus, etc.” (Clarke)
B. Elihu teaches Job about the greatness of God.
1. (16-21) Elihu to Job: “What God would have done for you.”
“Indeed He would have brought you out of dire distress,
Into a broad place where there is no restraint;
And what is set on your table would be full of richness.
But you are filled with the judgment due the wicked;
Judgment and justice take hold of you.
Because there is wrath, beware lest He take you away with one blow;
For a large ransom would not help you avoid it.
Will your riches,
Or all the mighty forces,
Keep you from distress?
Do not desire the night,
When people are cut off in their place.
Take heed, do not turn to iniquity,
For you have chosen this rather than affliction.”
a. Indeed He would have brought you out of dire distress: Elihu here spoke to Job about what God would have done for Job, if Job would only had repented as he should have (at least in Elihu’s persective).
i. If Job would only have repented then God would have:
· Brought Job out of his dire distress.
· Brought Job into a broad place where there is no restraint.
· Brought Job to a table . . . full of richness.
b. But you are filled with the judgment due the wicked: For Elihu, Job’s problems were easy to diagnose. Job did not have the blessings God gives to the obedient and repentant; therefore Job was not obedient and repentant. Instead he was filled with the judgment due the wicked.
i. In saying “judgment and justice take hold of you,” Elihu could not be clearer. There was one reason for Job’s crisis and loss; it was that the judgment and justice of God was against him. It is helpful to remind ourselves that Job chapters 1 and 2 make it clear that Elihu was absolutely wrong in this analysis.
c. Will your riches, or all the mighty forces, keep you from distress? Elihu assumed what many people assume: that rich people trust in their riches. This is often true – perhaps almost always true; but it was not true in Job’s case and it was wrong for Elihu to assume it.
d. You have chosen this rather than affliction: “Job, all this suffering and agony is your choice. It could all be different as soon as you repent and turn back to God.” It was this kind of counsel that drove Job crazy, because it demanded that he forsake his integrity and make a show of repentance just to please his friends.
i. Job had his own faults during this extended dialogue with his friends, sins that he will later repent of (Job 42:1-6); yet he showed amazing strength to hold to his integrity in the face of this constant barrage of accusations against his friends.
2. (22-24) Elihu again remembers the greatness of God.
“Behold, God is exalted by His power;
Who teaches like Him?
Who has assigned Him His way,
Or who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?”
“Remember to magnify His work,
Of which men have sung.
Everyone has seen it;
Man looks on it from afar.”
a. Behold, God is exalted by His power; who teaches like Him? Elihu here again wanted to exalt God in the eyes of Job, thinking that Job’s problem was that he had too low a view of God, and too high a view of himself.
i. This begins a section where a marked change comes over Elihu. As the following verses indicate, he probably spoke with his eye upon a rapidly approaching storm with all of its rain and wind and thunder and dark clouds. A sudden and wonderful inspiration filled Elihu, and he spoke in a very different way than his previous harsh and condemning way towards Job.
ii. “The change that comes over Elihu at this point, and that continues and builds in power to the end of his discourse, is so dramatic that the reader should be bowled over by it. For here something strange and wonderful begins to happy to this young man: he opens his mouth and speaks by the unction of the Holy Spirit!” (Mason)
iii. “It has been suggested that this last part of Elihu’s speech really consists in a word description of what was happening around him at the moment. When presently God speaks, He speaks out of a whirlwind, and the idea is that it was this great storm in its approach and force which Elihu described.” (Morgan)
iv. “And this I dare say, saith a learned interpreter here, that there is not extant any poem, either of the Greeks or Latins, which may be compared with this stately eloquence of Elihu in describing those natural effects which are caused in the air.” (Trapp)
b. Remember to magnify His work, of which men have sung: Job himself had magnified the work of God, and was well aware of the power, majesty, and glory of God.
i. As the storm approached Job and his friends, and as Elihu continued to describe it, we will recognize in Job 38 that the LORD was in this storm, ready to speak to Job.
ii. “It is also instructive to note the contrast between Job and Elihu, as evidenced by their different responses to the Lord’s appearing. At the approach of God the more mature man of faith is silent; a holy hush falls over him, and his lips grow as still as his heart. But the young man Elihu keeps on babbling. Even if we grant that his babbling is inspired, there may yet be reason to suspect that it is, compared with the humble silence of Job, still babbling.” (Mason)
3. (25-33) The unsearchable greatness of God is expressed in the storm.
“Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him;
Nor can the number of His years be discovered.
For He draws up drops of water,
Which distill as rain from the mist,
Which the clouds drop down
And pour abundantly on man.
Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds,
The thunder from His canopy?
Look, He scatters his light upon it,
And covers the depths of the sea.
For by these He judges the peoples;
He gives food in abundance.
He covers His hands with lightning,
And commands it to strike.
His thunder declares it,
The cattle also, concerning the rising storm.”
a. Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him: Elihu again promoted the concept of the transcendence of God. He heard and sensed how Job demanded answers from God, and counseled Job to understand that God was beyond Job and beyond explaining things to Job.
i. This was Elihu’s most truthful and powerful argument, yet it itself was based on the premise that Job had to do this in light of his great transgression against God. It was a powerful, good principle wrongly applied to Job’s situation.
b. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist: In this beautiful section Elihu analyzed the water cycle of evaporation, distillation, and rain and used it as an example of God’s brilliance and beauty as a Designer.
i. “The clouds and the rain display God’s astonishing control of the world in operations of such delicacy and strength that men can neither understand nor imitate them.” (Andersen)
ii. Elihu’s wisdom in analyzing the water cycle has led to wrongly conclude that the Book of Job must have been written later than commonly supposed. “The phenomenon of condensation (Job 36:27b) and precipitation (Job 36:28), while not technically understood, was certainly observable. But evaporation (Job 36:27) is not. Duhm therefore considered this proof that the Elihu speeches came a few centuries later than the divine speeches since meteorological knowledge would have been obtained from the Greeks.” (Smick)
iii. His thunder declares it: “And it is worthy of remark that every wicked man trembles at the noise of thunder and the flash of lightning, and considers this a treasury of Divine wrath, emphatically called among us the artillery of the skies; and whenever the noise is heard, it is considered the voice of God.” (Clarke)
iv. The cattle also, concerning the rising storm: “Because divers cattle are very sagacious in this matter, and do not only perceive the rain when it is ready to fall, but foresee it at some distance by the vapours, which are drawn up by the sun in great abundance, and by divers motions and actions, give men timely notice of it, as hath been observed not only by husbandmen, but also by learned authors.” (Poole)
Job 37 – Elihu Sees God in the Storm
A. The great voice of God.
1. (1-5) The thunder of His voice.
“At this also my heart trembles,
And leaps from its place.
Hear attentively the thunder of His voice,
And the rumbling that comes from His mouth.
He sends it forth under the whole heaven,
His lightning to the ends of the earth.
After it a voice roars;
He thunders with His majestic voice,
And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.
God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.
a. Hear attentively the thunder of His voice: Elihu felt that Job needed a good dose of the greatness of God. It was good advice wrongly applied to Job’s situation. Elihu did rightly understand that the mighty sound of thunder seems to man to be the voice of God.
i. “Nor is there a sound in nature more descriptive of, or more becoming, the majesty of God, than that of THUNDER. We hear the breeze in its rustling, the rain in its pattering, the hail in its rattling, the wind in its hollow howlings, the cataract in its dash, the bull in his bellowing, the lion in his roar; but we hear GOD, the Almighty, the Omnipresent, in the continuous peal of THUNDER! This sound, and this sound only, becomes the majesty of Jehovah.” (Clarke)
ii. “The Bible contains some magnificent descriptions of the thunderstorm. Psalm 29 is the best of these, but Elihu’s poem comes a close second.” (Andersen)
b. He does great things which we cannot comprehend: This is a repetition of Elihu’s theme that Job had transgressed the line that separates God and man, and that Job presumed to know more than he could or should know from God. In this, Elihu was partially correct.
2. (6-13) What the voice of God can do.
For He says to the snow,
‘Fall on the earth’;
Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.
He seals the hand of every man,
That all men may know His work.
The beasts go into dens,
And remain in their lairs.
From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind,
And cold from the scattering winds of the north.
By the breath of God ice is given,
And the broad waters are frozen.
Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds;
He scatters His bright clouds.
And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance,
That they may do whatever He commands them
On the face of the whole earth.
He causes it to come,
Whether for correction,
Or for His land,
Or for mercy.”
a. For He says to the snow: Elihu previously spoke of God’s voice as being like mighty thunder. Now he considered that the voice of God commanded the snow, the gentle rain, and the heavy rain; His breath makes ice and freezes the broad waters.
b. He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work: The idea is that when God sends the cold and the snow, the farmer cannot do his work. His hand is sealed from further effort, and the time away from work makes him reflect on the work of God.
i. “When the Lord seals up a man’s hand, he is unable to perform his labor. The Lord has an object in this, namely, ‘that, all men may know his work.’ When they cannot do their own work, they are intended to observe his works of God.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “To Elihu the weather in all its glory is the glory of God, and God stops people from their work so they can see it. . . . Is not the whole book of Job about men who have been stopped from their work? It is about an enormous work stoppage, an enormous inconvenience that has fallen out of the sky and forced five busy people to drop everything they were doing and to turn for a while to a more important task.” (Mason)
c. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, that they may do whatever He commands them: Elihu wanted Job to not only appreciate the greatness of God, but also the submission of creation. The implication was that unrepentant Job should submit to God the way His creation does.
i. “In many ways a storm serves as an ideal metaphor for the spiritual problems in Job. For while a storm presents all the outward appearance of chaos, of nature run amok, still throughout it all we know that the Creator remains in absolute control of every detail.” (Mason)
B. Elihu’s final advice to Job.
1. (14-18) Elihu to Job: “You don’t know as much as you think you do.”
“Listen to this, O Job;
Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.
Do you know when God dispatches them,
And causes the light of His cloud to shine?
Do you know how the clouds are balanced,
Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?
Why are your garments hot,
When He quiets the earth by the south wind?
With Him, have you spread out the skies,
Strong as a cast metal mirror?”
a. Listen to this, O Job: Young Elihu again appealed to Job in a very direct and personal way, more personal that the three other friends of Job had.
i. “If there be so much matter of wonder and adoration in the most obvious and sensible works of God, how wonderful must his deep and secret counsels and judgments be! And therefore it would better become thee humbly to admire, and quietly to submit to them, than to murmur or quarrel with them.” (Poole)
ii. “Elihu condemns Job sorrowfully, but absolutely; he declares that not only has Job made shipwreck of his faith, but he has become defiant in silencing his friends.” (Chambers)
b. Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God: Significantly, God will address Job among similar lines when God begins to speak starting at Job 38 (Do you know . . . Do you know). Though Elihu here had many of the right ideas, he presented them with a wrong premise, the premise that Job’s whole crisis came from his sin.
i. “If Job could not understand how God performs these marvels much less assist him, how then could he understand the far less obvious mysteries of God’s providence.” (Smick)
ii. “He had convinced Job of his ignorance, and now he will of his impotence and imbecility.” (Trapp)
2. (19-24) Elihu to Job: “Stop trying to speak to God, and simply fear Him instead.”
“Teach us what we should say to Him,
For we can prepare nothing because of the darkness.
Should He be told that I wish to speak?
If a man were to speak, surely he would be swallowed up.
Even now men cannot look at the light when it is bright in the skies,
When the wind has passed and cleared them.
He comes from the north as golden splendor;
With God is awesome majesty.
As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him;
He is excellent in power,
In judgment and abundant justice;
He does not oppress.
Therefore men fear Him;
He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart.”
a. Teach us what we should say to Him: Here Elihu confronted what he believed to be Job’s arrogance in saying that man deserved an audience or a justification from God. “Job, if you insist that God owes us an audience, then please teach us what we should say to Him.”
i. “He was endeavouring to bring him to realize the impossibility of knowing God perfectly, and the consequent folly of his complainings. The truth so expressed is a great one, and had application to Elihu also. He could not find God out, and he did not understand the mystery of Job’s sufferings.” (Morgan)
ii. “These chapters intensify the sense of the loneliness and solitude of Job. He stands there, silent and alone, with none to sympathize with him, none to enter into his perplexities; condemned as impious, heretical, and even blasphemous, by the concordant voice of friends and bystanders; alike by his own generation, and by that which was growing up to take its place; yet ‘enduring to the end,’ contra mundum – contra ecclesiam, we may almost add – unus, and awaiting with trust and confidence the verdict of his God.” (Bradley)
iii. He comes from the north as golden splendor: “The meaning is that man by nature is utterly ignorant. He knows nothing of God in heaven above. All is darkness there to him. Yet God is there in all His wondrous glory. And just as when a storm has dispersed all the dark clouds and cleared the air, so, when God reveals Himself, His light and truth are seen.” (Bullinger)
b. As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him: Elihu returned to his theme of God’s distance and transcendence. He wanted to discourage Job from insisting that God owed him (or anyone else) an audience or an explanation.
i. Significantly, the God whom Elihu believed to be utterly beyond and unreachable by man (we cannot find Him) has come in the storm, and will speak to Job. It seems that God had finally heard enough of the almost-right wisdom of man, and had heard enough of this talk that He was so beyond man that He was beyond reach. God was about to confront not only Job, but his three friends and especially Elihu, with both His words and His presence.
ii. “The rushing mighty wind, for which the description of the thunder and lightning had prepared poor, confounded, astonished Job, proclaims the presence of Yahweh: and out of this whirlwind God answers for and proclaims himself! Reader, canst thou not conceive something of what these men felt? Art thou not astonished, perplexed, confounded, in reading over these descriptions of the thunder of God's power? Prepare, then, to hear the voice of God himself out of this whirlwind.” (Clarke)
iii. “In the story of Job, too, the Lord has apparently been sound asleep until now, peacefully curled up in the stern of the boat while Job has been struggling all alone with the wind and the waves. . . . in the case of Job He let the storm rage for 37 chapters, until finally He calmed not the storm itself, but Job’s heart.” (Mason)
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