What did Elihu say to Job?
“But now, hear my speech, O Job,
and listen to all my words.
2 Behold, I open my mouth;
the tongue in my mouth speaks.
3 My words declare the uprightness of my heart,
and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
4 The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me, if you can;
set your words in order before me; take your stand.
6 Behold, I am toward God as you are;
I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.
7 Behold, no fear of me need terrify you;
my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
Elihu states that his intentions are upright and sincere and he has no hidden motivations. He is a human being, just like Job and so he tells Job that he should not feel uneasy or condemned before him.
We discussed in Job 32 that Elihu can be viewed as a foreshadowing of John the Baptist who was a forerunner of Christ. But this section also points out why Jesus had to come as man to be a true mediator and intercessor for all men. Beyond the atonement (only a righteous man has the standing to atone for fallen man), if the purpose of God’s plan is to restore man to be in relationship with him, the connection with God, Jesus as man, is necessary. God as spirit is beyond our understanding. To have true fellowship, God connects with us in a way we can relate.
8 “Surely you have spoken in my ears,
and I have heard the sound of your words.
9 You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression;
I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
10 Behold, he finds occasions against me,
he counts me as his enemy,
11 he puts my feet in the stocks
and watches all my paths.’
12 “Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you,
for God is greater than man.
13 Why do you contend against him,
saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’?
Elihu chastises Job for claiming he is completely without sin and fault, for saying that God is wrong in allowing calamity to fall upon him. Elihu tells Job that man answers to God, God does not answer to man, and he points out Job’s hubris in assuming that his claims will go without an answer.
14 For God speaks in one way,
and in two, though man does not perceive it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
while they slumber on their beds,
16 then he opens the ears of men
and terrifies them with warnings,
17 that he may turn man aside from his deed
and conceal pride from a man;
18 he keeps back his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.
Elihu begins lining out the ways that God speaks to man pointing out that God’s message to us does not come in the same way as it may come to someone else. Elihu states that God is active and present in the activities of man and that God sends warns to help a person avert disaster.
19 “Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed
and with continual strife in his bones,
20 so that his life loathes bread,
and his appetite the choicest food.
21 His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen,
and his bones that were not seen stick out.
Sickness and disease can be a judgment of God and a way for God to get man’s attention.
22 His soul draws near the pit,
and his life to those who bring death.
23 If there be for him an angel,
a mediator, one of the thousand,
to declare to man what is right for him,
24 and he is merciful to him, and says,
‘Deliver him from going down into the pit;
I have found a ransom;
25 let his flesh become fresh with youth;
let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’;
26 then man prays to God, and he accepts him;
he sees his face with a shout of joy,
and he restores to man his righteousness.
27 He sings before men and says:
‘I sinned and perverted what was right,
and it was not repaid to me.
28 He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit
and my life shall look upon the light.’
This is the illustration of salvation in Christ. He is our mediator, the one who was a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45) and “for as many as believe in him to them he gave them power to become the sons of God.” (John 1:12) The ransomed one acknowledges his sin, he has repented of his wrongdoing and recognizes God’s mercy and grace.
29 “Behold, God does all these things,
twice, three times, with a man,
30 to bring back his soul from the pit,
that he may be lighted with the light of life.
31 Pay attention, O Job, listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
32 If you have any words, answer me;
speak, for I desire to justify you.
33 If not, listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”
Elihu points out that God repeatedly rescues and delivers a person.
Then Elihu answered and said:
2 “Hear my words, you wise men,
and give ear to me, you who know;
3 for the ear tests words
as the palate tastes food.
4 Let us choose what is right;
let us know among ourselves what is good.
Elihu points out the importance of testing words and using discernment.
5 For Job has said, ‘I am in the right,
and God has taken away my right;
6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar;
my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’
7 What man is like Job,
who drinks up scoffing like water,
8 who travels in company with evildoers
and walks with wicked men?
9 For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing
that he should take delight in God.’
Elihu points out three things here. First, that Job is protesting that he is completely without sin. Second, Job is claiming that his “wound is incurable,” that is circumstances are beyond God’s deliverance. Third, that Job is claiming that there is no profit in following God, so why bother?
10 “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
11 For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
and according to his ways he will make it befall him.
12 Of a truth, God will not do wickedly,
and the Almighty will not pervert justice.
13 Who gave him charge over the earth,
and who laid on him the whole world?
14 If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
15 all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust.
Elihu stresses the righteousness and justice of God. Part of that justice results in a person receiving justice for their own actions. God is the ultimate source of justice. When Elihu asks “who gave him charge over the earth?” he is pointing out that God answers to no one. Everything and everyone comes from him. If God’s presence was removed, all life would perish.
16 “If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.
17 Shall one who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty,
18 who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’
and to nobles, ‘Wicked man,’
19 who shows no partiality to princes,
nor regards the rich more than the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?
20 In a moment they die;
at midnight the people are shaken and pass away,
and the mighty are taken away by no human hand.
Elihu expands on the greatness and majesty of God. Even the mightiest on earth answers to him and God shows no partiality.
21 “For his eyes are on the ways of a man,
and he sees all his steps.
22 There is no gloom or deep darkness
where evildoers may hide themselves.
23 For God has no need to consider a man further,
that he should go before God in judgment.
24 He shatters the mighty without investigation
and sets others in their place.
25 Thus, knowing their works,
he overturns them in the night, and they are crushed.
26 He strikes them for their wickedness
in a place for all to see,
27 because they turned aside from following him
and had no regard for any of his ways,
28 so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to him
and he heard the cry of the afflicted—
God knows all the thoughts and actions of man. Nothing is hidden from him. God judges exactly as a person deserves, and even the mightiest cannot escape his judgment.
29 When he is quiet, who can condemn?
When he hides his face, who can behold him,
whether it be a nation or a man?—
30 that a godless man should not reign,
that he should not ensnare the people.
God is not answerable to anyone for his timeline for judgment. If he delays or is silent for a time, that is his prerogative.
31 “For has anyone said to God,
‘I have borne punishment; I will not offend any more;
32 teach me what I do not see;
if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more’?
33 Will he then make repayment to suit you,
because you reject it?
For you must choose, and not I;
therefore declare what you know.
Elihu is asking who has acknowledged their own wrongdoing, and repented. Elihu then asks if God will “make repayment” or recompense to suit Job. In other words, Elihu is asking if it is Job who sets the standards of right and wrong and what justice is.
34 Men of understanding will say to me,
and the wise man who hears me will say:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;
his words are without insight.’
36 Would that Job were tried to the end,
because he answers like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin;
he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.”
In challenging God and suggesting that God wronged him, Job is engaging in an act of rebellion according to Elihu.
And Elihu answered and said:
2 “Do you think this to be just?
Do you say, ‘It is my right before God,’
3 that you ask, ‘What advantage have I?
How am I better off than if I had sinned?’
Elihu is saying that Job has been complaining that there is no benefit to serving God and he might as well as lived for himself. I do think here that this is a little strong on Elihu’s part to say the least. Job has been asking God to point out his wrongs and he has been willing to confess them if he knew what they were. But maybe Job was approaching the line of thinking that his own righteousness could stand alone.
4 I will answer you
and your friends with you.
5 Look at the heavens, and see;
and behold the clouds, which are higher than you.
6 If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him?
Or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself,
and your righteousness a son of man.
Whether we are righteous or sinful, it does not make God less or more than what he is. We are not doing God any favors by obeying his law, we benefit ourselves. Our actions impact other human beings, it is because of God’s love and care for us that we are given instructions for being in right relationship with him and with those around us.
9 “Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;
they call for help because of the arm of the mighty.
10 But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’
12 There they cry out, but he does not answer,
because of the pride of evil men.
13 Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
nor does the Almighty regard it.
It is because of the actions of man that there is misery and oppression of the earth. Elihu asks again who really repents. Who is truly turning to God for wisdom and understanding. People say the words, but they do not have a truly repentant heart. God does not respond to “an empty cry.”
14 How much less when you say that you do not see him,
that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!
15 And now, because his anger does not punish,
and he does not take much note of transgression,
16 Job opens his mouth in empty talk;
he multiplies words without knowledge.”
Not only is a repentant heart necessary to receive an answer from God, but also one of thankfulness. Job has claimed that God does not see, hear, or act; however, Elihu insists that God is always acting and present. Just because God does not act how and when we want him to act does not mean that he is not working on our behalf.
This Bible study is part of A Study of Job (2021)