|<< Job 31|
Job 32-34 Listen
1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
3 Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
4 Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he.
5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.
6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
10 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.
11 Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.
12 Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words:
13 Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man.
14 Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.
15 They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.
16 When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;)
17 I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.
18 For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.
19 Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.
20 I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer.
21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
22 For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
Job has just completed his ninth monologue which began in Job 26 (see notes) and continued down through the end of Job 31 (see notes). Job's three friends have given up according to verse 1, because Job "...was righteous in his own eyes." Is there anybody else here that can get Job to admit to wrongdoing? Well...hang on for a five-chapter ride from still-wet-behind-the-ears Elihu. As a matter of fact, he's the last one to speak before God answers in chapter 38. Elihu is a young man (verse 6), and up to this point has deferred to his elders, but now he just can't hold back any longer; he speaks and speaks and speaks...and then speaks some more. Actually, he just gets ramped up in this chapter as he justifies why he has chosen pile on. He's not happy with Job's three friends who have spoken already; he explains that he just doesn't feel that they have expressed the situation correctly...and he's no fan of Job either. Look at verse 5; he's an angry orator. As a matter of fact, since we are told he's angry as he speaks, I find Elihu's monologue more interesting when read out loud in an angry tone; try it. By the way, he reinforces his purpose for speaking in verses 19-20. Elihu admits that it is primarily for his own satisfaction - not for Job's benefit. This whole chapter is comprised of Elihu telling us that he's decided to speak out and what brought him to that decision - the incompetence of Job's friends to successfully verbalize Job's predicament.
In making a fair assessment of Elihu's five-chapter speech which seems to follow the same course as the speeches of Job's previous three accusers, it should be at least pointed out that God specifically rebukes Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad in Job 42:7-9 (see notes), but not Elihu. Those three were even required to make sacrifices as a very formal apology before Job because they (42:8) "have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job." However, even though Elihu is likewise disputing Job's assessment of the situation, neither Elihu nor his monologue is mentioned there.
1 Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.
2 Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth.
3 My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.
4 The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
5 If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.
6 Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay.
7 Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.
So who is this guy that steps in and takes over. Look at verse 2, "Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth." Who talks like that anyway? It's hard to speak at all without moving your tongue. Here we are, seven verses into the second chapter of his speech, and Elihu is still giving his introduction, having said nothing substantive in 29 verses. Yes...this could be a long monologue. Incidentally, keep in mind, this is written in a Hebrew poetic format.
Elihu summarizes Job's monologues...and disputes them (Job 33:8-18)
8 Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying,
9 I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.
10 Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,
11 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.
12 Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.
13 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.
14 For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
This is all Job needs - another orator to tell him he's unrighteous. As a matter of fact, Elihu sums up Job's defense in verses 9-11 and concludes in verse 12, "Behold, in this thou art not just:" Elihu further expresses his assessment of Job's situation in verse 13 when he says, "Why dost thou strive against him?" In Elihu's mind, Job is resisting God when he defends himself. Elihu is determined to finally get through to Job that this is the wrong approach. Actually, it's difficult to find too much fault with Elihu's assessment in verses 9-11; he has captured the essence of Job's monologues as Job has portrayed God as "out to get him" (so to speak). However, verse 9 is an exaggeration of anything that had been claimed by Job when Elihu accuses Job of having said, "I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me." Job never actually said that; Elihu had just gleaned that from Job's monologues. Subsequently, as far as his assessments of verses 12-13, Elihu declares that Job's wrongdoing is in his responses i.e. the nine speeches of Job preceding Elihu.
And then there's that dream thing that Job mentioned back in Job 7:14 (see notes) when he said, "Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:" Elihu thinks he's on to something when he says in 14-18 that those nightmares had meaning - actual communications from God.
Elihu's monologue has a little different slant to it (Job 33:19-33)
19 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
20 So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.
21 His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.
22 Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:
24 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
25 His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth:
26 He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.
27 He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;
28 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.
29 Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,
30 To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.
31 Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.
32 If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.
33 If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.
Elihu does miss the mark with his assessment in verse 19 when he implies that Job is being chastened. He then suggests that he who responds submissively to Gods chastisement will regain health and joy. So...Elihu simply feels that Job's problem is the fact that he has dwelled on the problem too much. Instead, Elihu feels that Job should have immediately accepted that he was being chastised, confessed it and moved on. Let's pay particular attention to verse 23, "If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness." Elihu is making reference to those dreams in verses 14-18 as he suggests that, not only did those dreams have meaning, but Job needs someone to interpret them for him, and in doing so, "...will "deliver his soul from going into the pit" (verse 28). Is Elihu suggesting that he, himself, is that dream interpreter? Well...notice his words in 31-33, "Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak. If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee. If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom." It looks as though Elihu has assumed the position as Job's dream interpreter. One big problem though - God does declare Job righteous before these witnesses in Job 42 (see notes); that invalidates Elihu's argument here.
1 Furthermore Elihu answered and said,
2 Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.
3 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.
4 Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good.
5 For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.
6 Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.
7 What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?
8 Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.
9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.
We see in verse 2 that Elihu is addressing more than just Job when he says, "Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge." He accuses Job of having said "I am righteous" in verse 5. Well...Job actually did say that in 12:4, 13:18 and 27:6. As for the remainder of verse 5, "God hath taken away my judgment," it would appear that Job had said that also in 27:2. In essence, Job had said on those occasions that he was innocent and was being treated unjustly - at least that's the way Elihu heard it. However, we don't find in any of Job's speeches where he declares himself to be "without transgression" as Elihu asserts in verse 6. He distorts a bit of one of the monologues by Eliphaz when he asserts in verse 7, "What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?" What Eliphaz had actually said in Job 15:16, "How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?"
Job had defended himself in chapter 21 by pointing out that sometimes the wicked do prosper. Elihu capitalizes on that statement and distorts it in verse 8 when he accuses Job of hanging with these wicked people, and in verse 9 Elihu asserts that Job had said, "It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God." How's that for twisting a man's words? Elihu then takes off on the consequences of being wicked down through verse 30.
And Elihu presents his shallow solution (Job 34:10-37)
10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.
11 For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways.
12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.
13 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?
14 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;
15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.
16 If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.
17 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?
18 Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly?
19 How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.
20 In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.
21 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.
22 There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
23 For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God.
24 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead.
25 Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed.
26 He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others;
27 Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways:
28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted.
29 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:
30 That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.
31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:
32 That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.
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.
34 Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me.
35 Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom.
36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men.
37 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.
And, of course, man is evil. Elihu spends the rest of the chapter saying so. Here's his solution in verses 34:31-32, "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more." Here's what he's saying: There's no harm in admitting you have sinned; admit it, confess it and put it behind you. Now, how is his speech different from Job's three friends? However, to Job, admitting to wrongdoing without having committed wrongdoing is to forfeit one's integrity.
Now, lest you think that Elihu has some merit in his speech, let me bring your attention to verses 35-37. These three verses clearly destroy Elihu's credibility as his statements are dead wrong. Remember, we know why Job is experiencing this trial; Elihu has no clue.
Look at the accusations made against Job in verses 35-37:
A case can be made from Job's speeches that he certainly lacked knowledge; I'll stipulate to that. And I suppose that Job's contention that wicked people do sometimes prosper might have been construed by his audience to mean that he was somehow justifying the wicked, although that's not at all what he actually said or meant. However, the accusation by Elihu that Job "addeth rebellion unto his sin" is just plain ol' ignorant speak. We know from chapters 1 and 2 that there's no accuracy there whatsoever. Furthermore, to make the accusation against Job that he "multiplieth his words against God" is a viscious attack on Job's integrity. Elihu is wrong, wrong, wrong! And so...Elihu goes on for two more chapters. This monologue continues on into Job 35 (see notes).
Here's a lesson on counseling: Make certain your motivations for giving counsel are correct - not for selfish purposes. Some people just like to hear themselves talk to tickle their own egos. Elihu had already admitted that his need to vent his reactions was his motivation for speaking (32:19-20, see above).