Job 32 (NLT)
Elihu Responds to Job’s Friends
Job’s three friends refused to reply further to him because he kept insisting on his innocence.
Elihu and his dissatisfaction with the answers of Job’s friends:
2 Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, became angry.
Job’s three friends have been insisting that Job is suffering because of some past sins, while Job has insisted that his personal and public life is an open book before God. The debate has reached a dead end. Now a new speaker comes, a young man, and introduces a new viewpoint. He does believe, with the others, that suffering is always related to sin; he says in 34:10-11 —
Listen to me, you who have understanding.
Everyone knows that God doesn’t sin!
The Almighty can do no wrong.
He repays people according to their deeds.
He treats people as they deserve.
But Elihu also says that suffering has another purpose: to correct and restore us, and keep us on the right path.
He was angry because Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him. 3 He was also angry with Job’s three friends, for they made God appear to be wrong by their inability to answer Job’s arguments. 4 Elihu had waited for the others to speak to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that they had no further reply, he spoke out angrily.
“Elihu is angry with everybody. He is the classic angry young man, and from the outset what we need to notice about this kind of anger is that it puts him in a class by himself. The fact that he is angry at both sides of the debate separates him from Job, on the one hand, but also from the other three friends.”
Why Elihu overcame his hesitancy to speak:
6 Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said,
“I am young and you are old,
so I held back from telling you what I think.
7 I thought, ‘Those who are older should speak,
for wisdom comes with age.’
8 But there is a spirit within people,
the breath of the Almighty within them,
that makes them intelligent.
“We have been trying to know God by the intellect, by reading the Bible intellectually, by endeavouring to apprehend human systems. There is, however, a deeper and truer method. ‘There is a spirit in man!’ Open your spirit to the divine Spirit as you open a window to the sunny air.”
9 Sometimes the elders are not wise.
Sometimes the aged do not understand justice.
10 So listen to me,
and let me tell you what I think.
Elihu criticizes Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as ineffective:
11 “I have waited all this time,
listening very carefully to your arguments,
listening to you grope for words.
12 I have listened,
but not one of you has refuted Job
or answered his arguments.
13 And don’t tell me, ‘He is too wise for us.
Only God can convince him.’
14 If Job had been arguing with me,
I would not answer with your kind of logic!
Elihu’s inner compulsion to speak:
15 You sit there baffled,
with nothing more to say.
16 Should I continue to wait, now that you are silent?
Must I also remain silent?
17 No, I will say my piece.
I will speak my mind.
18 For I am full of pent-up words,
and the spirit within me urges me on.
19 I am like a cask of wine without a vent,
like a new wineskin ready to burst!
20 I must speak to find relief,
so let me give my answers.
21 I won’t play favorites
or try to flatter anyone.
22 For if I tried flattery,
my Creator would soon destroy me.
The English teacher part of me finds Elihu to be insufferably wordy and repetitive. Bible commentator Elmer Smick agrees: “Really, it takes him twenty-four verses to say, ‘Look! I’m going to speak!’”
So many words — blah, blah, blah. So: an instrumental piece for our music today! Let the Holy Spirit speak to you with the Lord’s words as you listen. HERE is “Blessed Assurance” with Paul Burney on the alto sax.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.