January 12, Job 32-34

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Elihu’s Angry Response

32 So these three men quit answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite from the family of Ram became angry. He was angry at Job because he had justified himself rather than God. He was also angry at Job’s three friends because they had failed to refute him and yet had condemned him.[a]

Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were all older than he. But when he saw that the three men could not answer Job, he became angry.

So Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite replied:

I am young in years,
while you are old;
therefore I was timid and afraid
to tell you what I know.
I thought that age should speak
and maturity should teach wisdom.
But it is the spirit in a person—
the breath from the Almighty—
that gives anyone understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise
or the elderly who understand how to judge.
10 Therefore I say, “Listen to me.
I too will declare what I know.”
11 Look, I waited for your conclusions;
I listened to your insights
as you sought for words.
12 I paid close attention to you.
Yet no one proved Job wrong;
not one of you refuted his arguments.
13 So do not claim, “We have found wisdom;
let God deal with him, not man.”
14 But Job has not directed his argument to me,
and I will not respond to him with your arguments.

15 Job’s friends are dismayed and can no longer answer;
words have left them.
16 Should I continue to wait now that they are silent,
now that they stand there and no longer answer?
17 I too will answer;[b]
yes, I will tell what I know.
18 For I am full of words,
and my spirit[c] compels me to speak.
19 My heart[d] is like unvented wine;
it is about to burst like new wineskins.
20 I must speak so that I can find relief;
I must open my lips and respond.
21 I will be partial to no one,
and I will not give anyone an undeserved title.
22 For I do not know how to give such titles;
otherwise, my Maker would remove me in an instant.

Elihu Confronts Job

33 But now, Job, pay attention to my speech,
and listen to all my words.
I am going to open my mouth;
my tongue will form words on my palate.
My words come from my upright heart,
and my lips speak with sincerity what they know.
The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Refute me if you can.
Prepare your case against me; take your stand.
I am just like you before God;
I was also pinched off from a piece of clay.
Fear of me should not terrify you;
no pressure from me should weigh you down.

Surely you have spoken in my hearing,
and I have heard these very[e] words:
“I am pure, without transgression;
I am clean and have no iniquity.
10 But he finds reasons to oppose me;
he regards me as his enemy.
11 He puts my feet in the stocks;
he stands watch over all my paths.”

12 But I tell you that you are wrong in this matter,
since God is greater than man.
13 Why do you take him to court
for not answering anything a person asks?[f]
14 For God speaks time and again,
but a person may not notice it.
15 In a dream, a vision in the night,
when deep sleep comes over people
as they slumber on their beds,
16 he uncovers their ears
and terrifies them[g] with warnings,
17 in order to turn a person from his actions
and suppress the pride of a person.
18 God spares his soul from the Pit,
his life from crossing the river of death.[h]
19 A person may be disciplined on his bed with pain
and constant distress in his bones,
20 so that he detests bread,
and his soul despises his favorite food.
21 His flesh wastes away to nothing,[i]
and his unseen bones stick out.
22 He draws near to the Pit,
and his life to the executioners.
23 If there is an angel on his side,
one mediator out of a thousand,
to tell a person what is right for him[j]
24 and to be gracious to him and say,
“Spare him from going down to the Pit;
I have found a ransom,”
25 then his flesh will be healthier[k] than in his youth,
and he will return to the days of his youthful vigor.
26 He will pray to God, and God will delight in him.
That person will see his face with a shout of joy,
and God will restore his righteousness to him.
27 He will look at men and say,
“I have sinned and perverted what was right;
yet I did not get what I deserved.[l]
28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the Pit,
and I will continue to see the light.”
29 God certainly does all these things
two or three times to a person
30 in order to turn him back from the Pit,
so he may shine with the light of life.
31 Pay attention, Job, and listen to me.
Be quiet, and I will speak.
32 But if you have something to say,[m] answer me;
speak, for I would like to justify you.
33 If not, then listen to me;
be quiet, and I will teach you wisdom.

34 Then Elihu continued,[n] saying:

Hear my words, you wise ones,
and listen to me, you knowledgeable ones.
Doesn’t the ear test words
as the palate tastes food?
Let us judge for ourselves what is right;
let us decide together what is good.
For Job has declared, “I am righteous,
yet God has deprived me of justice.
Would I lie about my case?
My wound[o] is incurable,
though I am without transgression.”
What man is like Job?
He drinks derision like water.
He keeps company with evildoers
and walks with wicked men.
For he has said, “A man gains nothing
when he becomes God’s friend.”

10 Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding.
It is impossible for God to do wrong,
and for the Almighty to act unjustly.
11 For he repays a person according to his deeds,
and he gives him what his conduct deserves.[p]
12 Indeed, it is true that God does not act wickedly
and the Almighty does not pervert justice.
13 Who gave him authority over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the entire world?
14 If he put his mind to it
and withdrew the spirit and breath he gave,
15 every living thing would perish together
and mankind would return to the dust.

16 If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I have to say.
17 Could one who hates justice govern the world?
Will you condemn the mighty Righteous One,
18 who says to a king, “Worthless man!”
and to nobles, “Wicked men!”?
19 God is not partial to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands.
20 They die suddenly in the middle of the night;
people shudder, then pass away.
Even the mighty are removed without effort.

21 For his eyes watch over a man’s ways,
and he observes all his steps.
22 There is no darkness, no deep darkness,
where evildoers can hide.
23 God does not need to examine a person further,
that one should[q] approach him in court.
24 He shatters the mighty without an investigation
and sets others in their place.
25 Therefore, he recognizes their deeds
and overthrows them by night, and they are crushed.
26 In full view of the public,[r]
he strikes them for their wickedness,
27 because they turned aside from following him
and did not understand any of his ways
28 but caused the poor to cry out to him,
and he heard the outcry of the needy.
29 But when God is silent, who can declare him guilty?
When he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he watches over both individuals and nations,
30 so that godless men should not rule
or ensnare the people.

31 Suppose someone says to God,
“I have endured my punishment;
I will no longer act wickedly.
32 Teach me what I cannot see;
if I have done wrong, I won’t do it again.”
33 Should God repay you on your terms
when you have rejected his?
You must choose, not I!
So declare what you know.
34 Reasonable men will say to me,
along with the wise men who hear me,
35 “Job speaks without knowledge;
his words are without insight.”
36 If only Job were tested to the limit,
because his answers are like those of wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin;
he scornfully claps in our presence,
while multiplying his words against God.

A former student of Robert Dick Wilson, one of the great professors at Princeton Theological Seminary, was invited to preach in Miller Chapel, twelve years after he had graduated. Dr. Wilson came in and sat down near the front. At the close of the meeting, the old professor came up to his former student, cocked his head to one side in his characteristic way, extended his hand, and said, “If you come back again, I will not come to hear you preach. I only come once. I am glad that you are a big-Godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big-Godders or little-Godders, and then I know what their ministry will be.”

His former student asked him to explain. The old professor replied, “Well, some people have a little God, and they are always in trouble with him. He can’t do any miracles. He can’t take care of the inspiration and transmission of the Scripture to us. He doesn’t intervene on behalf of his people. They have a little God, and I call them little-Godders. Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks, and it is done. He commands, and it stands fast. He knows how to show himself strong on behalf of those who fear him. You have a great God, and he will bless your ministry.” He paused a moment, smiled, and said, “God bless you,” and turned and walked out. [Max Anders and Stephen J. Lawson (2012). HOTC Vol. 10: Job. B&H Publishing Group.

Do you have a little God or a big God? God is holy, righteous and perfect. He will always do the right thing. Elihu had this very view of God. Elihu assures Job that God is bigger than Job’s suffering. Strive today to have a big God…one who can conquer anything you can face and will always do the right thing.

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