It would seem that at this point Elihu paused again, and no answer
being forthcoming, he proceeded further to expose the drift of Job's
arguments. In claiming that he had committed no sin that called for the
enduring of such extreme sufferings as had come upon him, he had
elevated his own righteousness above God's, and inferred that there was
no profit in a life of piety. The answer to this would be of profit to
Job's companions as well as himself.
The answer Elihu gave was based upon the supreme greatness of God as
the Creator. Further than this he could not go, but that knowledge he
had in common with all men after the flood. From that primeval
knowledge the mass of mankind soon departed, as Romans 1: 20, 21,
declares. Yet the men we listen to in this book were exceptions to this
sad rule, and they retained this knowledge, and argued from it.
God was far above His heavens, and so great that nothing wrong,
perpetrated by puny man could hurt Him, and nothing that was right
could be any addition to Him. Our wrongs may be of damage to our
fellow-men, and our right actions be of profit to them. And if we wrong
our fellows, they cry out in complaint, yet God is forgotten. No one
thought of God who is Creator, and who can lift up the spirit and give
songs even in the night of sorrow.
The God, who gives the songs in the night, teaches man whom He made;
beings of a far higher order than the beasts and birds, able to have
intercourse with Him, whether in songs of joy or cries of need. Verse
10 mentions the songs and verse 12 the cries. And why do men cry and
yet receive no answer? The answer is, because of pride: and in verse
13, Elihu diagnoses the root cause of it all as vanity, which is
abhorrent to God, a thing which He completely disregards. Is not this
instruction for us? Do we not see here an explanation of many an
unanswered cry and prayer?
These things Elihu said in order to drive the point home to the
heart of Job, as he did in the last verse of the chapter. Job had
opened his mouth "in vain," or "in vanity," and hence though his words
had been abundant they had been without knowledge. The excellence of
Job's outward life had betrayed him into an inward spirit of vanity,
which lay at the root of his lack of a true knowledge of himself. This
we shall find Job himself confessed, when we reach Job 42: 3.
Again it looks as if Elihu paused for a moment to see if Job had any
reply to make, but none being forthcoming, he resumed his discourse the
finish of which occupies
Job 36 and Job 37. He commenced by saying that
he had yet words to say on God's behalf; and as we read these two
chapters we shall notice that he had little more to say to Job about
his utterances, but he rather dwelt on the greatness and power of God,
and on His righteous dealings with the sons of men. He would "ascribe
righteousness" to his Creator.
He proceeded to extol the way in which God, who is perfect in
knowledge, deals both with the wicked and the righteous. From the
latter He does not withdraw His eyes; that is, He keeps them ever under
observation, and ultimately He exalts them as kings. Yet, before that
happy end is reached, He may permit them to be "bound in fetters" and
"holden in cords of affliction," just as poor Job was at that moment.
And, if He does permit this, it is for a purpose, as is shown in verses
9-11. Notice, it is the righteous who are thus dealt with, for even an
Abraham and a Job, though righteous, were not sinless, and God's
disciplinary dealings are exerted towards such, rather than those who
shut God out of their lives.
The arguments of the three friends had led to the conclusion that
Job was not a righteous man. Elihu seems rather to admit that he was
righteous, and that, because he was, God had permitted this severe
discipline to come upon him; and in verse 16 he does apply what he is
saying to Job, for after all the deep-seated pride and vanity of the
human heart is the greatest offence of all.
Verse 18 was addressed to Job. We must remember that in that far
distant day, nearly two millenniums before Christ appeared, life and
incorruptibility had not been brought to light, as 2 Timothy 1: 10
shows; and hence an eternal salvation was not known as we now know it.
If we today were to quote this verse we should do so to an unbeliever.
Elihu's warning to Job, however, was timely, particularly verse 21.
In shrinking from the "affliction," he had turned to the "iniquity" of
maintaining his own righteousness. But affliction is to be preferred to
iniquity, as we are reminded in Peter's first Epistle-"He that hath
suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin" (Job 4: 1). The early
Christians might escape suffering by sinning and so may we, if it is
only a question of what may come upon us from the world or the flesh or
Having thus warned Job, Elihu turned afresh to dwell upon the
greatness of God as evidenced in creation, and upon this theme the rest
of his discourse dwells. Particularly did he consider the control
exercised by the Creator on that which lies wholly out of man's
control-the clouds, the winds, the thunder, the lightning, the rain,
the snow, the frost. As these things came before his mind, he had to
confess that his heart trembled and was deeply moved.
In our day men have made many discoveries and gained control of a
sort over a few of the subtle powers that lie in God's wonderful
creation, but the things Elihu mentioned they cannot master. When, as
he put it in verse 9, "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind; and cold
out of the north," the cleverest of men can only accept the situation
and seek shelter or warmth, as the case may be.
Elihu recognized that God ordered the weather with wise purpose, and
what He sends may be, "for correction," i.e, discipline for wrongdoing;
or, "for His land," i.e., to maintain the ordinary productivity of the
earth; or, "for mercy," i.e., to effect some merciful deliverance. This
too had a bearing on Job's case.
Job did not know, and none of us know, how God exerts His supreme
power. The Lord Jesus displayed His Godhead power when He stilled the
wind and waves on the Lake of Galilee. He did so in mercy. Elihu ended
his words with the assertion that with God, the Almighty, is "terrible
majesty," and yet all His doings are in justice. Hence, however wise of
heart any of us-Job included-may consider ourselves to be, our attitude
before Him should not be that of criticism and questionings but of