Silence having fallen upon all four disputants, a fresh speaker
appeared, and he too is introduced to us in a way that shows we are
considering a history and not a romance. He was descended from Buz, who
was a nephew of Abraham, as Genesis 22: 21 shows. In those early days
after the flood, when population was small, the duplication of names
would not be common.
Now Elihu is a name with a meaning, which is given to us as, "God
Himself." If we bear this in mind, and then read verse 6 of Job 33, we
shall see that he intervened to play the part of a mediator, and so
become a type-though a faint one-of the true Mediator, the Lord Jesus
Christ, who is God Himself. Elihu was truly a man, formed out of the
clay and he stood before Job on God's behalf, according to the desire
that Job expressed in Job 9: 33.
Job 32 we have, what we may call, Elihu's
apology for speaking at all. As a much younger man he had been content
to listen to all these controversial speeches and in result was moved
to wrath against all four. Job had justified himself without justifying
God, while the others had condemned Job without being able to answer
his arguments. He acknowledged that normally men should increase in
wisdom and understanding as they increased in years, but neither
greatness of reputation nor age guaranteed this, since wisdom really
comes to man through his spirit and as the fruit of the "inspiration,"
or "breath" of the Almighty. If the three friends had succeeded in
convicting Job, they would have prided themselves on their own wisdom;
only God could do it. The closing words of verse 13 have been
translated, " God will make him yield, not man."
Elihu also had the advantage which he mentioned in verse 14. He had
not been involved in the wordy warfare, hence he could view it all
impartially, and speak in a way that would not be flattering to any of
the contestants. Moreover, having listened to all that had been said,
he was so full of matter that it had to find an outlet and burst forth
So in the opening verses of
Job 33, we find him
making two claims. First, he asserts that his words will be marked by
uprightness and purity, as becomes one who has his being and life from
God. Second, that though he would speak on God's behalf, he himself was
a man, "formed of the clay," just as Job was, and hence, though Job had
said of God, "Let not His fear terrify me" (Job 9: 34), what he had to
say, as interpreting God's ways, would bring no terror to Job's spirit.
Even as our Lord Jesus became a Man, thus bringing God to us without
any sense of terror.
In verse 8, Elihu began to challenge Job in a direct way. He had
heard what Job had contended, and he summed it all up as being a
repudiation of any accusation brought against him as to transgression
and iniquity, which of necessity involved, either directly or
indirectly, an accusation against God of hard dealing, if not
injustice. In thus summing up the whole position we can see, we think,
that Elihu was not far wrong. The world being as it is and what it is,
if perfection be claimed for man, then obviously all the wrong that
exists must be blamed upon God.
In answer to Job, Elihu's first point is the supreme greatness of
God. Hence striving against Him is futile. It is man who is accountable
to God, not God accountable to man. Let us in our day never forget this.
But then in the second place, though God gives no account of His
matters, He does speak to man, though so often man does not perceive
it. And, having stated this, he proceeded to indicate ways in which God
does thus speak. He may speak in a dream or a vision. He has often done
so, as Scripture records, and evidently He does so still, particularly
with simple saints, who know but little of the Bible, and possibly have
but little of the Bible in their native tongue. Where saints are
instructed in and by the Bible-a superior form of guidance - dreams, in
which God speaks, are comparatively rare. And, if God does thus speak
to a man in a dream: to what end is it? To alter his course and to
humble his pride into the dust. A salutary word for Job; and for all of
God may also speak to a man by granting him some merciful
deliverance when he is threatened by disaster or war. This is mentioned
in verse 18, and many of us can look back to occasions when we received
mercy of this sort, and we were conscious at once that God had
something to say to us in it.
And yet again, God may speak through pain and sickness, which is so
vividly described in verses 19-22, until the sufferer is brought face
to face with death itself. We can see how Elihu's description of this
exactly fitted the case of Job, and indeed not a few of us, though our
cases have not been nearly as extreme as Job's. How often has a
careless sinner, when smitten thus, been led to turn to God and
awakened for his eternal salvation. How often too has a saint had to
look back to a time of severe sickness as an occasion of much spiritual
These times of emergency are the opportunity for the one whom Elihu
called a "messenger," an "interpreter," who can show what it is that
God has to say in these things. Though such are not common, as indeed
we know, they are of great value, and Elihu called them, "one among a
thousand," which indicates rarity. There may be many who can
commiserate and sometimes condemn the afflicted one, as did Job's three
friends. To give the mind of God is another and a greater thing.
When the interpreter has arrived what has he to say? He shows to a
man his uprightness; which is of course, to judge himself and hence
honestly to take his place before God as a self-confessed sinner. This
Job had not as yet done, but it is that to which he was led when the
end of the story is reached. It is the end we must all of us reach if
we have to do with God at all. Have we, all of us, reached it?
When that point is reached, what is the result? An exhibition of
grace on God's part, resulting in deliverance from going into the pit,
and that, because God Himself had found a ransom. The word translated
"ransom" here simply means a "covering," akin to the word translated,
"atonement" in the Old Testament. Before Christ came God covered before
His holy eye the sin of the repentant sinner, waiting for the time when
full propitiation should be made in the all-sufficient sacrifice of
Christ. Hence that word about "the remission [passing over - see,
margin] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Rom. 3:
25). These past sins were those of pre-Christian saints; Job's among
Verse 25 had special reference to Job's case; but verses 26-30 have
a wide application. The ransomed sinner stands before God in
righteousness and with joy and, as the next verses show, he can happily
confess both his sin and his deliverance before men, as the marginal
reading of verse 28 shows. Elihu's words here were instruction to Job
and designed to lead him to honest confession before God. They are
equally true for us, and that in a far more ample and perfect way, as
we look back to the accomplished work of Christ.
In these remarkable words Elihu was certainly acting the part of the
interpreter with Job, by showing what is the good design of God in His
dealings, so adverse apparently, with men. He aims at delivering them
from the "pit" of self-esteem and complacency in this life, and the
"pit" of judgment and condemnation in the life to come. Having
interpreted God's ways thus far Elihu evidently paused to see if at
this point there was anything Job wished to say.
There being no response on Job's part, Elihu resumed his discourse
Job 34: 2 indicates, had a larger audience in view. He
addressed himself also to the three friends and any other bystanders,
challenging them as to whether they had the wisdom and knowledge that
would enable them to try words: and choose what is good and right. He
knew well that the effect of sin is to pervert man's judgment and blind
him to what is right.
In keeping with the larger audience he began to speak about Job
rather than to Job as previously he had done. Job does not appear to
have said, "I am righteous," in so many words; he had rather inferred
it by singing his own praises in the way recorded in Job 29. But,
turning back to Job 27: 2, we note he did definitely say, "God hath
taken away my judgment." Hence his attitude clearly was, "Should I lie
against my right?"
His "right" was, he maintained to be free of these calamities and he
did not intend to say otherwise. His wound did indeed seem to be
incurable but he maintained it was not provoked by any transgression on
his part. Verses 5 and 6 sum up Job's position, as Elihu saw it. He had
not claimed to be sinless, but he did claim that he was guilty of no
transgression that justified God in inflicting upon him such woes. In
effect it came to this, that he was right, and God was wrong.
Elihu now shows that in all this Job had really allied himself with
the wicked. The scorning of men he might drink up like water, but he
could not so treat the judgment of God. The absolute perfection and
rightness of all God's ways is what Elihu asserts; a matter of the
greatest importance, seeing He is supreme in all the earth. He has
"charge over the earth," so that He has "disposed the whole world."
Verse 14 has been translated, "If He only thought of Himself, and
gathered unto Him His spirit and His breath;" then the result would be
that all flesh would expire together and man return to the dust. Such
is the greatness as well as the rightness of God.
Hence the argument of the succeeding verses. Should government be in
the hands of the unjust? And if in the hands of the ALL-Just, is what
He orders to be challenged? Men would not speak thus to kings or
princes. Much less then to God. What He orders must be right.
Elihu proceeds to speak of the searching judgment of God, which is
quite impartial, the rich being amenable to it equally with the poor
Moreover there is "no darkness, nor shadow of death," where those who
work evil may hide themselves. He went on to assert that God's
judgments are always right and that He acts as seems good in His sight,
breaking in pieces and overthrowing mighty men, yet on the other hand
hearing the cry of the afflicted. He may give quietness to the
afflicted and who then can disturb it? He may hide His face from the
wicked and who then can behold Him? And this is true whether a nation
be in question or only an individual.
The rest of this chapter is more directly a word to Job. It would
have been more becoming if he had humbly accepted the chastisement,
admitting that there was iniquity with him, of which he was ignorant,
and as to which he needed God should teach him, so that he should put
right what was wrong. Instead of that he had challenged God's judgment
in favour of his own mind, and in so doing he had added to his sin
rebellion against God.