Book traversal links for Lecture 9 - Job 33 - 38
It is remarkable how worldly minds dislike Elihu. It is a very old story. It began with some of the famous Jews, and it has gone down to the present day. They regard him as a particularly forward young man, and also as full of self-conceit, after all with very little in it. Now nothing can show more a mind unacquainted with God; because Elihu has a most valuable place in this book. It is he that for the first time brings out the blessing of affliction — affliction turned to the profit of the soul. This was not very much known even in Israel afterwards; for in Israel God was showing His government of a nation; but that is a totally different thing from what we find in Job. What Elihu shows is a government of souls, and that goes on now more than ever in Christianity.
This is what is found in John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” And what does the Father do? “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it.” He purges on the one hand, and He takes away on the other. If there are those who are totally insensible, He takes them away; more particularly if they bear His name falsely. But those who do bear fruit He purges, that they may bring forth more fruit. That was exactly the case with Job. So also Peter takes it up. He knew what that was. Satan desired to sift him as wheat. But the Lord prayed for Peter, not merely for you, but for Peter. And why? Because a dead set was made against Peter. Peter was lifted up as Job was. Peter was quite sure of his own great love for the Saviour, and he trusted in his own love — not Christ’s love to him. but Peter’s love to Christ; for no matter what the difficulty he might be in, he would be faithful! Whereas, on the contrary, he slighted the word of the Lord that warned him of his danger, and that night before the cock crew, he denied Him — that is, he broke down exactly where he thought it was impossible that he could.
And so did Job. Job had shown himself a most gracious man in prosperity, and a most patient man in adversity; and if the trial had rested there Job would have been more pleased with himself than ever; for what could we expect more than that a man should be exceedingly kind, and, as men thought, humble, and always occupied with the activities of benevolence and of compassion towards the suffering, when he had nothing to trouble him? Then when he was more troubled, perhaps, than any other man ever was before, he first lost his property, then lost his children, and then lost all his bodily health and was reduced to being one of the greatest of sufferers; so much so that he would have been delighted to have died, but that would not have answered the end of the Lord The Lord intended that he should live, and consequently that he must accept the trial from Him; but Job did not understand that. No doubt, although his wife did not — as a wife nowadays very often does — help her husband to get wrong, she told him to curse God and die — make an end of it all. Women are sometimes very impatient; so she was, any way, and gave right bad advice. He rejected it, but he could not stand his friends’ insinuations. However, as I have gone through that pretty carefully before, I need not dwell upon it now. But here we have come to Job triumphant over his friends. They are perfectly silenced. These men of age, experience, and wisdom, did not understand the case even as well as Job And the reason why they did not understand it was that Job had more sense of grace in God, which is the real key of all the dealings of God. They thought everything must be shallow and on the outside, and yet they were true saints.
But we have to learn, as one of the great lessons of the Book, that we cannot glory in saints — we can only glory in God. Though not a few are brought before us, yet they all come short of it. Even Job, although he found it an easy matter to confute them (and he seems to have had considerable pleasure in reducing the three, one after the other, to total silence), he had not yet got to the root of the matter, and that was — a little complacency in himself — a most insidious evil, and only to be learnt in the presence of God. And now there is no excuse for us; because the very object of the death of Christ is not merely that we should be forgiven and made happy; but it is that we should walk in self-judgment, and also in confidence in God, and in these two things Job failed; and we are in danger of failing too. We stop short, just getting the heart and the conscience, when they have been awakened, to feel what sin is. But that is only the threshold; that is only the way in which we enter into the blessing, and the blessing is, to be brought to God. No doubt there is a great deal in being brought to God; and we are brought in a very wonderful way to God, on which I do not dwell now, because it is not what we have here.
But as to Elihu, he lifts up the veil for the first time off the riddle which none of them had been able to solve — neither Eliphaz, nor Bildad, nor Zophar, nor even Job. The last words of Job were that he would not give up his integrity, no matter what came, till cockle grew instead of barley a thing that could not possibly be. He was determined to stick to it; and he was quite sure they were all wrong in thinking that there was anything wrong in him. And yet there was. Not at all in the way they thought; but it was the pleasure that he took in what grace, which the Lord had bestowed, had produced in his ways. There was no doubt about that; but why did he think about it? Why did he not think of God? Why was he not filled with the wonder of God producing anything that was good in such a wretched creature as fallen man? Now Elihu comes in; and he had evidently great difficulty in holding his tongue for a good while. And he showed his great humility. Because we should not have known he had been there. He suddenly comes forward at this critical moment, when not only the three, but Job, were silent; and it was a very hard matter to get Job silent; for he was an excellent speaker, and he had a great deal to say that was very true; but he did not yet know himself as God meant him to — as God means us to learn ourselves. That is the reason the book was given to us — not to learn ourselves in a human way by our thoughts, but to learn ourselves after a definite sort by the light of God detecting what nothing else can.
Well, Elihu had been silent. He was a young man compared with them, and he had a very strong sense of propriety; and accordingly he would not think of interrupting, or of entering in, even when, one after another, the others subsided. He might have spoken then, but no! he waits till the whole thing was closed by Job’s fervent utterance, in which he showed that his good opinion of himself was as great as ever it was, and all that God had done had not brought him down in his own opinion of himself. This was what roused Elihu. He was indignant that the others could not see. He saw it clearly enough; that Job was insubmissive to God, and that Job spoke in a very improper way about God. Afterwards he said the right thing. You must not suppose that when God compared him with his three friends it was with regard to these speeches. No, no; Job had a wrong spirit while they were going on, and resented in the highest degree the bad thoughts the others had of him. But does that make a man bad? What is the opinion of another man? what does he know about it? So that if a person is quieted before God, he can afford to take it all quietly. It is very bad for the others; but it does not make him a bit worse. Job, however, had not learnt this; he broke down in the very matter of patience. Yet we have heard of the patience of Job. There was nobody like him for it; but he broke down in the very thing in which he was apt to be a little proud.
Elihu makes a great deal of apology. That is what these proud men do not like. They are men inflated with the pride of man’s heart; and scholars — even scholars in the Bible, learned men in the scriptures — are just as apt to be carried away by notions of their own importance as other people are; and that is what is the key to all these depreciatory views of Elihu. They know nothing about God. They are eloquent of the wonders of a man’s mind and perhaps the outward works of God; all that, they may be, but they do not know anything about the dealings of God. There are thousands of men that have written of the scriptures who have never seen their sinfulness before God, who have never been brought to measure self in the presence of God. And accordingly these men all hate Elihu, and speak with the utmost contempt not only of him as an upstart of a young man that was full of himself, but also of what he said; thus deprecating his speaking at all. For he was very sorry to be obliged to speak. He had no desire to put himself forward; but there he was, quite contrary to all his own intentions or his own desire, compelled to speak on God’s behalf against that which he felt was so unworthy in Job even. Indeed, he does not say much about the others. They were silent; they had passed away just as Satan had previously. Satan disappears and we do not hear of him after in this book; he was thoroughly beaten; and then the other three evidently had to give up and surrender; they had nothing more to say. Indeed, they had said a great deal too much.
But now (Job 33) was Elihu’s turn; and after all, Job had not said the thing that was right. So he begins here. The 32nd chapter was merely a preface, speaking of his own shortcoming, and at the same time, of his entire conviction that he saw a truth that neither Job nor the three friends had seen; and this he must have out.
“I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. Behold, now I have opened my mouth” — he had been very slow to do it — “my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart” — it is all genuine and sincere, whatever these physicians of no value say, these higher critics — “and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.” And so they did. “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up. Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead.” Job, while his heart went out towards God, was afraid that it would be too overwhelming; and yet he wanted to find Him; but still he was afraid. He wanted some one that could speak in a human tongue to him — could speak thoroughly for God. Well, Elihu does that in his measure. Elihu is an interpreter, one of a thousand, and he therefore does speak for God — just what Job had wanted, only very far short of the Great Interpreter — very far short of Him who is the Chief of the Prophets, who is the Lord God of the Prophets, as well as a Prophet. Very short, indeed, of Christ! Still the presence of Elihu is a witness to sovereign grace. It is the rarest thing in the world to find a man that has learnt so of God as Elihu had. And it was purposely intended to bring down the pride of the older men. And Elihu felt that; but still he made them apologies; for he was very unwilling indeed to appear to be setting them in order and correcting the folly that had come from them. He is occupied with Job rather — and that is a very fine trait in him. He does not go round Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, and show how wrong they had been; but the great point remains still to be settled.
There was no solution of the riddle yet. Elihu contributes for the first time. Not completely — it required God to do that — and God did appear; I do not say how. I do not say that He took the shape of man, as He often did in the Old Testament. We do not read of anything of that here. It may merely have been a voice for that matter. But we shall see, when we come to that part, that it was a divine voice; there is no mistake about that. Here, however, it is a man, as he says, and a young man, too, “I also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee,” etc. (vers. 7-11). Job had complained of God’s hand. There were two great faults in what Job had said. He thought too well of himself, and he found fault with God. That is what is clearly put here by Elihu. “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.” He had entirely fallen short of the reverence due to God — entirely forgotten the infinite distance between God and man; the majesty of God; and therefore, instead of finding fault with himself for being so far short, he found fault with God. He did not understand His ways fully. Now he ought to have credited, though he did not understand them. “For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not” (vers. 12-14).
Now he brings in the fact that God carries on His wonderful way in the midst of all, in a ruined world with everything out of order and Satan triumphing, and in fact the prince of the world, and the god of this age, as scripture calls him, at any rate in the New Testament; although they very little understood that yet. But we ought to know it. Well, God, in the midst of all this, carries on His wonderful way, and did so before there was a Bible. You must remember that when the circumstances of Job occurred there was no written revelation. Genesis and Job were probably written very near one another: practically at the same time. There is no reference to the law; there is no reference to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, in Job; and although there was some distance between Job’s country and Egypt, the Book of Job shows that he was well acquainted with the great features of Egypt; that he was well acquainted with the crocodile and the like. There is a magnificent description of it in this very book, and many other things that show that the country of Egypt and its people were quite familiar to Job. He only lived on the edge of the desert, and a little, therefore, to the east of the Holy Land; perhaps the north-east; but at any rate, it was in that part of the country. Elihu belonged rather to another part. He was the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram. “Ram” is the same word (only another form) as “Aram,” i.e., Syria, that part of the country of Asia north of the Holy Land. He belonged, therefore, to a race akin to the Holy Land, but not belonging to it strictly, and that is what makes the great interest of the book — it is God and man. It is not Israel at all; it is purposely God dealing with man, and God dealing with man’s soul. It is far more important that the soul should be right, and this we find most carefully shown in this book. So much so that Job was brought into the best blessing he ever knew while he was still under the effects of his trial, and the external blessing had not yet been conferred; but it followed immediately he could bear it.
God therefore, Elihu says, often deals in a dream of the night (ver. 15). I dare say some of you have had these visitations. It is certainly not for me to beast of anything; but I think that I have had consciously God whispering little things to me about myself, and advising me to take care what I was about, and compelling me to judge myself in a way that I had not done before; and I conceive that it is very probably so in this case. It is nothing miraculous at all. We may perhaps not count with God; but this no doubt is just where we fail, in not attaching the importance that we ought to do, and this although we have His word. But still God is a living God, and God has to do with every one of us in this way. There can be no doubt that here Elihu speaks about it as a certainty in those days; and why it should not be in our day, I, for one, have never learnt. I believe it is all a mistake to imagine it is not so. The great point is that it is altogether inferior to the word. This is where we have our great advantage; and all these excellent people that come before us in this book had it not. Oh no, scripture is of enormous value, and we show our great lack of faith by not estimating it, and making it the grandest point of every day’s life — to learn God more and better by His word, now especially as we have Christ, who is not merely the Interpreter, “one of a thousand,” but alone; alone, above all — Moses, Elias, no matter whom — Jesus only. Well, “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men” — it is not seeing a spirit, as Eliphaz did. That I do not pretend to. It has never been my lot, nor, I suppose, yours; but here it is another thing. It is in sleep; and it is a dream; plain, simple, positive fact, but still it is God deigning to help us. And He loves to do that in ways that we do not always perceive, but He is always doing so in one way or another, except where Ephraim is joined to his idols — “let him alone”! That is a terrible word.
“Then he openeth the ears of men” (ver. 16). That is what is shown in this chapter. It is not “believing” men; it is any man, in order that he might believe. But still, when we do not behave as saints, we may get a little word just showing us where we are, that we are “walking as men,” as the apostle said. “That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.” You see, it is one that had never yet been broken. “He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.” He was on the straight way to it. “He is chastened also with pain upon his bed.” It is not only these dealings with the soul, but also with the body. There he touches the very case of Job. “And the multitude of his bones with strong pain: so that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away” — how true it was of poor Job “that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen, stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him” — that is exactly what Elihu was — “an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness”: i.e., what becomes him. And what is it that becomes a man? Self-judgment. He is a fallen man. He may be a believing man, but still, he is a man, as we can say, with the flesh in him; and that flesh may be working strongly, as it did in Job as well as the others. “Then he is gracious unto him.” Directly the man bows, directly there is submissiveness to God — that is the uprightness of man. This is what is done when a man is converted, i.e., he bows to God, but also when a man gets away, like Peter, it may also be said, “When thou art converted.” For the restoration of a man is very much of the same character as when a man is converted. He is turned back to God. He has been forgetting God, and he turns back and remembers Him. That is how it was with Peter; and that is what we sometimes find also. “Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom” (vers. 17-24).
Now I do not think you could find in all the rest of the Old Testament such a description as here of God’s dealing with the soul that is wrong, or that has got wrong. I do not remember any so graphic, and so personally applicable; and it would be hard to find it in the New Testament, except where the Lord gives us the Prodigal. There I admit that we have a perfect picture. We could not have here all that the Lord shows of the prodigal son; but here it is a wonderful thing, especially so precious at the early day. But it does not mean that the ransom was yet offered; but there it was before God, answering to that word in Rom. 3: “the pretermission” of sins — a passing over, not a “remission,” for this latter could not be true of an Old Testament saint. “Remission” is what particularly belongs to the New Testament. But there was a “pretermission” — a “passing over” by God. It was like a bad debt, and the creditors saying, “It is no use; we must pass it by; we must not expect anything.” That is what God did. There was “the forbearance of God.” But now it is not the forbearance of God at all; and it is not “pretermission.” It is “remission” now. It is God’s righteousness clearly manifested, and that is, that Christ has borne our sins, and therefore it is a righteous thing to blot them out. It is not merely saying, “Poor fellow, he cannot pay”; but here is One that has paid, and paid in the most glorious manner; more wonderful a great deal than if there had never been sin; more glorious to God and more blessed for man. Because, on the contrary, it was giving us up as a bad job where it was merely “forbearance” and “pretermission”; but now it is triumphing.
You recollect that remarkable word which I think is quite misunderstood — “come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Does this apply to the believer? On the contrary, no believer comes “short of the glory of God.” And how is this? Why, because there is One in the glory who bore my sins on the cross, And He who is in the glory of God is my life and my righteousness. Therefore it is that we, believers, do not “come short of the glory of God.” There was that great fact, not merely a mighty work upon the cross, but the Lord Jesus connecting that work with the glory of God, and giving us the wonderful impulse and strength of knowing that we do not come short of the glory of God. That was a thing that could not be at the beginning. It could not be without — not only sin forgiven, but Christ glorifying God about sin, and consequently going up Himself into the glory of God, and this as our Saviour. Well, we have not this here; nothing like it at all, but simply “I have found a ransom.”
“His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth; he shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him; and he shall see his face with joy.” We have here nothing at all about the two natures. That the Old Testament saint never understood. There is no such thing as the intelligence of that great truth in any part of the Old Testament. And man is incapable of profiting by, or understanding, it until he sees Christ by faith; sees the Son and believes in Him. Now we are capable. Now we are made to understand it simply and fully. “He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not” — there you see, is just what the repentant soul says. It is not called “repentance” here. It is in Jeremiah. Jeremiah, brings it out very beautifully in the 31st chapter, before he introduces the new covenant; but here we have the thing, repentance, although the word is not employed. “He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man” (vers. 25-30). It is very comforting to think that that was what God was doing, and was known to be doing, in those days. Because the gospel was not preached then. There was, no doubt, the precious revelation of “the Seed of the woman” that was to be bruised, and which was to bruise Satan; but after all, although that is a most wonderful word, and not less wonderful now than it ever was — most wonderful to think of now — yet it was almost all they had then.
There was a little more that came in with Noah, as a type — the deluge, and man passing out of it; and then Abraham as the chosen one, and the seed that belonged to that stock; because. they all knew that thence was to be the Messiah. All the believing Jews were perfectly aware that Abraham’s Seed, represented by Isaac, was to be the Messiah. And how beautifully it was confirmed by Isaac being the one that was offered up in a figure, and was received, as it were, from the dead, God forbidding Abraham to put him to death! but he was under sentence of death for three days, and then it was, at the very critical moment, he was delivered!
Not so with Jesus. Here everything was perfect. Everything here was carried out in all its fulness of blessing, but it could not be in any other than Jesus. So Elihu calls Job (ver. 31) to mark all this, and hearken; and then if he has anything to say he would be very glad to hear, because he wanted to justify him. There is, you see, the great difference between Elihu and the others The others wanted to condemn him. They were quite sure there was something altogether bad there, and they wanted to have it out. Therefore they were on their mettle to try and discover what it could possibly be; and so they grew more and more angry with Job, because instead of acknowledging it he told them that they were botchers. Instead of being physicians of any value they were mere bunglers, and everything was a mistake and a blunder on their part, and no doubt they were very angry.
Well, Elihu proceeds (Job 34), and now he blames Job again. He says, “Hear my words, ye wise men, and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge. For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat. Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job hath said, I am righteous” (vers. 2-5). And he was, in the sense in which his three friends denied; but he was not righteous in glorifying God. No, he found fault with God. “For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.” Well, he says that is insufferable; such language is highly improper. “What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water “; for there was a good deal of the pride of his heart that came out in Job. “Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity.” He says: ‘It is bad enough for unbelieving men to say something like that; but you — Job!’ “Therefore hearken unto me,” etc. Now he appeals to Job. “Who has given him a charge over the earth, or who has disposed all the world?” Who is one that has committed anything to him, to dispose of the whole world? Who has done that for God? “If he set his heart upon man” — He has only to leave man, and he perishes.
You see, Elihu had not in the least that idea which many pious men have now, that all the world goes on well by the principle of gravitation. Well, there is not a doubt God gives an impulse to all the heavenly orbs, and the earth among the rest. He gave them their motion; but then it is God who keeps it up. Men attribute this to second causes. But it is not in the way of motion to be perpetual. That is all a great mistake; there is no such thing, and God it is that keeps everything going, and if God were to withdraw for a moment the immediate action of His power, everything would collapse. That is what Elihu teaches here. “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath — all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words. Shall even he that hateth right govern?” That is, he shows the monstrousness of Job finding fault with God. “And wilt thou condemn him that is most just?” “Why,” he says, “it is not fit to say so to a king.” A king may have his faults, but his office is one that demands reverence from men. We are not only to fear God’ but to honour the king. Here you have it. He was anything but, what people call, in these days, “a liberal.” “Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked?” etc. (vers. 18-21), Every now and then God does allow, and what is the effect of it? A revolution. People do not know why it is; but when men are always crying for some change, or something new, God allows it to come, and they are overwhelmed. It is the very thing that they do not want; because the upshot, almost always, of a revolution of men against government is that there is a worse government that follows. But there is a true despot at the same time flattering the people while he is taking advantage of them in every possible way. “For he will not lay upon man more than right,” etc. (vers. 23-27).
Then he shows another side, when God gives quietness. God, after all, spite of the restless wickedness of the devil, is always above him. Not only above man, but above Satan and all his power. “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; that the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement” — that is what he was pressing upon Job. “I will not offend any more” etc. (vers. 29-36). Job had spoken very unguardedly. “For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.”
Now again, we come to a further step (Job 35). “Elihu spake moreover, and said, Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness” — which was not only that he spake against God, but he thought so much of himself — “My righteousness is more than God’s.” That is what he practically meant, although he would not have said it. But Elihu put his finger upon the spot. “For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin? I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee. Look unto the heavens, and see, and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.” Can you bear in the face of that to speak against Him who is above them all? For man cannot look the sun in the face; who then is he to look God in the face? “If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him?” etc. (vers. 6-16). So that whether it was decrying God, or setting forward himself, Job was wrong on both counts.
Well, he goes on further still (Job 36): “Elihu also proceeded, and said, Suffer me a little, and I will show thee that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words shall not be false; he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee. Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any” (vers. 1-5). What a wonderful saying! People might have thought, and do think, that the greater the majesty of God, the less He takes notice of the very smallest thing on earth. It is all the other way. And God shows His might by His being able to grasp everything, and take notice and show His concern about the smallest insect. “He preserveth not the life of the wicked” — His great concern is man, but He takes in everything — “but giveth right to the poor. He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous.” That is the great point of this chapter. In the 33rd it was “man,” but here it is “the righteous” man that He more particularly looks at. The discipline that God exercises over man in order to win him to God is far more strictly over the righteous man, to keep him right; that if He has justified him it should not be to His dishonour. For it is a terrible thing when a saint of God gets wrong. “But with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted. And if they be bound in fetters and be holden in cords of affliction” — and sometimes kings come under these things very decidedly — “then he showeth them their work” (vers. 6-12). It is not entirely occupied with the righteous; but it is particularly with kings. “But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them. They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.” But what He has pleasure in is this: “He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression. Even so would he have removed thee” — he applies it to Job — “out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness, and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.” It was to be accomplished strictly, exactly, as Elihu explained it. “But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.” Job was not yet right. There was a process going on under Elihu, and it was shown by this — that he never interrupts him. It is not without a little proof that Elihu saw signs as if he were going to speak, but he stops him. I need not enter into the proof of that new.
Then he says: “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke” (vers. 13- 26). He is infinitely above our thoughts. “For he maketh small the drops of water.” Elihu illustrates it by God’s power with outward things. And if that is the case with so small a thing as the rain, how much more with a thing so great as the soul of man; the soul of man that is due to the inbreathing of God Himself? “They pour down rain according to the vapour thereof, which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?” The speaker takes up the same line of argument that Jehovah does when He speaks out of the whirlwind in the latter part of this book. “Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it,” etc. (vers. 27-33) For the cattle are very sensitive to a thunderstorm, and show that they regard it as a very serious matter; there are men who only harden themselves. But here Elihu gives his last words, and is very much occupied with describing a thunderstorm. For he had proper thoughts about God even in outward matters.
“At this also my heart” — that is a very different thing from the mere instinct of the cattle — “my heart trembleth,” etc. (Job 37:1-8). Even the beasts have more sense than some men. “Out of the south cometh the whirlwind,” etc. (vers. 9-12). That is, he shows the absolute sovereignty of God. And if that is true about natural things, is it not still more necessary in spiritual things? “He causeth it to come, whether for correction” — that is, what he was showing about the dealings with Job — “or for his land, or for mercy. Hearken unto this, O Job; stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? “What do you know about it all?” Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” etc. (vers. 13-19). That is, that with even those men of God, it is only in part we know. There is great darkness even now. “Shall it be told him that I speak?” “Oh,” he says, “I should be frightened if such a thing were to be. I speak in the presence of God.” “If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up,” etc. (vers. 20-24). There was just where Job had made a mistake. He was wise of heart, and he admired the fruits of grace, and all that was quite inconsistent with what was due to God. And here ends Elihu. Immediately we find the Lord interposing; that I reserve for our next occasion.