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FRAMEWORKS: Job

(Return to Old Testament Contents)

 

Context:

Because Elihu's speech covers six chapters, we provide this simple overview to help the reader see where they are in each chapter:

Ch.32: Introducing Elihu

Ch.33: God IS a Communicator

Ch.34: Job has got it wrong!

Ch.35: Misguided Questions?

Ch.36: God IS Just

Ch.37: God IS Supreme

     

FRAMEWORKS: Job 34: Elihu – Part 3 of 6: Job has got it wrong!

   

[Preliminary Comments: This chapter sees Elihu really moving into the attack on Job, first of all asking them all to consider these things [v.1-4]. But then he brings up two things he thinks Job has said [which we'll consider at the end of the chapter], first that God has denied him justice and, second, there's no point in trying to please God [v.5-9]. To counter these misunderstandings, he declares God's perfection [v.10-12], the God who is the all-powerful Creator of all things [v.13-15], the perfect bringer of justice [v.16-20], because He sees and knows all things [v.21-28]. If He remains silent it is because He does not answer the unrighteous but works to bring repentance in mankind [v.29-33] and so Job has fallen into the trap of speaking beyond his knowledge and is thus guilty of sin [v.34-37]. Much truth but little understanding of what Job has been through.]

    

     

v.1-4 Elihu invites the other four to listen and consider

    

v.1 Then Elihu said: 

v.2 “Hear my words, you wise men; listen to me, you men of learning. 

v.3 For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. 

v.4  Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good. 

    

[Note: Elihu asks them to each weigh up what he says to ascertain the truth.]

   

    

v.5-9 Elihu challenges with truth and exaggeration

   

v.5  “Job says, ‘I am innocent, but God denies me justice.  [see 27:2]

v.6  Although I am right, I am considered a liar; although I am guiltless, his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.' 

v.7  Is there anyone like Job, who drinks scorn like water? 

v.8 He keeps company with evildoers; he associates with the wicked. 

v.9  For he says, ‘There is no profit in trying to please God.' 

   

[Note: He picks up on Job's grumbling about justice but then seems to exaggerate

    

   

v.10-12 He declares God's integrity

  

v.10   “So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. 

v.11   He repays everyone for what they have done; he brings on them what their conduct deserves. 

v.12   It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. 

    

[Note: Some great faith statements!]

   

  

v.13-15 He reminds them that God is all-powerful & wise Creator

   

v.13 Who appointed him over the earth? Who put him in charge of the whole world? 

v.14 If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, 

v.15 all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust. 

   

[Note: More faith declaration about the Creator.]

   

    

v.16-20 God is the bringer of perfect justice

  

v.16 “If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say. 

v.17 Can someone who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One? 

v.18 Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,' and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,' 

v.19 who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands? 

v.20 They die in an instant, in the middle of the night; the people are shaken and they pass away; the mighty are removed without human hand. 

    

[Note: This all-knowing and all-powerful Creator must be the only judge and judgment bringer who can be trusted.]

  

    

v.21-28 God who sees and knows everything is the bringer of justice and judgment

   

v.21 “His eyes are on the ways of mortals; he sees their every step. 

v.22 There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness, where evildoers can hide. 

v.23 God has no need to examine people further, that they should come before him for judgment. 

v.24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty and sets up others in their place. 

v.25 Because he takes note of their deeds, he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed. 

v.26 He punishes them for their wickedness where everyone can see them, 

v.27 because they turned from following him and had no regard for any of his ways. 

v.28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him, so that he heard the cry of the needy. 

 

[Note: God sees and knows everything and brings justice & judgment to the world.]

   

    

v.29-33 God judges justly when He finds repentance

 

v.29  But if he remains silent, who can condemn him? If he hides his face, who can see him? Yet he is over individual and nation alike, 

v.30 to keep the godless from ruling, from laying snares for the people. 

v.31  “Suppose someone says to God, ‘I am guilty but will offend no more. 

v.32 Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.' 

v.33  Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? You must decide, not I; so tell me what you know. 

   

[Note: God works to bring justice and repentance to mankind.]

    

   

v.34-37 Elihu's conclusion: Speaking beyond what he knows, Job has sinned

   

v.34  “Men of understanding declare, wise men who hear me say to me, 

v.35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.' 

v.36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! 

v.37 To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.”

[Note: Elihu declares that Job has spoken without knowing the whole picture [true] and thus verges on wickedness.]

 

 

[Concluding Comments: In trying to assess the truth of what Elihu says, it is perhaps wise to check Job's final six-chapter speech:

Ch.26 – Job simply affirms the Lord's sovereignty – nothing wrong there.

Ch.27 – he did say he was denied justice (true) but mostly spoke about his enemies

Ch.28 – was all about where wisdom is found – nothing wrong there.

Ch.29 – was merely a nostalgic look at his past – ditto.

Ch.30 – merely considers the present where he is mocked etc. – ditto.

Ch.31 – merely runs through a list of sins he has NOT committed – ditto.

In his last speech, therefore, Job had not been in the wrong. To pick Job apart you would have to analyse the earlier chapters.]

    

 

Continue to Chapter 35