Job 32-39: Oh Elihu

Sorry about Sunday and yesterday my friends.  Got distracted by life and didn’t have time to sit down and write.  I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted to write something daily, but it is a challenge.  Of course I had these grand plans of writing ahead, but that is proving to be logistically challenging.  So let’s make today a catch-up day!

Job 32-37 are all about Elihu and his speech.  Unlike Job’s other friends, who are aged, “wise”, known leaders in their communities, this Elihu is unknown.  That is why his patronage has to be spelled out at the beginning of chapter 32.  Despite his unknown status, Elihu speaks as if he were the authority on every issue that Job is dealing with and has the answer to every question Job has thrown out.  Elihu suffers from the vanity of youth and from the folly of misdirected anger.  But like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, Elihu sees it as his job to defend God.  To his credit, Elihu brings one fresh perspective to this arguement: that God sends suffering into our lives to keep us from sinning (chapter 33) and to make us better people (chapter 36).

We can see Elihu’s speech laid out, as Wiersbe points out, in this way:

  1. God is speaking through me (chapter 32)
  2. God is gracious (chapter 33)
  3. God is just (chapter 34-35)
  4. God is great (chapter 36-37)

One thing to recognize as Elihu speaks is his increasing arrogance.  At the beginning he speaks of his youth and his willingness to let his elders have their share.  Yet he has the longest speech out of all of them, and you get the impression as you move through that he has to keep reminding them to pay attention.  You may also notice as you read that Elihu is expanding, that he is growing fond of the sound of his own voice.  That even as he is speaking out to defend God, he is not doing so in the mindset of a humble worshiper, but instead in the mindset of someone who is the authority on the subject.

Despite these shortcomings, Elihu says some very valuable and true things to Job, particularly at the end when he is talking about God’s greatness and the scope of his understanding versus ours.  The irony is, Job came to these conclusions back in chapter 28.   But his greatest help to Job is this: “Elihu assessed Job’s problem accurately: Job’s actions may have been right – he was not the sinner his three friends described him to be – but his attitude was wrong.  He was not the ‘saint’ Job saw himself to be.” (Warren Wiersbe; Be Patient: Waiting on God in Difficult Times, pg 177).  Job had moved more and more toward a defiant, self-righteous attitude toward God that had indeed gotten God’s attention and is the focus of God’s attention when he speaks to Job in the chapters that follow.

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  •  What was new from this piece of scripture?  What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  •  How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  •  What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 40-42

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