Before we dive back into Elihu’s speech, I want to remind you of why he was angry. The author says …he burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.
What is interesting is that the author allowed the emotions of Job’s friends to be revealed through their words and attitude, but he told us straight out what Elihu was feeling. Now, just because Elihu is angry doesn’t mean he’s right. Nor does it mean he’s wrong. We don’t know why the author divulged this. And because there has still been no commentary – either from the author or from the LORD – we’re still best advised to simply listen with discernment to what he says.
Elihu, like Job’s other friends, charges Job with iniquity. But his charges are new and distinct. In chapter 34, Elihu focused not on what Job did before his calamity but on what he has said since then. “You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression…’” Turning to the jury of Job’s friends, he reminds them: “Job has said, ‘I am in the right…’” “He has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God…’” “Would that Job were tried to the end, because he answers like wicked men,” he concludes. “For he adds rebellion to his sin.”
Remember this when Elihu turns again to Job and asks “Do you think this to be just? Do you say, ‘It is my right before God,’ that you ask, ‘What advantage have I? How am I better off than if I had sinned?’” Elihu’s answer, of sorts, fills the following three chapters. Listen to how he justifies his position. Discern, as you have all along, how well he grasps the God whom you have met in Scripture.
And finally, pay close attention when you turn to chapter 38, because there is yet another speaker who wishes to enter the fray.
Our verse for this week is Luke 16:13: No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Job 35 through 38. Now let’s read it!
Job 35 - 38
35:1 And Elihu answered and said:
“Do you think this to be just?
Do you say, ‘It is my right before God,’
that you ask, ‘What advantage have I?
How am I better off than if I had sinned?’
I will answer you
and your friends with you.
Look at the heavens, and see;
and behold the clouds, which are higher than you.
If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?
If you are righteous, what do you give to him?
Or what does he receive from your hand?
Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself,
and your righteousness a son of man.
“Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;
they call for help because of the arm of the mighty.
But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’
There they cry out, but he does not answer,
because of the pride of evil men.
Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
nor does the Almighty regard it.
How much less when you say that you do not see him,
that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!
And now, because his anger does not punish,
and he does not take much note of transgression,
Job opens his mouth in empty talk;
he multiplies words without knowledge.”
36:1 And Elihu continued, and said:
“Bear with me a little, and I will show you,
for I have yet something to say on God's behalf.
I will get my knowledge from afar
and ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
For truly my words are not false;
one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
“Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any;
he is mighty in strength of understanding.
He does not keep the wicked alive,
but gives the afflicted their right.
He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous,
but with kings on the throne
he sets them forever, and they are exalted.
And if they are bound in chains
and caught in the cords of affliction,
then he declares to them their work
and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly.
He opens their ears to instruction
and commands that they return from iniquity.
If they listen and serve him,
they complete their days in prosperity,
and their years in pleasantness.
But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword
and die without knowledge.
“The godless in heart cherish anger;
they do not cry for help when he binds them.
They die in youth,
and their life ends among the cult prostitutes.
He delivers the afflicted by their affliction
and opens their ear by adversity.
He also allured you out of distress
into a broad place where there was no cramping,
and what was set on your table was full of fatness.
“But you are full of the judgment on the wicked;
judgment and justice seize you.
Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing,
and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.
Will your cry for help avail to keep you from distress,
or all the force of your strength?
Do not long for the night,
when peoples vanish in their place.
Take care; do not turn to iniquity,
for this you have chosen rather than affliction.
Behold, God is exalted in his power;
who is a teacher like him?
Who has prescribed for him his way,
or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?
“Remember to extol his work,
of which men have sung.
All mankind has looked on it;
man beholds it from afar.
Behold, God is great, and we know him not;
the number of his years is unsearchable.
For he draws up the drops of water;
they distill his mist in rain,
which the skies pour down
and drop on mankind abundantly.
Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
the thunderings of his pavilion?
Behold, he scatters his lightning about him
and covers the roots of the sea.
For by these he judges peoples;
he gives food in abundance.
He covers his hands with the lightning
and commands it to strike the mark.
Its crashing declares his presence;
the cattle also declare that he rises.
37:1 “At this also my heart trembles
and leaps out of its place.
Keep listening to the thunder of his voice
and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
After it his voice roars;
he thunders with his majestic voice,
and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard.
God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen.
“Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
Do you know how God lays his command upon them
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
you whose garments are hot
when the earth is still because of the south wind?
Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a cast metal mirror?
Teach us what we shall say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
Shall it be told him that I would speak?
Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?
“And now no one looks on the light
when it is bright in the skies,
when the wind has passed and cleared them.
Out of the north comes golden splendor;
God is clothed with awesome majesty.
The Almighty—we cannot find him;
he is great in power;
justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.
Therefore men fear him;
he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”
38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.
“Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?
“Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?
“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?
“Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?