Thursday, November 7, 2013

CCIII - Elihu Comes on the Scene - Job 32-37

The last post ended with chapters 29-31, in which we found Job’s final monologue somewhat summing up his plight, firstly looking back on the good days and the description of what a wonderful life he had.  Secondly he spoke of his current condition and how terrible it is.  Lastly, he defended himself against any wrong-doing that might have brought on such afflictions.

Now entering the scene is a man named Elihu.  Evidently, Elihu had been present for most of the conversation among the four, and felt compelled to speak.  This post will cover six chapters which will contain four speeches given by Elihu.

Chapter 32-33  –  Elihu’s First Speech

Elihu was a man younger than Job and his three friends (vs 4), and said in verse 6 that he had kept silent up to this point, yielding to his elders out of respect.  But as he says in verse 9, “not only the old are wise”.  In this first speech we can tell that Elihu thought a lot of himself, rather boastful at times, constantly boasting his qualifications.  There is much repetition in this first speech, constantly demanding that Job pay attention to his words (ie 33:31).  So, after Elihu finishes talking about himself in chapter 32, he then addresses Job more directly in chapter 33, in which he states matter-of-factly that Job’s claim of innocence is wrong.  He often refers to himself and his own experiences to describe God, His actions, and His reasons.  {I’m sure Elihu and his haughtiness rubbed Job the wrong way with such statements as in the last verse in chapter 33 when he says, “listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom”.  Job did not need to hear things like this.}

Chapter 34  -  Elihu’s Second Speech

In his second of four speeches, Elihu addresses all four men and seems to enjoy having an audience.  He suggests in the first nine verses that Job’s attitude was bad, which might be a part of his problems.  In verse 5 he quotes Job as saying, “I am innocent, but God denies me justice …….. I am guiltless”.  Elihu scolds Job for suggesting that God has done something unjust.  In verses 16-30 he explains that God treats everyone the same in handing out His justice.  {This further claims that Job is guilty.}  In the last seven verses he advises Job to confess his wrong-doings, and promise to sin no more.

Chapters 35-36  -  Elihu’s Third Speech

{I want to interject at this point that much of what Elihu says is true and wise.}  But in this third speech his theme seems to be that people pray for the wrong reasons (including Job).  They call on Him only to get something, when they should be praying in thanksgiving and praise.  {Although Elihu is correct, he keeps drifting from the subject at hand, which is Job.}  In chapter 36, Elihu is very eloquent in his praise to God and His power, but he seems to be taking on the position of “teacher” to four men who are already knowledgeable in each subject Elihu is addressing.  At this point Elihu, like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, is not being helpful to Job, which should be the main objective of all of their speeches.
Elihu’s Final Speech  -  Chapter 37

In the first part of this chapter Elihu eloquently describes a storm as the voice of God.  This was actually Elihu’s most impressive speech.  But he was still unnecessarily critical of Job, blaming him for all of his own troubles.  He was trying to teach Job and the others the meaning of suffering and to warn Job against further rebellion.  He urged Job to bow in humility before God and accept the lesson God was trying to teach.

I’m certain Job would have had some words in response to Elihu, but in the very next chapter we will look at in the next post, God speaks.

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