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Scripture reading – Job 33; Job 34

We were introduced to Elihu in the previous devotional (Job 32). Understanding Job and his friends were his elders, he remained silent and observed the debate between those men. Having failed to convince Job of his error, “the three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). Provoked by the failure of Job’s friends, and incensed by his protests of innocence (32:2-3), Elihu confessed he was “ready to burst” with his own opinion (32:17) like wine that had fermented in wine skins and having no vent (32:18-20).

Job 33 – Elihu’s Denigration of Job

Elihu began with a façade of humility, and conceded he was no better than Job, for he too was “formed out of the clay” (33:6). His humility, however, was short lived, and he soon gave way to arrogance. Elihu then accused Job of daring to reproach God, and suggested the LORD had treated him as an enemy (33:7-10).

Attempting to convict Job of folly, Elihu reminded him that he was not “just” (i.e. righteous), and God was Sovereign. He observed, the Almighty does not give “account of any of His matters” (33:12-13), for He is righteous in His ways, and good in His dealings with man (33:14-18).

Job’s friends had argued the man’s afflictions were God’s punishment for some wickedness, and he declared his suffering was a token of God’s wrath (33:19). Elihu, however, asserted God used pain and afflictions for His purpose, and to guard men from pride (33:17-23). Job’s afflictions, Elihu argued, could be used by God to purge his passion for “bread…and dainty [rich] meat” (33:19-20), and “deliver [redeem] him from going down to the pit [grave]” (33:24, 28).

Job 34 – The Majesty of God’s Character, and Elihu’s Defamation of Job’s

Though the youngest of the four men, Elihu challenged Job and his friends to attend to his indictment of that poor man (34:1-4).  He charged Job with entertaining high opinions of himself, and having a false view of God (34:5-9). He further alleged Job was self-righteous, and was guilty of foolishly accusing the LORD of injustice (34:5).

Elihu’s unjust diatribe suggested Job believed he was wounded “without transgression” (i.e., unfairly, 34:6). He wrongly contended Job would have men believe spiritual piety gave no man advantage with God, for pleasing Him “profiteth a man nothing” (34:7-9).

Though he mistook the cause of Job’s sorrows, Elihu nevertheless stated great insights into the attributes of God (34:10-30). 

He declared God is Just (34:10-12, 17, 19, 23), Sovereign (34:13-15), and Almighty (34:20, 24). He observed, the LORD is Omniscient, “For his eyes are upon the ways of man, And he seeth all his goings. 22There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves…He knoweth their works” (34:21-22, 25). He is also the Judge of the wicked (34:26-28).

The latter verses of Job 34 recorded Elihu’s sharp rebuke of Job. He demanded of his elder, “speak what thou knowest” (34:33b), or, literally, say what you think! He reproved him, and accused him of speaking “without knowledge [thinking][and] without wisdom [discernment]” (34:35). Elihu declared his desire that “Job [would]be tried unto the end [i.e., forever]” if he answered in the manner of wicked men (34:36). He judged, Job “addeth rebellion unto his sin…and multiplieth [murmurs or complains] his words against God” (34:37).

A closing thought (34:34-37) – Elihu demonstrated knowledge of the ways, person, and character of God; however, in his youthful zeal he defamed the man whom God declared was “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8). He was cruel, judged Job harshly, and condemned him without cause. Elihu arrogantly demanded others should hear and agree with his conclusion (34:34).

Rather than a friend, Elihu’s words proved he was Job’s adversary. In his fervor without knowledge, he condemned the man whom God approved (34:35-37).

Warning: Zeal without knowledge is dangerous!


Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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