Job 32:1-34:37 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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An Angel On Your Side
Comments for Study 8

Job 32:1-34:37
Key verse: 32:8


I. The Silent and Then Angry Young Man (32:1-33:7)

>1. What did Job's friends do? (32:1) Why? What does this mean? Who speaks up? (32:2a, Gen. 22:20-21, Jer. 25:20-23, Ruth 4:18-22) Why might he not have been mentioned earlier? What are the two things he is angry about? (2b-3, 5)

Job 32:1 "So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes."

* "righteous in his own eyes" -Job insisted on his innocence in spite of the terrible suffering that he was experiencing and the words of his three friends. Job was righteous, as the first two chapters of the book point out. But at the same time his sufferings and understanding of God lead him to questions that were not right and thus not righteous. They were not right in the fact that they were not said in absolute faith and trust in the Almighty and his plans and ways. (This is what God wants to help Job to see in his speeches of his creative work of creation.) (See "for justifying himself rather than God" below.)

However Job's three friends were not addressing Job on that line of thinking, rather they were trying to hold up their theology; "God always punishes sinners, therefore if one is suffering he is being punished for a sin."

Job 32:2 "But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God."

* "Elihu" -A Hebrew name meaning "my God is He".

A fourth counselor, named Elihu and younger than the other three, has been standing on the sidelines, giving deference to age and listening to the dialogue/dispute. but now he declares himself ready to show that both Job and the three other counselor are in the wrong. Elihu's four poetic speeches (32:5-33:33; 34; 35; 36) are preceded by a prose introduction written by the author of the book.

* "son of Barakel" -A Hebrew name meaning "God blesses". A descendant of Abraham's nephew Buz who, according to Genesis 22:20-21, is the younger brother of Uz, Job's forefather. Genesis 22:20-21 says, "Some time later Abraham was told, "Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram),"

* "the Buzite" -An inhabitant of Buz, a desert region in the east. Jeremiah spoke of the coming destruction in his time of this land, Judea, and all the surrounding land. Jer. 25:20-23 says, "and all the foreign people there; all the kings of Uz; all the kings of the Philistines (those of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the people left at Ashdod); Edom, Moab and Ammon; all the kings of Tyre and Sidon; the kings of the coast lands across the sea; Dedan, Tema, Buz and all who are in distant places;" I note that the land of "Uz" is also mentioned (See below for the significance of this land).

* "of the family of Ram" -The family of Ram (Elihu's "immediate" family) is mentioned in Ruth 4:19 in the ancestry of David (and ultimately Jesus). Ruth 4:18-22 says, "This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David."

* "became very angry with Job" -Four times in the original text of these verses we are told that Elihu burned with anger. The Hebrew word describing Elihu's anger is the word for "nostril". It indicates, not a secret, seething anger, but an out-in-the-open emotion expressed in the breath - the nostrils are flared and the breathing indicates deep feeling. The emphasis is on the emotional aspects of anger. Elihu makes no secret of his feelings.

* "for justifying himself rather than God" -This too is part of the author's comments before Elihu actually speaks. Not only is it a comment on the reason and content of Elihu's speaks, but it also had been the underlying meaning and content of all of Job's speeches. The inevitable conclusion of Job's argument is that since he is in the right in his dispute with God, God must be in the wrong. Job did not say this, but that is where his conclusion was going to lie. This is Job's sin. (See "righteous in his own eyes" above.) In this, Elihu's conclusions on the person Job is correct.

Job 32:3 "He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him."

* In Elihu's eyes they had been unable to convince Job that God was not in the wrong.

>2. Why had he waited to speak? (32:4-7) What does the Bible have to say about respect? (Rom. 13:7; Eph 6:5; and 1 Thessalonians 5:12; and 1 Timothy 3:4, 5:1-2; and 1 Peter 2:17-18, 3:15) Should respect be demanded or earned? (1 Tim 3:8-11, Titus 2:2) About young believers in regard to their elders? (1 Peter 5:5, Matt. 15:4-5, Mark 10:19)

Job 32:4-7 "Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused. So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said: "I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, 'Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.'"

* "his anger was aroused" -He did not have anger before this.

* Elihu cites his respect for the four, who were older than him. Elihu has followed Middle Eastern custom by deferring to the advanced age of the others. He has listened to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, expecting to learn from the superior wisdom of those who have observed the world longer.

Respect for the elderly (and any one else as well) is quickly disappearing in our age. This is due to many factors, some valid, some sinful. But in the church respect for the elders of the church is necessary and right in the eyes of God.

The following New Testament verses are some that deal with respect"

Romans 13:7 "Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

Ephesians 6:5 "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ."

1 Thessalonians 5:12 "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you."

1 Timothy 3:4 "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect."

1 Tim 3:8-11 "Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain...In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything."

1 Tim 5:1-2 "Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."

1 Tim 6:1-2 "All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them."

Titus 2:2 "Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance."

1 Peter 2:17-18 "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."

1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

1 Peter 5:5 "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

>3. Where ultimately does wisdom come from? (32:8, 18, 2 Tim. 3:16) How does a person obtain the Spirit of God? (John 3:6, 6:63, 14:16-17) What is the main work of the Spirit? (John 14:26, 15:26-27) Though Elihu claimed he had the Spirit of the Almighty, what did he fail not to do? (32:10-12) What did he propose to do? (33:5-7) Note: Elihu was not rebuked by the Lord as the other three were. (42:7)

Job 32:8-9 "But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right."

* Elihu credits his understanding to the breath of the Almighty. He knows that wisdom depends on factors which have nothing to do with chronology. Eliphaz cites experience as his authority, Galdad appeals to tradition, Zophar counts on reason. Elihu speaks from the Holy Spirit on whom he depends for inspiration, insights, and words.

Paul says this in 2 Timothy about God's inspiration by the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"

Elihu also talks of the breath of the Almighty that gives his life in 33:4. This reflects back to when God breathed into Adam the breath of life. Jesus also stated this. John 3:6 records Jesus saying, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." and John 6:63 records him saying, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."

Jesus has sent the Spirit to his followers, the true believer. John 14:16-17 records his promise, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

MP>Jesus said the Spirit reminds us of him and his words. John 14:26 records Jesus teaching, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." And he said, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26)

Job 32:10-12 ""Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know. I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments."

* Elihu states several factors why he has the right to speak. Previously he stated that he paid them respect (6-7), and he has the Spirit of God in him (8,9). How he says he has won the right to speak by paying attention to what they have said. Thus he models four principles of good listening.
    1) A good listener lets the others person speak first.
    2) A good listener follows the reasoning of the speaker through to the end.
    3) A good listener does not interrupt the speaker who pauses to think before continuing to speak.
    4) A good listener pays attention to the speaker as a person, as well as hearing what he says.

Job 32:13-16 "Do not say, 'We have found wisdom; let God refute him, not man.' But Job has not marshalled his words against me, and I will not answer him with your arguments. "They are dismayed and have no more to say; words have failed them. Must I wait, now that they are silent, now that they stand there with no reply?"

* The difference between Elihu and the others is that Elihu will not merely regurgitate the wearisome arguments of retribution theology which had failed to give Job the answers he needs. Instead he will speak from the fermentation of the Spirit inside. He is full of ideas and insights "busting" to get out.

Job 32:17-20 "I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply."

* "I am full of words" -Elihu's speeches continue unabated through chapter 37. He has a genuine contribution to make to the problems Job is facing. At the same time, he does not stoop to false accusation about Job's earlier life, but usually confines his criticism of Job to quotations from Job himself. This is perhaps the reason that God, in the epilogue, does not condemn Elihu along with Job's three friends (42:7).

* "new wineskins ready to burst" -Old wineskins might be expected to crack or break, but not new ones. Elihu is obviously eager to speak.

Job 32:21-33:7 "I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man; for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away. But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue. My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know. The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me then, if you can; prepare yourself and confront me. I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay. No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy upon you."

* "answer me" -He opens and closes his speech with the same plea.

* "if you can" -His attitude of superiority shows through.

* "hand...heavy upon" -The idiom is elsewhere used only of God.

* "I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay." -In literal Hebrew, Job 33:6 reads, "I am like your mouth before God; I also was taken from clay." It is variously interpreted by the translations.

Basically Elihu is saying that he is a fellow human being, made out of clay by God's creative breath. He will be Job's "mediator" and "mouth piece". Job cannot, therefore, make his favorite excuse that paralysing divine terrors rob him of the composure necessary to defend himself before the Almighty.

II. God Speaks, Why Can't You Hear Him (33:8-33)

>4. What two things does Elihu say Job is wrong about? (33:8-12a) Why? (12b) What does he mean by this? (33:14, 34:10, 35:6, 36:5, 37:23)

Job 33:8-11 ""But you have said in my hearing--I heard the very words--'I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy. He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.'"

* Elihu does not misrepresent Job's position. Job had given a nod of assent to this involvement in human sin (7:211; 13:26). Moreover, his protestations of innocence were justified in so far as they defended his integrity against the cry of hypocrisy and other excessive charges of the friends. Nevertheless, a tendency towards an overestimate of his righteousness is traceable in those protestations (9:21; 10:7; 12:4; 16:17; 23:10; 27:5,6; 29:11). And this conceit becomes almost incredibly bald and bold in Job's final words in chapter 31.

In 33:10b Elihu quotes 13:24b; in 33:11 he quotes 13:27a.

Job 33:12 "But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man."

* "in this you are not right" -Elihu here directly points out how Job was wrong. Elihu, unlike the others, is only dealing with what Job is thinking about and said in the present. He only addresses the issue at hand, which is all important to Job and will hopefully lead to Job's reconciliation and restoration in Elihu's eyes.

* "God is greater than man" -Elihu is saying that God, who is greater than man has his ways which man can not understand. Job claimed he was innocent and yet found at fault with God and therefore punished. This Job said was wrong. But Elihu points out that God is greater than man and his ways are not always understood by man, but we can be sure that his ways are right. Then he shows that God sends suffering for other purposes, notably to warn man from committing sins in the future. In this Elihu hopes to be able to show that both God's justice and Job's integrity can be maintained.
    1) That God is silent, Elihu's answer: God speaks (33:13-33).
    2) That God is unjust. Elihu's answer: God is just (34).
    3) That God is unconcerned; he doesn't reward Job for his innocence. Elihu's answer: that God is sovereign and benevolent (35-37).

>5. What is the first of Job's questions three questions that Elihu answers? (33:13-14) In thier time what ways did God speak to men? (33:15, 19, 23-24a) Does he still speak to us in these ways? What other ways does he speak to since their times? (John 3:34-35, Heb. 1:1-2, and 2 Tim. 3:26-17, and 2 Peter 1:19-21)

>6. Why are some of the reasons that Elihu says God speak to men? (33:16-33) In general, why does God communicate to us? (John 20:31, 17:6-8)

Job 33:13-30

* This is the first of the three claims that Job made that Elihu answers. Job said, "God is silent" and Elihu answers, "No, he speaks."

* Job accuses God of being silent when he desperately needs to hear from him. He wishes God would meet him in court. Elihu points out that God has been speaking all along-Job has not been listeing (13-14).

Then in the following verses Elihu cites three ways God speaks;
    1) God speaks through dreams and visions (15-18)
    2) God speaks through pain and sickness (19-22)
    3) God speaks through messengers (23-24). Although these are not all the ways God speaks to man, Elihu only has to mention these three to prove his point.

* The time that Job, his three friends, and Elihu lived was the time that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived; before the time of Moses. Since their time God speaks to us in three ways Elihu mentions and more.
    1) Through God's Son, Jesus Christ. "For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands." And Hebrews 1:1-2 says, "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe."
    2) Through God's written word, the Holy Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." And as 2 Peter 1:19-21 says, "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

* Why does God communicate to us? Elihu mentions some reasons in this chapter. The ultimate reason God communicates to us it so that we are drawn to him. John 20:31 says, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." And as Jesus said, "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." (John 17:6-8)

Job 33:31-33 ""Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want you to be cleared. But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom."

* "I want you to be cleared" -But this will happen, Elihu insists, only if Job repents.

III. God is Just (34:1-37)

>7. What is the second of Job's questions three questions that Elihu answers? (34:5-7, 10, 12) Who his he saying this too? (34:1-4)

Job 34:1-37

* This is the second of the three claims that Job made that Elihu answers. Job said, "God is unjust" and Elihu answers, "No, he just."

* Elihu's point has three sections:
    1) addressed to a group of wise men (2-15) - doubtless including the three friends
    2) addressed to Job (16-33)
    3) addressed to himself (34-37) as he did in 32:15-22.

* Job 34:1-5 "Then Elihu said: "Hear my words, you wise men; listen to me, you men of learning. For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good. "Job says, 'I am innocent, but God denies me justice.""

* Job 34:6 Although I am right, I am considered a liar; although I am guiltless, his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.'"

* Job 34:7-9 What man is like Job, who drinks scorn like water? He keeps company with evildoers; he associates with wicked men. For he says, 'It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God.'

* Job 34:10 "So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.

>8. What ways does Elihu show that God is just? (11, 18-34)

* Job 34:11-12 "He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.

* Job 34:13 "Who appointed him over the earth? Who put him in charge of the whole world?"

>9. What does Elihu says will happen if God removed his spirit? (14-15) Why does God punish? (27)

* Job 34:14-15 "If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.

* Job 34:16-29 "If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say. 17 Can he who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One? 18 Is he not the One who says to kings, 'You are worthless,' and to nobles, 'You are wicked,' 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? 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. 21 "His eyes are on the ways of men; he sees their every step. 22 There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide. 23 God has no need to examine men further, that they should come before him for judgment. 24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty and sets up others in their place. 25 Because he takes note of their deeds, he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed. 26 He punishes them for their wickedness where everyone can see them, 27 because they turned from following him and had no regard for any of his ways. 28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him, so that he heard the cry of the needy."

* Job 34:29-34 But if he remains silent, who can condemn him? If he hides his face, who can see him? Yet he is over man and nation alike, 30 to keep a godless man from ruling, from laying snares for the people. 31 "Suppose a man says to God, 'I am guilty but will offend no more. 32 Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.' 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. 34 "Men of understanding declare, wise men who hear me say to me,"

>10. Is Elihu right about Job in verse 35? Is his claims about Job in verses 36 and 37 right?

* Job 34:35-37 'Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.' 36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! 37 To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God."