Elihu Rebukes Job
33 “But now, hear my speech, O Job,
and listen to all my words.
Behold, I open my mouth;
the tongue in my mouth speaks.
My words declare the uprightness of my heart,
and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Answer me, if you can;
set your words in order before me; take your stand.
Behold, I am toward God as you are;
I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.
Behold, no fear of me need terrify you;
my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
“Surely you have spoken in my ears,
and I have heard the sound of your words.
You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression;
I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
Behold, he finds occasions against me,
he counts me as his enemy,
he puts my feet in the stocks
and watches all my paths.’
“Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you,
for God is greater than man.
Why do you contend against him,
saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’?
For God speaks in one way,
and in two, though man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
while they slumber on their beds,
then he opens the ears of men
and terrifies them with warnings,
that he may turn man aside from his deed
and conceal pride from a man;
he keeps back his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.
“Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed
and with continual strife in his bones,
so that his life loathes bread,
and his appetite the choicest food.
His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen,
and his bones that were not seen stick out.
His soul draws near the pit,
and his life to those who bring death.
If there be for him an angel,
a mediator, one of the thousand,
to declare to man what is right for him,
and he is merciful to him, and says,
‘Deliver him from going down into the pit;
I have found a ransom;
let his flesh become fresh with youth;
let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’;
then man prays to God, and he accepts him;
he sees his face with a shout of joy,
and he restores to man his righteousness.
He sings before men and says:
‘I sinned and perverted what was right,
and it was not repaid to me.
He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit,
and my life shall look upon the light.’
“Behold, God does all these things,
twice, three times, with a man,
to bring back his soul from the pit,
that he may be lighted with the light of life.
Pay attention, O Job, listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
If you have any words, answer me;
speak, for I desire to justify you.
If not, listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”
Job 33 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Elihu jumps in with full steam. He’s less formal than the others, even calling Job by name. We see coming through his words moments of sheer pride where potentially he is attempting to impress his elders over speaking what is needed in wisdom. His faults on display as he talks too much, repeats himself and it appears he’s full of himself. Yet, the strange thing about even this chapter of his words he has good and bad points.
Job wanted to know what was behind his suffering and why God wouldn’t answer. Elihu claims to have the answer. He believes God has been trying to speak but Job’s failed to listen. Of course, he goes back to the issue all these men are stating – there’s hidden sin in his life. His points made are God has spoke through dreams and visions, through his suffering, and even he mentions mediating angels. These were things Job already knew – but it was not a clear answer as to why he had experienced and continued to do so with the pain.
If God were to answer all our questions, where would our tests be? If God had laid out to Job the wager Satan made, told him all that would go down and in the end Job would be restored, would there be growth in Job? Would there be a new trust in Him even as he endured all he had?
In my mind, this greatest test for Job was not for answers he sought but for the reality of trust. Will he trust God as he did before the events pummeled him? Will he trust Him in the silence? Will he trust Him when answers are not easily found or even understood?
Suffering affects all of us differently. It’s helpful in the sense that it drives us to God for endurance and deliverance. We become prepared to help others through their suffering when we ourselves have experienced the same. We learn to trust God despite what is happening. Suffering is harmful when we become hardened to God and ultimately for some reject Him. We can allow the suffering we’re under make us self-centered and selfish. We even can go so far to accusing God of being unjust and lead others down that path as well.
I think we get things mixed up with the goodness of life and the goodness of God. Despite what comes our way, and yes there are hardships and suffering that abound, we must learn to trust His goodness and not what we perceive as good. God is always doing something far greater within us through these times.
Job 33 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As I read Elihu speak, I feel the tension of two different angles. On one hand, Elihu is young and a little bit cocky. He says things like, “Keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom,” and “Refute me if you can; Array yourselves before me, take your stand.” On the other hand, however, Elihu brings some great truth to the argument from a different perspective. I don’t believe he is saying the same thing as Job’s friends because he makes it clear he is on no one’s side in the previous chapter.
“Let me now be partial to no one, Nor flatter any man.Job 32:21 NASB
I probably land with a more unpopular view on Elihu than others. I think there is more good to be taken from his words than bad, and here is why…
No matter how righteous we think we are (and Job was righteous), we are still enemies of God because He is perfect and we are not. Elihu sums up this point in verses 9-10.
“I am pure, without transgression; I am clean and have no guilt. 10 But He finds reasons to oppose me; He regards me as His enemy.Job 33:9-10 HCSB
He articulates solid truth while arguing that God does not only speak vocally. He speaks through many other avenues, including angels, dreams, and visions. I would personally throw suffering into the mix as well. I think God speaks through our suffering. Where Elihu is really landing here is that we don’t have ground to question God’s ways.
Why do you take Him to court for not answering anything a person asks? 14 For God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it.Job 33:13-14 HCSB
Through suffering, we gain perspective and humility to glorify God. In the context that Elihu uses, there is no knowledge of Jesus as our Savior, however, He alludes to this in verses 23-25.
If there is an angel on his side, one mediator out of a thousand, to tell a person what is right for him 24 and to be gracious to him and say, “Spare him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom,” 25 then his flesh will be healthier than in his youth, and he will return to the days of his youthful vigor.Job 33:23-25 HCSB
What he is landing on here is that through trying circumstances, God rescues us and His name is lifted up. Elihu believes in a greater purpose through the suffering. We have the ultimate rescue in Jesus Christ, and knowing this, we should seek to bring Him glory in this life no matter our physical condition. This is easier said than done, of course.
Overall, I personally believe the truth here overshadows Elihu’s tone. That was not the case with Job’s friends, who will be dealt with later by God. Elihu even offers an opportunity for Job to speak if he disagrees.
But if you have something to say, answer me; speak, for I would like to justify you.Job 33:32 HCSB
There is no response from Job. Could it be he is tired of arguing or is it that he believes what Elihu has said is true?