Elihu Asserts God’s Justice
34 Then Elihu answered and said:
“Hear my words, you wise men,
and give ear to me, you who know;
for the ear tests words
as the palate tastes food.
Let us choose what is right;
let us know among ourselves what is good.
For Job has said, ‘I am in the right,
and God has taken away my right;
in spite of my right I am counted a liar;
my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’
What man is like Job,
who drinks up scoffing like water,
who travels in company with evildoers
and walks with wicked men?
For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing
that he should take delight in God.’
“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
and according to his ways he will make it befall him.
Of a truth, God will not do wickedly,
and the Almighty will not pervert justice.
Who gave him charge over the earth,
and who laid on him the whole world?
If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust.
“If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.
Shall one who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty,
who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’
and to nobles, ‘Wicked man,’
who shows no partiality to princes,
nor regards the rich more than the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?
In a moment they die;
at midnight the people are shaken and pass away,
and the mighty are taken away by no human hand.
“For his eyes are on the ways of a man,
and he sees all his steps.
There is no gloom or deep darkness
where evildoers may hide themselves.
For God has no need to consider a man further,
that he should go before God in judgment.
He shatters the mighty without investigation
and sets others in their place.
Thus, knowing their works,
he overturns them in the night, and they are crushed.
He strikes them for their wickedness
in a place for all to see,
because they turned aside from following him
and had no regard for any of his ways,
so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to him,
and he heard the cry of the afflicted—
When he is quiet, who can condemn?
When he hides his face, who can behold him,
whether it be a nation or a man?—
that a godless man should not reign,
that he should not ensnare the people.
“For has anyone said to God,
‘I have borne punishment; I will not offend any more;
teach me what I do not see;
if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more’?
Will he then make repayment to suit you,
because you reject it?
For you must choose, and not I;
therefore declare what you know.
Men of understanding will say to me,
and the wise man who hears me will say:
‘Job speaks without knowledge;
his words are without insight.’
Would that Job were tried to the end,
because he answers like wicked men.
For he adds rebellion to his sin;
he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.”
Job 34 Commentary
by Hank Workman
We’ve heard the saying “You reap what you sow.” To state it another way in well-known verse, “What goes around, comes around.”
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
Elihu hints toward these same thoughts with Job. In this case, it’s the secret sins of Job that are still not being admitted that are causing the issues in his present. He sowed sinful behavior and is reaping it now.
As David Guzik points out, this is often believed to be a spiritual law rather than a general principle. Meaning, the context of Paul’s wording was actually about encouraging the Believers of Galatia to give materially to support their pastors and those in leadership. It’s interesting to consider this context as many times we take this idea and look toward it in the negative. Paul is speaking of this toward the management of our personal resources.
This is not about spiritual karma.
It is impossible for God to do anything sinful or wickedly. He can’t act in a way that is unjust, which is what reaping would involve if this spiritual mindset were true. He simply doesn’t act that way. He can’t pervert justice. Of course, the reality is we all pay in some way for decisions we make. Meaning there are natural consequences we face from choices made. These come through our own hand though and not from the throne of God.
Job 34 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Elihu uses some quotes from Job to reiterate that God can do no wrong. Specifically, he uses the words from Job found in Chapter 27.
As God lives, who has deprived me of justice, and the Almighty who has made me bitter,JobJob 27:2 HCSB
Elihu appears to have taken Job’s words literally to mean that he has no character flaws and God is wrong to punish him. Taking into consideration what we know of Job, I think the better explanation is that his character was under assault from his friends, so he was defending himself against those unwarranted attacks.
It is true Job does say, “God has taken away my right,” which is better translated, “God has deprived me of justice.” Does this mean that Job thinks God is not fair? Elihu would probably say so. I see Job’s questioning as trying to understand the mystery of why he has been subjected to this suffering – not necessarily that he thinks he is perfect and should be treated as such.
Whatever the case, Elihu makes claim to the fact that God is always righteous and should not be questioned, which of course, is true. I believe Job knows this and it’s why he’s struggling so much in the first place! If we know God’s judgments are perfect but we don’t understand them, our natural response is to question. However, that questioning does not necessarily mean we don’t trust Him. It’s the practical working out of our faith.
We find these stories all throughout Scripture. We are hesitant to step out in faith and trust when things don’t make sense, but after we do, and we eventually see the fuller picture, we are drawn closer to God and our faith in His sovereignty increases.
Elihu is upset because he thinks Job has acted irreverently. On one hand, this is pretty natural for someone who is enduring great suffering. We question and wrestle with God. On the other hand, Elihu is right in voicing concern for lacking a fear of God because so much of our relationship depends on that.
In the end, what’s most amazing is that God allows us to be part of His plan in this way. He allows us to struggle with His ways in our flesh. He’s patient with us when we fall prey to the limitations of our human minds. But, He continues to call us deeper. He continues to put us back into His refining fire to scorch the impurities from our character. The fact that He meets us where we are is an incredible thought that should motivate us to seek Him more than ever.