Elihu Extols God’s Greatness
36 And Elihu continued, and said:
“Bear with me a little, and I will show you,
for I have yet something to say on God’s behalf.
I will get my knowledge from afar
and ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
For truly my words are not false;
one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
“Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any;
he is mighty in strength of understanding.
He does not keep the wicked alive,
but gives the afflicted their right.
He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous,
but with kings on the throne
he sets them forever, and they are exalted.
And if they are bound in chains
and caught in the cords of affliction,
then he declares to them their work
and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly.
He opens their ears to instruction
and commands that they return from iniquity.
If they listen and serve him,
they complete their days in prosperity,
and their years in pleasantness.
But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword
and die without knowledge.
“The godless in heart cherish anger;
they do not cry for help when he binds them.
They die in youth,
and their life ends among the cult prostitutes.
He delivers the afflicted by their affliction
and opens their ear by adversity.
He also allured you out of distress
into a broad place where there was no cramping,
and what was set on your table was full of fatness.
“But you are full of the judgment on the wicked;
judgment and justice seize you.
Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing,
and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.
Will your cry for help avail to keep you from distress,
or all the force of your strength?
Do not long for the night,
when peoples vanish in their place.
Take care; do not turn to iniquity,
for this you have chosen rather than affliction.
Behold, God is exalted in his power;
who is a teacher like him?
Who has prescribed for him his way,
or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?
“Remember to extol his work,
of which men have sung.
All mankind has looked on it;
man beholds it from afar.
Behold, God is great, and we know him not;
the number of his years is unsearchable.
For he draws up the drops of water;
they distill his mist in rain,
which the skies pour down
and drop on mankind abundantly.
Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
the thunderings of his pavilion?
Behold, he scatters his lightning about him
and covers the roots of the sea.
For by these he judges peoples;
he gives food in abundance.
He covers his hands with the lightning
and commands it to strike the mark.
Its crashing declares his presence;
the cattle also declare that he rises.
Job 36 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Commentators point out there is a shift in Elihu’s words toward the end of this chapter. Yes, it’s possible he’s running out of steam but there appears to be inspiration taking place that has him speak without condemnation or harshly toward Job.
A storm was brewing on the horizon with all the thunder, lightning, rain and dark clouds fast approaching. He may have even been watching the lightning crack, hitting the ground in various places. The majesty of this event, which storms are truly amazing to watch, grabbed Elihu by the collar and drew his thoughts toward deeper truth.
God will be showing up in the storm very soon!
“How great is God – beyond our understanding! The number of His years is past finding out.”Job 36:26 NIV
Our knowledge of God is beyond comprehension. We have some knowledge concerning Him through the Word. Details of aspects of His character are found as each page is turned. We know how we can know Him, how we can have that eternal relationship with Him. But there are many aspects we will never grasp in our finite minds. We can’t know enough to figure out answers sometimes concerning our own life questions. We can’t predict our own future or manipulate Him. There are simply aspects of God we will never understand on this side of eternity.
As Job has wrestled with many questions concerning God and what has happened to him ironically many of these will not be answered. God will overlook those questions and reveal an aspect of Himself to Job instead. That’s how it is for us many times. We can have all the questions imaginable in our own situations and struggles. God hears these but may not answer them directly. Instead He will reveal an aspect of Himself, the greatness of who He is in something like a storm or an everyday event, that will draw our focus toward the power and majesty of who He is. Sometimes in the end, that will have to be enough for our own mindset and realize He is God, He is all powerful, and He will come.
Job 36 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
God is the most patient, relentless, and loving Father we will ever encounter. Unfortunately, many people of our day have turned to the false teaching that says if everything isn’t “good” in your life than you aren’t “right” with God.
Life in the time of Job was very different from now. Christ had not yet died to make the faithful righteous in His sight. Righteousness in the Old Testament was credited to those who had faith in God and the coming promise of the Messiah. (Romans 4) When I use the word faith, I am not talking about how some understand that word. It’s not just mustering up enough belief inside our hearts and minds to convince us of truth. Many people deceive themselves with this kind of “faith.”
As James would write and Jesus would demonstrate, true faith is active. Although works verify faith, they do not have the power to save. Just as a tree nourished and fed properly produces good fruit, an authentic faith produces the fruits of the Spirit. Many will try and replicate authentic faith externally by producing “fruit” that looks similar to the Holy Spirit, but God sees the heart.
How is this relevant to this chapter?
Job is being rebuked for questioning God’s long-term plan, which it seems he knows little about. He longs for someone to mediate his case before the judge. These are completely natural thoughts. If we were in his shoes at that time, I’m certain we would feel the same way. But here’s the kicker – we’re not.
We have Jesus, who died for us to secure our place in God’s kingdom for eternity. We have the Holy Spirit living in us, sealing us as God’s children and leading us against the enemy of darkness in spiritual places. We have the full canon of Scripture, which has been broken down and studied for years by solid scholars and theologians as well as translated into about every version and reading level you can imagine.
We are not like Job, and really should not be expected to respond exactly like him. Yes, there are times we can relate to his feelings and emotions as he struggles. Of course, there is practical truth and application we can take from his life. But let’s be honest – with all God has done for us, (which we didn’t deserve), how can those of us with authentic faith not have joy?
God rescues the afflicted by their affliction; He instructs them by their torment.Job 36:15 HCSB
Through faith, our rescue will come through our afflictions. Some of the most joyful stories of your life will come from the most horrendous tragedies. This is the God we serve! God instructs us by our torment. If He doesn’t, then how do we possibly move on from anything with hope?
How are you living today? Faith tells us that we are saved for eternity but also that God is working in our current situation. Either way, it’s a win! As Paul said, to live is Christ and to die is gain!