Many commentators suggest that chapters 32-37, were written by someone else and that someone else is probably Elihu because he hasn’t said a word up until now. This possibly suggests that he wasn’t originally a part of the group of friends that initially came to Job. Elihu was apparently present during the other speeches, although we weren’t told he was there.
The reason the three men stopped speaking is because they were unsuccessful in moving Job from this position, that is, Job was righteous in his own eyes.
The fourth friend of Job, Elihu, is now introduced. Elihu whose name means, ‘He is my God,’ was a relative to Job, Job 1:1, and he is a Buzite, which is thought by some commentators to be from Syria or perhaps Arabia, Genesis 22:21 / Jeremiah 25:23.
Notice we are told that he was angry four times, once with Job and three times with his friends. The reason he was angry with Job was because he justified himself before God, and the reason he was angry with his friends was because they had no answer to Job’s arguments but condemned him anyway.
Notice the contrast between Elihu and the three men. The three men recommended that Job repents of the sin he committed before his situation but Elihu recommends that Job repents of pride and praise the work of God and have respect for Him. The three claimed he suffered because he has sinned but Elihu gets to the heart of the matter when he states he is sinning because of his suffering.
By justifying himself before God, Elihu saw Job was making God the wrongdoer. As far as Elihu is concerned, either God is justified in punishing Job for wrongdoing, or God is unjustified in punishing Job and is, therefore, less than God.
He obviously doesn’t agree with his second thought, and so, he must somehow find fault with Job. Elihu points out to Job that he never once gave God the credit.
It’s interesting to note that Elihu did see the friends were unjust in their treatment of Job. If they had found fault with Job, then they would have had a basis on which to judge.
But they were completely incapable of responding to Job’s arguments, and so, since they had no response to Job’s arguments, they should have kept silent and not issued a condemnation of Job.
It appears that Elihu has the task of showing Job why he’s worthy to be condemned, while at the same time showing the three friends where they went wrong in their thinking.
Elihu respected the traditions of the time and had kept silent probably because he was the youngest, 1 Timothy 4:12. Yet, in his silence, his anger and frustration were building.
Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.
‘How young he was, or how old they were, we cannot tell; but there was no doubt a great disparity in their ages.’
Now that the friends, and apparently Job, have ceased their debate, Elihu takes advantage of the opportunity to voice his arguments.
From these verses through to chapter 33:33, we read Elihu’s first speech. He feels compelled to list his qualifications, which gives him a reason to speak. His introduction is quite lengthy, with Elihu not getting to his main argument until Job 33:8.
He doesn’t want his friends to think his silence was because he didn’t have anything to say, he was silent out of respect. Elihu points out that age doesn’t automatically mean wisdom, and so, they should listen to the voice of youth, 1 Timothy 4:12.
He hadn’t spoken because of his youth but then reasons that since God gives wisdom, he has the right to speak because God had given him special understanding.
Elihu repeats what he stated earlier and goes on to expose the thinking of the friends, and the reason for their silence. They seemed to think it best, or wise at this point, to just be quiet and let God’s full wrath be poured out on Job.
Elihu claims he won’t follow the same line of reasoning the friends used and he won’t use the same foolish arguments. The irony is that Elihu then proceeded to use those same arguments.
Elihu now specifically addresses Job but is speaking about the three friends. He notices that they have had nothing to say, but he, on the other hand, has a wealth of wisdom to share with Job. This would give Job some hope that he is finally going to hear someone who has something to say in response to his arguments.
There was originally Job, the three friends and God, now Elihu comes into the discussions as a self-appointed arbitrator.
Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.
‘In this Elihu reveals that his theological position on sin and suffering is exactly that of the three friends who have been silenced. He believes that if he should sin in flattering people God would immediately, in this present life, punish him by taking him away from the earth. This is exactly the same error that caused Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar to brand Job as a gross sinner.’