Job 36


‘Elihu continued: “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God’s behalf. I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.’ Job 36:1-4

Elihu Continues With His Speech

In this chapter, Elihu mentions some solid truths.

Some commentators tell us because of what he says here, he isn’t condemned by God in chapter 42. However, there are still some doctrinal problems with this section, and it is pure speculation as to why Elihu isn’t mentioned in chapter 42.

It appears that Elihu has more to say on God’s behalf, thinking God needs him to take up His defence against Job. This was a bold assertion and one that manifested the arrogance of Elihu.

God is more merciful than Job thinks, even for the wicked, God doesn’t have favourites. God doesn’t ignore the acts of the wicked nor the pains of any sufferer.

He says if the righteous person submits to the circumstance which involved their suffering, God can use them to teach the righteous especially to arrest pride.

Often it is only by hardship that God gets our attention and leads us away from sin but the Godless don’t learn from divine discipline, they simply become resentful and refuse to move.

Notice that Elihu is so self-confident he even claims to be perfect in knowledge.

How does this apply to Job? He cautions him at this point against thinking that simply crying out to God for his own strength will deliver him and so he should give up his death wish.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Throughout this chapter, Elihu’s logic is false. In the first part of it, he would prove God is just because he is Powerful, ‘But power does not necessarily go with justice’, and then in the latter part of this chapter and throughout Job 37, he appeals to nature. But how does the natural world support any conception whatever either of mercy or justice? ‘Nature is red in tooth, and fang and claw.’ One cannot prove from nature that God is either just, or loving or merciful. It is only by divine revelation that such things concerning God may be known.’

‘God is mighty, but despises no one; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. He does not keep the wicked alive but gives the afflicted their rights. He does not take his eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever. But if people are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction, he tells them what they have done—that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge.’ Job 36:5-12

Elihu openly defies Job’s position, while maintaining God does allow the righteous to suffer for a short time. Yet this suffering is only to instruct them further in the ways of God. These things have taken Elihu to take notice and listen to God.

In doing so, he reiterates what he has said previously. In the winter months when we can’t work the land and yet things are happening, seeds under the ground are preparing for spring growth.

Elihu is saying that people may talk and see but God is in control even during the seemingly dead winter season. He more or less tells Job to stand still and consider the wonderful works of God. He notes what happens if people don’t hear, they will die in their ignorance.

Elihu was accusing Job of becoming angry at God’s discipline, and so, being rebellious against God by not repenting.

‘The godless in heart harbour resentment; even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help. They die in their youth, among male prostitutes of the shrines. But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you. Be careful that no one entices you by riches; do not let a large bribe turn you aside. Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts sustain you so you would not be in distress? Do not long for the night, to drag people away from their homes. Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction. “God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?’ Job 36:13-23

He then challenges Job with several perplexing theories designed to inspire reverential fear of God. He makes an appeal to Job and says, God will deliver him if he will just open his ear to God’s instruction, that is if he repents. Job’s problem, according to Elihu, is that he isn’t listening to God’s teaching.

Instead of receiving instruction from God through discipline, Elihu says that Job had a rebellious spirit by seeking to teach God, rather than learning submission from his suffering.

He refers to how Job doesn’t know anything about the pressure systems that cause warm air of the equatorial system to rise and flow towards the poles and then return to lower altitudes.

He accuses Job of judging the wicked while being wicked himself and so, now he is paying for his hypocrisy. The heart of what Elihu has to say is that God is exalted because of God’s power, and the purpose of His operation is to teach the mind and mend it.

Who can teach God, who can accuse Him of anything? Elihu reminds him to magnify God, as others have done in songs of praise and look in awe at His majesty.

‘Remember to extol his work, which people have praised in song. All humanity has seen it; mortals gaze on it from afar. How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. “He draws up the drops of water, which distil as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion? See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance. He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark. His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach.’ Job 36:24-33

Elihu is now going to introduce the remainder of his speech with an appeal to listen to God’s instruction. He maintains that God has been trying to teach Job, but Job has been a poor student. Job needs to free himself, Elihu claims, from any thought that God has done wrong.

He tries to tell Job that God can manage without his help, he teases ‘what would you say if you were invited into the presence of God yourself?’

Just as men cannot look directly into the sun on a clear day so men cannot look upon the dazzling appearance of God and that is what you want to do Job.

Elihu considers the water cycle as an example of God’s greatness. By the laws of nature that God has already laid down, He is said to draw up water and through a cycle returns it to earth, Ecclesiastes 1:7 / Amos 9:6 / Psalm 135:7 / Jeremiah 10:13.

His descriptions of God’s presence in the raging elements of nature, pave the way for God to talk out of the whirlwind. God takes up where Elihu leaves off, he continues to talk about his majesty and His creation.

Elihu asks who understands how God does that or how he has caused the thunder or lightning. The behaviour of cattle in the field changes when a storm approaches, and so, their behaviour is a warning concerning an approaching storm.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘And it is worthy of remark that every wicked man trembles at the noise of thunder and the flash of lightning, and considers this a treasury of Divine wrath, emphatically called among us the artillery of the skies; and whenever the noise is heard, it is considered the voice of God.’

These elements are used in God’s providential plans, He uses them as judgement, Psalm 18:4, or in the terms of blessing.

He says that Job had the opportunity to respond but doesn’t respond. Job’s silence is due to the fact that Elihu has struck a chord, a new cord to which at last Job’s heartstrings vibrate. One thing is for sure by his method and message Elihu has prepared the scene for God to enter the picture.

Go To Job 37