Sunday, December 3, 2023

Elihu’s Godly Counsel (Job 32-34)

“Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion’ ” (Job 32:10).

Chapters 32–37 present the discourses and moderation of the young man Elihu, who had been listening to the arguments of Job and his friends. As a young man should, Elihu hesitated to insert his opinion into the conversation because he had respect for his elders. But when he saw that the counselors could not convince Job of hypocrisy, Elihu decided to speak. He begins his discourse humbly, giving honor to Job as one who is a good man, worthy of respect. Unlike the three counselors, Elihu did not wish to accuse Job of hypocrisy and great wickedness. Instead, he wanted to speak from the burden of his heart because he believed he had heard Job make some serious blunders in his discourses. Elihu could remain silent no longer, but needed to express his disapproval of the wrong judgments of the three counselors as well as the unwise and rebellious words of Job when he accused God of being his enemy.

Carefully and reasonably, Elihu tells Job that his sin is not hypocrisy but failure to defend God in the midst of his suffering. When Job should have insisted upon God’s goodness, he took too much time defending his own righteousness. Elihu also admonishes Job for accusing God of dealing with him unjustly. This Job certainly did when he was passionate in his speeches and unbridled in his thoughts and words. Job imagined that God had deserted him and had no reason for afflicting him so harshly. But Elihu wisely reminds Job that, not only should he refrain from questioning God who is greater than all others and altogether wise, but God is with him and refining him through suffering.

Elihu brings to light a truth that was lost to the counselors and to Job himself: God brings suffering upon the just to cleanse them of remaining sin. While Job had not committed any grievous sin, he was still a sinner. God was just in afflicting him, but it was not punitive. It was designed to mold and shape him, to bring him to repentance, to cause him to trust God more fully. God had not deserted him, but continued to show Job grace and to speak on his behalf against those who would accuse him of hypocrisy. Job should have meditated on these things instead of accusing God of treating him cruelly.

Read back through chapters 32–34. Mark how Elihu’s attitude, choice of words, treatment of Job, and analysis of Job’s situation differed from that of the counselors in previous chapters. List some practical insights you gain from Elihu’s discourse on how to rebuke, exhort, and encourage someone who is struggling with God.