Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.XXXIII.
(1) Wherefore, Job, I pray thee.—He begins by professing his sincerity and integrity; and with reference to Job’s expressed desire to find an umpire (Job 9:33), and one who would maintain his right with God (Job 16:21), he declares that he is ready to do so, and that he is, like Job, made out of the clay, and consequently disposed to deal favourably with him.
Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.(7) Neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee—i.e., I will deal gently with thee, and not be harsh.
I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.(9) I am clean without transgression.—Job has nowhere used this language; but many of his statements were capable of being so perverted and misrepresented (Job 9:20-21; Job 16:17; Job 23:10-12; Job 27:5-6). This shows that Elihu even was incapable of entering fully into Job’s position. He did not understand that a man could alone be righteous in proportion as he trusted God, but that, trusting God, he was righteous with His righteousness. This was the truth that Job dimly perceived and was faintly, though surely, striving after; and to his friends it was unintelligible, and not wholly apprehended by Elihu.
Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,(10) Behold, he findeth occasions against me.—See Job 13:24; Job 13:26-27; Job 19:11.
He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.(11) He putteth my feet in the stocks.—Referring, probably, to Job 13:27.
Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.(12) Behold, in this thou art not just.—But had not Job said the same thing? (Job 9:2, &c., Job 9:14, &c.); and is it possible to conceive that any one could think otherwise, more especially as Elihu used the word which specially means man in his frailty?
Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.(13) Why dost thou strive against him?—Job had not striven against God, he had only expressed his longing to come into judgment with Him (Job 23:3, &c.). Job was striving with and against the darkness that was round about His throne, not with the justice of God, which he entirely trusted. Some render the last clause of the verse, “For none can answer any of His words,” but the Authorised Version seems preferable.
For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.(14) For God speaketh once, yea twice.—The two ways are dilated upon (Job 33:15-26). Abimelech (Genesis 20:3) and Daniel (Daniel 4:5) were instances of this first method. (Comp. also Genesis 15:12. &c., Genesis 28:12, &c.)
Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,(16) Then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth.—Comp. Job 14:17 : “My transgression is sealed in a bag.” “He openeth their ear,” that is, He showeth them that He will decree, confirm, and seal up their chastisement, the sentence that is to be executed upon them, if they will not repent. If taken in the sense of instruction, it must mean that He will complete and confirm it.
That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.(17) From his purpose.—Rather, That He may witharaw man from carrying out his evil actions, and may remove that pride from man which he secretly cherishes. This is the main point of Elihu’s teaching: that the purposes of God are disciplinary, to keep man from the sin which otherwise he would be prone to commit. In this way Job might have been a righteous man, and yet be justly chastened lest he should prove unrighteous.
He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:(19) He is chastened.—This is the second manner in which God speaks—first by dreams, &c., then by afflictions.
And the multitude of his bones with strong pain.—Or, reading it otherwise, we may render, And with continual strife in his bones—e.g., rheumatism and gout.
If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:(23) To show unto man his uprightness.—Some render, “to show unto man what is right for him,” but it seems rather to mean, to declare concerning that man his uprightness, to plead his cause before God and be his advocate. (Comp. 1Kings 14:13; 2Chronicles 19:3, &c.)
This angel, who is one among a thousand, and discharges the function of an interpreter, is a remarkable anticipation of the existence of that function with God which is discharged by the Advocate with the Father (1John 2:1; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). It is impossible for us who believe that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God not to see in this an indication of what God intended afterwards to teach us concerning the intercession and mediation of the Son and the intercession of the Holy Spirit on behalf of man (Romans 8:26). (Comp. John 14:16.)
Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.(24) Then he is gracious unto him—i.e., God is gracious; He accepts the mediation of the mediating angel. These words of Elihu’s must have fallen on Job’s ear with a grateful and refreshing sound, confirming to him his longing for the daysman (Job 9:33).
And saith—i.e., to the destroying angels of Job 33:22. It is remarkable that it is God who finds the ransom, as it was by God’s grace that the interpreting angel was forthcoming. It is not man’s righteousness that has saved him, but the ransom that God has found, even though God, who judgeth the actions, may have justly recognised what of righteousness there was in man.
He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.(26) He will be favourable unto him.—Very beautiful is this description of the restoration of the penitent sinner and his recovery from sickness. He shall thankfully resort unto the house of God with joy, for that He has rewarded him according to his righteousness, which was the fruit of faith (Genesis 15:6; Psalm 32:1-2).
He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;(27) He looketh upon men, and if any say.—Rather, He looketh upon men, and saith, I have sinned, &c.: that is the confession of the restored sinner. Some render it, He shall sing before men, but hardly so probably or appropriately.
He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.(28) He will deliver his soul.—There are two readings in the Hebrew here, of which one is represented by the Authorised Version; but the better one is, “He hath redeemed my soul from going into the pit, and my life shall see the light”—this is part of the restored man’s confession, which appears to be continued till the speaker resumes in Job 33:29.
To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.(30) To bring back his soul.—Here, again, is the very key-note of Elihu’s doctrine. God’s dealings are for the purpose of education and discipline, and this is what he wishes to impress upon Job.
If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.(32) I desire to justify thee.—He wishes to justify Job before his friends, that is, to maintain that his afflictions are not on account of past sin, but as a preservative against possible future defection. This being so, he considers that Job’s case may justly be defended, and Job himself vindicated against his friends.