James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.Job 32:1-41:34
WORDS OF ELIHU; WORDS OF GOD
Elihu now comes forward with apparent modesty, and yet great pretensions. Young and inexperienced, he is nevertheless indignant at the manner in which the friends of Job have sought to reply to him. Professing that his views have been revealed from above, he undertakes to clear up all the difficulties in the case. Afflictions are for the good of the sufferer is his dictum, a thought which he exhibits in various lights.
He, too, reflects upon Job for his rashness and presumption, leaning rather to the side of his friends.
Chapter 32 is introductory, but in the following chapter he fully enters upon his argument. If Job had wished to bring his cause before God, let him now present it to him, i.e., Elihu, who assumed to take God’s place. Job could not be correct in the claims he made for himself because God must be more righteous than man. Gods speaks to man in various ways to withdraw him from his purpose and save him from sin.
Job is not disposed to reply, although Elihu gives him an opportunity, and therefore the latter continues in chapter 34 to examine his case more particularly. Job had shown a spirit of irreverence which is rebuked. God’s government is administered on principles of equity, and therefore Job must be a wicked man who is called upon to confess that his chastisement was just and to resolve to offend no more. In chapter 35, assuming that Job claimed to be more righteous than God, he examines the position, demonstrating its impossibility.
Having undertaken thus to vindicate the divine character, he proceeds in chapters 36-37 to state some of the principles of the divine government, illustrating his views and showing the necessity of man’s submission to God by a sublime description of the greatness of the latter, especially as manifested in the storm. There is in this description every indication that a storm is rising and a tempest gathering. In the midst of this tempest the address of Elihu is broken off and the Almighty appears and closes the debate.
THE ADDRESS OF THE ALMIGHTY
The address of the Almighty covers chapters 38-41, and is represented as from the midst of the tempest. Its principle object appears to be to assert God’s greatness and majesty and the duty of profound submission to the dispensations of his government. He appeals to His works, showing that man could explain little, and that, therefore, it was to be expected that in His moral government there would be much also above human capacity to understand.
Job is subdued and awed, and confesses his vileness in chapter 40:3-5. To produce, however, a more overpowering impression, and secure a deeper prostration before Him, the Almighty described two of the most remarkable animals He had made, with which description His sublime address concludes.
We agree with Barnes and other commentators that the general impression sought by this address is that of awe, reverence and submission. That God has a right to do, and that it is presumptuous in man to sit in judgment upon His doings. It is remarkable that God does not refer to the main point in the controversy at all. He does not seek to vindicate His government from the charges brought against it of inequality, nor does He refer to the future state as a place where all these apparent inequalities will be adjusted.
Job is humbled and penitent, chapter 42. His confession is accepted, and his general course approved. His three friends are reprimanded for the severity of their judgment upon him, while he is directed to intercede for them. His calamities are ended and he is restored to double his former prosperity.
Thus God shows Himself the friend of the righteous, and the object of the trial is secured by showing that there is true virtue which is not based on selfishness, and real piety that will bear up under any trial. It shows that God is able to keep the feet of His saints, and that His grace is sufficient for them who put their trust in Him. We speak of Job as triumphant, but the more vital truth is that God is triumphant in the lives of His saints above the power of the evil one.
1. Illustrate Elihu’s modesty.
2. Do the same for his pretensions.
3. Show his indignation at the other friends.
4. What is his dictum?
5. How does he reflect on Job?
6. What principles of the divine government does he state?
7. How does he close his speech?
8. What is the chief object of the words of God?
9. How is Job affected by them?
10. For what omissions is God’s address remarkable?
11. How is the matter concluded as to Job?
12. How about his friends?