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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Job 33

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 6-33

2. Elihu’s first speech 32:6-33:33

Before Elihu began presenting his views (ch. 33), he first had to gain the attention of his elders and explain why he wanted to speak (Job 32:6-22).

Verses 1-33

Elihu’s first response to Job ch. 33

This whole speech is an attempt to explain to Job why God was not responding to him. Elihu was very wordy, which he admitted in Job 32:18. In summary, he told Job that God was not silent, as Job had charged, but that He was speaking through dreams and sickness to Job. Rather than using suffering to punish Job for his sins, God was using it to prevent him from dying. Elihu said God was being merciful to Job. The three counselors had said the purpose of suffering was punitive. Job’s wife, before them, had said Job was suffering because God was unfair. Now Elihu offered a third solution: God was trying to teach Job something. He said the purpose of suffering is pedagogical, educational.

Job 33:1-7 record Elihu’s request that Job hear him out. "Yourselves" in Job 33:5 should read "yourself." Elihu next summarized what Job had said (Job 33:8-13). He explained that God spoke in dreams and visions (Job 33:14-18) and through pain (Job 33:19-28). Job had had dreams (Job 7:14) that, Elihu suggested, should keep Job from improper actions and attitudes, specifically, pride that would be sinful and would lead to his death (Job 33:17). In sickness and pain God brings people closer to death. This leads them to evaluate their lives and, if they respond properly, to grow in their relationship with Him.

"God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." [Note: C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 81.]

The angels are God’s agents in bringing both sickness and restoration to people (Job 33:23; cf. Job 5:1; Job 9:33). The "ransom" (Job 33:24) probably refers to the sick person’s repentance. Seeing the light (Job 33:28) means being kept alive. Job 33:29-33 summarize Elihu’s argument.

"Unfortunately like so many well-meaning messengers of grace, Elihu was so fully convinced of his good intentions toward Job that he became insufferably overbearing." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 1007.]

"Elihu did, however, perceive the significance of the all-important principle of God’s free grace, which the others had slighted." [Note: Kline, p. 483.]

Elihu’s views contrasted with those of the three friends as follows.

Three friendsElihu
Sin leads to suffering.Suffering leads to sin.
Suffering is retributive.Suffering is protective
Suffering is punitive.Suffering is educational.
Job should repent.Job should learn.
Job should initiate restoration.God had initiated restoration.

Who was correct? Other Scriptures indicate that God uses suffering both to punish sinners and to produce spiritual growth. In some cases, He may have one purpose in view, and in other cases, another. On the other hand, both Elihu and the three friends were wrong in some of what they said. Job was not a great sinner, and God sometimes intervenes personally and directly in human experience.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 33". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-33.html. 2012.
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