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Job’s position of indifference 35:1-3
Job had said that living a righteous life does not benefit a person since God does not consistently bless the righteous and punish the wicked in this life (Job 9:30-31; cf. Job 34:9; Job 35:3). Elihu thought this assertion was hardly a sign of Job’s innocence. In Job 35:2 "more than God’s" is clearer if we read "before God." "You" in Job 35:3 probably refers to any person (impersonal "you") rather than God.
4. Elihu’s third speech ch. 35
We could chart the differences in Elihu’s first three speeches this way.
|Elihu’s Speech||Job’s question that Elihu answered||Job’s charge that Elihu refuted|
|First||Why doesn’t God respond to me?||God is insensitive (ch. 33).|
|Second||Why doesn’t God relieve me?||God is unjust (ch. 34).|
|Third||Why doesn’t God reward me?||Holiness is unprofitable (ch. 35).|
Job felt that God should have rewarded him for his innocence, rather than subjecting him to suffering. Elihu replied that man’s sin or innocence does not affect God, and God was silent to Job because Job was proud. As before, Elihu first quoted Job (Job 35:1-3) and then refuted his statement (Job 35:4-16).
Elihu’s defense of God’s freedom 35:4-16
Elihu made two responses to what he inferred was Job’s attitude. First, he claimed that God is under no obligation to react to people’s actions be they good or bad. He is free to respond or not respond as He chooses. God is above the human sphere of life and only reacts to people when He chooses to do so. This is a thought Eliphaz had expressed earlier (Job 22:2-3; Job 22:12). However, Elihu went further by pointing out that people’s actions do affect other people (Job 35:4-8). Therefore, there is an advantage to being holy.
"There is no place in Elihu’s theology for doing God’s will out of love for him. Man affects only his fellow man by being good or bad (Job 35:9). And though God may punish or reward man as Judge, there is no place for him in the role of a Father who can be hurt or pleased by man." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 1016.]
Second, Elihu spoke to the fact that God does not always provide relief when the oppressed pray to Him (Job 35:9-16; cf. Job 24:12; Job 36:13). He said often these prayers for help spring from a selfish, proud motive rather than from a sincere desire to learn the reason for one’s sufferings. In this respect humans are like animals; we do not ask for this knowledge. Since God may not answer selfish prayers, it is understandable that He was silent in response to Job’s arrogant, impatient petitions. Elihu counseled Job to wait for God to answer rather than becoming frantic.
"Job would get his just deserts in due time." [Note: Habel, p. 189.]
"It is always possible to think of a reason for unanswered prayer. The trite explanation, which we hear all too often, is that ’You didn’t have enough faith’, or ’You prayed from the wrong motive’, or ’You must have some hidden, unconfessed sin’. This diagnosis is always applicable. Everyone who prays is aware of the weakness of his faith; everyone with a scrap of self-knowledge knows that his motives are always mixed; everyone who searches his conscience can find no end of fresh sins to be dealt with. If no prayers could be offered and none answered, until all these conditions were satisfied, none would ever be offered and none answered. The Elihus of this world do not care about the cruelty of their perfectionist advice and its unreality. Their theory is saved; that is what matters." [Note: Andersen, p. 257.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 35". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14