Elihu Challenges Job and Questions his Innocence
v. 1. Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, the special summons being directed to Job as the one in need of correction, and hearken to all my words.
v. 2. Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. Elihu announces the beginning of his discourse in a circumstantial and pompous manner agreeing with his entire form of discourse.
v. 3. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart, the honest and open expression of his frank opinion, and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly, literally, "and the knowledge of my lips, purely they speak out," with. out hypocrisy.
v. 4. The Spirit of God hath made me, He is his Creator, who gave him not only his body, but also his soul, his mind and reason, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life, he is endowed with understanding given to him from above and is willing to use this in defense of God. Note that not only creative power, but also the creative act is here ascribed to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, that He is placed on a level with the Almighty.
v. 5. If thou canst answer me, endowed as Elihu was by the act of his creation, set thy words in order before me, stand up, drawing up in the attitude of defense, taking his stand for the combat of wits, the entire statement being a haughty challenge.
v. 6. Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead, like Job, Elihu was God's creature, dependent upon God, in the same relation to God; I also am formed out of the clay, literally, "out of clay was I nipped off," as when a potter takes a piece of clay to form a vessel, a reference both to the original creation of man and to God's freedom in creating all men alike. For that reason no special horror of his appearance would overawe Job and therefore cause him to bow down to Elihu.
v. 7. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, since he was a genuinely human and earthly being, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee, in pressing Job down unduly, in taking a mean advantage of him.
v. 8. Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, loudly and distinctly, so that there could be no mistake about it, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying,
v. 9. I am clean without transgression, pure in character and life and altogether without wickedness; I am innocent, not a single blame attaching to him; neither is there iniquity in me, Elihu understanding this statement of Job as insisting upon his absolute sinlessness.
v. 10. Behold, He findeth occasions, oppositions, hostilities, against me; He counteth me for His enemy.
v. 11. He putteth my feet in the stocks; He marketh all my paths, penning him in like a prisoner. Elihu summarized some of the statements of Job, especially that criticism which was directed against the justice of God, 13:27, at which he had taken particular offense. Elihu purposely made his introduction long, wishing to add to the impressiveness of the arguments which he intended to bring against Job.
Of the True Relation of Sinful Man Toward God
v. 12. Behold, in this thou art not just, Job was not right in making such statements. I will answer thee that God is greater than man, God, being highly exalted over mortal man, deems it below His dignity to defend Himself against attacks combined with self-glorification.
v. 13. Why dost thou strive against Him, with such murmurings and contentions as Elihu had heard? For He giveth not account of any of His matters, He is not compelled to give an account of His judgments and actions to His creatures, and He also refuses to do so.
v. 14. For God speaketh once, yea, twice; God, on His part, is obliged to repeat His words time and again; yet man perceiveth it not. In many ways and by many means God tries to make His will known to mortals, but they pay no attention to Him. Some of these means are now enumerated.
v. 15. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed, through all of which the Lord tries to communicate with men,
v. 16. then He openeth the ears of men, uncovering, unlocking them that His Word might find entrance, and sealeth their instruction, literally, "and upon warnings to them He presses the seal," impressing it upon their mind that they should heed the various experiences of life through which He admonishes them for their own good,
v. 17. that He may withdraw man from his purpose, from transgression and evildoing, and hide pride from man, so that he does not see it and therefore has no desire to indulge in self-glorification.
v. 18. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, preserving men from death in their sins, and his life from perishing by the sword, by any weapon which brings destruction. That is one way in which God warns men for their own benefit.
v. 19. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, which is also a form of warning on the part of God, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain, literally, "with strife in his bones continually," the disease with which he suffers being of a kind to affect all his strength and powers,
v. 20. so that his life abhorreth bread, the very thought of food excites loathing in him, and his soul dainty meat, the most appetizing dishes only fill him with disgust.
v. 21. His flesh is consumed away that it cannot be seen, shrinking into nothingness on his bones; and his bones that were not seen stick out, he becomes a mere shadow of his former self.
v. 22. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave and his life to the destroyers, the angels of death, who lead men to the realms of death.
v. 23. If there be a messenger, an angel, with him, an interpreter, a mediator in his behalf, one among a thousand, belonging to the innumerable host of angels, the ministers of men by God's command, to show unto man his uprightness, to point out his duty to him:
v. 24. then He is gracious unto him, God Himself has mercy on the poor mortal, and saith, namely, to the angel fulfilling His will, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom, an atonement, a price paid for deliverance. Note that the application may well be made at this point to the atonement of Jesus Christ, by which man has been delivered from death and everlasting destruction.
v. 25. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's, in consequence of his being delivered from his disease after his conversion; he shall return to the days of his youth, his flesh swelling, filling out, with the vigor of youth;
v. 26. he shall pray unto God, and He will be favorable unto him, accepting the repentant sinner graciously; and he shall see His face with joy, beholding the face of God with rejoicing; for He will render unto man his righteousness, this being restored to him as a free gift by God.
v. 27. He looketh upon men, the redeemed and justified sinner chants a psalm of thanksgiving to his fellow-mortals; and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, rather, as the words of the repentant sinner, I had sinned and perverted the right, yet it was not recompensed to me,
v. 28. He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, rather, He, God, has delivered my soul, and his life shall see the light, literally, my life shall enjoy seeing the light of the world of men, in contrast to the darkness of the grave.
v. 29. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, dealing with him repeatedly and in such a manner, in order to impress His warnings upon the mind of man,
v. 30. to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living, instead of being overshadowed with the darkness of death.
v. 31. Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me, for the point of this entire discussion was, of course, directed against Job; hold thy peace, and I will speak.
v. 32. If thou hast anything to say, answer me, if he were able to find a reply to these facts as now presented; speak, for I desire to justify thee, that Job might stand vindicated, if possible.
v. 33. If not, hearken unto me, Job on his part should attend most carefully; hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom, for Elihu now made ready to launch forth in a more stinging tirade. Note that chastisements are sent to men by God in order to lead them to repentance and to reinstate them in the right relation toward their Creator.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 33". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany