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Since his three friends have been silenced by Job's strong declaration of self-righteousness, our attention is drawn to a young man who has been a silent observer of this interesting drama. There appears to, be no doubt that Elihu is a type of Christ intervening as a mediator rather than as an accuser of Job, nor as a justifier of Job. His name means "My God is Jehovah," and he is the son of Barachel, which means "Blessed of God." Thus he has a strong relationship to God, and what he speaks is manifestly for God.
His anger was aroused both against Job and against his friends (vv.2-3), since Job had justified himself rather than God, and his friends had no answer as to Job's arguments, yet condemned Job. Elihu knew their accusations against Job were unjust, but since he was younger than they, he had waited to allow them time to say all they had to say before he would speak. Thus, the Lord Jesus did not come on the scene until late in the world's history, after men had been given time to declare all their opinions as to the reason for God's allowing suffering even on the part of those who were not guilty of wrongdoing. Questions as to God's dealings had been raised by many, including philosophers, and though discussed from many angles, they were left without any answer. Now the true Mediator between God and men has come, and every question is found resolved in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ.
REASONS FOR ELIHU'S SILENCE
Elihu speaks of his being young in contrast to his four hearers, who were "very old" (v.6). For this reason he had not spoken before, thinking he would be thought of as an immature upstart if he dared to speak. For it is perfectly right that "age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom" (v.7). However, after full opportunity had been given, none of these aged men had found the answer. Must the question therefore remain unanswered?
No! For "there is a spirit in man, and the breath (or Spirit) of the Almighty gives him understanding" (v.8). Eliphaz had appealed to his own observation (ch.4:8). Bildad had appealed to tradition (ch.8:8-9). Zophar was still more ignorant in appealing to his own intuition (ch.11:5,6). These are referred to in1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 2:9: "Eye has not seen (observation), nor ear heard (tradition), nor have entered into the heart of man (intuition) the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." Then it is added, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit" (v.10). Elihu recognised this, that God Himself must reveal the truth by His Spirit if man is to know it; and as Elihu said, "there is a spirit in man." God has given man a spirit, and God's Spirit is able to communicate with man's spirit, if only man's spirit is subject to God.
"Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice" (v.9). A man may attain greatness in the world, and yet be ignorant of his Creator, or one may have years of experience in the world and still be without the knowledge of God. "The flesh profits nothing." If God is to be understood, this can only be by God revealing Himself (1 Corinthians 2:12-14). With this in mind, Elihu can confidently ask his hearers, 'Therefore, I say, listen to me, I also will declare my opinion."
THE FAILURE OF THE THREE FRIENDS
Elihu had waited patiently while Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar had engaged in their reasonings, paying close attention to all they said, and he would not speak at all until the three friends were silenced and Job too had said his words were ended. Clearly it was true that not one of the three could convince Job or answer the problems he had raised (vv.11-12).
Why had they been silenced? "Lest you say, We have found wisdom" (v.13). God would humble them because of their own pride in thinking they had the answer that escaped Job. They could not vanquish Job, for Elihu says, "God will vanquish him, not man." Elihu knew that Job needed to be vanquished, but not by man, whether the three friends or himself. Whether we realise it or not, we all need to have God gain the victory over us. Only when we allow God this place of absolute authority will our own hearts find true joy and rejoicing.
ELIHU COMPELLED TO SPEAK
Elihu reminds them that Job had not directed his words against him, as they had been against his three friends (v.14); and he would not use their arguments against Job. He could see that they were dismayed to the point of having nothing more to say, so that it was perfectly becoming that the younger man could speak now, after waiting until all others were out of words.
Now he will speak, not because he thinks himself wiser than they, but because, being full of words, the spirit within him compelled him to express himself (vv.17-18). If one is led by the Spirit of God to speak, God will give him the words by which others will be affected. He will not need to grope for words, for his inward parts will be so full that he will feel ready to burst (v.19). When one is persuaded he has the message of God, the power of the Spirit of God will fully enable him to give that message.
When Jeremiah was mocked and derided by his people for declaring the word of the Lord, it so affected him that "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But his word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones: I was weary of holding it back, and I could not" (Jeremiah 20:9). Thus it is clear too that Elihu, being given a message from God, was not allowed to hold it back. He would find relief only by speaking (v.20).
A vital matter is involved in this: he must not show partiality to anyone, and, if he flattered anyone he considered that this would be cause for his Maker taking him away (vv.21-22). He must give the truth simply and clearly as from God, who is no respecter of persons.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 32". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28