HE SPEAKS AS A MEDIATOR
Elihu did not take any haughty and unfeeling attitude as did Job's three friends, but speaks with simple humility, entreating Job to hear and consider what he says (v.1). He claims that his words come from his heart, uttering pure knowledge (vv.2-3), because he is conscious that the Spirit of God has made him, and the breath (or Spirit) of the Almighty gives him life. If you can answer me, set your words in order before me: take your stand" (v.5). This should be true of anyone who speaks for God.
In verse 6 he speaks of himself as Job's spokesman (or daysman), one taking up Job's case before God, not as defending Job's claims, but as concerned for the greatest good of Job's welfare before God. He therefore wants no place of superiority, but speaks of himself as being also "formed out of clay." Job's friends did not think of this when they accused him, for they considered their wisdom superior to his. Elihu did not want Job to be afraid of him, nor would he terrify Job by dreams, as Eliphaz did (ch.7:13-15). "Nor will my hand be heavy upon you" (v.7). This was in contrast to all three of Job's friends.
REFUTING JOB'S COMPLAINT AS TO GOD'S JUSTICE
Though speaking kindly to Job, Elihu must also speak faithfully. He does not question how Job had lived, but deals rather with what Job had clearly spoken. Job's friends had heard this, and Elihu also. He therefore faithfully quotes what Job had said, "I am pure, without transgression: I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me. Yet He counts me as His enemy; He puts my feet in the stocks. He watches all my paths" (vv.9-11). Of course Job could not deny that he had said this, so that Elihu had a firm basis for his message to Job.
"Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words" (vv.12-13). Thus Elihu flatly contradicts Job's claim to be righteous. Was it right for Job to judge God? - especially when God is so great that He does not have to give account to man, though man must give account to God. God is always right to act as He pleases without explaining His reasons to man. Since God is sovereign, it is only right for every creature to be always in every circumstance subject to God, not daring to question His righteousness.
TWO WAYS GOD DEALS WITH MAN
Since God is invisible, He speaks to man in ways that do not manifest Him personally, but ways that awaken man's serious attention. Two of these ways Elihu now speaks of, first, in verses 15-18, and secondly in verses 19-22. Though man may not perceive it is God speaking to him yet often God does so "in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men." At such a time God has a captive audience, whether man wants to listen or not. God spoke to Pilate's wife in this way (Matthew 27:19), though sadly, Pilate did not act on her advice, for he had already trapped himself by his weak vacillation.
In cases of God sending dreams to people, He "opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction" (v.16), not to flatter man's pride, but just the opposite, that is, "to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man" (v.17). In other words, if a dream is a warning against what I may be inclined to do, or if it humbles me, then I should take it to heart.
Many unsaved people have been virtually driven by a dream to turn to God from their sins, as verse 18 indicates: "He keeps back his soul from the Pit, and his life from perishing by the sword." Thus, in pure grace God sometimes so shakes a soul by a dream that the person is shocked into turning to God from his sins. Sadly, not everyone will respond to God's appealing in this way.
However, another means of God's speaking is that of inflicting "strong pain," often in one's bed where he cannot occupy himself with many devices that keep him from listening to God (v.19). Sickness and suffering have often driven people to the Lord. One finds himself unable even to eat (v.20), then he loses weight and becomes virtually "skin and bones," with the prospect of an untimely death staring him in the face (vv.21-22). "His soul draws near the pit." Is there any help?
GOD'S RESTORING GRACE
Yes, there is help, but only in God, who knows how to send a messenger at the right time, a messenger who is also a mediator, "one among a thousand" (v.23). Such an individual is typical of the Lord Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men" (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the One who shows to man God's uprightness, as we see in Romans 4:26, "that He (God) might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." The means of such grace is wonderful, "Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom" (v.24). Elihu could not have understood the full significance of his own words, for we know the ransom is the Lord Jesus Himself in His perfect sacrifice on Calvary for sinners. Job's friends could not think of suggesting a ransom for Job, but the heart of Elihu was overflowing with the conviction that there must be such a ransom since he knew the character of His Creator. The Spirit of God put such words into his mouth. It was not any man who had found the ransom, but God.
Though the flesh of an ailing person has wasted away to almost nothing, yet God's work will restore his flesh like that of a little child (v.25). Of course this is the picture of new birth, a wonderful prospect to place before the eyes of the suffering Job. Could he ever return to the days of his youth? Yes! The grace of God can produce marvellous results.
The freshness of that new life will issue in thankful prayer to God, just as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, who, being awakened and saved by the grace of God, had the distinction of having God say of him, "Behold, he is praying" (Acts 9:11). Such is the result of being born again, "He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him" (v.26). More than that, "he shall see His face with joy," a wonderful honour given to every believer because God has rendered to him His righteousness (v.26). These facts of truth are clearly defined in the New Testament, such as in 1 John 3:2 and in 1 Corinthians 1:30. Our own righteousness is discarded (as filthy rags) and the believer's confidence is now in God's righteousness.
The rendering of verse 27 may be a little uncertain, but it seems that the original King James Version is likely the most correct, "He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not." A real work in the heart of men must begin with God. The individual is moved by the realisation that God is observing him, and he confesses his own sin and perversion with the admission that he has not profited by this. Thus there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. There is an immediate answer from God, "He will deliver his soul from going into the Pit, and his life shall see the light" (v.28). This is certainly because of the ransom that God has found, - in fact the ransom that God has provided, the sacrifice of His own beloved Son. Thus the gospel of the New Testament is anticipated by the words of Elihu, spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This was spoken before the law was given by Moses, yet at that time Elihu assures Job that God worked these things oftentimes with man. Therefore the gospel of God's grace has been always the way of God's meeting the need of man, "to bring back his soul from the Pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living" (vv.29-30). The simplicity of this is beautiful, and Job could have no objection to it.
Nor does God speak only once to a man, but "twice, in fact three times," for we are poor listeners, and God is concerned deeply that souls should be brought back from the Pit, - delivered from the negative horror of being without God, and rather given the positive blessing of being enlightened with the light of life" (v.30).
IS JOB LISTENING? (vv.31-33)
It appears that Elihu has awakened a serious interest in Job, possibly also in his three friends, for none of them reply to Elihu's words. Elihu addresses himself directly to Job, for it was Job who needed an answer for his predicament. Elihu asks him, "Give ear, Job, listen to me, hold your peace and I will speak" (v.31). Elihu desired time to say all that was on his mind, yet he did not demand that he should do all the speaking. Rather, he invites Job, if he has anything to say, to speak it out plainly (v.32), for Elihu was not putting Job down (as his friends did), but desired that Job be justified. He did not mean that Job should justify himself, for this was already Job's tragic mistake, but no doubt he wanted Job to be justified from God's viewpoint, just as the tax gatherer was justified rather than the Pharisee, when he prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" (Luke 18:13-14).
Having asked Job to speak if he had anything to say, Elihu rightly tells him, "if not, listen to me; hold your peace and I will teach you wisdom" (v.33). Job then had nothing to say. No doubt he recognised that Elihu's message was higher than he had considered, and he wisely chose to listen.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 33". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany