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Elihu had spoken of God's testing Job (ch.34:36), and in this chapter provides what is true of God's test of mankind. It is clearly connected with chapter 34, but is distinct also, for chapter 34 deals with God's character being vindicated, while now God's character is seen in the way He tests all mankind. There are three divisions in the chapter, the first of which indicates that
"Do you think this is right? Do you say, My righteousness is more than God's? (v.2). This was very clearly what was implied in Job's words, for he had said he was righteous and God was remiss in His not recognising Job's righteousness. How careful we should be when we are tempted to complain, for we are saying in effect that God is not treating us rightly! Job had questioned if there was any advantage or profit in being righteous, more than if he had sinned (v.3), that is, he thought, "what is the use of being righteous if the results are not what I imagined thy should be?" How can a believer entertain such unbelieving thoughts?
Elihu answers this by directing Job's eyes to heaven. Just to observe the heavens should make anyone bow with awe at the greatness of the glory of God. Both the heavens and the clouds are "higher than you." The obscurity caused by clouds should move us to realise that it is impossible for mere man to perceive why God deals as He does: His ways are hidden from human observation.
If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him? Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him?" (v.6). Do men think they can change the truth of God into a lie? Well might God laugh at their foolish impotence!
On the other hand, if one is righteous, does he think he is doing God a favour by this? (v.7). In being righteous, he is not doing more than he should. Why should he expect special recognition? Thus, Elihu levels man's pride to the dust, whether pride in his own rebellious attitude, or pride in his righteous character. It is true enough that a man's actions, bad or good, may affect other people (v.8), but they do not influence God.
Job had recognised before what Elihu insists on here, that his conduct, whether good or bad, did not really influence God. How inconsistent it was therefore that Job would accuse God of unfairness, for he was practically saying that God should make an exception in Job's case because Job was such a righteous man! Unbelief contradicts itself.
WHY IS THERE NO ANSWER FROM GOD?
Job was not the only one who suffered what he considered oppression. Elihu knew there were multitudes who cried out for help (v.9), and we know it is the same today. "But no one says, Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?" (v.10). People do not find help because they cry out (not to God, but ) to governments or institutions, or more likely cry out against the government. But God can give songs in the night of man's distress, yet man does not consider this. Elihu is speaking of people generally, not only of Job. Even though God is their Maker, they seem blinded to the fact that He is the only One who can truly relieve them.
Does God not teach us more than the beasts? Does He not give greater wisdom to man than to birds? (v.11). Yet beasts and birds are cared for by God's preserving mercy. Why does man not consider this and realise that he too is dependent on his Creator? In other words, since God has given greater understanding to men than to beasts and birds, why do men not show it by relying on God?
People cry out, but God does not answer because of the pride that moves them (v.12). The many demonstrations today demanding the people's rights are clearly the expression of man's pride, for in so demonstrating, they are telling the world they are wise and those who oppose are not worth considering, - and even God Himself is given this inferior place. Can they expect God to listen to their empty talk? (v.13). They altogether forget that He is "the Almighty."
THOUGH NOT SEEN, GOD MUST BE TRUSTED
Because God is not visible, people excuse themselves from any responsibility toward Him (v.14), but the witness of creation and conscience combine to declare that He is a God of justice, and "you must wait for Him." He does not act when we want it but in His own time He will bring everything into proper perspective, This therefore demands faith.
Job had criticised God for allowing the wicked to prosper while he, a righteous man, was suffering. Therefore Elihu tells him that because God had not in anger punished the wicked quickly, nor had apparently taken much notice of man's folly, therefore Job had opened his mouth in vain criticism (v.16). He had not at least paused to consider wisely what he was saying, and his many words lacked knowledge (v.16).
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 35". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28