SPEAKING ON GOD'S BEHALF
Elihu continues in the same strain, for as he says, there is much more to be said on God's behalf. Where did Elihu find his knowledge? He fetched it "from afar" (v.3), which would remind us that the Lord Jesus brought the knowledge of God from heaven itself, far above man's ability to produce wisdom. He would ascribe righteousness to his Maker. Job had not done this. Elihu insists that his words are not false, and that One who is perfect in knowledge was with them (v.4). This can be said only of God, and Elihu implied that God was with Job rather than against him.
GOD'S CARE OVER THE RIGHTEOUS
Though God is mighty, yet He despises no one. How different than so many "great men" of this world! "He is mighty in strength of understanding." The strength of God is absolute perfection. In the long run, He does not preserve the life of the wicked, but in contrast He gives justice to the oppressed (v.6). But more than justice, His eyes are upon them for good: He lifts them up to a position of dignity as though on the throne with kings. Today God has set the Lord Jesus on His throne of infinite glory, and every believer is "accepted in the Beloved One" (Ephesians 1:6), therefore linked with Christ on His throne. Of course Elihu did not understand this, but he realised that God gives believers a position of dignity high above their present circumstances. Job did not understand this, for he was swamped by his circumstances.
GOD'S OBJECT IN SENDING TRIAL
But though God delights in blessing the righteous, yet they, as well as the unrighteous, will find themselves subjected to trials, as indeed was true of Job. What does the trial do? It brings out what is actually in the heart. When God allows people to be bound in cords of affliction (v.8), it is with the object of getting their ear, for then He tells them wherein they have transgressed and acted defiantly, which gives people the opportunity to listen and to turn from iniquity (vv.9-10). Job's previous life had not been that of iniquity, but his bold criticism of God was certainly iniquity, little as he realised it.
If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasure" (v.11). Was there not, even at this time, opportunity for Job to prove true such blessing as this? Yes indeed, and Elihu desired it for Job. Also Job did eventually experience such prosperity, for he did listen when God spoke to him.
On the other hand, those who failed the test by refusing to obey the Lord would "perish by the sword," if not by a literal sword, then certainly by "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Since they refuse knowledge, "they shall die without knowledge" (v.12).
More serious still is the case of "the hypocrites in heart" (v.13), for "they store up wrath." These are those who pretend to be believers while their hearts are against God. "They do not cry for help when He binds them." When the Lord puts them in a bind, they totally fail the test, for how can a hypocrite honestly cry to the Lord for help? They are defeated by their own hypocrisy, and die in their youth in company with perverted people (v.14). Their foolish choice in life decides their end in death. In contrast, the poor who know how to honestly cry to God are delivered. The affliction and oppression they suffer are the test by which God "opens their ears" to listen to Him.
THE TEST APPLIED TO JOB
If Job had not been crushed and resentful concerning this test, Elihu assures him that God would have brought him out of his distresses "into a broad place where there is no restraint" (v.16). Not that Job had completely failed the test, as hypocrites and others had, for God was still testing him. But Job's blessing was hindered by his conception (or misconception) of judgment and justice (v.17).
Is there such a thing as God's wrath? Absolutely! Because this is true, Elihu tells Job to beware lest God might take him away with one blow, and a large ransom would not help to avoid it. He is speaking of a ransom that Job might bring, not of the great ransom God has now provided in the gift of His beloved Son, for when one receives Him as his substitute, His ransom accomplished on Calvary is sufficient to redeem the most guilty.
Had not Job experienced the fact that all his riches and all his prominence could not keep him from distress? (v.19). But he had practically desired the night and oblivion, and Elihu urges him to change his mind as to this, for it was only the cutting off of people in their place (v.20). He did not want Job to fail the test by turning to the iniquity of judging God, for it was this bad fault that Job had chosen, rather than bowing in faith to the affliction that tried him (v.21).
GOD'S GREAT WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Elihu turns again to speak objectively of the greatness and glory of God, no longer of Job's subjective need, for if God is recognised for who He is, this will have vital effect on how one responds. Being absolutely all-powerful, God must have the place of highest exaltation; and therefore who else could possibly teach as He does? (v.22). On the one hand, who has ever given God an assignment? Or on the other hand, who can dare to tell Him He has done wrong? (v.23). Only contemptible pride could ever have such an attitude.
Whatever God does, it is worthy of our profound respect. "Remember to magnify His word" (v.24). People have rightly composed songs to celebrate what God has done. As to creation, "everyone has seen it". Man is a spectator who ought to be profoundly impressed by the wonders of creation (v.25).
THE WONDER OF CLOUDS AND RAIN
God is infinitely greater than human intellect can ever comprehend, "nor can the number of His years be discovered" (v.26). What an understatement! Elihu illustrates this by reference to God's drawing up drops of water from seas, lakes and rivers and causing them to be distilled into rain (v.27). We know this happens continually, so that the wonder of it does not lay hold of us as it should, and we easily forget that the power of God is necessary to keep the waters continuously in their wonderful cycle.
It appears likely that as Elihu was speaking the clouds began to drop their load of rain on the earth, pouring "abundantly on men" (v.28). The formation of clouds evidently attracted his special attention. Who understands why they spread out as they do? (v.29). And why was this accompanied by thunder, which is so often the case in a rainstorm? However, is it not the case that God was at this time providing a suitable object lesson for Job?
SIGNS OF GOD'S WORKING
All of these things are evidences that there is far more than "happen stance" involved in changing weather, etc. The light scattered under the whole heaven is significant of God's giving light as He pleases. "The depths of the sea" (v.30) speak of what is unfathomable to man, yet God covers this: He controls all that is in the seas, which is typical of the nations (Revelation 17:15), and by His perfect wisdom He judges the peoples, - that is, all nations. At the same time He gives food in abundance (v.31), yet men in their haughty self-sufficiency give Him no credit for the amazing abundance of food that He provides for them.
"He covers His hands with lightning" (v.32). The sharp, searing flashes of lightning are no mere unexplained occurrences, but the work of the hands of God. Man can certainly not duplicate this, nor command the lightning where it should strike. God does this, for lightning does not just happen to strike where it does.
"His thunder declares it" (v.33). If man ignores what one of his senses (his sight) witnesses, God appeals to another of his senses (his hearing) by sending His thunder, which is sometimes so tremendous as to shake the very ground. Even animals (cattle and many others) are strongly affected by it, and only a cold-hearted, ignorant rebel against God can dare to reject such a sign of the Creator's intervention in the affairs of His creatures.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 36". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany