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Bible Commentaries
Job 33

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary


Job Chapter 33

Job 33:1 "Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words." In the last lesson, we were introduced to Elihu. We may safely assume that this was Elihu speaking, here. He was a young man. He believed that God had guided what he was about to say. Job had not received the messages from his three friends, so Elihu started out by telling Job to listen carefully to what he had to say. Elihu felt that he was speaking the words to follow, for God.

Job 33:2 "Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth."

Job 33:3 "My words [shall be of] the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly." Elihu had carefully considered what he was about to say and he felt the things he would say were more important than what Job’s friends had said. He would be speaking from a pure heart. He will not speak in circles, but directly as much as his knowledge would allow him to.

Job 33:4 "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." This was Elihu’s way of saying, that what he was, was by the act of God. Even the life within him was put there by God. Elihu believed the Holy Spirit of God had quickened him to speak. He was not saying that he spoke as an oracle of God, however.

Job 33:5 "If thou canst answer me, set [thy words] in order before me, stand up." He wanted Job to carefully listen to him and then answer him, if he could.

Job 33:6 "Behold, I [am] according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay." Job had asked for audience with God, or for God to send an angel with a message for him, that he might state his case to God. Elihu claimed to be sent of God for that purpose. He explained to Job, that he was flesh and blood man, and not an angel.

Job 33:7 "Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee." Elihu would not be a terror to Job as God would have been, if He were arguing with Job. Job would not be intimidated by Elihu.

Job 33:8 "Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of [thy] words, [saying]," It appears, that Elihu had been there, when Job was talking to his three friends. He heard both sides of the conversations. The things Elihu 149 heard and repeated, here, were not exact, but approximately what he believed he heard Job say.

Job 33:9 "I am clean without transgression, I [am] innocent; neither [is there] iniquity in me." Job had never said these exact words. He had said, that he was innocent of the charges that his friends had made. Job knew and expressed, that all men were sinners to some extent. He was not living a sinful life, however. His heart was stayed upon God. He had asked God to weigh him on the balance scales. Job, also, knew that he had been forgiven of all sins he ever committed, when he said his Redeemer liveth.

Job 33:10 "Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,"

Job 33:11 "He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths." Again, these exact things were not said. Job, in his despair, had thought for a moment that God had turned against him. In a sense, God had turned his back on Job for just a short time. God even turned his back on Jesus on the cross for just a moment. Jesus even said, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" Job just felt forsaken for a moment in time.

Job 33:12 "Behold, [in] this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man." Job had never denied that God was greater than man. The only reason that Job had questioned what had happened to him at all, was because he did not understand what he had done, to be punished with such calamities. Job had not done anything offensive to God. This was Satan bringing all of these calamities to Job.

Job 33:13 "Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters." Elihu had obviously misunderstood Job’s intentions. Job was not criticizing God for anything He had done. He was not asking God for an account. He just wanted to understand, why this was happening? I personally do not feel that Job erred in this.

Job 33:14 "For God speaketh once, yea twice, [yet man] perceiveth it not." Eliihu was trying to say that God would not answer Job. God speaks to man on His own terms. Elihu believed that God speaks, and man does not understand.

Job 33:15 "In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;" In the very earliest of times, this might have been true to some extent. It was not true in the case of Adam. God came in the cool of the evening and fellowshipped with Adam. I would believe that Elihu believed this to be the only communication that God had with man, simply because it was the way He communicated with him. We all believe in the things that have happened to us personally. God does use dreams and visions, but He uses many other ways, as well.

Job 33:16 "Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction," This was not speaking of the physical ear. It was speaking of the ear of their understanding. This was speaking of God speaking to the spirit of man, and giving him instructions.

Job 33:17 "That he may withdraw man [from his] purpose, and hide pride from man." Elihu believed that God would re-direct a person’s life through dreams and night visions. Elihu believed that Job was a prideful man. Job’s friends had thought this, too. They all believed that, because Job had been a wealthy man, and God had taken all of it away.

Job 33:18 "He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword." He again said, that God would warn man in a dream not to go to a battle, or get killed, if he would listen.

Job 33:19 "He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong [pain]:" Elihu said, that the pain and suffering that Job had been feeling on his bed was a chastisement from God. He said, that even that was a message from God to Job.

Job 33:20 "So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat." He was speaking of a sickness so bad, that he did not want to eat.

Job 33:21 "His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones [that] were not seen stick out." He was describing the very illness that Job had. He counted Job’s illness as a chastisement from God. Elihu believed that God brought this illness on Job to give him time to repent, before he died. We know that this part of his statement was not true. Job was attacked by Satan, because God thought Job to be righteous.

Job 33:22 "Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers." Elihu went on to say, if the person did not repent, God would send the angels {destroyers} to take his life from him. These threats by Elihu were very obvious.

Job 33:23 "If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:" The messenger, interpreter, could be speaking of an angel sent from heaven to shew uprightness. This was prophetically speaking of that great Redeemer Jesus Christ who came to save the sinner.

Job 33:24 "Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom." The prophetic meaning, here, was that Jesus ransomed all who would believe. He is the great Mediator between God and sinful man. We are saved by grace.

Job 33:25 "His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth:" This is speaking of the restoration provided by God to man. Jesus took the sin of the whole world on His body on the cross. It is sin that destroys the flesh. When the sin is removed, man is restored.

Job 33:26 "He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness." This was prophetically speaking of that great Intercessor for all mankind {Jesus Christ}. Notice, He gave His righteousness to man.

Job 33:27 "He looketh upon men, and [if any] say, I have sinned, and perverted [that which was] right, and it profited me not;"

Job 33:28 "He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." All of this was prophetic about the sinner coming to Christ and being saved. Jesus is the Light of the world.

Job 33:29 "Lo, all these [things] worketh God oftentimes with man," Elihu had gone back to his statement of God working with men through dreams and visions.

Job 33:30 "To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living." He was stressing, in this, that God was their only hope, and that they could reach Him through repentance and receiving their instructions from God.

Job 33:31 "Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak." He wanted Job to pay very close attention to what he had said. He wanted Job to hold his peace and not speak, until he was completely through, and then he could speak.

Job 33:32 "If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee." It appears, he believed that Job would be so astonished by what he had said, that he would not have any answer to this. He said, if you can answer this, then go ahead and speak. Elihu said, that he would like to find Job innocent of all charges.

Job 33:33 "If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom." Elihu had become over zealous, or else he felt he knew a great deal more than Job. This I would call being conceited, or self-centered. Job, probably, did not answer him earlier, because he felt he did not need to justify himself to this young man. It was a very braggadocious {bold} statement on his part, that he might teach Job wisdom. Job found it totally unnecessary and unprofitable to speak to Elihu. We could safely assume that this was Elihu’s youth speaking. He should have known better.

Job 33 Questions

1. Who was speaking in verse 1?

2. He thought he was speaking for whom?

3. Elihu believed he would be speaking from a pure ________.

4. Elihu said, the very life within him was from _________.

5. In Job 33:6, Elihu said he was in _________ stead.

6. Elihu was formed of what?

7. Job would not be _____________ by Elihu.

8. How did Elihu know what had been said up to now?

9. Quote Job 33:9.

10. Instead of what Elihu said in Job 33:9, what had Job really said?

11. What were some other things that Elihu said Job had said?

12. Job had never denied that God was greater than _______.

13. What was Elihu trying to say in Job 33:14?

14. What were the only ways that Elihu knew of that God spoke to man?

15. Why did he believe that?

16. Verse 16 is speaking of what ear?

17. Elihu believed that Job was a ____________ man.

18. What did Elihu believe the pain and suffering of Job was?

19. Who actually had attacked Job?

20. Who were the destroyers in Job 33:22?

21. Who was verse 23 prophetically speaking of?

22. What was the prophetic meaning of Job 33:24?

23. Who is the great Intercessor?

24. Why did he think Job would not answer him?

25. What was the real reason Job did not answer him?

Verses 1-7

Job 33:1-7


Job 33


This chapter does nothing to improve our low estimate of the quality of Elihu’s long tirade. He is patronizing, referring to Job by name, as though addressing an intimate or an inferior, something that Job’s three friends had refrained from doing throughout the whole book. His talk is loaded with repetitions; and "He protests too much about his sincerity (Job 33:2 f)." Furthermore, he is not perfectly fair with Job. Job had never claimed absolute perfection, admitting minor transgressions and mistakes; but he insisted that he had committed no violent crimes or immoralities that could have been the basis of divine punishment. Also, Job had not accused God of malice or injustice. Of course, he had complained bitterly that things that happened to him were undeserved and unjust; but his mention of such things as coming from God should always be understood as meaning, merely, that God had allowed them to happen. Job might not always have made that distinction clear in his words to his friends. As Andersen noted, "Job had never accused God of dishonesty or injustice; although his words might have seemed to Job’s friends that he had indeed done so." The Bible, however, makes it clear that Job had never spoken anything about God that was not right (Job 42:7).

Job 33:1-7


"Howbeit, Job, I pray thee, hear my speech,

And hearken to all my words.

Behold now, I have opened my mouth;

My tongue hath spoken in my mouth.

My words shall utter the uprightness of my heart;

And that which my lips know they shall speak sincerely.

The Spirit of God hath made me,

And the breath of the Almighty giveth me life.

If thou canst, answer thou me;

Set thy words in order before me, stand forth.

Behold, I am toward God even as thou art:

I also am formed out of the clay.

Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid,

Neither shall my pressure be heavy upon thee."

"Hear my speech ...hearken to all my words... I have opened my mouth ... my tongue hath spoken in my mouth ... my words shall utter ... my lips ... shall speak" (Job 33:1-3). What a pompous and bombastic line this is! What does it mean? "Watch him! This bloke is going to say something!"

"The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty giveth me life" (Job 33:4). "Elihu apparently means to suggest that he has the charismatic gift of divine wisdom which was deficient in his elders who were not able to confute Job successfully."

"Answer thou me ... stand forth" (Job 33:5). The weakness of such demands appears in the fact that, to this point in Elihu’s speech, he had not said anything that demanded an answer.

"My terror shall not make thee afraid" (Job 33:7). "Elihu here alludes to Job’s charges that God intimidates him (Job 9:34; Job 13:21); and he here assures Job that this charge cannot be made in the present situation, since Job’s opponent here is a mere mortal."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 33:1. Having prepared the mind of Job to hear his candid speech, Elihu addressed his remarks to him, begging him to hear him as he spoke.

Job 33:2-3. Mouth in the first instance means an opening or mouth in general. In the second place it refers especially to the inside of the mouth. The idea is that Elihu’s tongue had been trying to speak even in the palate of his mouth, therefore he opened it so the tongue could talk freely.

Job 33:4-5. Elihu was again claiming to be prompted by the Lord to do his speaking. He made the same claim when talking first to the friends in 32:8.

Job 33:6. Elihu stated that he was formed of the same kind of material as Job. For that reason he should be ready to listen to him because he was speaking to him instead of God; that he was a spokesman for God.

Job 33:7. Elihu was trying to calm Job in advance by assuring him that he would not be hard on him. This was all unnecessary, for Job had already shown that he could withstand strong attacks from a critic.

Verses 8-12

Job 33:8-12

Job 33:8-12


"Surely thou hast spoken in my hearing,

And I have heard the voice of thy words, saying,

I am clean, without transgression;

I am innocent, neither is there iniquity in me.

Behold, he findeth occasions against me,

He counteth me for his enemy;

He putteth my feet in the stocks,

He marketh all my paths.

Behold, I will answer thee, in this thou art not just;

For God is greater than man."

"In this, Elihu had not grasped the essential point, as Job had expressed it; therefore it was easy for him to give his answer, `Job, you are wrong’ (Job 33:12)."

"Thou art not just, for God is greater than man" (Job 33:12). Several versions (the New English Bible, the Easy-to-Read Version, the Good News Bible, etc.) render Elihu’s words here as, "Job, you are wrong." It should be noted that the mere fact of God’s being greater than man does not necessarily prove that any man is either right or wrong. This reminds us of many other things Elihu said.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 33:8-9. Elihu started out with the same false accusation that the friends had repeated so often. Job had never claimed to be clean in the sense of their charge. He frequently admitted he was weak and erring, but denied he was being punished for it.

Job 33:10-11. This paragraph is a continuation of the claims that Elihu charged Job with making, but the charge was unfounded. Job never claimed that he (God) counted him as an enemy although he did freely admit that the Lord was bringing the afflictions on him for some purpose unknown to him.

Job 33:12. Had this conversation been a part of some "open forum" meeting, Job would have voiced a hearty "amen" to it. I mean the last clause, for he has admitted from the start that God is greater than all other beings.

Verses 13-22

Job 33:13-22

Job 33:13-22


"Why dost thou strive against him,

For that he giveth not account of any of his matters?

For God speaketh once,

Yea twice, though man regardeth it not.

In a dream, in a vision of the night,

When deep sleep falleth upon men,

In slumberings upon the bed;

Then he openeth the ears of men.

And sealeth their instruction,

That he may withdraw man from his purpose,

And hide pride from men;

He keepeth back his soul from the pit,

And his life from perishing by the sword.

He is chastened also with pain upon his bed,

And with continual strife in his bones;

So that his life abhorreth bread,

And his soul dainty food.

His flesh is consumed away that it cannot be seen;

And his bones that were not seen stick out.

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the pit,

And his life to the destroyers."

The only original thing we have been able to find in Elihu’s words is the viewpoint expressed in this paragraph that God’s purpose in punishing Job was designed for Job’s benefit, a divine chastening, to prevent his utter ruin. The New Testament doctrine of chastening (Hebrews 12:5-13) is indeed the explanation of some sufferings of God’s people; but in the light of the prologue, Elihu was not correct in this explanation of Job’s sorrows.

Job had challenged God to "show me" (Job 10:2) or "Give me an answer." Elihu is here saying that, "God has been speaking to you all the time, and you are not listening: He has been speaking in dreams (Job 33:15) (Job had mentioned such things as nightmares) and in severe judgments against you" (Job 33:19-22). God’s purpose in this, according to Elihu, was stated in Job 33:17.

"That he may withdraw man from his purpose" (Job 33:17). The impact of these words upon Job was this: "All of the terrible things that have happened unto you are merely God’s way of trying to get you to withdraw from those evil purposes you have in your heart. And hide pride from man (Job 33:17). "Elihu perhaps thinks that Job is unduly proud of his integrity." It would be difficult to imagine any words that could have been spoken which might have been any more distasteful or repulsive to Job than these things that Elihu was saying here.

"He is chastened also with pain upon his bed" (Job 33:19). From here to the end of the chapter, Elihu describes how God speaks to men in the judgments sent upon them; and, of course, he vividly describes the very things that have happened to Job! God’s message for Job in all this suffering, according to Elihu, is "Repent!" -- exactly the same message the three friends had been pounding into Job’s ears.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 33:13. Job was not striving against God, but was objecting to the erroneous charges being made by Elihu against the unfortunate man.

Job 33:14-16. Elihu’s theory was that God’s voice is not always recognized. Finally, however, the human mind awakes to the fact that the Lord has spoken.

Job 33:17-18. When the voice of God is understood it will be known why he has spoken. The purpose was to save man from the evil effects of his ways.

Job 33:19. Chastened also with pain is the expression that is directly on the point at issue. Elihu meant that Job’s afflictions were a chastisement from God. That was the identical position of the three friends which Job denied.

Job 33:20. A man’s illness may be so cruel upon him that it will take from him his appetite. That is why he abhorreth bread.

Job 33:21. This verse fairly described the condition of Job at that time. It was no additional information, for practically the same thing was stated by Job in Job 30:17, which the reader is requested to read again.

Job 33:22-24. The unfortunate man will be brought near to death as a punishment for sin. Yet if he will listen to the messenger at hand and accept the advice offered he will have mercy shown to him.

Verses 23-28

Job 33:23-28

Job 33:23-28


"If there be with him an angel,

An interpreter, one among a thousand,

To show unto man what is right for him;

Then God is gracious unto him, and saith,

Deliver him from going down to the pit,

I have found a ransom.

His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s;

He returneth to the days of his youth.

He prayeth unto God, and he is favorable unto him,

So that he seeth his face with joy:

And he restoreth unto man his righteousness.

He singeth before men, and saith,

I have sinned, and perverted that which was right,

And it profited me not:

He hath redeemed my soul from going into the pit,

And my life shall behold the light."

All the wonderful things which Elihu here promised to Job were, of course, contingent upon Job’s confession of his wickedness (Job 33:27).

"If there be with him an angel, an interpreter, etc." (Job 33:23). Van Selms’ paraphrase of what Elihu is saying here catches the unqualified egotism in it. "Happy is the man to whom a messenger from God appears, as I have come to you, to make God’s intentions for you clear and intelligible. There are not many who can do that, at best one in a thousand."

"I have found a ransom" (Job 33:24). Elihu appears in this affirmation to mean that his prayers on Job’s behalf, along with Job’s confession of sins, will constitute an acceptable ransom in God’s sight. When all this happens, namely, Job’s confession and Elihu’s prayers on his behalf, then humility and submissiveness on Job’s part shall have been achieved. "This submissiveness is the ransom to be paid, and the ransom has been found; Job can then return to health and be strong again." In the extent that Job might have been tempted to believe this, we may find the high-water mark of Satan’s campaign to force Job to renounce his integrity.

"So that he seeth his face with joy" (Job 33:26). The metaphor here was that of `ministers of the face,’ who were privileged to look the king in the face, the same being the highest ranking members of the king’s court. Jesus used this same metaphor when he said of little children that, "Their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10). Elihu is here promising Job the most extravagant blessings if he repents and submits.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 33:22-24. The unfortunate man will be brought near to death as a punishment for sin. Yet if he will listen to the messenger at hand and accept the advice offered he will have mercy shown to him.

Job 33:25-26. The restoration described in this verse is somewhat overdrawn. But Job really did have his former good condition restored in the end. However, it was not accomplished through the means suggested by Elihu.

Job 33:27-28. This paragraph teaches the same thing couched in the position of the three friends. Briefly stated it would be that Job should confess his sins. If he would do that he would be lifted out of his present state of affliction.

Verses 29-33

Job 33:29-33

Job 33:29-33


"Lo, all these things doth God work,

Twice, yea thrice, with a man,

To bring back his soul from the pit,

That he may be enlightened with the light of the living.

Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me:

Hold thy peace, and I will speak.

If thou hast anything to say, answer me:

Speak, for I desire to justify thee.

If not, hearken thou unto me:

Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom."

Job responded to Elihu’s challenge in exactly the proper manner, ignoring it completely. Job was fully conscious of his absolute integrity before God; and nothing that Elihu had said or would say later moved Job in even the slightest degree from that confidence.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 33:29-30. Elihu explained to Job that God often worked along the line described in the preceding verses.

Job 33:31-33. Elihu intimated that Job was permitted to speak if he had anything to say in reply to him. He professed to be in sympathy with Job and would gladly agree with him if possible. But Job evidently saw no reason to speak as nothing new had been presented. Elihu was therefore suffered to continue his speech.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 33". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-33.html.
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