Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Job 36

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary


Job Chapter 36

Job 36:1 "Elihu also proceeded, and said,"

Job 36:2 "Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that [I have] yet to speak on God’s behalf." Elihu acted as if he was fighting in behalf of God against Job. Job was not opposed to God, and never had been. Elihu was not through saying things that he thoughy might benefit in answering what he called Job’s charges against God. Job really had placed no charges against God. Job just wanted to know what he had done to cause all of the calamity that had come upon him.

Job 36:3 "I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker." Everyone who is a true believer {including Job} know that righteousness belongs to God. He was trying to prove to Job that God was righteous and Job already knew that He was righteous. Job, also, knew that we could put on the righteousness of God through belief in the Lord.

Job 36:4 "For truly my words [shall] not [be] false: he that is perfect in knowledge [is] with thee." This was an extremely egotistical statement. Perhaps, he said this to impress on Job that he was telling the truth.

Job 36:5 "Behold, God [is] mighty, and despiseth not [any: he is] mighty in strength [and] wisdom." Job fully agreed that God was mighty. He, also, agreed that God was just in his dealings with man. Job, also, knew that God had great love for all men. He is not a respecter of persons, and does not esteem one over another. God’s strength is greater than any other, and He is the source of all wisdom. All of these things were stated by Elihu to prove that God was just. Job had not questioned whether God was just or not.

Job 36:6 "He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor." Elihu had said, that he would say new things that would convince Job. All of these statements, Job, himself had already given.

Job 36:7 "He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings [are they] on the throne; yea, he doth establish them forever, and they are exalted." God exalts, and God brings down. There is no argument with that. Job had mentioned earlier that he had been under the watchful eye of the LORD, before all of these calamities came. Job was not judging God. He just wanted to understand what was happening.

Job 36:8 "And if [they be] bound in fetters, [and] be holden in cords of affliction;"

Job 36:9 "Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded." Elihu, along with Job’s friends, were relating difficulties in this life with being out of fellowship with God. This is absolutely not true. All of the apostles who followed Jesus, except for one, were believed to have died a martyr’s death. That, in itself, discredits the theory that Elihu had here. These apostles suffered for doing good, not for doing wrong. Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. Those who are looking for just good times when they come to the Lord, have come to Him for the wrong reason. 2 Timothy 2:12 "If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us:" We must be extremely careful ourselves about coming to Christ, because wethink it will eliminate our problems.

Job 36:10 "He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity."

Job 36:11 "If they obey and serve [him], they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures." We must be careful to remember that these statements were made by Elihu. This did not happen for any of the prophets of old, and certainly, is not the criteria for a perfect life on earth now. In the old covenant, there were blessings that went with obedience to God, and curses for disobedience, but that did not mean that, that was a blanket policy. God judges the heart more than he judges the actions of people. Many people who are wonderful God-fearing people are poor.

Job 36:12 "But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge." To disobey God is to say that He is not Lord. Your Lord tells you everything to do. The only thing that God will not forgive is a person dying not believing in Him.

Job 36:13 "But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them." There was much truth mingled in with the false accusations of Elihu, here. Notice, in this, he mentioned the hypocrisy was in the heart. This statement is true. Hypocrisy is showing the world one thing and having an entirely different feeling in your heart. Hypocrites store up the wrath of God for themselves.

Job 36:14 "They die in youth, and their life [is] among the unclean." This was Elihu’s opinion. Many hypocrites live to be very old.

Job 36:15 He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression." We discussed earlier, that Job was the champion of the poor. Elihu said that suffering for one’s sins leads to God.

Job 36:16 "Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait [into] a broad place, where [there is] no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table [should be] full of fatness." It appears, that Elihu was trying to say that Job would have been delivered from this terrible calamity he had been in, if he had accepted that calamity in the right spirit, and repented of his sins.

Job 36:17 "But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold [on thee]." It seems, that every few verses Elihu weny back to telling Job he deserved all of the punishment that had come upon him. He was saying, here, that God had judged Job, and now, all of this calamity was the just punishment from God.

Job 36:18 "Because [there is] wrath, [beware] lest he take thee away with [his] stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee." In this particular verse, he was saying that Job had gone too far. Elihu thought that God should have just killed Job. Elihu told Job there was danger of getting to the point where nothing could ransom him.

Job 36:19 "Will he esteem thy riches? [no], not gold, nor all the forces of strength." Gold and other riches will not be of help to Job, or anyone else, if the wrath of God came. Job’s riches could not take away the terrible disease in his body. The wealth could not bring his children back to life.

Job 36:20 "Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place." Job wanted God to take his life and end his suffering. Job had no desire to kill himself. He wanted God to end his life. Job knew that life and death should be in the hands of God, not in the hands of man. Elihu told Job not to even desire to die.

Job 36:21 "Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction." Elihu thought that Job should not complain, or even desire to die. He thought Job should just patiently accept his affliction as just punishment from God.

Job 36:22 "Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?" Elihu thought God was teaching Job a lesson in these calamities. He thought if Job would accept his punishment, God would eventually restore him. He, also, thought that it was by His power that God ruled.

Job 36:23 "Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?" Of course, no one can say this to God. The thing was, Job had never said this to God. He was being accused of things he had never done. Elihu accused Job of trying to teach God a better way.

Job 36:24 "Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold."

Job 36:25 "Every man may see it; man may behold [it] afar off." Elihu was instructing Job to magnify God even in his sufferings. He was reminding Job that many were looking on, to see how he handled this problem. Elihu had no idea the extent of what he had said. It was true, Satan and all the angels in heaven were looking on. Of course, the people around Job on the earth were looking, too. It is strange, but even our generation look to Job in awe at his endurance. Many times, we compare out troubles with his. We always think, my troubles are less than his were, perhaps we too can stand without falling. He is an encouragement to us all.

Job 36:26 "Behold, God [is] great, and we know [him] not, neither can the number of his years be searched out." This was an understatement by Elihu. God’s greatness endures forever. His years cannot be numbered, because He is eternal. He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. There is no way that mere man can comprehend the greatness of God. He is omnipresent. He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. Ephesians 4:6 "One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all." The best view we have of God is in Jesus in Ephesians 1:20 "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places]," Ephesians 1:21 "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:" Ephesians 1:22 "And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,"

Job 36:27 "For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:" God has complete control of all nature. He causes the sun to draw the water from the earth. It is held in the clouds, until He causes it to rain. He is all power.

Job 36:28 "Which the clouds do drop [and] distil upon man abundantly." It is God’s decision how much rain will fall, and where it is to fall. One of the promises God made to those who obeyed Him, was that it would rain when they needed it for their crops to grow. Rain at the right time and in the right amount is a blessing from God.

Job 36:29 "Also can [any] understand the spreadings of the clouds, [or] the noise of his tabernacle?" The answer to this is no. The only time we will understand, is after we have left this body of flesh and are with Him in heaven. The noise of the tabernacle, here, could be speaking of thunder in the heavens.

Job 36:30 "Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea." The source of all Light is God. Jesus said He is the Light of the world. In Him is no darkness at all. He is that Light in Genesis that gave everything the power to be.

Job 36:31 "For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance." Job would not argue about these last few verses. Job had made all of these statements earlier, himself. All good gifts come from God.

Job 36:32 "With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it [not to shine] by [the cloud] that cometh betwixt." It is not Satan who controls the weather, it is God. He causes the Light to shine. He causes the clouds to come between the Light and the earth. God is in control of everything and everyone, including Satan.

Job 36:33 "The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour." Even the lowly cattle know that God controls the elements of nature.

Job 36 Questions

1. What had Elihu charged Job with, that he had not done?

2. What do all true believers know about God?

3. What egotistical statement did Elihu make in Job 36:4?

4. What statements of Elihu did Job agree with(See Job 36:5)?

5. He preserveth not the life of the ___________.

6. Job was not judging God. He just wanted to ___________ what was happening.

7. Elihu and Job’s friends were relating difficulties in this life with what?

8. Why does the author say that is absolutely untrue?

9. Quote 2 Timothy 2:12.

10. The author warns that we must remember these statements were made by _________.

11. Many people who are God-fearing people are _______.

12. To disobey God is to say what?

13. What is the only thing God will not forgive?

14. In Job 36:13, Elihu said hypocrisy was in the _________.

15. What was Elihu trying to say in Job 36:16?

16. Elihu believed the calamities that Job had were _________ punishment from God.

17. What did Elihu believe Job was depending on to save him?

18. Job wanted God to take his life and end ______ __________.

19. Job had no desire to _______ himself.

20. What did Elihu think Job should patiently do?

21. Elihu thought God to be _________ Job a lesson in these calamities.

22. Elihu accused Job of trying to teach God a _________ _______.

23. Who truly was, and is, looking on to see how Job handled these calamities that came to him?

24. Quote Job 36:26.

25. Why can God’s years not be numbered?

26. Quote Ephesians 4:6.

27. Quote Ephesians 1:20-22.

28. Who controls the rain?

29. What is the answer to Job 36:29?

30. The source of all Light is ________.

31. _________ gave everything the power to be.

Verse 1

Job 36:1


Job 36



We cannot agree with many scholars who find commendable sayings in the words of Elihu. Of course, out of context, there are commendable sayings; but the invariable purpose of everything he said was that of bringing about Job’s renunciation of his integrity, the same being the primary purpose of Satan himself. This is much like the speeches of certain rights activists who preached non-violence in such a manner as to provoke the most violent and bloody riots and demonstrations.

No speech with an evil purpose is a good speech, regardless of the content of it.

Barnes mistook the purpose of Elihu’s speech, supposing it to be that of, "Vindicating the justice of God."

The divisions of this chapter, according to Barnes are: (1) "The introduction (Job 36:1-4); God’s purpose in sufferings is that of discipline and improvement (Job 36:5-14); if Job had manifested the right spirit, God would have been merciful to him also (Job 36:15-17); Job is threatened with ruin and destruction (Job 36:18-21); Job lectured on the wisdom of God (Job 36:22-25); Elihu here begins a lecture on the wonders of God in the natural world, a theme that is carried into the next chapter, where it is completed."

Job 36:1-4


"Elihu also proceeded, and said,

Suffer me a little, and I will show thee;

For I have yet somewhat to say on God’s behalf.

I will fetch my knowledge from afar,

And ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

For truly my words are not false:

One that is perfect in knowledge is with thee."

No one should miss the unqualified arrogance and egotism of such a declaration as this. He pretended to be speaking on God’s behalf; but his speech was totally dedicated to the destruction of Job’s confidence in his integrity, that being, of course, not God’s purpose at all, but Satan’s.

"I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker" (Job 36:2). This sounds innocent enough, but what he was saying here is that, "There has been no miscarriage of justice in Job’s case." He is getting just what he deserves.

"I will fetch my knowledge from afar" (Job 36:3). This was a claim of far-reaching wisdom on Elihu’s part.

"One that is perfect in knowledge is with thee" (Job 36:4). We love the way James Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible (1929) rendered this: "Here stands a man whose insight is unerring"! What could he have meant by that? Kelly thought, "It was a reference to God," and Meredith Kline also agreed with this. Thus we have another hint that Elihu pretended to be inspired. One of Satan’s devices in all ages has been the enlistment of false prophets and teachers. The meaning of the passage is that, "The truth he is about to reveal comes from a distance, even `from’ God Himself."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 36:1-3. Elihu made bolder claims for his knowledge than did the three friends. He boasted of speaking for God, yet in the end we shall see that God will entirely ignore him in his dealing with the controversy.

Job 36:4. Elihu could not justly claim to possess the charity spoken of by Paul which "vaunteth not itself." (1 Corinthians 13:4.) The statement is as if Elihu had said to Job, "A man with perfect knowledge is here before you."

Verses 5-14

Job 36:5-14

Job 36:5-14


"Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any:

He is mighty in strength of understanding.

He preserveth not the life of the wicked,

But giveth to the afflicted their right.

He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous:

But with kings upon the throne

He setteth them forever, and they are exalted.

And if they be bound in fetters,

And be taken in the cords of affliction;

Then he showeth them their work,

And their transgression, that they have behaved themselves proudly.

He openeth also their ear to instruction,

And commandeth that they return from iniquity.

If they hearken and serve him,

They shall spend their days in prosperity,

And their years in pleasure.

But if they hearken not, they shall perish by the sword,

And they shall die without knowledge.

But they that are godless in heart lay up anger:

They cry not for help when he bindeth them.

They die in youth,

And their life perisheth among the unclean."

Many of the scholars are complimentary toward what Elihu says here, pointing out that his approach is a little different from that of the three friends who had spoken earlier. The alleged difference is that Elihu views Job’s sufferings and misfortunes as disciplinary, rather than punitive. That is a distinction without a difference. Elihu clearly states and often implies that Job’s pride is the cause of God’s punishment. The strategy of the devil is here slightly changed. Having given up altogether on his allegation that Job is a carnal reprobate and a grossly wicked man, the new approach is to make him guilty of such a thing as pride - anything, absolutely anything, to induce him to renounce his integrity. Note what Elihu promises here, IF Job will admit his sins. He will spend his days in prosperity and pleasure (Job 36:11); but if not, he will perish.

Throughout this chapter, Elihu’s logic is false. In the first part of it, he would prove God is just because he is powerful; "But power does not necessarily go with justice"; and then in the latter part of this chapter and throughout Job 37, he appeals to nature. But how does the natural world support any conception whatever either of mercy or justice? "Nature is red in tooth, and fang and claw." "One cannot prove from nature that God is either just, or loving or merciful." It is only by divine revelation that such things concerning God may be known.

"He preserveth not the life of the wicked" (Job 36:6). "This is the same old position advocated by the three friends."

"Then he showeth them their work and their transgression, that they have behaved themselves proudly" (Job 36:9). The lying persuasion of this is that Elihu, pretending to be inspired of God, promising mercy, prosperity and pleasure if Job will admit his sins, lays down the proposition here that Elihu himself, as God’s representative, is present to help Job remember those sins he surely has committed but which he may have forgotten. This was Satan’s trump card; and when Job refused to believe it, ignored and rejected it, God’s judgment of Job was gloriously vindicated.

"He openeth their ear to instruction, and commandeth them that they return from iniquity" (Job 36:10). It is amazing that Rawlinson, while admitting that what Elihu said in these verses, "Is not exactly the truth," he still finds merit in Elihu’s theory of suffering as disciplinary and restorative, rather than punitive. Every word of this verse is a subtle, skillful and lying inducement for Job to renounce his integrity.

"If they hearken and serve him" (Job 36:11). In context, Elihu means, Job, if you will listen to what I say, confess your sins, repent, and turn to God, "You will receive prosperity; if you do not listen, you will perish."

"They die in youth, and their life perisheth among the unclean" (Job 36:14). The word unclean here is the rendition of a word that actually means sodomites, as indicated in the American Standard Version margin. Pope rendered the passage, "Their soul dies in youth, their life among the sodomites." James Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible (1929) rendered it, "They die in youth like men debased by vice." Driver made it, "Their soul dieth in youth, and their life among the temple prostitutes." This is of interest, because it indicates the customary brevity of life among the cult prostitutes of the old Canaanite fertility worship.

Elihu no doubt mentioned this because it fitted his theory that God punishes wickedness in this present life; and of course, it many instances he does, as was the case with the cult-prostitutes; but that in no manner bolstered their evil theory that all misfortunes were directly due to the sins of the unfortunate.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 36:5-6. God is mighty but will condescend to bless the afflicted when he humbles himself and acknowleges his sins.

Job 36:7. This verse states a truth already referred to in the 35th chapter and agrees with Daniel 4:17.

Job 36:8-9. Sheweth them their work means that God will chastise kings when they do wrong. This he will do by letting them be bound in fetters.

Job 36:10. Openeth their ear, etc., means he will cause them to listen to Him.

Job 36:11-12. This paragraph states an important truth that is taught in many places in the Bible. However, the information was known to Job as well as to Elihu.

Job 36:13. The hypocrites do not appear to be concerned about the wrath of God but pretend to be at ease. In so doing they are storing up wrath for the future. This thought is taught in Romans 2:5.

Job 36:14. The hypocrites will come to shame in early life and suffer the lot belonging to unclean persona.

Verses 15-17

Job 36:15-17

Job 36:15-17


"He delivereth the afflicted by their affliction,

And openeth their ear in oppression.

Yea, he would have allured thee out of distress

Into a broad place where there is no straitness;

And that which is set on thy table would be full of fatness.

But thou art full of the judgment of the wicked:

Judgment and justice take hold on thee."

The entire assumption of Elihu was sinfully presumptuous. God had not sent affliction upon Job to punish him, nor to discipline him; all of his sorrowful experiences were due to Satan, and to no one else.

"But thou art full of the judgment of the wicked" (Job 36:17). This verse is obscure, and several different renditions are given; but as it stands here, it is an unqualified condemnation of Job. God would have done wonderful things for him, prosperity, fatness, all that; but because Job would not repent, he continues to suffer.

Many scholars have complained of damaged or corrupt text in Job 36:16-21. Driver wrote concerning these verses that, "The text is scarcely intelligible ... the details are uncertain ... perhaps corrupt ... uncertain ... extremely uncertain ... (and on Job 36:20), the most unintelligible of all these verses." A comparison of the various versions will emphasize the uncertainty that pertains to these verses. This writer claims no ability to solve the problems of this passage.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 36:15-16. God delivers the poor out of affliction when they are worthy. Job might just as well have been enjoying such favor from God. The reason (according to Elihu) will be shown in the next verse.

Job 36:17. Job had failed to receive the favor of God because he was wicked. We know that Elihu made a false accusation here.

Verses 18-20

Job 36:18-20

Job 36:18-20


"For let not wrath stir thee up against chastisements;

Neither let the greatness of the ransom turn thee aside.

Wilt thy cry avail, that thou be not in distress,

Or all the forces of thy strength?

Desire not the night,

When peoples are cut off in their place."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 36:18-19. If Job does not repent and confess his sins he will be destroyed by the wrath of God. When such a lot comes to him he will be unable to escape even with a ransom of gold.

Job 36:20. Night figuratively means error and Job has been accused, falsely, of desiring it.

Verses 21-23

Job 36:21-23

Job 36:21-23


"Take heed, regard not iniquity:

For this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.

Behold, God doeth loftily in his power:

Who is a teacher like unto him?

Who hath enjoined him his way?

Or who can say, Thou hast wrought unrighteousness?"

The various versions afford little help in understanding exactly what Elihu intended by some of the things said here; but given his invariable purpose of forcing Job to renounce his integrity, we can easily see how vigorously he strove to achieve that objective.

Certainly, Elihu, was the most persistent, the most vigorous, and the most skillful assailant Job encountered in this whole narrative. Satan must have been very proud of him.

The final paragraph here (Job 36:24-33) begins a discussion of God’s glorious works in the natural creation, a topic that is concluded in the final chapter (Job 37) of Elihu’s speech. Some scholars have commented that it is a fitting introduction to the whirlwind and the appearance of God that interrupted and terminated it; but just what Elihu’s point might have been in this elaboration of his thoughts is not exactly clear. "It has been suggested that a storm was gathering, which ultimately broke at the theophany, and that this turned Elihu’s thoughts in the direction of this conclusion of his speech." Whatever did it, "Elihu now turned to unfold to Job the greatness of God as revealed in his control of the universe and of the forces of nature."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 36:21. Job did not choose affliction directly. His choice was iniquity, according to Elihu, and affliction was the result.

Job 36:22-23. God is so great that no man is able to teach him. Neither should any man criticise the works of God.

Verses 24-33

Job 36:24-33

Job 36:24-33


"Remember that thou magnify his work,

Whereof men have sung.

All men have looked thereon;

Man beholdeth it afar off.

Behold, God is great, and we know him not;

The number of his years is unsearchable.

For he draweth up the drops of water,

Which distill in rain from his vapor,

Which the skies pour down

And drop upon man abundantly.

Yea, can any understand the spreadings of the clouds,

The thunderings of his pavilion?

Behold he spreadeth his light around him;

And he covereth the bottom of the sea.

For by these he judgeth the peoples;

He giveth food in abundance.

He covereth his hands with the lightning,

And giveth it a charge that it strike the mark.

The noise thereof telleth concerning him,

The cattle also concerning the storm that cometh up."

"Elihu here takes up again his theme of the greatness of God, calling the phenomena of nature to witness God’s might." Rawlinson commented that, "It must be allowed that this passage is eloquent."

This whole dissertation on the wonders of God’s control of nature, etc., "Is relevant to Elihu’s speech, only because he believes that it is God’s creative power that gives him the right to be the moral judge of the world."

"The noise thereof telleth concerning him" (Job 36:33). This says that God’s greatness is attested by the thunder; and supporting Rawlinson’s idea that an approaching thunderstorm prompted these lines, we have the following statement in Job 36:33 b.

"And the cattle concerning the storm that cometh up" (Job 36:33 b). The imagery that comes to mind here is that of the movement of cattle toward shelter or protection from an approaching storm.

However, the exact meaning of the verse here, like several others in this chapter, is by no means certain. "This verse is notoriously difficult. Half a century ago, Peake noted that there have been more than thirty renditions of the verse." In the judgment of this writer, our version, the ASV, is superior to any others that we have seen. Although, "The word storm is supplied here," it fits perfectly; because of, "The ancient observation that cattle seem to have a presentiment of an approaching storm."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 36:24. Job was told to magnify the work of God. He had already magnified the Lord and Elihu had opportunity of hearing it. See Job 9:2-3; Job 19:25-26; Job 24:1; Job 26:7-8, and the entire 28th chapter.

Job 36:25. This verse is the same in thought as Psalms 19:1.

Job 36:26-33. If the student will carefully read chapter 28, he will think that Elihu got his ideas for this paragraph from that.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 36". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-36.html.
Ads FreeProfile