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ELIHU’S SECOND SPEECH
Probably after waiting for a reply from Job, and none being forthcoming, Elihu resumes. Job 34:1.—“Furthermore Elihu answered (took up speech), and said”. Job’s silence probably indicative of the effect produced by Elihu’s first speech. Elihu now addresses himself partly to the three friends and others present, and partly to Job himself. The first part of his speech addressed to the former. In the preceding chapter, Elihu vindicates God’s goodness; in this, His justice.
I. His introduction. Job 34:2-4.
I. Bespeaks their careful attention, and appeals to their sound judgment. Job 34:2.—“Hear my words, O ye wise men (the three friends, and perhaps others), and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge”. Observe—
(1) Wisdom and knowledge required to judge correctly of statements made respecting things pertaining to God and His moral government.
(2) The part of a wise man to give earnest attention to what is advanced on such subjects.
(3) A wise speaker willing to be corrected by men of judgment and understanding.
2. Invites an impartial examination of his statements. Job 34:3.—“For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.” Observe—
(1) Man is furnished by his Creator with means for testing statements on moral and religious truth, as well for trying the food which he is to eat.
(2) Private judgment in reference to such subjects man’s duty as well as his right. His duty carefully and impartially to examine, and so either to adopt or reject. The Beræans commended, because they not only “received the word with all readiness of mind,” but “searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The New Testament rule—“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” “Believe not every spirit; but try the spirits whether they be of God.” “Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” “Judge ye what I say.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Luke 12:57; 1 Corinthians 10:15). The Old Testament rule: “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge:” “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Proverbs 19:27; Isaiah 8:20).
3. Exhorts to a faithful treatment of the subject in hand. Job 34:4.—“Let us choose to us judgment (let us examine among ourselves, and choose as our conclusion what is the right view of the case): let us know among ourselves (learn, and so acknowledge and adopt) what is good” (right and true on the subject in hand). Like that of the Saviour: “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And that of the Apostle: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect, even the will of God” (Romans 12:2). Observe—
(1) The part of a wise man to contend, not for victory, but for truth;
(2) What is right and true alone is good. A false view and a wrong course never, in the end, a profitable one.
II. Elihu’s charge against Job. Job 34:5-9.—“For Job hath said,” &c. Job’s language, rather than his life, the subject of Elihu’s censure. The friends had, by inference, condemned Job’s life previous to his affliction; Elihu condemns, as a matter of fact, his language under it. His general charge against Job, that he seemed to accuse God of acting unjustly towards him. More especially—
1. That he justified himself as righteous. Job 34:5.—“For Job hath said: ‘I am righteous,’—‘without transgression,’ ” i.e., such as to merit such treatment. Reference to such parts of Job’s speeches as chap. Job 9:17; Job 13:18; Job 16:17. Job maintained his innocence in opposition to what his friends suspected and believed, and to what his present calamities seemed to indicate. This, even in Elihu’s judgment, improperly maintained by Job, as reflecting on his Maker’s character and government. Job’s language, though relatively true, yet too strong and unqualified, and apparently uttered in a self-righteous spirit. Declarations of personal righteousness like those of Job, unbecoming in a sinner. Lawful for a man boldly to declare his righteousness only as he is righteous in Christ. “Surely shall one say: In the Lord have I righteousness: in Him shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory” (Isaiah 45:25).
2. That he charged God with injustice and wrong in the way He treated him. (Job 34:6)—“God hath taken away my judgment (deprived me of my righteousness in treating me as a guilty person; or, has put aside my righteous cause); my wound is incurable (or grievous) without transgression” [on my part to deserve it]. Job’s actual language (ch. Job 27:2). Observe—
(1) Complaint against God’s dealings an implied challenge of His justice.
(2) God’s righteousness to be acknowledged in all the circumstances of our lot. The proper language of a sufferer: “The Lord is righteous:” “He hath not dealt with us after our sins (2 Chronicles 12:6; Jeremiah 12:1; Psalms 103:10).
3. That he had used contemptuous language in regard to God. Job 34:7.—“What man is like Job (or, ‘what man is there like Job,’—a man having so high a character for piety), who drinketh up scorning like water?” Reference to Job’s daring and irreverent language, in which he challenged God to a controversy on his case, and appeared to make his own righteousness less questionable than God’s in the matter. Such language used by Job frequently, and with apparent eagerness and pleasure, like a thirsty animal taking a large draught of water. Same metaphor employed by Eliphaz in reference to mankind, and with respect to sin in general (ch. Job 15:16). Job’s language unusual in any, but especially in a person of his character. Observe—
(1) Perseverance and pleasure in doing or saying what is wrong a serious aggravation of the sin;
(2) A grief and offence to the godly when a pious man is found speaking or acting in a way unlike himself. Thus Abraham in Egypt; David in the matter of Uriah; Peter in the high priest’s palace. David’s prayer always necessary: “Keep back thy servant,” &c.; “Set a watch before my mouth,” &c. (Psalms 19:12-14; Psalms 141:3).
4. That he appeared to adopt the language and sentiments of the ungodly. Job 34:8.—“Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men,”—namely, in using such language and adopting such sentiments. Observe—
(1) The part of the ungodly to entertain unjust thoughts of God, and to speak irreverently in regard both to Himself and His dealings.
(2) A godly man to be careful not to countenance the ungodly in their views and language, either by what he says or does.
(3) The views and language of the ungodly in reference to God and His dealings to be carefully avoided, as well as their company.
(4) A man appears to be the companion of those whose language, views, and practices he adopts. The proper language of a godly man: “I am a companion of all them that fear thee” (Psalms 119:63). His prayer: “Gather not my soul with sinners” (Psalms 26:9).
5. That he seemed to deny that there was any benefit in true religion (Job 34:9). “For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself in God.” True piety also characterised, though by a different Hebrew word, in ch. Job 27:10, as a delighting in God. The expression in the text indicates—
(1) To have friendly and familiar intercourse with God;
(2) To have pleasure in such intercourse;
(3) To make it one’s care to please God;
(4) To be satisfied with Him as one’s portion. The character of the godly to walk with God, and have delight in such walk (Genesis 5:22-24). Observe—True religion a delighting oneself in God (ch. Job 27:10).
Delight in God
(1) Characteristic of the godly, and that which distinguishes them from the world.
(2) Enjoined as a duty (Psalms 37:5; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4). Gladness required in serving him (Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 28:47; Psalms 100:2; Isaiah 64:5).
(3) Promised as a reward of piety, especially in regard to the Sabbath (Job 22:26; Isaiah 58:14). Implies—
1. The excellence and loveliness in God. God worthy to be delighted in—
(1) In Himself and His perfections;
(2) In what He has become to us in and through Jesus Christ.
2. The inwardness and spirituality of true religion. True religion a thing of the heart; the seat of delight. Not a thing of form or ceremony; or of bodily service; or of mere morality or outward obedience. A thing of delight, because a thing of love.
3. The happiness and pleasantness of true piety. Not only causes delight, but is itself a delighting. Wisdom’s ways pleasantness and peace. Delight and pleasure a necessary accompaniment of true religion. God the object of true religion, not as a Being merely to be feared or served, but delighted in. God sufficient in Himself to fill every intelligent creature with joy. His favour life; His loving kindness better than life. Believers though not seeing Christ, yet believing and so loving Him, rejoice in Him with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).
Delight in God shewn—
1. By holding fellowship with Him. We cultivate the society of those we delight in. Hence true religion a “walking with God,” (Micah 6:8; Genesis 5:22; Genesis 6:9).
2. By obeying His will and seeking to please Him. Impossible willingly to disobey or grieve the person we delight in. To “walk with God,” and to “please God,” spoken of in Scripture as one and the same thing (Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24, compared with Hebrews 11:5).
3. By ceasing to love and delight in the world. Impossible to love and please two masters of opposite characters. The love of the world incompatible with the love of God (Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:14-15). The world a crucified thing where Christ is delighted in (Galatians 6:14).
4. By attending upon His ordinances. His ordinances the means of fellowship with God, and helps to the enjoyment of Him. His banqueting house, where His banner over us is love (Song of Solomon 2:4). The sanctuary and the Sabbath a delight when God Himself is so (Psalms 26:8; Psalms 63:1-2; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 80:10; Isaiah 58:13).
5. By cheerfully acquiescing in His appointments. Delight in a person leads to delight, and at least to a cheerful acquiescence, in what he says and does. Strictly true in regard to God, all whose sayings and doings are known and believed to be right.
The profitableness of true religion, or “delighting oneself with God,” apparently denied in some of Job’s expressions, as ch. Job 9:22-23; Job 21:7-15. The reference, however, only to this life and the outward dispensations of Divine Providence. The language ascribed by Elihu to Job never really used by him. His employment of it Satan’s great object. At times strongly tempted to it. Suggested by his wife. Asaph tempted in like circumstances to employ it (Psalms 73:12-14). The language of unbelief (Malachi 3:14). Godliness profitable to all things. Has the promise of both worlds (1 Timothy 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:6).
III. Elihu’s defence of God against Job’s cavils and complaints.—(Job 34:10-30). First addresses himself to the three friends and those present at the debate. Job 34:10.—“Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding.” Afterwards addresses his discourse to Job himself. Job 34:16.—“If now thou hast understanding, hear this; hearken to the voice of my words.” Elihu’s self-imposed task, “to justify the ways of God to man.” Intelligence in the hearers required to judge of statements made on such a subject. Elihu’s arguments are—
1. Iniquity and injustice incompatible with the Divine nature. Job 34:10-12.—“Far be it from God (as a thing profane to think of) that He should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that He should commit iniquity. For, the work of a man (or the reward of his work) shall He render unto him, and cause every one to find according to his ways: Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty prevent judgment” (“act unrighteously,” or “pass an unrighteous sentence”). Injustice not merely denied of God, but denied as a thing not for a moment to be thought—as a thing utterly incongruous with His nature as God, and not possible to be found in Him. The idea of iniquity incompatible with the idea of God. God’s ways to be believed to be just and right, simply because they are His, and because they cannot be otherwise. The thought of injustice and wrong in God to be repelled with loathing and execration, as profane and abominable. Observe—
(1) Some things to be not simply denied, but execrated; as injustice in God. Others to be not so much argued, as simply but strongly asserted; as that God is just (Romans 3:4-5).
(2) A man finds according to his ways either in this life or the next. Every work brought into judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12). Sentence against an evil work only not speedily executed (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Sin sometimes punished in this life in the natural course of things which God has established. Sometimes punished by special and unexpected acts of His Providence, as in the case of Herod (Acts 12:23). The impenitent sinner escaping punishment all through life is overtaken at last, and finds “according to his ways”. The rich man dies and is buried, prosperous and luxurious to the last: but “in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23).
2. Injustice incompatible with God’s absolute supremacy and independence as the Creator and Governor of the Universe. Job 34:13.—“Who hath given him a charge over the earth (or, committed the earth to his charge, as a superior commits a charge to a subordinate)? or who hath disposed the whole world?” (—placed the universe in the state in which we find it). Observe—
(1) As Creator, Proprietor, and Supreme Ruler of the Universe, God can be under no temptation to injustice. To be unjust would be to wrong Himself.
(2) God accountable to no superior. That the world exists at all, and is ruled by Him, is not from necessity imposed upon him, but from the benevolence of His own nature. God therefore to be called to account for his doings by none of His creatures.
3. Man dependent on God’s mere goodness for life and all he enjoys. Job 34:14-15—“If He set His heart upon man (or, ‘against man, ‘to deal strictly with him according to his deserts; or, ‘if He directed His attention only to Himself’); if He gather (or ‘He would gather’) unto Himself [as its author, (Ecclesiastes 12:7)] his spirit and his breath [which He first breathed into man’s nostrils to make him a living soul, Genesis 2:7]; all flesh shall (or should) perish together (as at the general deluge, Genesis 6:3; Genesis 6:17), and man shall (or should) turn again unto dust” [according to the original sentence pronounced on man after the Fall, Genesis 3:19]. Observe—
(1) Man’s life and breath entirely in the hands of God. Given by God at first, and only continued at His pleasure. In Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
(2) A sinner’s continuance in life the fruit and evidence of Divine goodness. His life forfeited to justice as a transgressor of the Divine law (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23).
(3) Injustice or wrong, therefore, on the part of God to His creatures, entirely out of the question. Hence
(4) murmuring and complaining against God to be for ever silenced: “Wherefore doth a living man complain” (Lamentations 3:39).
4. Injustice on the part of God incompatible with His being the Ruler of the Universe. Job 34:17; Job 34:19—“Shall even he that hateth right govern? (Heb., ‘bind,’ as with authority and law; or ‘bind up,’ as a wound or fracture, a ruler being properly a ‘healer,’ Isaiah 3:7). And wilt thou condemn him that is most just (or, ‘him that is at once just and mighty?’) Is it fit to say to a king (even an earthly sovereign), thou art wicked (Heb. ‘Belial,’ wickedness), and to princes, ye are ungodly? How much less to Him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of His hands.” Observe—
(1) The mere fact of God being the Supreme Ruler of the Universe a sufficient proof of His justice. Justice implied in the rule even of an earthly sovereign. An unjust ruler to be regarded as a monster—an exception to the ordinary course of things, and soon therefore coming to an end. The exercise of justice necessary to, and therefore supposed in, the continuance of government. “He that ruleth over men must be just” (2 Samuel 23:3). Abraham’s plea: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 17:25). God just, because mighty.
(2) Rulers under the most solemn obligation to be just. If the charge of iniquity is not to be made by the subject, it is not to be incurred by the sovereign.
(3) Rulers to be not only just, but beneficent. A ruler to be a healer. The State more or less sick and wounded by sin and its consequences (Isaiah 1:5-6; Jeremiah 8:22). The part of a ruler to heal and bind it up—by just laws, wholesome authority, wise institutions, and godly example. The ruler a healer only as he rules “in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3). Examples: Hezekiah; Josiah; Alfred.
(4) Reverence due to rulers and those in authority. Rulers not to be reviled by their subjects (Exodus 22:28). God’s vicegerents and representatives, and therefore called by his name (Exodus 22:2; Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6).
(5) God impartial in His government. As His creatures, all on an equal footing in His sight. Differences among men disregarded by God. No difference of treatment either from fear or favour. Hence (i.) warning to the sick; (ii.) comfort to the poor; (iii.) example to rulers and magistrates.
5. Judgments inflicted on sinners, especially on powerful oppressors. Job 34:20-28. “In a moment (suddenly and speedily) shall they die (or, ‘they—i.e., the ungodly—especially the rich and powerful—die,’ viz., under the infliction of Divine judgments), and the people (as distinguished from the princes) shall be troubled (or ‘are troubled,’ viz., by the judgments inflicted) at midnight (unexpectedly and in a time of quiet and security, as 1 Thessalonians 5:2), and pass away (as at the Deluge, and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain, or as by earthquakes, &c.): and the mighty shall be (or are) taken away without hand [of man, or any human agency or violence]. For His eyes are upon the ways of man (both rulers and ruled), and He seeth all his doings. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves [from His eye, or elude His vengeance]. For He will not lay upon man more than is right, that he should enter into judgment with God (giving him occasion to complain of being punished beyond his deserts; or, ‘He does not direct His attention long to a man for him to go to God in judgment,’ as if needing long investigation into his case in dealing judicially with him). He shall break (or he breaks) in pieces (by His judgments) mighty men without number (or without enquiry), and set others in their stead (putting down one and setting up another, as Psalms 75:7). Therefore (or, for) he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night (or ‘in a night;’ or ‘he turneth night upon them,’ i.e. the night of calamity and death, as in the case of Belshazzar, Daniel 5:30; and of Herod, Acts 12:23; so that they are destroyed. He striketh them (by His judgments) as wicked men (—as other wicked men; or, ‘because they are wicked men’) in the open sight of others. Because they turned back from Him (or, from following after Him, viz., by adhering to His service and obeying His commands), and would not consider [seriously and attentively] any of His ways [whether in Providence or precept, so as to ‘stand in awe and sin not’]: so that they cause [by their oppression] the cry of of the poor to come unto Him, and (or, so that) He heareth the cry of the afflicted”. Observe—
(1) Judgments manifestly inflicted on tyrants and oppressors, a proof of the justice of the Divine government. “The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth” (Psalms 9:16). History full of such judgments.
(2) The ungodly often overtaken and cut off by Divine judgments unexpectedly. This still to be the case (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
(3) Impossible for the wicked, either by power or prudence, to escape God’s righteous judgments. God omniscient as well as omnipotent. His eye as penetrating as His arm is powerful.
(4) Ungodly men and oppressors often visited with signal and manifest judgments, as a warning to others and a testimony to the justice of the Divine government. “So that a man shall say: Verily there is a reward to the righteous; verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Psalms 58:11). Open sinners often made open sufferers.
(5) Perseverance in His service, and consideration of His word and works, required by God of His intelligent creatures, whether rulers or ruled. The want of it regarded by Him as a grievous sin.
(6) Disobedience and neglect in regard to God, as well as oppression and cruelly in regard to man, the frequent ground of suffering in this life, and, if unrepented of, the certain cause of misery in the next.
6. The dependence of all upon God for quietness and comfort. Job 34:29.—“When He giveth quietness (or forgives), who then can make trouble (or condemn)? and when He hideth His face (as in displeasure, or as withdrawing His help and favour; or ‘When He hideth the face,’ i.e., condemns, or treats as a condemned criminal), who then can behold Him (enjoy His favour, or reverse the sentence of death)? Whether it be done against (or towards) a nation, or against a man only?” Observe—
(1) God the Sovereign Dispenser of quiet and comfort to individuals. His to forgive or to condemn. His sentence irreversible. Hence the prophet’s challenge in the person of the Messiah (Psalms 50:7-9), and the apostle’s triumph in the name of believers (Romans 8:31-34). The part of God to give peace (Psalms 85:8; Isaiah 45:7; Isaiah 57:19). Able to make even a man’s enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7). Speaks peace and gives rest to an awakened sinner’s conscience. To do this, the object of—(i.) The atoning death of Jesus. (ii.) His resurrection, as declarative of the Divine acceptance and efficacy of His death. (iii.) His ascension into heaven and session at God’s right hand as the Advocate of believing sinners. (iv.) The mission of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter and Witness-bearer of the Saviour’s work (Romans 8:34; Romans 15:16). Quiet and rest to the troubled conscience the object of the Saviour’s mission (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 2:10). His invitation and promise (Matthew 11:28). Peace and rest the fruit of faith in Him (Isaiah 26:3; Romans 5:1; Romans 15:13; Hebrews 4:3).
(2) God the Dispenser of rest and quietness to nations and Churches. To nations (1 Chronicles 22:9; 1 Chronicles 22:18). To Churches (Acts 9:31). Nations and men equally in God’s power (Isaiah 40:15-17). His to make wars to cease to the ends of the earth (Psalms 46:9); to make peace in our borders (Psalms 147:14); or in righteous judgment, to stir up one nation against another (Isaiah 13:17).
(3) None able to frustate God’s work and purpose, whether of mercy or of judgment (Isaiah 27:3-4; Isaiah 43:14).
7. The Divine benevolence in the judgments inflicted on oppressors. Job 34:30.—“That the hypocrite (or profligate) reign not, lest the people be ensnared” (or, “That there be no ensnarings or offences to the people”). Observe—
(1) Kings and rulers subject to God’s ordination (Romans 13:1). His to say who shall and who shall not reign. His prerogative to put down one and set up another (Psalms 75:6-7). Examples: David set up instead of Saul (2 Samuel 6:21); Jeroboam as ruler of the ten tribes instead of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:4).
(2) A grievous evil to a people when a “profane, wicked prince” rules over them (Psalms 12:8).
(3) God’s benevolence seen in His cutting short the reign of profane rulers (Ezekiel 21:25). Men usually not suffered long to continue in the power which they abuse. The reason,—God is careful of the welfare of mankind.
(4) A people apt to imitate the example of their rulers. An ungodly king a snare to his subjects. A dissolute prince makes a dissolute people. Example: The reign of the second Charles.
(5) God’s benevolence, as seen in the judgments He inflicts on tyrants and oppressors, an evidence of the justice of His government. A benevolent Being cannot be unjust.
IV. Man’s duty under the Divine chastisements. Job 34:31-32.—“Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: that which I see not, teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, will do no more”. Elihu performs to Job the part of the messenger and interpreter he himself describes (chap. Job 33:23). Teaches what is man’s
Duty under Chastisement
1. To turn to God. Job 34:31.—“It is meet to be said unto God.” The afflicted to direct himself to God, who is dealing with him, and against whom he has sinned. God’s object in chastisement to bring the individual to Himself. Thus the prodigal, in his distress, returned to his father. God’s call under chastisement: “Return unto the Lord thy God” (Hosea 14:1). His complaint against Israel, that they returned, but not to Him (Hosea 7:16; Hosea 7:10). God both speaks to us in chastening, and wishes to be spoken to: “It is meet to be said unto God:” “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord” (Hosea 14:2). No benefit from affliction till we speak to God in it.
2. To acknowledge and accept the chastisement: “I have borne chastisement.” God’s will that His chastening should be accepted and acknowledged. The condition on which He promised returning mercy to Israel (Leviticus 26:41-42). The language of penitent Israel: “Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised” (Jeremiah 31:18). The mark of a humbled heart, to accept or submit to chastisement (Leviticus 26:41). Divine chastening neither to be despised nor despaired under (Hebrews 12:5). The prophet our example under chastisement—“I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him” (Micah 7:9). Divine chastisement to be borne—
(5) Thankfully. The chastisement of a believer not that by a master, but by a father. To be borne not as a slave, but as a child. The lesson Job now needed especially to be taught.
3. To confess our sin. “I have done iniquity”. God’s aim in chastisement to bring us to confession of sin. “Only acknowledge thine iniquity” (Jeremiah 3:13). Forgiveness and mercy promised only upon confession (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13).
4. To resolve upon amendment. “I will not offend any more. If I have done iniquity, I will do no more.” The language put into the mouth of penitent Israel: “What have I to do any more with idols? Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands: Ye are our gods” (Hosea 14:8; Hosea 14:3). Mercy promised to those who confess and forsake their sins (Proverbs 28:13). To abandon what we confess, the only proof of sincerity. The offence to be avoided may be either one of omission or of commission; may be either in spirit or demeanour, in heart or in life. God jealous over His people’s inward affection as well as their outward conduct: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else,” &c. (Revelation 2:4-5).
5. To pray for Divine teaching. Job 34:32.—“What I see not, teach thou me.” A mark of humility and sanctified affliction when we seek and ask for Divine teaching. That teaching needed and desired—
(1) In regard to sin. Sin the cause of suffering, and occasion for chastisement. To be seen and known in order to be confessed, forsaken, and forgiven. To be shown both as to its nature and its prevalence in ourselves. But little of sin seen by us in comparison with the sad reality. Much both of the malignity and demerit of sin at first unknown to us. Much sin unseen by us as existing in ourselves, both in heart and in life. “Who can understand his errors?” Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalms 19:12). David’s prayer (Psalms 139:23-24). The mark of sincerity to desire to know our sin, instead of cloaking or palliating it.
(2) In regard to duty. The penitent only partially acquainted with his duty. His desire to know the Lord’s will in order to do it (Psalms 86:11). The penitent’s inquiry that of Saul on the way to Damascus, “Lord what wilt thou have me do?” (Acts 10:6).
V. Elihu’s reproof of Job (Job 34:33; Job 34:35).—The reproof directed—
1. Against his murmuring and discontent. Job 34:33.—“Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse or whether thou choose, and not I? (or, ‘According to thy mind, shall he recompense it, i.e., thy conduct,—because thou refusest and thou choosest, and not I?’—the words supposed to be uttered by God himself): therefore speak what thou knowest” (i.e., as to how God shall treat thee—spoken in irony). In Elihu’s judgment Job’s spirit and language under his afflictions open to severe censure—
(1) On account of its rebelliousness. As if not God but Job himself were to rule in the matter of his treatment and appointment of his lot. The part of rebellion to wish to take the mode and measure of our chastisement out of God’s hand into our own. This rebellion implied in all murmuring and discontent under trials. The language of piety and duty: “Not my will, but thine, be done:” “The cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (Luke 22:42; John 18:0)
(2) On account of its pride. The highest pride to think to arrogate to ourselves the distribution of rewards and punishments, or to prescribe how God shall deal with us. Murmuring and discontent imply the supposed possession of a wisdom superior to our Maker’s.
2. Against his ignorance. Job 34:34-35.—“Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me (implying that Job had not spoken as such). Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom”. Observe—
(1) To cavil with our Maker’s treatment of us, indicative of ignorance both in regard to God and ourselves. Job’s want of knowledge and wisdom indicated in—(i.) Erroneously judging of God’s dealings with him; (ii.) Sitting in judgment on those dealings at all; (iii.) Wishing to enter into controversy with God on the justice of them; (iv.) Charging God with undue severity in them. There proof given by Elihu seconded afterwards by the Almighty himself. Job’s ignorance and want of understanding in what he had spoken afterwards acknowledged and repented of.
(2) Humbling to subject ourselves to the reproof which we have administered to others. Job now reproved for what he had at first reproved his wife.
(3) God’s dealings with us not according to our ignorance, but His wisdom.
(4) The disposal of our lot best left in God’s own hands.
VI. Elihu’s desire in regard to Job. Job 34:36-37—“My desire is,” &c.
1. The desire itself. Job 34:36.—“That Job may be tried unto the end” (fully, or more literally, “unto victory,”—until the end has been served in Job’s humiliation and confession; the wish granted (ch. Job 41:4-5; Job 42:2-6.) Observe—
(1) Elihu’s earnestness and zeal indicated in the wish with which he concludes his final speech. A speaker should exhibit warmth as well as wisdom. People more likely to be persuaded when logic is accompanied with feeling. A preacher’s light rather to resemble that of the sun than the moon.
(2.) Elihu’s wish apparently exhibits more zeal for the truth than sympathy with the tried. Wishes Job’s trial still further to be continued. Apparently inconsistent with his former profession. The wish, however, both wise and benevolent, though apparently harsh. The best wish for the afflicted is that the affliction may produce the effects intended by it,—the spiritual benefit of the sufferer. Better the continuance of a trial than its premature removal. To have affliction removed before the heart is humbled, a curse rather than a blessing.
2. The ground of the desire. Job 34:36-37.—These are—
(1) His apparently ungodly sentiments. “Because of his answers for (among, with, or like) wicked men”. Some of Job’s utterances apparently in favour of ungodliness, and only found in the lips of ungodly men. Sad when a godly man appears, even for a short time, to pass over to the side of the wicked, either in the sentiments he utters or the conduct he exhibits. An aggravation in the open sin of the godly that it associates them for the time with the workers of iniquity (Psalms 141:4). Care needed under temptation, lest we utter what may appear to favour ungodliness, and afford an excuse to the ungodly. Job’s “answers” afterwards recalled and deeply repented of.
(2) His obstinacy and rebellion. “He addeth (or will add) rebellion to his sin”. A distinction between sin and rebellion. So between the sin of ignorance and the presumptuous sin. The latter much more heinous. “Sin” committed through the infirmity of our nature; “rebellion,” through the perversity of our choice. Believers sin; unbelievers add rebellion to their sin. Noah and Abraham, David and Peter, sinned; Pharaoh and Saul, Judas and Herod, rebelled in their sin. Sin greatly aggravated by rebellion and stubbornness in it. In Job’s case, rebellion only at times approached. Was Satan’s desire, and would probably have been his victory. Elihu’s wish to prevent this result. Rebellion far from Job’s heart and intention. The lips may sometimes utter what the heart abhors.
(3) His pride and contempt. “He clappeth (or will clap) his hands among us.” The token of triumph and contempt. Job victorious in the contest, but, in Elihu’s judgment, had carried himself unbecomingly in his victory. Though victorious in the argument, not yet humbled in his spirit. Had not yet recanted his bold and irreverent language, and seemed still to glory in his innocence. Carried himself as victor not only over men, but God himself. Elihu’s desire to correct this unseemly spirit.
(4) The impiety of his language. “He multiplieth (or will multiply) his words against God.” Job’s language had at times appeared to assume this character. Irreverent and rebellious language a heinous sin. God’s complaint against Israel in the days of Malachi: “Your words have been stout against me” (Malachi 3:13). Words ordinarily the index of the heart (Matthew 12:34). The characteristic of the ungodly to speak against God. The sin as early as the days of Enoch, before the flood (Jude 1:14). That for which Christ will execute judgment on the wicked at His second appearing (Jude 1:15). For every idle word that men speak they shall give account at the day of judgment; still more for every rebellious one (Matthew 12:37). The confession of Isaiah that of every child of God (Isaiah 6:5). The character of men universally. The believer’s lips touched with the live coal from off the altar, and their iniquity taken away (Isaiah 6:7). A “pure language” (or lip) one of the gifts of grace (Zephaniah 3:9).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Job 34". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13