Elihu in this chapter enters upon his subject. It is directed to Jobadiah He begs Job's attention: and, as Job had desired, in the eagerness of dispute with his friends, that he had some day's-man, or mediator, to judge for him; Elihu humbly proposeth himself, under this character. He makes a long discourse, and, at the close of the chapter, desires permission to proceed yet further.
(1) ¶ Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. (2) Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. (3) My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.
By this beginning Elihu seems to intimate, that what he had to say differed from the speeches of the former speakers, which might seem to incline Job to give the more favourable attention.
(4) The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. (5) If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.
There is another great strength Elihu gathers to induce Job to hear, from what is said also, that he was conscious of being under divine teaching: so that if Job knew the same he might then answer under the like direction. What could equal such a claim as this?
(6) Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay. (7) Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.
Here again Elihu subjoins another motive for Job's attention. Job had desired a mediator; and in Elihu he had such an one as could call forth no fear, being of the same human form as himself. But Reader, ought we not to lose sight of Job, and all his personal afflictions, that we may the better and more fully discover the outlines of that precious JESUS, whose gracious office is here so beautifully drawn. Can we behold Elihu coming forth to arbitrate the cause of Job and his friends; and shall we forget Him who came forth to make up the deadly breach of sin, when our whole nature was reduced, and sunk down to infinitely greater misery than Job was, with all his sores, and all his sorrows, both of mind and body? Can we read what Elihu saith of the SPIRIT of GOD, and the breath of the Almighty, and not call to mind how the Lord JEHOVAH anointed the LORD JESUS to preach the gospel to the poor, and gave him the SPIRIT without measure? Can we behold Elihu telling Job, that he was come a day's man according to his wish, and so come, that his terror, being his equal, could not make him afraid; and are we not irresistibly led in thought and mind immediately to call to our remembrance, the ever blessed, ever gracious JESUS, who at the call of GOD his FATHER, came forth, and stood up our glorious Mediator, in our nature, united to the GODHEAD, that in him we might again return to the LORD, from whom, by sin and rebellion, we had parted; and never should have seen his face-never could have approached him, had not the Son of GOD opened a way by his blood, who also ever liveth to keep it open, for our approaching to GOD here by grace, and hereafter in glory? Oh! who can read this passage concerning Elihu, and view him in the endearing character here represented, and not feel his whole soul going forth in the rapturous contemplation of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, as our all-prevailing Mediator! Hail thou holy, blessed, precious JESUS! Thou art indeed that One, that only One, to mediate between an offended GOD and wretched sinners; and thou hast made our peace in the blood of thy cross.
(8) ¶ Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, (9) I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. (10) Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, (11) He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. (12) Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. (13) Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. (14) ¶ For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. (15) In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; (16) Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, (17) That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
This is a precious sermon of Elihu, independent of the connection it hath with Job's history. It will be highly profitable to view every part of it, as it concerns every exercised, every afflicted soul. It forms a beautiful account, indeed, in the general, how the LORD is dealing with his people, to open their ear to discipline, and to bring them into an acquaintance with himself. If we behold it in a gospel dress, as the work of GOD the SPIRIT in the heart, convincing of sin, and convincing of the righteousness of JESUS, every word in the passage may be sweetly explained, with an eye to the Redeemer's glory and the sinner's conversion. The Church in Babylon, when delivered from their captivity, thought it more like a dream than a reality; the blessing seemed to be too great to be true. And is it not the same with the awakened; convinced, converted, liberated sinner? Psalms 126:1-4.
(18) He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. (19) ¶ He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: (20) So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. (21) His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. (22) Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. (23) If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: (24) Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. (25) His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: (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. (27) He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; (28) He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. (29) ¶ Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, (30) To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living. (31) Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak. (32) If thou hast anything to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee. (33) If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.
Elihu here describes another plan by which the LORD graciously works. He had before said, that GOD spake once, yea twice, and men perceived it not. And here be shows, that when neither visions, nor the instructions from the ministry of his word, prove effectual to awaken the senseless and unthinking sinner, the LORD goes on in his gracious work of mercy, to bring him to his better senses by another process of love. He lays the unthinking creature down upon a bed of sickness; visits him with pains, wakeful nights, wearisome days, such as Job had before complained of (chap. 7:3.); rouseth him to a sense of inquiry; puts a cry in his heart, Wherefore is this evil come upon me? What have I done to deserve it? and the like. And if when solemn questions of this nature arise in the mind, the LORD sends to him an interpreter, one among a thousand, to unfold to him the gracious design of GOD, and to point to him JESUS for salvation, then the whole process of divine love is unfolded: GOD'S mercy in the affliction, the sinner's profit under it, and the glory of JESUS in redeeming him; all appear glorious to his view; and his ravished soul hears the sweet voice of pardon speaking concerning him: Deliver him from going down to the pit, saith the LORD, I have found a ransom. Reader, what knowest thou of this Interpreter from GOD, One among a thousand? JESUS, surely, by his HOLY SPIRIT, is the One, the only One: and, as he himself hath said, and all his people know, everyone that hath heard, and hath learned of the FATHER, cometh unto him, for so it is said in the prophets. John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13.
READER, let the sermon of Elihu call forth your most earnest attention. I pray GOD to render it profitable to us both. Surely it is a sermon full of gospel, full of grace, full of divine teaching; in which is set forth the tender mercies of GOD our FATHER, the preciousness and importance of salvation by the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and the blessedness of that instruction which GOD the HOLY GHOST graciously gives his people, whether by vision or by dream, by private call or public teaching, in his dispensations and his providences, in trouble or in joy, in sickness or in health.
Oh! for grace to profit under all the various mercies by which GOD is forever calling upon the inattentive and ignorant minds of his people. HOLY SPIRIT! condescend to be the teacher, both of writer and reader: and though thou art so gracious as to speak once, yea twice, and our hearts regard it not; yet, oh! thou condescending LORD, go on we beseech thee, notwithstanding all our stubbornness and dullness, and little improvement, under thy various ways, of opening our understanding until the great purpose is accomplished, in making us wise unto salvation, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
And oh! my soul, see to it, that all these gracious calls of thy GOD, upon thee, commissioned as they everyone of them is in so much mercy, see that they have their blessed effect. Look diligently, and examine the foundation of thy hope. Art thou awakened! art thou seriously, truly concerned, for thine everlasting welfare? Hath the exceeding sinfulness of sin most solemnly convinced thee, that there is no salvation out of CHRIST? and hast thou under this conviction, so earnestly implored pardon, mercy, and peace, in the blood of the cross, that thou hast at length heard those soul-comforting words of GOD thy FATHER, saying, concerning thee, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom. Oh! blessed deliverance; precious, precious salvation! Then shall my flesh be fresher than a child's, and my life shall see the light.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 33". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany