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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 33:31

"Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; Keep silent, and let me speak.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Thompson Chain Reference - Hold Your Peace;   Silence;   Silence-Speech;   The Topic Concordance - Desire;   Grace;   Justification;  
Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Pit;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elihu;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Job 33:31. Mark well, O Job — Pay the deepest attention to what I have said, and to what I shall say.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 33:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Elihu accuses Job (33:1-33)

Turning now to Job, Elihu gives the assurance that he speaks with sincerity and with respect for the God who created him (33:1-4). He also speaks as one who is on a level of equality with Job (5-7).
To begin with Elihu recalls Job’s claim to be innocent and Job’s accusation that God has treated him as if he were guilty (8-11). Elihu is shocked that a person could make such an accusation against God, and boldly rebukes Job (12-13). He suggests that if Job were quiet for a while, he might hear God speaking to him, possibly through a dream or vision. God will then show him his pride so that he might repent of it and be saved from destruction (14-18).
Elihu then repeats, and in some ways expands, what the other three have already said. He starts by asserting that God punishes the sinner with disease and suffering (19-21). Then, when the person is almost dead, God sends a messenger to show him his sin and lead him to repentance (22-23. Perhaps Elihu sees himself as this messenger). The person is then saved from death, his body is healed and good health returns (24-25). He rejoices in fellowship with God again, and confesses to all that though he was justly punished for his sin, God has mercifully saved him (26-28).
After giving an added warning not to ignore God’s patience and mercy, Elihu challenges Job to deny the truth of his argument. If Job has nothing to say, let him listen to Elihu further (29-33).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Job 33:31". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me ... - Elihu designs to intimate that he had much more to say which demanded close attention. He begged, therefore, that Job would hear him patiently through.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 33:31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 33

Wherefore, Job, [he said,] I pray thee, now hear my speech, hearken to all my words. Behold, I've opened my mouth, my tongue has spoken in my mouth. My words shall be of uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life. If you can answer me, set your words in order before me, stand up. Behold, I am according to your wish in God's stead ( Job 33:1-6 ):

Oh, my, he's going now a little far. Job was saying earlier, "Oh, that there was someone between us, you know, that could lay his hand on." Now, "I'm what you wished for. I am standing here in God's stead." Elihu, you're getting carried away. So I depart from him at this point.

I also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee. Surely you have spoken in my hearing, I've heard the voice of your words, saying ( Job 33:6-8 ),

And now he's quoting Job. I've heard you say,

I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there any iniquity in me ( Job 33:9 ).

And he heard Job saying concerning God:

Behold, he find occasions against me, he counts me for his enemy; He puts my feet in the stocks, he marks all my paths. Behold, in this, Job, you are not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why do you strive against him? for he gives not account of any of his matters ( Job 33:10-13 ).

"God doesn't owe you any apologies, God doesn't owe you any explanations." Paul said concerning God that He is as a potter and we are as the clay, and what right has the clay to say to the potter, "Why have You made me like this? Why did You put that wrinkle in me?" I have no right to challenge God. As a lump of clay, the Potter has sovereignty over my life. He can make of me whatever He wants to make of me. He can do with me whatever He wants to do with me. He can make me a vessel of honor, a vessel of dishonor. He can make me a drinking cup or a garbage pail. He has absolute power over my life. And He doesn't owe me explanations, though I'm oftentimes demanding explanations from Him. "God, what did You do this for? Lord, why did You allow that to happen?" I'm demanding that God give me an explanation. "God, give me a reason." He really doesn't owe me any explanations. He can do whatever He wants without having to explain to me.

Now we sing, "Farther along we'll know all about it. Farther along we'll understand why. Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine. We'll understand it all, by and by. And we'll talk it over in the by and by. We'll talk it over, my Lord and I. I'll ask the reasons, He'll tell me why when we talk it over in the by and by." Do you think I'm going to sit down in heaven and say, "Now, Lord, do you remember back in 1980, that weird thing that happened, now why did You do that, Lord?" No way! When I get there, I'm going to be so glad just to be there and so excited to get it on with whatever God's got in store, I'm not going to be challenging God or asking God for the reasons why things happened to me here on the earth. At that point, I can care less. Just glad to be there and to enter into the excitement and the thrills and the joys of His eternal kingdom. So there are some people that may want to get to heaven and sit down and get all the explanations for life and all. Not me, I have no desire to waste my time in heaven with that kind of stuff. Just glad to be out of this mess and all of it. Just with the Lord and there in His presence and in His kingdom.

So he declares,

For God has spoken once, yes twice, yet man did not perceive it. In a dream, and in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings on the bed; Then he opens the ears of men, and seals their instructions, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword ( Job 33:14-18 ).

Now God speaks. Once He speaks, twice. How does God speak? He speaks sometimes through dreams. He speaks sometimes through visions. God can speak in various ways to people. I think, though, that our hearts need to be open to hear the voice of God. I believe that God is speaking and does speak quite often and we just don't understand that it is God speaking. We don't understand His voice. We're looking for some echo chamber type of voice. "Charles..." Oh God! You know, just expecting things to just reverberate. But God speaks in such beautiful, natural ways that we're not always aware that it is God speaking. God can speak to us through dreams. He can speak to us through visions. He can speak to us through angels. He can speak to us through His Word. He can speak to us through a friend. God can speak to us in many different ways, and you can't really limit the ways by which God speaks to a man.

Elijah said there was a fire; God wasn't in a fire. There was a horrible wind; God wasn't in the wind. There was an earthquake; God wasn't in the earthquake. And then there came a still small voice and God was in the still small voice ( 1 Kings 19:11-13 ). Now that was that particular experience, but God can speak and did speak to Moses through the fire. God spoke to the jailer through an earthquake. God can speak in different ways. The fact is, God is speaking. Am I listening? Am I tuned in?

Would you believe me if I told you that in this room tonight there are all kinds of pictures and all kinds of voices? There is beautiful symphonic music in this room right now. And there's hard rock. And there's all kinds of sounds in this room right now. Now if you had a little radio and you would tune it, you could pick up all of the music that's floating through the air. Just by turning your tuner. Tuning in. You could see all of the pictures that are floating through the air. Hear the voices. But you've got to be tuned into them. Even so, God is speaking, but we're not always tuned in to the voice of God. It takes really, I think, a definite act of our own will of saying, "Lord, speak to me. Show me." And then waiting to allow God to speak to us. Listening to what the Lord might have to say. And I think that our mistake is that we're not asking God direct questions, and thus we're not getting direct answers. We're not listening enough to hear God speak to us. God has spoken once; God has spoken twice. He speaks in visions. He opens ears. He turns us from our purposes in order that He might keep us back from the pit.

He is chastened also with pain upon his bed [that is, man], and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: So that his life abhors bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that they were not, they stick out ( Job 33:19-21 ).

So he's sort of describing Job's condition. "Man, you know, you're in pain, and your bones are sticking out, and your health is taken away, and all. God is trying to speak to you, Job."

If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show man his uprightness; Then he is gracious unto him, and he says, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favorable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: and he'll render unto man his righteousness. He looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul ( Job 33:23-28 )

"If you'll confess," he is saying,

He'll deliver your soul from the pit, and your life shall see the light. Lo, these things God works oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living. Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I'm going to speak. And if you have anything to say, then answer: speak, for I desire to justify thee. If not, then listen to me: hold your peace, and I am going to teach you wisdom ( Job 33:28-33 ).

So this young kid's telling Job, "If you've got anything to say, say it, but if not, then just let me talk on, because I'm going to teach you a few things here." Now, what he is saying is basically pretty sound, and that is that God oftentimes uses chastisement to turn us away from the pit. You know, as a child of God, you're in a very good position, because God's not going to let you get away with evil. Now everyone around you may get away with it, that's because they are not children of God. But because He's your Father, and He's watching over you, He's not going to let you get by with perversity, with crookedness. And God uses chastisement to keep His children out of the pit. God'll stop you. He'll allow you to be caught up with. "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord. For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" ( Hebrews 12:5-6 ). And if you are not chastened, then you're like a bastard; you're not really His son.

If you can do evil and get by with it, then I would very worried. If you can cheat and get by with it, then you have cause to really be worried. But if you're a child of God, He's not going to let you get by. You're going to get caught up with. That's because He's trying to save you from the snare, from the pit. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Job 33:31". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Elihu’s first response to Job ch. 33

This whole speech is an attempt to explain to Job why God was not responding to him. Elihu was very wordy, which he admitted in Job 32:18. In summary, he told Job that God was not silent, as Job had charged, but that He was speaking through dreams and sickness to Job. Rather than using suffering to punish Job for his sins, God was using it to prevent him from dying. Elihu said God was being merciful to Job. The three counselors had said the purpose of suffering was punitive. Job’s wife, before them, had said Job was suffering because God was unfair. Now Elihu offered a third solution: God was trying to teach Job something. He said the purpose of suffering is pedagogical, educational.

Job 33:1-7 record Elihu’s request that Job hear him out. "Yourselves" in Job 33:5 should read "yourself." Elihu next summarized what Job had said (Job 33:8-13). He explained that God spoke in dreams and visions (Job 33:14-18) and through pain (Job 33:19-28). Job had had dreams (Job 7:14) that, Elihu suggested, should keep Job from improper actions and attitudes, specifically, pride that would be sinful and would lead to his death (Job 33:17). In sickness and pain God brings people closer to death. This leads them to evaluate their lives and, if they respond properly, to grow in their relationship with Him.

"God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." [Note: C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 81.]

The angels are God’s agents in bringing both sickness and restoration to people (Job 33:23; cf. Job 5:1; Job 9:33). The "ransom" (Job 33:24) probably refers to the sick person’s repentance. Seeing the light (Job 33:28) means being kept alive. Job 33:29-33 summarize Elihu’s argument.

"Unfortunately like so many well-meaning messengers of grace, Elihu was so fully convinced of his good intentions toward Job that he became insufferably overbearing." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 1007.]

"Elihu did, however, perceive the significance of the all-important principle of God’s free grace, which the others had slighted." [Note: Kline, p. 483.]

Elihu’s views contrasted with those of the three friends as follows.

Three friendsElihu
Sin leads to suffering.Suffering leads to sin.
Suffering is retributive.Suffering is protective
Suffering is punitive.Suffering is educational.
Job should repent.Job should learn.
Job should initiate restoration.God had initiated restoration.

Who was correct? Other Scriptures indicate that God uses suffering both to punish sinners and to produce spiritual growth. In some cases, He may have one purpose in view, and in other cases, another. On the other hand, both Elihu and the three friends were wrong in some of what they said. Job was not a great sinner, and God sometimes intervenes personally and directly in human experience.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 33:31". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Mark well, O Job,.... Consider and weigh well what has been said; or rather attend to what is further to be said:

hearken unto me; to what he was about to say; for he was full of matter, and had not yet vented all he had to utter:

hold thy peace, and I will speak; be silent and do not interrupt, and I will go on with my discourse.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 33:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

      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 any thing 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.

      We have here the conclusion of this first part of Elihu's discourse, in which, 1. He briefly sums up what he had said, showing that God's great and gracious design, in all the dispensations of his providence towards the children of men, is to save them from being for ever miserable and bring them to be for ever happy, Job 33:29; Job 33:30. All these things God is working with the children of men. He deals with them by conscience, by providences, by ministers, by mercies, by afflictions. He makes them sick, and makes them well again. All these are his operations; he has set the one over the other (Job 33:33), but his hand is in all; it is he that performs all the things for us. All providences are to be looked upon as God's workings with man, his strivings with him. He uses a variety of methods to do men good; if one affliction do not do the work, he will try another; if neither do, he will try a mercy; and he will send a messenger to interpret both. He often works such things as these twice, thrice; so it is in the original, referring to Job 33:14; Job 33:14. He speaks once, yea, twice; if that prevail not, he works twice, yea, thrice; he changes his method (we have piped, we have mourned) returns again to the same method, repeats the same applications. Why does he take all this pains with man? It is to bring back his soul from the pit,Job 33:30; Job 33:30. If God did not take more care of us than we do of ourselves, we should be miserable; we would destroy ourselves, but he would have us saved, and devises means, by his grace, to undo that by which we were undoing ourselves. The former method, by dream and vision, was to keep back the soul from the pit (Job 33:18; Job 33:18), that is, to prevent sin, that we might not fall into it. This, by sickness and the word, is to bring back the soul, to recover those that have fallen into sin, that they may not lie still and perish in it. With respect to all that by repentance are brought back from the pit, it is that they may be enlightened with the light of the living, that they may have present comfort and everlasting happiness. Whom God saves from sin and hell, which are darkness, he will bring to heaven, the inheritance of the saints in light; and this he aims at in all his institutions and all his dispensations. Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst thus visit him! This should engage us to comply with God's designs, to work with him for our own good, and not to counter-work him. This will render those that perish for ever inexcusable, that so much was done to save them and they would not be healed. 2. He bespeaks Job's acceptance of what he had offered and begs of him to mark it well,Job 33:31; Job 33:31. What is intended for our good challenges our regard. If Job will observe what is said, (1.) He is welcome to make what objections he can against it (Job 33:32; Job 33:32): "If thou hast any thing to say for thyself, in thy own vindication, answer me; though I am fresh, and thou art spent, I will not run thee down with words: Speak, for I, desire to justify thee, and am not as thy other friends that desired to condemn thee." Elihu contends for truth, not, as they did, for victory. Note, Those we reprove we should desire to justify, and be glad to see them clear themselves from the imputations they lie under, and therefore give them all possible advantage and encouragement to do so. (2.) If he has nothing to say against what is said, Elihu lets him know that he has something more to say, which he desires him patiently to attend to (Job 33:33; Job 33:33): Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. Those that would both show wisdom and learn wisdom must hearken and keep silence, be swift to hear and slow to speak. Job was wise and good; but those that are so may yet be wiser and better, and must therefore set themselves to improve by the means of wisdom and grace.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Job 33:31". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.