Job 38 Commentary: Verses 34-41

Job 38 Commentary: Verses 34-41 | If my reckoning is right, we’ve seen God ask Job 31 questions so far.

Q1: Who is this?

Q2: Foundations of the Earth

Q3-4: Measuring the Earth

Q5-6: Foundation and Corner Stone of the Earth

Q7: The Sea

Q8: Bring the Morning

Q9-10: Source of the Seas

Q11-12: Death and Darkness

Q13: Earth

Q14-15: Light and Darkness

Q16-17: Snow and Hail

Q18-19: Lightning and the East Wind

Q20-21: Floods and Thunder

Q22-23: Rain and Dew

Q24-25: Ice and Frost

Q26-27: Pleiades and Orion

Q28-29: Constellations and the Bear

Q30-31 Rules of Heaven on Earth

And so, let’s turn our attention once more to Job, chapter 38. We’ll hopefully cover the end of this chapter and get through verse 12 of chapter 39.

Job 32 Commentary | Q32: Commanding the Clouds

So, the last few questions that God has asked Job concern the heavens. But now – coming back down from the heavens but not quite yet to the earth – the Lord in verse 34 asks Job about whether he can command the clouds to do anything.

34 Canst thou [lift up/raise] thy voice to the clouds,
[that/so that] [an/a…] [abundance/flood] of [waters/water] [may cover/will cover/covers] thee?

And the answer of course is “No.” Job can’t command the clouds to send rain on him.

Job 32 Commentary |Q33: Commanding Lightning

And sometimes out of those clouds that God just asked Job about, lightning comes forth. He just asked if Job is able to command the clouds. The answer is “Negative.” So now, God wants to ask if Job is able to command lightning to do anything in verse 35.

35 Canst thou [send/send forth/send out] [lightnings/lightning bolts], [that/and] they [may go/go],
[and/Will they] say unto thee, Here we are?

So, God pictures the lightning reporting to duty to Job – “here we are!” they say.

But of course, that’s a rather humorous picture in our mind – of lightning bolts coming at Job’s command and registering with him for their assignment.

And it’s funny, because it’s impossible. And Job would have known that.

And if it’s impossible for Job to command clouds and lightning, then Job shouldn’t be surprised that he can’t command matters in his life to conform to what he thinks they should be.

He’s been thinking that – as a righteous man – he should not be suffering. Suffering of this magnitude belongs only to wicked men – Job has thought. So has his three friends.

And so, we’ve seen Job basically command God to come and explain to him his actions in Job’s life. But instead of obeying Job’s command, God has been asking him these impossible questions!

God is turning out to be just as resistant to being bossed around by Job as are the clouds and lightning!

Job 32 Commentary | Q34-35: Wisdom and Understanding in Man

Now, God has spoken of things in the heavens, of things in the clouds, and now he is going to ask Job about wisdom and understanding in humans in verse 36.

36 Who hath put wisdom in the [inward parts/innermost being/heart]?
or [who hath given/given/has imparted] understanding to the [heart/mind]?

So, how does that happen? How does it turn out that you and I can gain wisdom – skill in living this life? Who gives wisdom and understanding? It’s the Lord, of course.

And it’s not up to a man to put wisdom in his own heart – as if someone could get ahold of an instruction manual on how to create wisdom and then how to inject it into a person.

God alone knows how to grant wisdom to his human creatures.

Job 32 Commentary | Q36-37: Numbering Clouds and Sending Rain

And then the Lord lifts Job’s eyes back up to the sky and asks him about numbering the clouds and sending rain. Can Job do that? Verses 37 and 38.

37 Who [->] can [number/count] the clouds [<-] [in/by] wisdom?
[or/and] who can [stay/tip/tip/over] the [bottles/water jars] of heaven,

38 When the dust [groweth into hardness/hardens into a mass],
and the [clods/clumps of earth] [cleave fast/stick] together?

Now, catch that the Lord is again mentioning wisdom here. He asked Job in his last question who puts wisdom into people’s inner beings. And the answer of course was that God alone does that. And Job doesn’t – not even for himself.

So, it’s impossible for a person to put wisdom into himself. And if that’s the case, then using that wisdom on the scale that God speaks of here is equally out of the reach of humanity.

I think that if you were to go outside on a partly-cloudy day you might have difficulty counting all the clouds that are within your view even. How much harder would it be to count all of the clouds that are hovering over all of the earth at one time?! It would be impossible for us.

And then God pictures himself as doing something with those clouds. He once more sends rain from them. And he speaks of those clouds as if they are bottles that hold water – and he can just tip them over – or hold them back for that matter.

And if he doesn’t allow those metaphorical bottles to tip over and spill out their contents of rain, then the dust on the earth hardens. That’s what happens in a drought.

But once more, God is able to count the clouds and then to send or withhold rain from those clouds. And he does this all by his wisdom.

And God does everything by his wisdom. He knows what to do and when. He has skill in managing this creation.

And it’s that wisdom that we need to trust when we can’t understand God’s ways.

And there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve your situation in life. There’s nothing wrong with seeking God to release you from certain uncomfortable or difficult circumstances in your life. And yet, if God doesn’t move you and he makes it clear to you that where you are is exactly where he wants you to be – then you can sit tight and trust God’s wisdom in your life.

God is the one who gives wisdom to man. He’s the one who uses that wisdom in a way that is beyond our comprehension. You can trust him. You must trust him. He is trustworthy. He’s responsible. He knows what’s going on – in all of creation – and even in your life.

Job 32 Commentary | Q38-39: Feeding Lions

Now, in the rest of this chapter and a good portion of the next chapter, the Lord turns the focus of his questions to the realm of the animal kingdom.

And certainly, Job wouldn’t know the first thing about making sure that lions are fed – verses 39 and 40.

39 [Wilt thou/Can you/Do you] hunt the prey for the [lion/lioness]?
[or/and] [fill/satisfy] the appetite of the [young lions/lions],

40 When they [couch/crouch] in their dens,
and abide in [the covert/the thicket/their lair] to lie in wait?

Now, we don’t have lions in this area, very thankfully. And so, you probably have never seen a lion hunt its prey.

But maybe you’ve seen a video of this happening. Our boys used to love watching that kind of programming. It’s amazing stuff – if not a stark reminder of how Adam’s sin affected even the animals in God’s creation.

But, you might think – as you see that lion stalk and then spring toward the gazelle or whatever other creature – that this is just the natural course of things. That lion is just doing what comes naturally to him.

Yes – but God is taking credit for providing that specific lion with that specific gazelle. God after Adam’s sin – and certainly after the flood created what we know as the Food Chain. And somehow through that system every creature on this planet is sustained.

And that means that God has to juggle the feeding of every single animal in the world.

Job 32 Commentary | Q40: Feeding Ravens

Well, Job might be excused for not knowing how to feed lions. They’re dangerous creatures. But what about a creature that’s smaller and not as potentially harmful? What about the ravens? Can Job feed the ravens? Verse 41.

41 Who [provideth/prepares] for the raven [his food/its nourishment/prey]?
when [his young ones/its young] [cry/cry out] unto God,
[they/and] wander [about…] [for lack of/without] [meat/food].

So, God feeds these birds just like he feeds lions. And God seems to indicate here that he has some compassion – even on these birds. It’s as if God responds to the crying of the young of these birds by ensuring that there is food for them to eat.

And this makes us remember what the Son of God – Jesus Christ – said about birds.

He told us that not even a sparrow – a bird much smaller than a raven – falls dead to the ground apart from our Heavenly Father. God knows about the death of each sparrow. He has some level of concern regarding what happens to them.

And as you remember, Jesus used that reality to remind us that God cares very much about us. We’re not to worry – even in the face of death. We’re not to fear those who can kill only the body – but can’t touch our souls.

And that’s what Job needed to be reminded of – and what we need to remember as well. That in the midst of our trials – the God who is concerned to make sure that ravens are fed will also take care of us. And he’ll do it all according to his wisdom and in his timing.

Job 38 Commentary: Verses 18-33

Job 38 Commentary: This week I left work one day and I was puzzled. I had so many questions. Why am I here? Things are so hard sometimes. Why has God allowed things to transpire in my life that are painful and difficult? Why, why, why?

And thankfully God’s questions to Job came to my mind. And God through his word started asking me some questions.

Paul – do you really understand everything I’m doing in your life? Would you ever be able to begin to comprehend all of the things that I am working in your life – not to mention throughout the universe! – for my own glory and for your good? You can stop your questioning my goodness now.

And I’m not sure if I’m the only one who has experienced something like that. Have you gone through that exercise in your mind this week? Have you been tempted to question God’s goodness or his justice in your life or in this world? Have you allowed God’s questions to Job to be redirected to you?

Well, we’ve seen God ask so far 12 questions to Job. He’s asked…

Q1: Who is this?

Q2: Foundations of the Earth

Q3-4: Measuring the Earth

Q5-6: Foundation and Corner Stone of the Earth

Q7: The Sea

Q8: Bring the Morning

Q9-10: Source of the Seas

Q11-12: Death and Darkness

And that’s where we ended last time. So, let’s turn our attention to Job 38.

We’ll be covering verses 18-33, Lord-willing this time.

Job 38 Commentary: Q13: Earth

And so, I had just mentioned that God was asking questions about the realm of death as we ended last time. But now at this point God returns to the land of the living and questions Job about the earth.

18 Hast thou [perceived/understood/considered] the [breadth/expanse/vast expanse] of the earth?
[declare/tell me] if thou knowest [it all/all this].

Did Job understand how wide the earth is? I don’t know – perhaps he did. In fact, if you do a search on the internet for this question you’ll learn that the earth is 7,917.5 miles around at the equator. Don’t forget that half a mile at the end there!

You can also discover at the tips of your fingers that the surface area of the earth is 196.9 million mi². That’s the total land that covers the earth.

Did Job know this? Again, I’m not sure.

But perhaps the question is not so much a matter of knowing bare facts – just like I can type a search phrase into a web browser and have the answer spit back out at me. But maybe the point of God’s question is more – “have you, Job, personally experientially seen the vast expanse of the earth? Have you walked around on all of it, seeing every one of those nearly 200 million square miles? Have you walked around the earth at the equator for all of those nearly 8,000 miles?

And as God asks that question and Job and all of us answer with blank stares – then God is able to say, “Well, I have seen each and every square mile – as if God works in miles – of the surface of the earth.

And that kind of thought gives God reason to challenge Job. Did you hear that last line of verse 18? What do you think of God’s question there?

He said “[declare/tell me] if thou knowest [it all/all this].” That question is a little forceful. God is challenging Job.

He’s indicating that Job has been implying that he knows everything. Why does God do that? It’s because Job has been maintaining his righteousness – and that’s fine. But he’s been doing so at God’s expense. He’s been making himself look good – that’s fine – but in the process he’s been insinuating that God is bad.

Job has been demanding God to explain his ways to him. But to do so would not even make sense to Job. God’s ways include and involve managing everything on the earth and in the sky and in the water and even in the realm of the dead. How would a human even comprehend God’s total dealings in all of those areas? We couldn’t understand. We wouldn’t have time to listen to his response. We would die of old age by the time he got done explaining everything.

Instead, God wants us to trust him to do right in this world and in our own personal lives.

And when we don’t trust him – when we question and doubt his goodness and justice – you can expect God to challenge you a little bit. He might even sarcastically indicate that you know everything! He’s done it before.

Job 38 Commentary: Q14-15: Light and Darkness

Well, God’s next question deals with light and darkness in verses 19-21.

19 [Where is the way where/In what direction does] light [dwelleth/reside]?
and as for darkness, where is [the place thereof/its place],

20 That thou [shouldest/may] take [it/them] to [the bound thereof/its territory/their borders],
and that thou [shouldest/may] [know/discern/perceive] the [paths/pathways] to [the house thereof/their homes]?

21 [Knowest thou it/You know], [because thou wast/for you were] [then born/born then/born before them][?/!]
[or because/and] the number of thy days is great[?/!]

So, what is the source of light and darkness? That’s God question. Where do they dwell? As if they had a home.

And God is so earthy and graciously condescending to Job as he speaks of – as it were – taking light back home. As if the light or the darkness could stray a little and Job could gently lead that little ray of light or that little bit of darkness back to its home.

And of the course that idea is laughable! It’s a humorous picture. It’s actually rather absurd.

And it’s a level of absurdity that matches Job’s insinuations and implications about God and the way that he works in this world. God says that Job is acting as if he existed before God created light on day 1 of creation week.

Job thinks that he has God’s routine down pat. God punishes wickedness and rewards goodness. No questions asked. No exceptions. God is pretty much bound to this oath – that he never really agreed to.

But the moment that we think we know exactly what God should do in any given situation is the moment that we pretty much place ourselves in God’s position.

A human being can be rather unpredictable. And we understand that that’s a normal thing. And we allow our fellow-humans to be sort of unpredictable.

And yet, we somehow feel that God – who is infinitely beyond us – is bound to be predictable according to our own human reasoning? Something’s wrong with that picture!

And when we start thinking that we can get God and his ways of dealing in this world into our little box – don’t be surprised if he comes back at you and tells you that you’re acting as if you have existed from before day 1 of creation week.

And I can tell you that only one being existed before day 1 of creation week. Who was that? God, right? Well, you’re not him. So, stop acting like you are.

That’s God’s message to Job – and even to us. Where are we acting as if we’re God? As if we alone know the correct course of action? As if we can dictate to God what he ought – and ought not – to do?

And I’m getting ahead of the text – but wherever we realize that this is what we’ve been doing – playing God – then we need to do as Job will do in a few chapters and repent. Stop thinking that way. Change your mind about that erroneous way of thinking.

And when we don’t understand God’s ways – his fathomless, unsearchable ways – we can and we need to trust his awesome wisdom.

Job 38 Commentary: Q16-17: Snow and Hail

Well, God continues to question Job on the matters of snow and hail in verses 22 and 23.

22 Hast thou entered [into the treasures/the storehouse(s)] of the snow?
or hast thou seen the [treasures/storehouses/armory] of the hail,

23 Which I [have reserved/reserve] [against/for] the time of [trouble/distress],
[against/for] the day of battle and war?

So, God pictures snow and hail as if they were artillery that he stores up so that he can use them in battle.

The point is that God can call upon these elements whenever he wants. They are at his disposal. And so, the question once more for Job is – would you even know how to make it snow? Are you omnipotent so that you could make hail fall from the sky?

And once more the answer is, “No.

Well then, a follow-up to that question of course is, “If you don’t know how to make it hail and snow and if you’re not strong enough to make that happen – but I am! – then can’t you trust my wisdom even in your suffering?

Job 38 Commentary: Q18-19: Lightning and the East Wind

And, God continues by asking Job about lightning and the east wind in verse 24.

24 [By what way is/Where is the way that/In what direction is] the [light/lightning] [parted/divided/dispersed],
[which/or] [scattereth the east wind/the east wind(s) scattered] [upon/on/over] the earth?

So, this question is directional. Who determines where light or lightning is parted or divided or dispersed? Who determines how the east wind is scattered?

And both lightning and the east wind can be devastating. Who has power over such devastating and potentially life-threatening elements?

God alone has such power.

And Job wouldn’t know the answer to this question that God just posed. By what way are these things directed? No one knows.

No one except for God.

Then why do we act like we know it all when it comes to what’s happening in our lives? We clearly don’t understand a great many things in this world.

Job 38 Commentary: Q20-21: Floods and Thunder

Well, in verses 25-27 the Lord asks Job about floods and thunder.

25 Who [hath divided/has cleft/carves out] a [watercourse/channel] for the [overflowing of waters/flood/heavy rains],
[or/and] a [way/path] for the [lightning of thunder/thunderbolt/rumble of thunder];

26 To [cause it to/bring] rain on [the earth, where no man is;/a land without people/an uninhabited land]
[on the wilderness/on a desert/a desert], [wherein there is no man/without a man in it/where there are no human beings];

27 To satisfy [the desolate/the waste/a devastated] and [waste/desolate] [ground/land];
and to [cause/make] [the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?/the seeds of grass to sprout?/it to sprout with vegetation?]

So, God asks who is able to bring floods from rain storms onto a parched land with no one living there.

Now, you might think that God is solely interested in sending rain to areas with human creatures. And that perhaps he does that because he is so concerned for mankind.

But God says here that he sends rain sometimes where no rain has fallen for a long time – and he does this in places where humans don’t live. Nevertheless, he does it.

Do you know why? I can understand God sending rain to provide for those made in his image. But why would he be concerned to send rain into uninhabited places? I don’t know. I don’t understand it.

Quite frankly, if I were put in the place of God for a day – this task would completely slip my mind. I’ve never thought about it before.

And that’s the point. God does things that we have no idea he would do. But he knows they need to happen and he’s powerful enough to make them happen.

And this question once more like all the others should humble us.

Job 38 Commentary: Q22-23: Rain and Dew

Alright, next in verse 28, God asks Job about rain and dew.

28 [Hath the rain/Does the rain have] a father?
or who hath [begotten/fathered] the drops of dew?

So, God pictures the rain and dew as children and he asks – who’s the father? And the point is – how are they made? How does rain and dew form? And who decides when they should be brought forth?

Who is responsible for creating the rain and dew? God alone.

Job 38 Commentary: Q24-25: Ice and Frost

And in a related set of questions, in verses 29 and 30, the Lord asks Job about the origin of ice and frost.

29 [Out of/From] whose womb [came/has come/does emerge] the ice?
and the [hoary frost/frost] [of heaven/from the sky], who [hath gendered/gives birth to] it?

30 [The waters/Water/When the waters] [are/become(s)] [hid/hard] [as with/like] a stone,
[and/when] the [face/surface] of the deep is [frozen/imprisoned/frozen solid].

So, God dealt with liquid water in verse 28 – but now he deals with solid water. He asked about the father of the liquid water in verse 28 – but now he asks about the mother of solid water.

So, where does frozen water come from? Who makes that? Who has created the processes to bring that into existence?

It’s God. And when in a few months you complain about the white stuff that just keeps falling from the sky – or when you’re complaining as the wet stuff falls from the sky – as it has been doing a lot lately – well, in a way you’re kind of insulting the one who created it and sees fit to send it.

And you might not – and I might not! – like the snow that makes my way to church hazardous – and I might not like the rain that prevents me from having soccer practice with my Park and Rec team.

But in those situations, let’s come back to the idea that God knows what he’s doing. He’s not mistaken in his choice of weather. There’s a purpose behind all of it that you and I are not aware of.

And of course we need to take our minds from the weather that we might not like – to any sufferings that we have in this life. And we should have the same exact thoughts about our sufferings as we need to have about the rain and snow.

It’s alright. God’s in control. God is all-wise. He is all-powerful. He knows what’s best for us. Even when we don’t like it. Even when it’s inconvenient – even dangerous! Even when it hurts.

Job 38 Commentary: Q26-27: Pleiades and Orion

So, next, the Lord turns his gaze from earth toward the heavens beyond the clouds and he asks Job about two groups of stars in verse 31.

31 [Canst thou/Can you] [bind/tie] the [sweet influences/chains/bands] of [the…] Pleiades,
or [loose/release] the [bands/cords] of Orion?

Now, I’ll be quite honest. I don’t know exactly what the Lord is asking here.

I know that the Pleiades is a group of seven stars. They’re also called the Seven Sisters. And that group of stars is near – at least to our view from earth – the group of stars known as Orion. I also know that Orion is famous for “his” belt – a line of three stars that resemble – to the imaginative mind of ancient man – a belt. And that’s all.

I don’t know what these “sweet influences” or “chains/bands” might be. I saw an article on Answers in Genesis that says that these seven stars are slowly moving apart. Maybe that’s what the Lord is talking about.

Maybe the “bands of Orion” is a reference to that belt of three stars.

And I think I’m OK with not fully understanding what the Lord is asking – because actually that would support what he’s saying here.

If the Lord were to appear to me and ask me if I could do these things – bind the bands of the Pleiades and loosen the cords of Orion – I would say, “Not at all, Lord! I don’t even know what you’re talking about! How would I be able to do it?!

Job 38 Commentary: Q28-29: Constellations and the Bear

And, now, in verse 32 the Lord continues his questioning Job about groups of stars and he includes one more of them by name.

32 [Canst thou/Can you] [bring forth/lead forth/lead out] [Mazzaroth/a constellation/the constellations] in [his/its/their] season[s]?
[or canst thou/and/or] guide [Arcturus/the Bear] with [his/her/its] [sons/satellites/cubs]?

So, God continues his questions in the realm of the heavens. And he’s asking Job if Job can cause constellations to appear in their appropriate time.

And constellations are seasonal. Certain ones appear in the northern hemisphere at certain times and certain ones appear in the southern hemisphere.

And it happens like clockwork. And we can look at that and explain it as the earth’s tilt and rotation around the sun causing that to happen. But who makes the earth rotate around the sun? And why doesn’t the earth go rolling head over heals instead of remaining steady in its tilt? And you could think of numerous other questions as to why constellations come around at their proper time every year.

And observational science will never be able to completely answer any of those questions. And that should bring a little humility into the heart of the smartest astronomer. Because this kind of thing is in God’s hands alone. And it’s no problem for him to make sure this happens – every year, right on time.

And as we become observational scientists of our own existence – our own lives – we need to have a good dose of humility. We can’t be like Job and his three friends – trying to explain every little detail of how God should or does work in our lives. Let’s be humble and allow God to be God.

Job 38 Commentary: Q30-31 Rules of Heaven on Earth

And so, having considered the constellations in the heavens, the Lord asks Job what he knows about the rules that govern the heavens and if he might be able to bring that rule to bear in the earth in verse 33.

33 [Knowest thou/Do you know] the [ordinances/laws] of [heaven/the heavens]?
[canst thou/or/or can you] [set/fix/set up] [the dominion thereof/their rule] [in/over] the earth?

And this might touch on some of the questions that I just asked in the last verse. Why do planets rotate around the sun in our solar system? Why does the earth rotate the way it does? Why is it tilted a certain way?

Well, do you know why? You don’t – but we’re given somewhat of an answer here. It’s because God has ordinances and laws that govern these things. And those rules govern even how the earth behaves. And you and I and our fellow-man – we have just barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the laws that govern outer space – the heavens beyond the clouds. Gravity and inertia and all sorts of other concepts. We see just a glimpse. But God sees the whole picture.

Now, have you ever tried to find your city on map of the world? And maybe you find it – and then you notice how much else is on the earth. How large it is. The great expanse that is our earth.

And then in your mind you zoom out into outer space – maybe looking at the earth from the moon. Have you ever seen pictures of that? And even the earth itself looks small.

Brothers and sisters, you and I are very small. We occupy a very small plot of land that is a very small part of a very small planet within a very small solar system within a very small galaxy within … a very large universe.

And God has set rules for his universe and for our galaxy and solar system and planet. And he makes sure that everything that needs to happen is actually happening. He has it all under control.

God knows what needs to happen throughout the entire universe. And yet he has not forgotten about you. He knows what’s best for your life – and will you believe this? – he is doing what is best in your life.

And you might not understand what he’s doing or why. Job didn’t either. But you and I can trust this all-wise, all-powerful God.

When we can’t understand God’s ways – and can you? Can you completely understand anything that God does in this universe? More and more – I feel like I can’t. I can’t fully understand what God is doing and how he’s doing it and why he’s doing it.

But when we can’t understand God’s ways – we must trust his wisdom. In this universe. In nature. In creation. And especially in your life and mine.

Job 38 Commentary: Verses 1-17

Job 38 Commentary: Well, something really interesting happens at this point. Elihu has been focusing on storms and clouds and lightning. And now all of a sudden – the Lord appears in one of those storms.

KJV Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

So, two things to note.

First, it seems like this whirlwind was nearby. The author phrases it as if the whirlwind is there and God just starts speaking to Job from it.

And I think we also need to have in our minds an accurate picture of what this would have looked like.

When you hear “whirlwind” you can think of a tornado. And that very well could be the case here. But the word in the Hebrew could refer to a storm in general – any storm – not just a tornado.

But it’s not just any storm. This is a storm or whirlwind with God’s voice is coming from it. Like he spoke from the burning bush later on in history.

So, those are some thoughts about the appearance of this storm.

Also, I think that the transition from Elihu to God is another piece of evidence that tells us that God is in favor of what Elihu said. The narrator didn’t have to tell us that God came to correct Elihu – like he earlier explained when Elihu came on the scene to correct Job and the friends. It’s like God comes and simply serves to continue Elihu’s points that he’s already made – confirming that what Elihu has been saying has basically been God’s message to Job and his friends.

Or you can look at it the other way – God sent Elihu ahead of himself to speak on God’s behalf.

Job 38 Commentary: Q1: Who is this?

Whatever the case, God is now speaking. And he continues questioning Job just like Elihu was doing. And here’s his first question.

2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel
[by/with] words without knowledge?

3 [Gird up now thy loins/Get ready for a difficult task] like a man;

[for I/and I/I] will [demand of thee/ask you/question you],
and [answer thou/you instruct/you will inform] me.

And of course, this first question of God’s is not looking for an answer. In fact, most of God’s questions to Job are not expecting an answer. Really, Job doesn’t give any answer to anything God asks.

But this question serves to put Job in his place. Who are you – who have no knowledge of all sorts of areas – to speak of what you don’t understand – and in so doing, you give counsel that is dark – that doesn’t help at all?

And then God challenges Job to get ready for a difficult task. Since Job feels that he is in the position to judge the Judge of the Universe, then he needs to act the part and answer God in these numerous questions that God has for him.

And of course, God is being sarcastic. He knows that Job won’t have any answer. He’s saying this to Job to show him how little he really does know. And when it comes down to it, the only answer Job can give to most of these questions is either “No, I can’t do whatever you just asked.” or “I don’t know the answer to your question.

Job 38 Commentary: Q2: Foundations of the Earth

So, here’s the second question that God asks – but the first one that really deals with how much Job actually knows about anything in this world.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the [foundations/foundation] of the earth?
[declare/tell me], if thou [hast/possess] understanding.

So, this question has to do with origins – the origin of Job and of the world.

God pictures the creation of the world as if he laid it on its foundations – like you would do for a house or other building.

And then he asks Job where he was when God did that. Of course, the answer is that Job would not have existed at that time.

And the point is that Job has been acting as if he was around for that event. By questioning God’s justice and goodness – Job is behaving as if he were equal with God – even a bit superior to him!

Job 38 Commentary: Q3-4: Measuring the Earth

So, next God wants to ask Job about the measurements of the earth.

5 Who [hath laid/set] [the measures thereof/its measurements], [if/since] thou knowest?
or who hath stretched [the line/a measuring line] [upon/on/across] it?

Now, God is not asking Job to recite the measurements of the earth. People today can in fact measure the earth based on mathematical calculations and such.

That’s not it. Instead, God is asking about who decided how big the earth would be. Who stretched out a measuring line on the earth like a builder would do to something he’s building.

Who did it? – God asks. The answer of course is God – and is certainly not who? Certainly not Job. And certainly not you, either. And not me, as we ever start to question God’s dealings in our life.

God knew what dimensions the earth should have. Job didn’t and doesn’t. Job can leave this detail to God – and he can leave every other detail to him as well.

Job 38 Commentary: Q5-6: Foundation and Corner Stone of the Earth

Next God asks Job about the foundation and corner stone of the earth.

6 [Whereupon/On what] [are/were] [the foundations thereof/its bases] [fastened/sunk/set]?
or who laid [the corner stone thereof/its cornerstone];

7 When the morning stars sang [together/in chorus],
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

So, what is the earth laid on? And who laid the cornerstone of the earth? Again – God is picturing the earth as his handiwork. Like a builder, God created this place and everything. While Job wouldn’t even know the beginnings of how God did it.

And one reason that Job doesn’t know how it happened is because he wasn’t there. But God was, and he recounts that there was singing and great joy when he created the world. The morning stars and the sons of God sang and rejoiced when God created the earth.

This is the same group that was seen convening twice at the beginning of this book. And Satan appeared among them.

But God doesn’t mention that detail – the detail of how they all met in Job chapters 1 and 2. Instead, he points Job to a time when this group sang and rejoiced at God’s creative power.

Now, I do want to note that if God is putting the creation of the earth and angels singing in the same time frame… then we have a little bit of a problem. Either God created angels before the first day of creation. Or God here is just saying that he created the earth in the same general time frame as when he created angels.

Now, we’re not told specifically in Scripture when angels were created. I think the best we can do is to equate the creation of the angels with the creation of the heavenly bodies – which was day 4 of creation week.

So, I think it’s best to see God here speaking of the creation of the earth and the rejoicing of angels as happening in the same general time frame – that four day span of time between “in the beginning” and day 4 of creation week.

Anyway, this shows the glory of God’s creation – his power and his knowledge and his eternality. He is completely uniquely excellent – to the point where angels sing of his work.

But sometimes we human creatures see his work – especially when it’s maybe not as pleasant as we’d like – and we don’t sing. We gripe. We complain. We even question the wisdom and justice and goodness of this amazing God.

Job 38 Commentary: Q7: The Sea

Well, God moves on to ask Job about the sea.

8 Or who [shut up/enclosed] the sea with doors,
when it [brake/burst] forth, [as if it had issued/coming] out of the womb?

9 When I made [the cloud/a cloud/the storm cloud] the garment thereof,
and thick darkness [a swaddlingband for it/its swaddling band],

10 And [brake up for it my/I placed its/prescribed] [decreed place/boundaries/its limits],
and [set/set in place its] [bars/bolt/bolts] and doors,

11 [And/And I/when I] said,

[Hitherto/Thus far/To here] [shalt thou/you may] come, [but/and] no further:
and here shall thy proud waves [be stayed/stop/be confined]?

So, God pictures himself as setting limits on the sea. And what’s the answer to God’s question in verse 8? [read it…] God, of course. God set the limits on the sea. He even admits it eventually in verse 11.

God pictures the sea as having been born – along with imagery of new birth – issuing from the womb and swaddling bands.

God set those limits for the sea. And he sets limits for us as well. In Job’s life, he limited Satan’s attack on Job. And as a result, Job felt limited in his life and was dissatisfied about it.

But the sea isn’t dissatisfied with God’s limits. He puts those limits in place wisely. And we need to be like the sea in that respect – satisfied with the limits that God places on us.

Job 38 Commentary: Q8: Bring the Morning

Well, the next question that God asks is about bringing in the morning.

12 Hast thou commanded the morning [since thy days/ever in your life];
and [caused/made] the [dayspring/dawn] to know his place;

13 That it might [take hold of/seize] the [ends/corners] of the earth,
[that/and] the wicked [might be shaken/shake X] out of it?

14 [It/The earth] [is turned/is changed/takes shape] [as/like] clay [to the/under a] seal;
[and they/its features] [stand/stand forth/are dyed] [as/like] a garment.

15 [And/Then] from the wicked [their/the] light is [withholden/withheld],
and the [high arm/uplifted arm/arm raised in violence] [shall be/is] broken.

OK, so the answer to God’s question in verse 12 [read it…] is “no.” Job has not commanded the morning to come.

And catch what God says about what happens as a result of the morning coming. It shakes the wicked out of their place. And I think that’s God picturing the wicked as dwelling in darkness. They do their evil at night. But then God commands the dawn to spring forth and they need to disperse.

And as night turns to day, verse 14 happens – things look different. Things change. The appearance of everything – even temperature – changes as night turns into day time.

And again, God points to the effects that that has on the wicked. Even though he sends light on the earth, yet somehow he withholds light from the wicked.

And I think it’s interesting that God has noted that group of individuals – the wicked – twice in this section. God is acknowledging that he indeed does deal with the wicked. Job was starting to question that – whether God ever deals with these people!

But he does deal with them in his time according to his wisdom. And not how Job or his three friends think that God should deal with them.

Job 38 Commentary: Q9-10: Source of the Seas

So, not only can Job not make the morning happen, he also doesn’t experientially know anything about the source of the seas.

16 Hast thou [entered into/gone to] the springs [of/that fill] the sea?
or hast thou [walked/walked about] in the [search/recesses] of the [depth/deep]?

So, God says that there are springs of water that fill the sea. I’m not sure of the location of these springs. Is he saying that these springs are at the bottom of the seas or is he picturing them as on the land somewhere and the water from them flows into the sea?

Whatever the case, God is pointing beyond the springs to the idea that he himself fills the seas. And Job does not. If it was left in Job’s hands to fill the seas – or our hands, for that matter – the seas certainly would not get filled. We would have no clue what to do or how to do it.

And then God speaks of walking in the recesses of the deep. Has Job ever found himself walking around on the bottom of the ocean? Have you?

Well, with various achievements that humanity has made since the writing of this book, maybe you can go to the bottom of the ocean. That’s possible.

But God isn’t asking if you’ve gone to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine or some other vessel. He’s asking Job – and you – whether you’ve walked around down there. And actually, that would be an impossible feat – and I think it will be forever.

Why? It’s called “pressure.” Let me read for you something I found on the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/pressure.html]…

At sea level, the air that surrounds us presses down on our bodies at 14.5 pounds per square inch. You don’t feel it because the fluids in your body are pushing outward with the same force.

Dive down into the ocean even a few feet, though, and a noticeable change occurs. You can feel an increase of pressure on your eardrums. This is due to an increase in hydrostatic pressure, the force per unit area exerted by a liquid on an object. The deeper you go under the sea, the greater the pressure of the water pushing down on you. For every 33 feet (10.06 meters) you go down, the pressure increases by 14.5 psi.

Many animals that live in the sea have no trouble at all with high pressure. Whales, for instance, can withstand dramatic pressure changes because their bodies are more flexible. Their ribs are bound by loose, bendable cartilage, which allows the rib cage to collapse at pressures that would easily snap our bones.

And so, as God challenges Job regarding whether or not he’s been to the bottom of the seas, he’s really pointing to Job’s own limitations and frailty. Before we would even get close to the bottom of the seas our bones would snap!

And implied in all of these questions is an admission by God that he can do these things. That he has done them. Things that are so difficult or actually impossible for us – God does easily.

Job 38 Commentary: Q11-12: Death and Darkness

And most of what God has been asking Job about deals with things of this life – the earth, the sea, morning and dawn, and such.

But now God is going to ask Job about his knowledge of something that is at one time part of life in this sin-cursed world – but it’s also beyond this life. He’s going to ask Job about… death.

17 Have the gates of death been [opened/revealed] unto thee?
or hast thou seen the [doors/gates] of [the shadow of death/deep darkness/deepest darkness]?

What is death like? What will it be to have your physical body shut down operations?

That’s a pretty morbid question and therefore it’s one that we tend to not consider very deeply or often. And yet, even if we really wanted to know about death – what does it feel like? What’s on the other side of death? We don’t know those answers experientially. And finding anyone to answer those questions is impossible because everyone who has experienced death is not around anymore to answer questions!

But God knows about death. He’s the one who instituted it – because of sin.

And in the midst of God’s dealings in our lives we can feel like he’s messing up when it comes to our lives. And we even have opinions about our death – maybe you have a preference for how you’d like to die or when.

My grandma who is 89 years old and will turn 90 in November, Lord-willing, has expressed several times to various people that she just wants God – in her words – “to take” her. But he hasn’t yet. It’s not his time.

Can you figure out why God wouldn’t want to take the soul of an 89 year old woman who wants to die – but at the same time just over a year ago he took the life of one of the kids on the soccer team that I was coaching who was my oldest son’s good friend? So much life ahead of him – so much sorrow left behind – so many questions…

Questions… Why? Why all the questions? Because we don’t understand God’s ways.

But do you know who does understand God’s ways? You’ve got it – God does! God knows when people should die. He tells us in Ecclesiastes that there’s “a time to die.” But he tells us that that’s “in his time.” He has made all things beautiful in his time. But it’s his time and not ours.

And ultimately, we don’t know a thing about death – beyond what God has been pleased to reveal to us in his word. So, we can – and really have no other choice but to – trust him even with death.

Job 37 Commentary

Job 37 Commentary: The Effect of a Storm on Man…

But the coming storm also has an effect on man – and Elihu himself testifies to being personally moved at the approaching storm.

KJV Job 37:1 At this also my heart [trembleth/pounds],
and [is moved/leaps] [out of/from] [his/its] place.

2 [Hear/Listen] [attentively/closely to/carefully to] the [noise/thunder] of his voice,
[and/to] the [sound/rumbling] that [goeth/proceeds] [out of/out from/from] his mouth.

And up to this point I suppose I’ve been content to think of Elihu’s words for the last few verses as just speaking generically of the typical approaching storm and what tends to happen during such tempests.

But now Elihu is starting to express his own feelings in relation to this storm. And the way that he’s portraying it – you get the sense that the storm is rolling in – right now!

Now, we know that God is going to come to Job in a whirlwind – in a storm. Do you think that in these verses, Elihu has been acting as a herald of God’s approaching?

As Elihu is speaking here, is it reading too much into the text to imagine the sky darkening. And lightning starting to flash. And thunder beginning to roar. And Elihu is starting to become terrified. Because he now senses that the God whose work he’s been extolling is now coming to pay Job a visit.

It’s entirely possible that this is what’s happening at this point in Elihu’s speech. God is coming. And Elihu and Job and the three friends can’t help but notice that something strange is going on.

Job 37 Commentary: Lightning

Well, whether that’s what’s happening or not, Elihu continues by speaking once more of God’s work of lightning – which, again, he’s perhaps witnessing as God approaches Elihu, Job, and the three friends.

3 He [directeth it/lets it loose/lets it go] under the whole heaven,
and his lightning [unto the ends/to the far corners] of the earth.

Again, note the vast scope of God’s work of thunder and lightning. It goes all throughout the sky. For miles and miles. And it’s all by God’s command.

Job 37 Commentary: Thunder/Lightning

And so, Elihu continues to speak of God’s work of thunder and lightning.

4 After [it/that] a voice roareth: he thundereth with [the voice of his excellency/his majestic voice/an exalted voice];
and he [will not stay/does not restrain/does not hold back] [them/the lightnings/his lightning bolts] when his voice is heard.

And of course, in biblical poetry, thunder is given the alias of “God’s voice.” And most of the time, the writer is being metaphorical. It’s a sound that God makes through his storms. God’s sending the storm. He’s causing the thunder to roar. In that sense, the thunder is his voice.

And yet, with God literally approaching these men and with God ultimately speaking to Job in just a little while – when Elihu speaks of a voice roaring from God – this typically-poetic portrayal of God’s voice becomes absolutely literal.

God is going to speak in just a few verses!

Job 37 Commentary: Thunder and Other Great Things

And it’s that majestic and terrifying speech of God that Elihu now continues to extol.

5 God thundereth [marvelously/wondrously/in marvelous ways] with his voice;
great things doeth he, [which we cannot comprehend/beyond our understanding].

And so, it’s at this point that Elihu leaves the storm metaphor for a while.

And now Elihu wants to speak of other “great things” that God does. And he notes that these other things are beyond our understanding.

And let’s remember that both Job and his three friends have been speaking as if there’s nothing that God does that’s beyond our understanding.

The friends presume to know exactly how God always deals with the wicked – as if they know everything that he knows when he determines what he should do with such people.

And Job has been speaking as if he knows how God should treat him – as if Job knows every single factor that God is aware of as he decides how to deal with righteous people.

But Elihu says to all of these men – You don’t get it! There are many, many things that God does that we don’t understand. Stop acting as if you yourself are God and know everything. We don’t!

And let me ask you – what is one reality that we know of that neither Job nor the friends nor even Elihu know – as it relates to Job’s circumstances in this book? There’s something that happened at the beginning of this book that none of these men are factoring into why God is bringing suffering into Job’s life – but it’s the only reason that we’re aware of that God is sending the suffering… What is it? It’s Satan’s challenging God.

No one knows about that. God’s ways and his reasons for doing what he does are oftentimes beyond our knowledge! Case in point – Satan’s roll in Job’s suffering.

Job 37 Commentary: Snow/Rain

Well, here are two of these great things that God does that we ultimately don’t understand.

6 For he saith to the snow,
[Be thou on/Fall on/Fall to] the earth;

[likewise/and] to the [small rain, and to the great rain/downpour and the rain/torrential rains]
[of his strength/“Be strong”/“pour down”].

So, who determines where snow and rain should fall? It’s not the weather forecaster. It’s not any man. Ultimately, God decides where snow and rain fall.

And Elihu could well say, “Can you do that, Job? What about you, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar? No? Oh, so there are things that God does that you can’t understand… I wonder what else God might be doing in Job’s life that none of you understand.

And let’s apply this to ourselves. What is perplexing you right now? Is anything making you question God’s goodness or his wisdom?

Then you better take a cue from Elihu. Consider the fact that you can’t in any way make snow or rain fall. And there are numerous uncountable other things that God knows – and you don’t. And you and I can trust his wisdom – even when we don’t understand his ways in this world.

Job 37 Commentary: Men’s Work vs. God’s

Well, continuing on – if you’re a construction worker or someone who labors outside or someone who needs to commute anywhere for work – then you know what it’s like to have your work hindered by God’s unfathomable work.

7 He [sealeth up the hand of/causes X to stop working] [every man/everyone];
that all men may know his work.

So, he causes everyone to stop working through snow and rain. Why? So that everyone will pay attention – not to their own work – but to his.

And when we consider God’s work which is able to make it literally impossible for us to do ours – then we should take away from that circumstance that God is beyond us. Not only in terms of wisdom and knowledge and understanding. But also in terms of power and ability.

Job 37 Commentary: Beasts

And not only can God stop the work of humans. His work can also prevent animals from doing anything.

8 [Then the/The] [beasts/wild animals] go into [dens/their lairs],
and remain in their [places/dens].

So, the picture is – God works. Everyone is forced to stop. Man and beast. Nothing happens if God wills it so.

Job 37 Commentary: Storms and Cold

And God does this from every direction – north and south.

9 [Out of/From] [the south/its chamber] [cometh/blows] [the whirlwind/the storm/a tempest]:
and [icy…] cold [out of/from] the [north/driving winds].

So, storms and cold – the things that are ultimately beyond our understanding and that can be so effective in bringing all of our pursuits to a complete halt – those things God just throws at mankind from every which way – every direction.

It’s no problem for him. It doesn’t cause him great exertion to do this kind of thing. It’s easy.

Job 37 Commentary: Ice/Frozen Water

And then Elihu speaks more of the effects of the cold that God sends from the north.

10 By the breath of God [frost/ice] is [given/made/produced]:
and the [breadth/expanse] of the waters [is straitened/is frozen/freezes solid].

Frost and frozen water. Sounds like what we’ll be dealing with here in the next few months – even though this summer has been so hot and humid. Frost and ice are coming.

And when these things do come, remember who sent them.

And you might not like that he’s sending frost and ice. But remember – these are his works. And his thinking and understanding is beyond you.

So, when February rolls around and we’re all sick of the frost and the ice – do me a favor and remind me of this message.

Bur seriously, I hope that we can remember the sober teaching of this section of Scripture and really be content with what God gives us. Even when it’s frost and ice.

Job 37 Commentary: Clouds with Water/Lightning

Because ultimately, God will send precipitation once more – not as frost and ice – but as rain.

11 Also [by watering/with moisture] he [wearieth/loads] the thick cloud:
he [scattereth/disperses] [his bright cloud/the cloud of his lightning/his lightning through the clouds]:

So, once more, Elihu is back to speaking of clouds and lightning and rain. God’s work that is beyond our comprehension.

Job 37 Commentary: Clouds

And Elihu ends this sub-section on that note. These things – rain, snow, frost, ice, clouds, lightning, thunder – they may seem so mundane and boring and irrelevant to us.

But catch this – these works of God are carrying out God’s will and are acting according to God’s commands.

12 [And it is turned round about/It changes direction, turning around/The clouds go around in circles, wheeling about] [how and why?…] [by his counsels/by his guidance/according to his plans]:
[that they may do/to carry out] [whatsoever/all that] he commandeth them [upon/over] the face of the [world in the earth/inhabited earth/whole inhabited world].

So, God is in control. Even of mundane seemingly-irrelevant realities in this world. It’s not the atmosphere that dictates these things. It’s God. He uses the atmosphere. He influences the atmosphere. But it’s all ultimately his doing.

Job 37 Commentary: God’s manifold purposes

But why? Why does he bring rain or snow or whatever else?

Well, he often carries out his work in order to influence his human creatures.

13 He causeth it to [come/happen/find its mark],
whether [for correction, or/it is for punishment] for his [land/world], or [whether it is…] for [mercy/lovingkindness].

So, God works in ways that seem – as I’ve said – mundane or irrelevant. And yet, that is not how we ought to think about his work. He works through natural phenomena in order to deal with people. Like you and me.

He might send any of these things and do so in such a way as to constitute a correction for people.

Or he might do any of these things in order to show mercy to humans.

Either way, it’s his choice. And either way, it’s beyond our understanding.

And that’s where Elihu wants this to end for now. He wants the suffering Job to consider that every single way that God works is just and it has a reason behind it. But here’s the key – we very well might not understand that reason.

And that’s OK – when we have a God who understand everything. So, even when we don’t understand God’s ways – we can trust his wisdom as he leads us through this oftentimes perplexing life.

And I trust that this message from Elihu today will do just that for those of us who know him.


Job 37 Commentary: Elihu Finishes

So, here’s how Elihu finishes his long message to Job.

14 [Hearken/Listen/Pay attention] [unto/to] this, O Job:
stand still, and consider the [wondrous works/wonders] of God.

And so, from here to the end of this chapter Elihu is going to help Job – and us – consider the wondrous works of God.

Job 37 Commentary: Q1: Lightning

Here’s one of those works. God’s work of lightning.

15 [Dost thou/Do you] know [when/how] God [disposed/establishes/commands] them,
[and/how he] [caused/makes] [the light/lightning] [of his cloud to shine/flash in his storm cloud]?

And notice that as Elihu ends this chapter and speaks of God’s wondrous works, he starts asking Job questions.

And of course Elihu has asked a few questions in the last several chapters. But not in the same manner – one after the other like he’s going to ask of Job right now. In fact, we’ll see him ask four questions – one right after another – in the rest of this chapter.

And I think what’s interesting is that we’ll see later on that God picks right up after Elihu finishes. And God does basically the same thing that Elihu does – asking Job questions one right after the other, the answer to which of course Job doesn’t know.

So, back to this verse, Job doesn’t know how God deals with lightning. And certainly, Job can’t work with lightning like God does.

Job 37 Commentary: Q2: Clouds

Well, what else does Job not understand and what else does he have no power to influence? Clouds.

16 Dost thou know [about…] the [balancings/layers/balancing] of the clouds,
the [wondrous works/wonders/wondrous activities] of him [which/who] is perfect in knowledge?

17 [How thy/You whose] garments are [warm/hot],
when he [quieteth/stills] the earth [by/because of] the south wind?

So, how does God balance clouds? Why don’t they fall from the sky? Why do they seem to roll along as if they were on solid ground? Job didn’t know. We don’t either, ultimately.

But beyond that – can Job make that happen? Can he balance the clouds like God does?

So, if Job doesn’t even understand how to balance the clouds – then how could be possibly do it? The answer of course is that Job is powerless and without understanding when it comes to balancing clouds.

On the other hand, God knows how to do it and he does it – every day.

And in fact, Job is so frail compared to God that his clothes get hot when the south wind blows. That’s just a picture of Job’s weak and feeble nature as compared to the Almighty God’s nature.

Job 37 Commentary: Q3: Sky

And, Job is powerless also when it comes to the sky.

18 [Hast thou/Can you/Will you] with him spread out the [sky/skies/clouds],
[which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?/Strong as a molten mirror?/solid as a mirror of molten metal?]

19 [Teach/Tell] us what we shall say unto him;
for we cannot [order/arrange/prepare] [our speech/our case/a case] [by reason/because] of [the…] darkness.

So, Job is both powerless and completely without knowledge when it comes to spreading out the sky.

But God does it – every day. He knows how to make it happen and he is able to make it happen.

So, when it comes down to it, we’re really in the dark. That’s what Elihu says. In light of all that God knows and all that we don’t – how can we order a case before God to argue that he’s being unjust? We don’t understand and we’re powerless – and we presume to question God on his dealings in this world? How absurd!

Job 37 Commentary: Q4: Man

Well, the content of verse 19 – Elihu saying that Job needs to teach him and his friends what to say to God – that leads Elihu to another question – though it’s a bit different than the first three.

20 Shall [it be told him/he be informed] that I [would/want to…] speak?
if a man speak, surely he [shall/would] be swallowed up.

So, based on the fact that when it comes to all sorts of things in this life – God is the only one who really understands and is really able to do anything – does God really need to be informed that we have a complaint with how he’s running things around here? Does God really need to hear that we don’t appreciate what he’s doing? Does he really need to be bothered with the discontented complaining of his creatures who really can’t understand – let alone do – anything that he alone understands fully and can do perfectly?

And God would be justified in swallowing us up if we do that. The kind of complaining that Job had been doing – the accusations of God being unjust – are worthy of God just snuffing our your life.

Well, here’s another picture of humanity’s weakness compared to God’s strength.

21 And now [men see not the bright light/the sun cannot be looked at] which is [bright…] in the [clouds/skies]:
[but the/after a] wind [passeth/has passed/passed], and [cleanseth/cleared/swept away] [them/the clouds].

So, I think Elihu is saying that the clouds present a real hindrance to mankind. They even block our view of the sun – the brightest light in the sky to our eyes.

And yet it takes just a bit of wind to move those clouds along.

So, something that can be moved along by a light breeze poses such an obstacle for us. How weak mankind is – is the message.

On the other hand, God is all powerful.

22 [Fair weather/Golden splendor/In golden splendor he] cometh [out of/from] the north:
[with/around] God is [terrible/awesome] majesty.

23 [Touching/as for] the Almighty, we cannot [find him out/find him/attain to him]:
he is [excellent/exalted/great] in power, [and/but] [in judgment/justice], and [in plenty of justice:/abundant righteousness] he [will/does] not [afflict/do violence/oppress].

So, God is majestic, unknowable in some ways, powerful, full justice and righteousness, and always good.

Job would have been inclined to believe all of that before his trial. But as the trial has dragged on, he’s seriously questioned God’s justice and goodness.

But Elihu wants to finish strong here and affirm everything that Job knew to be true of God – when God was blessing him. The message is – God is still the same. Even when Job’s circumstances changed and it seems like God has changed – he really hasn’t. He’s the same good and just and powerful deity that Job has known and loved and served.

And so, Job needs to go back to this approach to God.

24 Men do therefore fear him:
he [respecteth/regards] not any that are wise of heart.

So, to not fear God is to be wise in your own heart. To reject being wise of heart is necessary to truly fear the Lord.

Job has become one of these who are wise of heart – at least, that’s how they view themselves. They know better than God. Job knows better how to run the world than God does. Job has put himself in the position where he feels that he can judge God.

Let that sink in. The godliest among us – like Job was – can get to the point where we feel like we can judge God. And from that position of judge, we can render a verdict regarding how God is doing. We can declare that God has done well in this area and that area – but we really don’t think he should have done that thing or the next thing.

And folks – that kind of thinking is so wrong. How can the judge be judged? How can the righteous one be found to be unrighteous in any way?

No – the moment we start thinking that God is wrong or is doing wrong – is the moment that we are wrong.

And that’s where Elihu rests his case. God is good and powerful and just – whether we want to acknowledge that in our lives or not.

Job 36 Commentary

Job 36 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 36.

In Job 36, we’re still hearing from this man named Elihu. And he’s still attempting to correct Job.

Job 36 Commentary: “listen to me” 1-4

So, Elihu begins by urging Job to listen to him.

KJV Job 36:1 Elihu [also proceeded, and said,/continued and said,/said further:]

2 [Suffer me a little/Wait for me a little/Be patient with me a little longer], and I will [shew/instruct] thee
[that I have yet to speak/that there is yet more to be said/for I still have words to speak] on God’s behalf.

3 [I will fetch/With] my knowledge [from afar/I will speak comprehensively],
and will ascribe righteousness to my [Maker/Creator].

4 For [truly/in truth] my words [shall not be/are not] false:
he that is [perfect/complete] in knowledge is with thee.

And embedded in Elihu’s plea for Job to listen to him is Elihu’s purpose. Elihu wants to “ascribe righteousness to” his Maker and Creator – to God.

Elihu believes that God has been – to use a common phrase these days – “thrown under the bus.” How is that?

Well, Job has been struggling to understand why he’s suffering. He has believed that if he’s righteous then God will continue to bless him. Instead, now Job is seeming to be punished – even though he’s still righteous.

And as we saw in this book – Job has an explanation for this and his three friends do, too.

The three friends say that Job has sinned and that’s why he’s getting punished.

But Job – for his part – has been starting to accuse God of doing wrong – of denying him justice.

And Elihu wants to set the record straight. God is righteous in all that he does. And so, that’s what Elihu is going keep doing in this chapter – ascribing righteousness to God.

Job 36 Commentary: argument 5-21

So, let’s investigate Elihu’s next point in this book. How is Elihu going to ascribe righteousness to God now?

5 [Behold/Indeed], God is mighty, [and/but] despiseth not [any/people]:
he is mighty [in strength and wisdom/and firm in his intent].

So, God is mighty. And Elihu could be saying that God is both mighty and that he doesn’t despise or think little of anyone – or he could be saying that despite God’s might, he still doesn’t think little of all the little people in this world.

Because the tendency of people in this world – if they’re strong – if so think little of those who are weak. But that’s not the way that God works. He is just in that sense.

So, that’s positive. But there’s a negative that Elihu wants Job to know about.

6 He [preserveth not the life of/does not keep alive/does not allow to live] the wicked:
but giveth [right/justice] to the [poor/afflicted].

So, God deals with the wicked and the poor in different ways. He doesn’t despise anyone – but at the same time he’s not going to give special protection to the wicked. Likewise, God gives justice to the poor and afflicted – which is what Job has been challenging – thinking that God has denied him justice. Elihu says, “Not so!

Then Elihu focuses-in on the righteous and how God treats them.

7 He [withdraweth/takes off] not his eyes from the righteous:
but with kings are [they/the righteous] on the throne;

yea, he doth establish them for ever,
and they are exalted.

So, not only does God not despise the righteous poor and afflicted people of this world, not only does he give them justice – but Elihu says that it’s as if God puts them on thrones alongside kings! God exalts them! And Elihu says that God does this for that kind of person forever!

But sometimes life is hard for these people. And Elihu says as much next. Sometimes those righteous whom God exalts – well, they experience affliction.

8 And if they be bound in [fetters/chains],
and [be holden/are caught/are held captive] [in/by the] cords of affliction;

9 Then he [sheweth/declares to/reveals to] them [their work/what they have done],
and their transgressions [,] that they [have exceeded/have magnified themselves/they were behaving proudly].

So, Elihu says that there are times – and he’s not saying that this is always the case necessarily – but sometimes a righteous person – whom God is so concerned about – sometimes a person like that is afflicted. Yes, Elihu says, that does happen in this life.

And when it happens, God is often gracious to let that righteous person know what sin he committed – how that person was acting proudly, for example.

And Elihu continues to paint the picture of God drawing a righteous man who has sinned back to himself graciously.

10 He [openeth also their ear/reveals this] [to/for] [discipline/instruction/correction],
and commandeth that they return from [iniquity/evil].

So, that’s what Elihu says about the righteous. God exalts them and favors them. But at the same time, he’s not going to ignore any sin that we commit.

Well, so that’s God’s approach to them. But how the righteous react to God’s treatment of them can take two different paths.

Here’s the first way that a righteous individual can respond to God’s painful dealings with him.

11 If they obey and serve him,

they shall [spend/end/live out] their days in prosperity,
and their years in [pleasures/pleasantness].

And by the way, that is of course how things end up for Job. He does obey and serve in response to God’s dealings with him. And he does end up spending the rest of his days in prosperity and pleasure.

But here’s the other possibility in terms of how the righteous will respond to God’s chastening of them.

12 But if they [obey not/do not hear/refuse to listen],

they [shall perish by the sword/pass over the river of death],
and [they shall die/expire] without knowledge.

So, that’s the second way that those who seem to be righteous can take to God’s painful dealings with them.

And such a person will prove that he’s not really righteous, but rather he’s given another term to describe him if he responds poorly to God’s chastening.

13 [But the/The] [hypocrites/godless] [in/at] heart [heap up/lay up/nourish] [wrath/anger]:
they cry not [when/even when] he bindeth them.

14 They die in [i.e., their…] youth,
and their life [is/perishes/ends] among the [unclean/cult prostitutes/male cultic prostitutes].

So, someone who appears to be righteous shows himself to actually be a godless hypocrite by not crying out to God when he’s in trouble.

And I want to emphasize that for us. God wants us to cry out to him in our afflictions. It’s not something that he wants us to grit our teeth and bear silently. He wants us to call out to him in those difficult times that he brings into our lives.

Because if a person doesn’t do that – doesn’t call out to God – Elihu says that that person is heaping up wrath. And God will sometimes kill a person like that when they’re young. Their end is totally shameful.

On the other hand though…

15 He delivereth the [poor/afflicted] [in/by] [his/their] affliction[s],
[and openeth their ears/he reveals himself to them] [in/by their] [oppression/suffering].

So, Elihu is saying that Job should take heart. God uses oppression and suffering to open our ears to his voice. And Elihu gives Job hope that God will deliver him even in the midst of his afflictions.

And that’s the positive message that he continues into verse 16.

16 [Even so/Then indeed/And surely] [would he have removed/he enticed/he drew] thee out of the [strait/mouth of distress] into a broad place, where there is no straitness;
and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.

So, Elihu holds out hope that God can and will deliver Job out of his situations that feel constricting and confining and uncomfortable – and that God will lead him out into a free, open, broad space as it were.

But God hasn’t done that for Job just yet. And Elihu thinks that that’s because Job has been focused on the wrong thing.

17 But thou [hast fulfilled/were full of/are preoccupied with] the judgment [of/due] the wicked:
judgment and justice take hold [on/of] thee.

So, because Job has been so concerned about the kind of treatment he thinks that he should be receiving and comparing that to what wicked men deserve, Elihu says that judgement and justice have taken told of him.

And that’s likely saying that God had brought judgement and justice upon Job – because Elihu goes on to talk about wrath in the next verse – perhaps the wrath that comes with God’s judgement and justice.

18 Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke:
then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.

NAU Job 36:18Beware that wrath does not entice you to scoffing;
And do not let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.

NET Job 36:18 Be careful that no one entices you with riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.

So, Elihu says that Job needs to be careful. God is already bringing some level of judgement and justice to bear on him. And if Job isn’t careful – if he doesn’t stop being so preoccupied with what the wicked deserve versus what he deserves – then there’s this wrath from God that might be ratcheted-up and there’s a real possibility that God will take Job away with the stroke of his discipline.

And if that were to happen, there’s no ransom – no amount of money – that can deliver Job.

And that’s what Elihu reemphasizes in the next verse.

19 Will [he esteem thy riches/your riches keep you from distress/your wealth sustain you so that you would not be in distress]?
[no, not gold, nor/even] all [the forces of strength/your might efforts].

So, nothing can deliver Job from God’s wrath. So, Elihu’s message to Job is to stop aggravating God by his constant comparing of his situation to what wicked people deserve.

And then Elihu seems to say that Job’s concern that others be judged is a dangerous preoccupation.

20 [Desire/Look for/Long for] not the [cover of the…] night,
[when people are cut off in their place/when people vanish in their place/to drag people away from their homes].

So, Elihu makes it sound as if Job is waiting for the cover of night in order to drag people off from their place. That’s Elihu’s way of saying that that’s what Job’s extreme concern that the wicked get their judgement in this life right away – amounts to.

And that might seem like an extreme statement – like, would Job really drag people away at night? But Elihu finishes this sub-section in this chapter by saying that Job has turned to evil in his affliction in other ways – so what he said is not so far-fetched.

21 [Take heed/Be careful], [regard not iniquity/do not turn to evil]:
[for this/for because of this] hast thou [chosen rather than/been tested by] affliction.

So, Elihu warns Job here. He pleads with him not to turn to doing evil. Elihu thinks that Job has already turned to it in his heart – and the prime example of that turning to evil for Elihu is when Job started questioning God’s justice in this world.

In Elihu’s mind, Job has chosen evil rather than to just take his affliction in stride.

And next time, we’ll pick up our study with the next verse as Elihu extols God’s awesome power.


What does your mind go to when you’re suffering? Do you question God’s goodness? Do you start to think that he might be dealing unjustly with you?

Well, as we’ve seen, the biblical character Job has allowed his mind to wander in these directions.

And if you’re guilty of doing the same thing that Job has done – questioning God’s goodness and justice when you’re suffering – well, the man named Elihu is going to tell you what to think about.

The big point that he makes in our text today is that when we’re suffering and tempted to question God’s character – we need to consider his work. We need to think about what God does. And when we do that, we can see that his work is ultimately beyond our understanding.

And what we need to learn from that is that if his work – which we can see – is beyond our understanding… then what else of what he’s doing – in your life – might be beyond your understanding?

So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 36 once more.

We’ll pick up Job 36 with the 22nd verse.

Job 36 Commentary: God is a powerful teacher

And it’s here that Elihu wants to remind Job that God is a powerful teacher.

22 Behold, God [exalteth by/is exalted in] his power:
who [teacheth/is a teacher] like him?

And this reminds us that one of Elihu’s main points through these few chapters in which he’s been speaking has been that God teaches us through our sufferings.

In addition, Elihu has maintained that God is sovereign. God himself brings the suffering to teach us. And he is both exalted in his power and he can exalt a person – when he pleases and in his perfect timing.

Job 36 Commentary: God is an unfailing sovereign

Elihu also wants to remind Job that God is an unfailing sovereign.

23 Who hath [enjoined/appointed/prescribed for] him his way[s]?
or [who can say/who has said/said to him], [] Thou hast [wrought iniquity/done wrong/done what is wicked]? []

So, no one has assigned God his tasks. God doesn’t have a supervisor. He is sovereign.

And you might know some people who – if left alone with no one to supervise them – they would do wrong. Well, of course, God is not that way. He has no supervisor – and yet even if he did, no one would ever be able to accuse him of doing wrong because he would never be inclined to do wrong.

Job 36 Commentary:  Job should magnify God’s work

And therefore, Elihu is going to remind Job that he needs to think about God’s work and magnify it.

24 Remember [that thou magnify/that you should exalt/to extol] his work,
[of…] which [men/people] [behold/have sung/have praised in song].

And Elihu wants to emphasize that last point – that people have beheld and praised God’s work.

25 [Every man/All humanity] [may see/has seen] it;
[man/people] [may behold/gaze on] it afar off.

And Elihu is going to go on to catalog numerous phenomena throughout this message that are properly characterized as God’s “work.”

Job 36 Commentary: God is great and infinite

But before he gets to that, Elihu declares that God himself is great and infinite.

26 [Behold/Yes], God is [great/exalted], [and we know him not/beyond our knowledge],
neither can the number of his years be searched out.

And so, catch Elihu’s approach.

Job is suffering. He’s consumed with figuring out why.

But Elihu comes along and says, “Forget that. Rather, consider God himself and what he does.” And the logic behind Elihu’s approach might not be all that apparent yet – but hopefully it will be throughout the message.

Job 36 Commentary: Rain

Well, at this point, Elihu starts cataloging God’s work that he thinks Job needs to consider as he’s suffering and struggling to know what God is up to.

So, he starts with rain.

27 For he [maketh small/draws up] the drops of water:
they [pour down rain according to the vapour thereof/distill rain from the mist/distill the rain into its mist]:

28 Which the clouds [do drop and /pour down]
[distil/they drip/and shower] upon man abundantly.

So, Elihu draws Jobs attention to the amazing water cycle. Water is drawn up from the earth into clouds. Then the clouds drop that rain back down onto the earth.

So, let me ask you a question. When you’re suffering and struggling with God’s justice in this world… have you ever considered… the water cycle?

I know, it sounds ridiculous at first. But this is how Elihu confronts Job and its how God is going to confront Job later on.

So, I say this in all seriousness and with every intention of doing this myself in the future – when you’re tempted to question God’s justice in this life think about God’s work. Think about the water cycle!

Job 36 Commentary: Clouds and Thunder

And here’s something that’s related to the water cycle that Elihu wants Job to consider in his suffering – God’s work concerning clouds and thunder.

29 [Also can any/Can anyone/Who can?] understand the spreadings of the clouds,
[or the noise/the thunderings] of his [tabernacle/pavilion]?

So, Elihu now goes beyond mentioning how God’s work of the water cycle works – and he starts asking questions.

Can anyone really understand the “spreadings of the clouds?”

Now, we learn in grade school that there are different kinds of clouds. They have different formations. And there are explanations for the conditions under which each type is formed.

But why? Why does a certain type of cloud form when there is a certain atmospheric condition?

Well, maybe it’s because of the specific temperature and altitude and so on…

But why? Why would the temperature and altitude have that effect on the clouds?

And as many answers come back to that question – they can all themselves be questioned. Ultimately – it’s like Elihu says – “who can understand the spreadings of the clouds?” The answer is – ultimately no one can. No human is able to thoroughly understand how God spreads his clouds.

Much less thunder. Thunder is amazing. It can be frightening – it can shock you out of your sleep. As a soccer coach the sound of thunder forces me to cancel practice or even a game.

And we’re told that the cause of thunder is the heat from lightning that expands the air around that lightning bolt. And that causes the sound of thunder.

But I have some questions about that!

Why does heat expand air? And why does expanding air cause a noise that’s so loud? And on and on.

No matter what we can explain with our present-day observation abilities – there are some things we just can’t explain and never will be able to.

But for God, this is all simple. In fact, he feels “at home” with these things. The clouds in the verse we just read are referred to as his tabernacle – his pavilion – where he dwells.

What an amazing God.

Job 36 Commentary: Lightning (High) and Seas (Low)

And so, next Elihu wants Job to consider something related to thunder. And that’s lightning – and then a little less related – the seas.

30 [Behold/See how], he [spreadeth/scattered] his [light/lightning] [upon/about] [it/him],
[and/he has] covereth the [bottom/depths] of the sea.

So, Elihu wants Job’s gaze to be turned upward and then downward.

Upward toward the clouds to catch a glimpse of the lightning that lights up God’s tabernacle – the clouds.

And downward to consider the incredible depths of the sea that God covers with water.

Now, the lowest point that we know of in the oceans is called the Mariana Trench – which is out in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam. The depth there reaches over 35,000 feet or over 6 ½ miles.

And people actually have gone that deep since the writing of the book of Job. And yet, the point that Elihu is making is not that man can never go that deep. The point that Elihu is making is that the scope of God’s work is extreme.

High as the clouds! Low as the depths of the sea! Miles high in the sky – miles low into the oceans!

Consider that the next time you’re dissatisfied with how God is working in your life. Consider the extreme scope of God’s work… when God’s ways aren’t making sense to you.

Hey – do you suppose that a God whose work is so high and so deep – ultimately beyond your comprehension in those ways – that he might be doing some work in your life in ways that are beyond your comprehension?

Job 36 Commentary: Judgement and Provision

Well, now at this point Elihu dips back in to the realm of mankind. He’s been calling Job’s attention and ours to God’s work in nature.

But now in the next verse he’s going to connect God’s work in nature with the effects that that work has when it comes to God’s human creatures.

31 [For/It is] by [them/these] judgeth he the [people/peoples/nations];
[he/and] [giveth/supplies] [meat/food] in abundance.

So, God can work with clouds in such a way that no rain falls. And that’s how God can judge nations – by not sending rain from those clouds of his.

But God can also provide abundantly for his human creatures – both through the rain that comes through clouds and waters crops and by the depths of the oceans that can provide food for people in the form of fish.

God uses water to both judge and to provide for the nations of the earth.

Job 36 Commentary: Clouds and Sun or Lightning

Well, next Elihu is going to turn his attention to God’s work in sending storms.

Here’s a depiction of how a storm begins…

32 With [clouds/his hands] he covereth the [light/lightning];
[and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt./And commands it to strike the mark./and directs it against its target.]

So, God causes clouds to cover the light. Isn’t that a pretty good description of what immediately precedes a storm?

A few other translations translate a few words differently and do different things with the italicized words in the KJV to make it sound like Elihu is describing the approach of lighting.

Either way – whether Elihu is speaking of clouds obscuring the sun or lightning striking the earth – he’s getting us ready for what is to come.

Job 36 Commentary: Heaven and Creatures Announce the Storm’s Approach

And that is – Elihu describing how both heaven and various creatures practically announce the approach of this storm.

Clouds obscure the light from the sun – or lighting starts striking the earth – as a storm approaches – verse 32 – and…

33 [The noise thereof/His thunder] [sheweth/declares/announces] [concerning it/his presence/the coming storm],
the cattle also [,] concerning [the vapour/what is coming up/the storm’s approach].

So, as a storm rolls in – the sky is a pretty good indicator to mankind as to what’s coming. The sky is dark. There’s thunder. All that.

But animals also get a sense of what’s coming.

And I remember as a kid when my parents had cats – it seems like cats – even though Elihu doesn’t mention them here – cats do seem to have a sense of when strange weather is coming. And certainly, cattle do as well – since they’re out in the field.

So, that’s the effect of this coming storm on both the sky and animals.

Job 35 Commentary

Job 35 Commentary: Sometimes we get the idea that God reacts to our sin or righteousness in predictable ways that make sense to us.

We might look at the effect and assume the cause. What I mean by that is we might witness ourselves or others being blessed and we assume that the cause for that blessing is that we somehow pleased God and that obliged him to do something good for us.

Or we might observe the cause and then assume what the effect will be. Under that system, we might see others sinning and we assume that God is going to really deal with them in this life. Because after all that makes sense to us. That person is sinning against God. That’s a personal offense to God. And he certainly won’t let that slide!

But those assumptions are faulty. God is above mankind and doesn’t need to immediately respond to us in kind. You’ve heard of the phrase, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” But you’ve never heard it from the lips of God.

And that is going to be the point of Elihu – the character in the book of Job whose words we’ve been taking in for the last several lessons in this book.

So, let’s turn our attention to the 35th chapter of the book of Job. Job chapter 35.

Job 35 Commentary: A Question

And here we see Elihu beginning this short chapter by asking a question intended to challenge something that Job said.

KJV Job 35:1 Elihu [spake moreover, and said,/continued and said,/answered:]

2 [Thinkest thou this to be right/Do you think this is according to justice/Do you think this to be just],
[that thou saidst/do you say/when you say],

My [righteousness/right] [is more than/before] [God’s/God]?

So, Elihu is saying that Job apparently asserted that he is more righteous than God. Either that, or Job is maintaining that he is right or righteous – and he’s doing that before God’s presence. Or Job is demanding his right – his fair hearing – in God’s presence.

Job 35 Commentary: Contradiction

And so, Job is asserting either that he’s more righteous than God or simply that he is righteous in God’s sight. But Elihu wants to challenge that assertion because of a few more statements that Job has made that seem to contradict what Job has insisted on.

How could a righteous man say the following things?

3 [For thou saidst/For you say/But you say],

What [advantage will it be unto/will it profit] thee? and,
[What profit shall I have/what do I gain], [if I be cleansed from my sin/more than if I had sinned/by not sinning]?

So, basically, Job – according to Elihu – is questioning how it even profited him to not sin.

How does that work?

Well, in Job’s mind, God works like this: you do good, you get good. You do bad, you get bad. Like my illustration at the start of this message.

What has Job done in his life? Good or bad? Good!

So, what does Job – in his mind – deserve as a result? Good or bad? Good.

But what has Job received from God’s hand? Good or bad? Bad.

But in Job’s mind, what kind of action calls for God to bring bad things into your life? Good works or bad works? Bad works call for bad things from God.

So, Job is looking at that situation and saying, “If I’m going to receive bad from God, then why did I strive to live such a righteous life? I might as well have done evil and I would have received the same result from God.

Job 35 Commentary: Look Up

And Elihu of course does not agree with Job on that point. And really – I’m pretty sure that Job under normal circumstances would have disagreed with that sentiment – that it doesn’t matter if you’re righteous of sinful.

And Elihu is now going to respond to that idea that Job has expressed. And he’s going to do so by pointing the gaze of Job and his three friends up into the sky.

4 I will [answer/reply to] thee,
and [to…] thy companions with thee.

5 [Look/Gaze] [unto/at] the heavens, and see;
[and behold/consider] the clouds [which/–they] are higher than thou[./!]

Now, certain types of clouds form higher than 39,000 feet [http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/cld/cldtyp/home.rxml]. That’s over seven miles. That’s the distance from Whitewater, WI to the south-east outskirts of Fort Atkinson, WI.

So, that’s a long distance when we’re speaking of miles from one city to another. And that’s a high altitude when we’re speaking of the distance from the earth to the clouds.

Those clouds are high. But there’s a being who is higher than those clouds. And that is God.

Job 35 Commentary: God is Unaffected

And as we’re going to see from the next few verses, Elihu’s point is that God is high – higher than those clouds – and he’s unaffected by what a person does so far below down on the earth that he’s created.

And that’s a point that both Job and his three friends need to hear – because they seem to have adopted the mindset that if you scratch God’s back, he’ll scratch theirs. That’s Retribution Theology – do good and God rewards because he owes you something basically, do bad and God punishes because you harmed him somehow.

But Elihu says that’s not how God works.

6 If thou [sinnest/have sinned], [what doest thou against/what do you accomplish against/how does it affect] [him/God]?
or if thy transgressions [be multiplied/are many], what doest [thou/it] unto him?

Now, other passages of Scripture indicate that the sins of God’s people do affect him in certain ways. He grieves over them. They make him angry. A book like Jeremiah is full of references to God reaching a limit of patience regarding the sins of his people – and subsequently needing to punish the sin and the sinners.

But in an abstract way, I suppose that we can say that sin does not affect God negatively. They don’t hurt him. They don’t detract from him or his glory or his holiness in any way. They don’t take away from his person at all.

So, that’s what Elihu says that Job’s sins don’t do.

Job 35 Commentary: Righteousness

But further, Elihu states what Job’s righteousness doesn’t accomplish.

7 If thou be righteous, what [givest thou/do you give to] him?
or what receiveth he of thine hand?

So, sinning doesn’t take anything away from God – who is higher than the clouds. And in contrast, being righteous doesn’t add anything to this lofty God.

We don’t complete God by being righteous. Doing good as one of God’s creatures doesn’t somehow add to God’s perfections. We don’t make him better in any way by being good.

So, that’s what Elihu says that Job’s sins and righteousness do not accomplish. They don’t affect God in any meaningful way.

Job 35 Commentary: Good and Evil Affect Men

But instead, a person’s wickedness or righteousness might affect himself.

8 Thy wickedness [may hurt/affects only] a man [as thou art/like yourself];
and thy righteousness [may profit the son of man/only other people].

So, a person’s righteousness or wickedness isn’t some big liability or asset to God. But they might be so to another person.

And that’s correct. When a person sins, that sin usually affects someone else. And when a person is righteous – he’s loving his neighbor – and therefore at least his neighbor experiences some benefit from that behavior.

And while God wants people to be righteous and not wicked – it ultimately doesn’t harm or benefit him either way. God is fine – whether people are good or bad.

That’s the first response that Elihu gives to Job’s assertion that it doesn’t matter if a person sins or not – since Job feels like he is receiving the punishment that sinners deserve – even though he himself was righteous. Elihu just points Job to the sky and pictures God as above those high clouds and says that ultimately your actions don’t affect God.

And I think that Elihu is getting at is that God’s dealing with Job may have nothing to do with Job’s personal sin or his righteousness. And if that’s what Elihu is saying, then he’s absolutely right. God sending suffering into Job’s life had nothing to do with Job’s behavior. It involved realities that neither Job, nor his friends, nor even Elihu knew about.

And so Elihu starts by saying that God’s dealings with people doesn’t need to be based on their own behavior.

And that’s quite a departure from what Job’s friends – and even Job himself – had been asserting. All four of them have been convinced that a person’s behavior always moves God to deal with that person in-kind. You do evil – you get evil. You do good – you get good.

And that is often the case. But not always. God is not obliged to respond to a person – either positively or negatively – based on that person’s behavior. He can repay evil for evil. But oftentimes he doesn’t. God can also repay good for good to a person. But at the same time, he’s not obliged to do so.

So, that’s Elihu’s first response to Job in this chapter.

Job 35 Commentary: Second Response

So, let’s see what else Elihu says.

And here’s how he starts his second response in this chapter – by painting a picture for us of poor helpless people being oppressed by those who are powerful in this world.

9 [By reason/Because] of the [multitude/excess] of oppressions [they make the oppressed to cry/they cry out/people cry out]:
they cry [out/for help] [by reason/because] of the [arm/power] of the mighty.

And this is a reality in this life – in both Job’s days and in our own time. Sinful people with power often abuse those who have no power.

This is not how God intended it in the beginning. It’s a situation that Job and his friends have all decried and denounced. It’s a situation that should bother us as well.

Job 35 Commentary: Not Seeking God

Nevertheless, these poor abused people who are crying out – far too often they’re not crying to the right source. They’re not seeking help from God.

10 But [none saith/no one says],

Where is God my [maker/Creator],
who giveth songs in the night;

11 Who teacheth us more than the [beasts/wild animals] of the earth,
and maketh us wiser than the [fowls/birds] of [heaven/the sky]?

So, God is the one who gives joy. He gives “songs in the night.” Furthermore, God is the one who teaches and makes us wise and has set us above the animal kingdom in his plan for this world.

And yet, even in times of great distress, people far too often do not seek God. We try to find solutions of our own making. In our troubles, we don’t turn to the one bringing that trouble – the one who alone is able to do anything about our trouble.

Job 35 Commentary: God Won’t Act

And because of that pride, God isn’t inclined to do anything for that kind of person.

12 [There/Then] they [cry/cry out], but [none giveth/he does not] answer,
because of the [pride/arrogance] of [evil men/the wicked].

So, the very people who are oppressed by evil powerful men – are now themselves identified as evil. Why? Because they don’t seek God in their trials and afflictions.

Job 35 Commentary: Defending God’s Inaction

And God can’t be expected to respond to these people by delivering them from their problems when they’re not even crying out to and seeking him.

13 Surely God will not [hear/listen to] [vanity/an empty cry],
neither will the Almighty [regard/take notice of] it.

So, Elihu asserts that God refuses to hear the cry of people who are in distress – but in that distress they don’t seek after God and don’t seek his help and don’t recognize him as the one who gives joy and wisdom.

Job 35 Commentary: Job is Being Treated this Way

And therefore, Job shouldn’t be surprised at the way that God is treating him.

14 [Although/How much less when] thou sayest thou [shalt not see/do not behold/do not perceive] him,
[yet judgment/the case/that the case] is before him; [therefore trust thou in/and you must wait for/and you are waiting for] him.

So, Elihu says that Job is claiming to not be able to see or find God. So, Job is at least looking for God – unlike the people in Elihu’s story who were crying out but not even seeking God.

And Elihu said that God won’t answer cries that are not directed to him. Well, Job is crying and he’s directing those cries to God.

And because of that, Elihu encourages Job to wait for God – to trust in God. Why? Because judgement is before him – the case is before him.

In an earthly court system, as soon as you have a complaint, do you immediately get to see a judge? No. Sometimes it takes weeks or months to get a court date set. But – rest assured – you will get your date in court and you will be heard by the judge.

And that’s what Elihu is saying – just wait for God. The judgement is before him. He’s taking note of everything. He’s even noted that you’re crying out to him. Therefore, he won’t delay forever. But he’s not working on your timeline. So, wait for him. Trust in him to make things right in his time.

Job 35 Commentary: Not Punishment

And then Elihu seems to attack the idea that Job’s suffering has to be identified as God’s punishing him.

15 [But/And] [now/further], [because/when you say] [it is not so, he hath/he has not] [visited/punished] in his anger [his anger doesn’t punish…];
[yet he knoweth it not in great extremity/and he doesn’t know transgression]:

And that verse is a difficult one to interpret. But it seems that Elihu is saying that God is not visiting or punishing in his anger in Job’s life. Job’s suffering is not necessarily God’s anger poured out on him.

And then either God or Job doesn’t know something “in great extremity.” I think he’s saying perhaps that Job doesn’t know something.

What doesn’t Job know? Job doesn’t know that God is not punishing Job in anger.

Job 35 Commentary: Conclusion

And because of all of this…

16 [Therefore/So] doth Job open his mouth [in vain/to no purpose];
he multiplieth words without knowledge.

And God actually repeats Elihu’s words here – that Job multiplies words without knowledge. And so, we know that Elihu is correct on that point.

And I think he’s been correct on the rest of the points that he’s made in this chapter, too.

God isn’t personally affected by a person’s good or evil and therefore he doesn’t need to pay anyone back of necessity – and he certainly doesn’t need to do so right away.

When people are afflicted, they often do not turn to God for help. But Job is turning to God for help and therefore, Job needs to trust in and wait for God.

Job needs to be assured that he’s not being punished by God.

And ultimately, all that Job has said about it not mattering whether one sins or lives righteously – all of that is vain – empty – purposeless. Job has been talking a lot – but in this area he’s speaking without knowledge.

And we’ll hear more from Elihu in the next chapter next time.

Job 34 Meaning

Job 34 Meaning: It’s a sad reality that in our times of suffering, it’s all too common – as we’re grasping for answers and struggling to be content with our situation – to suspect that God has gotten something wrong. We might ask, “why, God?” And sometimes – though we would be embarrassed to say it – that question is really revealing that in our hearts we’re questioning God’s justice – we’re questioning whether he’s doing right in our situation.

And we’ve seen Job do just that in this book that we’ve been studying. And what we’re going to see today is that this relatively new character – Elihu – take great issue with Job’s assertion that god is being unjust.

So, let’s turn our attention to Job 34.

And Elihu here begins this chapter with an appeal for Job and his three friends to listen to him.

KJV Job 34:1 [Furthermore/Then] Elihu [answered/continued] and said,

2 [Hear/Listen to] my words, [O ye/you] wise men;
[and give ear unto/and listen to/hear] me, [ye that have knowledge/you who know/you learned men].

And we’re not given any reason to believe that Elihu is being sarcastic or disrespectful in any way. He is addressing these men – probably all four of them – Job and his three friends – as “wise” and ones that have “knowledge.”

And Elihu acknowledges that what he says is open for their evaluation.

3 For the ear [trieth/tests/assesses] words,
as the [mouth/palate] tasteth [meat/food].

So, just like a person can taste food and determine whether it’s good or not – Elihu claims that these men should be able to listen to what he’s saying and determine whether or not it’s right.

And then he encourages all of these men – and himself included – to believe and practice what is right in terms of what he’s been saying and what he will be saying in this chapter.

4 Let us [choose/evaluate] [to us/for ourselves] [judgment/what is right]:
let us [know/come to know] among ourselves what is good.

And I admit to personally being on the fence regarding how to think about Elihu. It’s more comfortable to not come down on what he’s saying as either right of wrong.

But if Elihu were sitting right here, he would strongly disagree with that approach. Elihu doesn’t want you and me to be neutral about what he’s saying. It’s either right or wrong. And he asserts that we are able to evaluate what he says and to render a judgement.

And if Elihu is right – then he wants Job and his friends to adopt his mindset and thoughts about Job’s situation.

And the words that Elihu wants Job and his three friends to test are now what Elihu will be talking about in the rest of this chapter.

And just like Elihu’s first speech, in this – his second speech – he’ll be starting with what he’s heard Job saying.

5 For Job [hath said/says],

[] I am [righteous/innocent]:
and God [hath taken/turns] away my [judgment/right].

6 Should I lie [against/concerning] my right?

my wound is incurable
[although I am…] without transgression. []

So, Job has maintained that he is righteous and innocent of all crimes that he thinks would move God to punish him in the way that Job perceives himself to be being punished. And that much is fine for Job to say.

But Job has gone further than that. And he’s claimed that God has taken away his judgement or his justice.

And we all closely identify with Job’s struggles and feelings and temptations. And I think that we would tend to overlook statements made by Job that are a little over-the-top and inaccurate in various ways.

But Elihu is not going to cut Job any slack on this matter of his accusing God of denying Job justice.

And actually, Elihu goes on to harshly accuse Job of scorning God and joining hands with wicked people in verses 7 and 8.

7 What man is like Job,
who [drinketh up/drinks] [scorning/derision] like water?

8 [Which/He] [goeth/goes about] in company with [the workers of iniquity/evildoers],
[and walketh/he goes along] with wicked men.

So, Elihu is claiming that Job drinks up derision like someone would drink water. That is, it comes very naturally to Job. It’s something that he does repeatedly and without much thought. Job scorns God often and with very little effort. That’s according to Elihu.

And Elihu is not saying in verse 8 that Job is a wicked man. That’s what Job’s three friends were claiming – that Job actually is wicked. But instead Elihu is saying that Job is acting like wicked men. He goes about – as it were – in the company of evildoers.

Job himself is not wicked. But according to Elihu Job is acting like he’s wicked. And that’s because Job is saying that God is not being just with him.

And then Elihu reports that Job has gone even further and claimed that there’s no point in finding your delight in God.

9 For he [hath said/says],

[] It profiteth a man nothing
[that/when] he [should delight himself/is pleased/makes his delight] with God. []

So, worshiping God – according to Job – is not profitable.

Now, the fact is that I can’t find Job saying this anywhere. I can’t even figure out what Elihu might be paraphrasing from what Job has said.

I suppose this is a logical conclusion of what Job is asserting. If God perverts justice against one who delights in him then – yes – I suppose the conclusion of that reality would be to recognize that it doesn’t profit a person to delight in a God like that.

You delight in him. He turns around and mistreats you. That’s the picture that Job is basically painting.

And so, that is very unsettling to Elihu. And, he demands once more that these men listen to him.

10 Therefore [hearken unto/listen to] me,
ye men of understanding:

And, Elihu is going to do his best to vindicate God.

far be it from God, [that he should do/to do] wickedness;
and from the Almighty, [that he should commit/to do] [iniquity/wrong/evil].

And if Job is accusing God of wickedness, then – yes – we all disagree with him on that point. And that’s how Elihu is interpreting Job’s words. Job is asserting that God is doing wickedly – that he’s committing iniquity. And that’s just plain wrong.

No – in fact – God is totally just and he treats men according to what they deserve…

11 For [the work of a man shall he render unto him/he pays a man according to his work/he repays a person for his work],
and [cause every man to find according to/he causes the consequences to find him] [ß à] [his ways/the conduct of a person].

So, God treats each person the way that that person deserves to be treated.

And even if it seems to Job’s eyes like he’s suffering for no reason – and that God is not treating him the way that he deserves – Elihu goes on to say that God always does right.

12 [Yea, surely/Surely/Indeed, in truth] God [will/does] not [do/act] wickedly,
[neither will/and] the Almighty [pervert/does not pervert] [judgment/justice].

And so, once again Elihu denies Job’s claim that God is perverting or denying justice to Job.

And we might not be as offended by that insinuation as Elihu is – that God is denying justice to Job. But Elihu is now going to spell out why that accusation is so troubling to him – and should be to us.

13 Who [hath given/gave/entrusted to] him [a charge/authority] over the earth?
[or/and] who [hath disposed/has laid on him/put him over] the whole world?

So, the fact is that God must do right. If he doesn’t, who’s going to call him to account? No one put him in charge of the world. He’s just always been in that position. And to question the justice of the only one who has the right to rule this place is absurd.

We are truly completely dependent upon his grace and mercy – and, yes, his justice!

14 If [he/God] [set his heart upon man/should determine to do so/were to set his heart on it], [do what?…]
if he [should…] gather [unto himself/in] his spirit and his breath; [God’s, I think, not man’s…] [what would happen?…]

15 All flesh [shall/would] perish together,
and [man/human beings] [shall turn again/would return] [unto/to] dust.

So, how dependent we are on God! We can rest assured that he’s going to always do what is right. But really, if he wanted to do anything he pleased – no one could stop him. And how thankful we all are that God always acts according to his character – and his character is always just.

Well, that idea of God’s absolute sovereignty over mankind sets Elihu off to once again appeal for these men to listen to him.

16 If [now thou hast/you have] understanding, [hear/listen to] this:
[hearken to/listen to/hear] [the voice of my words/the sound of my words/what I have to say].

And Elihu’s words are going to probe how Job could think that there would be any way for God to rule if he were unjust?

17 [Shall/Do you really think that] [even he that hateth right/one who hates justice] [govern/rule/can govern]?
and wilt thou [condemn/declare guilty] [him that is most just/the righteous mighty one/the supremely righteous one]?

So, it seems like Elihu is appealing to Job’s reason and really attacking Job’s questioning of God’s justice. Like – how could you really in your heart of hearts believe that God – the sovereign – the ultimate – that he would really be unjust?! People condemn the wicked. But you’re proposing to condemn the only being with no trace of wickedness! Do you see the impropriety of what you’re saying??

And then Elihu points out the fact that Job wouldn’t accuse a human ruler of unrighteousness to his face – and yet, he’s going to do that to God??

18 [Is it fit to say/Who says] to a king, [Thou art wicked/Worthless one/Worthless man/Belial]?
and to [princes/nobles], [Ye are ungodly/Wicked ones/Wicked men]?

No – it’s not fit to say those things to those people. We submit to rulers and authorities.

Well then… why would you accuse God of injustice?

19 [How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of/Who shows no partiality to] princes,
[nor regardeth/and does not take note of] the rich [more than/above] the poor?

for they all are the work of his hands.

So, God is going to be just to both rich and poor. He’s not impressed with princes. He’s not despising the poor. Because he made them both.

And in contrast to the eternal God, mankind – whom God has created – is momentary and temporary.

20 In a moment [shall they/they] die,
and the people [shall be troubled/are shaken] at midnight, and pass away:
and the mighty [shall be taken away/are removed] [without hand/without a hand/effortlessly].

And so, while Job would never accuse a king or prince of injustice – one of these guys who was made by God – Job is straying into the arena of accusing that very God … who created those people … whom Job would not dare accuse of injustice…

But the reality is that these kings and princes very well might have clouded judgement. But the same is absolutely untrue of God. God sees and knows all – especially in regard to the people that he’s created.

21 For his eyes are upon the ways of [man/an individual],
and he [seeth/observes] all his [goings/steps].

22 There is no darkness, nor [shadow of death/deep shadow],
where [the workers of iniquity/evildoers] [may/can] hide themselves.

And because of that, God doesn’t even need to take time to consider whether or not to punish people who do wrong. He just knows and doesn’t need time to discover the facts like a human judge would.

23 For he [will not lay upon man/does not need to consider a person] [more than right /further/still];
that he should [enter into judgment with God/come before God in judgement].

So, God doesn’t need any time to consider a person to know if he should be brought into God’s presence to be judges. God just knows perfectly who needs what. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him. He also knows the completely correct course of action for each of us without even needing to ask or consider what to do.

And God knows exactly whom to depose from power in this life and whom he would like to raise up to take the place of those people.

24 He [shall break in pieces/shatters] [mighty men/the great] without [number/inquiry],
and [set/sets up] others in their [stead/place].

And notice the emphasis on God doing these things “without number” as the KJV presents it – or “without inquiry.” In other words, God doesn’t need to search out a matter like a human king does. No – God knows everything without the need to inquire or ask questions.

And because of that infallible knowledge, God alone is able to deal with people according to his justice.

25 Therefore he knoweth their [works/deeds],
and he [overturneth/overthrows] them in the night,

[so that/and] they are [destroyed/crushed].

So, God can overthrow mighty men whose deeds displease him in the night – when no one is watching.

But God can also take care of these people openly.

26 He striketh them [as wicked men/like the wicked/for their wickedness]
in [the open sight of others/a public place/in a place where people can see];

And Elihu is going to return to a concept he said at the beginning. He’s said in this chapter that God justly deals with people according to their deeds. They earn punishment – they get it.

And so, these people that Elihu has been highlighting that get overthrown at night and struck in public by God – this happens to them for a reason. It’s because their deeds are evil.

So, why does God chasten and punish these people?…

27 Because they [turned back/turned aside/have turned away] from [him/following him],
and [would not consider/had no regard for/have not understood] any of his ways:

And here’s an example of their wickedness that calls God to act…

28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come [unto/before] him,
[and/and that/so that] he [heareth/might hear/hears] the cry of the [afflicted/needy].

And God doesn’t answer for his behavior and choices with people or nations…

29 [When he/But if God] [giveth quietness/keeps quiet/is quiet], who [then can make trouble/then can condemn/can condemn him]?
[and when/if] he hideth his face, who then can [behold/see] him?

whether it be done against a nation,
or against a man only:

So, Elihu has been speaking of how God deals with individuals – with “a man only” – for most of this chapter. But he just now in that last verse mentioned how God deals with nations.

And so, now Elihu is going to declare that God acts in the affairs of nations. And he does so in order to prevent wicked people from ruling and leading people astray…

30 [That/So that] [the hypocrite/godless men] [reign not/would not rule],
[lest the people be ensnared/and not lay snares for the people].

And God is doing all of this – bringing trouble – chastening – he’s doing this all justly according to what everyone deserves. And he’s doing these things with the repentance of these people and nations in mind.

31 [Surely it is meet to be/Has anyone?] said unto God,

I have [borne/endured] chastisement,
[but…] I will not [offend/act wrongly] any more:

32 That which I [see not/cannot see] teach thou me:
if I have done [iniquity/evil], I will do no more.

So, Elihu seems to be leading Job in a model response to God’s chastisement. The right response to God’s just – but sometimes painful – actions in your life is to repent. Be humble. Admit where you’ve done wrong. Be teachable. This is what Elihu says that God is looking for.

But in Elihu’s mind, Job is not taking this posture with God. And I’m going to read this next verse from the KJV and then from two other versions to help us understand what Elihu is saying.

33 Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it,
whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I:

therefore speak what thou knowest.

NAU Job 34:33 “Shall He recompense on your terms, because you have rejected it?
For you must choose, and not I;

Therefore declare what you know.

NET Job 34:33 Is it your opinion that God should recompense it, because you reject this?
But you must choose, and not I,

so tell us what you know.

So, I gather from this verse that Elihu is asking Job whether he really thinks that God needs to act according to Job’s own thoughts and preferences. After laying out how God acts justly, Elihu is expecting that Job will see how foolish it is for him to expect God to act in keeping with how Job thinks he ought to act.

But Elihu is giving Job a choice. Job can accept what Elihu says about God acting justly in this life according to peoples’ deeds. Or Job can reject what Elihu is saying. The choice belongs to Job.

And if Job does plan to reject – then Elihu would like to know what Job thinks on the matter.

But since Job doesn’t answer Elihu ever – therefore, Elihu will now declare that everyone who is wise will disagree with what Job says about God being unjust…

34 [Let men/Men] of understanding [tell/will say to/say to] me,
[and let a/and a/any] wise man [hearken unto/who hears/listening to] me [says…].

35 [] [Job hath spoken/Job speaks/that Job speaks] without knowledge,
and his words [were/are] without [wisdom/understanding].

36 [My desire is that Job/Job/But Job] [may/will/ought to] be [tried/tested] [unto/to] the [end/limit]
because [of his/he/his] answers [for/like/are like those of] wicked men.

37 For he addeth [rebellion/transgression] unto his sin,
he clappeth his hands [among us/in our midst],
and multiplieth his words against God. []

So, either verses 35-37 is what the men in verse 34 are saying – or Elihu is personally speaking verses 36 and 37 and is expressing a desire for Job to be judged for his statements. Either way, Elihu ends this chapter with no uncertainty as to what he thinks of Job’s asserting that God is withholding him justice – that God is not being righteous with Job.

And there are things that Elihu has said and will say that I just don’t know if they’re right or not. And yet, I do know that at key points and in important ways, what Elihu is saying is right. God will repeat several of the things that Elihu brings up – so in at least those ways, Elihu is right.

And one of those key areas in which Elihu is right is that Job – by holding to his own innocence and starting to question how a righteous God who punishes evil and rewards good could still be righteous and yet punish him for doing good.

Elihu says that questioning God’s justice is off-limits. It’s not an option on the table.

And for us, brethren, when we experience suffering in this life – let me just plead with all of us to not question God’s justice. Never doubt that God is right and that he’s wise. We might not understand God’s ways. But we must trust his wisdom.

And I look forward to continuing to receive this kind of admonition next time as Elihu continues his discourse.

Job 33 Commentary

Job 33 Commentary: People say things about God and other people that just aren’t right. 

And when we hear people saying those kinds of things, we’re often compelled to speak in defense of God or those other people. 

And that’s the position that the biblical character Elihu finds himself in in the 33rd chapter of the book of Job.  

So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 33. 

1-7 Job Should Listen to Elihu 

We enter this chapter with Elihu requesting that Job listen to him. And that’s really the gist of what he says for the first seven verses of this chapter. 

KJV Job 33:1 [Wherefore/However now/But now], Job, [I pray thee, hear/please hear/listen to] my [speeches/speech/words],
and [hearken/listen] to [all my words/everything I have to say]. 

Then, Elihu requests that Job take notice that he’s speaking to him. 

2 [Behold/See], now I [have opened/open] my mouth,
my tongue [which] [hath spoken/speaks/has spoken] in my mouth. 

And Job should listen, because Elihu promises that both the source and the content of his speech are pure and good. 

3 My words [shall be of/are from/come from] the uprightness of my heart:
and my lips [shall utter/speak/will utter] knowledge [clearly/sincerely]. 

And then Elihu tells Job that the God who alone gives wisdom created him. 

4 The Spirit of God hath made me,
and the breath of the Almighty [hath given/gives] me life. 

And we remember that Elihu in the last chapter (Job 32:8) declared that it’s not just old age that guarantees that a person is going to be wise. The greater your age does not necessarily indicate that your wisdom will be greater than those younger than you. That’s what Elihu claimed. 

Instead, Elihu said that it’s the Spirit of God that gives wisdom. The breath of the Almighty gives understanding. 

And so, Elihu is saying here in this verse that God made – God, who alone gives wisdom – created Elihu. And I think that Elihu is implying that since the God who gives wisdom made him, then Job ought also to listen to the wisdom that God has given him. 

And then Elihu challenges Job to respond to his words, if Job is able. 

5 [If thou canst/If you can] [[Symbol] [Symbol]]  me,
[set thy words/Array yourselves/Set your arguments] in order before me, [stand up/take your stand]. 

And even though this might be sounding like Elihu feels superior to Job, Elihu is now going to remind Job that they are on the same level. 

6 [Behold/Look], I am [according to thy wish/just like you] in [God’s stead/relation to God]:
I [also/too] [am/have been] [formed out of/molded from] the clay. 

And the way that the KJV translates the first part of that verse, it sounds like Elihu is saying that Job wants to speak to a man like him rather than to God.  

But of course, that’s not what Job has been saying at all. He’s been demanding God to personally respond to his complaints.  

And so, I think the alternative translation is preferable – because it’s possible grammatically – and makes a lot more sense in the context. 

So, Elihu is saying that both of these men – Job and Elihu – are in the same position – of being creatures before God. Neither is superior to the other. They’re both made of clay. 

And because Elihu is on the same level as Job – Job shouldn’t be afraid of him. 

7 [Behold/Therefore], [my terror shall not/no fear of me] [make thee afraid/should terrify you],
[neither/nor] [shall/should] my [hand/pressure] [be/weigh] heavy upon thee. 

And what Elihu might be implicitly acknowledging here is that if God were to come to Job and speak, Job would be terrified. But Job should be glad that Elihu has come – rather than God – because Elihu is just a man and won’t terrify Job. 

So, in a way – at least according to Elihu – Elihu’s presence and words should be welcomed by Job – because the alternative would be for God to come and bring the pressure to bear upon Job. 

But of course, we’ll see later on that apparently both Elihu and God are needful for Job to hear from. 

So, that’s how Elihu ends these first 7 verses of this chapter – in brief, he wants Job to listen to him. 

8-33 

Well, now that Elihu has established that Job should welcome him and listen to what he has to say, Elihu is going to take issue with a few things that Job has said throughout this book. 

8 [Surely/Indeed] thou hast [spoken/said] in mine hearing,
and I have heard the [voice/sound] of thy words, saying, 

9-12 Elihu Summarizes What Job Has Said 

And here’s what Elihu reports that Job has said. And he’s going to list them out in verses 8-12. 

First, in verse 9 Elihu says that Job has claimed total innocence. 

9 I am [clean/pure,] without transgression,
am [innocent/clean]; neither is there [iniquity/guilt] in me [i.e., and I have no guilt…]. 

And Job has indeed said things like that – in Job 9:21; 10:7; 23:7; 27:4; ch. 31. [NET] 

So, Job has maintained his total innocence. 

But God on the other hand – according to Job – is making up false reasons to punish him. 

10 [Behold/Yet], [he/God] [findeth/invents] [occasions/pretexts] [against/with] me,
he [counteth/regards] me [for/as] his enemy, 

And Job has said things similar to what we just read – in Job 10:13ff.; 19:6ff.; and 13:24. [NET] 

And so, Job is innocent. But God is inventing pretexts by which he can punish Job. And here’s the kind of treatment that Job says that he’s receiving from God as a result. 

11 He putteth my feet in [the stocks/shackles],
he [marketh/watches/watches closely] all my paths. 

And Job did say this kind of thing in Job 13:27. [NET] 

So, Elihu summarizes what Job has said: Job is innocent of any sin. God is making-up accusations against Job. And then God executes punishment based on those made-up accusations. 

12-30 Elihu Answers Job’s Claims 

But Elihu takes issue with what Job has said. 

12-14 We Can’t Understand God’s Ways 

To begin, Elihu reminds Job of God’s greatness. 

12 [Behold/Now], in this thou art not [just/right]: [I will answer thee/let me tell you/I answer you],
[that/For] God is greater than [man/a human being]. 

But, how does this statement help Job? 

Well, in our problems it’s helpful to remember that God is greater than us. In other words, he doesn’t act according to human motives and with human considerations. 

Take it a step further – God is not going to be mistaken in what he does – like a human might be. God is not going to be needlessly cruel – like humans can be. 

God is greater than man. 

And when it comes down to it, God doesn’t even explain why he does what he does. And therefore… 

13 Why dost thou [strive/complain/contend] against him?
[for/that] he [giveth not account of/does not answer] [any/all] of [his matters/his doings/a person’s words] [./?] 

And because of God’s unwillingness to explain his ways, mankind really can’t predict or even understand why he does what he does. 

14 [For/Indeed] God speaketh [once/the first time in one way],
[yea twice/or twice/the second time in another], [yet man/yet no one/though a person] [perceiveth it not/notices it]. 

So, Elihu correctly states that we can’t understand God’s ways. That seems to be the thrust of verses 12-14. 

15-18 God Warns People of Their Ways 

But on the other hand, God does understand our ways. And Elihu is going to make that point in a way that might at first seem a bit strange to us. 

15 In a dream,
[in a vision of the night/a night vision],  

when deep sleep falleth upon men,
[in slumberings/while they slumber/as they sleep] [upon the bed/in their beds]; 

16 Then he [openeth the ears of men/gives a revelation to people],
and [sealeth their instruction/terrifies them with warnings], 

OK, so stop there. Let’s evaluate and consider what Elihu is saying. 

He claims that God gives messages to people in the night – maybe even when they’re sleeping – in and by means of their dreams. God warns them – and sometimes that warning is terrifying. 

And I think I don’t have any objections to that at this point. It seems that what Elihu is saying is at least possible. God can send dreams to warn people – especially in the Old Testament he did that on numerous occasions. 

But what is the purpose of God sending these instructive dreams to people? 

17 That he may [withdraw/turn] [man/a person] from his [purpose/conduct/sin],
and [hide pride from man/keep man from pride/to cover a person’s pride]. 

So, Elihu is saying that God – whose ways men don’t understand – knows man’s ways and will sometimes send instructive dreams to men to turn them from their pride. 

And actually, as God sends these warnings to people, he does so in order to spare their life. 

18 He [keepeth back his soul/spares a person’s life] from [the pit/corruption],
and his [i.e., very…] life from [perishing by/passing over into/crossing over into] [the sword/Sheol/the river]. 

And so, that’s Elihu’s point in verses 15-18 – that God can warn people in dreams and redirect them from ways that are harmful to them. 

And what’s interesting is that Job in chapter 7, verse 14 says that God did this to him – that God “scares me with dreams and terrifies me through visions.” And of course, Job didn’t like that. It was not an enjoyable experience for him. 

But Elihu is trying to tell Job that that was a good thing for him. It’s good that God was sending him these frightening dreams. Because God is trying to keep Job from pride. And ultimately, God is trying to spare Job’s life by doing this – even though that’s not at all how Job has been interpreting it. 

1930 God sends physical pain so that the sinner will repent 

And it’s not just dreams that God sends to men as they lie in their beds. God also sends pain. 

19 [He is chastened also/Man is also chastened/Or a person is chastened] [with/by] pain [upon/on] his bed,
and [the multitude of his bones with strong pain/with unceasing complaint in his bones/with continual strife of his bones]: 

And here’s the result of God sending such pain to people from time to time. 

20 So that his life [abhorreth/loathes] [bread/food],
and his soul [i.e., rejects…] [dainty meat/favorite food/appetizing fare]. 

Have you ever had pain that was so bad that you didn’t want to eat? Well, Elihu says that God sometimes sends that kind of pain to people. 

And it gets worse. 

21 His flesh [is consumed away, that it cannot be seen/wastes away from sight];
and his bones that were not seen [stick out/are easily visible]. 

And it gets even worse! 

22 [Yea,/Then] [his soul/he] draweth near [unto the grave/to the pit/to the place of corruption],
and his life to [the destroyers/those who bring death/to the messengers of death]. 

OK, so the guy is about to die. God brings such a painful disease to this man that his skin wastes away and his bones can be seen and he’s about to die. 

Well, then Elihu pictures the situation taking a turn for the better. And he does this in an if-then format.  

And I’ll admit that what he’s saying is quite obscure and confusing. So, let’s look at what Elihu is talking about. 

23 If there [be/is] [a messenger/an angel] [with/for/beside] him,
[an interpreter/as a mediator/one mediator], one [among/out of] a thousand,
to [shew unto/remind/tell] [man/a man/a person] [his uprightness/what is right for him/what constitutes his uprightness]: 

So, Elihu is envisioning the possibility that an angelic messenger comes to this sick person. And this angel is a mediator – a mediator between this sick person and God. And this kind of occurrence is pretty rare – as Elihu says it’s one among a thousand. And the message of this angel or this messenger is regarding what’s right for this sick man – perhaps he’s saying that the messenger will show to the sick man God’s uprightness and justice in bringing this sickness to this person. Perhaps Elihu pictures himself as just such a messenger. 

Well, if this were to ever happen to a person, then Elihu says that this would be a real sign of God’s grace. 

24 [Then he is/Then let him be/and if God is] gracious unto him, and [saith/say/says],
[] [Deliver/Spare] him from going down to the [pit/place of corruption]:
I have found a ransom [i.e., for him…]. [] 

So, if God extends grace to a sick and dying man in the form of some sort of unique messenger who reminds him of what is right, then it’s not too much for God to then continue to be gracious to that man and deliver him from death. 

God – as it were – finds a ransom for that man – one that would be in the place of that man. And I think this indicates that this man is sick and dying because of his sin and that’s why God needs a ransom in his place. 

And then Elihu continues to surmise what God either says about this man or what he does to him. 

25 [i.e., Let/Then…] His flesh [shall be fresher/become fresher/is restored] [than/like] [a child’s/in youth/a youth’s]:
[he shall return/Let him return/he returns] to the days of his [youth/youthful vigor]: 

So, Elihu is picturing God being gracious to this man who was so near to death. 

And what Elihu anticipates and describes in the next verse is a really a growing closeness and delight between that man and his God. 

26 [i.e., Then…] He [shall pray unto/will pray to/entreats] God,
and [he/God] [will be favourable unto/will accept/delights in] him:  

[and he shall/that he may/he] [see/sees] [his/God’s] face with [joy/rejoicing]:
[for/and] [he/God] [will render/may restore/restores] [unto man/to him] [his/His] righteousness. 

So, notice that back-and-forth between this man and his God that is warm and accepting and joyous and close. 

So, that’s the interaction between the formerly sick man and God. 

But then Elihu talks about the response of that man to his fellow man. 

27 He [looketh/will sing/sings/confesses] [upon/to] [men/others], [and if any say/and say/saying],
I have sinned,
and [perverted/falsified] that which was right,
[and/but] [it profited me not/it is not proper for me/I was not punished according to what I deserve]; 

And so, either Elihu is speaking of the sick man’s speaking to his friends and confessing that he sinned against God and that’s why he was sick. Or this is Elihu stating that God will be gracious and merciful – like he was with the sick man – to anyone who will confess his sin to God. 

And the formerly sick man continues to speak – or perhaps Elihu continues to speak of that man. 

28 He [will deliver/has redeemed/redeemed] [his soul/my soul/my life] from [going/going down] [into the pit/to the place of corruption],
and [his/my] life [shall see/sees] the light. 

So, let me just recap what Elihu has been asserting. 

He says that God’s ways are beyond us. But the opposite is not the case – that is, our ways are not beyond God. 

In fact, God will be so gracious as to send people instructive dreams to turn them from pride. 

But if they keep going down that road of pride, he will sometimes send them sickness. And that sickness will look like it’s going to kill them. 

But even in a person’s bleakest hour, it’s possible that God would be gracious to him and turn his sickness around and heal the man. And whenever that may happen, God and that man will share a real closeness that the man will even be willing to tell others about. 

Well, moving on, now Elihu declares that this is all something that God does not infrequently – God often deals with people by sending them physical problems, he says. 

29 [Lo/Behold/Indeed], all these things [worketh/does] God [oftentimes/twice, three times in his dealings] with [man/men/a person], 

30 To [bring/turn] back his [soul/life] from the [pit/place of corruption],
[to/that he may] be enlightened with the light of [the living/life]. 

31-33 

And finally, Elihu challenges Job to answer if he can. Or if he can’t, then to just keep listening. 

31 [Mark well/Pay attention], O Job,
[hearken unto/listen to] me:  

[hold thy peace/keep silent/be silent],
and [I will/let me] speak. 

32 [i.e., Then…] If thou hast any [thing to say/words],
 me:  

speak,
for I [desire/want] to justify thee. 

33 If not, [hearken/listen/you listen] unto me:
[hold thy peace/keep silent/be silent], and I shall teach thee wisdom. 

So, Elihu desires to justify Job. And you can see how he’s trying to do that.  

Elihu has just mentioned two realities in Job’s life – the fact that Job has had dreams and the fact that Job is so sick that he thinks the sickness might result in his death. 

And Elihu is giving a different interpretation of those realities than the three friends did. The three friends thought that the only explanation for these things is Job’s secret sin. 

But Elihu is not necessarily tying sin to any of this. The dreams could be to prevent a person from being proud – prevent, not stop him from currently being proud. 

And the sickness could possibly have something to do with sin – since the man, once he’s healed, is going to confess to others that he sinned. And yet, that consideration was not foremost in Elihu’s mind.  

And it’s not even confession of sin that causes God to turn and heal that man, as Elihu talked about it. No – it’s just God choosing to be gracious. 

So, Elihu is not assuming to understand all the reasons for why Job is sick and suffering. And Elihu shows a commendable ability to be restrained in his explanation and not pretend to know more than he really knows. 

Elihu declares that we don’t understand God’s ways, which is right. And he also at the same time can call-out Job for justifying himself rather than God, which is also right. 

And Elihu will continue to explain things the way he sees them next time. 

Job 32 Commentary

Job 32 Commentary: I think that many of us have found ourselves in situations in which two people are arguing. And they battle it out for a while. But finally, they’re done and they have nothing left to say.

But you do have something to say. And you really want to say it.

Well, that’s the situation that the biblical character Elihu finds himself in – in the 32nd chapter of the book of Job. So, let’s turn our attention there – to Job, chapter 32.

We recall from our last message in Job that Job 31 – the chapter that precedes this one – ends with a statement to the effect that “the words of Job have ended.”

And so, Job 32 picks right up from there.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 1

And the author informs us that as Job finishes his last speech, so too do his friends. They stop talking as well.

KJV Job 32:1 [So/Then] these three men [ceased/refused] [to answer/answering/to answer further] Job,
because he was righteous in his own eyes.

Now, there’s a sense in which being righteous in one’s own eyes is roundly condemned in Scripture.

But for Job here, this seems to be saying that he simply is viewing himself as God was viewing him. He didn’t commit any sin worthy of the suffering that he’s receiving. That’s not why he was suffering – because of his sin. He’s righteous.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 2

But even though Job is viewing himself as righteous – that doesn’t settle anything. We still have an innocent man suffering and his friends still thinking that he is secretly wicked and Job himself thinking in one way or another that God is misinformed about the situation.

But Job is done talking and so are the friends. And that’s why Elihu enters the picture and is angry with Job and his three friends.

2 [Then/But] [was kindled the wrath of/the anger of … burned/became very angry] Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the [kindred/family] of Ram:

Now, we’re given a short genealogy of this man. He’s a Buzite. Buz was a son of Abraham’s brother. And probably because of that, there was a land located in the desert near Edom with that name – probably named after this man.

The rest I don’t know anything about. But this information makes it possible that Job’s story took place even within the life of Abraham or shortly thereafter. And it likely took place around Edom – outside of and to the southeast of Israel.

So, that’s a little information on where Elihu comes from.

But now here’s whom Elihu is angry with.

First, Job.

against Job [was his wrath kindled/his anger burned/he was angry with],
[because/for] [he justified/justifying] himself [rather than/before] God.

Now, it can be difficult to know who’s right in the book of Job. But here’s one thing we know – that the narrator is always right. That’s how stories work – the one telling them is never wrong.

And in this case, the narrator is ultimately God. Whoever may have written the book of Job – perhaps Solomon – the doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture teaches us that ultimately it was the Spirit of God who worked through the authors of Scripture to pen exactly what God wanted to be communicated.

So, God ultimately is the narrator of this story. And what the narrator says is unquestionably right.

So, what is the narrator saying made Elihu angry with Job? That Job justified himself rather than God.

And we’ve witnessed that. Job has been justifying himself – proclaiming that he’s not guilty of any sort of crime that would call for the punishment that he’s been experiencing. And in the process, he’s sort of called into question God’s rightness in his situation.

And as that’s been happening – who’s coming out of it looking good? Is it God – who is almost senselessly – probably even incorrectly – bringing suffering into Job’s life? Or is it the innocent suffering Job that comes out of this looking good?

So, the net effect of Job’s speeches has been to make himself look good – and that basically leaves God looking bad.

And that makes Elihu angry.

And to apply this to our lives, I think we need to note that what we say and how we behave during our times of suffering can reflect poorly on our God. When we experience things that make no sense to us and that are painful and irritating – our response to that suffering can reflect poorly on the God who is wisely bringing the suffering into our life. There’s a way to respond to suffering that might make people feel sorry for you – but think wrong thoughts of your God.

And if those around you are thinking right – that kind of behavior might make them angry – like Elihu.

And so, Elihu is rightfully angry at Job.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 3

But it’s not just Job with whom Elihu is angry. He’s also angry with Job’s friends.

3 Also against [his/Job’s] three friends [was his wrath kindled/his anger burned/he was angry],
because they [had found no/could not find an] answer,
and [yet/so] [had condemned/declared … guilty] Job.

And this is what we experienced Job’s friends doing. They couldn’t figure out God’s ways. They couldn’t spell out for Job why God was bringing suffering into his life.

And so, they had declared him guilty – with no evidence that would lead to that verdict. They were leveling false accusations against a man that they knew to be righteous.

And that kind of behavior – as Elihu sat and observed it alongside of us – that made him angry.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 4

And yet, despite his persistent anger, Elihu respectfully waited to speak until Job and his friends had taken their turns speaking.

4 Now Elihu [had waited/waited] [till Job had spoken/to speak to Job/before speaking to Job],
because [they/the others] were [elder/years older/older] than he.

So, as we’re trying to figure out what to make of this new character, we need to note that his motives are described in positive terms. It’s a good thing that Elihu wanted to wait for the older men to speak before speaking himself.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 5-6

And yet, the time has come for Elihu to speak. He waited for his elders to give their wisdom – but seeing that they are displaying a serious lack of it, it’s now his turn to talk.

5 [When/And when/But when] Elihu saw that [there was no answer in the mouth of these three men/these three men had no further reply],
[then his wrath was kindled/his anger burned/he became very angry].

6 ¶ [And/So] Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite [answered and said/spoke out and said/spoke up],

And so, this is now where the narrator hands it off to Elihu. We’ve had the narrator’s infallible perspective on Elihu. Now the man himself will speak.

I am young [in years…],
[and/but] ye are [very old/elderly];

[wherefore/therefore/that is why] I was [afraid/shy/fearful],
and [durst not/afraid to] [shew/tell/explain to] you [mine opinion/what I think/what I know].

So, again, Elihu is communicating a modesty and great deal of restraint about his approach to this situation.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 7

And this is why he took that posture…

7 I [said/thought/said to myself],

[Days/age] should speak,
and [multitude of years/increased years/length of years] should [teach/make … known] wisdom.

So, the normal order of things is that those who are older should know more. And from that position of knowing more factually, a person should be able to apply that knowledge to life. That’s wisdom.

And – all else being equal – we’d all like to think that those who are older should have more of it. More years = more wisdom, or at least it should.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 8

But Elihu is now coming to find out that it’s not just the age of a person that makes him wise. No – a person needs God’s spirit for wisdom.

8 But [there/it] is a spirit in [man/people]:
[and the/the] [inspiration/breath] of the Almighty [giveth/that makes] them [understanding/understand].

OK, so your wisdom is not just a natural thing. It’s not a given that the older you are, the wiser you just naturally are. No. God is the one who grants wisdom and understanding by his spirit.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 9

And so, that leads Elihu to acknowledge now that the older among us are not always the wisest.

9 [Great men/The abundant in years/It is … the aged who] [are not always/may not be] wise:
[neither/nor] [do/may] [the aged/elders/old men] understand [judgment/justice/what is right].

And of course, this would have been insulting to these men who have just been trying to understand God’s ways and have failed miserably at it.

But I don’t think that Elihu is trying to be insulting. He’s simply speaking truth as he sees it. And what these men have demonstrated is that even though they are the oldest – they are not the wisest.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 10

And since the aged have not come up with wisdom, Elihu is going to give it a shot himself.

10 [Therefore/So] I [said/say],

[Hearken/Listen] to me;
I [also/too/, even I,] will [shew/tell/explain] [mine opinion/what I think/what I know].

Because that’s all that these guys have been giving each other – their opinions. What they think. And Elihu can do at least that much.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 11-12a

But it’s as if Elihu’s boldness in telling these older men that he’s now going to speak causes him to once again defend his doing this.

Why does Elihu feel the boldness to speak out in the presence of men who are so much older than he is?

11 [Behold/Look], I waited for [your words/you to speak];
I [gave ear/listened/listened closely] to your [reasons/reasonings/wise thoughts],
[whilst ye searched out/while you pondered/while you were searching for] [what to say/words].

12 [Yea, I/I even/Now I was] [attended/paid close attention/was paying close attention] unto you,

And so, Elihu listened and listened and listened. Just like we have over the past several months! We’ve listened to the arguments of all of these men.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 12b

And here’s what both Elihu and we have experienced.

[and, behold,/Indeed/yet] there was [none of you/no one] [that convinced/who refuted/proving … wrong] Job,
[or/Not one of you] [that answered/was answering] his [words/statements]:

But actually literally these older men had answered Job. They had given him their answers.

But what Elihu is saying is that these men did not find the right answers to Job’s objections. All of them tried to prove Job wrong but none was able to do it convincingly.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 13

And so, Elihu is afraid that these friends were planning to abdicate what he views to be their responsibility to answer Job. Elihu is afraid that they’ll just let God do what in his mind they should actually be doing.

13 [Lest ye should/Do not/So do not] say,

We have [found out/found] wisdom:
God [thrusteth him down/will rout him/will refute him], not man.

So, it seems that Elihu is fearful that these men have come to the conclusion that they can be absolved of any responsibility to answer Job by just shifting the responsibility for that to God. And as they do that they’ll pat themselves on the back for finding this wise way of handling the situation.

And it’s interesting that even though Elihu seems to be wanting to stop this from happening – yet, God is going to come and – not necessarily thrust Job down – but he’s definitely going to come and answer Job as neither the friends – nor ultimately Elihu – can do.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 14

So, Elihu goes on to state that he’s not going to give the same answers to Job as these friends have done.

14 [Now he hath not directed/For he has not arranged/Job has not directed] his words [against/to] me:
[neither/nor/and so … not] will I [answer/reply to] him with your [speeches/arguments].

So, this verse gives us some hope that what we’ll be hearing from Elihu in the next several chapters is going to be different from what we’ve already heard from these friends.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 15

Then Elihu is going to rehearse what we heard at the beginning of this chapter – that the friends couldn’t find an answer for Job and so they stopped talking.

15 They [were amazed/are dismayed],
they [answered/answer] [no more/no longer/cannot … any more]:
[they left off speaking/words fail them/they have nothing left to say].

And I’m not sure who Elihu is addressing this to. Maybe he spoke verse 15 directly to Job. Otherwise, if he’s speaking to the friends, it’s a little strange to have a person speak of you in the third person when you’re standing right in front of him.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 16-17

Then Elihu is going to once more explain how the silence of these men encouraged him to speak.

16 [When/And] I [had/have] waited, [shall I wait?…]
([for/because/but because] they [spake not/do not speak],
[but stood still/because they stop/because they stand there],
and [answered/answer] no more[;)/?/,]

17 I said,

I will answer [also/too] my [part/share],
I [also/too] will [shew/tell/explain] [mine opinion/what I know].

And that’s the third and last time that Elihu is going to speak of his “opinion” in this chapter. So, he’s going to talk – and speak of what he knows – because of the silence of these men.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 18-20

And when it comes down to it, Elihu is full of things to say!

18 For I am full of [matter/words],
the spirit within me constraineth me.

19 Behold, [my belly is/inside I am] as wine which hath no [vent/outlet];
it is ready to burst like new [bottles/wineskins].

20 I will speak, that I may [be refreshed/find relief]:
I will open my lips [and/so that I may] answer.

So, Elihu portrays himself as one who is just bursting to speak and say what he thinks and what he knows. And he’s planning to find relief by opening his mouth and letting out all of the thoughts that he thinks will be helpful for the situation.

Now, just like the three friends, if what Elihu thinks is not what God thinks, then it’s ultimately not going to be helpful. So, it will be interesting to hear what he actually has to say.

But for now in this chapter we don’t actually hear what his argument is. We just hear his getting us ready for his argument.

Job 32 Commentary Verse 21-22

But Elihu wants to assure his audience that when he does speak – he’s not going to be partial to anyone.

21 [Let me not, I pray you,/I will not] [accept any man’s person/show partiality to anyone],
[neither let me/nor will I] [give flattering titles/confer a title] [unto/on any] man. [and thereby flatter him…]

22 For I know not to give [flattering/honorary] titles;
[in so doing/if I did] my maker would [soon/quickly] [take me away/do away with me].

So, Elihu assures us all that what he says is not motivated by his favoritism toward Job to the detriment of his friends or vice versa. Elihu is going speak what he believes to be true and he doesn’t care whom he offends by it.

So, it will be very interesting to do just like we’ve done with Job and his friends – to evaluate what Elihu says and see how true and factual and helpful it is.

And so, we’ll embark on that task next time.

Job 31 Meaning Verses 24-40

Job 31 Meaning: Let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 31. 

The 31st chapter of the book of Job contains Job’s last words of self-defense in this book. 

Last time as we studied verses 1-23, we saw that Job denied lusting, lying, committing sins with his hands, heart, and feet, committing adultery, mistreating his servants, and mistreating the poor. 

And this time in verses 24-40, he’s going to deny committing five other types of sin. And in addition he’s going to challenge God – whom he designates as his “adversary” – to reveal why he’s punishing Job. 

Job 31 Meaning 24-28 Idolatry 

So, as we begin – in verses 24-28, Job entertains the theoretical possibility that he has participated in idolatry. But it’s all theoretical, because Job is going to communicate that he hasn’t done it. 

And he sets this up with a very long “if” statement – spanning verses 24-27. And then he has his “then” statement in verse 28. 

And even at that, he breaks-up his “if” statement into two sub-sections – in verses 24-25 he speaks of worshipping money… and then in verses 26-27 he speaks of worshipping the sun and the moon. 

So, let’s witness Job entertain the idea that perhaps he had worshipped his money in times past. 

24 If I have [made gold my hope/put my confidence in gold],
or have said to [the fine/pure] gold, Thou art my [confidence/trust/security]; 

25 If I rejoiced because [my wealth was great/of the extent of my wealth],
and because mine hand had [gotten/secured so/gained so] much [wealth…]; 

So, Job was a man of great means. We learned that back in the first few chapters of this book. He had numerous cattle and sheep and donkeys and servants. He was the greatest of the men of the east in terms of material wealth. 

Added to that wealth – though – was his righteousness before the Lord. And it’s that righteousness that didn’t allow that wealth to become an idol to him. 

I think that many people – if they were to have the wealth of a man like Job – would let it go to their heads, as we say. But beyond that, I think that these same people would let it go to their hearts. 

There’s a way that money can become our source of confidence. Even as we heard last Sunday from Pastor Kindstedt’s message from Proverbs 18:10-11, the rich man’s wealth can become in his mind a strong city or a high wall. In his mind, his wealth can protect him. And yet, that’s all just “in his mind.” It’s illusionary. 

And Job says that it’s idolatry. 

And that might not be apparent immediately as you first read through this chapter – that Job is speaking of worshipping wealth here. 

But that’s where it’s helpful to try to break-down these sections in this chapter.  

Consider that verses 24-25 have no “then” statement. They have an “if” – but no “then.”  

Well, where’s the “then?” It’s at the other side of verses 26-27. And that means that these two shorter “if” statements are brought together by their common “then” statement at the end of this smaller section. 

So, let’s look at the second area in which Job could have been idolatrous – and where numerous fellow-humans have been idolatrous and worshipful – and that’s in regard to the celestial bodies. 

26 If I beheld the sun when it shined,
or the moon [walking in brightness/going in splendor/advancing as a precious thing]; 

27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed,
or my mouth hath kissed my hand [my hand threw them a kiss from my mouth…]: 

So, again, Job is holding out these things as a possibility. 

Humanity has a way of taking what God created and has given to us as gifts – and turning them into objects of worship! We are so perverse that we see the good gifts – and instead of worshipping the giver of those gifts – we worship the gifts themselves. 

And we already heard Job speak of one of those gifts – money – wealth – material provisions. And as God extends his gracious hand and gives these things to us, we can snatch them away and clutch them and start thinking as if the gifts themselves have some deity to them. 

The same holds true of celestial bodies – the sun and moon and even the stars. Ancient civilizations worshipped the sun and moon. Egypt did. The Mayan civilization did. Numerous cultures at various times in the history of the earth have worshipped these good gifts that God has given us. 

But God gave us these heavenly bodies for times and seasons and to declare his glory!  

But how does mankind use them? As objects of worship.  

It’s sick. 

But it’s not unusual. It’s pretty common – and it was even more common in Job’s day than it is in ours. 

But even though it’s common to worship money and the heavenly bodies – God’s good gifts to us – Job says that the following is the reality about engaging in such activities. 

28 This also [were/would be] an iniquity [to be punished by the judge/calling for judgement/to be judged]:
for I [should/would] have [denied/been false to] the God that is above. 

Worshipping anything besides the true God calls for judgement. Why? Because it involves a denial of the true God.  

And Job says that he hasn’t done that. He has not committed idolatry. And this is one more reason that he feels like he shouldn’t be receiving punishment from God in the form that he’s been experiencing. 

Job 31 Meaning 29-30 Hating Enemies 

But not only has Job not committed idolatry. He also has not hated his enemies. 

Now, the thought that God – before New Testament times – wanted people to hate their enemies is not uncommon.  

In fact, as you know, Jesus mentions that idea in the Sermon on the Mount. He tells the people that they’ve heard it said that they should love their neighbor and – what? And hate their enemy. 

But that supposed command to hate one’s enemy is not found in Scripture – either Old or New Testament. 

And the righteous Job didn’t take that approach to his enemy either.  

29 [If/Have?] I rejoiced [at the destruction/at the extinction/over the misfortune] of [him that hated me/my enemy],
or [lifted up myself/exulted] [when/because] [evil/calamity] [found/befell] him: 

So, if Job had rejoiced in the destruction of someone else – even his enemy – he could perhaps expect retribution from God in the form of his own personal destruction. 

And Job was indeed receiving personal destruction. But the condition that he thinks would earn him that destruction is not present – he hasn’t rejoiced in the destruction of others – and in particular of his enemy. 

Now, Job phrases what he just said as a conditional sentence. And the “if” part was in verse 29. And so, if you’re paying attention you’re looking for the “then” part. But we’re not going to find it. 

In fact, it seems like the only “then” statement that we’re going to find is the last verse of this whole chapter. And so, let me point out something that I think is going on in the larger context of this chapter at this point. 

What we’re going to find before the end of this chapter is that Job laments God’s apparent silence. He says “if this were the case and if that were the case and if the other were the case” and then “dot, dot, dot…” He doesn’t give a “then.” He just goes right into “If only I had someone to hear me! 

And I think that shows a certain desperation on the part of Job. He’s wearing himself out with all of this self-justification. But he feels compelled to continue. 

So, back to the immediate context, Job gave the “if” part of his conditional statement. And he’s not going to give the “then” part. Instead, he’s going to assume a negative answer to his previous question concerning whether he ever rejoiced when his enemy was destroyed – and then magnify what he just asserted. 

Not only has Job not rejoiced and exulted over the destruction of his enemy – but he’s not even asked God to curse those people either. 

30 [Neither have I/No, I have not/I have not even] [suffered/allowed/permitted] my mouth to sin
by [wishing/asking in/asking through] a curse [to his soul/for his life]. 

So, Job was not one to curse even his enemies. He wouldn’t do it even to these friends of his who have proven so unhelpful. 

And so, Job wouldn’t passively seek his enemies’ destruction by secretly rejoicing when they were destroyed. 

And therefore, he certainly would not have actively sought the destruction of any of these people by cursing them, either. 

And that’s how Job ends the consideration of his treatment of his enemies. 

So, Job hasn’t been idolatrous. He hasn’t hated his enemies. 

Job 31 Meaning 31-32 Lack of Hospitality 

And next, Job is going to deny any lack of hospitality to others. 

31 [If/Have?] the [men/members] of my [tabernacle/tent/household] [said not/not said/have never said],
Oh that we [had/could find] [of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied/someone who has not been satisfied with Job’s meat]. 

So, Job seems to be picturing a situation in which the members of his household gather together and discuss something about Job’s food. 

And either they’re saying that they themselves don’t have enough to eat. Or they’re saying that they can’t find anyone who hasn’t had enough to eat of the food that Job provides. 

And it’s difficult to make the call as to which of those two Job is saying – partly because of all the negatives in this verse. If…someone said not…that someone is not satisfied… 

And then of course adding to the difficulty is that Job doesn’t give the “then” part of this statement – which tends to render the “if” statement as more of a question – “Has anyone in my house said, I wish we could find someone who hasn’t been filled with Job’s food.’” 

Whatever the details of the structure of this sentence, it’s apparent that Job is denying a lack of hospitality when taken together with the next sentence. 

No one could say that Job hadn’t provided food for them. And no one could say that Job hadn’t provided lodging for them either… 

32 The [stranger/alien] did not [lodge in the street/have to spend the night outside]:
but I opened my doors to the traveller. 

So, strangers and travelers were always welcome in Job’s house. He provided for those in need. 

That’s the kind of guy that Job was. He shared his food. He shared his home. He was hospitable to all. 

He loved his enemies. He refrained from idolatry and worshiped the true God alone. 

And yet, Job is suffering worse than any of these kinds of people would. And that makes no sense to him. 

Job 31 Meaning 33-34 Covering Sin 

Well, Job goes on to give one more area in which he’s done right in verses 33-34. He’s been truthful about his sin. 

33 [If/Have?] I covered my transgressions as [Adam/men do],
by hiding mine iniquity in my [bosom/heart]: 

And I think this verse is a helpful balance to everything else that Job has said to this point. He’s admitting here to sinning. He’s not claiming sinless perfection – even though you start to get that sense in this chapter.  

But Job is doing what tends to happen whenever a situation becomes totally polarized – when you have one group that is so far over to one side of the issue that they’re really distorting reality in the process. And the other group might want to remain in the middle concerning whatever the issue is. But the tendency is to pull in the opposite direction of that first group – because of how radical they are. 

So, Job would tend to not say very much about his own righteousness. That’s just what righteous people do – you don’t boast of your own accomplishments and such. 

But because Job’s friends have been accusing him so vehemently, now Job is exasperated and finding the need to proclaim his own righteousness. 

And yet – back to verse 33 – Job admits that he doesn’t hide his sin – which indicates that he does indeed sin. But when he does, he doesn’t cover it – like Adam did – like the first man did when he sinned in the garden. 

Job apparently would have been confessing his sin – and offering a sacrifice appropriate to the transgression. And we saw in the first chapter of this book that he offered sacrifice even for his children – just in case they had sinned! Certainly, he was offering for his own sin as well. 

And then apparently in verse 34 Job is going to deny that he was intimidated by family and society in general concerning the confessing of his sin. 

34 [Did/Because] I [fear/was terrified of] [a/the] great multitude,
[or did/and] the contempt of families [terrify/terrified] me,
[that I/and/so that I] [kept silence/kept silent/remained silent], and [went not out of the door/did not go outdoors]? 

Now, I’ll admit that this is a difficult verse to interpret and understand.  

But I think what Job is saying is that he was willing to address and confess and deal with his sin – even when doing so could make him look bad before “the great multitude” of people in his life and before “families” or perhaps tribes of people who might mock him and impugn his character. 

No, Job would not hide his sin – he wouldn’t keep silence and stay inside. He was willing to confess his sin and offer the sacrifices prescribed. No matter what anyone else thought. 

OK, so Job has not committed idolatry, he’s loved his enemies, he’s been hospitable, and he’s been open and honest with God and man about his own sin. 

And all of this Job is using to appeal to God that the kind of suffering that God has sent into Job’s life is unwarranted. Job doesn’t feel like he deserves this suffering that feels like punishment from God. 

Job 31 Meaning 35-37 Job Challenges God 

And it’s at this point where Job has had enough. He has talked himself to a point where he is really frustrated with God’s total lack of response to all of Job’s appeals concerning his righteousness – which he is wanting God to take note of and realize that he doesn’t need to punish Job anymore. Look! He’s righteous! 

And in the middle of Job’s pointing out his living in accordance with God’s desires and standards – and I say “the middle” because he does have one more area that he wants to talk about – but before that, he’s compelled to cry out to God and demand that God reveal his accusations against him. 

35 [Oh that one would/If only I had someone to] hear me!
behold, [my/here is my] [desire is/signature/tau][that/let] the Almighty [would answer/answer] me [!],
[and/if only I had] that mine adversary had written [a book/an indictment]. 

So, this whole chapter has basically served as Job’s defense of himself. He even presents his tau – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which is translated by the KJV as “desire.” So, Job says “I’ve talked and talked and given my reasons for why I should not be punished by God. And so here at the end – as men do with most documents – I am giving my last affirmation – my tau – my signature to this imagined court document against God that seeks to restrain him from punishing me anymore.” 

But it’s a little silly to be defending yourself against an accusation… that has never been officially leveled against you! 

And that’s why Job is now asking for the “book” that God – as Job’s adversary – or the indictment against Job that surely – in Job’s mind – God has written somewhere. He’s asking for that “document.” 

And that’s because Job is under the impression that God is punishing him. Job has not taken into account the fact that suffering doesn’t need to be punishment. The end result of those two realities might be the same – but the motive of the one who’s bringing the pain is different. 

When God brings punishment into a person’s life, assumed in that arrangement is that the person did something wrong. When God brings suffering into your life, there’s no such assumption – you may be doing everything right like Job is. But Job doesn’t recognize that distinction yet. 

And so, Job says that God is his adversary. And that’s interesting because when we think of that term “adversary” we think of Satan – and that’s the meaning of his name in Hebrew – adversary. 

But to Job – God is acting as his adversary. God is the one sending the suffering – which he incorrectly views as punishment.  

And in reality, God did ultimately send the suffering on Job. He’s the one who challenged Satan with Job’s testimony. He’s the one who told Satan later that Satan moved him to touch Job. And so, Satan is responsible for challenging God to bring suffering into Job’s life. And yet, God was ultimately the one to bring that suffering into Job’s life and to bring Job up to Satan in the first place. 

Well, if God were to ever give Job this indictment against him that would explain why Job is being punished by God, then this is how Job would respond. 

36 Surely I would [take/carry/wear proudly] it [upon/on] my shoulder,
and bind it [as/like] a crown [to me/on me]. 

And it’s at this point where I do wonder if Job is sort of challenging God – almost gloating of his innocence. He’s speaking of what he would do with this fictitious indictment against himself. And he says that he would wear it proudly on himself and display it for all to see. And that’s probably because he’s so confident in his own innocence. 

And Job is ready to express that confidence directly to God as Job now imagines him meeting with God to discuss his innocence. 

37 I would [declare unto him the number/give him an accounting] of my steps;
[as/like] a prince [would I/I would] [go near unto/approach] him. 

So, Job is ready and willing to stand right before God’s presence and tell him exactly what he’s been doing. Job is so extremely confident in his righteousness that he’s willing to come to God and declare all that he’s done. 

And Job imagines coming to God in a very bold and triumphant manner. He would approach God like a prince would do – full of confidence, no fear, claiming his right to inform God of his own conformity to everything that he understands that God desires in one of his human creatures. 

And yet – of course – whatever Job might say to God would be no surprise to the Almighty. God already knows Job to be righteous. But Job doesn’t know that God knows that he’s righteous – and has even told Satan so. 

Job is assuming that God thinks he’s sinning – and that’s why Job is experiencing this suffering – which he interprets as punishment. 

Job 31 Meaning 38-40 Abusing Tenants 

Well, Job has one more area to address before he finishes his self-defense. 

He wants to deny that he has abused any tenants that may have lived on his land. 

38 If my land [cry/cries out/cried out] against me,
[or that/and] [the furrows/its furrows/all its furrows] [likewise thereof complain/weep together/wept together]; 

But why would Job’s land cry out against him – as it were? Why would it complain or weep? 

Because of the way that perhaps Job would have treated those who rented that land from him… 

39 If I have eaten [the fruits thereof/its fruit/its produce] without [money/paying],
or have caused [the owners thereof/its owners] to [lose their life/die]: 

So, Job is speaking of his land. And yet, he now speaks of owners of that land. Well, he’s the ultimate owner, but he would have loaned-out the land to others to care for it. This is a practice that happens to this day – not only in the area of agriculture but even in the landlord/tenant relationship in the housing market. 

And Job is bringing up one possibility as to how he treated those tenants. He could have been like so many others who take advantage of his tenants. I mean – after all – one might think – the land is mine and I’m letting these folks live on it. Therefore, I can take their stuff and they should be fine with it. Or even worse – some in history have apparently caused those tenants to lose their lives. Talk about a bad relationship with your landlord! 

So, Job is saying that he could have acted this way toward those who were leasing his land. Other people have done this throughout history. 

And yet – Job is totally opposed to that kind of abuse – and here’s what he says that he would deserve if he were to behave himself in this way. 

40 [then…] Let [thistles/briars/thorns] [grow/sprout up] [instead/in place] of wheat,
and [cockle/stinkweed/weeds] [instead/in place] of barley.  

So, Job pictures a fitting punishment for his abuse of his tenants as his good crops being replaced with worthless weeds. 

And with the ending of his last defense, the text closes by noting the following. 

The words of Job are ended. 

So, Job has denied engaging in activities that would render him deserving of punishment from God. He’s not lusting, lying, sinning with hands, heart, or feet, committing adultery, mistreating his servants, mistreating the poor, committing idolatry, hating his enemies, being lax in the area of hospitality to strangers, covering his sin, or abusing his tenants. 

These activities – if he were to engage in them – would surely make him guilty and deserving of some form of retribution. 

But since Job hasn’t committed these crimes, he really can’t understand why God is – in his mind – punishing him. Because – as Job believes – God punishes evil. God should be rewarding Job – but he’s not doing that anymore. 

So, God’s ways don’t make sense to Job. 

And even though Job has sought to make sense of God’s ways, what he really needs to do is to trust God’s wisdom in his circumstances. 

And there’s a young man who’s been listening in on this whole conversation of Job and his friends. His name is Elihu and he feels like he’s going to be able to help Job – if not understand God’s ways – then perhaps help him toward trusting God’s wisdom. 

And we’ll hear from him next time.