Elihu Makes Sense

But he's still wrong.

Job 34:1-20 (ESV)

Then Elihu answered and said:

“Hear my words, you wise men, and give ear to me, you who know; for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. Let us choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job has said, ‘I am in the right, and God has taken away my right; in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ What man is like Job, who drinks up scoffing like water, who travels in company with evildoers and walks with wicked men? For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.’

“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him. Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world? If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.

“If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say. Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty, who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’ and to nobles, ‘Wicked man,’ who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands? In a moment they die; at midnight the people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away by no human hand.”

Elihu sees Job’s defense as an attack on God’s righteousness.

Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. … Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty?

This would all make perfect sense – if we didn’t already know that it’s wrong. In fact, what is happening to Job is unjust (in a sense). The first part of the book made that perfectly clear.

But Job, Elihu, and the others, don’t know what happened with Satan in the first part of the book, and they don’t know the ending either. They don’t have all the facts, so they draw the wrong conclusions.

That’s the point. Leave out a few facts and it looks like God is nuts, or unjust, or whatever. Actually, He’s up to something. But until His purposes are revealed no one can figure out what’s going on. That’s why they get it all wrong. It hasn’t dawned on them (yet) that God is doing something completely different.


Later on, everyone will make a similar mistake in not “getting” the incarnation.

It’s a plot twist so creative that even when it’s staring everyone in the face, they can’t see it.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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