The Book of Job-Chapter Thirty-Four:
"Friend or Foe?"
Does Elihu wish Job harm? Does he
hate him or is he trying to help? To condemn or to instruct?
Verses 1-3:"Furthermore Elihu answered and said, Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge. For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat."
Somethings must never change. In the Church at large today (and in yours and mine too) aren't there usually a multitude of words and opinions available for us to "chew" on? Words of comfort, of challenge, of peace. But also, if we are to be honest, accusations and scorn at times. The barbs of a friend somehow sting the most. That kind of pain seems to last the longest for me. I've been painting Elihu as sort of an upstart, maybe even a fool. But here he seems to be in possession of at least some truths about Job's situation. He pleads for a fair hearing and opportunity to draw his long arguments to their proper conclusion:
Verse 4:"Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good."
Verses 5-6: "For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression."
Works for Rewards -which is sometimes today called
"legalism"- the basis of their religion? So if Job was
suffering and if God allowed it, then it had to be
punishment for poor performance. So why had Job balked at
this? All his friends (now including Elihu) agreed that he
must have earned every ounce of his torment.
Fighting the enemy is hard, but disturbing your spiritual allies can be even more painful and damaging. And Job is doing both at once. Poor Job was "without transgression." At least without the kind of which he is being accused. We've known all along that the Lord was not punishing him for anything he had done wrong. Actually it was his sterling record that originally drew Satan's attention and made Job a target.
Elihu is being rash. They all have been too quick to judge this man. Listen to the bitterness of these accusations:
Verses 7-9: "What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water? Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men. For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God."
O, the barbs of a friend. This is what we may face today at times in the Church if we are going to actively follow God and live for Him. Sometimes even in the holiest of settings we may stir up the "wiles" of the Devil (see I Corinthians 2:11 and also Ephesians 6:11-12). But I can see both sides of this for I have misjudged my brother or sister many times over the years. That disturbs me more than anything Elihu is doing here.
when, like Elihu, I feel spiritually qualified or empowered I
need to remind myself not to be too rash in my judgements
today. Even when my concepts of religion and
the Lord's nature seem threatened. We all need to step back
and take a breath and re-examine the Scriptures and our
beliefs before we issue any "friendly fire" today in the Body
of Believers. To try, at least, to purify and refine ourselves
FIRST. Christ said as much (see Matthew 7:1-5).
get that "high horse" attitude I've seen my defense of, my
adoration for the Lord, like Elihu's here, start to sound
more like dread. And dread is a very tough way to approach the Heavenly
Verses 14-15: "If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."
Beloved, don't be enticed by everyone on a soapbox (even in the Scriptures or in the Church!). Elihu is spreading fear and dread of God and even of life. There is a healthy "fear" of God, but this ain't it!
Verse 16: "If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.Even if he doesn't hate Job, Elihu actually fears him. Job is stumbling, but not down. Wavering but still, barely at times I'll admit, clinging to faith and not turning on God as Satan predicted he would. And even more importantly, I think, turning instead away from that vision of the Lord as a heartless monster of Judgement. Job is not conforming as he had in the past, not knuckling under this time. Somehow, through suffering, his faith has changed. It is no longer the ugly caterpillar of dread that it had been when his physical life was so sweet and clear. And that is what is stuck in the craw of Elihu. Listen as he condemns Job in these terms, and tries to put his own God of dread back on what he considers to be the proper thrown:
Verses 17-30: "Shall
even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn
him that is most just? Is it
fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye
are ungodly? How
much less to him that accepteth not the persons of
princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for
they all are the work of his hands. In a
moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at
midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken
away without hand. For his
eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his
is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of
iniquity may hide themselves. For he
will not lay upon man more than right; that he should
enter into judgment with God. He
shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set
others in their stead. Therefore
knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night,
so that they are destroyed. He
striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others; Because
they turned back from him, and would not consider any of
his ways: So that
they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he
heareth the cry of the afflicted. When he
giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he
hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be
done against a nation, or against a man only: That the hypocrite reign not, lest the
people be ensnared."
From Elihu's point of view, Job is
condemning God. Undermining His power, and the proper order
of things. Job is guilty of creating spiritual havoc.
Elihu's solution is similar to all inquisitors: Job must
Verse 31: "Surely
it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement,
I will not offend any more:"
He wants Job to come clean now and
confess to God and before them all:
Verses 32-35: "That which I see not teach
thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no
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. Let men
of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto
me. Job hath spoken without knowledge,
and his words were without wisdom."
Maybe he doesn't hate Job or maybe he does. I can't judge his deepest motives nor can I pretend to ignore my own judgmental tendencies. But still and all, Elihu is really tearing into a man he should have counted as a friend and spiritual brother in need of support. Could it be that of all Satan's tortures this may be the worst type?
Verses 36-37: "My
desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of
his answers for wicked men. For he addeth rebellion unto his sin,
he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words