Elihu’s Second Speech
1 Elihu answered:
2 “Listen to my words, you wise men;
hear me, you learned men.
3 For the ear assesses words
as the mouth tastes food.
4 Let us evaluate for ourselves what is right;
let us come to know among ourselves what is good.
5 For Job says, ‘I am innocent,
but God turns away my right.
6 Concerning my right, should I lie?
My wound is incurable,
although I am without transgression.’
7 What man is like Job,
who drinks derision like water!
8 He goes about in company with evildoers,
he goes along with wicked men.
9 For he says, ‘It does not profit a man
when he makes his delight with God.’
God is Not Unjust
10 “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
from the Almighty to do evil.
11 For he repays a person for his work,
and according to the conduct of a person,
he causes the consequences to find him.
12 Indeed, in truth, God does not act wickedly,
and the Almighty does not pervert justice.
13 Who entrusted to him the earth?
And who put him over the whole world?
14 If God were to set his heart on it,
and gather in his spirit and his breath,
15 all flesh would perish together
and human beings would return to dust.
God Is Impartial and Omniscient
16 “If you have understanding, listen to this,
hear what I have to say.
17 Do you really think
that one who hates justice can govern?
And will you declare guilty
the supremely righteous One,
18 who says to a king, ‘Worthless man’
and to nobles, ‘Wicked men,’
19 who shows no partiality to princes,
and does not take note of the rich more than the poor,
because all of them are the work of his hands?
20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night,
people are shaken and they pass away.
The mighty are removed effortlessly.
21 For his eyes are on the ways of an individual,
he observes all a person’s steps.
22 There is no darkness, and no deep darkness,
where evildoers can hide themselves.
23 For he does not still consider a person,
that he should come before God in judgment.
24 He shatters the great without inquiry,
and sets up others in their place.
25 Therefore, he knows their deeds,
he overthrows them in the night
and they are crushed.
26 He strikes them for their wickedness,
in a place where people can see,
27 because they have turned away from following him,
and have not understood any of his ways,
28 so that they caused the cry of the poor
to come before him,
so that he hears the cry of the needy.
29 But if God is quiet, who can condemn him?
If he hides his face, then who can see him?
Yet he is over the individual and the nation alike,
30 so that the godless man should not rule,
and not lay snares for the people.
Job Is Foolish to Rebel
31 “Has anyone said to God,
‘I have endured chastisement,
but I will not act wrongly any more.
32 Teach me what I cannot see.
If I have done evil, I will do so no more.’
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.
34 Men of understanding say to me –
any wise man listening to me says –
35 that Job speaks without knowledge
and his words are without understanding.
36 But Job will be tested to the end,
because his answers are like those of wicked men.
37 For he adds transgression to his sin;
in our midst he claps his hands,
and multiplies his words against God.”
C H Spurgeon
Job 34:1-3. 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.
I wish that verse was always true, especially concerning those who hear what purports to be the gospel; I only wish they would test and try what they hear, just as, with their mouth, they taste what they eat. But, as there are some persons who will eat anything that is set before them, so there are some who will accept anything that they hear, without exercising any spiritual discernment whatever. “It is cleverly put,” they say, and therefore they receive it; yet they would scarcely be foolish enough to eat unhealthy food simply because it was skillfully carved.
Job 34:4-5. Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.
Yes, Job had said something like that, yet not quite that. He had denied the charges of gross sin which his friends brought against him, and he had, in that sense, declared that he was righteous, and so he was. There may have been in Job a little of the spirit which Elihu here denounces; he may, perhaps, have thought that God had not dealt well with him, in letting him fall into so much trouble, seeing that he was a righteous man. This notion, Elihu will not permit to pass unchallenged. Mistaking Job’s meaning, he denounces it, just as I have heard preachers sometimes give a description of Calvinism such as it never was, and then they have proceeded to burn the man of straw which they have themselves made. It is one of the easiest things in the world to misquote or misinterpret your opponent’s statement, and then denounce it, and think you have confuted him, whereas you have only dissipated the chimera of your own brain. Elihu proceeds to deal with Job in this fashion.
Job 34:6-9. Should I lie against my right ? my wound is incurable without transgression. What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water? Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walked with wicked men. For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.
He did not mean that Job did really go into the company of the wicked; but that, in his saying that it had been no profit to him that he should delight himself with God,—which Elihu declares that Job said, though I do not remember that he ever did say so,—he was making himself the associate of ungodly men. Any of us would be doing so if we, in our sorrowful moments, should say that we had derived no profit from delighting ourselves with God. It would not be true; it would be a rebellious and wicked speech, and, in some degree, it would be an atheistic speech.
Job 34:10. Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding : far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.
That was well spoken. Let us never, even for a moment, imagine that God can do anything that is unrighteous or unjust. God is a sovereign, and therefore he may do as he wills with his own grace; but there is never any injustice in any of the acts of his sovereignty. He is infinitely wise, and just, and merciful, in all that he does. He does as he wills, but he never wills to do anything that could possibly be better done. His own will is the best that can be.
Job 34:11-17. For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? 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. If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words. Shall even he that hateth right govern?
Do you suppose that it could be so,—that the Governor of all the earth should hate that which is right? This would be rank blasphemy.
Job 34:17. And wilt thou condemn him that is most just?
Wilt thou, poor puny mortal, arraign the Most High, and dare to condemn him who is most just?
Job 34:18-19. 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.
This is the same kind of argument as Paul used in writing to the Romans: “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” Shall the potter’s clay resist the power of the potter, who assuredly has the right to do what he wills with his own clay? And if we do not speak lightly against princes, much less should we speak against the King of kings and Lord of lords, whose infinite majesty filleth all things, What, after all, are princes, and rich men, and great men, in comparison with the great God who made them all? “They all are the work of his hands.”
Job 34:20. 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.
An invisible power takes away the strength of which they boasted, and then, what does the prince become, with all his glory, or the warrior, with all his victories? What, but so much corruption that must be buried out of sight?
Job 34:21-22. For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
How gloriously is this great truth put! This Elihu was a man of real eloquence; what a weighty sentence is this! How worthy to be treasured up in the memory! “There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” Not even in the grave can they be concealed from the eye of God; and if it were possible for them to hide beneath the skirts of death himself, yet would God perceive them, and drag them forth to judgment.
Job 34:23. For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God.
For, if man were ill treated, and more were laid upon him than ought to be, he would have cause to enter into judgment with his Maker. But God will never compromise his own eternal holiness after such a fashion as this. He will not lay upon man more than is right. You who are greatly afflicted, and in sore distress, ought to believe this; and if the Spirit of God shall give you a full conviction of the truth of it, it will afford you great comfort. The waves of your distress will come just as far as God wills, but at his bidding they must stay, as stays the sea in the fullness of its pride when Jehovah says to it, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.” Therefore, leave thy case in his hands, for he will not lay upon thee more than is right.
Job 34:24-28. He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead. Therefore he 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.
It is a dreadful thing for princes and great men when the poor begin to cry unto God against them. God will soon take up that quarrel; for, while the cries of mere politicians and partisans are unheeded by him, the cry of the afflicted always commands his attention, and he will, in due time, rectify all that is wrong.
Job 34:29. When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?
This is a most comforting question; for, if God gives quietness to the spirit, nobody can really trouble you. When Christ has once spoken peace to our heart, and given us a holy calm, then are we glad because we be quiet, and who is he that can raise a storm in our soul again? “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” also passeth all distraction. It cannot be broken by all the devils in hell. Oh, how blessed is this assurance!
Job 34:29. And when he hideth his face, who then can behold him?
If God will not be seen, who can possibly see him? If he grows wroth with a man, and leaves him, what can that man do? When even his own beloved people no longer see his face, what joy can be theirs? What can make day when the sun is gone? What can make joy when Christ is gone?
Job 34:29-30. Whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only: that the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.
God has ways of dealing with his children by which he weeds out hypocrites, lays them low, and does not suffer them to have rule over his people.
Job 34:31. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:
That is the spirit of the true-born child of God: “Father, I know that what I have suffered is a chastisement from thy hand, and I accept it as such. ‘I will not offend any more,’ I quit the sin that grieved thee.”
Job 34:32. That which I see not teach thou me:
“Show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Point out to me the evil which thou wouldest have me put away.”
Job 34:32-35. If I have done iniquity, I will do no more. 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. 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.
This man is getting proud and conceited, I think. He spoke well when he was defending God against all charges and complaints; but now that he turns upon Job, the patriarch is a wiser man and a better man than he is. Elihu is not fit to unloose the latchets of Job’s shoes, yet he begins to accuse him. It sometimes happens that dogs bark at their masters, yet the masters are not to be blamed; and it is not always the best man who reproves others. Sometimes, a very foolish man will be the loudest in his rebukes of those who are wiser and better than himself, and will find fault with those whom he ought to commend. It was so in the case of Elihu and Job.
Job 34:36-37. 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 against God.
Well, thank God, we are not going to be judged by Elihu, nor by any other of our fellow-creatures; to our own Master we stand or fall, and if we trust in him, he will make us to stand even in the great day of judgment itself, blessed be his holy name!