Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gleanings in Job #15

Continuing in my devotional series on Job...

Elihu Speaks (32)

We have come to the place in the book of Job where Job's three critical friends have been silenced. After a series of long dialogs attempting to correct Job, and his rebuttals to each of their speeches, they are unable to answer him.

Job 32:1 opens by saying that Job's friends ceased to answer Job.

However, one friend remains who has not yet spoken who arises to defend God's honor in light of what he perceives as Job's self-righteousness.

Elihu, son of Barakel, a Buzite. Elihu may had been a distance relative of Abraham. Elihu is the son of Barakel, who was a Buzite. Buz, according to Genesis 22:20, was a nephew of Abraham, and his older brother was Uz, the land where Job came.

There are a good deal of commentators - generally of the liberal bent - who believe the chapters of Elihu speeches were added at a later date. They argue these chapters were not a part of the original story or narrative. Some of the reasons they claim this:

- Elihu is mentioned no where else in the book.
- His style and language differ from the rest of the book.
- His arguments add nothing new to the book.
- Job did not answer Elihu.

But, all these points are easily answerable:

- The text states that Elihu did not speak until this point because he was a young man and respected his elders to speak first.
- He hadn't spoken because he did not carry the weight of authority as the other three friends.
- His style and language should be different, because he is a different person.
- His arguments would also be different, because he is offering different arguments.
- Job did not answer Elihu because God Almighty interrupted him to speak for Himself before Job and his friends.

As we have seen, Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, all claimed he was suffering his severe trials because he was receiving retribution for unconfessed, personal sin. The friends accused Job of such things of taking advantage of the weak, like widows and orphans, of misusing his authority as a wealthy man against those who are helpless, and just being an all-around scoundrel to his fellow man. Job's responses to his friends were to deny these accusation and to offer his own rebuttal to what he rightly perceived as absurd, speculation about his situation.

Elihu, on the other hand, answered Job with the counsel he needed to hear.

Rather than accusing Job of suffering because of retribution for unconfessed, personal sin, Elihu points out how Job's suffering was stirring up self-righteousness and Job was in danger of becoming sinful.

The record of Job tells us Job did not sin against God by charging him with any wrong (1:22) or sin against God with his lips (2:10). Though it is certainly true Job never accused God of acting sinfully against him, however, as he debated with his three friends as to the reason why they claimed Job suffered under such heavy trials, he was becoming bitter. Trials test our faith, and our response to trials can either be good or bad. Job was beginning to steer toward having a bad attitude, rather than one which kept focus upon who God is.

When Elihu first speaks, he was becoming angry at both Job and his friends. He was angry with Job because his attitude giving a distorted picture of God. He was angry at his three friends because they were neither helping Job think through his trial properly, nor were they answering him as they should. They didn't give the arguments Job needed to hear.

In the chapters which follow, Job 33-37, Elihu attempts to help Job recapture the correct view of God by pointing out three realities of who God is:

I) God does hear and has spoken

II) God is just and acts fair

III) God is sovereign, and acts wisely

These three foundational arguments can be taken to heart by even those in our day and age suffering through trials. Elihu's correctives not only helped reorient Job to think right about God in times of trial, but can also help us.



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