Good morning! Today in Job 32-34 another conversation partner picks up after Job and his debate with the companions comes to an end. The young man Elihu joins the fray to speak in opposition to Job and defense of God. Elihu is angry at Job for being angry at God, and at the three companions for not having better answers against Job. In chapter 32, this young hotshot acknowledges that none of the companions had adequate responses to Job, but he stands to deliver a better response instead. He cannot hold his opinions back any longer, lest they cause him a heart attack.
I’m not sure there is much difference in substance with what Elihu says, though there is in intensity. Elihu’s speech of 33-34 (which will extend further tomorrow) consists of a full-throated defense of God’s righteousness. Job makes an idol of himself when he proclaims his own purity and God’s unjust punishment. God gives all sorts of warnings for the unrighteous to repent (dreams, premonitions, pain, illness, etc.), and this is evidence of God’s mercy. If the one doomed for death is rescued, he rightly should—out of gratitude for being saved—declare God righteous and acknowledge whatever sin had him dangling over the precipice of death. The fact that God rescues people multiple times and gives many warnings is proof of God’s benevolence and desire to show mercy. Elihu contends that the very fact of one’s life on earth is evidence that God continues to extend mercy and grace, because in an instant God could recall breath and all flesh would perish. Therefore, calamity MUST be the judgment of God and/or meant to instill repentance. Elihu sees all the suffering of Job as an invitation to repent and recover, but he cannot put his finger on Job’s sins any more than the others have done. He simply contends that Job hasn’t shown humility to God, so Elihu wishes he were tested even further for his rebellion against God. This is the verbal equivalent of throwing the Bible at the one who suffers.
Unfortunately, we’ll have one more day of Elihu’s rebukes, but then we finally get to hear God respond. In the meantime, you might skim Elihu’s speech. Though young, he’s peddling an age-old spiritual schema. Blame the victim for whatever sin must have caused their predicament (in an attempt to believe that random chaos couldn’t happen to one as righteous as oneself). Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Job 35-37. Thanks for reading!