Elihu's Discipline and Correction of Job

Elihu's Discipline and Correction of Job

by Pat Gates
via Our Hope Online

Job 34

Elihu's Charge Against Job 

  1. Speaks without knowledge
  2. Words without wisdom
  3. Answers like a wicked man
  4. Is rebellious and multiplies his words against God

"Job speaks without knowledge,
His words are without wisdom.
Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost,
Because his answers are like those of wicked men!
For he adds rebellion to his sin;
He claps his hands among us,
And multiplies his words against God
” (Job 34:35-37)

Elihu's Evidence: Job's Own Words that Can't Be Denied 

  1. God is not just in regards to Job and his innocence.

    "For Job has said, ‘I am righteous,
    But God has taken away my justice;
    Should I lie concerning my right?
    My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression
    " (Job 34:5-6)

  2. It does not profit man to serve God.
    "For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing
    That he should delight in God’
    " (Job 34:9)

Elihu's Correction and Discipline of Job Using Truth about the Almighty's Justice


Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding:
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And from the Almighty to commit iniquity
(Job 34:10).

"The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works
(Psalms 145:17).

"For He repays man according to his work,
And makes man to find a reward according to his way.
Surely God will never do wickedly,
Nor will the Almighty pervert justice
(Job 34:11-12)

"He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness
" (Psalms 9:8).

"Who gave Him charge over the earth?
Or who appointed Him over the whole world?
If He should set His heart on it,
If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath,
All flesh would perish together,
And man would return to dust
(Job 34:13-15).

"Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things"
(Acts 17:23-25).

If you have understanding, hear this;
Listen to the sound of my words
(Job 34:16).

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
(Matthew 11:15).

"Should one who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn Him who is most just?
Is it fitting to say to a king, ‘You are worthless,’
And to nobles, ‘You are wicked’?
(Job 34:17-18).

"Surely you have things turned around!
Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;
For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”?
Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
(Isaiah 29:16).

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?"
(Romans 9:20-21).

"Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?"
(Hebrews 12:9)

"Yet He is not partial to princes,
Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor;
For they are all the work of His hands.
In a moment they die, in the middle of the night;
The people are shaken and pass away;
The mighty are taken away without a hand
(Job 34:19-20).

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe" (Deuteronomy 10:17).

"But from those who seemed to be something — whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man — for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me" (Galatians 2:6).

For His eyes are on the ways of man,
And He sees all his steps.
There is no darkness nor shadow of death
Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves
(Job 34:21-22).

"If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You"
(Psalms 139:11-12).

"For He need not further consider a man,
That he should go before God in judgment.
He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry,
And sets others in their place.
Therefore He knows their works;
He overthrows them in the night,
And they are crushed.
He strikes 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 caused the cry of the poor to come to Him;
For He hears the cry of the afflicted.
When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?
And when He hides His face, who then can see Him,
Whether it is against a nation or a man alone? — That the hypocrite should not reign,
Lest the people be ensnared
(Job 34:23-30).

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales
" (Isaiah 40:12-15).

"For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne chastening; I will offend no more;
Teach me what I do not see;
If I have done iniquity, I will do no more’?
Should He repay it according to your terms,
Just because you disavow it?
You must choose, and not I;
Therefore speak what you know
(Job 34:31-33).

"What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Romans 9:14-16).

Job 35

Why Elihu Corrects Job

"Moreover Elihu answered and said: Do you think this is right? Do you say, "My righteousness is more than God's? What advantage will it be to You? What profit shall I have more than if I had sinned?"" (Job 35:1-2)

Notice Elihu responds to Job and his companions (Job 35:4). Why would he include the companions in his response?

Elihu recognized the friends "heaped up words against Job" that were not based on truth. The friends had implied that only the wicked could suffer to the degree Job was suffering, therefore Job must be wicked. I believe Elihu is setting out to prove this idea about Job as well as Job's charge against God were both wrong.

While Job never these exact words that he was more righteous than God or "what profit shall I have more than if I had sinned," the implication is there in some of Job's complaints (see also Job 34:9).

The commentators who place Elihu on the same level as the other three friends make a big issue out of the fact that Elihu charged Job with saying something he didn't say. In part they are right, in that those exact words were said by Job in describing the wicked (Job 21:7-15). Job is refuting Eliphaz's speech that the wicked always suffer when actually, at times, the wicked live in prosperity and die at an old age. Job describes the wicked as saying there would have been no profit to them to serve God as they have prospered without Him. 

I'm not totally sure why Elihu said this unless he was using Job's own words in order to help Job understand his mindset was the same as what he had accused the wicked of: Describing righteousness to himself apart from God. While Job never came out and said, "What profit shall I have more than if I had sinned," he did imply such during his complaint against God:

In Job 9:14-24: After accusing God of "crushing" him and "multiplying wounds without cause," he goes on to say, "I am blameless ... He destroys the blameless and the wicked. If the scourge slays suddenly, He laughs at the plight of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, who else could it be?" Again, Job never said he was serving God for nothing, but in this statement he made it shows his thinking that it doesn't matter to God if you're blameless or wicked, God gets some sort of enjoyment from seeing the plight of the innocent and preventing righteous judgement on the earth.

You may think, surely Job didn't believe God actually laughs at the trials of the innocent, but that is exactly what he said. Righteous men can falter and later Job repents of speaking on things he didn't understand. I've mentioned this in the past, but in my early 20's after my son's heart surgery at 5 years old, a series of events happened where I felt like we were just pawns of a game God was playing with humans. The thought came at a very painful time and thankfully I thought differently the next day and repented of thinking evil about God and misjudging Him. 

Job 9:27-31 is even more clear on why Elihu said what he did about Job: "If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile,’ I am afraid of all my sufferings; I know that You will not hold me innocent. If I am condemned, Why then do I labor in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, And cleanse my hands with soap, Yet You will plunge me into the pit, And my own clothes will abhor me."

In Job 16:6-17: "He tears me in His wrath, and hates me; He gnashes at me with His teeth" (Job 16:9). "I was at ease, but he has shattered me" (Job 16:12). "He pierces my heart and does not pity" (Job 16:13). "My face is flushed from weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; although no violence is in my hands, and my prayer is pure" (Job 16:16-17).

Where Job Was Wrong

Homer Hailey in his commentary of Job book describes Elihu with "cocky self-assurance" and that Elihu had "lost none of his ego." With all due respect, I disagree. I believe Elihu is speaking in all confidence because he understands God is not unjust nor does He take pleasure in the suffering of a righteous man. Wouldn't we speak the same way? If we were talking to a brother or sister in Christ and they were saying God didn't care about them and even laughed at their plight, would we not speak with all confidence and "speak where the Bible speaks"? 

"Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity. For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way. Surely God will never do wickedly, Nor will the Almighty pervert justice" (Job 34:10-12).

"Look to the heavens ... behold the clouds which are higher than you" (Job 35:5). There is no creation so humbling than looking up at the sky and seeing how low ... how small we are. If we are ever tempted to think our reasoning excels God's then the first thing we can do to help straighten out our pride is look to the heavens.

In Job 35:6-8: How do our sins or our righteousness affect God? Do our transgressions harm God? Does our righteousness give something to God He doesn't already possess to a much greater degree than ourselves? Our sins and our righteousness only affects mankind and has no bearing on who God is, the judgements He makes, nor do they change God's character in anyway.

So, Job, your righteousness nor wickedness (as proposed by the friends) has affected God's judgment as God's ways are not determined by man's ideas of Him but rather God determines how man should walk before Him.

In Job 35:9-13: During oppression man cries out to God for help but where is man's gratitude to God for the blessings that flow, "who gives songs in the night."

God does not answer the cries when:

  • Evil men are full of pride.
  • When man's talk is empty.

In Job 35:14-16: Job, although you say you don't see Him (or his justice), be assured God is just and you must wait on His righteous judgment in His time.

God has been patient and has not punished Job's vain speeches, nor his words that weren't according to knowledge.