JOB CHAPTER 34.
Elihu’s Censure of Job.
JOB ACCUSED OF FALSEHOOD AND BLASPHEMY. — V. 1. Furthermore Elihu answered and said, in further refuting Job’s charge that God was acting in a cruel and unjust manner, v. 2. Hear my words, O ye wise men, the presence of an audience listening to the debate being assumed; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge, impartial men, with a calm and judicious mind. V. 3. For the ear trieth words, proving, testing, sifting the true from the false, the good from the bad, as the mouth, the palate, tasteth meat, making a careful distinction between various foods taken into the mouth. V. 4. Let us choose to us judgment, proving, testing, what was right in the controversy between God and Job; let us know among ourselves what is good, reaching a common conclusion concerning their Verdict in the case. V. 5. For Job hath said, I am righteous, I am right, innocent; and God hath taken away my judgment, depriving him of his right; for so Job had insisted, chap. 27, 2. V. 6. Should I lie against my right, or, in spite of the fact that right is on my side I shall still be counted a liar, this being the sense of Job’s remarks in chap. 9, 20. My wound is incurable without transgression, literally, “mine arrow,” for the arrow of God’s punishment piercing him was inflicting an incurable wound without Job’s having deserved it, as he thought. These statements excited Elihu to the deepest resentment. V. 7. What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water? For in his suspecting the divine justice Job was filling himself with scornful speeches and then uttering them in a blasphemous manner. V. 8. Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men, making it a habit to consort with men of wickedness; for by uttering his blasphemous speeches, Job had lowered himself to the level of evil-doers, of the blaspheming rabble. V. 9. For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God, by living in friendship and fellowship with God, this sentiment having frequently been uttered by Job as his impatience carried him away in his complaint. It is such an easy matter to go too far in making complaints, to use expressions which, if not actually accusing God of injustice, at least sound very much like an attempt at it.
PROOF OF THE DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS. — V. 10. Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding, the same men being appealed to for a verdict to whom Elihu had first addressed himself. Far be it from God that He should do wickedness, to deal in a mean, unjust, and cruel manner, and from the Almighty that He should commit iniquity, actually commit a crime. V. 11. For the work of a man shall He render unto him, recompensing to every man according to his deeds, and cause every man to find according to his ways, each one receiving what his works are worth, what his conduct deserves. V. 12. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment, this thought being repeated for the sake of emphasis. V. 13. Who hath given Him a charge over the earth, delivering the earth to his power, placing it under His direction? Or who hath disposed the whole world, establishing and governing the whole circle of the universe? The answer evidently is: No one but God Himself; He is the absolute Creator and Ruler, this thought excluding every selfish motive on the part of God. V. 14. If He set his heart upon man, rather, upon Himself, if He gather unto Himself His spirit and His breath, that by which the existence of all creatures is maintained, v. 15. all flesh shall perish together, with the withdrawal of the divine power and sustaining strength, and man shall turn again unto dust. Man is completely dependent upon the providence of God, and yet God does not use His majestic power in an arbitrary manner, making use of cruelty toward His creatures. V. 16. If, now, thou hast understanding, hear this, Job should use his powers of observation in a proper way; hearken to the voice of my words. Elihu wanted to impress upon Job the importance of his argument. V. 17. Shall even he that hateth right govern? The love of righteousness and justice is a condition of proper government. And wilt thou condemn Him that is most just, the mighty Just One, that is, God Himself? Surely Job would not presume upon such a course. V. 18. Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? calling him worthless and a scoundrel, and to princes, Ye are ungodly? Even to human rulers and governors one would not dare to speak thus, how much less to the almighty and all-just God on high, as Job had done! V. 19. How much less to Him that accepteth not the persons of princes nor regardeth the rich more than the poor; for with God there is no distinction of persons or rank. For they all are the work of His hands, and therefore all are held in the same regard by Him. V. 20. In a moment shall they die, perish with the greatest suddenness, and the people shall be troubled at midnight and pass away, entire nations passing away, as a sleeper who is awakened at midnight only to meet a violent death; and the mighty shall be taken away without hand, without having the hand of men touching them, being destroyed by a higher invisible power, by the command of God. V. 21. For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his goings, watching most carefully over every person’s conduct in life. V. 22. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves, since the omniscient eye of God will penetrate to every hiding-place which men may devise or discover, Ps. 139, 11. 12. V. 23. For He will not lay upon man more than right, that is, God does not need to wait long for any examination which He desires to make, for He has all men before His eyes continually, that he should enter into judgment with God. Job had pleaded that God would enter into judgment with him, since he was anxious to demonstrate his innocence. Elihu replies that God, by virtue of His omniscience, finds out men in a moment and summons them before His judgment; God was acquainted with all his ways long before any formal examination had taken place. V. 24. He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, without a long inquiry into their past records, since He is familiar with their whole lives, and set others in their stead, Luke 1, 52. V. 25. Therefore He knoweth their works, looking through even their intentions, and He overturneth them in the night, with a sudden overthrow, so that they are destroyed, crushed out of existence. V. 26. He striketh them as wicked men, as evil-doers are scorned and smitten, in the open sight of others, as a public example and a warning to all men, v. 27. because they turned back from Him, or, “for that reason they turn away from Him,” and would not consider any of His ways, v. 28. so that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto Him, in consequence of the oppression exerted upon them; and He heareth the cry of the afflicted, which is brought to His notice because the persistent wicked conduct of the godless causes the complaint of the downtrodden to penetrate to the notice of God. Thus the justice of God strikes tile unrighteous. V. 29. When He giveth quietness, giving rest and relief to the poor and oppressed, who then can make trouble, who will condemn the course of God in so acting? And when He hideth His face, who then can behold Him? If God chooses not to he graciously disposed, who will compel Him to feel that way? Whether it be done against a nation or against a man only, individuals and peoples are alike under God’s government, v. 30. that the hypocrite reign not, the ungodly person assuming control of affairs, lest the people be ensnared, their wicked rulers plunging them into ruin. All this Elihu maintained in defense of God’s righteousness and justice at all times.
JOB CHARGED WITH INCONSISTENCY. — V. 31. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, or, “Is it that one indeed says to God?” I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more, expiating, bearing punishment without having done evil. V. 32. That which I see not, not being aware of having done wrong, teach Thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more, if convinced and convicted, he would be truly penitent. V. 33. 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. These words are addressed to Job, sneeringly asking, Shall God recompense as thou wilt, following Job’s claims and demands? Should God change the rules of His righteous government to please him? Job having so criticized God, the Lord, in turn, challenges his knowledge of the right form of retribution, which is equivalent to accusing Job of downright ignorance of the worst type. V. 34. Let men of understanding tell me, to whom Elihu had twice appealed in this chapter, and let a wise man hearken unto me, that is, he who as a wise man hearkens to him. V. 35. Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom. That, Elihu thinks, must be the verdict of all men of true wisdom. V. 36. My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men, or, “Oh, that Job were but tested to the utmost on account of his objections after the manner of wicked men!” V. 37. For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, namely, by his bold and accusing speeches against God, he clappeth his hands among us, in mockery and derision, and multiplieth his words against God. Such a behavior, Elihu infers, is altogether inconsistent with the claims of true piety, as constantly made by Job. True consciousness of sinfulness would not permit a believer to address the Lord in the manner assumed by Job.