1 "Then Elihu continued and said: 2 "Hear my words, you wise men, and give ear to me, you who know; 3 for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. 4 Let us choose what is right; let us determine among ourselves what is good. 5 For Job has said, 'I am innocent, and God has taken away my right; 6 in spite of being right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.' 7 Who is there like Job, who drinks up scoffing like water, 8 who goes in company with evildoers and walks with the wicked? 9 For he has said, 'It profits one nothing to take delight in God.'"
A. Some scholars think that Elihu is generally addressing an audience of "the wise," while others would argue that he is directly addressing the friends. What do you think?
B. What is your response to v.4? Is this Elihu's way of suggesting that community, rather than tradition (as the friends emphasized) is really the source of truth?
C. His quotations of Job are not precise in every instance but seem to capture Job's approach well. Look at 9:15,21; 10:15; 16:17 on Job's innocence. Does Elihu get it right? On Job's right being taken away, look at 27:2. What is the purpose of Elihu's quoting Job in this context?
D. His use of the proverbial expression in v.7 reflects Eliphaz's words in 15:16. Is Elihu's characterization of Job to the friends compatible with his treatment of Job in chs.32-33?
10 "Therefore, hear me, you who have sense, far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. 11 For according to their deeds he will repay them, and according to their ways he will make it befall them. 12 Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. 13 Who gave him charge over the earth and who laid on him the whole world? 14 If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, 15 all flesh would perish together, and all mortals return to dust."
A. What is Elihu's basic theological principle here?
B. Is it compatible with the theology of the friends elsewhere?
16 "If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say. 17 Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn one who is righteous and mighty, 18 who says to a king, 'You scoundrel!' and to princes, 'You wicked men!'; 19 who shows no partiality to nobles, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands? 20 In a moment they die; at midnight the people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away by no human hand. 21 "For his eyes are upon the ways of mortals, and he sees all their steps. 22 There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves. 23 For he has not appointed a time for anyone to go before God in judgment. 24 He shatters the mighty without investigation, and sets others in their place. 25 Thus, knowing their works, he overturns them in the night, and they are crushed. 26 He strikes them for their wickedness while others look on, 27 because they turned aside from following him, and had no regard for any of his ways, 28 so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to him, and he heard the cry of the afflicted-- 29 When he is quiet, who can condemn? When he hides his face, who can behold him, whether it be a nation or an individual?-- 30 so that the godless should not reign, or those who ensnare the people."
A. This is a long passage, and I will only pose a few questions on select verses. The passage is confusing in a number of particulars. We should probably not see v. 17 as the wise "condeming" of God but rather as "understanding" (v.16) not condemning God. What is Elihu's theology in this passage?
B. Look at v.23. What might that mean? Could it mean that a day of judgment has not come? Or, might it also suggest that Job himself, who wants a trial with God, is not yet able to get one--because it is not yet the right time? If we adopt the latter interpretation, what might that suggest about the friends' willingness to "judge Job" before his trial?
C. But then, what is the meaning of v.24? If God can shatter any that he wants without judgment, what is the need for a trial? Does this subtly foreshadow Job 38, where God will appear and judge Job without trial? Thus, does Elihu really have more insight into the workings of God and the universe than scholars think?
D. What might be the implication of v.29 for both Job and the friends?
31 "For has anyone said to God, 'I have endured punishment; I will not offend any more; 32 teach me what I do not see; if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more'? 33 Will he then pay back to suit you, because you reject it? For you must choose, and not I; therefore declare what you know. 34 Those who have sense will say to me, and the wise who hear me will say, 35 'Job speaks without knowledge, his words are without insight.' 36 Would that Job were tried to the limit, because his answers are those of the wicked. 37 For he adds rebellion to his sin; he claps his hands among us, and multiplies his words against God."
A. The NIV has an interesting translation of vv.31-33 that makes it vividly apply to Job-- "Suppose a man says to God, 'I am guilty but will offend no more. Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wring, I will not do so again.' Should God then reward you on your terms when you refuse to repent?" What would be the meaning of Elihu's words to Job if we used that translation?
B. Is Elihu sympathetic or unsympathetic to Job in the rest of the passage? Might this be an expression of Elihu's refusal to "flatter" (32:21-22)?