1 "Elihu continued and said: 2 "Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God's behalf. 3 I will bring my knowledge from far away, and ascribe righteousness to my Maker. 4 For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you."
A. Does Elihu's confidence (arrogance?) regarding having something to say on behalf of God strike you negatively olr positively?
B. Why is the knowledge from "far away?"
C. The word "perfect" (v.4) is the same word (or derived from the same word) as the word translated "integrity" or "blameless," referring to Job, in the book (1:1; 27:6, etc.). What is the effect of having two "perfect" people speaking to each other?
5 "Surely God is mighty and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding. 6 He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. 7 He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted. 8 And if they are bound in fetters and caught in the cords of affliction, 9 then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly. 10 He opens their ears to instruction, and commands that they return from iniquity. 11 If they listen, and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness. 12 But if they do not listen, they shall perish by the sword, and die without knowledge."
A. Here Elihu says that God "does not despise." Earlier (34:24), Elihu says that God shatters the mighty "without investigation." How do you explain these two potentially paradoxical thoughts?
B. The word "despise" is the same word Job uses in 7:16 and 42:6 ("I despise"). I have argued elsewhere that this is one of Job's strongest words, which actually precedes his mental collapse. When it is used with respect to God, what might it suggest?
C. Elihu's theology is traditional here--the picture of God is one that is amply supported in the rest of the Scriptures. Do you think Job would disagree with him at this point?
D. Elihu is really interested, however, in getting to God's principle of action in the world, captured in these verses. What is it?
E. Verse 9 seems crucial in all of this. God sees the king acting and makes known his work and transgressions to him, letting the king know that he is acting arrogantly. How do you think God does this?
F. What is key for the king's ability to live prosperously?
13 "The godless in heart cherish anger; they do not cry for help when he binds them. 14 They die in their youth, and their life ends in shame. 15 He delivers the afflicted by their affliction, and opens their ear by adversity."
A. The thought that comes out of these verses is so significant for Elihu and, in my mind, for Job that I will treat it here and in the next study. In contrast to the king who hears, what happens to the godless who "cherish anger?" Do you see any oblique, or explicit, reference to Job in this?
B. The contrast between one who has ears "open to instruction" (v.10) and one who "cherishes anger" (v.13) is strong. Speak of times in your life when you were open, or closed, to instruction. When also did you cherish anger? What were the results of each type of activity?
C. The principle in v. 15 is the "million dollar" principle, at least for me, in the Book of Job. Describe it.
D. Care should be taken to notice the effect of the prepositions in v.15. The word translated "by" can be rendered either "by" or "in the midst of." What would be the difference between the two translations?
E. Is this a stronger statement than simply saying that pain or anguish is "God's instruction?" That is, if deliverance is in distress as well as by means of distress, what does this suggest about distress?