1 - 8 God Doesn’t Need Anything From Anyone
1 Then Elihu continued and said,
2 “Do you think this is according to justice?
Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s’?
3 “For you say, ‘What advantage will it be to You?
What profit will I have, more than if I had sinned?’
4 “I will answer you,
And your friends with you.
5 “Look at the heavens and see;
And behold the clouds—they are higher than you.
6 “If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him?
And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?
7 “If you are righteous, what do you give to Him,
Or what does He receive from your hand?
8 “Your wickedness is for a man like yourself,
And your righteousness is for a son of man.
Job has suggested that God-fearing living is of no use to God. Therefore, Elihu continues to answer Job and teach him about the true Godliness, possibly after a pause to give Job the opportunity to react, which does not come (verse 1). He again quotes what Job has said (verse 2; Job 32:2). He says to Job, in questioning form, whether he finds it righteous that his “righteousness is more than God’s”. Job thinks that he is right in judging his situation and that God is wrong in treating him like this.
Elihu explains in verse 3 with a new quote from Job what Job has said in verse 2. The word “for” indicates this. For Job has asserted that not sinning brings no more benefit than sinning (cf. Job 9:22; 10:15). He has not sinned and yet God has brought the most terrible disasters upon him. Well, then there is no point in fearing God. Paul speaks very differently when he says that Godliness with contentment brings benefits, even great gain (1Tim 6:6; cf. Mal 3:14).
But Elihu – “I” has emphasis – will answer Job with words that will make it clear to him that he is very much mistaken (verse 4). That answer is not only for Job, but also for his friends. They too must listen to Elihu carefully because they have accused Job from their wrong view of God.
In verse 5 Elihu speaks about God’s greatness in creation. At the end of his speech he will talk about nothing else. Then, that is from Job 36:26 and onward, he speaks about the clouds and the weather to point to God’s control of all things. He has arranged things in creation in such a way that we cannot influence them. He is so much higher than Job.
Elihu points Job to the heavens and the clouds above him. In comparison, he must feel insignificant. They are enormously high above him. What can he do with them? Nothing at all. He can’t touch them. He can’t reach them. They’re completely beyond his control. The heavens stretch motionless above him. The clouds float by. He can’t exert influence on either of them, causing them to change place or course.
So it is with God. If Job or a man sins against God, it does not change anything about or in Him (verse 6; cf. Jer 7:19). He is always the same God Who is infinitely high above him. Even if a man transgresses His commandments many times, it does not negatively affect Him, it does not harm Him. Man cannot take anything away from Him.
The same applies in the opposite case (verse 7). If Job or a man lives as a righteous man, God does not become richer as a result. Man cannot give Him anything that He does not possess, for everything is His. God is dependent on no one, there is nothing lacking in Him. He has all happiness in Himself, He is “the blessed God” (1Tim 1:11). No one can diminish or increase His happiness. He can let others share in it. That is the great subject of the New Testament: the love of God.
No, Job’s bad or good deeds have no effect on God. What Job does only affects other people. If he commits wickedness and thereby dishonors God’s Name, it only affects his equal, a man like himself (verse 8). He damages them because of his wickedness. The same goes for a righteous deed he would do. Only a human being would benefit from this.
9 - 13 Why God Sometimes Does Not Answer
9 “Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out;
They cry for help because of the arm of the mighty.
10 “But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
Who gives songs in the night,
11 Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth
And makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’
12 “There they cry out, but He does not answer
Because of the pride of evil men.
13 “Surely God will not listen to an empty [cry],
Nor will the Almighty regard it.
God is far above man, but therefore He is not yet without attention for man. This may seem so, because He sometimes does not answer the call for help (verse 9). That cry for help comes to Him from the oppressed who cry out because “of the arm of the mighty” weighs heavily upon them. And these oppressions go on and on, without God intervening. They do cry out, but that is only to be freed from the power of their oppressors, not to be free for God.
They do not cry out to Him in recognition that He is their Maker (verse 10). Job has acknowledged that (Job 10:8). That recognition is lacking among the oppressed. If there was, it would mean that they also serve Him and they don’t want to do that. Through their denial of their Maker they also block the way to a happy life, a life they will live even if the circumstances are difficult, if it is night in their lives. God gives to those who acknowledge Him as their Maker “about midnight … singing hymns of praise” to Him (cf. Acts 16:25; Psa 42:9). This is because they have faith in Him in trouble. Therefore they must have a relationship with Him.
Man’s recognition as an erect being that God is His Maker is the wisdom he possesses over the animals of the earth and the birds of the air (verse 11). There is no sense of God in the animals. They do cry out to Him (Ps. 147:9), but without a sense of God. Man who does not acknowledge Him as Maker is not even equal to these animals, but lowers himself below them. Animals know no better, while man deliberately excludes God as his Maker (2Pet 3:5; Rom 1:19-23).
Such people do cry out to God when they are in need (verse 12), but they do not want to bow down to Him as their Maker. Their crying is disingenuous and hollow. They are arrogant and therefore God does not answer. Elihu states that God is not indifferent to people, but that people are indifferent to Him. People want God to save them, but they are not interested in honoring Him as their Creator, Savior, and Source of wisdom.
This is the kind of people who are hungry and want bread while at the same time they do not want God. This is what the Lord Jesus said to the crowd: “You seek Me, … because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (Jn 6:26). Their hearts only went out to Him because He gave them a full stomach, but they did not want His message. An appeal to God must be made in the right spirit, in the recognition of Who He is (Psa 51:19).
God does not listen to the lie, to what is not in accordance with the truth (verse 13). The born blind person joins Elihu when he says: “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him” (Jn 9:31). God does not hear the liar, and as the Almighty He does not see him. He turns ear and eye away from him. God can only behold someone in connection with Christ. A sinner who acknowledges to be a sinner may know that Christ has accomplished everything for him. For this reason God accepts him.
14 - 16 Learning to Wait
14 “How much less when you say you do not behold Him,
The case is before Him, and you must wait for Him!
15 “And now, because He has not visited [in] His anger,
Nor has He acknowledged transgression well,
16 So Job opens his mouth emptily;
He multiplies words without knowledge.”
Elihu has explained why God sometimes does not answer when a cry is made to Him. By this he does not mean to say that Job is a proud sinner who is insincere and does not fear God. God Himself has given His clear testimony about this (Job 1:1,8; 2:3). What Elihu wants to make clear to Job is that the reason for God’s silence lies with man.
Job has said that he does not behold God (verse 14; Job 23:3), that God does not respond to his complaints and does not show Himself. He is in great distress and struggles with the reason for this. In his life he cannot find any justification for the misery God has brought upon him. As a result, he has come to accuse God of iniquity and to start, as it were, a trial before Him (Job 23:4). But to his great disappointment, God does not appear at the trial!
Elihu does not blame Job for this, but gives him advice: “Wait for Him.” It is important that Job takes a different attitude towards God. He must stop calling God to account and forcing Him to justify him. He can only patiently take this waiting attitude if he accepts and acknowledges that God is not human and that he cannot control Him. God does not let Himself be commanded. Then he will wait for God in the confidence that He is in control.
Elihu points out to Job that he may be thankful that God did not respond to his summons and did not appear at the trial he had planned. God has been reticent towards him and has not punished him in His wrath (verse 15). In the same reticence, God also has not “acknowledged transgression well” which Job expressed about Him.
God’s attitude has been interpreted by Job as indifference. This caused him so much inner turmoil that he could not keep his mouth shut (verse 16). A multitude of words came out of his mouth, both to God and to his friends, to defend himself. From those words, however, it has become clear that he has no knowledge of the ways that God goes with a man, with him, and with the purpose that is before Him.
From Christians we may expect insight about Who God is. The knowledge that God “did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all” (Rom 8:32), is enough to know in all difficulties that nothing and no one “will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).