With the words of Job ended, we see that the words of his three friends are also at an end. We are told specifically that they had nothing left to say to Job because he was righteous in his own eyes (32:1). This self-righteousness is in contrast to the start of our story where we are told of Job’s true righteousness (see Job 1:1). As we have seen, Job’s suffering and the words of his friends caused him to go from trusting in God to challenging God for His “injustice.” This is why Elihu is angry with Job and his friends (32:2-3). Out of respect for his elders, Elihu held his tongue for as long as he could (v. 4), but could not keep silent anymore.
Elihu then addresses the foolish words of the older men, explaining why he has remained silent (v. 6-7), but asserts that he, though younger, has true wisdom from God (vv. 8-10). He exclaim that the words Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have been speaking are foolish (vv. 11-12), and warns that he will not answer according to their folly (vv. 13-14). Besides, they have nothing else to say (vv. 15-16)! So he will answer Job with Godly wisdom, not the faulty wisdom of the word (vv. 17-18), but with fresh wisdom from God (v. 19). He will not take sides, because Godly wisdom does allow for it (v.20-22).
Then Elihu turns his attention to Job. Does Job think he is any different than anyone else? All men see their own “good” (33:3), but are all the same: products of God’s sovereignty and providence (vv. 4-6). Indeed, man is nothing before God (v. 7). Yet Job has insisted on his innocence before God (vv. 8-9) and charged God with wrongdoing (vv. 10-11). Who is Job to question God (vv. 12-14), when God is the One Who keeps Job righteous (vv. 15-18).
And here Elihu points forward to the coming Redeemer. That is how God keeps Job righteous – it is nothing he has within himself. Elihu speaks of the sufferings of this world (vv. 19-22), but is really describing the state of the natural man’s soul! Man needs a Mediator to declare him righteous (v. 23), to show Him mercy (v. 24a). Man needs someone to offer God a ransom (v. 24b) and remake him (v. 25) that he would be accepted by God and declared righteous (v. 26). He will be forgiven of his sins (v. 27) and redeemed unto eternal life, avoiding eternal punishment (v. 28). Elihu declares that this is all the work of God (v. 29). He redeems from hell and grants men life (v. 30). Elihu then tells Job that this is the only way to justification (vv. 31-32), and that his, Job’s, words have lacked wisdom (v. 33).
Elihu ends this rebuke of Job by asserting God’s justice, contrary to Job’s accusations of injustice. He declares that what he is about say will be evidently true to all of these men (34:2-4). He rebukes Job for his self-righteousness and accusations against God (vv. 5-6). He then points out how Job has allowed his three “friends” to draw them into their folly (vv. 7-9).
Elihu then rebukes all four of them, who he sarcastically calls “men of understanding” (v. 10a). Job is wrong – God cannot be unjust (v. 10b). The other three men are wrong – our condition in this world is not evidence of God’s pleasure or displeasure with us (v. 11). In fact, since God is perfectly just and perfectly sovereign, if he gave to man what he has earned in this world, everyone would be destroyed (vv. 12-15)!
However, God is just and all-powerful (v. 17), yet does not regard man – whether rich or poor (vv. 18-19). That’s why death is certain for both (v. 20). And God knows the ways of every man, and every man, on his own, deserves judgment (vv. 21-24), because they have no regard for Him (vv. 25-27), and their sins are known to Him (vv. 28-30), though man is blind to his own sin (vv. 31-32), and does not believe punishment is due to him (v. 33). These are the foolish things that Job has spoken (vv. 34-36), and therefore he has spoken against God (v. 37).
Elihu is wise beyond his years. He knows that man is self-righteous (Prov 16:25), yet that none are truly righteous (Ps 14:2-3). He knows that God alone is righteous (Isa 5:16), and that He is just (Deut 32:4). So what hope does man have? God. He has made a way for man to be righteous: Jesus Christ. And as long as we look to our own works to justify ourselves (like Job does), or condemn others for their works (like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar do), we stand condemned. But when we look to Him Whose work makes us righteous (like Elihu does), we will find mercy, and not judgment – acceptance, not condemnation.
We will sing, along with Elihu: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’ – Job 33:27–28 (ESV)