Job’s friends have argued until they are blue in the face that God is sovereign and God is just and that the only answer to Job’s obvious suffering and grief and sickness is that he is being punished for unconfessed sin in his life.
Job has countered their arguments by saying that he agrees that God is sovereign and just, but that he doesn’t deserve to be punished because he is innocent of wrongdoing.
But how can Job argue that God is just AND that he (Job) is being punished unjustly?
Elihu and the Lord will answer that question in the chapters that come. But let me summarize what we know for sure.
- God has already called Job, “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” (Job 1:8) And we have seen that to be true. This is the man who WORSHIPPED GOD in response to the sudden and premature death of his ten children! (Job 1:20-21) This is the man who rebuked his wife when she encouraged him to forget his integrity and “curse God and die” by saying, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9-10) This is the man who said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15, referring to God), and who made that amazing and prophetic confession of faith in Job 19:25: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.” In Job 31:1, we learned that Job has made a covenant with his eyes not to look at a woman lustfully. Job is legit! There is no doubt that Job is a good and righteous man.
- Job does believe, however, that God has hidden his face from him and he has accused God of making him (Job) His enemy. (Job 13:24) He does believe that he is being unjustly punished. (Job 19:6) In response to the attacks on his character by his so-called friends, Job has defended himself and wished that God would come to his defense. (Job 23:2-7)
These arguments have come to an impasse. Job is not willing to agree with his friends that God is punishing him for sins. His friends are not willing to admit that Job is a righteous man before the Lord.
Finally, in Job 32-37, a much younger man named Elihu steps up who has apparently been listening to these older men argue. Elihu says, “I didn’t want to say anything at first because you are so much older than me, but I can’t restrain myself any longer. (Job 32:6-22)
And Elihu, this younger man, is going to be the voice of wisdom that God interjects into the conversation before God Himself speaks. Elihu is going to say, essentially, “you are both wrong.”
Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. (Job 32:2-3)