After Elihu introduces himself and makes known his concern and love for Job, he begins a defense which represents God and his justice.
“Hear my words, you wise men,
and give ear to me, you who know;…
For Job has said, ‘I am in the right,
and God has taken away my right;
6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar;
my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ ~Job 34:2, 5-6
Elihu again proves respectful.
Firstly, before he even begins, he counts his listeners – those older men with whom he clearly disagrees on this matter – wise men. He does not discount their understanding or insult their intelligence. And it’s not patronizing. This young guy knows that his elders may indeed be in the wrong here, but he recognizes that they deserve honor and respect for all the experience, know-how, and qualifications they bring to the table.
Secondly, he again quotes Job. He does not put words in Job’s mouth or assume any unseen motives. Elihu proves wise by focusing only on the facts as stated by Job himself.
He goes on to make his case, not in an effort to make Job look bad or satisfy himself with how right he is, but to restore Job’s spiritual thinking and reconcile him to the God they both loved.
His method? Magnify God’s justice. Assure men of God’s goodness. Remind Job of the sure judgement of all. Confront specific sins. Urge repentance.
Job had spoken foolishly while bearing an exceptionally heavy load of grief. Elihu knows the danger and temptation Job faces if he continues in self-pity. He knows what will become of Job if he becomes self-righteous.
Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty ~Job 34:17
Is God wrong, Job? Or are you?
Elihu shows Job what was wrong with what he’d said. It’s not that God isn’t just, it’s that humans cannot understand his justice.
Men of understanding will say to me,
and the wise man who hears me will say:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;
his words are without insight.’
36 Would that Job were tried to the end,
because he answers like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin;
he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.” ~Job 34:34-37
Unbelieving people are going to think you are more foolish than they! By disrespecting God you are disrespecting yourself! You sound like someone you are not, Job. Submit to the wisdom of God’s providence and trust him in your time of suffering.
Elihu shows Job how damaging to his good reputation and witness his wrong words and thoughts were.
Easy for Elihu to say, right? I know. So how did he keep from being taken for a know-it-all-I-have-all-the-answers jerk to a guy who didn’t need to hear it from some young punk who couldn’t begin to understand the difficulty of his listener’s circumstances?
He entered humbly. He made sure Job knew beyond the shadow of a doubt beforehand that he was a friend; an advocate who was certainly on his side. He exhibited patience and waited for the proper time and opportunity to speak. He avoided hearsay and presumption and dealt only with facts directly stated by Job. He was respectful even though he was righteously angry and in disagreement with Job. He focuses on the truth of God rather than his own opinions or preferences. He wasn’t wishy-washy or cowardly with his exhortations.
If anyone was wise, it was Elihu. I have much to learn from him.