Job has finished making his case. His counselors have no further reply. The reason they give for their silence is Job’s self-righteousness. Unfortunately, they failed to see that he was righteous before God and not just in his own eyes. Rather than owning their misjudgement and error concerning him and his situation, they self-preserved in silence to make themselves appear right when – even when they had no suitable arguments left. Such is the method of many who value pride and ego over truth and love.
Fortunately, in Job chapter 32, a young moderator, Elihu, shows up with greater wisdom and impartiality than both Job or his counselors.
Elihu begins by offering the reason for his apparent lack of presence up until this point. This has been quite a heated discourse, and long. Where has this guy been the whole time?
Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. 5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said:
“I am young in years,
and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid
to declare my opinion to you. ~Job 32:4-6
Elihu was young. He was inexperienced. He had respect. He knew the danger of speaking in haste or out of turn. He understood authority and submission. Elihu was patient as well as wise. But, now that his elders have proven fools, he can no longer hold his peace.
Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me;
let me also declare my opinion.’
11 “Behold, I waited for your words,
I listened for your wise sayings,
while you searched out what to say.
12 I gave you my attention,
and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job
or who answered his words…For I am full of words;
the spirit within me constrains me.
19 Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent;
like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak, that I may find relief;
I must open my lips and answer.
21 I will not show partiality to any man
or use flattery toward any person.
22 For I do not know how to flatter,
else my Maker would soon take me away. ~Job 32:10-12, 18-22
Elihu did not just bust in as the credits were rolling and blast Job with his two cents. No. He had been listening intently all along. He had been watching and waiting for a proper opportunity. He was not quiet for lack of knowledge. He had much to say on the matter. Elihu was trusting God’s timing more than he was trusting his take on the situation.
Now, Elihu must speak. His elders have retired. His passion is burning. His God’s glory as well as his friend’s well-being is at stake. Elihu enters the scene righteously angry. (Job 32:2-3, 5)
Elihu honored Job not only by owning him the good man that he was, but also by exhorting the wrongness of his fault. He was angry at Job for misrepresenting God’s righteousness for the sake of his own. He was angry at Job’s friends for their lack of love and their misrepresentation of Job’s reputation for the sake of their own prideful need to be right. Despite seeing that they could disprove neither Job’s good example nor his good argument, they yet held onto their own to save face. They would not concede though they had no valid charge and no solid ground. They would not yield though they had no reply. “They could not make good the premises and yet they held fast the conclusion.” (Matthew Henry)
The unfair injustice of it all was like a fury in the heart of Elihu. Only after much patient listening, the young man speaks. For five chapters he leads on. He makes way for God to enter. This is how young men and women ought to approach hopeless, difficult, infuriating situations.
Lead on, church. Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.