"Oh, that I had someone to hear me!"Well, God is listening, of course, and He's about to intervene. But first, a young man, apparently a protege of the four old codgers, can't stand the blah-blah-blah any more, and bursts out...I can't stand it any more! (Actually, he says...)
"I am young in years,Then, having gotten his wind up (and probably having put the old guys to sleep), he begins to let Job have it...
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, 'Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.'
But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.
"Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.
I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,
I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
Do not say, 'We have found wisdom;
let God refute him, not man.'
But Job has not marshaled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.
"They are dismayed and have no more to say;
words have failed them.
Must I wait, now that they are silent,
now that they stand there with no reply?
I too will have my say;
I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one,
nor will I flatter any man;
for if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon take me away.
"But now, Job, listen to my words;And Elihu continues on all the way for four more chapters, expounding on the virtues of God and how Job ought to be ashamed of himself for even questioning The Almighty's ways.
pay attention to everything I say.
I am about to open my mouth;
my words are on the tip of my tongue.
My words come from an upright heart;
my lips sincerely speak what I know.
The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Answer me then, if you can;
prepare yourself and confront me.
I am just like you before God;
I too have been taken from clay.
No fear of me should alarm you,
nor should my hand be heavy upon you.
"But you have said in my hearing—
I heard the very words-
'I am pure and without sin;
I am clean and free from guilt.
Yet God has found fault with me;
he considers me his enemy.
He fastens my feet in shackles;
he keeps close watch on all my paths.'
"But I tell you, in this you are not right,
for God is greater than man.
Why do you complain to him
that he answers none of man's words?
For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men
as they slumber in their beds,
he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,
to turn man from wrongdoing
and keep him from pride,
to preserve his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.
Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in his bones,
so that his very being finds food repulsive
and his soul loathes the choicest meal.
His flesh wastes away to nothing,
and his bones, once hidden, now stick out.
His soul draws near to the pit,
and his life to the messengers of death.
"Yet if there is an angel on his side
as a mediator, one out of a thousand,
to tell a man what is right for him,
to be gracious to him and say,
'Spare him from going down to the pit;
I have found a ransom for him'-
then his flesh is renewed like a child's;
it is restored as in the days of his youth.
He prays to God and finds favor with him,
he sees God's face and shouts for joy;
he is restored by God to his righteous state.
Then he comes to men and says,
'I sinned, and perverted what was right,
but I did not get what I deserved.
He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit,
and I will live to enjoy the light.'
"God does all these things to a man—
twice, even three times-
to turn back his soul from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on him.
"Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
If you have anything to say, answer me;
speak up, for I want you to be cleared.
But if not, then listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom."
Finally, God Himself intervenes, and shares with us all His Mightiness, and our mini-ness (Job 38-41). Job repents in chapter 42, God rebukes Job's three friends, Job's luck turns for the better (though we wonder if he remains haunted by the memories), he lives to a ripe old age and passes away peacefully.
But here's one of the many mysteries of Job. What about Elihu? He had rambled on for six chapters. Six chapters of pretty good preaching, he had pointed out most of the good things of God and the bad things of man in one sermon. But as soon as he is finished, he disappears from the text. No more Elihu. No rebuke or well done from God. No shut up and sit down from the three friends. No "I told you so" from Job. God makes a point of addressing Job, and the three friends, but not Elihu. It almost looks like you could excise chapters 32-37 of the book, and it would be the same.
Had anyone heard or cared about the words of Elihu? Did he make a contribution to the discussion, either positive or negative? Was he the straw that broke God's back, and forced him to speak up, or was he God's voice of wisdom, as he claimed? Or did his sermon have another purpose? What do you think?
Sir Chuck, surveyor of mysteries