In Job 32 we meet one of the most enigmatic characters in all of the Bible. Elihu wasn’t named among Job’s counsellors/visitors in chapter 1. He isn’t named by God when God rebukes Job’s friends in chapter 42. He has the longest speech of any of the human speakers in Job, yet Job does not reply to him.
Elihu tells us he has been there with Job and the others the whole time. He has been listening to their words. He hasn’t spoken up until now out of respect seeing he is younger than all the others.
Some have suggested Elihu is a made-up character who was added to the story sometime after it was originally written. Of course there are some who think the entire book of Job is a work of fiction. There is nothing in the text itself or in the history of the book of Job which provides reason to hold to any view that sees any portion of Job or even Elihu as fictional.
Some have suggested Elihu is exactly as he describes himself and the reason he is not rebuked by God at the end of the book is because he gets a lot right in his speech, unlike the other men.
Some have suggested Elihu is exactly as he describes himself and the reason he is not rebuked by God at the end of the book is because of his youthfulness and arrogance. Essentially God overlooks his youthful exuberance and doesn’t draw anymore attention to him by even mentioning him. This would also be why Job doesn’t offer a reply. Basically Elihu has a serious case of “Young Man’s Disease”. He vents his anger and everyone just kind of moves on…
Over the years I have oscillated between the last two options. We will look closely at Elihu’s words as we work through the next several chapters and come to a conclusion of sorts when we get to the end of his speech.
Chapter 32 is really just his opening remarks. We are introduced to Elihu by learning his family line. A significant textual reason to see him as an historical figure. We are told by the narrator that Elihu is angry with Job and Job’s three friends. We are told that he has been waiting due to his youthfulness. We are told again that he is burning with anger. Four times in the first five verses attention is given to Elihu’s anger.
When Elihu begins to speak he basically introduces himself by summarising his youthfulness and then saying he is about to burst and cannot sit by silently anymore. He thought wisdom was with the aged but these men have proven that is not the case since thy have failed to give an answer to Job, so now he is going to give his opinion.
The actual content to Elihu’s answer doesn’t begin until chapter 33…
At this point, regardless of what Elihu will actually saw when he gets around to saying it, he hasn’t gotten off to the best start.
We read these words from Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4 & 5:
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.1 Timothy 4:12
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.1 Timothy 5:1-2
There is no issue with Elihu taking an opportunity to speak. Youth does not disqualify someone from having wisdom or knowing truth more clearly than those who are older. However, how we speak and how we speak to those who are older than us is as important as what we say. Even when we say things that are true and correct, if spoken in anger or arrogance we will discredit ourselves and disrespect those we are speaking to.
This is not exclusively a young man’s problem, but it is often a young man’s problem. As Paul told Titus, young men will need to learn self-control. That truth wasn’t new in Paul’s day and it hasn’t changed up until our day.
Young men – study truth to be sure. Know God and His Word. Evidence that you really do know God and not just a lot about God will be your love for Him and love for others – humility.
The goal isn’t a head full of true facts and then becoming a raging theologian, but to be transformed by the truth of Christ into a humble servant of God and others.
Soli Deo Gloria
Items to focus your faith: