The Word Made Fresh
1Elihu continued, saying, 2“Bear with me a little while longer. I have more to say on God’s behalf. 3I will share knowledge I have learned from afar and honor my Maker’s righteousness. 4You can be sure that my words are not untrue, for they come from the One who has perfect knowledge.
5“God is all-powerful and all-knowing but does not despise anyone. 6God does not approve of evil people but does see to it that the poor ultimately receive justice. 6God does not look away from those who are righteous but lifts them up forever as though they were enthroned as rulers. 8But, when people are bound up in the chains of suffering, 9God helps them to understand the reasons behind their affliction, and how their behavior has resulted in their pain. 10God helps them to understand and tells them to turn away from their errors. 11Then, if they pay heed and remain faithful, they will finish out their lives in prosperity and their years will be pleasant. 12But if they don’t listen, they will eventually succumb to their malady and die in ignorance.
13Godless people enjoy being angry. They don’t cry out for help when God places restrictions on them. 14They die young, ending their lives among temple prostitutes. 15But those who are afflicted, God delivers by their affliction! Their ears are opened by suffering. 16God is inviting you to leave your troubles behind and enter a time with no troubles, a time when your table is laden with the food of fatness.
17“But you are obsessed with what happens to the wicked, and you are incapacitated by your ideas of judgment and justice. 18Be careful, or your anger will lead you into contempt for others and the sheer weight of your situation will hold you down. 19Do you think your cry of distress will make things better for you? Do you think you’re strong enough to overcome your troubles all by yourself? 20Don’t long for the day to end; people die in the nighttime. 21Take care that you don’t sink into sin; that’s why you’re suffering this trial. 22No one is as powerful as God. God is the best teacher. 23No one can tell God what to do, and no one can accuse God of making a mistake.
24“Never forget to praise God. People have sung about the things God does. 25Everyone has seen it and admires it from afar. 26God is too great for us to ever fully know, and the number of God’s years cannot be discovered. 27God draws up drops of water and turns them into raindrops 28that pour down from the sky and give us a good soaking. 29Does anyone understand how the clouds are spread and how thunder is made? 30God skips the lightning around and exposes the depths of the sea. 31This is how God takes care of the nations and provides nourishment for everyone. 32God’s hands grasp the lightning and throw it down to strike its target. 33The thunder announces God’s presence; even the animals acknowledge it.”
1-4: Elihu takes it upon himself to defend God, but he seems to have a rather exalted opinion of Elihu, too.
5-12: God, he says, is just and fair, but people don’t listen to God as they should.
13-14: Godless people, when they are afflicted, don’t cry for help and as a result they die in disgrace. The reference to “ending their lives among temple prostitutes” means they have turned to the wrong “gods.”
15: But now here is a profound expression; “God delivers the afflicted by their affliction.” I think he means that the suffering to which good people are subjected is a blessing, for it is by means of suffering that God molds you into the person God wants you to be. You can spend an entire day pondering that.
16: Job’s former state of living in luxury was God’s way of courting him so that he would want to be a righteous man.
17-23: He proceeds to give Job advice on how he should react to his current situation. Here is how I would summarize each verse: (17) Job, you are obsessed with the idea that you are being treated unfairly because other people more wicked than you seem to be getting along just fine. (18) Don’t allow your suffering to cause you to second-guess God. (19) There’s nothing you can do to make all your distress magically disappear. (20) So, stop wishing for death; that’s nothing but a cop-out. (21) You are being tested; don’t drop the ball. (22) God is always right.
24-33: Elihu then launches into praise for God’s might and mystery.
God is God. God has allowed human sinfulness from the very first to be present in this world, and has allowed people, good and evil, to suffer the consequences. People don’t always suffer because they are bad or in spite of being good. People suffer because sin is all-pervasive. My sins don’t impact just me; they impact the people around me as well.