Elihu in Anger Rebukes Job
32 Then these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But the anger of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram burned; against Job his anger burned because he justified himself [a]before God. 3 And his anger burned against his three friends because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. 4 Now Elihu had waited [b]to speak to Job because they were years older than he. 5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of the three men his anger burned.
6 So Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite [c]spoke out and said,
“I am young in years and you are old;
Therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you [d]what I think.
7 “I [e]thought [f]age should speak,
And [g]increased years should teach wisdom.
8 “But it is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.
9 “The [h]abundant in years may not be wise,
Nor may elders understand justice.
10 “So I [i]say, ‘Listen to me,
I too will tell [j]what I think.’
11 “Behold, I waited for your words,
I listened to your reasonings,
While you [k]pondered what to say.
12 “I even paid close attention to you;
[l]Indeed, there was no one who refuted Job,
Not one of you who answered his words.
13 “Do not say,
‘We have found wisdom;
God will [m]rout him, not man.’
14 “For he has not arranged his words against me,
Nor will I reply to him with your [n]arguments.
15 “They are dismayed, they no longer answer;
Words have [o]failed them.
16 “Shall I wait, because they do not speak,
Because they [p]stop and no longer answer?
17 “I too will answer my share,
I also will tell my opinion.
18 “For I am full of words;
The spirit within me constrains me.
19 “Behold, my belly is like unvented wine,
Like new wineskins it is about to burst.
20 “Let me speak that I may get relief;
Let me open my lips and answer.
21 “Let me now be partial to no one,
Nor flatter any man.
22 “For I do not know how to flatter,
Else my Maker would soon take me away.
While we don’t know yet was Elihu intends to argue, we know he is younger than the others, and we are told that he was angry and “full of words”. He was angry at Job for being justified, and angry at his friends for failing to win the argument. That’s a whole lot of anger, and while we’ll reserve judgment on his arguments for when we see them, perhaps Elihu should have kept his mouth shut anyway.
There are times our emotion drives us to encourage others and lift them up, much like a football coach might give a rousing pep talk. Then there are times where we are upset, and just feel we need to say something. But even then, unless it is constructive, we would do well to censor our own speech. We may claim “righteous indignation”, but that’s rarely going to go over well with the other party.
You may win the argument, but lose friends, family, and even push souls away from God. To Elihu’s credit, he has waited a long time to express his thoughts, and I think that’s a good idea. However, the emotion seems a bit too raw, a bit too pent up to be delivered with the love and patience that is needed when someone is hurting and in pain.
In any situation then, if our emotions are driving us to say something, stop. That’s a really hard thing to do when emotions are flowing, but do it anyway. If the emotions are positive, and your words are those of encouragement, and God is telling you to speak, then certainly don’t hold back. Those are a few good litmus tests, but if your thoughts are negative, or especially born of anger, hold on! Wait for the emotions to subside, let your words be tempered by patience, and then see what God wants you to share–in love and with the intent of building others up.
Certainly, not everything we say needs to be light and fluffy, iron sharpening iron isn’t a peaceful process. Yet sharpening is the point and it needs to be measured and controlled, lest we be like swords clanging together and both blades be blunted in the process. As Paul told the Colossians, whatever you do or say, do it as if you represent Jesus Christ himself… because you do, all the time. Make it a positive representation, one that accurately represents your Maker.