Elihu Speaks of God’s Dealings with Men
36 Then Elihu continued and said,
2 “Wait for me a little, and I will show you
That there [a]is yet more to be said in God’s behalf.
3 “I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
4 “For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
5 “Behold, God is mighty but does not despise any;
He is mighty in strength of understanding.
6 “He does not keep the wicked alive,
But gives justice to the afflicted.
7 “He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous;
But with kings on the throne
He has seated them forever, and they are exalted.
8 “And if they are bound in fetters,
And are caught in the cords of affliction,
9 Then He declares to them their work
And their transgressions, that they have magnified themselves.
10 “He opens their ear to instruction,
And commands that they return from evil.
11 “If they hear and serve Him,
They will end their days in prosperity
And their years in pleasures.
12 “But if they do not hear, they shall [b]perish by the sword
And they will die without knowledge.
13 “But the godless in heart lay up anger;
They do not cry for help when He binds them.
14 “[c]They die in youth,
And their life perishes among the cult prostitutes.
15 “He delivers the afflicted in [d]their affliction,
And opens their ear [e]in time of oppression.
16 “Then indeed, He enticed you from the mouth of distress,
Instead of it, a broad place with no constraint;
And that which was set on your table was full of [f]fatness.
Elihu tries to act like he is saying something new, but he parrots the same old beliefs as Job’s other friends. That God doesn’t hesitate to punish the wicked, and that He surely will make the godly prosper in everything they do. But this was classic theology all the way until Jesus turned things on their head. Even though they had ample examples of God showing mercy to the sinner and righteous lives cut short, they persisted.
The religious leaders asked Jesus of the paralytic, “who sinned, this man or his parents?” And Jesus told them “neither, he was born this way that God might be glorified…” In other words, it was part of God’s plan, and “his ways are not our ways”. What seems logical to us does not fit into God’s plan to redeem as many people as possible.
Should the wicked be cut off immediately, they would never know repentance or the love of God. Even after Job’s life, people would assume that if something bad happened, it was because of sin. Yet the peace that comes from a surrendered life is not born out of a life of ease. As Job was finding out, and his friends would hopefully learn, God uses trials to make us stronger.
Sometimes he’ll even take us home at a time that doesn’t make any sense to us. But as I was reminded recently, if we are still here on this earth, God isn’t done with us. That means He has plans for our lives, things he wants us to do, and along the way, trials from which to learn. Contrary to what Elihu said, if your life is easy, you might want to examine what you’re doing. It’s more likely to be that you’re not doing what God wants, and so the enemy is leaving you right in your state of complacency.
Certainly, that’s not an absolute either, as God gives us times of rest to recuperate, but watch out for the “life of ease”. At any rate, soon Job also would be through this trial, though it may have seemed an eternity in the midst of the rebuke from his friends. But be like Job, and hang on to God through the storm, and He himself will bring you through to the other side.