Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Elihu Presents His Case against Job: Job 32-37

Job 32

Elihu Responds to Job's Friends

1Job's three friends refused to reply further to him because he kept insisting on his innocence.
2Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, became angry. He was angry because Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him. 3He was also angry with Job's three friends because they had condemned God[a] by their inability to answer Job's arguments. 4Elihu had waited for the others to speak because they were older than he. 5But when he saw that they had no further reply, he spoke out angrily.

6Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said, "I am young and you are old, so I held back and did not dare to tell you what I think. 7I thought, `Those who are older should speak, for wisdom comes with age.' 8Surely it is God's Spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent. 9But sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice. 10So listen to me and let me express my opinion.

11"I have waited all this time, listening very carefully to your arguments, listening to you grope for words. 12I have listened, but not one of you has refuted Job or answered his arguments. 13And don't tell me, `He is too wise for us. Only God can convince him.' 14If Job had been arguing with me, I would not answer with that kind of logic! 15You sit there baffled, with no further response. 16Should I continue to wait, now that you are silent? Must I also remain silent? 17No, I will say my piece. I will speak my mind. I surely will. 18For I am pent up and full of words, and the spirit within me urges me on. 19I am like a wine cask without a vent. My words are ready to burst out! 20I must speak to find relief, so let me give my answers. 21I won't play favorites or try to flatter anyone. 22And if I tried, my Creator would soon do away with me.

Job 32:3 As in ancient Hebrew scribal tradition; the Masoretic Text makes no reference to God.

Job 33

Elihu Presents His Case against Job

1"Listen, Job, to what I have to say. 2Now that I have begun to speak, let me continue. 3I speak with all sincerity; I speak the truth. 4For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 5Answer me, if you can; make your case and take your stand.
6"Look, you and I are the same before God. I, too, was formed from clay. 7So you don't need to be afraid of me. I am not some great person to make you nervous and afraid.

8"You have said it in my hearing. I have heard your very words. 9You said, `I am pure; I am innocent; I have not sinned. 10God is picking a quarrel with me, and he considers me to be his enemy. 11He puts my feet in the stocks and watches every move I make.'

12"In this you are not right, and I will show you why. As you yourself have said, `God is greater than any person.' 13So why are you bringing a charge against him? You say, `He does not respond to people's complaints.' 14But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. 15He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. 16He whispers in their ear and terrifies them with his warning. 17He causes them to change their minds; he keeps them from pride. 18He keeps them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death. 19Or God disciplines people with sickness and pain, with ceaseless aching in their bones. 20They lose their appetite and do not care for even the most delicious food. 21They waste away to skin and bones. 22They are at death's door; the angels of death wait for them.

23"But if a special messenger from heaven is there to intercede for a person, to declare that he is upright, 24God will be gracious and say, `Set him free. Do not make him die, for I have found a ransom for his life.' 25Then his body will become as healthy as a child's, firm and youthful again. 26When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing. 27He will declare to his friends, `I sinned, but it was not worth it. 28God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.'

29"Yes, God often does these things for people. 30He rescues them from the grave so they may live in the light of the living. 31Mark this well, Job. Listen to me, and let me say more. 32But if you have anything to say, go ahead. I want to hear it, for I am anxious to see you justified. 33But if not, then listen to me. Keep silent and I will teach you wisdom!"

Job 34

Elihu Accuses Job of Arrogance

1Then Elihu said:
2"Listen to me, you wise men. Pay attention, you who have knowledge. 3`Just as the mouth tastes good food, the ear tests the words it hears.' 4So let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good. 5For Job has said, `I am innocent, but God has taken away my rights. 6I am innocent, but they call me a liar. My suffering is incurable, even though I have not sinned.'

7"Has there ever been a man as arrogant as Job, with his thirst for irreverent talk? 8He seeks the companionship of evil people. He spends his time with wicked men. 9He has even said, `Why waste time trying to please God?'

10"Listen to me, you who have understanding. Everyone knows that God doesn't sin! The Almighty can do no wrong. 11He repays people according to their deeds. He treats people according to their ways. 12There is no truer statement than this: God will not do wrong. The Almighty cannot twist justice. 13Who put the world in his care? Who has set the whole world in place? 14If God were to take back his spirit[a] and withdraw his breath, 15all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust.

16"Listen now and try to understand. 17Could God govern if he hated justice? Are you going to condemn the almighty Judge? 18For he says to kings and nobles, `You are wicked and unjust.' 19He doesn't care how great a person may be, and he doesn't pay any more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all. 20In a moment they die. At midnight they all pass away; the mighty are removed without human hand.

21"For God carefully watches the way people live; he sees everything they do. 22No darkness is thick enough to hide the wicked from his eyes. 23For it is not up to mortals to decide when to come before God in judgment. 24He brings the mighty to ruin without asking anyone, and he sets up others in their places. 25He watches what they do, and in the night he overturns them, destroying them. 26He openly strikes them down for their wickedness. 27For they turned aside from following him. They have no respect for any of his ways. 28So they cause the poor to cry out, catching God's attention. Yes, he hears the cries of the needy. 29When he is quiet, who can make trouble? But when he hides his face, who can find him? 30He prevents the godless from ruling so they cannot be a snare to the people.

31"Why don't people say to God, `I have sinned, but I will sin no more'? 32Or `I don't know what evil I have done; tell me, and I will stop at once'?

33"Must God tailor his justice to your demands? But you have rejected him! The choice is yours, not mine. Go ahead, share your wisdom with us. 34After all, bright people will tell me, and wise people will hear me say, 35`Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.' 36Job, you deserve the maximum penalty for the wicked way you have talked. 37For now you have added rebellion and blasphemy against God to your other sins."

Job 34:14 Or his Spirit.

Job 35

Elihu Reminds Job of God's Justice

1Then Elihu said:
2"Do you think it is right for you to claim, `I am righteous before God'? 3Yet you also ask, `What's the use of living a righteous life? How will it benefit me?'

4"I will answer you and all your friends, too. 5Look up into the sky and see the clouds high above you. 6If you sin, what do you accomplish against him? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? 7If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? 8No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds affect only other people.

9"The oppressed cry out beneath the wrongs that are done to them. They groan beneath the power of the mighty. 10Yet they don't ask, `Where is God my Creator, the one who gives songs in the night? 11Where is the one who makes us wiser than the animals and birds?'

12"And if they do cry out and God does not answer, it is because of their pride. 13But it is wrong to say God doesn't listen, to say the Almighty isn't concerned. 14And it is even more false to say he doesn't see what is going on. He will bring about justice if you will only wait. 15But do you cry out against him because he does not respond in anger? 16Job, you have protested in vain. You have spoken like a fool."

Job 36

1 Elihu continued speaking:
2"Let me go on, and I will show you the truth of what I am saying. For I have not finished defending God! 3I will give you many illustrations of the righteousness of my Creator. 4I am telling you the honest truth, for I am a man of well-rounded knowledge.

5"God is mighty, yet he does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding. 6He does not let the wicked live but gives justice to the afflicted. 7His eyes never leave the innocent, but he establishes and exalts them with kings forever. 8If troubles come upon them and they are enslaved and afflicted, 9he takes the trouble to show them the reason. He shows them their sins, for they have behaved proudly. 10He gets their attention and says they must turn away from evil.

11"If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant. 12But if they refuse to listen to him, they will perish in battle and die from lack of understanding. 13For the godless are full of resentment. Even when he punishes them, they refuse to cry out to him for help. 14They die young after wasting their lives in immoral living. 15But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.

16"God has led you away from danger, giving you freedom. You have prospered in a wide and pleasant valley. 17But you are too obsessed with judgment on the godless. Don't worry, justice will be upheld. 18But watch out, or you may be seduced with wealth. Don't let yourself be bribed into sin. 19Could all your wealth and mighty efforts keep you from distress? 20Do not long for the cover of night, for that is when people will be destroyed. 21Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering.

Elihu Reminds Job of God's Power

22"Look, God is all-powerful. Who is a teacher like him? 23No one can tell him what to do. No one can say to him, `You have done wrong.' 24Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. 25Everyone has seen these things, but only from a distance.
26"Look, God is exalted beyond what we can understand. His years are without number. 27He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. 28The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits from it. 29Can anyone really understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven? 30See how he spreads the lightning around him and how it lights up the depths of the sea. 31By his mighty acts he governs the people, giving them food in abundance. 32He fills his hands with lightning bolts. He hurls each at its target. 33The thunder announces his presence; the storm announces his indignant anger.[a]

Job 36:33 Or even the cattle know when a storm is coming. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

Job 37

1 "My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. 2Listen carefully to the thunder of God's voice as it rolls from his mouth. 3It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. 4Then comes the roaring of the thunder--the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. 5God's voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power.
6"He directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down. 7Everyone stops working at such a time so they can recognize his power. 8The wild animals hide in the rocks or in their dens. 9The stormy wind comes from its chamber, and the driving winds bring the cold. 10God's breath sends the ice, freezing wide expanses of water. 11He loads the clouds with moisture, and they flash with his lightning. 12The clouds turn around and around under his direction. They do whatever he commands throughout the earth. 13He causes things to happen on earth, either as a punishment or as a sign of his unfailing love.

14"Listen, Job; stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God! 15Do you know how God controls the storm and causes the lightning to flash forth from his clouds? 16Do you understand how he balances the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill? 17When you are sweltering in your clothes and the south wind dies down and everything is still, 18he makes the skies reflect the heat like a giant mirror. Can you do that?

19"You think you know so much, so teach the rest of us what to say to God. We are too ignorant to make our own arguments. 20Should God be told that I want to speak? Can we speak when we are confused? 21We cannot look at the sun, for it shines brightly in the sky when the wind clears away the clouds. 22Golden splendor comes from the mountain of God. He is clothed in dazzling splendor. 23We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty, yet he is so just and merciful that he does not oppress us. 24No wonder people everywhere fear him. People who are truly wise show him reverence."