Saturday after the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Job 34-36 (NKJV)
34:1 Elihu further answered and said:
2 “Hear my words, you wise men; Give ear to me, you who have knowledge. 3 For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. 4 Let us choose justice for ourselves; Let us know among ourselves what is good.
5 “For Job has said, ‘I am righteous, but God has taken away my justice; 6 Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ 7 What man is like Job, who drinks scorn like water, 8 who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, and walks with wicked men? 9 For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should delight in God.’
10 “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, and from the Almighty to commit iniquity. 11 For He repays man according to his work, and makes man to find a reward according to his way. 12 Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice. 13 Who gave Him charge over the earth? Or who appointed Him over the whole world? 14 If He should set His heart on it, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, 15 all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.
16 “If you have understanding, hear this; listen to the sound of my words: 17 Should one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn Him who is most just? 18 Is it fitting to say to a king, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked ‘? 19 Yet He is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands. 20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night; The people are shaken and pass away; The mighty are taken away without a hand.
21 “For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps. 22 There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. 23 For He need not further consider a man, that he should go before God in judgment. 24 He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, and sets others in their place. 25 Therefore he knows their works; He overthrows them in the night, and they are crushed. 26 He strikes them as wicked men in the open sight of others, 27 because they turned back from Him, and would not consider any of His ways, 28 so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to Him; For He hears the cry of the afflicted. 29 When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble? And when He hides His face, who then can see Him, whether it is against a nation or a man alone?—30 that the hypocrite should not reign, lest the people be ensnared.
31 “For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne chastening; I will offend no more; 32 Teach me what I do not see; If I have done iniquity, I will do no more’? 33 Should He repay it according to your terms, just because you disavow it? You must choose, and not I; Therefore speak what you know.
34 “Men of understanding say to me, wise men who listen to me: 35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge, his words are without wisdom.’ 36 Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost, because his answers are like those of wicked men! 37 For he adds rebellion to his sin; He claps his hands among us, and multiplies his words against God.”
35:1 Moreover Elihu answered and said:
2 “Do you think this is right? Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s’? 3 For you say, ‘What advantage will it be to You? What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?’
4 “I will answer you, and your companions with you. 5 Look to the heavens and see; And behold the clouds—They are higher than you. 6 If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him? Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him? 7 If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand? 8 Your wickedness affects a man such as you, and your righteousness a son of man.
9 “Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out; They cry out for help because of the arm of the mighty. 10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, Who gives songs in the night, 11 Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’ 12 There they cry out, but He does not answer, because of the pride of evil men. 13 Surely God will not listen to empty talk, nor will the Almighty regard it. 14 Although you say you do not see Him, yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him. 15 And now, because He has not punished in His anger, nor taken much notice of folly, 16 Therefore Job opens his mouth in vain; He multiplies words without knowledge.”
36:1 Elihu also proceeded and said:
2 “Bear with me a little, and I will show you that there are yet words to speak on God’s behalf. 3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar; 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 despises no one; He is mighty in strength of understanding. 6 He does not preserve the life of the wicked, but gives justice to the oppressed. 7 He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; But they are on the throne with kings, for He has seated them forever, and they are exalted. 8 And if they are bound in fetters, held in the cords of affliction, 9 then He tells them their work and their transgressions—that they have acted defiantly. 10 He also opens their ear to instruction, and commands that they turn from iniquity. 11 If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. 12 But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.
13 “But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath; They do not cry for help when He binds them. 14 They die in youth, and their life ends among the perverted persons. 15 He delivers the poor in their affliction, and opens their ears in oppression.
16 “Indeed He would have brought you out of dire distress, into a broad place where there is no restraint; And what is set on your table would be full of richness. 17 But you are filled with the judgment due the wicked; Judgment and justice take hold of you. 18 Because there is wrath, beware lest He take you away with one blow; For a large ransom would not help you avoid it. 19 Will your riches, or all the mighty forces, keep you from distress? 20 Do not desire the night, when people are cut off in their place. 21 Take heed, do not turn to iniquity, for you have chosen this rather than affliction.
22 “Behold, God is exalted by His power; Who teaches like Him? 23 Who has assigned Him His way, or who has said, ‘You have done wrong ‘? 24 Remember to magnify His work, of which men have sung. 25 Everyone has seen it; Man looks on it from afar. 26 Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered.
27 “For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, 28 which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. 29 Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, the thunder from His canopy? 30 Look, He scatters his light upon it, and covers the depths of the sea. 31 For by these He judges the peoples; He gives food in abundance. 32 He covers His hands with lightning, and commands it to strike. 33 His thunder declares it, the cattle also, concerning the rising storm.”
As Elihu continues his lengthy treatise on Job’s suffering, he takes the spotlight away from Job’s actions and puts the focus on God: “Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice. Who gave Him charge over the earth? Or who appointed Him over the whole world?” (34:12-13). Using the technique of rhetorical questioning in verse 13, Elihu makes the emphatic point that God stands over all. No one could ever “assign” God a task. He is before all things, in all things, and above all things. Later in chapter 41, God will say the same as He addresses Job directly.
But God is no heartless bulldozer, Who goes and does whatever suits Him. Elihu proclaims God’s mercy and grace in the next two verses: “If He should set His heart on it, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (34:14-15). God is sovereign, that is true. But it’s just as true that the Creator cares for His creation. His ongoing care and intervening providence grant us our daily existence—our every breath. God can only act out of love for us, therefore we must trust that He’s working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Prayer: “I leave all things to God’s direction, He loveth me in weal and woe; His will is good, true His affection, with tender love His heart doth glow. My fortress and my Rock is He; what pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.” (TLH 529:1)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.