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Book of Job - Was Elihu Right?

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  • Book of Job - Was Elihu Right?

    Elihu enters the scene after the three friends finish accusing Job. While they were focused on finding Job's sin, Elihu prioritizes justifying God(31:1-3). Interestingly, when God steps in to lecture Job and express his displeasure toward the three friends Elihu is not among the rebuked(42:7-9).

    Some say that because God didn't rebuke him, coupled with some of the poignant statements about God, some of which God repeats(e.g. 35:16 & 38:2), it means that Elihu was right.

    Others say he's equally wrong as the three friends. God's omission of Elihu in his rebuke is not evidence of his approval but rather his indifference, coupled with what God himself says about Job being right(42:7), Elihu was wrong.

    I'm on the fence. The beginning of the book states Job's innocence and the end affirms his theology, yet God does rebuke Job & Job does repent, and Elihu was clearly right about at least some things that the others were wrong about. The question for me is what exactly was Job right about and what does God's omission of Elihu really mean? It could go either way.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    Originally posted by nico View Post
    Elihu enters the scene after the three friends finish accusing Job. While they were focused on finding Job's sin, Elihu prioritizes justifying God(31:1-3). Interestingly, when God steps in to lecture Job and express his displeasure toward the three friends Elihu is not among the rebuked(42:7-9).

    Some say that because God didn't rebuke him, coupled with some of the poignant statements about God, some of which God repeats(e.g. 35:16 & 38:2), it means that Elihu was right.

    Others say he's equally wrong as the three friends. God's omission of Elihu in his rebuke is not evidence of his approval but rather his indifference, coupled with what God himself says about Job being right(42:7), Elihu was wrong.

    I'm on the fence. The beginning of the book states Job's innocence and the end affirms his theology, yet God does rebuke Job & Job does repent, and Elihu was clearly right about at least some things that the others were wrong about. The question for me is what exactly was Job right about and what does God's omission of Elihu really mean? It could go either way.

    What do you think?
    Probably a mistake going from memory but wasn't a significant portion of Elihu's criticism of Job based on his claim that he was sinless? He might not have done anything deserving of his fate, but sinless?

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
      Probably a mistake going from memory but wasn't a significant portion of Elihu's criticism of Job based on his claim that he was sinless? He might not have done anything deserving of his fate, but sinless?
      Job 1:8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

      It would be kind of hard to argue against God's own judgement, yes?
      sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

      Comment


      • #4
        I think Elihu's statements are a mixed bag, some is good, and some is incorrect. So you have to sift what he says...

        This is good:

        “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
        far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
        and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
        For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
        and according to his ways he will make it befall him." (Job 34:10–11)

        "If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
        And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?" (Job 35:6)

        And this is incorrect, God does bear pain and suffering.

        Blessings,
        Lee
        "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
          I think Elihu's statements are a mixed bag, some is good, and some is incorrect. So you have to sift what he says...

          This is good:

          “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
          far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
          and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
          For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
          and according to his ways he will make it befall him." (Job 34:10–11)

          "If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
          And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?" (Job 35:6)

          And this is incorrect, God does bear pain and suffering.

          Blessings,
          Lee
          I'm sure that I will regret asking but - where does the book of Job address God suffering?
          sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tabibito View Post
            I'm sure that I will regret asking but - where does the book of Job address God suffering?
            That is found clearly elsewhere in Scripture, for example:

            "How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
            and grieved him in the desert!" (Ps 78:40)

            "In all their affliction he was afflicted,
            and the angel of his presence saved them." (Is 63:9)

            "Against you, you only, have I sinned
            and done what is evil in your sight." (Ps 51:4)

            Blessings,
            Lee
            "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
              That is found clearly elsewhere in Scripture, for example:

              "How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
              and grieved him in the desert!" (Ps 78:40)

              "In all their affliction he was afflicted,
              and the angel of his presence saved them." (Is 63:9)

              "Against you, you only, have I sinned
              and done what is evil in your sight." (Ps 51:4)

              Blessings,
              Lee
              So the book of Job doesn't address the issue of whether God suffers.
              sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tabibito View Post

                So the book of Job doesn't address the issue of whether God suffers.
                You spotted that as well, huh?

                I'm always still in trouble again

                "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                  So the book of Job doesn't address the issue of whether God suffers.
                  Correct, I'm saying Elihu was wrong there, based on other verses in Scripture.

                  Blessings,
                  Lee
                  "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                    Correct, I'm saying Elihu was wrong there, based on other verses in Scripture.

                    Blessings,
                    Lee
                    I think he wants where exactly Elihu said God suffers.

                    I'm always still in trouble again

                    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                      I think Elihu's statements are a mixed bag, some is good, and some is incorrect. So you have to sift what he says...

                      This is good:

                      “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding:
                      far be it from God that he should do wickedness,
                      and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
                      For according to the work of a man he will repay him,
                      and according to his ways he will make it befall him." (Job 34:10–11)

                      "If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
                      And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?" (Job 35:6)

                      And this is incorrect, God does bear pain and suffering.

                      Blessings,
                      Lee
                      This is more or less my current opinion regarding Elihu's "mixed bag" statements. But the three friends are also a mixed bag. Of course they were ultimately wrong about Job's sin being the cause of his suffering. So why does God not also rebuke Elihu?

                      Elihu's final speech in ch. 37 about God's omnipotent power seen in creation rolls into God's personal introduction and apparent continuation, emphasizing the mysteries of his unfathomable power in creating and conducting the universe. I don't imagine that's a coincidence. How Elihu is perceived in the narrative changes the way we interpret Job. It changes what we can identify in Job's expositions as good theology.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                        I think he wants where exactly Elihu said God suffers.
                        No, Elihu says the opposite, which I believe to be incorrect.

                        Originally posted by Nico
                        So why does God not also rebuke Elihu?
                        I think his main premise is correct, that God does not guilty of wrongdoing. And as you mention, the end of Elihu's speech dovetails nicely with the Lord's questions to Job.

                        Blessings,
                        Lee
                        "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                          Probably a mistake going from memory but wasn't a significant portion of Elihu's criticism of Job based on his claim that he was sinless? He might not have done anything deserving of his fate, but sinless?
                          I think it's related. I believe Elihu is less concerned with the notion of Job's innocence and more concerned with Job's complaints, such as:

                          Originally posted by Job in 23:2-7
                          “Today also my complaint is bitter;[a]
                          my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
                          3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
                          that I might come even to his seat!
                          4 I would lay my case before him
                          and fill my mouth with arguments.
                          5 I would know what he would answer me
                          and understand what he would say to me.
                          6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
                          No; he would pay attention to me.
                          7 There an upright man could argue with him,
                          and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.
                          If we couple Elihu's introduction/premise:

                          Originally posted by Elihu in 32:2
                          He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.
                          To his (excerpt) response to Job:

                          Originally posted by Elihu in 33:9-14
                          You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression;
                          I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
                          10 Behold, he finds occasions against me,
                          he counts me as his enemy,
                          11 he puts my feet in the stocks
                          and watches all my paths.’
                          12 “Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you,
                          for God is greater than man.
                          13 Why do you contend against him,
                          saying, ‘He will answer none of man's[a] words’?[b]
                          14 For God speaks in one way,
                          and in two, though man does not perceive it.
                          We can see that Elihu appears very bothered not with Job's claim of innocence but rather his complaints toward God, or his daring to complain about God's justice. He attempts to exemplify that God does have reasons but we cannot perceive them. Job spent his time justifying his own innocence rather than justifying God's prerogative to afflict man for his own good purposes.

                          That's my rendering of it anyway. But if you read through all the texts it's not quite that simple for me. I don't know if I would go so far as saying that Job ever accused God of wrongdoing. It looks more to me like Job was in a perpetual state of vacillation, knowing that he's innocent yet suffering, that God could condemn him and be right in doing it, yet God is good and never would do that, although it appears that's exactly what's happened, etc.

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