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Legends and Lessons

Legends and Lessons – Elihu: The one worth listening to (Job 32:6-10)

Today’s Reading: Job 30-33

Today’s Reflection: Job 32:6-10

6) And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. 7) I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ 8) But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. 9) It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. 10) Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.’

Subject: Elihu

Background: When the book of Job is spoken of, the conversation between Job and his three friends is always mentioned. But there was another man standing on the sidelines listening to this debate: Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram. For some reason he always seems to escape notice, which is unusual considering what he has to say.

Seeing things clearly: The word says Elihu steps into the debate because he is angry with Job and his three friends. With Job, because he justifies himself instead of God, and with Job’s friends because they accused and even condemned Job unjustly but could not answer his questions (Job 32:2-3). So Elihu takes them all on, seeming to grasp that there’s more at stake here than just ‘winning an argument’. He calls out Job’s friends for their empty words (Job 32:11-13), rebukes Job for putting his innocence above God’s goodness (Job 35:9-15), explains God’s justice (Job 34:10-20) and how God favours the righteous even in their times of trial and suffering (Job 36:7-12). He cautions Job that his challenges to God may end in sin if he fails to remember God’s that greatness is something far above our understanding (Job 36:18-33).

What’s most remarkable in Elihu’s even handed discourse, managing to be both unflinchingly honest, yet understanding of Job’s plight, is how close his words come to God’s own. For example, Elihu says:

Job 35:16 – “Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge.”

And God later says of Job:

Job 38:2 – “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

Truly Elihu, though young, was a wise man, one in whom the spirit of God dwelt.

The lesson: Job’s friends came to him assuming they already knew the reason for his plight. They were confident in their knowledge and certain of their judgment. Elihu’s approach, though markedly different, was incredibly simple. He first listened, then took time to understand, then finally seeing there was something he could add to the conversation he spoke. Do you see the difference? Though Job’s friends had Godly knowledge, their certainty in their own wisdom made them blind to what God was trying to reveal through Job’s situation. Elihu on the other hand listened and allowed God to speak through the situation and impart truth to him. The man who does this, regardless of age, experience or education, will always be a man who is wise and worth listening to.

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