Job – Faithful Sayings from a Young Man

The Wrath of Elihu, William Blake (1805)

 

Job
Faithful Sayings from a Young Man

Engaging with Elihu’s response to Job as one of his sons in the faith

So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said, “I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you.  I said, ‘Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.’  But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.  Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice.  Therefore, I say, ‘Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.’”  (Job 32:6-10)

 

INTRODUCING JOB:
From rich man to poor man to rich man

Job gives us a glimpse of a man who knows how to worship and walk with God in good times and bad.  He was a great man, the greatest in the East.  No doubt people from all over knew of him.  After all, he possessed well over 10,000 head of livestock and a very large household.  Friends were likely abundant; trustworthy friends less so.  And loyal companions few and far between.

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Namaathite, Job’s three friends, wanted and challenged God to answer Job.  Because the Almighty didn’t respond as they thought He should, the three took it upon themselves to speak for Him.  Yet Job knew he was better than the way his friends talked and behaved; and he knew they were wrong.

He called out his friends for being forgers of lies and worthless physicians (13:4).  He accused them of being miserable comforters and mockers (16:2; 17:2).  He said that they behaved with complete nonsense (27:12).  These are hard judgments to make against “friends” who think they’re trying to help.  Ultimately, God Himself set the record straight:  Job’s friends did not speak what was right like Job did (42:7-8).

In the end, Job confessed the Lordship of God. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were rebuked for their verbal foibles and for covert partialities, so much so that God would only hear Job mediate their repentance (sound familiar?).  Family and other friends crawled out of their hiding places and gladly came back to the victorious man of God.  In the midst of all of this, there’s an incredible discourse by a young man who watched all of this go down.

INTRODUCING ELIHU:
From formable boy to formidable man

His name was Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite of the family of Ram.  He was a relative of Abraham; close enough in kin that the story finds itself early on in Biblical chronology.  Elihu’s name means “my God is He.”  We can glean a lot about this kid from his speech but nothing more is known of him.

Commentaries are mixed when it comes to describing Elihu, glossing over him as either a melodramatic misfit in an allegorical story, or an uninspired addition to the Holy Canon, or (as I believe) a true spokesman tapped by God to be His predecessor before final, divine resolution, much in the likeness of John the Baptizer.  Indeed, the billowing of the Holy Spirit carried Elihu into the holy estuary of speaking for God.

As is expected of polite young men, he respectfully waited for his elders to speak first.  The more they spoke the angrier he got.  The three found no answer to Job’s dilemma yet condemned Job anyway.  Job’s self-justification was also the target of Elihu’s ire.

Along the way in his young life, Elihu never learned the art of flattery.  In fact, it was Elihu’s prayer that he would not be partial or flattering.  From all indications, Elihu’s prayer was answered:  In the end, he was not rebuked by God.  His prayer is interesting in that he could have petitioned for wisdom, understanding, patience, humility, and other such fruits of the Spirit.  But those things were ingrained in him already thanks to some sort of Godly upbringing or mentoring.  Instead, he prayed that he would be impartial and not like those old guys sitting before him.  He would speak to Job with clean hands and a pure heart.

Elihu spoke the truth with candor, and taught wisdom with an eerie semblance to the type of wisdom that Job embraced.  He revealed the Lordship of God.  My feeling is that he came to the meeting prayed up and ready to help out the old man any way he could.  It was almost as if Job was the mentor who now needed help from the one in whom he had invested his own spiritual, manly fortitude.  Maybe, just maybe, this was how Elihu came to know God, or rather as Paul would say, to be known by God (Galatians 4:9).

He understood things like creation, justice, mediation, self-control, truth, wine-making, worship, and the Lordship of God.  With all of that and more at his disposal, Elihu chose justice and goodness for his platform.  He could only seek those things with an impartial heart.  Otherwise, justice could not be served and goodness could not be gained.

As a young man, he rightfully and passionately recognized that wisdom and justice do not necessarily come by age.  Although out of place, Elihu valued his cause to teach, or rather reteach, ol’ Job wisdom.  He is the Biblical example for Christian young men today to stand firm and take charge when older men become incompetent and self-serving.


BIBLE STUDY

It’s not often that a boy or young man can speak to his elders with righteous anger or even resolute truth; and when he does, it’s nearly certain that he stands to be rebuked in some way.  The story of Elihu, however, encourages young men to be bold for Christ and to know how and when to speak up for Him.  Use the following outline to discover Biblical truths about the relationship between youth, agedness, and wisdom.

  1. The Holy Scriptures contains numerous accounts of boys and young men making significant contributions to the Biblical story. Survey the following verses and briefly discuss the young man mentioned and his role in each event:
  • Joseph: Genesis 37-47
  • Samuel: I Samuel 1-3
  • Jonathan’s armor-bearer: I Samuel 14:1-14
  • Boy with 5 loves and 2 fish: John 6:1-14
  • The naked young man: Mark 14:43-52
  • Paul’s nephew: Acts 23:12-22
  1. In Job 28:28, Job declared what God said about wisdom and understanding.  In 32:6-9, Elihu stated that elders should teach wisdom.  Write out, or discuss, the definition of each:
  • wisdom:
  • understanding:
  1. Read Proverbs 1:1-6. Write about, or discuss, Solomon’s ‘wisdom about wisdom and knowledge.’  How does Solomon support Job’s declaration?  What is the difference between knowledge and understanding?  How are knowledge and understanding alike?
  2. Elihu stated that great (old) men are not always wise, nor do they always understand justice (32:9). Read 32:8, 11-12.  Put yourself in his shoes:  While the old men were speaking, what do you think was going on with Elihu?
  3. Write, or discuss, how a Christian young man might react when he listens to older men today talk in questionable or insincere ways about God.
  4. Elihu reminded Job that he must exalt God’s work (36:24).  Discover other key statements made by Elihu that admonished Job to “be the man” (see also Paul’s edifying remark in I Corinthians 11:7 that men are the image and glory of God).
  5. What are three distinct features you see about Elihu that exemplify how young men today should interact with their fathers? …their mentors? …their spiritual leaders?

Fathers.  Mentors.  Spiritual leaders.  Bring you Bible study to a close by writing, or discussing, other roles that men hold in the lives of boys and young men today?


PERSONAL REFLECTION

As a young man before his elders, Elihu made some very wise, Spirit-led statements.  There could have been other older men present, as well as some young guys or even a few boys.  In addressing Job, Elihu seems to rally all men to listen to him.  There’s a sense of urgency and prophecy, too, in what he had to say.

He certainly gets the attention of all men today, encouraging us to walk uprightly with God in wisdom and understanding.  Here are 20 of Elihu’s faithful sayings to older men:

  • Speak the truth man to man, heart to heart. (32:10-16)
  • Know that the Holy Spirit leads you. (32:8, 17-22)
  • Pray that you do not show partiality or flatter anyone. (32:21)
  • Let a younger man speak for God to you; you’re both made the same so don’t fear what he has to say. (33:6-7)
  • God is greater than man and does not have to account for His words. God speaks however He wants.  (33:12-18)
  • Desire the greater Mediator, through whose atonement God will redeem the man who repents of his sins, delivering him from death.  That man shall see the light.  (19:25-27; 33:19-30)
  • God is patient in what He does. (33:29-30)
  • Choose justice and goodness. (34:4)
  • You know what’s really scary? If God withheld His breath, everything living would die instantly.  (34:14-15)
  • God is not partial to anyone or any class. (34:19; 37:24)
  • Don’t be stupid. (34:34-37)
  • Don’t be self-righteous. (35:1-8)
  • God will not listen to empty talk, so stop talking so much. (35:13, 16)
  • God despises no one, so don’t despise anyone. (36:5)
  • Cry out to God and turn away from sin. Hypocrisy is as bad as perverse behavior and does not fool Him.  (36:13-14, 21)
  • Exalt God. You are His glory.  (36:22)
  • Magnify the work of God. (36:24)
  • Be adventurous! Elihu had seen frozen bodies of water, in northern Arabia no less!  What’s your adventure?  (37:10)
  • Teach young men. (37:19)
  • God does not oppress, so you should not oppress. (37:23-24)

Other of Elihu’s statements can be extrapolated into faithful sayings, uplifting men today as they walk with Christ.  The most important is Elihu’s prophetic view of a saving Mediator.  Job believed this, perhaps having taught Elihu and others that their Redeemer lives.  How does Job’s model of Godly manhood strengthen or challenge you (see also Job chapters 1 & 2)?

Elihu gave the impression that he could walk in the way of his elder, Job, almost as if Job had taught him well.  Write, or discuss, what you (as an older man) want to hear, learn, and know from the Christian young men in your life, especially how they inspire your own faith.


APPLICATION

Set aside 13 weeks to focus on 13 faithful sayings of Elihu to older men.  Solemnly commit by setting a start and end date:

  • Pray for strength to do well, for challenges to be mastered, and for opportunity to be present.
  • Do this with a friend, brother, peer mentor, or group.
  • Agree to check up regularly (the beginning and/or end of each week). Discuss or write out how the action is addressed by Elihu’s faithful sayings to Job.  Use your Bible and explore.
  • At the end of each week, write your personal thoughts on how that particular faithful saying affected you as an older man living out your faith in Jesus.
  • Celebrate at the end of the 13 weeks! Go out for dinner together.  Hit a coffee shop.  Talk about how this experience changed your life, challenged your living, and/or affirmed your faith.

Behold, God is exalted by His power; who teaches like Him?
(Job 36:22)

 


The Faithful Sayings of Elihu to Older Men

Week 1
This first week, speak well and straightforward with all men in your company.  Speak the truth about Jesus with the heart of a prince.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 2
Teach a life lesson to a boy or young man in your circle of influence – from your heart, not your head.  Be Spirit-led.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 3
Be adventurous outdoors this week.  Do something you’ve never or not often done.  Don’t let your age limit your activity (but don’t hurt yourself either!).

End of week thoughts

 

Week 4
Spend time each day specifically praying that you will not show partiality or flatter any man.  Ever.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 5
Listen.  Listen to what is said by the boys and young men in your life.  Listen for a life lesson from them.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 6
Read I Corinthians 15:1-4 each day.  Learn the answer to “What is the Gospel?”  That answer is:  Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He was buried dead, and God raised Him to eternal life.  Believing this, share that definition with at least one person this week either in person, on the phone, in an email, in a text, or on social media.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 7
Be patient.  Don’t hurry an answer or make a hasty decision.  Be rock-solid patient.  This means no road rage, too!  Remember, you are a prince of the most high God.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 8
Declare goodness about things around you.  Embrace justice as a man of God.  Intentionally model these two things – knowing goodness and practicing justice – to boys and young men in your circle of influence.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 9
Don’t do anything stupid.  Think before you act or speak or spend or give in to some vice or weakness.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 10
Don’t do a lot of idle talking.  Make your conversations meaningful with other men and with God.  Let your words be driven by the intelligence God gave you.  In other words, choose your words wisely and let them be few.  Patience!

End of week thoughts

 

Week 11
Remember that hypocrisy does not fool God.  Confess any secret vices (sin).  Let this sink in:  Hypocrisy is as bad as sexually perverse behavior.  Avoid those things and places (and people) that might tempt you to stumble.  Cry out to Jesus when you need to.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 12
You are the image and glory of God (I Corinthians 7:11).  Act like it.  Exalt and praise God in a specific way each day this week.  Magnify the work of God by bringing it to light for the boys and young men around you.

End of week thoughts

 

Week 13
Do not oppress (bully) boys and young men…  or any man for that matter.  Be a perfect gentleman in your relationships with women and other men.  Chivalry is not dead.  Remember, you are a prince.

End of week and final thoughts

 



ADDITIONAL READING & STUDY FOR UPLIFTMENT

The American Boy’s Bill of Rights

We…  The Boys of America believe in these OUR RIGHTS:  The right to LIBERTY, hard-won by our forefathers – the right to HAPPINESS that comes with the growth of a healthy body and mind – the right to TRAINING, thoughtfully planned by parents, school, and church – the right to OPPORTUNITY, to live, learn, play, and grow up in the time-honored traditions of a free people – and the right to learn to SHOOT SAFELY.  We recognize and accept the responsibility imposed by these Rights.  But – until we are old enough to vote we expect YOU – our fathers, mothers and other citizens who elect America’s city, county, state and federal officers – to be eternally vigilant that our RIGHTS be not abridged.

Gun control is nothing new.  It’s been around since before the country was put together.  It’s too political to wax eloquently here about the subject but let’s just say that freeing people from their weapons never really frees anyone.  The Israelites learned this lesson the hard way when the Philistines took away their means of defending life, liberty, and their very happiness (I Samuel 13:19-20).  Since then, oppressors of bully nations and bully pulpits have always tried to bring people under a bully’s way of doing things.

After World War II, a renewed interest was launched in America to turn firearms into proverbial plowshares.  Firearms manufacturers retaliated by bringing the focus of concern back to freedom and the responsibility that comes with guarding it for future generations.  Enter Daisy in 1947.*

The grandson of the company founder, Cass Hough, authored The American Boy’s Bill of Rights that thrust the air rifle maker to the forefront of bringing the light of truth to the dark efforts of the anti-gun movement.  Written from a boy’s perspective, the message articulates principles long held in trust by freedom-loving people.

Boys have a right in America to grow up to be good men, men proud of heritage and men free from despotism:  Masculine men who are not pushed to be sissies, who are not pressed to be tame, who are not programmed to be effeminate.  Men who are bold, chivalrous, courageous, gritty, hardworking, honest, patriotic, and true.  In the context of the Law given by God to the Hebrew people of old, I’m reminded that emasculated men were limited in sacred service to their nation (Deuteronomy 23:1).  I would not, therefore, wish upon America boys deprived of male virility.  I’m talking manly, testosterone-infused, XY-identified, gender-not-questioned, cupped, male virility.

The American Boy’s Bill of Rights pleads with men – real men – to take a stand on behalf of a younger generation.  These are boys and girls we personally know, who should inherit a land of liberty, who should be led by adults who enable them to learn and embrace Christian beliefs from the Holy Scriptures on which, alone, stand goodness and justice.  It’s a land where bullies and oppressors are held at bay by the exercise of rights that can never be erased yet are always one-half generation away from being emasculated.

Theodore Roosevelt made many keen observations about boys growing up to be sturdy men.  He asserted, “A healthy-minded boy should feel hearty contempt for the coward and even more indignation for the boy who bullies girls or small boys, or tortures animals.”  He also affirmed that “What we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man.”

And, I might add, a good American man capable of shooting well.

  • When you read The American Boy’s Bill of Rights, what patriotic themes or stories do you remember about American history?
  • In your circle of influence, what do you do for boys and young men?  How do you interact with families?  …community?  …church?  How are you certain that boys and young men have responded to your mentoring and model of manhood?
  • Personally meditate on these key words, or discuss these with your friends or small group.  What does the Bible say about each one?  Determine how you will interact with these subjects this week:
    • rights
    • time-honored traditions
    • vigilance

* In Daisy Handbook (1946, 1948, and 1955), Daisy’s code for boys was:  to know right from wrong, to always be good, and to stay safe.

 



Every old man should have an appreciation for art.

 

Porter with a Wineskin, Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918), oil on oilcloth

A self-taught painter, Pirosmani was posthumously recognized as a talented primitivist and animalist artist.  Born, then orphaned, in Georgia, he learned to read and write both Russian and Georgian as a young man.  Poor his entire life, he took on jobs generally considered menial labor.  His art was never popular during his lifetime, and only caught the attention of societies and peers after his death.

The working man should appreciate Pirosmani’s eye toward nature, work, and rural life.  What his artwork lacked in detail, it made up in sharp contrasts and simple hues.  The average man can relate to his themes.  Imagine yourself as the subject of his scenes.  There is no royalty to enjoy, just a ruggedness embrace.

 

Tug of War, Nikolai Bogdanov-Belski (1868 – 1945)

This Bogdanov-Belski genre painting, Tug of War, typifies a waterfront scene in a late Victorian or early Edwardian era.  The artwork also represents his studies in three elements:  portraits, peasant children, and impressionistic landscapes.  In this rendering, a group of boys are at play, completely unconcerned about anyone else watching.  As evidenced in other period-specific paintings, it would have been unsurprising if a group of girls their age were watching, or even adults.

The scene is a reminder of the power and pleasure of adventure woven into the framework of divinely created man.  God is limitless in His own genre of Imago Dei art, and as His image and glory, men should seek and find the sacred adventure gifted to those who believe in Jesus Christ, His Son.

 

Photo of Lower Yellowstone Falls by William Henry Jackson, taken during the Hayden Expedition to Yellowstone in 1871 (Library of Congress Photo Collections)

Photography is an art and if it were not for one photographer in particular, Yellowstone National Park may not have become the American treasure it is.  But William Henry Jackson prevailed.

It was grueling in those days, lugging cartloads of delicate equipment across the country, making photo journals of such things as natural history, Native Americans, rural Americana, private portraits, and locomotives.  Jackson’s skillful approach to capturing the beauty of it all, even though lacking “color,” demonstrated artful expressions of contrast, blended shades, comparative angles, and imaginative focal points.

 

 

Photo of Lower Yellowstone Falls by Don Hamlin, taken during his wildman expedition out west in 2008 (Don Hamlin Photo Collections!)

On a roadside Nebraska Historical Marker, the Nebraska State Historical Society says this about the man:   “Jackson first crossed Nebraska in 1866 on the Oregon Trail, working as a bullwhacker on a freighting outfit.  His sketches of the trip vividly depicted the trail experience.  In 1870 he joined the Hayden Geological Survey, which took him and artist Thomas Moran to Wyoming’s Yellowstone region.  By revealing Yellowstone’s wonders, Jackson’s photographs and Moran’s paintings contributed to the establishment of our first national park.

 

 

 

 



HYMNOLOGY

In their book, American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), John and Alan Lomax report:  “The huge and genial Negro blacksmith on Camp C of the Louisiana State Farm (penitentiary) at Angola furnished the words and air for this spiritual, which is known throughout Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.”  The reference is to the Negro spiritual, “Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word.”  The author is, in fact, unknown.  The more familiar spiritual, “Were You There,” is considered a complementary song.

“Mumbalin’ Word” narrates Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.  “Were You There” completes the victorious story with its last stanza:  “Were you there when God raised Him from the tomb.”  If it were not for the resurrection of Jesus, nothing good would have come from the Cross.  The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is our only hope for a restored, regenerated, forgiven, transformed relationship with Almighty God.  “Mumbalin’ Word” should remind us of the infinite extent to which Jesus went in bringing us back home.

Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word

Oh, dey whupped Him up de hill, up de hill, up de hill,
Oh, dey whupped Him up de hill, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word;
Oh, dey whupped Him up de hill, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word,
He jes’ hung down His head an’ He cried.

Oh, dey crowned Him wid a thorny crown, thorny crown, thorny crown,
Oh, dey crowned Him wid a thorny crown, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word;
Oh, dey crowned Him wid a thorny crown, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word,
He jes’ hung down His head, an’ He cried.

Well, dey nailed Him to de cross, to de cross, to de cross,
Well, dey nailed Him to de cross, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word;
Well, dey nailed Him to de cross, an’ He never said a mumbalin’ word,
He jes’ hung down His head, an’ He cried.

Well, dey pierced Him in the side, in de side, in de side,
Well, dey pierced Him in de side, an’ de blood come a-twinklin’ down;
Well, dey pierced Him in de side, an’ de blood come a-twinklin’ down,
Den He hung down His head, an’ He died.

 

 

 

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