Elihu: From formable boy to formidable man

Job 32 – 37

Character Outline

  1. Formable Boy
  2. The Making of a Young Man
  3. Formidable Man
  4. Prayer of Elihu (on partiality – 32:21-22)
  5. On Lordship
  6. The Questions of Elihu
  7. On goodness or rightness (36:13-15)
  8. On worship (32:7)
  9. On faith (36:1-4)
  10. On discernment (35:36; 38:2; 42:3-6)

Character Details

  • His name means “my God is He.”
  • He was a young man who recognized that wisdom and justice didn’t necessarily come by age (32:7-9).
  • He was the son of Barachel the Buzite, family of Ram.  Buz was the brother of Abraham named Nahor.
  • He got angry because the three friends and Job justified themselves; and the three found no answer and yet condemned Job.
  • He respected his elders by waiting his turn to speak (32:6-9). But he also recognized that they were not always wise and understanding.
  • He revealed the Lordship of God (throughout 32-37).
  • He never learned to flatter any man – it was part of his Godly upbringing (32:22).
  • He spoke truth (33:12) and taught wisdom (33:33).  Elihu spoke righteously with wisdom and candor.  A New Testament counterpart for him can be seen in John the Baptizer.  Each man was a predecessor/proclaimer of the Holy One who came after him.

Survey of his speech

  • 32:6-9, 18 – Elihu states that elders should teach wisdom, or, teach the fear, reverence, and worship of God; but, in verse 9, great (old) men are not always wise, nor do they always understand justice.  Realizing this occasional thing, Elihu says (to Job) that he must be the one to teach wisdom – the fear of the Lord (33:33).  Elihu’s expectation of these three friends was that they would be men of understanding.
  • 32:10-16 – The three friends accused Job without answering him and because Job did not speak to Elihu when speaking to his other friends, Elihu will not use the three’s words in his response to Job.
  • 32:17-22 – Elihu is filled with the spirit (reference verse 8, too).
  • 32:19-20 – Elihu spoke of wine and new wineskin.  He was angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God, and with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for falsely condemning and accusing Job.  He was angry mostly because the three could not ultimately answer Job (Job 32:4-5).
  • 32:21 (and 22) – Elihu prayed:  Let me not show partiality to anyone nor let me flatter anyone.  He wanted to be Godly (see also 34:19).
  • 33:1-7 – Elihu confesses his righteousness and his position of mediator between Job and God.
  • 33:3-4; 34:14-15 – He understood creation, life, and Lordship.
  • 33:8-11 – Elihu has heard Job confess his righteousness.
  • 33:12-18 – Elihu said God is greater than man and does not have to account for His words.  God speaks however He wants.
  • 33:19-28 – Elihu describes what a mediator does.  There’s a picture of the cross here:  A mediator delivers man from death when that man repents of his sins.  God will redeem him (through the atonement of the mediator) and that man shall see the light.  Job desired a mediator (Job 16:2) and knew this about being redeemed (see Job 19:26; also 36:2-4)
  • 33:29-30 – Elihu speaks of the work and patience of God.
  • 34:4 – Elihu comments on making choices: what is just and what is good (see also 34:11 – man’s work & way).
  • 34:13ff – Elihu understands something about God’s creation, that God Himself kept it going (at least life – 36:26-33).
  • 34:14-15 – Elihu said that if God withdrew His Spirit and His breath, all life would perish.
  • 34:16-20 – Elihu said that God is not partial to anyone or any class (see also Job 37:24).
  • 34:34-37 – Elihu accuses Job of speaking without knowledge and wisdom.  God also accuses Job of this (see Job 38:2).
  • 35 – Elihu condemns self-righteousness.
  • 35:12 – God will not listen to empty talk.
  • 35:36 – Elihu accuses Job of multiplying words without knowledge.  In Job 38:2, God affirms Elihu’s discerning spirit.
  • 36:1-4 – Elihu affirms that his knowledge and righteousness is from God.  He knows (understands), worships, proclaims, and affirms his faith.
  • 36:5-23 – Elihu proclaims, confesses, and acknowledges God’s goodness.
  • 36:13-15 – Elihu alludes to sexual immorality.
  • 36:21-23 – God is exalted.
  • 36:24-37:13 – Elihu confesses the majesty and highness of God – a revelation of God’s Lordship.
  • 37:14-24 – Elihu exalts the majesty of God through nature.
  • 37:18 – A cast metal mirror is mentioned.  How does this date Job per metal age (Bronze Age, Iron Age, etc.)?  Mirrors were found in graves in central Turkey, dating to circa 5000 BC (NKJV Chronological Study Bible).
  • 37:22-24 – This sums up Elihu’s “confession of God’s Lordship.”
  • 37:23-24 – God does not oppress.  God is not partial.  He judges perfectly and justifies those who are wise of heart (those who fear Him).
  • 42:3-7ff – Job confesses.  He prophesied God’s rebuke on Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for (secretly) showing partiality.  Note that Elihu was not rebuked because he showed no partiality.  In fact, this was Elihu’s prayer, that is, to not be partial or flattering (32:21-22).  From all indications, Elihu’s prayer was answered – he was not rebuked by God.