“Summaries, Job 32-36”

Categories: Bulletin Articles


Job 32 begins with Elihu the son of Barachel deciding to speak up.  Though apparently he’s been around for the whole debate, he hasn’t said anything because of his relative youth.  However, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad have failed to make any convincing arguments, and it has become obvious that none of them have anything to say in reply to Job’s final declaration.  In these circumstances, Elihu finds himself compelled to say something, and he promises to be impartial in doing so.

Job 33 opens Elihu’s remarks to Job specifically.  He again avows his own sincerity, and he encourages Job to rebut him if he can.  He criticizes Job’s assertion that God is punishing him unjustly.  From what Elihu has seen, that isn’t the way that God operates.  Instead, God warns man in one of two ways:  dreams and afflictions.  Both of those are supposed to produce repentance.  In this, Elihu is implying that Job’s suffering shows that he has sin in his life somewhere that he is refusing to confront.

Job 34 contains Elihu’s words not to Job, but to Job’s friends.  They too (he thinks) need the young guy to straighten them out!  He encourages them to show good judgment, to notice the difference between the righteousness that Job claims for himself and his wicked conduct and speech.  He insists that God’s actions are always just and righteous.  He is impartial, and according to His will, even the most powerful wicked people are destroyed. 

God knows everything that everyone does, and He renders to them according to their works.  No one has the right to appeal His decisions.  When Job ought to be acknowledging his evil, he instead speaks like a rebel against God, defiantly insisting that he has done nothing wrong.

Job 35 marks the return of Elihu’s attention to Job.  He quotes Job as asking how his righteousness has benefited him (since he is being treated by God like a sinner).  However, says Elihu, because God is so great, neither righteousness nor wickedness has any particular effect on him. 

When the wicked suffer, they might cry out to God for help, but they don’t truly honor Him or recognize Him.  As a result, God doesn’t hear them.  Job needs to recognize himself as one of these arrogant people rather than continuing to insist that he deserves a hearing. 

Job 36 is the continuation of Elihu’s words to Job.  He insists that he has it all figured out.  Once again, he touts God’s perfect understanding and justice.  He strikes down the wicked, and He exalts the righteous.  Those who listen to Him will be blessed; those who refuse to hear will be destroyed in shameful ways. 

Next, Elihu claims that Job’s big problem is his arrogance.  He keeps on demanding justice, even though it’s not going to help him.  In insisting that he has been wronged and only wants to die, he runs the risk of judging God.  Rather than judging God, he ought to glorify Him for His power and provision.