Elihu addresses Job (37:14-37:20)

“Hear this,

O Job!

Stop!

Consider the wondrous works of God!

Do you know how God lays his command upon them?

He causes the lightning of his cloud to shine.

Do you know the balancing of the clouds?

His wondrous works is perfect in knowledge.

Your garments are hot

When the earth is still

Because of the south wind,

Can you,

Like him,

Spread out the skies?

Can you make it as hard as a molten mirror?

Teach us what we shall say to him!

We cannot draw up our case because of darkness.

Shall it be told him that I want to speak?

Did anyone ever wish to be swallowed up?”

Elihu turned to Job. He asked him how he compared to the great works of God. God puts the light in the clouds to produce lightning. God balances the clouds so that there is a heat differential. Your garments get cold and hot depending on the winds. We are in the dark and cannot speak in the face of God. Otherwise we would be swallowed up.

The hymn to the divine power over the climate (Job 36:24-36:37)

“Remember to extol his work!

Men have sung to his work.

All people have looked on it.

Everyone watches it from far away.

Surely God is great!

We do not know him.

The number of his years is unsearchable.

He draws up the drops of water.

He distils his mist in rain.

The skies pour down rain.

Rain drops upon mortals abundantly.

Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds?

Can anyone understand the thundering of his pavilion?

See!

He scatters his lightning around him.

He covers the roots of the sea.

For by these he judges peoples.

He gives food in abundance.

He covers his hands with the lightning.

He commands it to strike the mark.

Its crashing tells about him.

He is jealous with anger against iniquity.”

Elihu wanted Job to understand and extol the power of God over the climate we live in. Interesting enough I began working on this the day that Pope Francis I issued his encyclical on the climate “Laudato Si.” Yet here, Elihu in his hymn clearly sees God as the controller of the climate. God controls the rain, so that quite often we pray to God for more or less rain. This is especially true in strong farming communities. They also pray for good harvests from the land. We have seen both drought and over flooding this year in the USA. God has control over thunder and lightning as well as the seas.   God is jealous and angry against the wicked. Perhaps we do not pray to God enough about the climate. Just as we have moved from the poetic flat world concept of sunrise and sunset to the earth moving around the sun, so too we might see climate as not the poetic unique concern of God alone, but see the impact of human actions on the climate also.

The power of God (Job 36:22-36:23)

“See!

God is exalted in his power.

Who is a teacher like him?

Who has prescribed for him his way?

Who can say?

‘You have done wrong’”

Elihu wanted Job to recognize God. He pointed out that God was all powerful. There was no teacher like him. No one told him which way to go. He had never done anything wrong.

The purpose of Job’s suffering (Job 36:17-36:21)

“But you are obsessed with the case of the wicked!

Judgment and justice seize you!

Beware that wrath does not entice you into scoffing!

Let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside!

Will your cry avail to keep you from distress?

Will all the force of your strength help you?

Do not long for the night!

That is when people are cut off in their place.

Beware!

Do not turn to iniquity!

Because of that you have been tried by affliction.”

Next Elihu turned on Job. He thought that Job was obsessed with wicked people. Job was receiving his judgment so that he should not be scoffing at it. Will Job’s complaints keep him from distress? Did he have enough strength to help himself. He longed for the night, but that is when people are cut off from each other. He warned Job not to choose iniquity as he was being tried or tested by this affliction.

The godless ones (Job 36:13-36:16)

“The godless in heart cherish anger.

They do not cry for help when he binds them.

They die in their youth.                                                          

Their life ends in shame.

He delivers the afflicted by their affliction.

He opens their ear by adversity.

You also he allured out of distress.

Into a broad place,

Where there was no constraint.

What was set on your table was full of fatness.”

The godless ones love anger. They never cry for help. However, they die in their youth as their lives end in shame. God delivers their affliction by adding more afflictions. God opens their ears to more adversity. Job too was allured into a place with no constraints. It seemed like everything was on the table with all the fat food that Job could want. Elihu seems to imply that the godless ones suffer here on earth with an early death.

The true sense of God’s justice (Job 36:5-36:12)

“Surely God is mighty.

He does not despise anyone.

He is mighty in strength of understanding.

He does not keep the wicked alive.

He gives the afflicted their right.

He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous.

With kings upon the throne

He sets them forever.

They are exalted.

If they are bound in fetters,

And caught in the cords of affliction,

Then he declares to them their work.

He declares their transgressions.

They are behaving arrogantly.

He opens their ears to instruction.

He commands that they return from iniquity.

If they listen,

If they serve him,

They complete their days in prosperity.

They complete their years in pleasantness.

But if they do not listen,

They shall perish by the sword.

They die without knowledge.”

Elihu ascribes to God the qualities that he believes a divine power should have. The almighty God does not despise anyone. He is mighty in strength and understanding. He does not keep the wicked alive. He watches the righteous. The kings have their thrones forever. However, if there are transgressions as when they act arrogantly, God would open their ears to instruction. He commands them to open their ears to instructions on how to return from their iniquity. If they listen properly and serve God, they will complete their years in pleasant prosperity. If they do not listen they will perish by the sword without any knowledge. The choice was simple, follow God, and all will be good. Go against God, and you will die.

Elihu continues to speaks for God (Job 36:1-36:4)

“Elihu continued, and said.

‘Bear with me a little!

I will show you.

I have yet something to say on God’s behalf.

I will bring my knowledge from far away.

I ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

Truly my words are not false.

One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.’”

Elihu has no qualms about himself. He becomes both like a prophet speaking for God and a wise man with perfect wisdom. He kept asking Job to let him explain himself. He was not speaking falsely since he was speaking for God with perfect knowledge. Elihu now sounds like the self-righteous person that he was condemning Job for being.