Puritan Board Professor
Job sins, he is condemned by Elihu and the Lord? Job repents in ch. 42, so where does Job sin?
Having dealt with and preached through the book of Job, I thought I might offer the following remarks. Considering the complexity of the structure of the Book of Job, God's initial remarks about Job, and the various cycles of interactions between Job and his three "would be" friends, I would be very careful not to regard their arguments against Job always as an accurate assessment of his status before God. His three friends have a certain theological paradigm with which they approach Job. That theological paradigm is that the righteous always prosper and the wicked always suffer (For them, this paradigm is a universal truth, rather than a general truth...Universal truths being those that always hold true, and general truths being those that generally hold to be true. The truth that the righteous prosper and the wicked suffer, as taught in the wisdom literature of Holy Scripture, is a general truth rather than a universal truth). But Job is the exception to their theological paradigm, and in their little universe of understanding Job must be made to fit their theological scheme. So their response to Job's suffering is, "Job you've sinned and committed some great crime against heaven, repent and find in God relief for your suffering." All that serve to accomplish was to vex Job's soul, for he had already searched in vain for any precipitating and offending sin as the cause for his suffering. Job's sin came about during the course of his suffering, in questing the goodness, wisdom and righteousness of God - (see e.g. Job 38:1ff; Job 40:1-2), and not as the precipitating or direct cause for it.Right, that is what i was thinking, I didn't know if there was anything before that and/or after.
I'm preaching a sermon on Job 18 where Bildad is accusing him of sinning, which is the supposed reason for his suffering.
Of course, this little book has only a few selections of Calvin's sermons on Job, and we must look hopefully to the future that they will all one day be translated and published, if they haven't been already.John Calvin: However, we have also to note that in the whole dispute Job maintains a good case, and his adversary maintains a poor one. Now there is more, that Job maintaining a good case pleads it poorly, and the others bringing a poor case plead it well. See John Calvin, Sermons from Job, intro. Harold Dekker (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979), p. 5. See also Dekker's remarks in his introduction on p. xxxvi.
You heard long debated through many chapters this controversy between Job and his friends. Now from this chapter to the last, the controversy draws to a decision. First by Elihu’s stepping in (chapter 32-38). And secondly, by the Lord’s taking it off his hand in the rest (chapter 39-42).
This chapter contains a preface which Elihu has to the following discourse. When he has waited on long, he comes on as one hearing both parties’ reasons, and displeased with both, tells his judgment of both.
He sets down first that which gave him occasion to speak (vs. 1-5), and second (vs. 6-22) his preface, aiming at three things. 1. He removes an objection or impediment that hindered him to speak. 2. Sets down the motives that made him overcome that objection. 3. He [proposes] the way he will proceed.
I. That which gave him occasion to speak (v. 1): These three men. Job’s friends ceased to speak. There was no answer among them; they held their peace. And the reason is, Because Job was righteous in his own eyes. They thought Job rooted in the conceit of his own righteousness, that they were desperate, and had lost hope to convince him, and therefore they quate [quit] him. It is often a fault in men, when they cannot prevail in a matter they undertake at first, to give it over, as if the fault were in these they have to do with, when it is in themselves.
2. Elihu his anger is kindled (v. 2). Anger is like a fire within him, and kindles or wakens up. It is not carnal passion, but holy zeal, like that commanded [in] Eph. 4:28. Be angry, but sin not. The objects of his anger are Job and his friends, and the reason why he is angry at both are set down.
(1) The reason why he is angry at Job is because he justified himself more than God. That is, because he was more careful to justify himself, than he was careful to keep himself from reflecting on God in his discourse and dispute. It is likely Job being so sorely assaulted to grant that he was an hypocrite, he had set so to guard against the taking with that, that he guarded not equally against the other extreme of reflecting on God; and for this God charges him in the end of chapter 38 and beginning of chapter 40.
(2) The reason why he is angry at his friends (v. 3) is because they had condemned Job for a hypocrite, and had not made that out by sufficient answers and reasons, and yet they stood by their point, and alleged that Job was obstinate, and they in the right, when they had no reason for it (a fault that is incident to men in debates).
(3) A third occasion is (vs. 4-5): Elihu having waited long because Job and his friends are elder [than] he, to see if they would quit the end of the string that they held, or take another [way] to convince Job, and none of them speaking a word, after long waiting on he steps in and speaks.
II. His discourse begins in v. 6. And because it may be objected,‘Elihu, will you who are a young man, undertake that which grave and godly men cannot do?’ he answers, and yields to that, that he was young and they aged, and that this swayed him for a long time to be silent (vs. 6-7). For I said, days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. ‘I thought, and I know it is a common maxim, that it is incumbent to aged men to speak before young men, and it is supposed they should be wise and able to clear doubtsome cases.’ This by way of concession; but (vs. 8-9) he says, wisdom is God’s gift, and old men may have lived many years and know little, and young men gifted of God may know much. It is not years, but God’s spirit that makes either old or young wise in his matters. Therefore he concludes, Great men are not always wise, neither do the aged understand judgment. Though they are great men and wise men, if they are left of God in a particular, they may miscarry, and not get to the uptaking of God’s mind. And on this ground he proceeds to speak.
He gives two reasons of his undertaking. The first reason (vs. 10-11) is: Therefore, that is, because it is God’s spirit that teaches men wisdom; I said, hearken to me, and hear me, and the same is repeated (v. 11).‘I have been long a stander by, and have waited on, and heard what both you and Job have said.’ The doubling of the words import that he had weighed and considered what both had said, and understood it. Oftimes bystanders understand the play better than the gamesters do.
And a second reason is (v. 12): There was none of you that convincingly or pertinently answered Job. ‘Therefore I will essay to do it; for though you have spoken much, it is not to purpose.
And (v. 13) he gives a reason why they had spoken so long, and had not convinced Job. God would befool them, and put them from the conceit of their wisdom, and let them see that it was he that put down Job, and not they. So to humble them, God would not have them to convince him. As if he said, ‘you think you have convinced Job, and you have done nothing. Any other man may do more than you have done to purpose.’ And this is a third reason why he will speak.
A fourth reason (v. 14) is: why? He was in a greater capacity to deal with Job than they were. Job and he were not engaged, [neither] of them had reflected on [one] another; therefore he will take on him to answer. And he will not take their thesis, nor their manner of speaking, to reflect bitterly on them as they did, for that was not the way to gain him.
A fifth reason (v. 15) is: They, that is Job’s friends, were amazed, confounded in themselves, and had no more to say; therefore ‘wonder not that I speak.’ A proof of this reason (v. 16) is: ‘I waited long, and they spoke nothing to purpose.’ Therefore (v. 17): I said, I will answer also my part, I will shew my opinion.
And he adds the last reason (v. 18) of his undertaking, partly zeal for God, seeing a good cause ill handled, and partly indignation at Job’s friends, seeing them do nothing to it; partly love to reclaim Job, and partly finding the impulse of the Spirit within him helping him. This made him hopeful to do more good than they had done. Therefore he says (v. 19): Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst as new bottles. He is like a vessel filled with wine, that will burst if it [is not vented]. For which cause (v. 20) he will speak, because he has no other way to be eased, but to pour out his mind, and tell what is right and what is wrong in this matter that they have been debating.
In the last two verses, he tells in what manner he will proceed. He will shun two faults. 1. He will not be swayed to judge of the cause by any person concerned in it; a fault wherewith Job charged his friends (13:8). 2. He will not give flattering titles to men; he will be loath to hide what he finds wrong either in Job or his friends. And he gives two reasons of this (v. 22). (1) I know not to give flattering titles; ‘as I love, so I will use plain dealing.’ (2) ‘If I should do otherwise, I should not be approved of God. Therefore lest God’s judgment take me away, I must do it.’
This being our entry upon the third part of the book, it is necessary we consider: 1. What Elihu was — an eloquent and gracious man though young. 2. That for the matter of his discourse, it is to be approved beyond Job’s and his friends. He was in the right way, which we clear by three reasons. (1) Because when God quarrels Job and his friends he is not spoken to. (2) Because God begins on the same score that Elihu left off at. (3) Because Job never missed an answer to his friends, but he is stricken silent with what Elihu says, and acquiesces.
Wherein differs he from Job’s friends and from Job? 1. He differs from Job’s friends in these: (1) Though he debates against Job, yet not on the same ground. For he does not say, ‘You are afflicted, therefore you are wicked.’ (2) Though he censures Job as going wrong sometimes, yet from these faults he never condemns Job for a hypocrite. (3) He differs from them in the manner of his proceeding. They proceed more passionately and carnally, he more meekly and spiritually, mixing in friendly words to mitigate what he spoke to Job.
2. He charges Job with three faults. (1) That he was not in his practice suitable to what he said of God’s sovereignty in words, but did exceed in retrenching and limiting God. (2) That though he allowed him to justify himself as being no hypocrite, yet that he went too far on in justifying himself, reflecting on God, for he had said, ‘Wherefore contends thou with me?’ He kept not the right bounds, as if God had no ground of controversy, or might not have had a controversy with him. (3) That he had unsuitable and passionate expressions in his dispute, even when he was defending that which was right for the matter.
3. Yet in all this Elihu fails, and had his own faults, especially these two. (1) In drawing consequences from Job’s words separate from his meaning. (2) That though he is more kindly to Job, and strikes not at the root of his interest in God, yet he was exceeding sharp, although he was straight in respect of the matter, [and] he gains more ground on Job, and is more countenanced of God, than the rest of Job’s friends.
1. Observe a fault insinuated to be in gracious folks (v. 2). That they are too soon ready to conclude harshly of men, and to count them desperate that come not up their length in a dispute, when the fault may be laid elsewhere on themselves, rather than on these they so judge of.OBSERVATIONS.
2. Another fault in debate that folks would beware of, and that is to condemn folks that are not of our mind, beyond any reason or solid ground we have brought or can bring.
3. A third fault in dispute, which Elihu professes he will shun, and that is the accepting of persons. Observe that oftimes folks judge of causes and cases by persons engaged in them, and this is a thing [that] may stumble and wrong many.
4. The right way of proceeding, when we would have folks bettered by what we are to speak, is not to follow a carnal reflecting manner of speaking, but an edifying and calm way. And if folks would follow this way, they would through God’s blessing come more speed, and gain more ground of any they would convince, than ordinarily they do.
5. Oftimes when folks are sore engaged in a debate, they are not so impartial as they should [be]. Therefore Elihu lays down his not being engaged[FONT="][/FONT] as a great furtherance to him in what he was to say.
6. On the general ground he goes on, and occasions of his speaking, lest they should think themselves wise in their own eyes, observe that God will sometimes darken men that probably should know more than others, that it may be seen that neither age, nor parts, nor grace will do the turn for bringing out his mind; and that all may be convinced there is need of a humble dependence on God for the revelation of his will. Neither parts, nor greatness of parts and gifts will do the turn; therefore God will have men of gifts and parts humble, and whatever measure of understanding they come to, not leaning to it, but to him.
[Ed. i.e. He was not caught up in the debate; he had not ‘joined the fray’ on either side.]
I would be very careful not to regard their arguments against Job always as an accurate assessment of his status before God.
I agree with Bruce. This is an excellent commentary/book on Job - Green understands the argument of Job better than anyone I've read on the subject.