From Silence to Righteous Indignation

Elihu listened silently to the long dialogue, but as he listened his indignation grew until it burned within and he could no longer keep silent. He finally spoke, and his warning to Job is also a warning to us. Just as Job complained when life got difficult, so too we are often inclined to complain about God when life gets difficult and things don’t go our way. However, in this video we learn that just as Elihu’s indignation grew to the breaking point, so too Yahweh’s indignation toward us can grow to a breaking point.

Elihu changed his mind.

Job 32:6 So Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite spoke out and said,
“I am young in years and you[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar] are old;
Therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you what I think.
Job 32:7 “I[Elihu] thought age should speak,
And increased years should teach wisdom.
Job 32:8 “But it is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.
Job 32:9 “The abundant in years may not be wise,
Nor may elders understand justice.
Job 32:10 “So I[Elihu] say, ‘Listen to me,
I too will tell what I think.’

Verses 6-7: Notice the contrast between young and old.

Verses 6: Notice the words “shy” and “afraid”. At first Elihu was silent because of his shyness and fear.

Verse 8: The word “but” indicates Elihu changed his mind. Elihu formerly believed the old and aged should speak, but he changed his mind and decided increased years do not necessarily mean increased wisdom.

Verse 8: People do not necessarily grow wiser as they grow older, because the Almighty gives understanding and He does not distribute wisdom according to age.

The author of Job did not indicate whether or not Elihu was correct. The author of Job merely wrote down what Elihu said. I agree with Elihu, but we can’t use these verses as proof that the old are not necessarily wise.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar failed.

Job 32:11 “Behold, I[Elihu] waited for your[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar] words,
I listened to your reasonings,
While you pondered what to say.
Job 32:12 “I[Elihu] even paid close attention to you[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar];
Indeed, there was no one who refuted Job,
Not one of you who answered his words.
Job 32:13 “Do not say,
‘We[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar] have found wisdom;
God will rout him[Job], not man.’
Job 32:14 “For he[Job] has not arranged his words against me[Elihu],
Nor will I reply to him with your[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar] arguments.

Notice in verse 11 the words “waited” and “listened”. They tell us Elihu gave the three men opportunity to convince Job of his sin.

Verse 12: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar failed to refute Job’s claim to be innocent.

Verse 13: The single quotes identify a statement Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had made. Elihu told them they were wrong when they said it. This was the first indication of Elihu’s indignation.

Elihu could no longer restrain himself.

Job 32:15 “They[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar] are dismayed, they no longer answer;
Words have failed them.
Job 32:16 “Shall I[Elihu] wait, because they[Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar] do not speak,
Because they stop and no longer answer?
Job 32:17 “I[Elihu] too will answer my share,
I also will tell my opinion.
Job 32:18 “For I[Elihu] am full of words;
The spirit within me constrains me.
Job 32:19 “Behold, my[Elihu] belly is like unvented wine,
Like new wineskins it is about to burst.
Job 32:20 “Let me[Elihu] speak that I may get relief;
Let me open my lips and answer.
Job 32:21 “Let me[Elihu] now be partial to no one,
Nor flatter any man.
Job 32:22 “For I[Elihu] do not know how to flatter,
Else my Maker would soon take me away.

Verses 15-16: The words “no longer answer”, “failed”, “do not speak”, “stop”, and “no longer answer” tell us the three men had given up on trying to convince Job he was wrong.

Verse 18: The word “constrains” indicates Elihu was fighting with himself over whether or not he should speak.

Verse 19-20: The words “unvented”, “burst”, and “relief” indicate the angst and indignation he was feeling after listening to the dialogue between Job and his three friends.

Elihu turned his attention to Job.

Job 33:1 “However now, Job, please hear my[Elihu] speech,
And listen to all my words.
Job 33:2 “Behold now, I[Elihu] open my mouth,
My tongue in my mouth speaks.
Job 33:3 “My[Elihu] words are from the uprightness of my heart,
And my lips speak knowledge sincerely.
Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me[Elihu],
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 33:5 “Refute me[Elihu] if you[Job] can;
Array yourselves before me, take your stand.
Job 33:6 “Behold, I[Elihu] belong to God like you[Job];
I too have been formed out of the clay.
Job 33:7 “Behold, no fear of me[Elihu] should terrify you[Job],
Nor should my pressure weigh heavily on you.

Verse 1: The words “hear” and “listen” indicate Elihu asked Job to patiently listen.

Verse 6: Elihu pointed out that Elihu was equal to Job in that they were both human. This was another indication of Elihu’s indignation.

Elihu challenged Job’s innocence.

Job 33:8 “Surely you[Job] have spoken in my[Elihu] hearing,
And I have heard the sound of your words:
Job 33:9 ‘I[Job] am pure, without transgression;
I am innocent and there is no guilt in me.
Job 33:10 ‘Behold, He[God] invents pretexts against me[Job];
He counts me as His enemy.
Job 33:11 ‘He[God] puts my[Job] feet in the stocks;
He watches all my paths.’
Job 33:12 “Behold, let me[Elihu] tell you[Job], you are not right in this,
For God is greater than man.
Job 33:13 “Why do you[Job] complain against Him[God]
That He does not give an account of all His doings?

Verses 9-11: The single quotes identify statements Job had made about himself. Elihu accurately summarized Job’s statements found in the first 31 chapters of Job.

Verse 13 is the climax of this speech. Elihu had listened silently to the dialogue between Job and his friends, indignation had grown inside of him, He decided to speak, and his main message to Job was that Job should not expect God to give an account of His doings.

Again, the author of Job did not indicate here whether or not Elihu was correct; however, Job chapters 38-42 tell us Elihu was correct. At the end of this post are other verses indicating Elihu was correct.

Through the rest of this passage Elihu listed some things He believes we do know about God.

God protects men.

Job 33:14 “Indeed God speaks once,
Or twice, yet no one notices it.
Job 33:15 “In a dream, a vision of the night,
When sound sleep falls on men,
While they slumber in their beds,
Job 33:16 Then He[God] opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction,
Job 33:17 That He[God] may turn man aside from his conduct,
And keep man from pride;
Job 33:18 He[God] keeps back his[man’s] soul from the pit,
And his life from passing over into Sheol.

Verses 17-18: Elihu used the words “turn”, “keep”, and “keeps” to say God protects men from death.

God punishes men.

Job 33:19 “Man is also chastened with pain on his bed,
And with unceasing complaint in his bones;
Job 33:20 So that his[a man’s] life loathes bread,
And his soul favorite food.
Job 33:21 “His[a man’s] flesh wastes away from sight,
And his bones which were not seen stick out.
Job 33:22 “Then his[a man’s] soul draws near to the pit,
And his life to those who bring death.

Verse 19: Elihu used the word “chastens” to say God punishes men.

Verse 20: The words “so that” indicates the results of the punishment. Verses 20-22 are the results according to Elihu.

God is merciful.

Job 33:23 “If there is an angel as mediator for him[man],
One out of a thousand,
To remind a man what is right for him,
Job 33:24 Then let him[God] be gracious to him[man], and say,
‘Deliver him[man] from going down to the pit,
I[God] have found a ransom’;
Job 33:25 Let his[man] flesh become fresher than in youth,
Let him return to the days of his youthful vigor;
Job 33:26 Then he[man] will pray to God, and He[God] will accept him[man],
That he[man] may see His[God’s] face with joy,
And He[God] may restore His[God] righteousness to man.
Job 33:27 “He[man] will sing to men and say,
‘I[man] have sinned and perverted what is right,
And it is not proper for me.
Job 33:28 ‘He[God] has redeemed my[man] soul from going to the pit,
And my life shall see the light.’

Verses 23-28 are an If … Then … statement.

Verse 23 is the If … statement.
If there is an angel to mediate for man.
If there is an angel to remind man what is right.

Verses 24-28 is the Then … statement.
Then God will be gracious.
God will deliver man from death.
Man will have the vigor of youth.
Man will pray to God.
God will accept man.
God will restore man’s righteousness.
Man will sing to men.
Man will praise God for redeeming him.

Again, the author of Job did not indicate if Elihu was correct. The author of Job merely recorded what Elihu said.

Elihu closed his message to Job.

Job 33:29 “Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men,
Job 33:30 To bring back his[man] soul from the pit,
That he[man] may be enlightened with the light of life.
Job 33:31 “Pay attention, O Job, listen to me[Elihu];
Keep silent, and let me speak.
Job 33:32 “Then if you[Job] have anything to say, answer me[Elihu];
Speak, for I desire to justify you.
Job 33:33 “If not, listen to me[Elihu];
Keep silent, and I will teach you[Job] wisdom.”

Elihu demanded that Job pay attention to him, but he also offered to listen to Job.

The climax of Elihu’s indignation.

Job 33:12b For God is greater than man.
Job 33:13 “Why do you[Job] complain against Him[God]
That He does not give an account of all His doings?

This was a rhetorical question meant to chide Job for expecting God to give an account of all His doings.

Was Elihu correct?

Is it wrong for humans to expect answers from God?

The anger of Yahweh

Num. 11:1 Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

Notice the word “complain” and “adversity”. The Israelites complained about adversity just as Job complained about his adversity.

Notice the word “anger”. Yahweh was angry that the Israelites were complaining.

Notice the word “consumed”. Yahweh killed some of the Israelites as punishment for complaining.

Warning against quarreling

Is. 45:9 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker —
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?
Is. 45:10 “Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
Or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’”

Notice the word “woe”. This indicates these verses are a warning.

Notice the word “quarrels”. The warning is to avoid quarreling with our Maker.

Just as clay does not talk back to the potter, so too humans should not talk back to Yahweh.

God’s indignation

Jer. 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.
Jer. 18:4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
Jer. 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,
Jer. 18:6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

Verse 6 is a rhetorical question meaning God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants to humans. Yahweh’s question reveals His indignation that the Israelites would dare think otherwise.

Rom. 9:20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
Rom. 9:21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

Verse 20 is two rhetorical questions teaching us not to answer back to God.

Verse 21 is a rhetorical question teaching us God can do anything He wants with humans. Just as God had the right to allow Job to suffer in order to prove His point to Satan, so too God has the right and authority to use us any way He chooses in order to accomplish His goals.

Verses 20-21 also reveal God’s indignation that we humans would have the audacity to talk back to God and question His actions.


There was a long dialogue between Job and his three friends. The three friends failed to convince Job he was suffering because he had sinned and Job failed to convince his friends he was innocent. Job insisted God was against him for no reason and he demanded God explain why he was making Job suffer.

Elihu listened to this dialogue in silence and indignation grew within him as he listened to Job’s complaints about God and that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar failed to persuade Job of his guilt. The three men finally gave up and went silent, at which time Elihu began to speak. Elihu accurately summarized Job’s complaint against God and reprimanded him for demanding that God give an account of His actions. Numbers 11, Isaiah 45, Jeremiah 18, and Romans 9 all teach us that Elihu was correct: we should not complain about God. When humans complain about God, God’s indignation toward us grows. We are nothing compared to God, we exist to serve Him, He can use us any way He chooses in order to accomplish His goals and His agenda, and we should not complain about God.

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

  • Free Email Subscription

    Join my email list

    • It’s free.
    • You will automatically receive all my free content.
    • Your email address will not be sold nor given away.