(a). Elihu Intervenes in the Debate <32:1-22>
Now that the three rounds of debate between Job and his friends has ended, and Job has made his final defense, there is silence from the group <32:1> because Job insists on his innocence. Now enters a fourth individual, Elihu: “But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram” <32:2 (NIV)>: (Elihu means God himself; Barakel means blessed of God). It will be seen from his opinions that he is closer to the truth than all the others. First he reprimands Job for justifying himself rather than God <32:2>, then the three friends, that their great discussion only exhibited human wisdom <32:3>; and finally he suggests that affliction can be for instruction rather than for punishment.
He continues to say that he had waited before speaking because he was younger than all the others, but now that they had nothing further to say he was frustrated <32:4-5>; “So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said: “I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.'” <32:6-7 (NIV)>; and this may be correct that in some cases wisdom comes with age, but sometimes a younger mind can see a greater perspective <cf. 1 Tim.4:12>. He then expresses a truth that may not have been evident to Job or his three friends; “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.” <32:8-9 (NIV); cf. Jn.16:13-14; 1 Cor.1:26; Psa.119:34, 100>, and this truth should always be at the forefront of all attempts to deal with life’s problems, and when we seek to assist anyone who is suffering affliction; “I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning……I gave you my full attention.” <32:11-12 (NIV); cf. Jas.1:19-20>; this should be our guideline. When this is our approach we will be able, like Elihu, to let God prove the error rather than by human reasoning <32:13>, for God will put the words in our mouth <39:18; cf. Lk.12:12; Prov.16:23>.
(b). Elihu’s First Rebuttal <33:1-33>
Elihu now addresses the allegations that Job has previously made, prefacing his remarks by stating that he is similar to Job before God <33:6; cf. 4:17-19>, then proceeds to Job’s first assertion <33:8-11>; “But you have said in my hearing…….’I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy.'” <33:8-10 (NIV); cf. 13:24; 19:11>. Job’s concept that God is his enemy is incorrect, for The Sovereign God does not have to give a reason for His actions <33:12>; and Elihu is also incensed that Job considers himself to be pure and without sin <33:9>, but in this Elihu has misunderstood Job, for Job admits being a sinner but denies the disgraceful sins for which he assumes he is being punished <cf. 7:21; 13:26>. Elihu also responds to Job’s second assertion in which Job claims that God has not answered his complaints <33:13> proceeding to show different ways in which God answers <33:14-20>.
“For God does speak — now one way, now another — though man may not perceive it.” <33:14 (NIV)>. God can speak in a dream or vision, first expressed by Eliphaz <4:13; cf. Gen.20:3; Matt.27:19>; or God could speak audibly – in the ear – <33:16; cf, 1 Sam.3:10-11>; or God could speak by chastening, as in Job’s situation <33:19-21; cf. Deut.8:5; 2 Cor.12:7-10; Heb.12:6-7; Jas.1:2-3>; and in every case when God speaks, His purpose is to save the individual from sin and from “the pit”, or from death.
Elihu continues to speak of a redemption provided through a mediator <33:23-30> in response to Job’s previous comment <16:19-21>, and such redemption would spare an individual from “going down to the pit” <33:24>; and a renewal of flesh and bones would be possible <33:25>; prayers would be answered, ensuing in rejoicing and restoration to righteousness <33:26; cf. Gen.16:13>, and testimony to God’s grace <33:27-28; cf. Ezra 9:13; Ex.15:13; Psa.34:22>. God can do all these things many times as necessary in the life of an individual <33:29> so as “to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him.” <33:30 (NIV): cf. Psa.56:13>. Elihu declares that this will only happen if Job repents, suggesting that Job should so act in response for he desires that Job be cleansed of his sins <33:32> otherwise he should remain silent while Elihu teaches him wisdom <33:33>. The scriptures teach us that the purpose of redemption is because we are unable to save ourselves so God made a provision for our redemption from sin, in order that the righteous requirements of the law of God would be fully satisfied <see Heb.2:14-18; Rom.8:1-4>.