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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 32

 

 

Verse 1

CHAP. XXXII.

Elihu is angry with Job and his three friends; with the one for justifying himself; with the others for not answering satisfactorily. He apologises for his youth and zeal to speak.

Before Christ 1645.

Job 32:1. Because he was righteous, &c.— Wherefore he was righteous. Job had given in his plea, to which the three friends made no reply: the consequence was, that he accounted himself acquitted from the accusation. Heath.


Verse 2

Job 32:2. Elihu, the son of Barachel, &c.— Elihu, a new personage, here makes his appearance. Attentive all the time to the debate between Job and his friends, he utters not a word till both sides have done speaking; and then shews, that a stander-by, though of less abilities and penetration, may sometimes see farther into a dispute than those who are eagerly engaged therein; and who, by having their passions raised to an undue height, are very apt to carry things to an extreme. This useful moral presents itself to us, in the strongest light, from the description here given of Elihu, a young man, of little knowledge and experience in comparison of the other speakers, who were famous for wisdom, and venerable for their years. Elihu is said to be the son of Barachel the Buzite, but of the family of Ram: he also was descended from Nahor, (see the note on chap. Job 2:11.) and, taking up his habitation in the country of the Buzites, had thence his denomination; but he is very carefully distinguished by the author from the posterity of Buz; being described as a descendant from Ram, or Aram, who was the grandson of Nahor, by his son Kemuel. The land of Buz was, doubtless, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Job, as the posterity of Nahor settled in this country. It is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:23 and joined with Dedan and Temah; and therefore, like them, was most probably a city of Edom. Elihu was provoked at the behaviour of Job, as well as that of the three friends: at Job, for attempting so to vindicate himself, as to leave an imputation of injustice on God's providence; at the three friends, for charging Job with such atrocious crimes, and falling so miserably short when they should have come to the proof, as not to be able to convict him of one of them. Elihu therefore, having waited awhile for the reply of the friends, and finding that they had no intention of making any, begins with a modest apology, drawn from his youth, for his engaging in the dispute at all;—for old age in those days was so highly honoured, that a young man scarcely dared to open his mouth before his elders: Job 32:6-10. He tells them, that he has waited a long time to hear what they would offer; but, finding that they do not design to reply, he desires their leave to speak his opinion; a liberty, however, in which he would not indulge himself if they were willing to make answer, or could any way convict Job of what they had laid to his charge: he adds, that his intention was, to attack him in a manner quite different from what they had done; for which reason he should not think himself at all obliged to answer the arguments that he had urged against them: Job 32:11-14. But at the same time he declares that it was not his intention to speak partially in his favour; since the acceptance of persons was a crime which, he was sensible, would be severely punished by the Almighty: Job 32:21-22. He therefore addresses Job, and gives him to understand, that the manner in which he had urged his defence, and the representation that he had made of the treatment which he had received at the hands of the Almighty, were very unbecoming: chap. Job 33:1-9. He had represented himself as perfectly innocent, and God as inflicting punishment upon him without a cause; but he ought to consider that he was a man, and consequently liable to many infirmities, and therefore should readily acknowledge the justice of God's providence, Job 33:9-13. That God had, by revelation, declared the manner of behaviour which was acceptable to him; which was, to put away the evil of his doings, and to cast off all pride; hinting, that this last was, at the bottom, the real motive to his stubborn behaviour: Job 33:14-19. That, if he would conform himself to this rule, he might expect, though he was even at death's door, that God would restore him to his health and vigour; more especially if he had a prophet near him (intimating that he himself was such a one) who would represent his past righteousness in his behalf before God; in which case, he would have an opportunity in the face of all his people: Job 33:20-22. This, however, must be attended with a confession of his faults, a public acknowledgement of God's justice, and a sincere purpose of amendment. If he had any objection to make to this, he desires him to make it; if not, to have patience with him, while he shewed him the course which, he was persuaded, it was his wisest method to pursue, Job 33:29 to the end. See Peters and Heath. But we shall not be just to the argument, if we omit to mention here, that Dr. Hodges, in a work intitled Elihu, has advanced a very peculiar opinion respecting that personage, and with regard to the principal scope and design of the Book of Job. He supposes Elihu to have been no other than the second person in the Divine Trinity, the Son of the blessed God, who assumes the office of mediator, and speaks the same language with Jehovah: see the 38th and following chapters. And he conceives, that the chief scope of the book, and the principal intention of Elihu, was, to convict Job of self-righteousness; and to instruct him, and all mankind, in the great doctrine of justification by faith: see Romans 3:21; Romans 3:31. We refer such of our readers as are desirous of knowing more respecting this opinion, to the work which is written in support of it. See also the Reflections.


Verse 3

Job 32:3. Because they had found no answer, &c.— Because they had found no answer whereby they might convict Job.


Verse 9

Job 32:9. Great men רבים rabbim, teachers. Heath and Houb.


Verse 13

Job 32:13. Lest ye should say Say ye not, therefore, we have found out wisdom? It is God must confute him, and not man. "God only can sift him to the bottom, and know whether his pretences to piety have any thing real in them, or are only hypocritical."


Verse 18

Job 32:18. For I am full of matter; the spirit, &c.— As he was a young man, he dares not claim much authority, from his own sayings; but he claims it from the inspiration of the Almighty, by whose Spirit he was actuated, and whose oracles he was delivering. Heath.


Verse 19

Job 32:19. It is ready to burst like new bottles Bottles of new wine. The epithet new belongs more properly to the wine, as it is in the LXX in our Saviour's parabolical expression of, putting new wine into old bottles; and as it is more consistent with the nature of things; for, the bottles being made of leather, an old bottle was more liable to be burst by the fermentation of new wine, than a new one.


Verse 21

Job 32:21. Let me not, I pray you Elihu's apology for himself is, that he would not presume to interpose in the debate till they who were his elders had done speaking: I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom, Job 32:7. But however, as God had given to every one their share of understanding, and as he then found in himself a strong impulse to speak, he would deliver his opinion with all freedom, and without flattery, or a partial inclination to either side. Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person. Let me not be partial to any man; for know I not, if I should be partial, that my Maker would destroy me in a moment? Heath and Peters.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The warm dispute was closed. A silent pause ensued: Job's friends ceased to answer; counting him obstinate against conviction, and righteous in his own eyes, they forebore to reply: but now a new personage appears. With silence he had listened to the knotty controversy, perceives the fallacy and falsehood of the arguments on the one side, and the rashness and impatience on the other; and therefore, rising with warmth, he prepares to reprove both for their perverseness; Job's friends, that they condemned him without evidence; and Job himself, that he justified himself rather than God; was more careful about his own reputation than God's glory, and seemed more solicitous to vindicate himself than to justify God in the dispensations of his providence. Note; (1.) In angry disputes there is usually much to reprove on both sides. (2.) When we have a fault to find, it should be done to men's faces, and not behind their backs. (3.) A gracious heart is jealous for the honour of God, and cannot, unmoved, see him slighted. (4.) A holy indignation against evil, and a temperate warmth in the cause of truth, are so far from being to be condemned, that they are highly commendable. We have,

1. The name and family of this moderator, Elihu, My God is he. Hence some have supposed him to be Christ, the son of Barachel, Blessed of God, of the kindred of Ram, the High and lofty One, the Buzite, despised and rejected of men; and to him other things in his speech and character may be applicable: but more generally he is supposed to be a descendant of Buz, the son of Nahor, Abraham's brother, Genesis 22:21.

2. He was a young man; had sat silent till his elders had spoken; and waited till none made any further reply. Note; Young men owe their elders deference; and, though they must not yield implicit faith, or sacrifice truth to any difference of years, yet they should wait respectfully till with propriety they may state their objections.

2nd, Elihu, having taken up the cause,

1. With great humility and modesty prefaces his discourse. He speaks of himself as diffident because of his youth, and afraid to speak before his elders. He had attentively heard them out, in hopes that every new speech would throw light on the argument, and rectify the mistakes of the former; but he owns that he was disappointed, and therefore hopes that he may, without presumption, beg an audience, and venture to speak his opinion on the subject. Note; (1.) In matters of doubtful disputation, it becomes us to be diffident of our own opinion, and more ready to hear the sentiments of our elders than forward to broach our own. (2.)

By-standers, who hear, cool and unprejudiced, often see farther than those, who, in the heat of dispute, have their judgment blinded by passion. (3.) If we have given others a long and patient hearing, it is but reasonable that we should be heard in our turn.

2. He mentions several reasons that emboldened him now to speak. [1.] Because there is a spirit in man, a rational spirit, capable of judging and thinking; or rather God puts his Spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding; and then the youngest may be wiser than the aged. Note; (1.) Since we have rational souls, the greater obligation lies on us to cultivate this distinguishing privilege. (2.) The wisdom of fallen man in spiritual matters is darkness, till the Spirit of God enlightens his understanding. [2.] Because neither greatness nor grey hairs are always repositories of wisdom; it is right that they should be, but we frequently see that they are not. [3.] Because, as the matter stood, the dispute was as far as ever from being settled; and their conceit of their wise arguments was groundless; for, though what they pleaded was allowed to be true, God thrusteth him down, not man; yet it would not be at all evident from thence, that Job was a wicked man, or a hypocrite, as they inferred. Note; They who call God to sanction the conclusions of their folly, or censoriousness, deserve a sharp rebuke. [4.] Because he came cool and unprejudiced to the dispute: Job's speeches were not directed against him, neither was he partial to either party, but spake simply, with a view to the glory of God, and the elucidation of the truth. In order to which, he would not answer Job with their inconclusive arguments, accusing him as wicked, or pleading his sufferings as a proof of guilt; but, admitting his claim, and presuming his integrity, he intended to shew how unbecomingly he had spoken of God, and how unjustifiable were his complaints and hard speeches, which reflected upon the mercy, justice, and providence of God. Note; They have a right to speak, who can set the cause of truth in a light more convincing and striking than those who have gone before. Be it our care, that, like Elihu, we act up to the expectations that we have raised.

3rdly, Silent with amaze, Job's friends attempted not to speak; attentive to what so young an orator could offer, when their store of argument was exhausted; while he, after waiting a while, proceeded,

1. To declare how full he was of the subject; as wine fermenting, he must speak or burst. Much he had to say; it was a burden to him to be longer silent; and, for relief of his own spirit, as well as their conviction, he was compelled to open his mouth. Note; They who speak for God should be earnest in their discourses, out of a heart big with zeal for God's glory, and the good of men's souls.

2. He professes to speak with impartial freedom, not sacrificing truth to compliment; neither because of Job's distress, through false compassion dealing unfaithfully with him; nor because of his friend's greatness, fearing to blame what was blameworthy in them: and thus he resolves to speak with an eye to God, who hates falsehood, and flattery. Note; (1.) The fear of God will set us above the fear of man. (2.) Compassion for the poor must no more influence us to be partial to them, than respect for the rich. Truth and justice must ever be the great considerations.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 32:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-32.html. 1801-1803.

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