Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » Job » Chapter 32 » Verses 15–22

Verses 15–22

Three things here apologize for Elihu’s interposing as he does in this controversy which had already been canvassed by such acute and learned disputants:—

1. That the stage was clear, and he did not break in upon any of the managers on either side: They were amazed (Job 32:15); they stood still, and answered no more, Job 32:16. They not only left off speaking themselves, but they stood still, to hear if any of the company would speak their minds, so that (as we say) he had room and fair play given him. They seemed not fully satisfied themselves with what they had said, else they would have adjourned the court, and not have stood still, expecting what might further be offered. And therefore I said (Job 32:17), “I will answer also my part. I cannot pretend to give a definitive sentence; no, the judgment is the Lord’s, and by him it must be determined who is in the right and who is in the wrong; but, since you have each of you shown your opinion, I also will show mine, and let it take its fate with the rest.” When what is offered, even by the meanest, is offered thus modestly, it is a pity but it should be fairly heard and considered. I see no inconvenience in supposing that Elihu here discovers himself to be the penman of this book, and that he here writes as an historian, relating the matter of fact, that, after he had bespoken their attention in the foregoing verses, they were amazed, they left off whispering among themselves, did not gainsay the liberty of speech he desired, but stood still to hear what he would say, being much surprised at the admirable mixture of boldness and modesty that appeared in his preface.

2. That he was uneasy, and even in pain, to be delivered of his thoughts upon this matter. They must give him leave to speak, for he cannot forbear; while he is musing the fire burns (Ps. 39:3), shut up in his bones, as the prophet speaks, Jer. 20:9. Never did nurse, when her breasts were gorged, so long to have them drawn as Elihu did to deliver his mind concerning Job’s case, Job 32:18-20. If any of the disputants had hit that which he thought was the right joint, he would contentedly have been silent; but, when he thought they all missed it, he was eager to be trying his hand at it. He pleads, (1.) That he had a great deal to say: “I am full of matter, having carefully attended to all that has hitherto been said, and made my own reflections upon it.” When aged men are drawn dry, and have spent their stock, in discoursing of the divine Providence, God can raise up others, even young men, and fill them with matter for the edifying of his church; for it is a subject that can never be exhausted, though those that speak upon it may. (2.) That he was under a necessity of saying it: “The spirit within me not only instructs me what to say, but puts me on to say it; so that if I have not vent (such a ferment are my thoughts in) I shall burst like bottles of new wine when it is working,” Job 32:19. See what a great grief it is to a good minister to be silenced and thrust into a corner; he is full of matter, full of Christ, full of heaven, and would speak of these things for the good of others, but he may not. (3.) That it would be an ease and satisfaction to himself to deliver his mind (Job 32:20): I will speak, that I may be refreshed, not only that I may be eased of the pain of stifling my thoughts, but that I may have the pleasure of endeavouring, according to my place and capacity, to do good. It is a great refreshment to a good man to have liberty to speak for the glory of God and the edification of others.

3. That he was resolved to speak, with all possible freedom and sincerity, what he thought was true, not what he thought would please (Job 32:21, 22): “Let me not accept any man’s person, as partial judges do, that aim to enrich themselves, not to do justice. I am resolved to flatter no man.” He would not speak otherwise than he thought, either, (1.) In compassion to Job, because he was poor and in affliction, would not make his case better than he really took it to be, for fear of increasing his grief; “but, let him bear it as he can, he shall be told the truth.” Those that are in affliction must not be flattered, but dealt faithfully with. When trouble is upon any it is foolish pity to suffer sin upon them too (Lev. 19:17), for that is the worst addition that can be to their trouble. Thou shalt not countenance, any more than discountenance, a poor man in his cause (Exod. 23:3), nor regard a sad look any more than a big look, so as, for the sake of it, to pervert justice, for that is accepting persons. Or, (2.) In compliment to Job’s friends, because they were in prosperity and reputation. Let them not expect that he should say as they said, any further than he was convinced that they say right, nor applaud their dictates for the sake of their dignities. No, though Elihu is a young man, and upon his preferment, he will not dissemble truth to court the favour of great men. It is a good resolution he has taken up—“I know not to give flattering titles to men; I never used myself to flattering language;” and it is a good reason he gives for that resolution—in so doing my Maker would soon take my away. It is good to keep ourselves in awe with a holy fear of God’s judgments. He that made us will take us away in his wrath is we do not conduct ourselves as we should. He hates all dissimulation and flattery, and will soon put lying lips to silence and cut off flattering lips, Ps. 12:3. The more closely we eye the majesty of God as our Maker, and the more we dread his wrath and justice, the less danger shall we be in of a sinful fearing or flattering of men.