Verses 1–7

Several arguments Elihu here uses to persuade Job not only to give him a patient hearing, but to believe that he designed him a good office, and to take it kindly, and be willing to receive the instructions he was now about to give him. Let Job consider, 1. That Elihu does not join with his three friends against him. He has, in the foregoing chapter, declared his dislike of their proceedings, disclaimed their hypothesis, and quite set aside the method they took of healing Job. “Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speech, Job 33:1. They were all in the same song, all spoke in the same strain; but I am trying a new say, therefore hearken to all my words, and not to some of them only;” for we cannot judge of a discourse unless we take it entire and hearken to it all. 2. That he intended to make a solemn business of it, not to put in a word by the by, or give a short repartee, to show his wit: after long silence he opened his mouth (Job 33:2), with deliberation and design. Upon mature consideration he had already begun to speak, and was prepared to go on if Job would encourage him by his attention. 3. That he was resolved to speak as he thought and not otherwise (Job 33:3): “My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart, the genuine product of my convictions and sentiments.” There was reason to suspect that Job’s three friends did not think, in their consciences, that Job was so bad a man as they had in their discourses, merely for the support of their hypothesis, represented him to be; and that was not fair. It is a base thing to condemn those with our tongues, to serve a turn, whom at the same time we cannot but in our consciences think well of. Elihu is an honest man, and scorns to do so. 4. That what he said should be easy, and not dark and hard to be understood: My lips shall utter knowledge clearly. Job shall readily comprehend his meaning, and perceive what he aims at. Those that speak of the things of God should carefully avoid all obscurity and perplexedness both of notion and expression, and speak as plainly and clearly as they can; for by that it will appear that they do themselves understand what they speak of, that they mean honestly, and design the edification of those they speak to. 5. That he would, in his discourse, make the best use he could of the reason and understanding God had given him, that life, that rational soul which he received from the Spirit of God and the breath of the Almighty, Job 33:4. He owns himself unfit to enter into the lists with his seniors, yet he desires they will not despise his youth, for that he is God’s workmanship as well as they, made by the same hand, endued with the same noble powers and faculties, and designed for the same great end; and therefore why may not the God that made him make use of his as an instrument of good to Job? With this consideration also we should quicken ourselves (and perhaps Elihu made that use of it) to do good in our places according to our capacity. God has made us, and given us life, and therefore we should study to use our life to some good purpose, to spend it in glorifying God and serving our generation according to his will, that we may answer the end of our creation and it may not be said that we were made in vain. 6. That he would be very willing to hear what Job could object against what he had to say (Job 33:5): “If thou canst, answer me. If thou hast so much strength and spirit left thee, and art not quite spent with the distemper and the dispute, set thy words in order, and they shall have their due consideration.” Those that can speak reason will hear reason. 7. That he had often wished for one that would appear for God, with whom he might freely expostulate, and to whom, as arbitrator, he might refer the matter, and such a one Elihu would be (Job 33:6): I am, according to thy wish, in God’s stead. How pathetically had Job wished (Job 16:21), O that one might plead for a man with God! and (Job 22:3), O that I knew where I might find him! Only he would make it his bargain that his dread should not make him afraid, Job 13:21. “Now,” says Elihu, “look upon me, for this once, as in God’s stead. I will undertake to plead his cause with thee and to show thee wherein thou hast affronted him and what he has against thee; and what appeals or complaints thou hast to make to God make them to me.” 8. That he was not an unequal match for him: “I also am formed out of the clay. I also, as well as the first man (Gen. 2:7), I also as well as thou.” Job had urged this with God as a reason why he should not bear hard upon him (Job 10:9), Remember that thou hast made me as the clay. “I,” says Elihu, “am formed out of the clay as well as thou,” formed of the same clay, so some read it. It is good for us all to consider that we are formed out of the clay; and well for us it is that those who are to us in God’s stead are so, that he speaks to us by men like ourselves, according to Israel’s wish upon a full trial, Deut. 5:24. God has wisely deposited the treasure in earthen vessels like ourselves, 2 Cor. 4:7. 9. That he would have no reason to be frightened at the assault he made upon him (Job 33:7): “My terror shall not make thee afraid,” (1.) “As thy friends have done with their arguings. I will not reproach thee as they have done, nor draw up such a heavy charge against thee, Nor,” (2.) “As God would do if he should appear to reason with thee. I stand upon the same level with thee, and am made of the same mould, and therefore cannot impose that terror upon thee which thou mayest justly dread from the appearance of the divine Majesty.” If we would rightly convince men, it must be by reason, not by terror, by fair arguing, not by a heavy hand.