We have here the conclusion of this first part of Elihu’s discourse, in which, 1. He briefly sums up what he had said, showing that God’s great and gracious design, in all the dispensations of his providence towards the children of men, is to save them from being for ever miserable and bring them to be for ever happy, Job 33:29, 30. All these things God is working with the children of men. He deals with them by conscience, by providences, by ministers, by mercies, by afflictions. He makes them sick, and makes them well again. All these are his operations; he has set the one over the other (Eccl. 7:14), but his hand is in all; it is he that performs all the things for us. All providences are to be looked upon as God’s workings with man, his strivings with him. He uses a variety of methods to do men good; if one affliction do not do the work, he will try another; if neither do, he will try a mercy; and he will send a messenger to interpret both. He often works such things as these twice, thrice; so it is in the original, referring to Job 33:14. He speaks once, yea, twice; if that prevail not, he works twice, yea, thrice; he changes his method (we have piped, we have mourned) returns again to the same method, repeats the same applications. Why does he take all this pains with man? It is to bring back his soul from the pit, Job 33:30. If God did not take more care of us than we do of ourselves, we should be miserable; we would destroy ourselves, but he would have us saved, and devises means, by his grace, to undo that by which we were undoing ourselves. The former method, by dream and vision, was to keep back the soul from the pit (Job 33:18), that is, to prevent sin, that we might not fall into it. This, by sickness and the word, is to bring back the soul, to recover those that have fallen into sin, that they may not lie still and perish in it. With respect to all that by repentance are brought back from the pit, it is that they may be enlightened with the light of the living, that they may have present comfort and everlasting happiness. Whom God saves from sin and hell, which are darkness, he will bring to heaven, the inheritance of the saints in light; and this he aims at in all his institutions and all his dispensations. Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst thus visit him! This should engage us to comply with God’s designs, to work with him for our own good, and not to counter-work him. This will render those that perish for ever inexcusable, that so much was done to save them and they would not be healed. 2. He bespeaks Job’s acceptance of what he had offered and begs of him to mark it well, Job 33:31. What is intended for our good challenges our regard. If Job will observe what is said, (1.) He is welcome to make what objections he can against it (Job 33:32): “If thou hast any thing to say for thyself, in thy own vindication, answer me; though I am fresh, and thou art spent, I will not run thee down with words: Speak, for I, desire to justify thee, and am not as thy other friends that desired to condemn thee.” Elihu contends for truth, not, as they did, for victory. Note, Those we reprove we should desire to justify, and be glad to see them clear themselves from the imputations they lie under, and therefore give them all possible advantage and encouragement to do so. (2.) If he has nothing to say against what is said, Elihu lets him know that he has something more to say, which he desires him patiently to attend to (Job 33:33): Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. Those that would both show wisdom and learn wisdom must hearken and keep silence, be swift to hear and slow to speak. Job was wise and good; but those that are so may yet be wiser and better, and must therefore set themselves to improve by the means of wisdom and grace.
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