In these verses,
I. Elihu particularly charges Job with some indecent expressions that had dropped from him, reflecting upon the justice and goodness of God in his dealings with him. He does not ground the charge upon report, but was himself an ear-witness of what he here reproves him for (Job 33:8): “Thou hast spoken it in my hearing, and in the hearing of all this company.” He had it not at second hand; if so, he would have hoped it was not so bad as it was represented. He did not hear it from Job in private conversation, for then he would not have been so ill-bred as to repeat it thus publicly; but Job had said it openly, and therefore it was fit he should be openly reproved for it. Those that sin before all rebuke before all. When we hear any thing said that tends to God’s dishonour we ought publicly to bear our testimony against it. What is said amiss in our hearing we are concerned to reprove; for you are my witnesses, saith the Lord, to confront the accuser. 1. Job had represented himself as innocent (Job 33:9): Thou hast said, I am clean without transgression. Job had not said this totidem verbis—in so many words; nay, he had owned himself to have sinned and to be impure before God; but he had indeed said, Thou knowest that I am not wicked, my righteousness I hold fast, and the like, on which Elihu might ground this charge. It was true that Job was a perfect and an upright man and not such a one as his friends had represented him; but he ought not to have insisted so much upon it, as if God had therefore done him wrong in afflicting him. Yet, it should seem, Elihu did not deal fairly in charging Job with saying that he was clean and innocent from all transgression, when he only pleaded that he was upright and innocent from the great transgression. But those that speak passionately and unwarily must thank themselves if they be misunderstood; they should have taken more care. 2. He had represented God as severe in marking what he did amiss and taking all advantages against him (Job 33:10, 11), as if he sought opportunity to pick quarrels with him. He findeth occasions against me, which supposes seeking them. To this purport Job had spoken, Job 14:16, 17, Dost thou not watch over my sin? He counteth me for his enemy; so he had expressly said, Job 13:24; 19:11. “He putteth my feet in the stocks, that, as I cannot contend with him, so I may not be able to flee from him;” this he had said, Job 13:27. He marketh all my paths; so he had said, Job 13:27.
II. He endeavours to convince him that he had spoken amiss in speaking thus, and that he ought to humble himself before God for it, and by repentance to unsay it (Job 33:12): Behold, in this thou art not just. Here thou art not in the right, so some read it. See; the difference between the charge which Elihu exhibited against Job and that which was preferred against him by his other friends; they would not own that he was just at all, but Elihu only says, “In this, in saying this, thou art not just.” 1. “Thou dost not deal justly with God.” To be just is to render to all their due; now we do not render to God his due, nor are we just to him, if we do not acknowledge his equity and kindness in all his dispensations of his providence towards us, that he is righteous in all his ways, and that, however it be, yet he is good. 2. “Thou dost not speak the language of a righteous man. I do not deny but thou art such a one, but in this thou dost not make it to appear.” Many that are just yet, in some particular instances, do not speak and act like themselves; and as, on the one hand, we must not fail to tell even a good man wherein he mistakes and does amiss, nor flatter him in his errors and passions, for in that we ar not kind, so on the other hand we must not draw men’s characters, nor pass a judgment on them, from one instance, or some few misplaced words, for in that we are not just. In many things we all offend, and therefore must be candid in our censures. Two things Elihu proposes to Job’s consideration, to convince him that he had said amiss:—(1.) That God is infinitely above us, and therefore it is madness to contend with him; for if he plead against us with his great power we cannot stand before him. I will answer thee, says Elihu, in one word, which carries its own evidence along with it, That God is greater than man; no doubt he is, infinitely greater. Between God and man there is no proportion. Job had himself said a great deal, and admirably well, concerning the greatness of God, his irresistible power and incontestable sovereignty, his terrible majesty and unsearchable immensity. “Now,” said Elihu, “do but consider what thou thyself hast said concerning the greatness of God, and apply it to thyself; if he is greater than man, he is greater than thou, and thou wilt see reason enough to repent of these ill-natures, ill-favoured, reflections upon him, and to blush at thy folly, and tremble to think of thy own presumption.” Note, There is enough in this one plain unquestionable truth, That God is greater than man, if duly improved, for ever to put to silence and to shame all our complaints of his providence and our exceptions against his dealings with us. He is not only more wise and powerful than we are, and therefore it is to no purpose to contend with him who will be too hard for us, but more holy, just, and good, for these are the transcendent glories and excellencies of the divine nature; in these God is greater than man, and therefore it is absurd and unreasonable to find fault with him, for he is certainly in the right. (2.) That God is not accountable to us (Job 33:13): Why dost thou strive against him? Those that complain of God strive against him, implead him, impeach him, bring an action against him. And why do they do so? For what cause? To what purpose? Note, It is an unreasonable thing for us, weak, foolish, sinful, creatures, to strive with a God of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. Woe to the clay that strives with the potter; for he gives no account of any of his matters. He is under no obligation to show us a reason for what he does, neither to tell us what he designs to do (in what method, at what time, by what instruments) nor to tell us why he deals thus with us. He is not bound either to justify his own proceedings or to satisfy our demands and enquiries; his judgments will certainly justify themselves. If we do not satisfy ourselves in them, it is our own fault. It is therefore daring impiety for us to arraign God at our bar, or challenge him to show cause for what he doeth, to say unto him, What doest thou? or, Why doest thou so? He gives not account of all his matters (so some read it); he reveals as much as it is fit for us to know, as follows here (Job 33:14), but still there are secret things, which belong not to us, which it is not for us to pry into.