After Job’s three friends stopped responding to him because he was righteous in his own eyes and justified himself before God (32:1-3), a young man spoke up. There’s much anger in this context between Job and his friends and now Elihu comes against Job’s three friends because they neither solved Job’s problem nor consoled him in suffering. Elihu claimed to be God’s mouth piece for several chapters (32-34) and reproves Job with, “So Job opens his mouth emptily; He multiplies words without knowledge.” (35:16)
Elihu uses the mysteries of the created order to point out that God’s ways really are past searching out after certain borders have been crossed (36-37). Then God speaks up and lets Job have it; “Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge?” (38:2). To speak from ignorance is to perpetuate falsehoods which misdiagnose a state of affairs. God proceeds to ask Job epistemological questions that are daunting:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? (38:4-7)
“Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; 9 When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, 11 And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’? (38:8-11)
“Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?
Do you observe the calving of the deer? (39:1)
“Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane? (39:19)
“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
Stretching his wings toward the south? (39:26)
After an exhausting litany of questions, job is humbled and in response essentially tells God: “You are right, I have no right to speak because my knowledge of the created order and it’s creatures is beyond me”. But God was not done with Job, and continued to ask him more questions of the same nature:
“No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him; Who then is he that can stand before Me? Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine. (41:10-11)
If no man dares to approach Leviathan, the fiercest creature on earth, who is Job who dares to approach God—Leviathan’s master—in this manner? This is very weighty and job’s response is appropriate:
I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” 4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (42:2-6)
Job encountered God. Oh how we need to encounter Him in this way! Job repents! He repents from his misdiagnoses of God’s purposes, goodness, justice and wisdom and his twisted words. His three friends however aroused God’s wrath, but Job God’s servant interceded for them (42:10) and God’s favor was restored to them and to Job. Interestingly the text points out that now his friends could console Job (42:10-11) from the adversities the LORD had brought upon him. Only when we are right with God, can we be in a position to rightly comfort those suffering in word and in deed.
After considering the end of this book silence seems to be the appropriate response. God is sovereign, we are not. Nevertheless, this account is deeply perplexing and difficult to grasp as creatures. The text is clear that it was God the LORD, not Satan who brought all these calamities onto Job.
At the end of the day, we creatures have to ultimately decide who we will trust when in the mysteries of life we are ruthlessly knocked down. As His people we are called to follow regardless of where He leads us because He after all owns us. As new covenant believers Job is instructive. We learn through his life that sometimes the reasons for our sufferings have nothing to do with us and everything to do with God and His purposes. Much to consider!