Elihu is a puzzle. He seems to come out of nowhere, ready to set things right between Job and his friends. Yet, in the end, he, also, seems to fall short of truly addressing Job’s concerns.
We don’t hear about Elihu until the last several chapters of Job’s story. By this point, Job had experienced terrible suffering, the reasons for which were not at all clear to him. He was a righteous man… and thought that’s how God thought of him (and He did!).
3 of Job’s friends came to visit Job… then began to offer various reasons why Job must be experiencing suffering. For the most part, their reasons boiled down to a basic assumption that his suffering was punishment by God for some sin(s) job had sinned.
After 3 rounds of debate, Job was no better off… and had no more clear picture of why he was experiencing the suffering he was experiencing.
Suddenly, Elihu arrives on the scene. He had waited to speak until the older, “wiser” men were heard, but had grown frustrated by their failure to explain why Job was suffering. Then he began to speak… somewhat more gently, and more to the point of suffering rather than focusing on the sufferer. He said there is a disciplinary role in suffering, and this should be accepted.
And he was right. But, the issue still remained… if Job was a righteous man (and God Himself said He was), then why was Job being “disciplined”?
Before Elihu could answer (something for which he could not have an answer for!), God spoke. And, when God spoke, the disputing was over.
Sometimes tough counsel must be given. When giving advice, remember:
– It is always better to be asked to give advice than to offer it unsolicited.
– When asked to give advice, speak to what you know… without diving into areas that will reveal your ignorance.
– Give advice to the extent it is being received. If someone’s mind is made up, you won’t change it. And, if they’re not listening, you’re just talking.
– Better than advice is your presence. Being there means a lot!
You can read Elihu’s story in Job 32-37.