A challenge to Job

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger comments on Job 33:

In the first 7 verses of Job 33, Elihu extends a challenge of sorts to Job.

But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue. My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know. The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me then, if you can;prepare yourself and confront me. I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay. No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy upon you.”

Repeatedly, Job had demanded a trial before God, but then complained that such a trial would overwhelm him. Now Elihu calls Job’s bluff. Let Job argue his case with another mere mortal. Let Job respond to Elihu’s arguments. In effect, what Elihu is saying is, “You want a trial, Job–I’ll give you a trial!”

In verses 8-11 Elihu does his best to summarize Job’s main point.

But you have said in my hearing-I heard the very words-‘I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy. He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.’”

Yes, Job is innocent, in the sense that he has not sinned as his friends have accused him. But Job is still a sinner–a justified sinner–but a sinner nonetheless. In the process of protesting his innocence and demanding vindication, Job’s righteous anger and indignation (not wrong in themselves) have become conceit, which according to one writer is “incredibly bald and arrogant [as seen] in Job’s final words”.

It is one thing to defend your conduct. It is another to demand your rights, especially when, as a sinner,  Job has only those rights given to him by a gracious God in the first place! Elihu now points this out.


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