1 "So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became angry. He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; 3 he was angry also at Job's three friends because they had found no answer, though they had declared Job to be in the wrong. 4 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job, because they were older than he. 5 But when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouths of these three men, he became angry."
A. The text says that the friends gave up speaking to Job because they were disgusted at his sense of self-righteousness. Is that the impression you receive from the third cycle of speeches?
B. Is Job's "self-righteousness" off-putting to you?
C. Count how many times the word "anger" or "angry" appears in these lines. Who else in the Book of Job is angry or is said to be angry? Has the whole world gone mad, so to speak?
D. Why would Elihu be angry at this point?
"6 Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite answered: "I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. 7 I said, 'Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.' 8 But truly it is the spirit in a mortal, the breath of the Almighty, that makes for understanding. 9 It is not the old that are wise, nor the aged that understand what is right. 10 Therefore I say, 'Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.' 11 "See, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. 12 I gave you my attention, but there was in fact no one that confuted Job, no one among you that answered his words. 13 Yet do not say, 'We have found wisdom; God may vanquish him, not a human.' 14 He has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches."
A. Elihu appeals to the "spirit in a mortal" (v.8) rather than to age. Is this a subtle criticism of Eliphaz? But didn't Eliphaz himself emphasize that he had a vision in which "a spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh bristled" (4:15)? Do you have any indication at this point of why Elihu finds the friends' words inadequate?
B. How do you characterize Elihu so far? A "fourth" friend? Or do you see him as possibly a helper of Job? If so, could he somehow function as the "witness" that Job wanted (16:19), but instead of being in heaven, this one is on earth?
15 "They are dismayed, they answer no more; they have not a word to say. 16 And am I to wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more? 17 I also will give my answer; I also will declare my opinion. 18 For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. 19 My heart is indeed like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins, it is ready to burst. 20 I must speak, so that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. 21 I will not show partiality to any person or use flattery toward anyone. 22 For I do not know how to flatter-- or my Maker would soon put an end to me!"
A. Note that Elihu still hasn't gotten around to what he wants to say, now a whole chapter after he is introduced. What impression are you receiving about him?
B. The word "dismayed," reminds me of the discomfiting of Pharoah's chariots in the mud of the Red Sea before the waters of the Sea closed over them. Here the impression given is that the friends didn't give up on Job because of his self-righteousness. Here the stress is upon what?
C. I love v. 18--"For I am full of words." At least someone is honest here about that! What is the image that you receive from vv.18-20?
D. Compare Elihu's unsuccessful attempt to hold back his words with Jeremiah's ruminations on the same subject in Jer.20:9. What is the spirit in each?