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Bible Commentaries
Job 34

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-9

Job’s plea of innocence 34:1-9

Elihu reminded the three older counselors that Job had claimed to be innocent of transgressions (cf. Job 13:18; Job 13:23; Job 14:17; Job 23:11; Job 27:2; Job 27:6). Then he sided with them and agreed that Job was guilty of sin, for which God could punish him justly.

Verses 1-37

3. Elihu’s second speech ch. 34

Elihu, in this speech, sought to refute Job’s charge that God was unjust. He tried to answer Job’s question, "Why doesn’t God have mercy on me?" He first addressed the three friends (Job 34:10-15, plural "you" in Hebrew) and then spoke to Job (Job 34:16-27, singular "you"). In his first speech Elihu had alluded to Eliphaz’s arguments. In this one he took up Bildad’s (Job 34:2; Job 34:34).

Verses 10-37

Elihu’s defense of God’s justice 34:10-37

As the three friends, Elihu believed God was acting perfectly justly in allowing Job to suffer, and that Job was insolent to accuse God of being unjust (Job 34:10). He then reviewed God’s character to illustrate His justice (Job 34:11-30).

"Elihu [in Job 34:10-15] repeats the self-evident truth that God can do no wrong. He attaches three thoughts to this proposition. First, he infers from God’s supremacy as Creator that He is not accountable to anyone (13). This takes us to the edge of a dangerous cliff. For, if everything God does is right, by definition, and if, because He is Sovereign, God does everything that happens, it follows that everything that happens is right, and the category of evil disappears. Secondly, Job 34:14-15 specify that every living thing depends on God for its being, so that He may, indiscriminately or universally, withdraw this gift of existence and do nothing wrong. This is a fine acknowledgment of God as owner of all, and a fine tribute to His might. But it leaves no grounds for saying that any act of God is ’good’ rather than ’bad’. ’Might makes right’ is the upshot of Elihu’s doctrine, and in this emphasis he approaches rather closely to Job’s contention. But he wriggles out of the difficulty by falling back on the doctrine that God requites every person according to his behaviour (11), stating it in crass individualistic terms. But this is the very thing under debate, and no answer to the problem." [Note: Andersen, p. 253.]

Elihu asserted that God was not answerable to anyone including Job (Job 34:31-37; cf. Job 34:13). In this section Elihu became very heavy-handed (cf. Job 34:33; Job 34:36). Some sin that Job had committed had brought on his suffering, Elihu concluded, but Job’s consequent rebellion against God made him doubly guilty (Job 34:37).

Much of what Elihu said in this speech was true. Nevertheless, as the other critics, he incorrectly assumed Job was lying about his innocence. As we know from the first two chapters, Job was not suffering because he had sinned.

"In Israel the ban on idols placed restrictions on the decorative visual arts. The prohibition of ritualized myths was another part of the campaign against paganism and prevented the development of drama in Israel. As a result the prime media for artistic expression were music, with song and dance, and the spoken word. In all these Israel excelled. Nothing was esteemed more highly than a word fitly spoken (Proverbs 25:11). It was savoured by the ear as the palate tastes food (Job 34:3). Such art could easily become decadent, when the form was prized for its own sake, rather than as an expression of truth. Elihu’s speeches tend to come under this condemnation." [Note: Ibid., p. 251.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 34". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-34.html. 2012.
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