Scripture Focus: Job 32.1-9
1 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
8 But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
9 It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.
Reflection: An Earful From Elihu
By John Tillman
Job and friends are about to get an earful from Elihu.
Elihu’s been there the whole time. Invisible, unnoticed, and ignored, he’s been listening. Once he breaks his silence, Elihu speaks longer than any of the others in the book.
Perhaps Elihu was related to one of the other men. Perhaps he was simply there to hold their camels. Perhaps the argument attracted an audience and Elihu was part of the crowd. We don’t know.
Reading Job, tension grows between our discomfort with Job’s accusations and our dissatisfaction and anger at Job’s treatment by his friends. Elihu starts by expressing those same feelings and frustrations, and we feel a sense of relief. “Finally, someone gets it,” we think.
We could learn a lot from Elihu. Elihu is patient and has waited a long time to speak. Elihu is respectful but honest about his anger. He credits the spirit of God for his wisdom, not his own intellect. That doesn’t, however, mean that Elihu gets everything right.
Elihu soon begins to fall into the same logic the others did. His only concession to Job is that perhaps God is using the suffering to prevent Job from sinning, not as punishment for past sins. The longer he talks, however, the more his anger grows, his logic falters, and he sounds just like the men he is trying to refute.
When leaders in politics and religion squabble and argue, younger people have often been like Elihu. They’ve been told to be invisible and considered insignificant. They’ve been unnoticed and ignored. And they’ve been listening with growing frustration, disgust, and anger.
Like Elihu, the spirit of God is stirring younger generations, so they are about to burst and will not stay silent. (Job 32.18-20)When they speak out, they may anger the old guard. They won’t be flattering or show partiality to position, rank, or denominations. (Job 32.21-22) And they may not get everything right. They might fall into the same old errors or find new ones.
We won’t improve the conversation by continuing to ignore, sideline, or dismiss their arguments because of their youth. “It is not only the old who are wise,” and not only the young who are foolish.
When we get an earful from an Elihu, we should listen. If we don’t engage the Elihu’s of our age in sincere conversation, we may never hear from them again.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us. — Psalm 67.1
Read more about Three Strikes
God specifically moved among the young people of the land and the older generation did not take them seriously.
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