Job: Lessons In Grace And Sovereignty

Table of Contents

1. Job
2. A Lesson in Grace
3. A Lesson in Sovereignty


A Lesson in Grace

Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1,10: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.  .  .  .  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.” We are saved by grace, we stand in grace, and by the grace of God we are what we are. Let us consider together a lesson that was learned by a servant of the Lord many years ago. The lesson was to recognize that by the grace of God he was what he was. In learning that lesson he was able to be a profitable servant for the Lord, particularly as a servant of intercession. This servant was Job.
Our Introduction to Job
We do not need to read large parts of the Book of Job, for I’m sure that most are familiar with his life. But to refresh our memories, we’ll read the first few verses of chapter 1. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:18).
Here we have an introduction to this man, Job, and to God’s record of a few months of his life. It is a foundational book in the Word of God. It is not about Jews or Gentiles or dispensational matters. It is an account of how God taught Job, His servant, a most important lesson, a fundamental lesson that each of us must learn. For God to speak of him as “My servant Job” is a wonderful remark to make about a person. I trust that each of us desires to take the place of a servant of the Lord.
God’s Plan for Job’s Blessing
God brought Job His servant to the notice of Satan because He was going to do a work for blessing in Job’s life. He saw a work was needed. He saw that Job needed to judge himself for what was in his heart and mind. He was going to bring it about in a perfect way for Job’s personal blessing and for his usefulness as a servant. We need the Lord to come into our lives as He did in Job’s life, for He knows what is in our hearts and thoughts that is contrary to His mind and heart. If we are going to serve Him acceptably, He must work in our lives to produce in us self-judgment. And so it was with Job.
A Perfect and Upright Man
It is not someone’s guess as to what kind of man Job was. God said, “There is none like him in the earth” (vs. 8). There was no one like Job, living at the time in which Job lived. We don’t know exactly when it was. Some references in Job might suggest that he was a contemporary of Abraham. Even if Abraham were living at that time, there was none like Job. It says “a perfect and an upright man” —that’s what he was, “a perfect and an upright man.” We don’t want to take anything away from that nor add anything to it. He was  a man that feared God and eschewed — that word means “abstained from” — evil. This was what God said Job was.
Lesson #1
With that in mind, Satan questions why he should bother considering Job. “Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house?” The Lord responds, “All that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thy hand.” So Satan goes out and does just that. He takes away Job’s cattle and his children.
After Satan does these things, we read something that is rather astonishing to consider. We learn a little of how remarkable a person Job was. Consider this: If you had lost your house, all of your possessions and all of your children, how would you react? Here’s what the Spirit of God says about Job: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (vs. 22). Remarkable, isn’t it? What devastation to this man’s life! Just about everything that he might cherish was taken from him. Yet the Spirit of God tells us plainly that he did not sin. He was a perfect and an upright man that feared God and abstained from evil. And even when these tremendous calamities fall upon Job, he does not sin.
Lesson #2
“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord” (ch. 2:1). The Lord again brings up the subject of Job. The first act of chastening had proven Satan wrong, but it had not yet brought out what was in Job’s heart. So the Lord continues to allow Satan to try him. What we need to understand is that what’s taking place in Job’s life has as its source the heart and mind of God. He is in control, and everything that’s taking place in your life and mine is taking place according to the mind of God and under His hand. It is not that these things were good in themselves, but God was in them and He had purposes of good for Job.
Then Satan said to the Lord, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life” (vs. 4). The first trial, as severe as it was, did not get to the root of the matter in Job’s heart. God’s hand is perfect in love and wisdom, and He carefully, step by step, measures the severity and duration of each trial He permits to produce the needed result. When we do not respond as we should, then the next step is taken. So the Lord allows Satan to put his hand on Job’s body. “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (vs. 6). Satan goes out and afflicts the body of Job. It’s a sore affliction, so painful to Job that he just sits down in ashes.
His wife can’t take it. She’s the one closest to him. She sees his suffering and all that they have lost, and she says, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” The trial overwhelms her. She expresses these feelings and then drops out of the story. Job rebukes her. “He said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (vs. 10). From this exchange we learn two things. She senses that what is happening has something to do with the matter of Job’s integrity, and the Spirit’s remark about the conversation shows that Job at this point had problems in his heart. He as a mature man doesn’t sin outwardly with his lips, but the trial has gotten to him. There is a sinful response hidden in his heart, for as Scripture records it, he sins, but not with his lips.
His Friends Come to Help
The lesson is not learned, so the trial must go on, and as it does, it becomes more difficult for Job. Job’s friends come. When they give their counsel, he gets angry and does sin with his lips.
I’ve heard some suggest that these men were not true friends, so I want to insist on what God says. Job’s friends are Job’s friends. The Spirit of God says they are Job’s friends from the first reference to the last. It never changes that perspective, and I admire the way they begin their efforts to help Job.
Let’s see how their visit begins. “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (vss. 11-13).
This touches my heart. I hope it touches yours as well. Never in my life have I gone to mourn and to comfort someone by sitting seven days and seven nights with them in silence, sharing in their grief. These true friends of Job came and what a sight they saw. The poor man was hardly recognizable, as he sat on the ground covered with boils, clothed in sackcloth and ashes. What a pitiful state of suffering. The last time they had seen Job he was in a very happy state. Everything was going well in his life. He was highly respected in the community and so on. Now they come, and they don’t even recognize him at a distance. What a comedown! What a sorrow! They felt it. They enter into it and want to help.
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (vs. 13). It is good to notice that they don’t immediately rush in with a few words of comfort and then rush out. They came and they just wait with him in silence. In due respect they felt with him in his sorrow and his trouble. They did not speak, but they sat in silence for seven days. They wait quietly until he is ready to talk.
Job’s Hidden Fear
“After this Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day” (ch. 3:1). Job laments about how things have gone, even the fact that he had been born. When he comes to the end of his remarks, he says, “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came” (vs. 25).
I’m going to ask you a question at this point. Have you ever experienced this fear in your heart as Job did? I have. Perhaps, if you’ve experienced it in your life, you may profit in some way from what God would teach us through what took place with Job. He tells his friends that he had been living with fear in his heart. He was afraid of things that could come into his life. He says that he was not at rest. I believe there are others that have experienced these same feelings. There may be secret fears in your life, things that you, in your heart, are not at rest about. You’re afraid of what may come into your life. That’s what it was with Job. He said, “I was not in safety.” Later on he says about himself, “I hoped to die in my nest.” When he was living in comfort, he was at ease. He had raised his family, and everything seemed to be wonderful for him. At that point he says, “I was in my nest.” Then the Lord stepped in and broke up the nest, and he’d had secret fears that such might happen to him. It troubled him. I believe that part of the lesson that Job is going to learn was God’s answer to that need, hidden in his heart, a need that only God could see.
Attempting to Help
Job’s three friends start speaking to him. They speak; Job answers. The conversation goes back and forth for some period of time with these friends attempting, with all the wisdom, experience and understanding they have, to be a help. Sometimes we attempt with all that is within us to help another, yet we’re unable to. We may weep for another, we may even sit with another, yet somehow it seems that we are unable to help and may even say things we regret afterwards. The desired result does not come. It doesn’t come for Job’s friends, and I think there’s a very specific reason why it doesn’t.
What is happening in their counsel to Job is this: They seek the answer for Job’s problems out of the fountain of their own lives. It doesn’t work. They draw on their own thoughts; they draw on their reasoning; they draw on their experience; they draw on their age. What they have learned in life they try to use to impart help to their friend, but it does not work. At times Job feels they are looking down on him, and their words would suggest that they were. When he feels this way he responds, “I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you” (ch. 12:3).
Frustration and Anger
In frustration, perhaps, they get angry and Job responds in kind. He justifies himself to his friends, and in some of what he says he sins with his lips. When our lips are directed by the flesh in us, it tends to provoke and draw out the flesh in another. It does in these conversations. At one point Job is told that he is angry and needs to listen. They will let him know his problem; they will give right counsel. Sadly, sometimes we think we’re going to help each other, and instead we end up being angry at each other. We stir up the flesh in each other. Again, I say, they were friends. They were trying to do good.
Some Ways Don’t Work
I want to look at a few points in these conversations to stir your interest to reread this book. “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding” (ch. 12:12-13). This is one example of how they speak to Job. In fact, one of them remarked he was older than Job’s father. These were very experienced men in natural things. Brethren, age doesn’t automatically produce wisdom. Length of days does not in itself produce understanding. This is not to say a word against growth in spiritual things, and the benefit of it and of spiritual fathers. But being older than someone else does not automatically make one wiser. Job’s friend reasons with him on that ground, but it does not help him.
In chapter 16:2 Job says, “I have heard many such things.” He is referring to the things that had just been said to him by Eliphaz. In other words, You’re not really telling me anything I don’t know. You’re a miserable comforter. Telling us things that we already know when we’re searching for something we don’t know doesn’t bring much comfort to us. Job was earnestly seeking an answer to what was taking place in his life. He was not indifferent to it. He wanted to know why all these calamities had occurred in his life. He wanted an answer from God.
Speaking for God
It is nice to see, if you read Job’s responses carefully, how he often started talking to his friends and before his speech was over he was talking to the Lord. What a good lesson we learn from this man when seeking an answer. We always, ultimately, need to find the answers of life from the Lord. Someone may help us if they are a vessel used of God for our blessing and benefit. But the help will always ultimately turn our thoughts toward God. Consider Elihu, whom the Lord uses to bring Job to self-judgment. Elihu starts to speak, and while he’s speaking at a certain point the Lord takes over. In the end, the conversation is just between Job and God. Isn’t that a good thing? May the Lord help us in our desire to be helpers one of another so that, while at first they may be listening to us, in the end we drop out of the picture, and it is the Lord’s voice they hear.
God’s Thoughts and Man’s
In chapter 19 Job says, “Be it indeed that I have erred, my error remaineth with myself” (vs. 4). What Job is telling his friends at this point is, You have told me nothing that explains to me what, if anything, I have done wrong. You have not discovered anything for me that is a help to me. At this point he did not think that he had done anything wrong. Later, the friends are condemned by Elihu because they condemned Job without pointing out the failure. They inferred and guessed about God’s thoughts without having His mind in the matter. They presented their own thoughts about God.
I’m Gold
Chapter 23:10: “But He knoweth,” says Job, “the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Almost every time Job speaks, he says in one way or another, I am righteous. And if God would judge me fairly, God would have to acknowledge that I am righteous. And the truth of the matter is, Job was righteous. There was nobody like him. But in these statements lies the root of Job’s problem. Soon we will see why.
Job says, “God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity [my righteousness] from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” (ch. 27:56). In other words, I’m a righteous man. God may take my family from me. God may take my possessions from me. God may take my health from me. But as long as I live, I’m going to remain righteous. No matter what happens in my life, I am going to maintain my righteousness. And as long as I live, I will not be reproached for my righteousness. Dear Job has something to learn, and God in love is patiently teaching him.
A Quick Learner
In chapter 29:2,18 Job says, “Oh that I were as in months past.  .  .  .  I said, I shall die in my nest.” Then in chapter 30:1: “But now,” and then he goes on to present a contrast between the way things were a few months before with the way things were now —with the way people used to look at him and the way they looked at him now. I bring out this little detail in Job’s life, because I am amazed at how quickly he learned his lesson. How wonderful if we all submitted to the hand of the Lord in our lives and learned our lessons from God as quickly as Job did. He is an amazing man. From references like this, I take it that it was just a matter of months from the time God allowed Satan to put his hand on Job to the time he learned his lesson. Just months! Not years, not a lifetime. After learning the lesson, he still had over a hundred years in which to be a profitable servant to the Lord.
Job Rests His Case
“He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes” (ch. 30:19). It’s interesting that he refers to dust and ashes at this point. Later he refers to them again in a totally different manner when he has learned his lesson. Here, it is what the Lord had done to him: He cast him into the mire; He put him in the place like dust and ashes. God’s doing this in my life; He’s put me down like this. Job was feeling considerable pain about the way he felt God was treating him.
In chapter 31:6 Job finally concludes his defense: “Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity.” Right to the end, as far as Job sees the issue, it is that God would recognize his integrity. He goes through a whole list of things that he hasn’t done. If I did that, if I did the other, then I might be condemned, but I didn’t do any of those things. It’s remarkable the things that he can say honestly about himself. And he does say them honestly. He didn’t trust in gold. He didn’t trust in his possessions. Yes, he was a perfect and an upright man, as God said he was.
Finally, chapter 31:40, “The words of Job are ended.”
The Crux of the Matter
At this point we learn, by what the Word tells us, what was wrong in all these things, so that we, too, might learn from it for our own lives.
In chapter 32:2 it says, “Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.” Job’s point of reference was himself — what he was. When put to the test, he justifies himself, rather than God, and that’s wrong. The words are easy to say, but they are important words to understand, for they are the crux, really, of Job’s problem.
God had made Job what he was. By the grace of God, Job stood above the rest of his fellows. God had blessed him, having made him what he was. He was rich and he was in honor. Job was what he was by the action of the grace of God working in his life. God had enabled him to be righteous in his ways and in his dealings with his fellowman and even before Himself. But Job had not learned what the Apostle Paul had learned—he had not learned that by the grace of God he was what he was.
Do you have a talent or talents? Do you have riches or wisdom? Are you given to hospitality? Are you a good mother or a good father? Are you kind? Are you generous? Are you a good servant of the Lord? Do you have the gift to speak publicly or to work quietly unseen? If you are any of these or similar things, why are you? By the grace of God, you are what you are!
One of the foundation lessons of life that every one of us has to learn is that the human heart wants to take credit for what God has done. That was Job’s problem. He was righteous. He could speak of himself as righteous. He said, “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” (ch. 27:6). But where did he get it? Why was he that? Because God in grace had acted in his life to enable him to be so. And if I take what God has made me and appropriate it for myself, I separate it from its source, and it’s not pleasing to God.
The Source of All Good
Every good thing that we have or are comes from God, the source of all good. Do you have eternal life? Do you have it independent of God? No, you don’t. We have life in Christ, eternal life in Christ. We don’t have it in ourselves apart from Him. We never will. Every blessing we have comes from the heart of God toward us, and it must be kept in that relationship or we can’t serve Him.
Do We Have Job’s Problem?
When we think of having something good in ourselves apart from God, He has to work in our lives to make us discover that fact and judge it. No flesh is to glory in the presence of God. But it is as natural as breathing to take credit for what God has done in us and treat it as if we have it apart from a work of God. When Job was put to the test, he contended with God about his own righteousness. In fact, he sins, because he claims, “God hath delivered me to the ungodly,” and, “Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.” He is charging God with being unfair to him in the way He is treating him. By doing so, he puts God in the wrong. Does our heart ever say, even if we don’t say it out loud, Is it really fair what God has allowed to happen in my life? If so, we need to listen to Job. We have some of his problem.
“Against his three friends was his [Elihu’s] wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job” (ch. 32:3). If we don’t know what God is doing and are not speaking for God as Elihu, then we should not condemn our brethren based on what we see happening to them in their lives. Job’s friends saw what happened, they saw him lose his possessions, his children, his health, almost everything in his life, and they assumed that he had lost it all because he had done something wrong. If we want to help our brethren, we must not condemn them, based upon assumptions that come from the fountain of our own thoughts. Job’s friends sinned by doing that.
A Word to the Friends
“Hear my words, O ye wise men” (ch. 34:2). Elihu has some words to say to Job’s friends for unfairly condemning Job. “Therefore hearken unto me ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that He should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity” (vs. 10). They had no right to say that these calamities had come upon Job by the hand of God for Job’s iniquity. But that’s what they charged upon Job, and to do so was wrong. They had to reap the consequences of it in their own lives.
Brethren, when we set out to help someone and our own hearts have not learned the lessons that we are seeking to help them with, we are at risk. We each need self-judgment in our own life. If self-judgment is not active, we are at great risk when we seek to correct someone else. Let’s each learn from Job to get into the presence of God for ourselves, so that God may show us what we are in His presence in such a way that we can be a blessing and a help to one another.
Fear in Job’s Heart
“When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when He hideth His face, who then can behold Him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only” (ch. 34:29). This statement explains what was going on in Job’s heart when he said that he feared that trouble was going to come upon him. The Lord is the source of comfort. The Lord is the source of peace and quiet in the soul. If the Lord withdraws it, you are not going to have it. You can’t generate it in yourself, and if the Lord sees a needs be in your life, He may withhold rest of heart so that your conscience would be convicted to seek the reason for it. And I say to you, if you do have a secret fear, get in the presence of God. The Lord can give quietness and peace, and He can withhold it. If He is withholding it, it is with a purpose of good for your soul.
How to Help
I encourage you to read carefully for yourself chapters 33-37. Elihu’s discourse is an excellent, detailed example of how to seek to help another. Elihu takes the position of being no different than Job whom he was seeking to help. He references the fact that he is upright, that he has no hidden motives in what he wants to say to Job. He tells Job that he is not going to be a burden on him. He turns Job not to himself but to the Lord. He repeats back to Job exactly what Job said earlier. For example, in chapter 35:2 he quotes Job, saying, “My righteousness is more than God’s.” Then after carefully quoting him, he tells Job that what he said was wrong and why it was wrong. The others were generic in how they spoke to him, but Elihu gives specific statements that Job had made, telling him, Job, you said this. What you said was wrong, because the Lord says this. These are excellent details for each one who wants to help his brethren.
The Lord Speaks
Elihu’s words transition right into the Lord’s words about animals and their God-given attributes. He made the ostrich, who, lacking in understanding, crushed her own eggs and didn’t take care of her young. He made the behemoth big and strong. He made the crocodile fearless. He was telling Job, I made these creatures and they are what I made them. Like them, you are by grace what I’ve made you. You must recognize it, and you must accept it from My hand.
As Job starts to see himself from God’s viewpoint, he says, “I am nought: what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth” (ch. 40:4 JND). This is a good answer. It is a step in the right direction, but it does not get to the bottom of the matter. He needs to repent, and he is not there yet. In response, the Lord says, “Gird up now thy loins like a man: for I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me.  .  .  .  Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?” Job was ready to be quiet, but Job had to respond, and in the last chapter he says, “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” He now realizes that in himself, apart from a work of God, he is nothing but dust and ashes.
A Profitable Servant
Now the Lord can really use His servant Job. He becomes an intercessor for his brethren. “It was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job hath” (ch. 42:7). Then He tells them to take and offer the bullocks, and He says, “My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept” (vs. 8).
Job intercedes for them in prayer. Go back to where Elihu said in chapter 33, “Then He is gracious unto him, and saith, deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth: he shall pray unto God, and He will be favorable unto him: and he shall see His face with joy: for He will render unto man his righteousness” (vss. 24-26). What Job did in the last chapter is what Elihu had brought before Job. He was saying, Job, if you get into the presence of the Lord, you will see yourself as the Lord sees you. Job did, and it resulted in self-judgment concerning what he had said and what he thought about himself.
Elihu was telling Job that if he learned his lesson, the Lord could be gracious to him and use him as an intercessor for others, for the Lord had said, “I’ll be gracious unto him.” God was gracious to Job when he reached that point. He would pray to God, and God would be favorable unto him. He will render unto man his righteousness. He shall see His face with joy. So the story ends with Job as a very profitable servant of the Lord.
Like Job and Paul
Do you want to be a servant of the Lord in intercession for your brethren? You must be as Job. You must get into the presence of the Lord and see yourself as He sees you. Learn to say in your heart with Job and Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” In that state of soul, you will be a suited vessel to be an intercessor for your brethren.

A Lesson in Sovereignty

In addition to learning a lesson in grace, Job also learned a lesson in the sovereignty of God. Like Job, we too must learn to submit to God as One who has supreme, unlimited rights and power in all that He does. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20).
This morning I planned to paint the deck, but it is raining. So I wake up thinking, It’s too bad it’s raining today, for now I cannot do as I planned. To think “it’s too bad” is my judgment, and if traced to its root, I am speaking in my heart against the sovereign right of God to make the day as He chooses, the knowledge of God to make the “right” choice, and the righteousness of God in doing something I think is “too bad.” I need to learn Job’s lesson.
A brief review of Elihu’s and the Lord’s speeches teaches us the lesson Job learned. It resulted in self-judgment and blessing. May we, too, learn the lesson well, for God’s glory and our blessing.
Elihu Speaks for the Lord
As a young man, Elihu remained silent until Job and his friends end their speeches. Then he spoke. He was angry with them on two grounds: Job “justified himself rather than God,” and the three friends “found no answer, and yet condemned Job” (ch. 32:23). Elihu, like his master, was swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Four times Elihu repeats back to Job the words that he had spoken and then tells him why he was wrong in what he had said. Each time he showed how Job was speaking against the sovereignty of God.
Job’s First Claim and Sovereignty
Job said, “I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, He findeth occasions against me, He counteth me for His enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, He marketh all my paths” (ch. 33:9-11). Job claims God is not being fair, for he has judged himself to be innocent, yet God has treated him as an enemy and using His superior power has stepped upon him and his family.
Elihu responds, “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against Him? for He giveth not account of any of His matters.” Elihu upholds the sovereign rights of God.
As sovereign, God doesn’t owe us any explanations for anything that He does. In the greatness of His heart He gives many explanations for many things that He does. But the moment I feel that He owes me an explanation for anything, I’m out of my place as a created being, and I’m on the ground of my own self-sufficiency. “Why dost thou strive against Him?” Graciously, He gives us many answers, and He wants us to come and seek answers from Him for the whys and wherefores of life. But we cross over onto the wrong side of the question when our hearts demand them and we think we have the right to them.
“If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness” (ch. 33:23). In the Darby translation there is a footnote concerning the expression “his uprightness.” It says, “His uprightness in judging himself.” Oh for that one among a thousand who will help the saints of God by bringing them into the presence of the Lord so that they judge themselves, so that they see themselves in the light of God. Elihu is such a one. The result is of remarkable benefit to Job, because Elihu brings him into the presence of the Lord, and there he judges himself and receives the benefit.
Job’s Second Claim and Righteousness
Job said, “I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. Should I lie against my right?” (ch. 34:56). Job claims the right to make his own judgment in a matter between himself and God. This is wrong. Job is claiming that God is unrighteous, because he is righteous and yet God is not treating him any differently than He is treating the wicked.
Elihu responds, “What man is like Job, who  .  .  . walketh with wicked men. For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God. Far be it from God, that He should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall He render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.” Again Elihu upholds the sovereign rights of God. God is righteous. (God being righteous and sovereign is the foundation of all morality.) God is sovereign, and so we are never to stand in judgment about anything He does. God judges us; we are never to judge Him.
While man has no right to set his own judgment against God’s, Elihu upholds the truth concerning God. God never does wickedness; the Almighty never perverts judgment. He in whose hands the whole earth is held is the “all-just” one. His eyes are upon man, seeing all that he does. And when He chooses to act, He does not hold court, but acts according to His sovereign rights and power. He hears the cries of the afflicted, and He acts upon their behalf in judgment of the wicked.
Job’s Third Claim and Rebellion
Job said, “I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: that which I see not teach Thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more” (ch. 34:31-32).
Elihu responds, “Should it be according to thy mind? He will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.  .  .  .  Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom. My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.”
The more Job argued and multiplied his words, the more he sinned. Elihu correctly charges Job with refusing the judgment of God in His ways with Job. Should God be bound by Job’s judgment of the matter?
At this point Elihu introduces another important thought into the conversation that the Lord adds to later and which is crucial to knowing and accepting the judgments of God. He says that Job has been speaking without knowledge and without intelligence (vs. 35 JND). God alone, as sovereign, is all knowing. All judgments He makes are based upon His perfect and complete knowledge of everything. Man never knows everything. Consequently, man has no right to question any judgment of God’s. Correct judgments depend upon correct knowledge.
In chapter 28 Job gives an excellent and interesting treatise on wisdom, concluding with the statement, “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” We might understand as Job did concerning wisdom and still have to learn the same lesson as Job. Wisely, Job did fear the Lord and in understanding he did depart from evil. God says so in the very first verse of the book. Yet Job wrongly condemned God. Why? Wisdom and understanding require knowledge. No man has full knowledge. A properly wise and understanding man is one who learns not to trust in his own knowledge, but who always depends upon God, who alone knows all. He is a man who trusts in the judgments of God and not in his own understanding or wisdom. Unlike Elihu, Job’s three friends got their knowledge from their own experiences rather than from God.
Job’s Fourth Claim and Arrogancy
The fourth time Elihu quotes Job, he says, “Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God’s? For thou hast asked of what profit it is unto thee: what do I gain more than if I had sinned?” (ch. 35:23 JND).
Job compared how he acted with how God acted and judged that his actions were more righteous than God’s. Having gone that far in his thinking, he questions the gain of being righteous, since, in his mind, God treated him no better than He did a sinful man.
In answering, Elihu first turns Job’s statements around so that they are viewed from God’s side of the question instead of Job’s—a very helpful principle to follow in seeking to understand spiritual things. Job had said, What profit is it to me to be righteous? Elihu responded, What profit is it to God if you are righteous? What does He gain? “If thou be righteous, what givest thou to Him?”
Job had admitted that he could not see God in the matter. He had searched for Him and could not find Him. Why wasn’t God coming out to deal with him face to face with someone to act as judge? To this Elihu answered, “Although thou sayest thou dost not see Him, judgment is before Him, therefore wait for Him. But now, because He hath not visited in His anger, doth not Job know his great arrogancy? For Job hath opened his mouth in vanity, and made words abundant without knowledge” (ch. 35:14-16 JND).
Elihu’s statement illustrates that God is not only sovereign in His ways but in His timing. When we do not see, then “wait for Him.” Elihu charges Job with arrogancy. While God is righteously angry with man, He is patient and long-suffering in His ways with him. Man uses that very time of patience to become bold and arrogant in his judgments and actions against God.
Upholding God’s Righteousness
After responding to Job’s specific statements, Elihu continues to speak in order to “ascribe righteousness to my Creator.” To summarize: “God is mighty.” “God is exalted in His power: who teacheth as He?” “God is great, and we comprehend Him not.” God is “doing great things which we do not comprehend.” In His ways with us He may use nature “as a rod, or for His land, or in mercy.” God is “perfect in knowledge.” What can we teach God? He concludes, “The Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear Him: He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.”
The Lord Demands of Job
Immediately the Lord begins to speak and challenges Job with the question, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” and He demands that Job must answer. He puts a series of questions before Job to bring before His conscience that, compared to God His creator, He knows nothing and has no right to criticize or judge. To do this, He uses the things of nature, raising such questions as, “Where wast thou when I founded the earth?” “Hast thou since thy days commanded the morning?” “Canst thou fasten the bands of the Pleiades, or loosen the cords of Orion?” “Doth the hawk fly by thine intelligence?” He concludes these remarks by asking, “Shall he that will contend with the Almighty instruct Him?”
Job responds, “I am nought: what shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” But God is not done. So He further asks, “Wilt thou also annul My judgment? wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?”
Job’s Repentance
In the end, Job’s final response honors God, for he repents and condemns himself. To the Lord he says, “I know that Thou canst do everything, and that Thou canst be hindered in no thought of Thine” (ch. 42:2 JND). In this statement Job acknowledges and upholds the sovereignty of God in His power and right to do according to His own thoughts without reference to any creature of His creation.
The Lord began speaking to Job with the question, “Who is he that obscureth counsel without knowledge?” (vs. 3). Job repeats the question back to the Lord and answers, “Therefore have I uttered what I did not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” When the Lord is dealing with us, we must own that He, not Satan or man or nature, is the One speaking, acknowledge His rights, and submit to Him without qualification.
After repeating another statement that God had made to him, Job confessed, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee: Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” When God is speaking to us, we must acknowledge that what He is saying is true. We must change our thoughts to see the matter as He sees it, judge ourselves for what we are and have done, and take our proper place “in dust and ashes.” When we judge God, we charge Him, as Job did, with putting us there (ch. 30:19), but when we judge ourselves, we put ourselves there. Dust is as nothing in this world, and ashes is what you get when you put a fire to something and it doesn’t pass the test. I think Job knew he’d been through that fire, and that’s what he recognized in himself —nothing left but ashes.
Having taken his right place before a sovereign God of grace and mercy, then God acts for his enlarged blessing.
Having finished His lessons in grace and sovereignty, God removes His teaching hand and replaces it with His hand of blessing. Like Job, we are each individually tutored in the school of God. Like Job, the lessons in our lives are perfectly planned and presented with complete knowledge of subject and pupil. Every lesson, when completed, will bring glory to God and be for our personal growth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3).