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Elihu Condemns Self-Righteousness


Elihu continued and said:


“Do you think this to be just?

You say, ‘I am in the right before God.’


If you ask, ‘What advantage have I?

How am I better off than if I had sinned?’


I will answer you

and your friends with you.


Look at the heavens and see;

observe the clouds, which are higher than you.


If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?

And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?


If you are righteous, what do you give to him;

or what does he receive from your hand?


Your wickedness affects others like you,

and your righteousness, other human beings.



“Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;

they call for help because of the arm of the mighty.


But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,

who gives strength in the night,


who teaches us more than the animals of the earth,

and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’


There they cry out, but he does not answer,

because of the pride of evildoers.


Surely God does not hear an empty cry,

nor does the Almighty regard it.


How much less when you say that you do not see him,

that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!


And now, because his anger does not punish,

and he does not greatly heed transgression,


Job opens his mouth in empty talk,

he multiplies words without knowledge.”


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Verses 1–8

Elihu reproves Job for justifying himself more than God, and called his attention to the heavens. They are far above us, and God is far above them; how much then is he out of the reach, either of our sins or of our services! We have no reason to complain if we have not what we expect, but should be thankful that we have better than we deserve.

Verses 9–13

Job complained that God did not regard the cries of the oppressed against their oppressors. This he knew not how to reconcile the justice of God and his government. Elihu solves the difficulty. Men do not notice the mercies they enjoy in and under their afflictions, nor are thankful for them, therefore they cannot expect that God should deliver them out of affliction. He gives songs in the night; when our condition is dark and melancholy, there is that in God's providence and promise, which is sufficient to support us, and to enable us even to rejoice in tribulation. When we only pore upon our afflictions, and neglect the consolations of God which are treasured up for us, it is just in God to reject our prayers. Even the things that will kill the body, cannot hurt the soul. If we cry to God for the removal of an affliction, and it is not removed, the reason is, not because the Lord's hand is shortened, or his ear heavy; but because we are not sufficiently humbled.

Verses 14–16

As in prosperity we are ready to think our mountain will never be brought low; so when in adversity, we are ready to think our valley will never be filled up. But to conclude that to-morrow must be as this day, is as absurd as to think that the weather, when either fair or foul, will be always so. When Job looked up to God, he had no reason to speak despairingly. There is a day of judgment, when all that seems amiss will be found to be right, and all that seems dark and difficult will be cleared up and set straight. And if there is Divine wrath in our troubles, it is because we quarrel with God, are fretful, and distrust Divine Providence. This was Job's case. Elihu was directed by God to humble Job, for as to some things he had both opened his mouth in vain, and had multiplied words without knowledge. Let us be admonished, in our afflictions, not so much to set forth the greatness of our suffering, as the greatness of the mercy of God.