So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused. So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.’ But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice. “Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.’ (Job 32:1-10)
Respect For The Aged
The story of Job is a powerful testimony of the frail human spirit challenged by the onslaught of trials overcome in victory. It is a hard read. Few can compare to the human suffering of Job. Early in the story three friends visit who become harsh critics of Job. Unknown to the reader a fourth person quietly sits listening to the discourse between these four men. His name is Elihu.
Our text begins the rebuke of Elihu against Job and his friends but it is the attitude that strikes me as so important in the story. Imagine sitting quietly the whole time the argument continues between Job and his friends without saying a word. Reading the story of Job with fresh eyes knowing Elihu is there yet saying nothing is a remarkable story of composure. The reason he gives in the beginning is a lesson of respect for the aged. He wanted to say some things and would have given strong arguments against what the four men were saying but he waited. It was not his place. He gave honor to those older.
If there is one thing I miss in our country is the spirit of respect for the aged. There was a time those younger would quietly give reverence to those older in honor of their years. This does not suggest teenagers being disrespectful but rather anyone younger (40 year old man giving respect to older folk … for example) being disrespectful. Even at my advanced age (don’t ask) I must learn to be respectful of those older. I love Elihu for teaching me there is a time to speak and there is a time to remain silent. Giving honor to the hoary head is pleasing to the Lord.
Elihu also teaches a valuable lesson about age. It can sometimes be assumed with age comes wisdom. This is not always true. The old are not right because they are old. The young are not right because they are young. Truth comes from God (and He is older than everyone). He respectfully reminded the older four they were mistaken in their concept of God and righteousness. Elihu chided these men with kind words firmly spoken to point out their error. When Elihu finishes speaking the Lord takes up the rebuke (Job 38). But that is another story.