If you don’t know him already, you might be thinking, “Who is Elihu?” Let me introduce him to you. I’m sure you’ve heard of Job, found in the book of Job. You probably know his story how God allowed Satan to take away his possessions, his children, and even his health to test him and see what kind of man he was. We read that Job’s three friends came to comfort him at first and then a rather lengthy discourse takes place between the four of them.
Elihu is a character from the book of Job that some may not be familiar with or recall right away. Elihu comes into the story at the point where “the words of Job are ended” because he had nothing more to say and his three friends stopped talking to him because Job “was righteous in his own eyes” and they felt they weren’t getting anywhere (Job 31:40b, 32:1).
Read what happened next in Job 32:2-22…
“Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: ‘I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. I said, “Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.” But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.
Therefore I say, “Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.”
“Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. I gave you my attention, and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job or who answered his words. Beware lest you say, ‘We have found wisdom; God may vanquish him, not a man.’ He has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches. They are dismayed; they answer no more; they have not a word to say. And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more? I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.”‘”
There are 4 lessons we need to learn from Elihu’s example:
1) THE OLDER ARE TO TEACH THE YOUNGER. Elihu understood the natural and correct order of learning. He respectfully held his peace, rightly expecting those older than he to handle the situation with Job. The young are to look up to those older than themselves for guidance, wisdom, and instruction. This speaks to those who are older of their responsibility to know God’s truth and righteousness and to be able and active in teaching the younger. This speaks to those who are younger of their need to respect and inquire of the older for direction and understanding in God’s truth and righteousness.
2) AGE OR STATUS ISN’T EVERYTHING. Elihu did the right thing by waiting for those older than he to correct Job. But when Job’s three friends failed to rightly proclaim the truth to Job, Elihu did the right thing by standing up for what he knew was right about God. This tells us that just because someone may be older in age does not mean they are always right. While those who are young are to always be looking to the older for guidance and instruction, they should also be standing on their own faith and stand up for what is right if indeed those who are older are wrong. We are not to just take the word of those who are older because they are older, nor the preacher because he’s the preacher, nor the elders because they’re the elders, nor our parents because they’re our parents, nor our own because we “think” we know. Regardless of who it is or what we think, we have to take GOD’S Word and stand on IT.
3) BE ZEALOUS & PASSIONATE FOR THE LORD. When Elihu saw that Job was in the wrong and his friends were failing to correct him, he “burned with anger.” He could not stand for such neglect of God’s truth and righteousness. Neither can we. We need to be passionate about our God and Savior. We need to be zealous for His truth and righteousness. Whenever we see men neglecting God’s righteousness or neglecting His truth, we need to burn with anger and stand up for God with His Word.
4) WE ARE NOT RIGHTEOUS OR JUST IN OURSELVES. The problem with Job and the reason Elihu was so angry at him was because he was “righteous in his own eyes” and “justified himself rather than God.” We cannot do that. The only reason any of us can call ourselves righteous is because of the grace and mercy of God. The only reason any of us can stand justified is because of the saving power of Jesus’ blood. We are nothing without God. May we never be righteous in our own eyes or try to justify ourselves! Stand righteous in the eyes of God and be justified by His saving power. If we boast, it must be in the cross of Jesus.