1 Elihu further answered and said: 2 “Hear my words, you wise men; Give ear to me, you who have knowledge. 3 For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. 4 Let us choose justice for ourselves; Let us know among ourselves what is good.” (Job 34:1–4, NKJV)
The young man Elihu had listened while Job’s friends charged Job with having committed grievous sins for which God was punishing him with great suffering. He listened as Job justified himself rather than God. Then, Elihu spoke words of wisdom by the spirit God gave him (Job 32:1-14). Elihu challenged these men to listen to his words and test them so as to obtain true wisdom and justice. Like them, we must test the words we hear people speak. Are they true or false? Good or evil? Just as our palate tastes food and distinguishes flavors, so we must test what we hear according to knowledge. The question is, what knowledge base are we using to test what we hear? Is it the truth of God’s word and wisdom, or is it the word and wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)? We are not our own source of knowledge; We have all been educated by someone or something. We must educate ourselves with the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Read it, study it, and learn it – not to pridefully boost of your knowledge, but to humbly submit to the will of Almighty God. His truth frees us from sin and equips us “know among ourselves what is good” (John 8:31-32).
1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; My hand is listless because of my groaning. 3 Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! 4 I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:1–4, NKJV)
Have you ever complained against God? Like Job, most of us at one time or the other have found ourselves in a place that was not of our own choosing – someplace we never thought we would be. “Why this trial?” “Why this pain?” “Why this loneliness?” As such times we are tempted to blame God, to long for a chance to explain things to God about why we are being treated so unfairly. We are tempted to think we know more than God. We may even find ourselves arguing against God by opposing and rejecting His word, the inspired Scriptures. We think we know better. But, the truth is, we don’t. The truth is, our eyes need to be opened to God’s power and purposes, as Job’s were when God explained things to him (Job 38-41). Then, Job understood God is sovereign and that we never counsel God (Job 42:1-2). Job confessed, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). Don’t blame God. Don’t argue with God. Trust Him, believe His word and follow His truth. Come what may, He does all things well (Mark 7:37; Romans 8:35-39). Instead of asking, “Why me?” ask, “Why not me?”
19 How long? Will You not look away from me, and let me alone till I swallow my saliva? 20 Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself? (Job 7:19–20, NKJV)
Job was in the midst of tremendous suffering, not because of his own sins, but because he was upright (Job 1:8-12). His three friends told him it was his own sins that produced his grief and pain. Far from being sympathetic, one of them said, “whoever perished, being innocent?” (Job 4:7) Job wondered out loud if God had put a target on his back. No, far from it. The innocent do suffer in this world (Jesus of Nazareth is the prime example). When they do, we must not blame God, but keep our faith in Him, knowing that He is far more powerful and wiser than we are. Sin brought suffering in this world, and evil is the ultimate culprit of this world’s pain (Gen. 3:1-19). Job endured, and saw “that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (Jas. 5:11; Job 42:10-17). Let us imitate his perseverance when tested by sorrow. This world is not our home.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9–10, NKJV)
Job had already lost his possessions (including thousands of head of livestock), his servants, and all ten children. Grief and sorrow engulfed him, yet he maintained his reverence and humility before God (Job 1). Now, his good health is replaced with open sores from head to foot. His wife has had enough and foolishly urges him to curse God. He has lost her support, too. Yet, he did not sin against God with his words. We may be more like Job’s wife than we want to admit. We gladly receive God’s good blessings. But, does our faith falter and fail when faced with life’s adversities? Take time today to evaluate how you respond to trials in your life. And remember, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Prov. 24:10). Use Job as a constant reminder to avoid sin and always “bless the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21-22).