Online Bible Commentary
He is God, and We are Not
Job 35:9 "Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. 10 But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, 11 who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?' 12 He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. 13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it. 14 How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him, 15 and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness. 16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words. (NIV)
Job is suffering because the Lord is testing him. His three friends, from the East, an area known for the wisdom of man, have come to give him wise counsel. They have failed Job though, because they all have assumed that Job is suffering because of his sin. Now comes Elihu, from Aram, an area known for its prophets. Elihu offers a different counsel than the others. The others were later condemned by God for their false counsel, but Elihu was not.
In this passage Elihu begins by stating that those who are suffering often pray for relief from their suffering (9). This is a normal human response, for God to end the suffering. Really, the proper response should be one of inquiring after God and what He is up to (v.10)? What is He trying to teach me? How is He trying to increase my wisdom (v.11)?
Instead, Job had begun to complain to God in arrogance, accusing Him of being unjust. But this is not the proper response. God does not hear the prayers of those who come to Him with the “arrogance of the wicked: (v.12). The “wicked”, those who have turned their backs on God and have adopted sinful lifestyles, are not listened to by God. They have no use for Him, so He has washed His hands of them. They are on their own in life, by their own choosing. God does not listen to their prayers, unless they abandon their sinful arrogance and come to Him humbled, repentant, and seeking forgiveness. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps. 66:18). “Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen” (Isaiah 1:15). God does not pay any attention to such nonsense (v.13).
Now Elihu turns to Job, specifically addressing his shortcomings. Job has sinned by criticizing God. Elihu rebukes Job for claiming that God has abandoned him and will not address his issues (v.14). Job also has claimed that God is unjust because He was not punishing the wicked (v.15). Job is not speaking wisdom, he is just venting on God (v.16).
Job has not responded properly to his suffering. He is blaming God and asking for the suffering to end. However, the suffering cannot end because it has not achieved the desired result. God is testing Job and Job has not yet passed the test. So the suffering goes on.
Job has missed the point of suffering. He has brought God down to the level of man. He is reasoning with God as he would reason with you or I. He is not recognizing that God is not on our level. And when God does not answer him the way that he thinks He should, he lashes out at Him.
God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are higher than ours, beyond our understanding. He is always out there working in our future, so that all things will work together for our good. He knows what is around the next corner, or over the next hill. We do not. His knowledge is infinite and ours is finite. We will not understand everything, this side of Heaven. And that is the way it should be.
Furthermore, God does not owe us anything. He is sovereign and can do as He chooses when He chooses. He is under no obligation to explain Himself to us. He is God, and we are not.