It is a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing
“Job is an ignoramus. He talks utter nonsense. Job, you need to be pushed to the wall and called to account for wickedly talking back to God the way you have.“ – Job 35:35-36 MSG
Elihu is a bag of wind. He loves to hear himself talk. He is in love with the sound of his own voice. He goes on and on, spouting his words of wisdom, but never really saying anything of substance. Amazingly, he accuses Job of talking utter nonsense. He claims that Job speaks without knowledge or insight, and he opens his mouth in empty talk. But in reality, Elihu is the one who is saying much without saying anything. He is so convinced he is right that he even gets vindictive and hateful toward Job, wishing him harm and not good.
I think we all could learn a lot from Elihu, not so much from what he says, but how he says it. In his pride and arrogance, this young man cares more about being right than being showing love to someone who is hurting. He takes it upon himself to defend God, when God needs no defense. He speaks for God when he has no clue what God is doing or thinking. But I can do the same thing. It is too easy to jump to conclusions regarding situations and circumstances, and make determinations that are neither correct or corrective. We judge too quickly and condemn too easily. Sometimes our declarations of guilt have less to do with the facts than wishful thinking. I have no doubt that there were those who took a perverse sort of pleasure in Job’s demise. They had watched him prosper and succeed, all the while harboring jealous feelings toward him. Now that he had taken a tumble, it was easy to dog-pile Job and relish in his apparent sinfulness. They say if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s probably exactly what Job’s friends were thinking about him. And sometimes we can harbor the same feelings towards those in our sphere of influence who we have watched suddenly fall from grace. Sure, we tell them we are praying for them, while all the while finding their demise somewhat enjoyable. We find pleasure in helping point out their apparent sin. We want to expose their failings. We want to remind them that they are far from perfect. All because if we can find fault in others, it usually makes us feel better about ourselves.
But what Job needed was encouragement. He needed reassurance and comfort. He needed to know that God loved him and had not abandoned him. He needed the calming presence of friends, not the harsh criticism of fair-weather friends. So when we encounter friends who are going through difficult times, will we offer them a tale … full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Or will we offer them our unconditional love and unwavering support?
Father, it’s easy for me to condemn Elihu, but it’s also easy for me to be just like him. Open my eyes and help me see any similarities and confess them to you. Silence really is golden. There are times when saying nothing can speak volumes. Give me the wisdom and discernment to know when to speak up and when to shut up. But whenever anyone I know is going through difficulty, always help me to show up. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men