Read Job 32
32 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
8 But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
9 It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.
10 “Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.
11 I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,
12 I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
13 Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;
let God, not a man, refute him.’
14 But Job has not marshaled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.
15 “They are dismayed and have no more to say;
words have failed them.
16 Must I wait, now that they are silent,
now that they stand there with no reply?
17 I too will have my say;
I too will tell what I know.
18 For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
19 inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak and find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.
21 I will show no partiality,
nor will I flatter anyone;
22 for if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon take me away.
Today, the back-and-forth dialogue between Job and his three friends ends, and finally we meet someone new! Elihu enters the scene, burning with anger towards Job and his three friends. He criticizes Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for their responses to Job. He claims he has refrained from speaking because he was younger and assumed they would have more wisdom to offer. In verses 7-9, Elihu reminds us that true wisdom comes from God alone. Yes, God can use life experiences to grant wisdom, but age in and of itself does not always equate to wisdom. Elihu then goes on to insist (several times in fact) that he must make himself heard or he will burst.
Can you relate to Elihu? Have you ever felt like you were going to explode and needed to speak your mind? What do we do in that situation? God’s Word has a lot to say regarding our tongues. Proverbs 18:21 tells us the tongue holds the power of life and death. Proverbs 10:8 and Ecclesiastes 5:3 both tell us that a fool can be identified by their many “babbling words.” Jesus warned us of the influence in our words when he said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
Clearly, our words are powerful, and we must “proceed with caution” before carelessly speaking our minds. This seems like a daunting and impossible task; we cannot tame our tongues in and of our own strength. There is hope, though, and His name is Jesus. Matthew 12:34 tells us that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. As we abide closely with Jesus, He completely transforms our hearts (John 15) so that what is flowing out of our lives and our mouths is reflective of Him.
We will all have “Elihu moments” where we want to speak our mind. Thankfully, we are not in this battle alone and we have the Holy Spirit as a guide and helper to give us discernment on when to speak and what to say. We can rely on Him daily to change our hearts and to help us tame our tongues.
- Do you have scripture memorized to remind you of biblical truth regarding your speech? If not, start this week with Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
- As you reflect and pray today, what harmful habits can you identify with regard to your speech? (i.e. gossip, slander, lying, cursing, complaining, arguing, using God’s name in vain, sarcasm, etc.) Pray and ask God to help you with your words. Confess to your Life Group or someone in your community and ask them to hold you accountable.
- Elihu reminds us that wisdom comes from God, not necessarily age! 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Regardless of your age, what are ways that you can “set an example for the believers” today in your speech?
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