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©Bonnie LaBelle

Chapter 34:16-30 (ESV)

Posted on June 17, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 34:16-30 (ESV) - “If you have understanding, hear this;
    listen to what I say.
Shall one who hates justice govern?
    Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty,
who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’
    and to nobles, ‘Wicked man,’
who shows no partiality to princes,
    nor regards the rich more than the poor,
    for they are all the work of his hands?
In a moment they die;
    at midnight the people are shaken and pass away,
    and the mighty are taken away by no human hand.

“For his eyes are on the ways of a man,
    and he sees all his steps.
There is no gloom or deep darkness
    where evildoers may hide themselves.
For God has no need to consider a man further,
    that he should go before God in judgment.
He shatters the mighty without investigation
    and sets others in their place.
Thus, knowing their works,
    he overturns them in the night, and they are crushed.
He strikes them for their wickedness
    in a place for all to see,
because they turned aside from following him
    and had no regard for any of his ways,
so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to him,
    and he heard the cry of the afflicted—
When he is quiet, who can condemn?
    When he hides his face, who can behold him,
    whether it be a nation or a man?—
that a godless man should not reign,
    that he should not ensnare the people.

Question to consider: What are some things that Elihu gets right in his assessment of God’s judgment?

One of the things I really like about Elihu is that he had a high view of God. His main argument against Job was that in professing his innocence, he thought Job was not only lying but calling into question God’s justice. Therefore, he called into question whether the people really wanted to be governed by someone who had such a low view of God’s justice. 

Outside of the fact that a ruler who had no fear of God’s justice would most likely pervert the justice of man, Elihu pointed out that such a man would surely face immediate and unexpected judgment at some point so they could wind up losing their king without notice.

In Elihu’s eyes, God was above any need for an investigation to consider the guilt or innocence of a man, for even the most secret of sins are not hidden from God. So instead of a trial, God crushes a man immediately and unexpectedly for everyone to see.

While it is true that God sees all things and doesn’t need to investigate someone for their sin, the reason God does not crush people without warning is because His desire is for people to turn from their sin and receive mercy. Every one of us deserves the calamity of Job and then some, but God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and leads us to the place where we will repent and turn back to Him.

It is quite common for people to judge God for bringing calamity and for using Israel as His sword to purge the nations in the land of Canaan. However, if God’s motivation for sending Israel was merely to wipe out His enemies, He could have turned them to dust with a thought. Each nation that contended with Israel served as a warning to the remaining nations that they should repent of their idolatry and turn to Him for mercy.

If you don’t believe that this is the true heart of God, I encourage You to read my study of Jonah and understand why God relented from judgment against the Ninevites. We may lament the idea that “only the good die young,” but it is by God’s grace and mercy that He gives a long life to those who oppose Him, for they are given ample opportunity to repent.

There is truth to Elihu’s view that people who sow wickedness will one day reap a harvest of judgment, but in his haste to stick up for God, Elihu forgot about God’s heart of mercy.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to give us the opportunity to confess our sins and be restored to a right relationship with You. As difficult as it is to face Your discipline, we praise You for using it to produce in us a harvest of righteousness. Amen.