Job 35:1 ¶ Elihu spake moreover, and said,
Job 35:2 Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God’s?
Job 35:3 For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin?
I liked the CJB translation for verses 2-3: “Are you so convinced you are right, that you say, ‘I am more just than God’? For you ask what advantage it is to you,
‘How do I gain from not sinning?’”
I believe Elihu, as with the other three counselors, have misinterpreted Job. He has never declared himself more just than God. What he has continued to do is maintain his innocence of any known sin that would call forth God’s judgment against him. His complaint is that he wants God to identify the sin that caused Him to judge him—and in this, we know that Job is as mistaken as his counselors. God is not judging him. Elihu interprets Job’s perspective as not feeling that he had benefitted from living righteously before God. Job has never said that.
Job 35:4 I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee.
Job 35:5 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.
Job 35:6 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?
Job 35:7 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?
Job 35:8 Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.
Elihu, however, purports to have the answer. He begins by making the point that men’s sins do not hurt God; they hurt men. The righteousness of men does not benefit God; it benefits other men.
I liked Stedman’s summary of verses 6-8: “In other words, ‘God is unaffected. He is not acting toward you out of spite, out of personal anger at you. What you do or do not do does not change God or affect him in any way. Therefore, how can he be unjust to you if he is not affected by anything that you do?’ And he points out that Job's argument, therefore, is totally inconsistent.”
Job 35:9 ¶ By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the oppressed to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty.
Job 35:10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;
Job 35:11 Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?
Job 35:12 There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men.
Job 35:13 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.
Men cry out in anguish when oppressed by those more powerful than they. However, they don’t question where God is—their Creator, the one who inspires songs in the dark times and has made man wiser than the animals on earth or the birds in the heavens.
I liked the NIV for verses 12-13: “He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it.”
I think Elihu must have lived a very sheltered life. Men often cry out against God in times of trouble, ready to blame Him for what has gone wrong while never acknowledging Him or His many blessings in other times. God always hears the pleas of one with a repentant heart or in faith calling out for help.
Psalms 145:18–19 “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.”
Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Job 35:14 ¶ Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him.
Job 35:15 But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth it not in great extremity:
Job 35:16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.
I think Elihu is saying that even though Job can’t see God, he should just trust that He is doing what is right. He seems to be saying that things could be a lot worse for Job. He then rebukes Job once again for his foolish talk.
Guzik makes this observation: “Elihu saw that God had not yet answered Job, at least not in any way that Job had hoped. Therefore he said ‘Job opens his mouth in vain.’ The idea was, ‘Job, if you were really a godly man, then God would have answered you by now. The fact that He hasn’t shows your ungodliness.’”