Introduction: What do you think is “righteous anger?” I think this is
anger over slights to God’s reputation and program. Regular anger
arises because of slights to me. As I understand it, righteous anger
is fine and regular anger is not. Do you agree? Ephesians 4:26 says,
“In your anger, do not sin.” That seems to suggest that some anger is
fine. We have seen that Job’s friends engage in what they surely
believed was righteous anger because they thought that Job was
slighting God and His program. This week we focus on the anger of
Elihu, one of Job’s friends. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible
and see what we can learn about whether Elihu’s anger is appropriate!

  1. Who Is Elihu?

    1. Read Job 32:1. Why would the “friends” stop arguing just
      because Job thought he was right? Do you stop arguing just
      because the other person thinks that he or she is right?
      (They apparently thought it was useless to continue to
      argue based on Job’s attitude.)

      1. Is this a practical lesson to make life better –
        don’t argue with people who are sure they are right?

    2. Read Job 32:2. Would you call this “righteous anger?”

      1. I’ve suggested that righteous anger is okay, what do
        you think?

      2. Do you agree with Elihu’s view of Job’s arguments?
        (Job was justifying himself and challenging God’s

      3. Do you think that Elihu inherited an angry attitude
        from his father? How would you feel if your name was
        “Barakel the Buzite?” (In case you are wondering,
        this is a joke.)

    3. Read Job 32:3. Is Elihu only angry with Job? (No! He is
      also angry with the three older friends.)

      1. Notice Elihu is angry because the friends “found no
        way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him.” Was
        Elihu angry because they condemned Job, or because
        they found no way to refute him?

      2. Why were they unable to refute Job? (Because Job was
        telling the truth.)

    4. Read Job 32:4-5. What do we learn about Elihu that is
      important in judging whether he should have gotten angry?
      (Elihu is younger. If a person learns that some arguments
      are not worth having, that lesson most likely comes with
      age and experience.)

  2. Elihu’s Righteous Charges

    1. Read Job 32:6. What is the assumption in this statement?
      (That Elihu knows more than Job. This is unlikely true,
      and the assumption is no doubt irritating to Job.)

    2. Read Job 32:7. Do you agree? Do humans become more wise
      with age?

      1. Do you really think Elihu believes this? (I’m
        doubtful because he thinks he knows more than Job and
        the older friends.)

    3. Read Job 32:8-9 and Job 32:18-19. What advantage does
      Elihu think he has despite his young age? (That the Holy
      Spirit guides his mind.)

      1. Do you agree that a Spirit-filled young man is wiser
        than an old man? (In my experience, young fools often
        age into old fools. Thus, I agree with Elihu that age
        does not necessarily bring wisdom. Of course, if you
        have access to God’s wisdom, then no human wisdom is
        better regardless of age.)

    4. Read Job 32:10. What is the danger of Elihu’s claim to be
      lead by the Holy Spirit? (He could be wrong. He could be
      deceiving himself.)

      1. I recall a local elder who was a terrible sermon
        speaker. One reason he was terrible was an obvious
        lack of preparation. Repeatedly, as we were about to
        go on the platform for him to preach, he would tell
        me that the Holy Spirit told him to change the sermon
        topic the night before – and he spent all night
        writing a new sermon. What is your reaction to that
        message from the Holy Spirit? (After this happened
        several times, I told him that the Holy Spirit knew
        in advance what he should preach, and it was unlikely
        the Holy Spirit would change His mind the night
        before the sermon.)

    5. Read Job 32:11-12. Elihu argues that it is his turn to
      speak. Why? (He waited, his elders failed, and now he will
      do better than his elders.)

    6. Read Job 32:13. Do you agree with Elihu? Is there
      something wrong with letting God refute Job, assuming that
      is what God has in mind?

    7. Read Job 32:14. What kind of arguments should we expect
      from Elihu? (He says he is going to make new arguments.
      We will see.)

    8. Job 33 begins Elihu’s argument. Let’s pick it up in the
      next chapter. Read Job 34:5-6. Is this a correct statement
      of Job’s position? (Yes.)

    9. Read Job 34:7-9. Are these the new arguments that Elihu
      promised? (Yes and no. The older friends also said that
      Job deserves what is happening to him. Elihu’s reference
      to Job disparaging God’s fairness is an old topic. The
      difference is that Elihu mentions a specific sin:
      association with evil people.)

      1. Is there any evidence of this specific sin?

    10. Read Job 34:12-15. Do you agree with Elihu? Or, do you
      agree with Job who said that God smiles on the schemes of
      the wicked ( Job 10:3)? (Elihu is obviously right.)

    11. Read Job 34:17-19. Recall last week that Job charged that
      the older friends were partial towards God ( Job 13:8).
      Elihu says that God is an impartial judge. Is Elihu also
      partial towards God? (Absolutely.)

      1. Is there something that we can learn in Job’s
        accusation that these friends show partiality towards
        God and not him? (We know, of course, that while
        Elihu speaks the general truth, it has no application
        to Job’s specific situation. Perhaps if the friends
        looked for a way to defend both God and Job, they
        might have come up with ideas that more closely
        approached the reality of what was happening to Job.)

    12. Read Job 34:35-37. Is Elihu raising new arguments here?
      (This is exactly what the older friends have been saying.
      Job must have sinned because he is suffering. When Job
      denies that his sin has caused his suffering, and
      challenges God’s justice, then the friends argue that Job
      is disrespecting God.)

      1. Why would Elihu say that he has new arguments, when
        we find he is either repeating the old arguments or
        making a false accusation? (Elihu thinks he is filled
        with righteous anger, but it seems more likely that
        Elihu is filled with his own vanity.)

    13. Elihu continues his charges for three more chapters. In
      the last chapter, Job 37, Elihu modifies his argument.
      Let’s look at it. Read Job 37:14-18. Have you heard
      similar arguments before? (This sounds very much like what
      God says to Job starting in Job 38. With this theme that
      God is God and Job is not, Elihu emphasizes something that
      the older friends did not.)

  3. Contemplation

    1. Read Job 1:6-12. Is Job telling the truth when he says
      that he does not deserve what is happening to him?
      (Absolutely, in the sense that wrongdoing brings
      suffering. However, in this case, doing right brought on

      1. Are the friends telling the truth about wrongdoing
        bringing suffering? (Absolutely, if Deuteronomy 28 is

      2. So, how can things get so badly twisted when everyone
        is telling the truth? (Read 1 Corinthians 13:12. None
        of the humans saw the entire picture.)

    2. Re-read Job 1:12. Is this a defensible decision? Did it
      cause Satan to later admit, “I’m wrong, I give up on

      1. Did God’s permission to harm Job create any positive

    3. Read Isaiah 45:9-11 and Romans 9:21. What important lesson
      do these teach us? (We know that God has the most extreme
      love for us because He died in our place. But, when it
      comes to running the universe, we need to leave the matter
      to Him. As you have read in these studies before, our
      lives are not about us, they are about God and the cosmic
      conflict between good and evil. Although Job’s suffering
      may seem completely contrary to God’s rules, we know that
      it was important in the conflict between good and evil. We
      know it was important because of the comfort Job’s example
      provides when we suffer.)

    4. Friend, will you agree to leave running the universe to
      God? Will you simply trust Him to do the right thing?

  4. Next week: Out of the Whirlwind.