Elihu’s Appeal to Wisdom
Open Your Bible
Job 34:1-37, Job 35:1-16, Psalm 28:1-9, Psalm 55:16-17
When I was a child in Sunday School, someone once told me that God answers our prayers in three ways: with a “yes,” a “no,” or a “not yet.” To be clear, I don’t think God’s answers are nearly as neat and tidy as that. His ways are mysterious, far bigger and more cosmic than we could ever perceive. As I look back on that teaching now, I wonder, What about when He just doesn’t answer? or What if His “answer” comes as painful, intense, soul-crushing silence? As for Job, he begins to wonder if God even hears him: “If only I had someone to hear my case! Here is my signature; let the Almighty answer me” (Job 31:35). But Job is not the only figure in Scripture who felt the absence of God.
In John 11, Jesus delays going to heal His friend Lazarus, who then dies. In response, his sister Martha tells Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died” (v.21). Martha had sent for Jesus, and His delay was silence in her ears.
In Psalm 13, David cries out, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (v.1). But in Psalm 55, David speaks with confidence that God really does hear him, even when he feels alone: “I complain and groan morning, noon, and night, and he hears my voice” (v.17).
In these chapters from Job, the young counselor Elihu is responding to Job’s cry for God to answer. He challenges Job’s pride, suggesting that God’s silence is in response to Job’s pride-filled assertions that he is righteous and does not deserve his situation. Elihu isn’t exactly compassionate toward Job, but he does speak some important truths about God.
Sometimes God is silent. Sometimes He speaks. But He is always just, the standard of all that is good and holy and right. He is the Almighty, the all-knowing, the only Author and Creator and Sustainer of our faith. As Elihu says, “It is impossible for God to do wrong, and for the Almighty to act unjustly” (Job 34:10).
Reading through the book of Job, this question has come to me again and again: Do you trust Him—even when He seems silent? My honest answer is that I try, but most of the time I fail.
I see myself in Job, as he protests, “But I did everything right!”
I see myself in Martha, blaming Jesus for not doing exactly what she wanted Him to do.
I see myself in David, crushed by sin and desperate to see the Lord.
In all things—even His silence—do I trust that He still holds all things together? After all, He is God, and I am not. Therefore, “when God is silent, who can declare him guilty?” (Psalm 55:17). He does not answer to us.
So do I trust the One who spun out the stars, who exhaled Creation and all its glory? Do I trust the One who was born into the dark and cold, who wept blood in Gethsemane, who died a brutal death for me? My only response to His love is to offer mine in return, despite what I see or understand. I believe that one day, I’ll stand before my God in perfect peace, and all the fear and unbelief will be gone. Until then, His Word tells me that He is worthy of my hope and trust. He hears my cries and is not indifferent to my suffering, even when He seems silent.