Job 34 Commentary

The justice of God (34:1-35:16)

When Job does not reply to Elihu’s challenge, Elihu turns to the onlookers and repeats some of Job’s rash statements about the injustice of God (34:1-6). Let them judge for themselves. Surely such words prove Job’s wickedness (7-9).

God is not unjust, says Elihu, and no one can tell him what to do. He is the governor of the universe (10-13). He is the source of all life and, if he wished, he could bring all life to an end (14-15). God governs perfectly and shows no special favour to the rich and powerful (16-20). Unlike earthly judges, God does not have certain set times to hear evidence, nor does he carry out investigations. He sees and knows everything, and punishes the guilty according to his perfect knowledge (21-28). No one can compel God to explain why he acts or why he keeps quiet. Whether the issues concern individuals or nations, people must simply accept God’s justice (29-30).

Elihu asks Job to think about this question: if a person acknowledges his wrongdoing and promises to repent, but then demands that God reward him with favour, is that really repentance (31-33)? Not only is Job unrepentant, but he adds to his former sins by his rebellious words against God. Elihu concludes that Job deserves no relief from his sufferings (34-37).

Believing that Job has said the godly are no better off than sinners, Elihu sets out to give his reply (35:1-4). He argues that since God is infinitely higher than his human creatures, people’s sin cannot harm him nor their goodness benefit him. Therefore, Job’s suffering cannot be because of any unnatural action on God’s part. It must be solely because of Job’s wickedness (5-8).


Many cry to God for help when they are in trouble, but other times they ignore him, in spite of all he does for them. Consequently, God does not answer their prayers (9-13). How much less will he answer the prayers of Job, who rudely complains that God refuses to meet him and show his approval of him.

Actually, says Elihu, God has been very patient with Job. He should have punished him even more severely because of his irreverent speech, but Job has only responded with yet more empty talk (14-16).

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