Job 36 Commentary

God’s unknowable purposes (36:1-37:24)

Elihu, believing he has all the answers to Job’s questions, says he will now answer Job on God’s behalf (36:1-4). Certainly, God punishes the wicked, but he does not despise all who suffer. If the afflicted are truly righteous, they will soon be exalted (5-7). The reason he afflicts them is to show them their sin. If they repent, they will enjoy renewed and unbroken contentment; if not, they will suffer horrible deaths (8-12).

Only the ungodly rebel against God because of their afflictions; the righteous submit. They listen to what God teaches them through suffering and so find new life and renewed prosperity (13-16). Job’s present suffering is a fitting punishment from God. No payment of money, no cry to God, no longing for death will bring him relief (17-21).

Instead of accusing God of injustice, Job should submit to his afflictions, realizing that by these God is teaching him (22-23). Elihu then reminds Job of the mighty God before whom Job should bow. This God is great beyond a person’s understanding (24-26). God controls everything. He makes clouds, rain, lightning and thunder, and he uses these things to bring upon people either blessing or judgment (27-33). Thunder is like the voice of God proclaiming his majesty (37:1-5). When he sends rain, snow and ice, people have to stop work and animals look for warmth in their dens (6-10). God uses the forces of nature according to his perfect purposes (11-13).

Who is Job to argue with such a God? What does he know of God’s workings (14-18)? Who can question such a God? By arguing with him, Job is running the risk of being struck dead (19-20). If even the sun is too bright for people to look at, how much more will the majesty of God blind them. People cannot fully understand God, but they know he always acts rightly. Job should not argue with God but stand in awe of him (21-24).

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