Elihu's Speech (Part 1)
There is a major break in the narrative in Job 32. A new friend, Elihu, is introduced. He may have been a distant relative of Abraham (cf. Gen. 22:21 - "Buz"). It appears that Elihu has been with the group the entire time but has simply chosen to remain silent for reasons he will explain shortly. It is unknown as to why he was not previously mentioned in the text (cf. Job 2:11).

Job's friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, & Zophar) stop answering him because they are convinced that nothing they can say will change his mind since "he was righteous in his own eyes" (Job 32:1).

"Then the wrath of Elihu...was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job" (Job 32:2,3). The wrath of Elihu is mentioned three times in two verses. He was angry at Job because he believed that Job justified himself rather than God (this is not exactly accurate). Elihu was also angry at the three friends because they had not answered Job's arguments but condemned him anyway. Elihu, thus, has embraced the task of showing Job why he is wrong, while at the same time showing the three friends where they erred in their thinking.

"Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused...'I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, "Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom"'" (Job 32:4-7).

Elihu had respected the traditions of time and kept silence since he was the youngest. His silence was not due to lacking something to say, however. His anger and frustration have been building and he is now going to take advantage of this opportunity to voice his arguments.

Elihu knows that age does not automatically imply wisdom:

"Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice. Therefore I say, 'Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.' Indeed I waited for your words, I listened to your reasonings, while you searched out what to say. I paid close attention to you; and surely not one of you convinced Job, or answered his words" (Job 32:9-12).

Elihu has waited patiently but is now ready to express his opinion.

If Elihu remains quiet he believes the friends will think to themselves that they are right and that they should simply keep quiet and let God "vanquish" Job (32:13). Elihu implies that he will not argue as the friends did, yet ironically, he proceeds to argue in a very similar way (once he finishes his lengthy introduction, that is)!

Elihu addresses Job in 32:15-22 as he talks about the three friends:

"They are dismayed and answer no more; words escape them. And I have waited, because they did not speak, because they stood still and answered no more. I also will answer my part, I too will declare my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me compels me. Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; it is ready to burst like new wineskins. I will speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; nor let me flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away."

Elihu admits that he has a lot to say and he desires to be impartial. No doubt this had to give Job a little bit of hope for some comfort.

We will continue studying Elihu's speech in our next lesson.