Job 34

Listen to Job 34

Elihu Asserts God's Justice

1 Then Elihu answered and said:
2 "Hear my words, you wise men, and give ear to me, you who know;
3 for 1the ear tests words as the palate tastes food.
4 Let us choose 2what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good.
5 For Job has said, 'I am 3in the right, and 4God has taken away my right;
6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am 5without transgression.'
7 What man is like Job, who 6drinks up scoffing like water,
8 who travels in company with evildoers and walks 7with wicked men?
9 For 8he has said, 'It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.'
10 "Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should 9do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.
11 For according to 10the work of a man he will repay him, and 11according to his ways he will make it befall him.
12 Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and 12the Almighty will not pervert justice.
13 Who gave him charge over the earth, and who 13laid on him[a] the whole world?
14 If he should 14set his heart to it and 15gather to himself his 16spirit and his breath,
15 all flesh would perish together, and man would 17return to dust.
16 "If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say.
17 18Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty,
18 who 19says to a king, 'Worthless one,' and to nobles, 'Wicked man,'
19 who 20shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich 21more than the poor, for 22they are all the work of his hands?
20 In a moment 23they die; at 24midnight the people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away by 25no human hand.
21 "For his eyes are on 26the ways of a man, and he sees all his 27steps.
22 There is no 28gloom or 29deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves.
23 For God[b] has no need to consider a man further, that he should go before God in 30judgment.
24 He 31shatters the mighty without investigation and sets 32others in their place.
25 Thus, knowing their works, he 33overturns them in the night, and they are crushed.
26 He strikes them for their wickedness in a place for all to see,
27 because they turned aside from 34following him and had no regard for any of his ways,
28 so that they 35caused the cry of the poor to come to him, and he 36heard the cry of the afflicted--
29 When he is quiet, who can condemn? When he hides his face, who can behold him, whether it be a nation or a man?--
30 that a godless man should not reign, that he should not ensnare the people.
31 "For has anyone said to God, 'I have borne punishment; I will not offend any more;
32 37teach me what I do not see; if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more'?
33 Will he then make repayment to suit you, because you reject it? For you must choose, and not I; therefore 38declare what you know.[c]
34 Men of understanding will say to me, and the wise man who hears me will say:
35 'Job 39speaks without knowledge; his words are without insight.'
36 Would that Job were tried to the end, because he answers like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin; he 40claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God."

Job 34 Commentary

Chapter 34

Elihu accuses Job of charging God with injustice. (1-9) God cannot be unjust. (10-15) God's power and providence. (16-30) Elihu reproves Job. (31-37)

Verses 1-9 Elihu calls upon those present to decide with him upon Job's words. The plainest Christian, whose mind is enlightened, whose heart is sanctified by the Spirit of God, and who is versed in the Scriptures, can say how far matters, words, or actions, agree with true religion, better than any that lean to their own understandings. Job had spoken as if he meant wholly to justify himself. He that say, I have cleansed my hands in vain, does not only offend against God's children, Ps. 73:13-15 , but gratifies his enemies, and says as they say.

Verses 10-15 Elihu had showed Job, that God meant him no hurt by afflicting him, but intended his spiritual benefit. Here he shows, that God did him no wrong by afflicting him. If the former did not satisfy him, this ought to silence him. God cannot do wickedness, nor the Almighty commit wrong. If services now go unrewarded, and sins now go unpunished, yet there is a day coming, when God will fully render to every man according to his works. Further, though the believer's final condemnation is done away through the Saviour's ransom, yet he has merited worse than any outward afflictions; so that no wrong is done to him, however he may be tried.

Verses 16-30 Elihu appeals directly to Job himself. Could he suppose that God was like those earthly princes, who hate right, who are unfit to rule, and prove the scourges of mankind? It is daring presumption to condemn God's proceedings, as Job had done by his discontents. Elihu suggests divers considerations to Job, to produce in him high thoughts of God, and so to persuade him to submit. Job had often wished to plead his cause before God. Elihu asks, To what purpose? All is well that God does, and will be found so. What can make those uneasy, whose souls dwell at ease in God? The smiles of all the world cannot quiet those on whom God frowns.

Verses 31-37 When we reprove for what is amiss, we must direct to what is good. Job's friends would have had him own himself a wicked man. Let will only oblige him to own that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. Let us, in giving reproof, not make a matter worse than it is. Elihu directs Job to humble himself before God for his sins, and to accept the punishment. Also to pray to God to discover his sins to him. A good man is willing to know the worst of himself; particularly, under affliction, he desires to be told wherefore God contends with him. It is not enough to be sorry for our sins, but we must go and sin no more. And if we are affectionate children, we shall love to speak with our Father, and to tell him all our mind. Elihu reasons with Job concerning his discontent under affliction. We are ready to think every thing that concerns us should be just as we would have it; but it is not reasonable to expect this. Elihu asks whether there was not sin and folly in what Job said. God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, Ps. 145:17 . The believer saith, Let my Saviour, my wise and loving Lord, choose every thing for me. I am sure that will be wisest, and the best for his glory and my good.

Cross References 40

  • 1. Job 12:11
  • 2. 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22
  • 3. See Job 33:9
  • 4. Job 27:2
  • 5. Job 33:9
  • 6. See Job 15:16
  • 7. [Psalms 1:1]
  • 8. Job 9:22, 23, 30, 31; Job 21:7, 15; Job 24:1; [Job 35:3; Malachi 3:14]
  • 9. Job 36:23; Genesis 18:25; Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Psalms 92:15; Romans 9:14
  • 10. Psalms 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 22:12
  • 11. Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 32:19; Ezekiel 33:20
  • 12. See Job 8:3
  • 13. See Job 38:4-7
  • 14. [Job 2:3]
  • 15. Psalms 104:29; [Psalms 146:4]
  • 16. Job 32:8
  • 17. See Job 10:9
  • 18. [Genesis 18:25]
  • 19. Exodus 22:28
  • 20. Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17
  • 21. [James 2:5]
  • 22. See Job 31:15
  • 23. Job 21:13
  • 24. Exodus 11:4; [Job 27:20; Job 36:20]
  • 25. Daniel 8:25; [Lamentations 4:6]
  • 26. Job 14:16; See Job 31:4
  • 27. Job 14:16; See Job 31:4
  • 28. [Psalms 139:12; Amos 9:2, 3; Hebrews 4:13]
  • 29. See Job 3:5
  • 30. Job 14:3
  • 31. Psalms 2:9
  • 32. See Job 8:19
  • 33. Proverbs 12:7
  • 34. 1 Samuel 15:11; Psalms 28:5; Isaiah 5:12
  • 35. Job 35:9; James 5:4; [Genesis 18:20, 21]
  • 36. Exodus 3:7; Exodus 22:23; Isaiah 32:17
  • 37. Job 35:11; Job 36:22; Psalms 19:12; Psalms 86:11
  • 38. Job 33:32
  • 39. See Job 35:16
  • 40. See Job 27:23

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Hebrew lacks on him
  • [b]. Hebrew he
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew in verses 29-33 is uncertain

Chapter Summary


In this chapter Elihu reassumes his discourse, and proceeds in his answer to Job, in which are first a preface exciting attention, Job 34:1-4; then a charge is brought against Job, expressed in or extracted from some words that dropped from his lips, not so well guarded, Job 34:5-9; a refutation of these expressions of his in a variety of arguments, Job 34:10-30; and the chapter is closed with some good advice to Job, Job 34:31-33; and with an earnest request of Elihu to men of understanding, to join with him in trying him to the uttermost, Job 34:34-37.

Job 34 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.