Job 33

1 “But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say.
2 I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue.
3 My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.
4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me then, if you can; stand up and argue your case before me.
6 I am the same as you in God’s sight; I too am a piece of clay.
7 No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy on you.
8 “But you have said in my hearing— I heard the very words—
9 ‘I am pure, I have done no wrong; I am clean and free from sin.
10 Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy.
11 He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.’
12 “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal.
13 Why do you complain to him that he responds to no one’s words[a] ?
14 For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride,
18 to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.[b]
19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in their bones,
20 so that their body finds food repulsive and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing, and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22 They draw near to the pit, and their life to the messengers of death.[c]
23 Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright,
24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them—
25 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
26 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being.
27 And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved.
28 God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’
29 “God does all these things to a person— twice, even three times—
30 to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them.
31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
32 If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want to vindicate you.
33 But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

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Job 33 Commentary

Chapter 33

Elihu offers to reason with Job. (1-7) Elihu blames Job for reflecting upon God. (8-13) God calls men to repentance. (14-18) God sends afflictions for good. (19-28) Elihu entreats Job's attention. (29-33)

Verses 1-7 Job had desired a judge to decide his appeal. Elihu was one according to his wish, a man like himself. If we would rightly convince men, it must be by reason, not by terror; by fair argument, not by a heavy hand.

Verses 8-13 Elihu charges Job with reflecting upon the justice and goodness of God. When we hear any thing said to God's dishonour, we ought to bear our testimony against it. Job had represented God as severe in marking what he did amiss. Elihu urges that he had spoken wrong, and that he ought to humble himself before God, and by repentance to unsay it. God is not accountable to us. It is unreasonable for weak, sinful creatures, to strive with a God of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. He acts with perfect justice, wisdom, and goodness, where we cannot perceive it.

Verses 14-18 God speaks to us by conscience, by providences, and by ministers; of all these Elihu discourses. There was not then, that we know of, any Divine revelation in writing, though now it is our principal guide. When God designs men's good, by the convictions and dictates of their own consciences, he opens the heart, as Lydia's, and opens the ears, so that conviction finds or forces its way in. The end and design of these admonitions are to keep men from sin, particularly the sin of pride. While sinners are pursuing evil purposes, and indulging their pride, their souls are hastening to destruction. That which turns men from sin, saves them from hell. What a mercy it is to be under the restraints of an awakened conscience!

Verses 19-28 Job complained of his diseases, and judged by them that God was angry with him; his friends did so too: but Elihu shows that God often afflicts the body for good to the soul. This thought will be of great use for our getting good from sickness, in and by which God speaks to men. Pain is the fruit of sin; yet, by the grace of God, the pain of the body is often made a means of good to the soul. When afflictions have done their work, they shall be removed. A ransom or propitiation is found. Jesus Christ is the Messenger and the Ransom, so Elihu calls him, as Job had called him his Redeemer, for he is both the Purchaser and the Price, the Priest and the sacrifice. So high was the value of souls, that nothing less would redeem them; and so great the hurt done by sin, that nothing less would atone for it, than the blood of the Son of God, who gave his life a ransom for many. A blessed change follows. Recovery from sickness is a mercy indeed, when it proceeds from the remission of sin. All that truly repent of their sins, shall find mercy with God. The works of darkness are unfruitful works; all the gains of sin will come far short of the damage. We must, with a broken and ( 1 John. 1:9 ) confess the fact of sin; and not try to justify or excuse ourselves. We must confess the fault of sin; I have perverted that which was right. We must confess the folly of sin; So foolish have I been and ignorant. Is there not good reason why we should make such a confession?

Verses 29-33 Elihu shows that God's great and gracious design toward the children of men, is, to save them from being for ever miserable, and to bring them to be for ever happy. By whatever means we are kept back from the we shall bless the Lord for them at least, and should bless him for them though they be painful and distressing. Those that perish for ever are without excuse, for they would not be healed.

Cross References 74

  • 1. Job 32:10
  • 2. S Job 6:28; S Job 13:6
  • 3. 1 Kings 3:6; Psalms 7:10; Psalms 11:2; Psalms 64:10
  • 4. S Job 6:28; Job 27:4; Job 36:4
  • 5. S Genesis 1:2
  • 6. Genesis 2:7; Job 10:3
  • 7. S Job 27:3
  • 8. S Numbers 16:22; S Job 12:10
  • 9. ver 32
  • 10. Job 13:18
  • 11. S Job 31:14
  • 12. Acts 14:15; James 5:17
  • 13. S Job 4:19
  • 14. S Job 9:34; Job 13:21; 2 Corinthians 2:4
  • 15. S Job 10:7
  • 16. S Job 9:30; S Job 13:23; Job 16:17
  • 17. S Job 2:9
  • 18. S Job 13:24
  • 19. S Job 13:27
  • 20. Job 14:16; Proverbs 3:6; Isaiah 30:21
  • 21. S Job 5:9; Psalms 8:4; Psalms 50:21; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 55:8-9
  • 22. Job 40:2; Isaiah 45:9
  • 23. S Job 11:8
  • 24. Psalms 62:11
  • 25. ver 29
  • 26. Job 4:12
  • 27. S Genesis 20:3; Job 4:13; S Matthew 27:19
  • 28. Acts 16:9
  • 29. S Genesis 15:1; Daniel 2:19
  • 30. S Genesis 2:21
  • 31. Job 36:10,15
  • 32. S Job 6:4
  • 33. Psalms 88:15-16
  • 34. S Job 20:6
  • 35. ver 22,24,28,30; Psalms 28:1; Psalms 30:9; Psalms 69:15; Psalms 88:6; Psalms 103:4; Proverbs 1:12; Isaiah 14:15; Isaiah 38:17; John 2:6; Zechariah 9:11
  • 36. S Job 15:22; Matthew 26:52
  • 37. S Job 5:17
  • 38. S Genesis 17:1; S Deuteronomy 8:5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; James 1:3
  • 39. S Job 16:16; Psalms 6:2; Psalms 38:3; Isaiah 38:13; Job 30:17
  • 40. Psalms 102:4; Psalms 107:18
  • 41. S Job 3:24; S Job 6:6
  • 42. S Job 2:5
  • 43. S Job 16:8; Job 19:20
  • 44. S ver 18
  • 45. Job 38:17; Psalms 9:13; Psalms 88:3; Psalms 107:18; Psalms 116:3
  • 46. Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15
  • 47. Job 36:9-10; Micah 6:8
  • 48. S ver 18; Isaiah 38:17
  • 49. S Job 6:22
  • 50. Psalms 103:5
  • 51. 2 Kings 5:14
  • 52. S Job 5:15; Proverbs 8:35; Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 18:22; Luke 2:52; Job 34:28
  • 53. S Ezra 3:13; S Job 22:26
  • 54. Psalms 13:5; Psalms 50:15; Psalms 51:12; 1 John 1:9
  • 55. S Numbers 22:34; 2 Samuel 12:13
  • 56. Luke 15:21
  • 57. S Ezra 9:13; Psalms 22:27; Psalms 51:13; Romans 6:21; James 2:13
  • 58. S Exodus 15:13; Psalms 34:22; Psalms 107:20
  • 59. S ver 18; S Job 17:16
  • 60. S Job 22:28
  • 61. Psalms 139:16; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 20:24; Jeremiah 10:23; 1 Corinthians 12:6; Ephesians 1:11; Philippians 2:13
  • 62. ver 14
  • 63. James 5:19
  • 64. S ver 18
  • 65. Psalms 49:19; Psalms 56:13; Psalms 116:9; Isaiah 53:11
  • 66. Isaiah 60:1; Ephesians 5:14
  • 67. Jeremiah 23:18
  • 68. S Job 32:10
  • 69. ver 33
  • 70. ver 5
  • 71. S Job 6:29; Job 35:2
  • 72. S Job 32:10
  • 73. ver 31
  • 74. S Job 6:24; Pr 10:8,10,19; Psalms 34:11

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "that he does not answer for any of his actions"
  • [b]. Or "from crossing the river"
  • [c]. Or "to the place of the dead"

Chapter Summary


In this chapter Elihu addresses Job himself, and entreats his attention to what he had to say to him, and offers several things to induce him to it; and recommends himself as one that was according to his wish, in the stead of God, a man like himself, and of whom he had no reason to be afraid, Job 33:1-7; and then he brings a charge against him of things which he himself had heard, of words that had dropped from him in the course of his controversy with his friends; in which he too much and too strongly insisted on his own innocence and purity, and let fill very undue and unbecoming reflections on the dealings of God with him, Job 33:8-11; to which he gives an answer by observing the superior greatness of God to man, and his sovereignty over him, not being accountable to him for anything done by him; and therefore man should be silent and submissive to him, Job 33:12,13; and yet, though he is so great and so absolute, and uncontrollable, and is not obliged to give an account of his affairs to man, and the reasons of them; yet he condescends by various ways and means to instruct him in his mind and will, and even by these very things complained of; and therefore should not be treated as if unkind and unfriendly to men; sometimes he does it by dreams and visions, when he opens the ears of men, and seals instruction to them, and with this view, to restrain them from their evil purposes and doings, and to weaken their pride and humble them, and preserve them from ruin, Job 33:14-18; and sometimes by chastening and afflictive providences, which are described, Job 33:19-22; and which become teaching ones; through the interposition of a divine messenger, and upon the afflicted man's prayer to God, and humiliation before him, God is gracious and favourable to him, and delivers him; which is frequently the design and the use that he makes of chastening dispensations, Job 33:23-30; and the chapter is concluded with beseeching Job to mark and consider well what had been said unto him, and to answer it if he could or thought fit; if not, silently to attend to what he had further to say to him for his instruction, Job 33:31-33.

Job 33 Commentaries

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