Time and time again throughout the story of Job, Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, make speeches to Job. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a fourth friend steps in and is given six consecutive chapters to present yet another speech to Job. However, at the end of the story, God chastises all of Job's friends except Elihu. Why was he exempt? Was there something special about his speech that God liked?
Ray C. Stedman believes that there are four reasons that Elihu is an integral part in the book of Job. (1) When you come to the end of the book and you read the rebuke that God gives to the three friends of Job, you will note that Elihu is not included. (2) He is given an obvious, prominent part in this drama. His message occupies several chapters, and he is allowed to give one of the major discourses of this book. (3) He always speaks with courtesy and sensitiveness to Job, despite the strong feelings which he admits he has. He recognizes the depth of Job's suffering, and he always speaks with understanding. (4) Elihu claims to speak not as the other men did from their experience, but he claims to speak from revelation. Stedman also says that he believes "that Elihu [ultimately] comes into the book as the answer to Job's cry for an explanation."

For the purposes of answering my question, probably the most relevant point is 4 along with his statement as to why Elihu was sent. Wikipedia notes and agrees with these points and adds this: "The speeches of Elihu contradict the fundamental opinions expressed by the 'friendly accusers' in the central body of the text, that it is impossible that the righteous should suffer, all pain being a punishment for some sin. Elihu states that suffering may be decreed for the righteous as a protection against greater sin, for moral betterment and warning, and to elicit greater trust and dependence on a merciful, compassionate God in the midst of adversity."

So now we can see that there is, in fact, at least one difference in Elihu's speech. He points out a positive reason why Job is suffering instead of blatantly accusing him of some hidden sin. But what about Stedman's option number 4 in which Elihu claims to speak from revelation? He does indeed claim this in Job 36:2 - Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God's behalf. So was God not angry with Elihu because Elihu was carrying a message from Yahweh himself? It's possible.
It is possible that with an admonition for Job to stand still and consider the wondrous works of God, Elihu seems to be preparing Job for what is about to follow, namely, the whirlwind. Previously, Job and his friends had been arguing back and forth, and their debates had been thoroughly exhausted until Elihu appeared and proposed a new cause for Job's suffering. Elihu aroused new thoughts in Job, and his warning to him to regard God's works likely set him up for Yahweh's speech from the whirlwind in which he asked Job rhetorical questions regarding his creation.
I find it odd that my research on this subject differs greatly from the commentary in our ESV Literary Study Bibles. After reading the notes in the boxes before each chapter, I thought that Elihu was some kind of young, arrogant punk who was long-winded and hadn't accomplished anything more than the other three friends had managed to accomplish in their speeches. The editors even accuse Elihu of "conceitedly" speaking on God's behalf (page 733 in our Bibles). However, on that same page, they do agree with the fact that Elihu prepares Job, as well as readers, for God's whirlwind speech that follows.

Whether you agree with the opinions of those whom I researched, or you agree with the thoughts of the ESV Bible, they both seem to agree on at least one point, that Elihu prepared Job for the whirlwind speech.

So why didn't God include him in the chastisement? I like the idea that Yahweh sent Elihu to answer Job's cry for an explanation of his suffering and that God sent that message through Elihu. God was angered with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar because of their false accusations against Job; but Elihu relayed Yahweh's message to Job and prepared Job for God's speech.

I have personally come to the conclusion that, basically, Elihu was used by Yahweh, and that's why he didn't include Elihu in his scolding.
4/30/2013 04:25:49 pm

I agree...
I have been teaching thru Job for a year using 40+ commentaries some negative a very few positive on Elihu. My view is much like yours. Chuck Missler and Ray Steadman are positive. Do you suggest any others? God Bless ebeneda76@gmail.com

1/19/2014 10:04:32 pm

I love the book of Job because God speaks and I get to read what Yahew says. I ask Yahew to teach me as I read about him. After reading the last commentary from Job's friends, I notice I cried when his friend Elihu spoke, I could not understand at first why, until God reveal it to me, it was Yahew speaking through Elihu. I went to google searching for someone else who knew this and I came to this website and was more enlighten. Thank you for your open ears and eyes to know the truth of God's words. I have never heard anyone preach or teach on this subject. I hope I will one day.

2/24/2014 05:57:29 am

I suggest you re-read the Book of Job in it's entirety and pay close attention to the "punctuation". You will get a much firmer grasp of what took place.

6/22/2016 11:06:52 am

I loved reading the Word of God about Job and his friends, how the fourth friend wasn't revealed until the end after hearing the advice and argument between Job and his friends and how he was silent through all of it and when they had finished there thoughts he spoke on behalf of God, young but with wisdom and insight from God it is amazing how we count people out because of one reason or another.

12/3/2016 02:20:44 pm

In response to “tom”. There was no punctuation originally. It was added by the translators. So we really have no way of proving anything by punctuation.

3/9/2017 06:15:35 am

Just yesterday, I re-read the passage featuring Elihu's speech to Job. I believe that Elihu served as a messenger, almost like an earthly angel--God's messenger. I also think that Elihu's speech was a message which was to prepare Job for his encounter with God/Yahweh.

5/9/2017 08:23:54 pm

God allowed Job's affliction, but it was Satan who administered it. I suspect that God's major problem with Job's three friends is that they attributed Satan's evil works to God: they said that God had CAUSED Job's pain when actually it was Satan causing Job's pain.
I wonder if other readers might agree with that?

David Alderman
7/8/2017 07:12:38 am

My friends-

To understand whether Elihu was a messenger of God or not we must keep in mind why Job was suffering. It was not because he had sinned. The Lord rebukes Job for his present attitude of mind and heart, but that does not change why all this calamity had happened. No one understood why Job was suffering. The Lord pointed out his righteousness to Satan, and he asked permission to afflict him. Job's afflictions caused him to doubt Gods justice.

Elihu used the same arguments as Job's 3 friends and had other interesting things to say. But, in the end, Elihu was no different than jobs other friends when it came to bringing any light to the situation.

8/1/2017 09:08:27 pm

I figured chapter 38 and 39 was a verbal punishment for elihu before he focused on job

Charles Roberts
8/3/2017 03:52:34 pm

The reason Elihu was not chastised along with Job's other 3 friends is because he didn't tell Job that his trials were caused by sin. Instead, he told Job that his reactionary words were both sinful and rebellious. The Spirit of God did speak through him as he paved the way for the Father himself to speak.

Evan Maltass
10/22/2017 12:17:02 am

Several people have a piece of the puzzle but I suggest you put them all together. Notice job doesn't speak to God when his family dies. Nor does he speak to God when his flesh is affected. The only time he speaks to God directly, is with mocking questions, doubt and spite.

HE and his friends kept at it, flaunting how wise they were. They were closed minded to learning any more about God. Elihu's speech was perfect. He tells them all that God is an endless wonder, and to assume you know "enough" is naive.

He tells them how it's no small thing that the sun shines or water freezes, wind blows or rain falls. The world that God made is mind blowing, so how much more is God? This was elihu's point. They had put God in a box. They expected that if they do good, they would get rewards. But God also wants a relationship with us as well as admitting that God can not be "boxed".

Which is what happens after God reveals a million questions mocking job at how little he knows about God and all he's done. Job finally admits it. He admits that he can't fathom God after all. And he tells God that he will speak to him from then on. "I will ask you questions, and you will answer them". Good deeds alone don't save you. You need a relationship with God. That's what this was all about.


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