I find it difficult to imagine a more self-absorbed character than Elihu. Notice that he claims his knowledge is exotic (from afar), a Cambridge grad among Harvard men. A self-confessed “know it all.”
And yet, he seems to have ignored everything Job has said, as well as the truth before him.
He claims that God always punishes the wicked, something Job has denied and his friends know all too well isn’t true. He claims God delivers his people, but that isn’t true as can be seen from Job’s misery. He claims God restores the penitent, but if Job’s life is an example, that’s not true either – at least not yet.
Godless people, he claims, do not turn to God or speak to Him, that’s why they remain fettered in chains. And yet, Job, who Elihu implies is godless, has turned to God and has been greeted with only silence.
At the end of chapter 36, Elihu exalts God in terms similar to those used later by God Himself. He has all the answers. They’re just not the answers to Job’s questions. The whole thing reminds me of these words by Joe Bayly . “I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly, said things I knew were true.”
I was unmoved, except I wished he’d go away. He finally did.
Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left.
I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”