Focal passage: Job 36:8-23
Recently, my kids were talking about a broken clock in our house. It was damaged during a recent move. The kids told me the clock no longer worked. I took the opportunity to explain that the clock did indeed work – twice a day; in the morning and in the evening. They were fascinated that a broken clock could still be right.
As with a broken clock, some who are in the wrong can nevertheless be right at times, even when it comes to telling the truth about God. Such was the case with Job’s fourth “friend,” Elihu. After Elihu stood by listening to Job’s three friends scold Job, he was engulfed with naïve anger because Job justified himself and Job’s friends failed to persuade Job to repent (32:1-5). Elihu attempted to succeed where Job’s friends failed.
Although Elihu aimed to prove Job wrong, he was misguided. Yet, within his speech against Job, at times Elihu spoke truth. He was, as a broken clock, right about some things. As for being wrong, Elihu suggested that if Job listened to God, he would live prosperously (36:11). But if he didn’t, he would perish (36:12). Similarly, Elihu accused Job of sin, claiming Job was judgmental toward the wicked (36:17-18).
Although possessing impure motives, Elihu was nonetheless correct when speaking of God’s justice. He explained God disciplines his people, even through adversity (36:10-15). Furthermore, “God is exalted in power,” there’s “no teacher like him,” no one who has “prescribed for him his way,” and none can accuse him of wrongdoing (36:22-23).
Elihu was right that God’s power and justice are unrivaled. But Elihu was wrong to think that our obedience can exempt us from suffering. Only God can deliver us from such. And this He did when He justly punished our sin in Christ at the cross (Romans 8:3). At the cross, over Job’s life, and over ours, who can declare God has done wrong (36:23)? No one. He is just in His treatment of all people. Job knew this. We know this. Even Elihu knew this. Because even a broken clock can be right every now and then.