Elihu speaks with a lot of self-confidence at the beginning of this chapter - "Bear with me a little, and I will show you that there are yet words to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you" (Job 36:2-4).
Elihu then declares some words in praise of God and against Job's position:
"Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty in strength of understanding. He does not preserve the life of the wicked, but gives justice to the oppressed. He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; but they are on the throne with kings. For He has seated them forever, and they are exalted. And if they are bound in fetters, held in the cords of affliction, then He tells them their work--and their transgressions--that they have acted defiantly. He also opens their ear to instruction, and commands that they turn from iniquity. If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge" (Job 36:5-12).
Elihu maintains that God allows the righteous to suffer for a short time, but this suffering is to further instruct them in the ways of the Lord. He affirms that if one turns from sin and obeys God, he will prosper. If he doesn't, however, he will die in ignorance. It's as if Elihu is saying: "Job, open your ears to God's instruction! Repent and he will bless you again!"
"But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath; they do not cry for help when He binds them. They die in youth, and their life ends among the perverted persons. He delivers the poor in their affliction, and opens their ears in oppression. Indeed He would have brought you out of dire distress, into a broad place where there is no restraint; and what is set on your table would be full of richness. But you are filled with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice take hold of you. Because there is wrath, beware lest He take you away with one blow; for a large ransom would not help you avoid it" (36:13-18).
Elihu is trying to convince Job to accept his affliction, empty himself of pride, and repent. From his perspective, he believes that Job hasn't listened to God's teaching; therefore, nothing can deliver him from his distress. Much of what Elihu says is correct, but it isn't absolute or true in every case. Job's case is different since he is not suffering because of his sins.
Elihu is correct in that it is not for man to question the propriety of what God is doing. God is sovereign and can do as He pleases. God is a great teacher, but Elihu thinks Job is a poor learner - "Behold, God is exalted by His power; who teaches like Him? Who has assigned Him His way, or who has said, 'You have done wrong'?" (36:22,23). Elihu thinks Job is out of place in some of his words, and he is correct (cf. 42:3,6).
We will conclude our examination of Elihu's speech in our next lesson.