It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.Job 32:9
Commentators seem to differ widely as to what to do with Elihu. Some regard him as a rather brash young man with the cocksure arrogance of youth who speaks up to tell the older men what they were doing that was wrong, while others seem to see him as merely repeating in other words the arguments of these friends, without adding much.
But I would like to differ with these latter commentators and agree with those who see Elihu as having a very important part in this book. Let me point out certain things about this young man as we are introduced to him: First, 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. He is not rebuked for what he says, and he does not have to ask Job to pray for him, as they do. The second thing is that he is given an obvious, prominent part in this drama. His message occupies the next five chapters, and he is allowed to give one of the major discourses of this book. And third, he always speaks with courtesy and sensitivity to Job, despite the strong feelings that he admits he has. The other friends were caustic and sarcastic in their approach to Job, but this young man is very courteous when he addresses him. He recognizes the depth of Job's suffering, and he always speaks with understanding.
The fourth, and probably most important, thing is that Elihu claims to speak not as the other men did from their experience, but he claims to speak from revelation. That is what we read in verses 8-9. Elihu says,
It is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.
It is not the accumulation of years of experience that makes people wise; it is what God has taught them through the years. And this is a very important point. God can teach a young man or woman as much as an older man or woman. And when we speak from the wisdom of God, then we can truly be wise, regardless of what our calendar age may be. I know we who have lived a long time tend to think it is the years that have made us wise! If we are wise at all, it is not only because we are older.
I am reminded of a schoolteacher who applied for a job and was turned down for another younger teacher who only had three years of experience. The first teacher protested to the principal,
I've had twenty-five years' experience, so why was I passed over in favor of this younger one? And the principal said,
Well, I have to disagree with you. You haven't had twenty-five years' experience. You've had one year's experience twenty-five times. It is quite possible to go through life repeating the same way of thinking and never learn wisdom. So Elihu is right here. It is not simply the elderly who are wise, because God gives wisdom.
Lord, grant me the wisdom not simply of age, but of revelation that comes from You.
God's deep wisdom is timeless, and available to us at any age or stage of life. Do we perhaps settle for empty conventional wisdom, or do we hunger to hear from God?