If you have any words, answer me;
speak, for I desire to justify you.
If not, listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.
Elihu speaks to Job. And the young man does tend to go on and on, echoing elements of the other three friends of Job, but with a proudly theologically precise tweaking of the past arguments against Job. Yet just like all the other friends, his main assumption is that Job has done sins that warrant his sufferings. He presumes to know Job as well as God knows Job. He presumes to know God’s motives. And in those presumptions are the folly of Elihu’s self-described wisdom.
The egregious sin in Job’s story is committed by all the characters as dialogues on suffering are spoken. The sin in the story of Job that each man makes is to presume to know why God is doing what He is doing. Even Job succumbs to this in his defensive speeches. No one can know what God thinks about a specific situation outside of direct revelation from Him. But young, impetuous, impulsive, experiential Elihu thinks he has wisdom to teach Job. He basically tells Job to shut up and listen to him. And then the young man with a dangerous confidence in his own theology rips into Job fiercely as he teases out an intricate, sometimes accurate, but ultimately presumptive, theological treatise on how God relates to humanity. It goes on for a total of five chapters and is only abruptly ended when God Himself thunders His answers to everyone out of a tornadic storm.
In the end, God pulls the plug on Elihu’s grand theological exposition and has the last word on Who He is and why He does anything! God alone confronts Job with the truth. God alone dispenses true wisdom. God alone reveals Himself and actually never tells Job the back story or motives behind Job’s pain. And Job seems fine with never knowing. God doesn’t have to explain Himself or His works. He is God.