For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. — Job 34:21
Does God really see and care about the trials that we go through in life? If you have been through the valley of affliction, you know it is a lonely place. Your nearest and dearest are outside of what you endure. The nights are long, and in the darkness, it is often a struggle to touch the hand of God. And the devil does not hesitate to attack just because we are down. In fact, he is quick with discouragement and insinuations that God does not see our affliction or care about us anymore. That certainly was Job’s experience. However, we can be assured that God does see what we are going through — and He cares!
I have personally experienced that reality. One spring as I sat in a wheelchair by my window and watched the season come and go, I questioned whether I would ever again stroll outside on a sunny morning, smell the lilacs, or pick the tulips my father-in-law had planted for us. Would I even walk again? During that time of illness, the song “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” was a great comfort. The first verse says:
Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion,
My constant friend is He.
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.(1)
It was reassuring to be reminded that God’s eyes were upon me!
Later, I learned the circumstances behind the encouraging words of that song. Civilla Martin, who wrote the lyrics, said her inspiration came when she and her husband visited a precious saint of God who had been bedridden for almost twenty years. The woman’s husband was also afflicted and had to get himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their physical challenges, the two lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day this couple was asked the secret of the bright hopefulness in their lives. The bedridden woman’s reply was simple: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” That simple expression of boundless faith gripped the songwriter’s heart, and the hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” was the outcome.
We can be certain that God never fails to observe what we are going through. It is God’s intention to make our trial a blessing for us — in the light of eternity. In the meantime, we can trust that God in His own time will bring good from the circumstances we are going through. Strength comes when we focus on Jesus and rest in the assurance that He sees and cares!
In today’s text, Elihu — a young bystander who had apparently listened to the preceding debate between Job and his three friends — is the fourth person to address Job. Some commentators suggest that Elihu’s comments were really a series of four speeches, each identified by the opening phrase, “Elihu said . . .” Whether one speech or four, Job did not respond to any of Elihu’s remarks, nor did any of the other bystanders.
Elihu began his dissertation in chapter 32 by explaining that he had not spoken earlier because he was honoring the seniority and presumed wisdom of the first three speakers. Once he began to speak, however, he did so with vehemence; his wrath is mentioned four times in the first five verses of the chapter. He strongly condemned both Job and his friends: Job for speaking unjustly about God, and the three friends for being unable to refute Job’s claims of righteousness.
In chapter 33, Elihu addressed Job’s allegation that his affliction was proof of God’s enmity against him. He pointed out that since God is greater than man, it should not be surprising that He does not always respond directly to questions. Perhaps in an attempt to assume an intermediary role, Elihu took it upon himself to speak to Job in God’s stead, stating that he would speak God’s truth and balance it with Job’s circumstances.
In chapter 34, Elihu defended God’s justice, denying that God had been unjust in His treatment of Job. He appealed to the “men of understanding” (verse 10) who were listening to hear his defense of God’s righteousness. As he continued his attack on Job, he became even bolder and more cutting, until at the close of the chapter he accused the suffering man of outright wickedness and rebellion against God.
While Elihu had vehemently rebuked the three previous speakers for their inability to give Job a reasonable answer for why he was suffering, his own statements still fell short. Elihu may have been closer to the truth than the other three men, because he did state that man cannot understand all that God permits. Still, he wrongly assumed that the right response to suffering will always bring prosperity, and that suffering is always, in some way, connected to wrongdoing.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The solution of Elihu
A. Introduction: Elihu’s intervention (32:1 — 33:7)
1. The appearance of Elihu (32:1-5)
2. The reason for his intervention (32:6-22)
a. The reason for his initial silence (32:6-16)
b. The reason for his speaking (32:17-22)
3. The desire for Job’s attention (33:1-7)
B. Elihu’s first speech (33:8-33)
1. Job’s complaint (33:8-11)
2. Elihu’s comment (33:12-33)
a. God speaks at times directly (33:12-18)
b. God speaks at times through affliction (33:19-33)
C. Elihu’s second speech (34:1-37)
1. Job’s complaint restated (34:1-9)
2. Elihu’s comment (34:10-37)
a. God is sovereign (34:10-15)
b. God is just (34:16-20)
c. God is all-knowing (34:21-30)
d. Job’s need to repent (34:31-37)
Like Job, in our time of trial it might be easy to think that God does not see what we are going through, but He does!
1. His Eye is on the Sparrow, Charles Hutchinson Gabriel and Civilla Durfee Martin, Public Domain.