16 ¶ If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words. 17 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just? 18 Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly? 19 How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands. 20 In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand. 21 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. 22 There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. 23 For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God. 24 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead. 25 Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed. 26 He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others; 27 Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways: 28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted. 29 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only: 30 That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.
So, Elihu says, if you have understanding hear what I have to say. Does Job think that it is right to condemn a just God? Is it right for a person to accuse a king or rulers of wickedness and ungodliness? God has specific requirements for a human king and any ruler of men, the fact that 99.9% of them have failed in that regard notwithstanding.
2Samuel 23:3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
If it was thought wrong to speak evil of leadership then how much more wrong is it to speak evil of the one who doesn’t regard princes as being more important than the common man or who doesn’t regard the rich as being more important than the poor? That would be God who holds all men mighty and weak, rich and poor, to the same standard. All are the work of His hands. In the church body there was to be no human centered hierarchy of individuals of varying degrees of worth. Before God no ethnic or racial, social distinctions, or gender differences matter when it comes to the value of a person.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
A separate priesthood or class of people who considered themselves to be more enlightened, more spiritual, more Godly simply by virtue of their office, called by the Greek term Nicolaitanism, victory over the laity or people, was also forbidden. (Some would say that this was a sect that came after the events of the Bible that preached that faith alone saves you and are called antinomian, or against the Law, but there is no evidence in the text for such a definition. Peter warns of the dangers of this attitude as mentioned above in 1Peter 5:1-4 and declares the priesthood of all believers in 2:9)
Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate…15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
No matter how great you think you are because of your money, your education, or any other presumed worth you will die in a second and cease to have any influence on this world. There is nothing you can do about it.
Ecclesiastes 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
The powerful wicked have no place to hide themselves. God can easily replace them with other men. He knows their works and He can end all of their plans and devices. Their destruction is plain and laid open for all to see because they ignored God’s commandments and His instruction. Verse 23 is important in that God will never do injustice to man, to give man an argument against His judgment. It is a rule of existence, a law if you will, that whatever God commands or allows is just and right, whether you see it as such or not. To argue or complain about it like Job, no matter how painful it is, is to deny God’s sovereign rights over your life, over your very soul.
God’s primary reason for punishing the mighty, the rich, and the powerful, as manifested by verse 28 is the mistreatment of the poor and suffering by the powerful. This is backed up in many individual verses in the Bible because you didn’t do it on your own. You aren’t so great.
1Samuel 2:7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
If God chooses to withdraw His hand of blessing from a nation there is no remedy and nations and kingdoms are punished by God throughout history. Spain murdered millions in its conquest of the Americas and persecuted the Jews, and is nothing important today. Great Britain murdered millions as well, particularly in India, with its policies in a time called the Late Victorian Holocaust, changed the law favoring the Authorized Version of the Bible, the King James Version, on the mission field in 1904, tried to renege on its promise of Palestine as a homeland for the Jews, and lost its empire within a generation. Germany had two centuries of its scholars attacking the truth of the Bible, began two World Wars, and suffered a horrible price for its hubris as a nation. The list goes on and on. The Mongols had an empire that was larger in size than any other. How powerful are the Mongols now on the world scene?
Isaiah 14:5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
What or who is man that he should defy the God who created and manages all reality? If God chooses to have mercy on a people He will not let wicked rulers have sway over them for long before their house of cards crashes down. There was to be no thousand year Reich, regardless of Hitler’s dreams.
So, here we have, if it is wrong to cast aspersions against your rulers as wicked how much more wrong is it to speak evil of God who rules over all things and disposes of them including wicked rulers?
31 ¶ Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: 32 That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. 33 Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest. 34 Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me. 35 Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom. 36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. 37 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.
Elihu makes the clear point here that it is meet (worthy or valuable to; compare Matthew 3:8 and Acts 26:20 with Luke 3:8 for use of word substitution to define words in contrasting verses) to admit to God one has sinned and to repent of it, to promise not to do it anymore. The essence of repentance is to change your mind about something, to turn from one thing and to another. Here is the list of the six primary principles of the doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews, chapter six.
1 ¶ Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
In the Hebrews 6:1 you have repentance from dead works, for instance; the Pharisaic extra-Biblical traditions, and to something; faith, which is trust and belief in God, as the first principles. It is wise that a person heed God’s admonitions and His warnings and repent of the sins he is committing, turn from them, change his mind and his attitude about them, and obey God. Samuel said that rebellion against God and stubbornness in your disobedience is the same as the idolatry of witchcraft in his speech against King Saul.
1Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
God will recompense obedience and disobedience, you choose. Job has spoken wrongly against God.
Clapping hands carries with it both a negative and a positive connotation in the Bible.
Psalm 47:1 « To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. » O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
Job 27:23 Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.