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Wise Counsel from Job’s Counselor, Elihu 

Job is most famous for being a story of suffering, but Job is also a story of counseling.

Feb 15, 2024

Job is most famous for being the first written book of the Bible, a story of pain and suffering, and a story where God speaks and develops our understanding of His power, wisdom, and control. But Job is also a story of counseling. For 30 chapters we see Job getting bad counsel from his three friends, then we get six chapters of good counsel from Elihu, and finally five chapters of dialog between Job and God. Most often we focus our reading and study of Job on the first two chapters and the last five chapters of the book and skip the thirty-six chapters of counseling in the middle. This is a mistake. There is so much we can learn about how to be good counselors by seeing both the bad counsel of Job’s friends and the good counsel of Elihu. 

We can learn the value of patience and being willing to sit with those who are suffering for days. We can learn to wait until they’re ready to talk about the tempest brewing inside them. We can learn to truly listen and not condemn without specific facts (the main issue with Job’s friends is that they failed here).1For more, see this podcast episode by ACBC:’s so much to learn from these chapters but today I want to focus on just a few from the good counsel of Elihu. 

1) Wise Counsel Does Not Require Experience and Age (Job 32:4 & 6-12). 

Elihu proclaims that he was silent because he was the youngest person there. He hoped the older people would speak with wisdom befitting their age, but when they failed to do so he realized that the same God is within them all and provides the true reason for our wisdom.  

Every parent knows that even our children can rebuke us for our sins, God uses them to convict and sharpen us. He opens their lips to speak truth with love. Our believing children are equally empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives and help us see where we have fallen short on our journey to Christlikeness. 

2) Wise Counsel Does Not Require Quick Wit (Job 32:11). 

We don’t know for sure when Elihu arrived on the scene. Perhaps he sat there for seven days with Job’s friends or perhaps he arrived on the eighth day. What we do know is he sat there and listened to Job and his friends’ banter back and forth for thirty chapters in silence. He did not cut in with sharp rebukes and witty retorts. Instead, he formed his thoughts as they spoke and when they had exhausted their words at last, he spoke and confronted them all. From this, we see that even those who are not fast-paced thinkers can provide great counsel. 

This is often my place in counseling. I’m a slow thinker, unlike my wife who is quick to discern what is going on, I take time. My wife has said that she is right immediately but I’m more right twenty minutes later. While I sometimes envy my wife’s quickness, my slow processing is valuable in counseling too. By the time I understand what’s going on, I have developed three bullet points and twenty questions to help bring the counselee along with me. Both my wife’s quick speed and my slow pace are valuable in counseling. 

3) Wise Counsel Requires Listening (Job 32:11-12). 

For thirty chapters Elihu remained silent. In that time, he was able to glean what each of these men believed was the problem that led to Job’s suffering and understand where they were coming from. Their back-and-forth banter revealed their hearts to him allowing him to provide better and more accurate counsel. 

We too must spend the time to listen before we open our mouths. It is far too easy for us to give witty one-liners and well-reasoned arguments that might normally be helpful only to find that if we had listened, we would have learned that the true problem lies elsewhere. Each of us is unique and we can struggle with the same sins but for different reasons, because of this, we must be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). 

4) Wise Counsel Addresses Sin (Job 32:2-3). 

When Elihu speaks, he speaks from a place of frustration with Job for presupposing that his righteousness prevented God from acting, and in his monologue, he calls Job out for his diminished view of God. Just because Job is righteous does not mean God is limited in anyway nor does it mean God has to come meet with Job and answer his inquiries. This is why Job 32:2 reads “[Elihu] burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.” 

Elihu was also frustrated with Job’s friends for condemning Job without finding any fault with him (Job 32:3). His friends are rebuked for believing suffering is proof of sin and Job is rebuked for believing God acts without cause. 

5) Wise Counsel Uplifts God (Job 33:12-18, 34:5-37). 

Elihu speaks of how God is the Creator, greater than any mortal, He does no wrong, is just, righteous, mighty, and faultless. Elihu exalts God as beyond our understanding. God moves in every flicker of lighting, drop of water, and ray of sunshine. He is the force behind all weather, and we have no abilities that come close to His power. How then can any man or woman stand before God and proclaim to Him that He follows our rules? It is unfathomable. And yet all of us demand God bend to our rules from time to time and we need to be reminded of how great He is and how low we are. Elihu reminds Job that “God is greater than man… For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it” (Job 33:12b, 14). 

6) Wise Counsel Shows No Partiality (Job 32:21-22). 

Throughout Scripture, God calls us all to treat one another equally (James 2:1-13) and with equity (Proverbs 1:1-3, 2:9). In Elihu’s case that meant calling out the faulty arguments of both Job and his friends. In counseling, it often means not showing favor to the person in the room with more power, status, intellect, or presence. No matter who is in the room with you as a counselor, your job is to be impartial, representing God’s truth to all parties accurately and boldly. You’re called to treat them equally and without flattery even if they’re well known, respected, wealthy, elderly, rich, or even if they’re your pastor or employer. 

7) Wise Counsel Can Come from A Peer (Job 33:6-7). 

“I too am a piece of clay,” Elihu says. He appeals to the fact that we are all made by the hands of the same potter. We’re peers. We’re equals. We’re co-heirs to the same promise. The counselee and the counselor share the same position before God and must relate to one another as peers who are learning the same lessons at different paces.  


Elihu is our oldest written example of a good counselor, and he shows us many examples of how to counsel well by pointing our counselees to a bigger view of who God is. Through his godly example, we can all learn and grow into better, more godly counselors. We can become more effective listeners, servants, and encouragers. I urge you to read Elihu’s words for yourself and see how you can grow from observing this ancient counseling master.