Can you explain Job 32:8?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Could you shed light on Job 32:8? “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”

The Book of Job details the experiences of a materially prosperous saint, Job, whom Satan has chosen to target with extreme hardship and loss (chapters 1 and 2). Job’s three “friends”—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—are much older than his father (Job 15:10). These aged men come to “comfort” Job during this time of his great distress. Chapters 3–31 contain their speculations as to why he is suffering, and Job’s responses to each. Essentially, they all agree against Job that he is a sinner and deserves his troubles. Their exchange deteriorates into a contest of name-calling and other insults. Of all those words spoken, nothing meaningful is actually accomplished. No light has been shed concerning Job’s plight!

By the time of chapter 32, a new character enters. This fourth friend of Job, Elihu, takes the discussion in a whole new direction: “[1] So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. [2] Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. [3] Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. [4] Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. [5] When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled. [6] And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion. [7] I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. [8] But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. [9] Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. [10] Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.”

Note that Job 32:8 actually serves as key support for Elihu’s advice (running all the way through to the end of chapter 37). While he lacks a great deal of insight into Job’s predicament, he has more wisdom than those three friends who have just rambled on and on with their religious traditions, vain philosophies, and baseless assumptions. In fact, as the following verses demonstrate, Elihu claims to be speaking to Job on God’s behalf.

Job 33:1-6: “[1] Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. [2] Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. [3] My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. [4] The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. [5] If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up. [6] Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay.”

Continue with verses 29-33: “[29] Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, [30] To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living. [31] Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak. [32] If thou hast anything to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee. [33] If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.”

Job 36:1-4: “[1] Elihu also proceeded, and said, [2] Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf. [3] I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. [4] For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.”

Again, Job 32:8 says, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” “God is a Spirit,” John 4:24 says. Not only has God given every person a spirit (starting with the first man Adam), He has given every person that same spiritual component to commune with Him. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4). “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils” (Job 27:3). That spirit that God breathed into Adam—thus passing down to all men—is the means whereby we can connect with our Creator.

Once more, although spiritually immature, Elihu was willing to let the LORD God speak through him to Job to some degree. He wanted to actually be a consolation and beacon of truth to Job instead of attacking and berating him like those three “friends” had already done. Thus, Elihu counseled with Job in Job 32:8 (paraphrased): “Job, you have a spirit, so listen to what God the Holy Spirit has to tell you! Here is how you can gain comprehension into your tragic experiences.” Elihu speaks for the next six chapters.

If you read the rest of the Book of Job (chapters 38–42), you discover how God Himself finally speaks directly to Job and explains that an enemy (Satan) is active in creation. Yet, God reassures Job that He will conquer and destroy that adversary in due time. Concluding, the Book of Job has Job finally liberated from Satan’s oppression and doubly blessed of God. While beyond the scope of this study, suffice it to say that Job’s sufferings and deliverance provide comfort to Israel’s believing remnant as they suffer during the latter years of the Antichrist’s reign (cf. James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 4:19). The Book of Job has been preserved in the Bible record so that Israel of the future can learn what God is doing with them—and what Satan is doing to them. Like Job, they will also be delivered… to enter the Millennial Reign of Christ and be immensely blessed of God!

In closing, let us say more about the Bible itself. The word “inspiration” appears only one other time in the English (King James) Scriptures. Of course, that passage is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” In Greek, “given by inspiration of God” is one word—“theopneustos” (literally, “God breathed”). “Spirit,” “air,” “wind,” and “breath” are closely related in the Greek language. Therefore, the Bible is words God spoke forth or breathed out.

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Scripture is “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3; cf. Matthew 4:4). “The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake…” (Acts 1:16). “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,…” (Matthew 22:31). The Psalmist in Psalm 119:13 spoke of the “judgments” (decrees, conclusions, laws) originating from God’s mouth: “With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.”

Almighty God uttered “words,” not just thoughts. The Holy Spirit gave these inspired words to special men and He led them to write those Divine words. Either we believe this is the Bible’s origin (faith), or we do not (unbelief). There is no middle ground. Additionally, He gave those inspired words to preserve them throughout the centuries via a multiplicity of manuscript copies. We have those inspired, preserved words even now: in English, it is the King James Bible. That is, the Spirit of God can communicate with our spirit as we read the words on the pages of (inspired) Scripture. Again, Job 32:8: “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”

Let us conclude with 1 Corinthians chapter 2: [9] But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. [10] But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. [11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [15] But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. [16] For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.”

Also see:
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