“Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.”
Job’s three friends had gathered to comfort him after his great losses, described in Job 1 and 2. He had lost all of his material wealth, his children, and his health. After all of this, his wife told him to curse God and die.
Job’s initial reaction to his trial is recorded in Job 1:20-22. “… Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” To accuse God of sin or iniquity because of events of life is to charge Him foolishly. God cannot commit iniquity. Job did not charge God foolishly.
The greater part of the book of Job records what Job and his friends said as they sought to find answers to Job’s situation. Ultimately, they arrived at no conclusion about why these things had happened. The reason he suffered these great losses is revealed in the first two chapters of the book. But neither Job nor his friends knew anything about that. Neither is there any indication regarding what God’s intentions were.
Then Elihu spoke. The verse above is part of what he said: “Far be it from God that He should do wickedness.” He was saying that God certainly was not playing some awful trick on Job. God is God and God is good. He would never do anything wicked. Throughout the history of mankind, many have falsely accused God of wickedness, charging God foolishly. Every event that takes lives or is of a great magnitude, not under man’s control, is cited as evidence that God is not in control. Because of these things, some have concluded that God has done wickedness. But that is false. And that is Elihu’s point. Far be it from God that He should do wickedness.
Elihu also said, “Far be it that the Almighty should commit iniquity.” God’s laws are not for us only, but they are for Him. He will never violate His own laws, He cannot violate His own laws, neither does He even think about doing so. We are capable of iniquity and sin and we continually violate God’s laws. When someone does something that we don’t like, we conclude that they are committing iniquity; acting out of a sinful nature. Saying that God has violated His laws is to charge Him foolishly. God cannot do that. Far be it that He should commit iniquity. For example, He commands us to not bear false witness. It is certain that He will never lie. Scripture tells us it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
At the end of the book, Job’s three friends were rebuked by God for their observations about Himself. “And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7) Job and Elihu were not rebuked by God. The verse above, and the whole of what Elihu said about God, shows a clear understanding of His character. He told the truth about God, unlike the other three. To summarize, Elihu said, “Listen to me, men of understanding, God is Almighty, glorious, all knowing, merciful, gracious, kind, and good, neither does He do wickedness, nor commit iniquity.”
May we never charge Him foolishly.
God is good! I will not fear
The trials that await me here;
His promises are true and sure;
His Word forever must endure.
O blessèd hope, O joy indeed,
His mercy covers all my need!
God is good! His love to me
Is broad and boundless as the sea.
God is good! His hand supplies;
I cannot need what He denies.
I’ll trust His love from day to day,
And follow where He leads the way.
God is good! He will not fail,
Tho’ Satan’s fiery darts assail;
I trust His grace from hour to hour,
And do not fear the tempter’s power.
Refrain (Charles H. Gabriel)