Elihu is an interesting character in the book of Job, he seemingly comes out of nowhere and refutes Job’s words, much the same as Eliaphaz, Bildad, and Zohpar. Depending on who you listen to, he ranges from an over enthusiastic, arrogant youth, another well-meaning friend, to a prophet, sent by God to prepare Job for God’s final response. It’s important to acknowledge that we honestly cannot know for sure, so to make assumptions based on the text would require that we assume things of the text that simply are not there. That all being said, I think it’s fair to rule out the first role. The main reason being that his words are not refuted by Job or God. Up until this point, Job has been quick to argue any claim he felt wrongly accused of, but once Elihu finishes his speech, we do not hear again from Job until God is finished speaking.
I do not know if Elihu was a prophet, but he certainly speaks as someone who has the authority of one. He makes several claims in these chapters that would seem to beg for a response from God were they not correct.
For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
Who among us feel as if we could make a statement like that? Elihu speaks very boldly here, and the first response to a statement like that is most certainly to object to it, but when we examine the rest of his words it becomes harder to argue with. His statements in chapters 36 & 37 mirror very closely to what God will eventually speak to Job and his three friends. Whether or not He is a designated prophet of God I don’t know, but it seems clear to me that the Holy Spirit is speaking through Elihu to prepare Job to hear from God correctly in the following chapters.
In this act of preparation we see the wisdom and sovereignty of God. No man who has ever lived has ever had a righteous claim to be angry with God, but I think we can agree, that if any man ever had a claim, it would be Job. Job has clearly sinned when he misspoke of God in the reprisal of his friends accusations. It’s easy to be empathetic to Job’s frustration because we all know how it feels to be wrongfully accused. So if we can understand Job’s frustrations, it’s a safe bet that God saw Job’s heart (and while still needing to correct Job), and longed to comfort him.
Who is Elihu? That’s a question with an answer we’ll never know, but we know who he was to Job, he was a vessel used by god to prepare Job’s heart. Much in the same way that he sent John the Baptist to prepare the hearts of those around Israel for the coming of Jesus Christ. God is constantly working in ways that we cannot perceive, on levels that we don’t understand, to bring about an end that we do not see. So today let us ask God that he would use us to prepare the hearts of those around us to follow him. That we would speak truth in such away that when God calls them, they would have an understanding of his love, and desire to know him.