November 18, 2017

Songs In the Night

By Olen Holderby

"But none saith, Where is God, my maker, who giveth songs in night?" (Job 35:10) Here is the only place in the Bible where we have the expression "songs in the night." Because this is located in the book of Job, we immediately connect the phrase with suffering of some kind; and, so it is. Elihu is the bright young man who appears with Job and Job's three friends; and he is to give four speeches. Chapters 32,33 relate his first speech, chapter 34 his second, chapter 35 his third, and chapters 36,37 record his fourth. Our text is found in his third speech. What use is to be made of the words "songs in the night"?

To understand this we need a close look at the context. Elihu may not be completely accurate in the things with which he charges Job; but, the points which he makes are valid, both then and now. A few of his charges against Job may be helpful. He believed that Job justified himself rather than God (32:2). He says that Job has declared himself innocent, and accuses God of treating him like an enemy (33:8-11); and, as he closes his first speech, he is pleading with Job to listen (33:31-33). He understands Job to have questioned the justice of God (34:1-9); and, he brings his second speech to a close by declaring that Job had added the sin of "rebellion" to his other sins (34:37).

In his third speech Elihu answers Job's inquiry into the lack of benefits for righteous conduct. He affirms that God does not answer the pleas of an empty cry; God has not answered Job; thus, Job is guilty of uttering empty and meaningless speeches to God. Elihu says that Job has said that his righteousness was more than God's; and, that there is no profit in being free of sin (32:2-3). He sees Job as being inconsistent in placing his case in God's hands (13:18); while, at the same time, claiming that he cannot find God (23:8-9; 34:29). Further, Job was willing to wait for God to clear him; yet, he says that Job felt that God did nothing about sin (24:1-12). Elihu correctly points out that the oppressed often cry out to God just because of God's strength (35:9); and, not because he is their Maker, not because they owe allegiance to him, not because they seek a right relationship with him, and not because they wish to acquaint themselves with him (35:10). Elihu is arguing that God is to be top priority in one's thinking; and, that one is to humbly, patiently, and penitently approach him. Further, if the oppressed get no relief, it is their own fault (Jas. 4:3; 1 Jn.3:22). How could a heart that is full of pride (35:12) or a heart that questions the value of serving God expect the Great God to favorably respond (35:3)?

Many may ask: Where is laughter? Where is joy? Where is wealth? Where is my fortune? However, the search should be: Where is God my Maker? Now, back to "Songs in the Night." When our circumstances appear to be the darkest, when sadness and melancholy encircle us  if we have (and are) properly respecting "our Maker," his providence and promises are at our disposal. "Songs" of joy can ring out in the very midst of our tribulations (night). As we patiently wait for God, in his own way, he "teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the fowls of heaven"(35:11). Must we forget the promise of the Saviour, ". . . he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matt.10:22)?

Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 14, p. 11
July 21, 1994

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