"For the message of the cross . . . is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18

Lesson Nine
by Given O. Blakely

"Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer" (Job 32:19-20).


The Word of God is living and powerful (Heb 4:12). When it is taken into the heart, it effects the whole man. Not only is the intellect enriched and expanded, the emotion is heightened and the will stimulated. While these effects can be accomplished through the works of men, they are brought to their highest and most productive capacity by God's Word.

Our text provides an example of this truth. The setting is Job's confrontation with his three "friends." They are diagnosing his calamities, as friends are often wont to do. Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite have spoken to Job, each one of them concluding that Job's sufferings have been brought on because of some secret transgression. Their assumptions provoke a fiery response by Job, who maintains his innocence before them all. "Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, That my Prosecutor had written a book! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, And bind it on me like a crown; I would declare to Him the number of my steps; Like a prince I would approach Him" (Job 31:35-37, NKJV).

Now, for the first time in this book, a young man named Elihu is mentioned. He has been listening to the presentation of Job's three friends, and to the defense of Job. The effect of it all upon him is vividly described. "Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job" (Job 32:2-3). Elihu had waited to speak out of respect for the age of the others, he being a younger man. "Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job" (32:4). Carefully, he had weighed the words of the older men, and found them to be inadequate. "When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused" (verse 5). Now, however, he can no longer forbear. He must speak, and speak he does. "I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, 'Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.' But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. Great men are not always wise, Nor do the aged always understand justice. Therefore I say, 'Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion" (vs 6-10). He is speaking from a considerate viewpoint, having carefully weighed all that was said before (v 11). He perceives that none of the "friends" have convinced Job, their arguments not being weighty (v 12). He also observes that Job has not addressed him personally, so he will not use previously presented arguments (v. 14). He also sees the three friends have simply run out of words, having no more to say (vs 15-16). Now Elihu begins his speech. He acknowledges he has found it difficulty to keep from speaking prior to this. "For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me. Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; It is ready to burst like new wineskins. I will speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer" (vs 18-20). With a great disparity between their ages, and contrary to the customs of the East, the younger begins to instruct the older. The Kingdom is driven by insight. There is no age limit placed on such insight. This should be a great encouragement to every proclaimer of the Gospel. Without probing this incident more, let us view this expression.


The phrases "the spirit within me compels me," "my belly is like wine that has no vent," and "It is ready to burst" vividly describe inward constraint. Elihu is not motivated by what he has heard, but by what he has within. In his judgment, what he has heard has contradicted what was contained in his heart. The words to which he was subjected became a catalyst that accentuated what was within his him. Like the Psalmist, Elihu, though much younger, knew more than the three counselors who had sought to explain Job's experience. As it is written, "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psa 119:99). Unlike the Psalmist, however, Elihu did not have the advantage of the written Word of God. Scholars place the events of Job around 1950 BC, a few years after Abraham's birth. Notwithstanding these primitive times, Elihu had saturated his mind with thoughts of the Almighty--while a young man. He stands as a notable example for us all. His four speeches, recorded in Job 32-37, are worthy of your analysis.

With nature and the passing along of the very few dealings of God with humanity, Elihu had formed some concrete views of God. These views had affected the way he heard. They were like foundations or principles with which everything he heard was compared. He is not going to speak from a mere emotional point of view, shouting as it were, in protest of those before him. He is going to speak from his inmost person--from his heart. He was constrained from within--from his manner of thought. Jesus spoke of this principle, using it to explain the eruptions of unacceptable speech. "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." However, such speaking is not confined to vileness and corruption. Jesus continued, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matt 12:34-35). Luke says it this way, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). Actually, this is the case with all speakers. What saturates the heart will also saturate the speech. What dominates a person's thoughts will also dominate his speaking. At once, we see the manner of thinking that dominated Job's three friends. They had not viewed the evidence provided to them with a proper frame of reference. The goodness and righteousness of God were not their primary frames of reference. Rather, they sought to interpret the experience of man. This view actually corrupted their hearts, thus provoking them to speak unadvisedly with their mouth.

I cannot emphasis this too much. As a preacher or teacher, you are a custodian of your heart. It is your business to place the proper things into it, and then to give preeminence to the Word of the Lord. No person will ever be able to preach acceptably that has a worldly mind-set. However disciplined and analytical in thought, if the proper constraint is not present, an improper conclusion will be declared. This accounts for the remarkable amount of rubbish that is served up to the people of God. Men are speaking from a corrupted heart, not an enlightened one. Their thoughts are ruled by the conclusions of men rather than the affirmations of God. We do not need to condemn people--that is not our work. But unacceptable proclamations and conclusions proceed from unacceptable hearts. It is, after all, "out of the abundance of the heart" that the mouth speaks. What is "the abundance of the heart?" The NIV says "the overflow of his heart." The NASB says, "that which fills his heart." The Basic Bible English version reads, "the full store of the heart," while Young's Literal Translation says, "out of the abounding of the heart." As the heart is filled, it overflows through our mouth. God has made us in this way. It is an advantage for the person whose mind is filled with the things of God. It is a decided disadvantage, and ultimate cause for condemnation, for those whose heart is filled with the things of this world. Fill your heart with the Word of God. Saturate your thoughts with Scripture and the observations of insightful men. It will have a direct bearing on the content and manner of your speaking!


Alas, for many people, it is too easy for them to contain themselves. For some, this is a matter of self control, but for others it is evidence of a flawed heart and a meager supply in their treasury. Take the example of Paul in Athens. While waiting for Silas and Timothy, "his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols" (Acts 17:16). His knowledge of, and preference for, the Living God could not abide the overriding presence of idols. There was no satisfactory explanation for them--not in view of God and Christ. Paul's heart was so dominated by the "great salvation" that is in Christ Jesus, that what he saw in Athens provoked him. Immediately, he began to speak, being unable to contain. It is written, "Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there" (Acts 17:17). He had confronted matters that conflicted wth the abundance, or dominating considerations, of his heart. He had to speak. He not only spoke in the synagogues, but in the marketplace as well. He went where there was religious traffic, and where there was commerce, and spoke out of the abundance of his heart. His speaking drew the attention of certain "Epicurean and Stoic philosophers" who "encountered him" (Acts 17:18). They had not heard such speaking as this! The richness of Paul's heart yielded unconventional speaking in a philosophical empire. The outcome of the whole affair was an opportunity to speak "the Areopagus," or "Mars Hill" (17:22, KJV). 500 years earlier, Socrates was brought to this very place to face his accusers and be condemned to death. It was not only a place to hear new things, but a place of trial and testing--of intense examination. The Stoics and Epicureans taught religion and philosophy as a system, knowing nothing of faith. There is some question among purported scholars as to whether or not Paul was "forcibly apprehended and formally tried." If you wish to pursue this, see Conybeare and Howson, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, chapter x, and The Expositor, 5th series, II, 209 f, 261 f (Ramsay). What is to be seen here is the powerful constraining influence of a heart filled with the truth of God. Would Paul's valor fail him in this intimidating environment? Indeed not, he delivered one of the most concise and insightful speeches in history during this occasion (Acts 17:21-31). He spoke out of the abundance of his heart, and was not able to contain. Such action is not achieved by human discipline and intelligence alone. God works in a person whose heart is filled with His truth! In such a person, these words will be fulfilled, "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11). It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to recall and correlate Divine expressions, or statements of Scripture. "But the Helper [Comforter, KJV], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). John also elucidates on this subject, associating it with all who are in Christ Jesus. "But you have an anointing [unction, KJV] from the Holy One, and you know all things . . . But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him" (1 John 2:20,27).

Suffice it to say, when you fill your heart and mind with the Word of God, you have provided material for the Holy Spirit to use. Within your heart, anointed, as it were, by the Holy Spirit, that Word ferments, making it impossible to refrain from speaking. If you do not quench the Spirit, it will eventually dominate your speech. You will experience in your measure what Peter and John expressed. "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).


Elihu spoke for relief. His observations could not be contained. This was infinitely more than simply getting something off his chest, so to speak. Refreshment was more related to contemplation than to emotion. Here was the situation. The truth of God had, so to speak, seized upon him. To a much lesser degree, yet in an effectual one, he had been "apprehended," or taken hold of, like the Apostle Paul. As it is written, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Phil 3:12). If there is one thing that has impressed me in recent years, it is the near-total absence of this spiritual phenomenon in the professed church. The hearts and perceptions of teachers and preachers are often too shallow to be a constraining factor in their presentations. In this "day of salvation," this is simply not acceptable!

One has well said, "every Heaven-born word, to whomsoever it is communicated, strives after . . . utterance. For a season, the living thought may be kept in abeyance, carefully secluded from the world at large, but ultimately there comes a moment when it asserts its Heaven-granted supremacy over the mind of the man that has received it, and, refusing to be longer concealed, eventually drives that mind to speak forth the God-imparted message" When this expression takes place, a certain refreshment is ministered to the soul. It is not a carnal, or fleshly, refreshment, but one which, like "godly sorrow," is "not to be repented of" (2 Cor 7:10). This refreshment is a form of heavenly wages, given to the soul willing to house within his heart and mind the good things of God. It is like the eruption of a geyser, which brings to the surface water found deep within. This is nothing less than the overflow of the "living water" given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. That water, in the words of Jesus, becomes "in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). It not only brings the truth of God to those who hear it from the speaker, but it brings rich satisfaction and penetrating joy to the one who speaks it. This is another way of saying strength is ministered to the speaker--strength to further speak, repulsing the temptation of the wicked one to silence the Gospel proclaimer. When the Apostles were told NOT to speak, they "filled Jerusalem" with their teaching, refusing to be suppressed (Acts 5:28). Their refusal to put a cap on the overflowing well became the occasion for the dispensing of more speaking-strength from above. If you want to receive power to speak, faithfully declare what you have already been given to see! It also increases the speaker's grasp of the truth. Thereby is the saying fulfilled, "There is one who scatters, yet increases more; . . . The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself" (Prov 11:24-25). Like a mighty tide rushing inward, the more you give expression to the overflow of your heart, the more truth will rush into it! That is the nature of the Kingdom. Like the widow's bottle of oil, the more you pour out what you have, the more you will receive (2 Kings 4:1-6). What a blessed provision! In the very communication of the truth of God, refreshment comes!


As a communicator of the truth of God, spend much time thinking upon what the Lord has said. Your mediation will be a catalyst--a way through which spiritual fermentation will take place in your heart. This takes place because God's Word if living and life-giving. It will not only revolutionize the way you think, but the way you speak. Think upon these things, and see if this does not come to pass within you. "My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue" (Psa 39:3). Thus will you will receive a blessing.


The Spirit of Faith Next month we will meet one week earlier than originally scheduled OCTOBER 20th, 1997. Please note that on your calendar. Our subject will be, "The Spirit of Faith." Although similar to this month's theme, it will go further into the power of faith, the true impetus for declaring the Word of the Lord. The lesson is based on the following text. "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you" (2 Corinthians 4:13-14). Prepare your presentation from one of the following texts 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:54