"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).
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.
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!
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).
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!