If the book of Job is in part the record of one man growing up from immaturity to maturity, going from the glory of a priest to the glory of a prophet, going from outside the assembly of the sons of God to being ushered into the whirlwind presence of God, I wonder if Elihu comes at the end of the debates, as the youthful counselor, to indicate two things:
First, I take Elihu to be a fool who is not explicitly condemned by God because of his youthfulness. He is not a political threat to Job like the three court advisers are. Elihu does not appear to be vying for Job’s throne like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. But Elihu does help to underline the fact that the story is centered around a kind of generational tension. The “older” advisers are “younger” in stature, since they are apparently nobles or lesser magistrates of some sort. Job is the “older” King. But in another sense, Job is still “young” in so far as he is contrasted at the beginning of the book with the “sons of God.” The sons of God who assemble before the face of Yahweh are “older” than Job, they have been granted even greater glory, greater authority as advisers to the King of Kings.
Second, Elihu though a fool, signifies something true about what Job must become. Elihu is a foolish, ignorant child, but Job must also become a child. In order for Job to grow up into maturity, he must become young. Thus, Elihu is the transition from Job’s “old,” foolish counselors to the youthfulness of the Lord of the whirlwind, the King who plays with dragons. Elihu is wrong and foolish like the others, but he is a lesser fool in so far as he is a young fool. But in order for Job to grow up into glory, he must become a child. Elihu is the wrong sort of child, but Elihu, like every child, points to the truth. We must be young again. For unless we are born again, we will not see the kingdom of God.