An “I” Exam
“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?“ – Job 28:21 NLT
Chapters 28 and 29 are an interesting contrast. Both are the words of Job, but they reflect two extremely different views or outlooks. In chapter 28, Job asks and answers the question, “Do people know where to find wisdom?” We may be able to mine precious metals from the depths of the earth, but we don’t have the foggiest idea where to find wisdom. It eludes us and remains a mystery to us no matter how hard we search for it. But “God surely knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth, under all the heavens. He made the winds blow and determined how much rain should fall. He made the laws of the rain and prepared a path for the lightning. Then, when he had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding'” (Job 28:23-28 NLT). God knows where wisdom can be found, because He is its source. And when we begin fear of Him is when we will find wisdom. Solomon put it this way: “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1;& NLT). The problem that Job and his friends faced was a lack of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of the ways of God. None of them truly understood what was going on. They could only guess as to what was the cause of Jobs distress. Job’s friends blamed it on some hidden sin in his life. Job blamed it on God’s abandonment of him. But they lacked wisdom. Job seemed to know that, which is what is reflected in his speech in chapter 28. He seemed to know that the fear of God is where he would find wisdom.
But then there’s chapter 29. In this speech Job suddenly reflects a perspective that many of us have. He took his eyes off of God and focused on himself. Depending on the translation you are reading, there are upwards of 40 uses of the personal pronouns “I,” “me,” or “my” in the speech. Job develops a serious “I” problem. He can’t keep his eyes off of himself and his problem. He dwells on the past. He focuses on the way things were. He recalls how good he used to have it. He sort of brags about all his accomplishments. He longs for things to go back to the way they were. Now, I don’t particularly blame him, but he seems to lose his fear of the Lord. Like his friends, he starts to make some unwise conclusions. His speech wrongly infers that God is no longer watching over him. He seems to believe that God is no longer his friend and that God is no longer with him. All based on his circumstances. He still maintains his innocence, but he blames his condition on God because He had abandoned him.
Job wanted his honor back. He wanted to be respected once again. He wanted to be remembered for all the good he used to do. He missed the respect he used to garner for all his good deeds and acts of kindness. There’s no doubt that Job had lost a lot. And I don’t blame him for wanting things to be the way they used to be. But when he turned his attention to himself, he lost his focus on God. Reminiscing was not going to change anything and it was not going to provide him with any answers to his questions or comfort for his pain. That would only come as he turned his attention to God. He alone had he answers Job was looking for. He alone could provide the comfort Job was seeking. Whenever we get myopic and focus on ourselves, we lose sight of God. Turn to Him. Fear Him. Seek Him. “For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy” (Proverbs 2:6-10 NLT).
Father, I want and need wisdom. But I tend to seek it in all the wrong places. I look to myself and I look to others. Instead I need to seek it in You. I need to fear You. Not in a timid, cowering way, but out of awe, reverence and respect for Your power, majesty, and holiness. Rather than question You, I need to learn to trust You. Rather than whine and moan at You, I need to learn to thank You for the fact that You are in control of my life and my future. Help me get my focus off of me and put it on You. Because You alone grant wisdom. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men