and a place for gold that they refine.
2 Iron is taken out of the earth,
and copper is smelted from the ore.
3 Man puts an end to darkness
and searches out to the farthest limit
the ore in gloom and deep darkness.
4 He opens shafts in a valley away from where anyone lives;
they are forgotten by travelers;
they hang in the air, far away from mankind; they swing to and fro.
5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread,
but underneath it is turned up as by fire.
6 Its stones are the place of sapphires,
and it has dust of gold.
7 “That path no bird of prey knows,
and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.
8 The proud beasts have not trodden it;
the lion has not passed over it.
9 “Man puts his hand to the flinty rock
and overturns mountains by the roots.
10 He cuts out channels in the rocks,
and his eye sees every precious thing.
11 He dams up the streams so that they do not trickle,
and the thing that is hidden he brings out to light.
12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its worth,
and it is not found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be bought for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed as its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire.
17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls.
19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
nor can it be valued in pure gold.
20 “From where, then, does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living
and concealed from the birds of the air.
22 Abaddon and Death say,
‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’
23 “God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he gave to the wind its weight
and apportioned the waters by measure,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a way for the lightning of the thunder,
27 then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out.
28 And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” – Job 28:1-28 ESV
This chapter contains what appears to be Job’s inner musings concerning man’s endless and often futile search for wisdom. According to Job, humanity has an insatiable desire for wisdom and diligently seeks to find it like a miner prospecting for precious gems.
But despite man’s most ardent efforts, wisdom remain illusive and difficult to find. While there are mines that contain rare metals and tunnels where sapphires and onyx are found, the source of wisdom remains a mystery. It‘s value is incalculable which makes its allure so irresistable.
In this chapter, Job asks and answers the question, “Do people know where to find wisdom?” And, at first glance, it appears as if Job is fairly pessimistic about the prospect of discovering wisdom. He asserts that 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. And yet, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had a markedly different outlook.
Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square.
She calls to the crowds along the main street,
to those gathered in front of the city gate:
“How long, you simpletons,
will you insist on being simpleminded?
How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
How long will you fools hate knowledge?
Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you
and make you wise.” – Proverbs 1:20:23 NLT
Solomon personified wisdom as a woman wandering the streets offering her valuable product to anyone who would accept it. There was no effort required; simply a desire to become wise. But wisdom discovered few takers. No one was interested in what she had to “sell.”
Yet, men continue to seek it, traveling vast distances, consulting with sages, reading volumes of books, and offering their fortunes in exchange for it. They recognize its value but it eludes their grasp.
This entire sililoguy is a direct assault on the so-called wisdom of Job’s three friends. They waltzed into Uz with a cocky assurance that they knew exactly what was behind Job’s suffering and they have dispensed their wise words with abandon and a total lack of compassion. Their prideful assertions of Job’s guilt and God’s judgment have been relentless and have left Job demoralized and more than a bit defensive. He has had enough of their attacks and is now making a few assertions of his own.
When it comes to wisdom, “No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living” (Job 28:13 NLT), and that includes his three friends. Despite its great value, “It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver” (Job 28:15 NLT). Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar may think they’ve garnered the market on wisdom, but Job asserts that they are sorely mistaken.
“It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity.
Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it.” – Job 28:21 NLT
Again, Job’s words seem to contradict those of Solomon. So, who is right? Which man offers the correct perspective? The answer is that Job and Solomon are both right. Each man is describing an invaluable resource that is impossible to find unless you know the source. And both Solomon and Job describe wisdom as coming from God.
“God alone understands the way to wisdom;
he knows where it can be found.” – Job 28:23 NLT
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline. – Proverbs 1:7 NLT
Job knew that God was the sole source of wisdom and He alone could solve the mystery of his suffering. Only God could explain why Job has lost everything and only God could resolve the debate about Job’s guilt of innocence. The reason he kept demanding an audience with God was because of his fear and reverence for his Maker. Job didn’t have all the answers but he knew that God did.
Without realizing it, Job was taking the advice of Solomon.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:2-6 NLT
Job wasn’t searching for wisdom so he could impress his friends. He was seeking to know the will and the ways of God. He was trying to make sense of all the madness that had enveloped his life and left him destitute, disease-ridden, and alone. And he knew that the only one who could answer all his questions and bring relief to his suffering was God.
Job asserts that God alone “looks throughout the whole earth and sees everything under the heavens” (Job 28:24 NLT). This is a direct slam on his three arrogant friends. They spoke as if they had a monopoly on wisdom and insight, but they were nothing more than blind men seeking to find treasure in a darkened pit. Rather than heeding the cries of wisdom, they were filling the air with the sound of their own self-righteous ramblings and false assumptions.
But Job saw things differently. He viewed God as the source of all wisdom, it was God alone who “saw wisdom and evaluated it. He set it in place and examined it thoroughly” (Job 28:27 NLT). And if Job’s three friends would shut up long enough to listen, they might hear the words of God.
“…this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’” – Job 28:28 NLT
Job was willing to put his trust in God. He continued to reject the words of his three friends because he knew they were wrong. They were not speaking for God and so their wisdom was not from God. Job was convinced that wisdom was available and accessible but you had to go to seek it at the source. Godly wisdom could only be found in God’s presence.
“He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.” – Proverbs 2:7-8 NLT
Wisdom is a rare commodity these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s illusive or unavailable. We just need to go to the source.
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.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.