I think I say this a lot, but today’s chapter is one of my favorites! Job 28, with its 28 verses, easy to remember. In some ways it is very “unlike” the rest of the Book which houses it.
Job 28 is still dialogue, as are all the chapters between 3 and 37. In fact, when God speaks in chapters 38-42, we still have dialogue. And it is still poetic too. But many current Jobian scholars wonder if Job really wrote this piece. If it is “authentic” to the Book as a whole? It is so “different.” (My answer, it is genuine, Holy Spirit inspired and directly from the pen of the wise Job!)
The entire chapter is about WISDOM.
It’s one of the greatest chapters in the whole Bible on the subject, in fact. Every bit as good as the Old Testament Book of Proverb’s little “jewels” on the subject!
The chapter divides itself into four little sections, of unequal length I might add. It’s is a search for true wisdom.
Verses 1-11 picture man as a “miner,” digging out the depths of the earth, searching for (and finding) precious metals. (In Scripture “wisdom” is often compared to precious stones and minerals. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of SILVER, and the gain thereof than fine GOLD. She is more precious than RUBIES: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand RICHES and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:13-17) I think the idea of verses 1-11 is this: Mankind works and searches and takes great risks trying to find gold and silver and such. But mankind does NOT put that much effort into finding real Wisdom (much more valuable than gold), God’s Wisdom, thinking it less valuable!
Wouldn’t it be great if we Christians searched the Scriptures for God’s Wisdom, like the worldlings scour the earth for their diamonds?
Then Job 28:12 interprets (encapsulates) the first paragraph for us, with two questions. “But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”
Whereupon Job 28:15-19 immediately answers: “It (real wisdom) cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: FOR THE PRICE OF WISDOM IS ABOVE RUBIES. The TOPAZ of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure GOLD.”
The stock market, the gold exchange, the bank vault … none of these can offer enough cash to buy this commodity called “God’s Wisdom!” Here money is truly “filthy lucre.” A man can be a billionaire and not possess an ounce of holy wisdom. Can be spiritually bankrupt! Materially wealthy, but morally impoverished!
Then comes Job 28:20-28, with an ending verse that’s dynamite! But first, verse 20 begins with parallel questions to verse 12. “Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.“
This last paragraph merely continues our Wisdom search. Finally to conclude that only ALMIGHTY GOD possesses the kind of Wisdom essential for life, real life, meaningful life!
Let’s continue with our chapter …
“Destruction and death now say, We have heard the fame (of Wisdom) thereof with our ears. (Only) God understandeth the way (of Wisdom) thereof, and He knoweth the place (where Wisdom dwells)thereof.” Quoting verses 22-23 of Job 28.
And now here’s the “apex” of the whole chapter! “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
Job, with Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar (and by now Elihu as well) listening, defines Wisdom as only such a godly sage could have done. Again: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
But, wait a second!
The fear of the Lord?
Departing from evil?
Qualifications for God’s wisdom, in fact definitions of it?
And those are the very traits God says Job possessed way back in Job chapter 1. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, ONE THAT FEARETH GOD, and ESCHEWETH EVIL?” (Job 1:8)
Job, says His Creator, fears the Lord!
And “escheweth” evil, meaning he departs from every form of evil he spots!
Folks, we’ve just been told that Job has the Wisdom of God in his life, and has possessed it since this storm-tossed Book began!
Job the wise one, such understanding being a gift of God, of course.
This is amazing!
This is ironic!
This is beautiful!
And Job is quite the writer!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
I (again) stand amazed.
The Bible, what a miraculous Book!