Today’s reading: Job 24-28.
The book of Job is one of the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament, along with Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. The wisdom of Job deals with understanding pain, suffering, and loss, as well as man’s relationship with a sovereign Lord. Job compares the search for wisdom with the great effort men undertake to dig precious jewels and gold from deep in the earth. Unlike mining, however, no man has ever found wisdom by digging in the dirt.
“Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air. Destruction and Death say, ‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’ God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells…” Job 28:20-23
Wisdom is beyond earthly value. “Man does not comprehend its worth.” “It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver.”
Wisdom has no earthly location. “It cannot be found in the land of the living.” “The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; the sea says, ‘It is not with me.'”
Wisdom existed before the earth. “When he (God) established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it.”
Wisdom exceeds the things that limit life on earth. Death and destruction do not comprehend wisdom. Wisdom is limitless, while even death and destruction will one day end.
Wisdom is eternal, spiritual, universal, and absolute. The things of this world are temporary and material. Relativity and particular situations dominate our worldly philosophies. Wisdom exists from the beginning of time, will last forever, applies to all people, and never varies but is absolute in character.
Wisdom begins with a right relationship with God. Proverbs confirms what Job says. Wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD. The wise understand that God exists; that we owe him our obedience; that all power, honor, and glory belong to him; and that he will do whatever he pleases. Once a person accepts God’s rightful place as LORD, he or she can then accept the precepts of wisdom, including its eternal, spiritual, universal, and absolute qualities.
Wisdom deals with right living. “To shun evil is understanding.” Job and Proverbs both emphasize a wisdom that teaches us how to live moral and upright lives. That is the foundation of wisdom, but the wise person will be able to skillfully use knowledge to make the best choices in the most difficult situations in life.
The fear of the Lord is often represented as true wisdom. The meaning here is, that real wisdom is connected with a proper veneration for God, and with submission to him. We cannot understand his ways. Science cannot conduct us up to a full explanation of his government, nor can the most profound investigations disclose all that we would wish to know about God. In these circumstances, true wisdom is found in humble piety; in reverence for the name and perfections of God; in that veneration which leads us to adore him, and to believe that he is right, though clouds and darkness are round about him. To this conclusion Job, in all his perplexities, comes, and here his mind finds rest. – Albert Barnes
Image by Frederic Bisson on Flickr, CC by 2.o