By Mike Dawson
Retired Baptist pastor
Focal Passage: Job 28:12-28
Job was a man beloved by God and respected by others, yet he suffered loss, grief, brokenness and despair; three friends came to comfort him but ended up in a verbal boxing match with Job, using words that did harm him — deeply.
So far in the Book of Job we’ve learned about “Faith Tested,” Job 1:1—2:10: the boxing ‘ring’ was set up as Job’s faith was being tested by several God-allowed disasters.
‘Round One’ in the match was “Hope Defined,” Job 2:11—14:22, with both Job and the “tag team” landing some powerful blows — but Job held on to true hope.
Last week was ‘Round Two,’ Job 15:1—21:34, where Job was beaten up in conversation with the three friends, yet that round was “Redemption Found;” Job, though emotionally battered and scarred, was able to stand and say, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).
Today we study ‘Round Three,’ Job 22:1—31:40, “Wisdom Gained.” Our larger passage describes the slug-fest about wisdom, following the order of the preceding rounds with two exceptions: Bildad’s word-punches are shorter than usual, and Zophar doesn’t even enter the ring.
The topic of Round One was the nature of God; Round Two, the fate of the wicked; and this round, the discovery of wisdom. Our study text, Job 28:12-19, is from a hymn/poem found in verses 1-28, describing how to get wisdom, which Proverbs 4:7 says is “the principal thing” everyone needs.
After the great question of verse 12, “… where can wisdom be found…?” the next 7 verses describe where it cannot be found. Wisdom can’t be found anywhere on earth — “in the land of the living” (verse 13). It can’t be found in “the ocean depths,” (verse 14), or in money, “gold or silver” (verse 15), nor in the finest gold and precious stones (verse 16), neither in jewelry — articles of “glass and gold” (verse 17), and not in imported jewels like coral, quartz, pearls and topaz, verses 18-19.
So “where does wisdom come from?” is asked again (verse 20). Earth’s creatures look around and can’t see it; birds look down without discovering it; the dead from the grave look up, so to speak, and never find it (verses 21-22).
Verse 23 begins with two of the Bible’s greatest words “But God …” The writer explains that God alone understands and knows the way to wisdom. (See James 1:5.) He has perfect perspective as He sees everything on earth (verse 24). Our great Creator God established the boundaries of wind, bodies of water, lightning and rain (verses 25-27), and HE says to us all, “The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding” (verse 28).
The fear of the Lord means being awed by His majesty, judgment and glory — and turning from evil (in light of the Gospel) means to repent of sins and to receive the crucified, risen Savior into our lives. THAT is where true wisdom and real understanding are found. B&R — Dawson is pastor emeritus at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and also serves as transitional interim around the state.