Job 28


‘There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore. Mortals put an end to the darkness; they search out the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness. Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft, in places untouched by human feet; far from other people they dangle and sway. The earth, from which food comes, is transformed below as by fire; lapis lazuli comes from its rocks, and its dust contains nuggets of gold. No bird of prey knows that hidden path, no falcon’s eye has seen it. Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there. People assault the flinty rock with their hands and lay bare the roots of the mountains. They tunnel through the rock; their eyes see all its treasures. They search the sources of the rivers and bring hidden things to light.’ Job 28:1-11

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

Most commentators find it difficult to place this chapter in the context of the discussions. The content appears to be an answer of Job to the claim of his friends that wisdom had been granted to them because of their assessment of Job’s predicament.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The design is to show that we must acquiesce in the inscrutable dispensations of Divine Providence, without being able fully to understand them. The chapter also teaches that wisdom is completely beyond the reach of men unless the quest for it is carried on in the setting of the fear of the Lord.’

All commentators agree that this chapter answers the following questions, ‘where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?

The chapter begins by telling us how there are all sorts of secret things which are hidden, like precious metals, gold and iron. People go into the darkness of mines in order to extract ore for refinement in order to acquire gold and silver. They dig deep shafts, and with hanging ropes, go into the darkness of their shafts in search of the riches of the earth.

People are also able to conquer great mountains and cut out conduits for water. We can walk on top of it and don’t know it is there. Not even the birds, beasts or lions have any knowledge of what lies beneath them, this is a buried treasure.

The point is, that the more we seek treasure, the less time we focus on God. In all their efforts to succeed in the material world, they won’t find wisdom. Wisdom is in reference to recognising God and His will.

Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The caverns of the earth may be discovered, but not the counsels of heaven.’

‘But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? No mortal comprehends its worth; 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.” It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed out in silver. It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or lapis lazuli. Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold. Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold. 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 in the sky. Destruction and Death say, “Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.” God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he 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. And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” Job 28:12-28

Where can wisdom be found? Wisdom from God isn’t found in the material world. It’s a certainty it will not be found with man, it’s not going to be purchased with man’s great possessions such as gold and jewels. We can’t buy wisdom with precious stones. Even death, with its large company, that is, destruction doesn’t know of wisdom.

Poole, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Man doth not see this wisdom but only so far as God is pleased to reveal it to him, and therefore he cannot declare it to others; man did not prepare, nor order, nor contrive it, and therefore no wonder if he cannot search it out.’

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following concerning, what God said to the human race.

‘This probably refers to the revelation of his will which God gave to Adam after his fall. He had before sought for wisdom in a forbidden way. When he and Eve saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, they took and did eat, Genesis 3:6. Thus they lost all the wisdom that they had, by not setting the fear of the Lord before their eyes, and became foolish, wicked, and miserable. Hear, then, what God prescribes as a proper remedy for this dire disease: The fear of the Lord, that is, wisdom, it is thy only wisdom now to set God always before thy eyes, that thou mayest not again transgress.’

God knows exactly where wisdom can be found. If man can begin to fear God and depart from evil, then he can stake a claim to having some understanding, Proverbs 1:7. Since God is the source of true wisdom, then man can’t find it without first finding God, Ecclesiastes 12:13 / James 1:5 / James 3:17.

Job believes sin is wrong and is a foolish act of rebellion against an all-powerful God.

Go To Job 29