EARTH'S MEASURED TREASURES
Job has spoken of the folly of wicked men. Now he shows that which stands in beautiful contrast to Chapter 27. The language here is magnificent, as Job considers what is altogether objective, not at all continuing any defence of himself in this chapter, but extolling the virtues of wisdom, showing that all creation bears witness to the greatness of the wisdom of God. In thinking of this chapter, we should do well to compare it to Proverbs 8:12-31, where wisdom is seen to be personified in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24.
But first, in verses 1-6 Job speaks of the places where the treasures of earth may be found. "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" (vv.1-2). God has seen fit to put these metals in places where men can find them without difficulty, and men certainly make much use of them, though they are largely ignorant of the spiritual truths that are symbolised by these metals. Gold speaks of the glory of God; silver, of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; iron, of the strength of the kingdom of God; and copper, of the holiness of God.
Even in the dark caverns of the earth, man introduces light to put an end to darkness (v.3), that he may search for ore. He sinks a shaft into the earth in places away from civilisation (v.4), let themselves down by ropes, and swing to and fro with the object of finding the metal they desire.
The earth itself produces bread, that is, grain, though deeper down the earth is turned up as by fire (v.5). "Its stones are the source of sapphires" (v.6). Stones by intense heat produce precious stones, and gold dust is found where heat has been. Job intimates that man knows these things and takes advantage of them.
In this section Job speaks of things more hidden from people normally, but which God brings to light (v.11). There is a path that no bird knows, though it can fly high above earth to observe what is below. No falcon's eye (which is amazingly keen) discerns it (v.7). The proud or fierce lion cannot by his superior strength, force his way into it (v.8).
But God's hand accomplishes what creatures cannot, even overturning mountains at the roots, to expose what is hidden beneath (v.9). Through the hard rocks He cuts out channels, using water to wear away the rock. And in those rocks "He sees every precious thing," which man would not discover till God saw fit to expose it (v.10). On streams on which man may expect to find treasure, He places darns that thwart men's intentions. But in the end, even what is hidden God brings forth (v.11).
All of these things, whether manifest wonders (vv.1-6) or more hidden things in nature, God has made available for the blessing of man.
BUT WHERE IS WISDOM?
But wisdom is only a dim vision in the distance, which men grasp after, but in all their searching they are totally disillusioned. "Where can it be found?" Job asks (v.12). Man by nature has no perception even of its value, nor is it found "in the land of the living" (v.13). Men have plunged into the depths of the sea, but wisdom is not there, though God's wisdom manifestly controls the raging oceans (v.14). For we cannot obtain wisdom even by closely observing the fact of His hand of great power in all the marvellous phenomena of creation. We observe His wisdom, but wisdom eludes us.
WISDOM'S PRICELESS VALUE
Job's friends had considered they had "the secrets of wisdom" (ch.11:6), but Job easily discerned that their arguments were not wise at all. He therefore faces them with the fact that wisdom is not so easily obtained. In fact, wisdom is impossible to be bought with gold or silver (v.15).
Job continues his subject of wisdom, saying that the finest gold (from Ophir) or onyx or sapphire stones, or crystal, or jewellery of fine gold have no value whatever compared to the value of wisdom (vv.16-17). Coral and quartz are not worth mentioning, nor rubies either, in estimating the value of wisdom, nor the topaz of Ethiopia, nor any pure gold (vv.18-19). In other words, absolutely nothing in nature can approach the value of true wisdom, for this is spiritual, not natural. Well indeed does God say in regard to what man considers wisdom, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" (1 Corinthians 1:19). On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 2:7 tells us, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory." This wisdom is received only through faith in the Lord Jesus, by the revelation of the Spirit of God (v.10). How wonderful is this, far above all natural comprehension!
REPORTED BUT UNKNOWN
Job knew there is such a thing as wisdom, and men generally, realise that wisdom does exist. But where? All man's searching does not find it: "it is hidden from the eyes of all living" and even "concealed from the birds of the air" (vv.20-21). Though highly elevated above man, the birds have no understanding of it. Let us remember too that the birds of the air are typical of spirits, the unclean birds symbolising unclean spirits. God's wisdom is above the conception of these. "Destruction and death say, We have heard a report about it with our ears" (v.' 22), but only a report, for wisdom itself is known only by a direct revelation from God.
THE ONLY SOURCE OF WISDOM
"God understands its way and He knows its place" (v.23). Thus Job rises high above the speculations of men, who by nature have no idea of wisdom. God alone is the Source of wisdom. He understands it in absolute perfection, He who has established "the ends of the earth" and contemplates all that is "under the whole heaven," as no creature can possibly do (v.24).
It is wisdom far higher than man's conception that "established a weight for the wind" (v.25). For though air weighs nothing, yet the wind has such tremendous weight to it that it can break rocks in pieces (1 Kings 19:11). Also God "apportions the water by measure." Who could even think of measuring the water of the oceans? Yet these things are perfectly under the control of our great Creator, and wisdom, no less than power, is manifest in such mighty works.
"He made a law for the rain" (v.26) as to how and when it is to be released, and in precisely what areas; and man has no ability whatever to change that law. Nor does man understand why God withholds the rain at certain times and places, and sends excessive rain at the times and places that He chooses. But all of this is subject to the laws of nature which God has established. "A path for the thunderbolt" indicates that thunder is not haphazard, but is always under wise supervision. In all this God's wisdom is declared (v.27). He prepared wisdom, He searched it out, leaving not one iota of its operation without fullest consideration. Does this not impress our souls with wondering admiration?
THE ESSENCE OF WISDOM FOR MAN
This one verse gives a wonderful conclusion to the subject of wisdom. Job discerned this, though men generally have no regard for this simple yet profound pronouncement, "To man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding" (v.28). The only reason that wisdom eludes people is that "there is no fear of God before their eyes," so that they have no heart to depart from evil. The fear of the Lord is not terror, but a wholesome reverence that gives Him the place of supreme honour. Job recognised this, even though he had not been blessed with the revelation of the person of Christ, who is Wisdom personified, but his words surely show that the accusations of his friends were untrue.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 28". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany