MINING FOR WISDOM
Merciful God, what a privilege to call you Father. In a world of isolation, I am secure in your fatherly love. I praise you.
Read JOB 28
Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found
28 There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
they search out the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
in places untouched by human feet;
far from other people they dangle and sway.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;
6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.
9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
10 They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.
11 They search[a] the sources of the rivers
and bring hidden things to light.
12 But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
13 No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, “It is not in me”;
the sea says, “It is not with me.”
15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
it cannot be bought with pure gold.
20 Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction[b] and Death say,
“Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Ask God to grant you his wisdom and to open your eyes to the wonders of the world.
The description of ancient mining techniques here (vs 1–11) is fascinating. Deep dark places are where resources such as iron and copper are found, as well as prized commodities like sapphires and gold. The picture of a solitary miner swinging from a fragile rope is powerful and evocative. Tunneling through rock with primitive tools must have been exhausting, but it was driven by vision (v 10). There is symbolism here. Great riches are deposited in dark and difficult places. Through long years of darkness and pain have found this to be true. Much later, God prophesied to King Cyrus that he would receive ‘treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places’.1
There may be mines for gold, but where can wisdom be found? If wisdom means insight, then how can we achieve it, especially if passing through deep trouble like Job? The list of possible ways and means for attaining wisdom here is impressive. Human ingenuity, physical effort, engineering technology, huge wealth, and even philosophical musings (v 22) all prove inadequate. Then, in a finale that takes our breath away, Job lays bare the solution. ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding’ (v 28).
The fear of God is not easily understood today. We prefer terms like ‘respect’ or ‘awe’. Insight or wisdom demand something more from us. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’,2 but that embryonic wisdom will cost us everything.3 Only surrender to God and his way for us in Christ will achieve that. As John Donne is reported to have prayed, ‘Give me, O Lord, a fear of which I may not be afraid’.4
Once we fear the Lord, we need fear nothing else. Commit your fears to him. Thank him for the freedom from anxiety that derives from fear of God.
Yes Lord, I stand in constant need of your wisdom. I stand before you now asking for godly wisdom as I endeavor to live for you every day.
1 Isa 45:3, TNIV 2 Ps 111:10 3 Prov 4:7 4 Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, Crossway Books, 1994, p291
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