Job 28

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 6, 2003

The Way to Wisdom

Job is in the middle of the worst ordeal anyone had ever gone through. It would have been bad enough if he had simply lost all of his wealth. Even if he had only lost all his money, people would have been wondering what he had done wrong to deserve such a tragedy. But that wasn’t all that had happened. He had also lost all ten of his children. I imagine at that point people were thinking, “Wow Job, you must have done something really bad to deserve this!” Yet it didn’t stop there, because he also lost his health as well. And now, sitting in an ash heap scraping his boils with a piece of broken pottery, his friends had shown up to comfort him. These were supposedly older, mature, wise men. But instead of giving Job comfort, they only brought grief as they sought to try and explain to Job what must have happened.

They had a lot of ideas and a lot of knowledge, but their ideas weren’t wise at all. In fact, their ideas were way off the mark.

And so as Job begins to muse about the subject of wisdom, he starts by comparing the getting of precious metals with the getting of wisdom.

:1-11 Search for Treasure

:3 He setteth an end to darkness

A miner takes a torch with him down into the mines to look for precious metal.

:4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant

The translation could go a couple of completely different ways:

This might be talking about how miners come across water as they dig underground.

It could be talking the miners descending on ropes into the mines:

(Job 28:4 NLT) They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives. They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth.

:5 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

On top of the ground, the earth is used for farming, but under the ground things change when they’re thrown into the fire, like precious metals.

:7 …which the vulture's eye hath not seen:

There are some animals that have very, very keen eyesight. Yet they can’t see the treasures under the earth.

Some people have a lot of knowledge about things, but they don’t have wisdom.

:8 The lion's whelps have not trodden it

Wild animals don’t know how to get these precious gems.

:9 he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

Men know how to overturn mountains to get to precious metals and stones.

:11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

When a miner hits an underground reservoir, he might be able to stop up the water.


Buried Treasure

A miner digs for precious things that are hidden and brings them out into the light.
I couldn’t help but think of how rich of a treasure we have in God’s amazing, living Word. As we’re talking about wisdom, we shouldn’t forget that we have at our disposal a HUGE wealth of wisdom treasures here in this book. But sometimes we have to take the time to dig into it.
Warren Wiersbe writes,
The Word of God is like a deep mine, filled with precious treasures; but the believer must put forth effort to discover its riches. It takes careful reading and study, prayer, meditation, and obedience to mine the treasures of the Word of God; and the Holy Spirit of God is willing to assist us. Why are we so negligent when this great wealth lies so near at hand?[1]


What is your treasure?

Sometimes we have our values all goofed up.
Some of us will work hard to save a few bucks here and there and get the best price for something before we buy it. We might visit several stores, check out the internet, and wait for a great deal. Yet there’s something we ought to be more concerned about than getting some kind of new “stuff” for cheap. God is concerned that we acquire wisdom.



(1997, England) There’s ordinary foolishness, and then there’s extraordinary foolishness. Stealing fireworks from a storage depot is foolishness. But using a welder’s torch to cut through the wall of the building housing the fireworks—that is extraordinary foolishness. Several burglars pushed their luck to the brink of failure when they tried to pull off a heist of a building containing a large volume of fireworks. They used a cutting torch to slice through the main door, which was eight feet tall and reinforced with a solid inch of steel. Just as the torch penetrated the door, and success was at hand... a spark landed in a crate of fireworks near the door. Fireworks are explosive, and this particular crate contained the equivalent of a hundred pounds of gunpowder. The entire factory exploded, and the door was popped from its hinges and slammed flat into the ground. Astoundingly, the perpetrators were not killed, and have never been found. Flabbergasted pyrotechnics professionals have dubbed them the “Hole in the Ground Gang.”

:12-14 Finding wisdom

:14 The depth saith, It is not in me

We live in a world that is filled with foolishness.

Example of foolishness

Nabal – There is a story in the Bible (1Sam 25) about a man whose name means “Fool”, his name is Nabal. He was married to a wise gal named Abigail. Nabal must have been pretty smart because he was fairly wealthy and had large flocks. David and his men had shown Nabal much kindness by taking care of Nabal’s shepherds, protecting them from wild animals and human enemies. Yet when David’s servants asked Nabal to share some food with his men, Nabal just mocked David and turned them away. When David heard what had happened, David got angry and organized his fighting men to wipe out Nabal. Nabal’s foolishness put his family at risk. But Abigail came to David with food and asked for forgiveness. She made up for her husband’s foolishness and spared her family. When Nabal heard that David almost attacked him, he died of a heart attack and Abigail ended up marrying David.

Defining Wisdom

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the acquiring of facts. Wisdom is the proper application of what to do with knowledge. Nabal might have had some knowledge, but he didn’t have wisdom.

 “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge,” said Charles Spurgeon. “To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as the knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”[2]

Knowledge tells you that the little black animal with the white stripe down its back is a skunk. Wisdom tells you to not to pick it up.
Diaper Change
One day shortly after the birth of their new baby, the mother had to go out to do some errands. So the proud papa stayed home to watch his wonderful new son. Soon after the mother left, the baby started to cry. The father did everything he could think of to do but the baby wouldn’t stop crying. Finally, the dad got so worried he decided to take the infant to the doctor. After the doctor listened to the father all that he had done to get the baby to stop crying, the doctor began to examine the baby’s ears, chest and then down to the diaper area. When he undid the diaper, he found that the diaper was indeed full. “Here’s the problem,” the doctor said. “He needs a change.” The father was very perplexed, “But the diaper package says it is good for up to 10 pounds!”
The Dad had knowledge, but not much wisdom.

:15-19 The price of wisdom

:19 neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Nothing can compare with the value of real wisdom.

Both David and Solomon seem to have been familiar with the book of Job because they both seem to constantly quote from it:

(Prov 3:11-26 KJV) My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: {12} For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Solomon is quoting Eliphaz here:
(Job 5:17 KJV) Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
Note that there’s this connection between going through trials, correction, difficult times … and wisdom.

Then Solomon goes on to quote Job:

{13} Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. {14} For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. {15} She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. {16} Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. {17} Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. {18} She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. {19} The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. {20} By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. {21} My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: {22} So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. {23} Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. {24} When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. {25} Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. {26} For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

It’s not just “being smart” that will give a person confidence in the time of “desolation”. But it’s God’s wisdom that will give a person stability during their tough times.


Wisdom Survives

We might think that a person who is wise will never go through difficult times. That is not true.
Wisdom might help you avoid troubles caused by foolish decisions, but wisdom doesn’t keep you from going through all trials.
Wisdom takes you through your trials. Wisdom teaches you how to act while you’re in your trial.

:20-28 Wisdom comes from God

:20 Whence then cometh wisdom?

Can you dig it out of the ground like gold?

:21 kept close from the fowls of the air.

(Job 28:21 NLT) Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it.

:23 he knoweth the place thereof.

God knows where to find wisdom.


Go to the source

(James 1:2-8 KJV) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; {3} Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. {4} But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. {5} If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. {6} But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. {7} For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. {8} A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
The context is “trials”. Do you lack wisdom in going through trials?
Ask God. Ask in faith.
Our wisdom is found in Jesus Christ. He is the source of all wisdom.
 (Col 2:3 KJV) In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
There an old story about a wealthy land owner in ancient Roman times. The father dies and the family gathers to hear the will being read. To everyone’s surprise the father doesn’t leave everything to his only son, but instead leaves everything to his favorite slave Marcellus. You see, the son and the father had a falling out several weeks earlier, and the father in anger rewrote his will, leaving everything to the slave. To the son, Antony, the father left one instruction. The father said that the son could pick one thing out in the estate and he would get to keep just that one thing. The son heard about this and thought a minute. Then he made his choice. The one thing he chose was … Marcellus, the slave. He ended up having the whole estate because he chose to take Marcellus.
If you want God’s wisdom, it starts with taking the Son.
(1 Cor 1:30 KJV) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

:27 Then did he see it, and declare it …

After God had made decrees about how the wind was to blow and the rains were to fall, God prepared wisdom.

:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Job said it first, but it’s interesting to see that David quoted it (Psa. 111:10), and the wisest man, Solomon, quoted this three times (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33).


Learn the fear of the Lord

This is what forms the root of wisdom. It starts by understanding who God is.
It is a loving, reverential awe of who God is, what God says, and what God does. It doesn’t paralyze you, it motivates you. It causes you to want to obey the Lord. When you have the right kind of fear of the Lord, you aren’t afraid of what people think, you are concerned about what God thinks.
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “in certain places on Alpine summits the way is peculiarly dangerous on account of the frequent falling of avalanches, and the traveler walks in dread of instant destruction. Samuel Rogers puts it this way:

Then my guide

lowering his voice addressed me:

“Through this gap

On and say nothing; lest a word, a breath,

Bring down the winter’s snow, enough to whelm

An army.”

Thus when alarmed by an awakened conscience people walk in fear from hour to hour, trembling lest a thought or word of sin should bring down on them the impending wrath of God. Happy is he who has traversed that awful gap of terror and now breathes freely because sin is pardoned and therefore every apprehension is removed.”
The fear of the Lord is wisdom because you realize that there is more to life than just what your puny little mind can comprehend. You realize that there is a God before whom you will one day stand. He’s going to ask you, “What did you do with the life I gave you?”
Jesus told a parable about a ruler who gave money to three of his servants. They were to take care of the money (called “talents”) while he was on a long journey. When the ruler came back, he found that two of the servants had taken the money and had invested it and made more money. The ruler rewarded the first two servants:
(Mat 25:23-30 KJV) His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. {24} Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed: {25} And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. {26} His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed: {27} Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. {28} Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. {29} For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. {30} And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The one talent guy was afraid, but it was the wrong kind of fear. His fear paralyzed him instead of motivating him. The true “fear of the Lord” motivates us to long to hear “well done good and faithful servant”.
Learning the fear of the Lord - How am I going to feel when I stand before God and he plays back the tape of the decision you’re about to make?
(Prov 14:27 KJV) The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.


Depart from evil

This is what happens when we have the “fear of the Lord”. This is a practical step that happens on the way to becoming wise.
If you are caught in sin, the wisest thing you can do it so get out before you’re destroyed by your sin.
(Prov 3:7 KJV) Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

To our own mind, we may think its okay to keep doing our sin. But if we had a real fear of the Lord, we would realize we need to get out.

(Prov 13:19 KJV) The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

These two phrases are paired together for a reason. I think the idea is that for a person who is trying to depart from evil, to break a bad habit, to turn from sin, and then finally gets there, it’s “sweet”. But a person who is a fool, they see no need to stop their sin.

Joseph – we’ve talked about the trials that Joseph went through.  His brothers had sold him as a slave into Egypt, where he became the servant of a man named Potiphar.  When his master’s wife began to make passes at him, he had a problem on his hands.
(Gen 39:7-9 NKJV)  And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me." {8} But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. {9} "There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

Joseph was aware of God.  He had the “fear of the Lord”.  And he couldn’t imagine doing this thing that would hurt the Lord.

(Gen 39:10-12 NKJV)  So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. {11} But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, {12} that she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Joseph departed from evil.  It wasn’t without consequences.  Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of rape and he wound up in prison.  Was it worth it?  God was shaping Joseph, preparing him for his grand purpose in life, where he would run the nation of Egypt.  But part of that preparation involved developing a man’s character.  It involved developing a man who would depart from evil.

When Joseph ended up interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and Pharaoh realized he needed someone with wisdom to oversee the nation, he chose Joseph.

Looking for wisdom? Go to the source. Learn the fear of the Lord. Depart from evil.

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (Job 28:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (Job 28:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.