Where Can We Find Wisdom?


And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’
(Job 28:28)

Read: Job 28

Devotion: Where can you find wisdom? How do you become more wise? Is wisdom passively acquired—something that you just grow in as you get older—or is it something that can be actively pursued? Every culture seems to have its own teaching on wisdom, and the topic often gets relegated to the sphere of the aged and/or philosophers. After all, the aged have experienced so many things, made many mistakes, and presumably have learned from them, so they must be full of wisdom. Similarly, philosophers spend all day every day pondering the questions of life, and so we must turn to them to truly understand what wisdom is and how to increase in it. It is this very question of where wisdom can be found that Job pondered in his discourse with his three friends.

Much of Job 28 is metaphor. Job begins with the imagery of all the effort and expense that man puts into mining precious gemstones and useful resources like gold, silver, and iron (vv. 1-11). We can create these vast underground systems of tunnels and caverns to search for things that not even the sharpest eyes nor the king of the beasts can find. We can even destroy whole mountains and change the course of mighty rivers to bring out the treasures that were buried beneath them. Nevertheless, Job still asks, “where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”

Man can look at a mountain and think, “I bet there’s some gold in there,” and then expend vast amounts of time and resources procuring that gold, but he has no clue where to find wisdom and understanding. He doesn’t know where to find these precious commodities because he doesn’t know how to properly value wisdom (v. 13). Some people may venerate wisdom, but even they do not truly know how valuable it is. Wisdom is so valuable that even if you were to gather all of the precious metals and gemstones on the planet, you would still not have enough capital to purchase it (vv. 14-19).

The clear implication from these verses is that if man truly knew how valuable wisdom is, he wouldn’t be spending all his time and effort digging up comparatively less valuable things like gold, silver, and iron. Instead, he’d be pursuing wisdom nonstop. However, even when we come to some realization of this truth, the problem still remains: Where can wisdom be found? As Job rightly says, it’s hidden from every creature, living or dead (vv. 20-21). Man is not the source or fountain of wisdom. Therefore, if your goal is to find wisdom, you cannot begin your search with man, no matter how old or how many doctorates in philosophy they have. Man, on his own, cannot even rightly grasp how valuable wisdom is or where to find it. Where, then, should you go? Where, then, must you go?

Man, on his own, cannot even rightly grasp how valuable wisdom is let alone where to find it.

Job answers, “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.” God knows where wisdom is because he is the only wise God who created everything by wisdom (Prov 3:19, 8:22-31; Rom 16:27). As Job said earlier in his discourse, “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13). Yes, the aged can have wisdom (12:12), but they can only have true wisdom as they have learned it from God.

At the end of all the cycles of discussion between Job and his three friends, Elihu rightly rebukes the friends in saying, “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right” (32:9). He also rebukes Job in the same way (33:8-12). Elihu is right in his rebukes because while Job and his friends have said correct things concerning God, they have all given terrible “wise” advice that was awful precisely because it came from an ignorance of God, his works, and his character. In fact, that is the purpose of Job’s suffering—that Job would know God more fully (42:1-6).

If you desire to be wise—if you wish to be wiser than your teachers, wiser than the aged—and therefore able to navigate life in the best possible way, then you must fear the Lord (Job 28:28; Ps 119:97-104). As the Ephesian believers burned all of their magic books upon hearing of the true God and the salvation found only in Christ (Acts 19:17-20), throw away all your philosophy books that are written by men who don’t fear the Lord. You are not going to find wisdom there. Instead, spend your time and money and effort pursuing God through Christ and find the source of wisdom, which will become to you a fountain of life and a refuge (Prov 14:27; John 4:13-14, 17:3).

Ponder and Pray: Consder wisdom. Who are the ones that are often lauded as wise in the world? How does that contrast with what the Bible says? Finish your time by praying for wisdom, that God would continue to grant you wisdom and that you would continue to grow in wisdom.  

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