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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Job 28

Verse 1

Job 28:1 , Job 28:12-13 , Job 28:20-28

This chapter falls naturally into three sections, the first two sections being terminated by this question, with a slight variety of statement: "Whence then cometh wisdom?" and the last by the result of the investigation.

I. The first of these sections is occupied with the abstruseness and marvellousness of human discoveries. Job speaks of the discovery of natural objects gems for the monarch's brow, metals for the husbandman, minerals for the physician but we can speak of the far more curious discovery of natural powers. Have we, with all our toilings, brought to light that wisdom in the possession of which we may acquiesce throughout eternity?

Alas! no. There is no rest, no peace, no satisfaction, in wisdom of this kind.

II. The second section of this Divine poem sets forth to us the truth that, though human discoveries be exceeding abstruse and wonderful, yet there is an impassable limit which they cannot go beyond. There is a field of knowledge which baffles us at the outset, and that is the field of Providence. Nature affords us no light whatever in solving the secret of the Divine dispensations. Of this wisdom the depth saith, "It is not in me;" and the sea saith, "It is not with me."

III. "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." It must be so, if you will consider the matter. Evil, moral evil or sin, is the parent and root of folly. It follows, then, that to depart from it must be the highest, the only true, wisdom. The path is so plain that the simplest may enter upon it, and that without delay. In whatever employment we be engaged, there is room for the cultivation of this simple, grand, majestic wisdom, room for us to fear the Lord, room for us to depart from evil.

E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p. 211.

References: Job 28:7 , Job 28:8 . A. P. Stanley, Addresses and Sermons at St. Andrews, p. 127. Job 28:10 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 985; J. Martineau, Hours of Thought, vol. ii., p. 176.

Verse 12

Job 28:12 , Job 28:28

Man's interests and activities find their highest inspiration in culture and religion. The relations which these sides of human action may bear to each other can never be of slight importance. Some maintain that they are antagonistic. It is said, the ages of faith are not the times of intelligence; learning causes religion to dwindle. If this be so, it is indeed strange that history should furnish us with repeated illustrations of what we may almost term a law of the development of the human race, namely, that the epochs of man's progress, when there is a larger force and a more vigorous vitality, are marked by stimulus, not only to the intelligence and learning of the human mind, but also to the faith and corresponding character of the human heart. When man has awakened from the sleep which often overtakes him in the midst of a thick night of gloom, he has not only exhibited a fresh interest in objects of mental research, but he has also raised his eyes once more to the stars that shine in heaven, and stretched his hands with a more vigorous grasp towards the Power and the Person who are only revealed to his spiritual nature.

I. Observe, first, that religion is itself a means of mental discipline. The objects of study which religion furnishes are (1) the nature of the human soul; (2) the progress of Christian doctrine and the development of the Church; (3) the nature of God and His relationship to man. Where will you find a discipline so high, so severe, so perfect, as in the objects of thought which religion can supply?

II. The other side of the relation which religion bears to mental cultivation is that protective and meditative influence which it can exert so as to guard against or remedy the evils in peril of which an exclusively mental exercise always lies. (1) Religion corrects the tendency of culture to ignore the limits of man's power. (2) Religion teaches us the lesson of humility. Faith, and worship, and adoring love for ever keep the human heart in the ready and loyal acknowledgment of its God. (3) A learning that is nothing but intellectual tends to make us forget our brotherhood. There is nothing more selfish than culture. It withdraws us to a narrow circle. It makes us members of a set. For this fault the only corrective is religion. In- her courts we stand upon a common ground. Here we find an altar whereon the choicest mental endowments shall be too poor an offering, and here we may gain the inspiration of that example which forms the highest pinnacle of human attainment.

L. D. Bevan, Christ and the Age, p. 333.

Verses 12-13

Job 28:1 , Job 28:12-13 , Job 28:20-28

This chapter falls naturally into three sections, the first two sections being terminated by this question, with a slight variety of statement: "Whence then cometh wisdom?" and the last by the result of the investigation.

I. The first of these sections is occupied with the abstruseness and marvellousness of human discoveries. Job speaks of the discovery of natural objects gems for the monarch's brow, metals for the husbandman, minerals for the physician but we can speak of the far more curious discovery of natural powers. Have we, with all our toilings, brought to light that wisdom in the possession of which we may acquiesce throughout eternity?

Alas! no. There is no rest, no peace, no satisfaction, in wisdom of this kind.

II. The second section of this Divine poem sets forth to us the truth that, though human discoveries be exceeding abstruse and wonderful, yet there is an impassable limit which they cannot go beyond. There is a field of knowledge which baffles us at the outset, and that is the field of Providence. Nature affords us no light whatever in solving the secret of the Divine dispensations. Of this wisdom the depth saith, "It is not in me;" and the sea saith, "It is not with me."

III. "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." It must be so, if you will consider the matter. Evil, moral evil or sin, is the parent and root of folly. It follows, then, that to depart from it must be the highest, the only true, wisdom. The path is so plain that the simplest may enter upon it, and that without delay. In whatever employment we be engaged, there is room for the cultivation of this simple, grand, majestic wisdom, room for us to fear the Lord, room for us to depart from evil.

E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p. 211.

References: Job 28:7 , Job 28:8 . A. P. Stanley, Addresses and Sermons at St. Andrews, p. 127. Job 28:10 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 985; J. Martineau, Hours of Thought, vol. ii., p. 176.

Verses 20-28

Job 28:1 , Job 28:12-13 , Job 28:20-28

This chapter falls naturally into three sections, the first two sections being terminated by this question, with a slight variety of statement: "Whence then cometh wisdom?" and the last by the result of the investigation.

I. The first of these sections is occupied with the abstruseness and marvellousness of human discoveries. Job speaks of the discovery of natural objects gems for the monarch's brow, metals for the husbandman, minerals for the physician but we can speak of the far more curious discovery of natural powers. Have we, with all our toilings, brought to light that wisdom in the possession of which we may acquiesce throughout eternity?

Alas! no. There is no rest, no peace, no satisfaction, in wisdom of this kind.

II. The second section of this Divine poem sets forth to us the truth that, though human discoveries be exceeding abstruse and wonderful, yet there is an impassable limit which they cannot go beyond. There is a field of knowledge which baffles us at the outset, and that is the field of Providence. Nature affords us no light whatever in solving the secret of the Divine dispensations. Of this wisdom the depth saith, "It is not in me;" and the sea saith, "It is not with me."

III. "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." It must be so, if you will consider the matter. Evil, moral evil or sin, is the parent and root of folly. It follows, then, that to depart from it must be the highest, the only true, wisdom. The path is so plain that the simplest may enter upon it, and that without delay. In whatever employment we be engaged, there is room for the cultivation of this simple, grand, majestic wisdom, room for us to fear the Lord, room for us to depart from evil.

E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p. 211.

References: Job 28:7 , Job 28:8 . A. P. Stanley, Addresses and Sermons at St. Andrews, p. 127. Job 28:10 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 985; J. Martineau, Hours of Thought, vol. ii., p. 176.

Verse 28

Job 28:28

I. Wisdom is not learning. A great part of what his contemporaries admired in Solomon consisted of the accumulated mass of facts with which his memory was stored. Yet it is an observation we are constantly forced to make how much a man may know and yet what a fool he may be. That Solomon, for instance, with all his wisdom, was a wise ruler, we have not the slightest reason to suppose. The hasty reader is so impressed with all that is told of his magnificence that he often fails to take notice of what is also told of the cost at which it was kept up the corvées of forced labour, the grinding taxation of the subjects. We find that on the king's death the people insisted on an absolute change of system, and failing to obtain it, hurled his dynasty from the throne.

II. Wisdom is not cleverness. I refer to that kind of ability which finds it easy to invent arguments in favour of any line of action it wishes to commend, which is not easily taken by surprise, is ready with plausible answers to objections, and can throw into the most attractive form the reasons for coming to the desired conclusion. All this is but the cleverness of the advocate. What we really want for our practical guidance is the wisdom of the judge.

III. "The fear of the Lord is wisdom," is the declaration of the Old Testament. Wisdom teaches us to provide for our happiness in the most enlightened way. But in the New Testament we have what seems quite a different rule: Seek not your own happiness at all; live and work for the happiness of others; give up all thought of self, all calculation how you may make yourself greater, or more honoured, or more prosperous. That may be noble conduct, but can it be said to be wisdom?

IV. The key to the paradox is found in that golden saying of our Lord, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And there is no difficulty in understanding that this really is the case. Those to whom God has given powers find happiness in their exercise quite independently of the fruits these powers may gain. And in the case of work done for others, it is not only that there is pleasure in the exercise of our powers, it is not only that it is more flattering to our pride to give than to receive, but the heart must be cold which does not find delight when through our gift happiness springs up for others, and their sorrow is turned into joy.

V. If, then, the New Testament has taught us to understand by "the fear of the Lord" something more than had been distinctly revealed in the Old Testament, still we can truly say that the fear of the Lord is wisdom. It is eminently true of love, "Give, and it shall be given to you." If one were found by experience to be perfectly free from selfish aim, one by whom no unkind word was ever spoken, one who was always planning some act of kindness to others, it is impossible but that such a one would inspire such perfect trust, and would be surrounded by such love and gratitude, as would brighten his own life as he strove to brighten those of others.

G. Salmon, Non-miraculous Christianity, p. 171.

References: Job 28:28 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 57; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vi., p. 21.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Job 28". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/job-28.html.