Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds in the sky. Destruction and Death say, “Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.” God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” – Job 28:20-28
Today’s passage is a continuation of the interlude after the anemic advice of Job’s friends and Job’s replies. God is about to show up but in the meantime Job is reflecting on wisdom and the proper order of things. He is asking some pretty big questions… Where does wisdom come from? What is wisdom and where does understanding dwell? The answer is pretty simple…God knows.
God established the force of the wind and measured out the waters. I take this to mean that God started all things in motion…He is the Logos or reason that came at the beginning, underlies all things, and He even “measured out the waters”. Too much water and we are drowned by God’s rain…too little and we return to the dust from which we came. God decrees the rain. I take this to mean that God determines when it will sprinkle lightly and when a deluge will drench us to the bone. He determines the path of the thunderstorm.
When one is in the midst of one of life’s “thunderstorms” it can be less than reassuring that God has determined it’s path. In fact we often blame God or the person who is experiencing the storm as Job’s friends are so deftly demonstrating. Job acknowledges that the storm he is experiencing is controlled by God but He is not willing to blame God or himself. He shows an amazing amount of spiritual maturity by realizing that the thunderstorm he is experiencing is part of the spiritual cycle which brings both thunderstorms and gentle rain on tender plants.
The last part of the passage is very similar to a familiar verse from Proverbs (Proverbs 9:10) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. I did not know this verse was in the book of Job too….”The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding”.
What does it mean to fear the Lord? Does that mean we should cower in a corner awaiting God to blast us? I do not think so. I think that the “fear” being referred to here is more like respect or awe. The same respect you would give to the Grand Canyon or a mighty river in flood that you may choose not to cross for fear of drowning. The river does not want to kill you or hurt you any more than God does, but just like the river God is not tame or controlled — God is way bigger than us.
Prayer: Sometimes the storms that buffet our lives are scary and hard. Help us to have a healthy respect for You God while we seek to know You better.