Introduction: Job and his friends had reached an impasse. Without the benefit of God’s Word, they struggled to understand God’s wisdom. To Job’s friends, the answer was simple. They believed that God’s wisdom came through tradition and the wisdom of elders. They also believed that God’s justice was mechanical with only the wicked allowed to suffer. Thus, they concluded that Job was suffering because he was a sinner who refused to confess his sins to God and them. But Job knew that this did not apply to him, and God’s dialogue with Satan at the beginning of the book confirmed this. Job’s angry retorts against his friends and his complaints against God might have suggested that he was no better than his friends. Yet, Job showed here what made him so special to God. Just as Jesus revealed some of His most important truths through parables, Job revealed through a poem how to search for and apply God’s true wisdom.
Through Job’s poem, God revealed as a parable seven lessons for finding and understanding His wisdom. Finding and applying God’s wisdom to your life requires your: (1) diligence, (2) perseverance, (3) faith, (4) vigilance, (5) discernment, (6) exclusivity, and (7) submission.
First, Job stated that earthly treasures like precious metals come from a source, and they require diligence to extract them from the ground. God’s wisdom also requires diligence to process and understand it. Second, Job stated that the extraction of precious metals from the ground requires perseverance through excavation and investigative skills that God has uniquely endowed to mankind. God’s wisdom also requires ongoing effort to find it and apply it using your God-given intellect. Third, unlike precious metals, Job proclaimed that God’s wisdom cannot be found from any source on Earth. God’s wisdom is only available through faith in Jesus. Fourth, Job stated that God’s wisdom is more valuable than any precious metal. Thus, when you find God’s wisdom, He wants you to guard it in your heart like a treasure. Fifth, Job warned that God’s wisdom cannot be found by looking for it from any place on Earth or from unclean spirits. Finding God’s wisdom also requires investigative discernment. There are many counterfeit sources of wisdom that can lead you astray. Sixth, Job then repeated that God’s wisdom comes from Him alone. God’s wisdom comes from His Word and is never compromised with worldly traditions. Finally, Job reveals that wisdom comes from fearing God. The Bible defines the fear of God as hating evil. God wants you to find His wisdom by submitting to Him and hating evil.
Like precious metals, wisdom has a source, and it requires work to obtain it. Job began his poem by analogizing the search for wisdom to the process required to convert raw materials into precious metals: “1 Certainly there is a mine for silver and a place for refining gold. 2 Iron is taken from the dust, and copper is smelted from rock.” (Job 28:1-2). Although wisdom is not mentioned, it is the subject of the poem. “The chapter opens with the simple chiastically arranged statement of the two basic steps in the production of precious metals. First is the mine; then there is the smelter of the refining process because only rarely are those metals found unmixed with worthless gravel or rock. ‘Wisdom’ is not found until v. 12, but at many points there is an analogy between it and mining. Wisdom is precious like silver and needs refining like gold.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 271). There are two observations that can be made from Job’s words. First, precious metals have their source. Second, extracting the valuable materials requires effort. The same is true with God’s wisdom. It has a unique source, and it requires your effort to find it and understand it. This includes diligently reading the Word and praying about it.
Even though he did not understand his trials, Job knew that God alone had the answers1
Job’s friends found the wrong source of wisdom, and they failed to test their assumptions. Each of Job’s friends believed that Job could find true wisdom by listening to tradition and his elders. Bildad was the first to offer this advice: “Please inquire of past generations, and consider the things searched out by their fathers.” (Job 8:8). Zophar later pleaded for God to show Job true wisdom: “But if only God would speak, and open His lips against you, and show you the secrets of wisdom! For sound wisdom has two sides.” (Job 11:5-6a). Yet, he later clarified that he was not encouraging Job to pray to find God’s wisdom. Instead, Zophar implored Job to listen to the wisdom of tradition: “4 Do you know this from ancient times, from the establishment of mankind on earth,” (Job 20:4). Eliphaz mocked Job’s belief that God would reveal His will to Job through prayer: “Do you hear the secret discussion of God, and limit wisdom to yourself?” (Job 15:8). Eliphaz also urged Job to listen to his elders: “What wise people have told, and have not concealed from their fathers,” (Job 15:18). Job’s friends found Job offensive for refusing to accept worldly tradition. But their opinions were devoid of any evidence. They agreed that wisdom had a source. But they failed to investigate their assumptions.
Diligently read God’s Word and pray for God’s wisdom. If you wish to avoid making the mistake of Job’s friends, diligently read God’s Word and pray for His wisdom to be revealed to you: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). “For to a person who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, . ..” (Ecc. 2:26). When you pray and submit to God, the Holy Spirit will guide your path and reveal God’s wisdom to you: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13). “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:16). God wants you to seek His guidance through prayer and the Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19). Do you pray and read God’s Word when you need wisdom in your life?
Diligence requires daily prayer and reading the Word. The search for God’s wisdom does not end until you get to heaven. Just as the Jews had to turn every day to God in the wilderness for their mana, you must turn daily to God through prayer and reading the Word to find how His wisdom applies to the changing needs of your life. “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and moan, and He will hear my voice.” (Ps. 55:17). You must also listen and apply the wisdom that God provides: “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, So that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” (Is. 50:4). Are you reading the Word and praying every day so that God can guide you?
Like finding precious metals, wisdom is a gift that requires ongoing effort to apply it. Wisdom has a source that is only available to mankind. Like precious stones buried in a mountain, only mankind has the God-given tools to find and apply His wisdom: “3 Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow. 4 He sinks a shaft away from inhabited areas, forgotten by the foot; they hang and swing, away from people. 5 From the earth comes food, and underneath, it is turned over like fire. 6 Its rocks are the source of sapphires, and its dust contains gold. 7 No bird of prey knows the path, nor has the falcon’s eye caught sight of it. 8 The proud animals have not trodden it, nor has the lion passed over it. 9 He puts his hand on the flint; He overturns the mountains at the base. 10 He carves out channels through the rocks, and his eye sees anything precious. 11 He dams up the streams from flowing, and brings to light what is hidden.” (Job 28:3-11). “The difficulty to the ordinary reader is in not perceiving that the person spoken of in Job 28:3 is man, and not God.” (Ellicott’s Commentary on Job 28) (italics in original).2 Each part of this descriptive poem reveals the long-term process needed to find and apply God’s wisdom.
Finding and applying God’s wisdom requires sustained effort with your God-given gifts. During the Bronze age when Job most likely lived, mankind had developed the ability to dig mine shafts deep into the mountains. Mankind also had developed the ability to bring light into these deep caves. Mankind further developed the ability to use ropes and pulleys to bring miners into pits to extract the most beautiful sapphires and gold (Job 28:3-6). Job drew a comparison to animals to point out that the ingenuity needed to extract precious metals was a gift that God uniquely gave to mankind (Job 28:8). But this God-given ingenuity also required sustained effort to obtain it. During Job’s time, this included the use of hand-held picks to slowly carve out the rocks. The process frequently involved the creation of dams to power wheels. The process also required the creation of candles to bring light to the caverns. A similar process is needed for God’s wisdom. Of all living creatures, God only gave mankind the wisdom to find it and understand its value. God also gave mankind the unique intellect to dig into His Word to mine His hidden treasures. But the process requires sustained long-term effort. Just as a single strike against a mountain with a pick will not reveal its treasures, a single prayer or a single reading of a Bible verse is not likely to reveal God’s full wisdom for you. To fully mine God’s wisdom and apply it to your life requires a lifetime of digging into the Word and prayer. “And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom about everything that has been done under heaven. It is a sorry task with which God has given the sons of mankind to be troubled.” (Ecc. 1:13). To fully illuminate God’s Word and guide your path, you also have the Holy Spirit. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). Are you mining God’s Word every day to apply His wisdom to your life?
Job revealed that mankind needed to diligently search out and apply God’s wisdom3
God wants you to continually seek out His wisdom as your greatest treasure. Like a miner who labors every day to find precious metals, God wants you to continually seek out His wisdom as your greatest treasure: “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.” (1 Chr. 16:11). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). “Seek the LORD so that you may live, . . .” (Amos 5:6a). Are you seeking out His wisdom each day?
Pray for God’s wisdom to light your path. Just as miners brought lights to guide their way in the dark mountain tunnels, God wants you to seek His wisdom to guide you: “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6). “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (Eph. 1:18). Are you praying for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and wisdom? Are you also praying for God’s light for those who are lost in darkness?
Unlike precious metals, wisdom can only be found from God. While human ingenuity can allow mankind to find precious metals buried in the Earth, mankind cannot discover and produce true wisdom unless they seek it through faith in God: “12 But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 13 Mankind does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living. 14 The ocean depth says, ‘It is not in me’; and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’” (Job 28:12-14). Job revealed that the search for precious metals has an important distinction from the search for God’s wisdom: “He seems to say that, though men should explore the deep places of the earth with all the diligence of miners seeking gold and silver, though they should exert all their mental force, as miners use all their muscular vigor, and though they should employ all the machinery within their reach, as men do who pierce through the rocks in search of precious treasure yet it is not within the range of human labor and skill to attain unto wisdom. That can only be found by another and a higher method; it must come to us by revelation from God, for we cannot find it by our own efforts.” (Charles Spurgeon on Job 28).4 God wants you to have the same zeal in your faith as a miner seeking hidden gold.
God’s wisdom cannot be mined from any source besides Him. Job’s friends searched for wisdom through tradition. In so doing, they failed miserably in their effort to help Job. Even Solomon, the wisest man on Earth, proclaimed that even he could not find true wisdom through his own efforts: “I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, ‘I will be wise,’ but wisdom was far from me. What has been is remote and very mysterious. Who can discover it?” (Ecc. 7:23-24). Solomon instead revealed that true wisdom comes from God alone: “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). God also wants you to have the humility to know that your God-given intellect is not a substitute for His wisdom.
With faith, God’s wisdom is revealed through Jesus. Paul stated that God’s wisdom was beyond his ability to find it on his own: “Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Ro. 11:33-34). Yet, Paul revealed that God’s hidden wisdom is made known to us through faith in Jesus Christ: “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and that they would attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:2-3). “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, . . . so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 3:8, 10). If you lack wisdom, are you turning to Jesus in faith to find it?
Share Jesus’ wisdom with others. Jesus is the Word who became flesh (Jo. 1:14). That means that you can share Jesus’ wisdom merely by sharing the Word and encouraging those who hear it to believe. There are many people who are searching for treasures in the wrong places. Many of these people are lost in darkness. Are you sharing the Word as part of Jesus’ Great Commission to light their paths (Matt. 28:16-20)?
The treasure of God’s wisdom is greater than any precious metal found on Earth. While mankind considers the precious metals that it can uncover to be its most valuable resource, Job revealed that the value of God’s wisdom is greater than any precious stone: “15 Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can silver be weighed as its price. 16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx, or sapphire. 17 Gold or glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for articles of pure gold. 18 Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; and the acquisition of wisdom is more valuable than pearls. 19 The topaz of Cush cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold.” (Job 28:15-19). “Job spoke here of how rare wisdom is, making it all the more valuable among men. Indeed, it cannot be purchased for gold and is therefore worth more than all of those precious metals.” (David Guzik on Job 28).5 While most people spend their time pursuing earthly treasure, believers should spend their time pursuing heavenly treasures. A normal person will go to great lengths to protect their precious metals and wealth. Believers should also go to great lengths to guard God’s Word in their hearts as a hidden treasure.
God’s wisdom is worth more than any earthly honor or treasure. As a young king, God tested Solomon to determine his greatest desire. Solomon passed God’s test. Instead of asking for riches or power, Solomon asked for God’s wisdom to rule His people: “7 In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’ 8 Solomon said to God, ‘You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, O Lord God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?’” (2 Chr. 1:7-10; 1 Kgs. 3:4-9). After later turning to a life of covetousness, Solomon lamented that God’s wisdom was greater than any of the wealth that he had accumulated: “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” (Prov. 16:16). “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.” (Prov. 3:13-15). “Accept my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her . . . My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver.” (Prov. 8:10-11, 19). “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” (Prov 23:23). Many believers put the accumulation of wealth before God. Do you desire the riches of God’s wisdom over the amount of your wealth?
Vigilantly guard God’s Word in your heart. Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven, which includes God’s wisdom, is like a hidden treasure in a field that a wise person will do everything possible to acquire and protect: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells everything that he has, and buys that field.” (Matt. 13:44). This includes memorizing God’s Word: “I have treasured Your word in my heart, So that I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). If you fail to guard God’s Word as a hidden treasure, Satan will seek to draw you away from it: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the sky ate it up.” (Lk. 8:5). To protect yourself, are you treating the revelation of God’s wisdom as a hidden treasure by memorizing it and meditating on it?
The wisdom of God can only be learned through God, not from other sources. Because true wisdom only comes from God, mankind cannot hope to find it from other sources: “20 Where then does wisdom come from? And where is this place of understanding? 21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living creature, and concealed from the birds of the sky. 22 Abaddon and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a report of it.’” (Job 28:20-22). Job’s friends could not find it within human tradition. They also could not find it through listening to spirits. In his first speech, Eliphaz stated that a mysterious spirit had given him the inspiration to condemn Job (Job 4:12-21). This mysterious spirit came from Satan. God twice gave Satan permission to test Job (Job 1:12; 2:6). Job’s reference to Abaddon referred to the inability of Satan to offer any wisdom comparable to God: “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.” (Rev. 9:11; Job 26:6; 31:12; Prov. 15:11).
True wisdom comes from God alone. Job previously proclaimed that wisdom comes from God: “Wisdom and might are with Him; advice and understanding belong to Him.” (Job 12:13). God later affirmed to Job that all wisdom does come from Him: “Who has put wisdom in the innermost being, or given understanding to the mind?” (Job 38:36).
You can trust that God’s wisdom is superior to yours. Unlike Job’s friends, you should never boast of your own wisdom: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23-24). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). When you reject the wisdom of God’s will, you commit the sin of believing that your intellect is greater than God’s. This ultimately leads to disaster. “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; . . ..” (Jer. 9:23-24). “There is a way which seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12). Because God knows everything, you can put your trust in Him: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Ps. 37:5). “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Ps. 62:8). “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Is. 12:2). Are you trusting in God’s Word or yourself?
Test the wisdom that you receive to make sure that it is from God. Jeremiah warned that there will be many like Job’s friends who falsely claim to speak for God: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.”’ (Jer. 14:14). Thus, Jesus warns believers to “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15). “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (Matt. 24:11, 24). Thus, it is important to test every person who claims to speak on God’s behalf: “20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Dt. 18:20-22). God allows false prophets to exist to test your heart (Dt. 13:3). His warnings to test all things are repeated in the New Testament. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jo. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:21). Deceiving spirits may also come across as “angels of light” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). When a person offers words of wisdom, do you test them against the Word?
True wisdom and understanding belong to God alone. God’s exclusive role in creating the universe further demonstrated that His wisdom is not shared with any other source: “23 God understands its way, and He knows its place. 24 For He looks to the ends of the earth; He sees everything under the heavens. 25 When He imparted weight to the wind, and assessed the waters by measure, 26 when He made a limit for the rain, and a course for the thunderbolt, 27 then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out.” (Job 28:23-26). “The same God who masters the natural world has the riches of wisdom at his disposal. He has demonstrated His own wisdom and power through the design of the natural world.” (David Guzik on Job 28).6 Job’s point emphasized the exclusivity of God’s wisdom. God did not need Job’s friends to add to or modify the wisdom of the Creator of the universe. But this was advice that Job also failed to heed.
Don’t let tradition govern your actions when it conflicts with God’s Word. When Job’s friends tried to use worldly wisdom, Job stated that their greatest wisdom was in their silence. The moment they tried to speak for God, they offered utterly foolish advice: “Oh that you would be completely silent, and that it would become your wisdom!” (Job 13:5). “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” (Prov. 17:28). It is common for believers to rely upon tradition to add to what is written in God’s Word. There is normally wisdom in the prevailing view of mankind. Yet, the Bible is clear that worldly wisdom is foolish to God. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the sight of God. For it is written: ‘He is the one who catches the wise by their craftiness’;” (1 Cor. 3:19). Jesus therefore warns believers not to choose the traditions of mankind, even when widely accepted, to modify His Word: “‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”’ (Mark 7:6-8; Matt. 15:7-9; Is. 29:13).
Even when the world thinks it foolish, God wants you to rely upon His wisdom. Even if it seems unpopular, God wants you to rely upon His wisdom. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). His wisdom is the truth that will set you free (Jo. 8:32). His wisdom is revealed when you read His Word and pray for guidance (Ps. 119:105; Jo. 14:16, 26). Are you reading the Word and praying for His wisdom?
Mankind cannot question the wisdom of the Creator of the universe. Job also failed to follow the wisdom of the words that he prophetically proclaimed. He previously proclaimed: “Wisdom and might are with Him; advice and understanding belong to Him.” (Job 12:13). Elihu later rebuked Job for failing to head his own words: “But it is a spirit that is in mankind, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.” (Job 32:8). God also later rebuked Job by pointing out that Job could not possibly understand God’s wisdom as the Creator of the universe when deciding whether to allow His righteous servant to suffer: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, . . . Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.” (Job 38:4, 18). Job alleged that God was unfair to Him. Yet, for Job to reach this opinion, he had to make his own understanding equal to God. Job had to learn that he had nothing to offer when it came to God’s perfect wisdom. Having not yet internalized his own words, Job immediately returned in the next chapter to trying to prove his innocence and his belief that God had treated him unfairly. Do you accept that God has a perfect plan for you, even if you don’t understand it (Ro. 8:28)?
God’s wisdom begins by fearing Him. Job concluded his poem by prophetically answering his own dilemma. True wisdom comes from fearing God by hating evil: “28 And to mankind He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:18). “The ‘man’ who had been looking for wisdom inside mountains and who would, if he could, buy it with this world’s wealth now hears the simple but profound truth – wisdom consists in fearing the Lord on the hand and shunning evil on the other.” (Alden, at p. 271). In a pre-incarnate appearance, Jesus also commended Abraham because he also feared God (Gen 22:12). Abraham and Job both became heroes of the faith because they learned to submit to God and fear Him.
Fear the Lord by hating what He calls evil (Prov. 8:13)7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Solomon defined the fear of the Lord as the beginning of knowledge and God’s wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7). “Then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:5). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” (Ps. 111:10).
Job was amongst the greatest people of faith to have ever lived because he feared God. Job is celebrated for his faith (Jam. 5:11). The prophet Ezekiel even ranked Noah, Daniel, and Job as among the three greatest persons of faith to have ever lived (Ezek. 14:13-14). At the beginning of the book, the author identified Job as a man of faith because he feared God by shunning evil: “1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1). God further stated to Satan that He considered Job righteous because Job feared Him by turning away from evil: “8 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’” (Job 1:6-8). Satan then challenged God that Job would not fear Him if He removed Job’s blessings: “9 Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?”’ (Job 1:6-10). The remainder of the book answered Satan’s challenge and proved that Job did fear God.
The fear of the Lord includes submission when the reason for a trial is unknown. After the dialogue between Job and his friends reached an impasse, the book returned here to the book’s theme. The author stressed that true wisdom comes from fearing God by submitting to Him: “[The author] inserts between the dialogue in chapters 3-27 (three rounds corresponding to the three counselors) and the monologue format in chapters 29-41 (three speeches based on the three characters) his own wisdom poem as an apex. Chapter 28 is not the climax that is reserved for the theophany at the end . . . The content of the chapter about the elusiveness of wisdom may be attained only through submission to God. . . .The chapter as the literary apex of the book anticipates the theophany but does so without creating a climax. God alone has the answer or better is the answer to the mystery Job and his friends have sought to fathom.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 974-5) (italics original).
The fear of the Lord is also defined as hating evil. While submission to God is one part of fearing Him, it also contains another component. Solomon was the wisest man alive and the author of most of the proverbs. He knew that covetousness and hoarding wealth was wrong. Why then would he break God’s laws? In short, he rationalized his disobedience. He was able to rationalize his disobedience because he did not fear God. For this reason, he defined fearing God as “hating” evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Prov. 8:13). “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” (Prov. 3:7). “A wise person is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.” (Prov. 14:16). Thus, fearing God does not mean that you fear that He will arbitrarily do something to you. It comes from submitting to Him through obedience and avoiding evil. Are you tolerating evil by disobeying God or embracing any evil things in your life?
Image credit: Job 28 Bible Pictures: Job (bibleencyclopedia.com)↩︎