|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:12-19 Job here speaks of wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost which cannot be bought with money. Let that which is most precious in God's account, be so in ours. Job asks after it as one that truly desired to find it, and despaired of finding it any where but in God; any way but by Divine revelation.
Verses 12-28. - Here we come on an abrupt change. From human ingenuity and contrivance Job turns to the consideration of "wisdom" - that wisdom which has been defined as "the reason which deals with principles "(Canon Cook). "Where," he asks, "is this to be found?" It is a wholly different thing from cleverness and ingenuity. It inquires into causes and origins, into the ends and purposes of things; it seeks to solve the riddle of the universe. Perfect wisdom can, of course, only dwell with God (ver. 23). Man must be content with something much below this. With him "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding" (ver. 28). Verse 12. - But where shall wisdom be found? "Wisdom is the principal thing," says Solomon (Proverbs 4:7); and again, "It is better to get wisdom than gold" (Proverbs 16:16). But where is it to be found? Job's three friends thought that it dwelt with them (Job 12:2); but this was a mistake, since God reproaches them with their "folly" (Job 42:8). Job does not claim to possess it (Job 26:3); he only desires it. It is his deep conviction that it is only possessed, in the true sense of the word, by God. And where is the place of understanding? It is not quite clear whether Job intends to make any distinction between "wisdom" (חכמה) and "understanding" (בינה). Canon Cook suggests that "wisdom" is "the reason which deals with principles," and "understanding" "the faculty which discerns and appreciates their application." But refined distinctions of this kind are scarcely suitable to the age of Job. Dean Plumptre, in his comment on Proverbs ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 529), accepts the distinction implied in the Septuagint translation of that book, which renders חכמה by σοφία' and בינה by φρόνησις. This is a much simpler and more easily understood distinction, being that which separates between scientific know. ledge and the practical intelligence which directs conduct. But it may be doubted whether Job does not use the two words as synonyms.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But where shall wisdom be found?.... Though there is a vein for silver, a track where that lies, and is to be come at, and a place where gold is found, and where it may be refined, and parts of the earth, out of which brass and iron, and bread corn, may be produced, and even from whence may be fetched brilliant gems and precious stones; which, though attended with many difficulties, in cutting through rocks, draining rivers, and restraining the waters, yet are got over through the art and skill, industry, diligence, and labour of men; so that their eyes behold every precious thing their minds desire, and they bring to light what have been laid up in darkness from the creation of the world: but, though these things may be found by search and labour, the question is, what vein is there for wisdom, or where is the place in which that may be found? by which may be meant the wisdom of God, as a perfection in him; which, though displayed in some measure in the works of creation and providence, yet not completely, and especially in his dealings with the children of men; in all which there is undoubtedly the wisdom of God; yet it is such a depth as is unfathomable by mortals: such are God's dealings with men in a way of distinguishing grace and mercy, as that he should take no notice of any of the whole body of apostate angels that sinned against him, but doomed them all to destruction; and yet there should be a philanthropy, a love of men in him, and such as to give his Son to die for them, and redeem them from ruin and destruction; also that he should make a difference among men, and ordain some to eternal life, while others are foreordained to condemnation and death, when all were in the same situation, condition, and circumstances; and such likewise were his dealings with the Israelites, and other nations of the world, part of which Job was not a stranger to; as his choosing them to be his peculiar people before all others, and bestowing peculiar favours upon them, not because they were more in quantity, or better in quality, but because this was his pleasure; when he suffered all other nations to walk in their own ways, for many hundreds of years, and winked at the times of their ignorance; and yet, after a long course of time, rejected the people of the Jews, and wrote a "loammi", or "not my people", Hosea 1:9, on them, and took out from the Gentiles a people for his name; so that they, who were not a people, were called the people of God, and the Jews were broken off, and the Gentiles grafted in; and when the fulness of them is brought in, there will be a turn again, and then all Israel shall be saved: upon all which the apostle breaks out in this exclamation, which may serve as a comment on this text, "oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33; particularly here may be meant the wisdom of God in his dealings with men, good and bad, in afflicting good men, and in suffering the wicked to prosper: this is a fact Job had fully proved, and it cannot be denied; and there is, no doubt, much of the wisdom of God herein; he does all things well and wisely; as he cannot do an unjust thing, so neither an unwise one; though his wisdom is unsearchable, his judgments are a great deep, and not to be fathomed by men, not only not by weak men and wicked men, but even by the wisest and best of men, as Asaph and Jeremiah: and this being the case, Job suggests to his friends, that the dealings of God with him, and the reasons of them, and his wisdom in them, were not to be searched out by them; and that they should forbear imputing his afflictions to hypocrisy, or to secret sins indulged by him; but to leave all, without making rash censures and wrong constructions, until the time should come when the judgments of God should be made manifest; such wisdom and knowledge, as to account for God's different dealings with men, being too wonderful, too high to attain unto, and quite out of their reach. The Jews, as particularly Jarchi, understand by wisdom the law, not to be found in the depth or in the sea; and illustrate the words by Deuteronomy 30:11; but it is much better to interpret it of the Gospel, to which the apostle applies the above passage, Romans 10:6; in which there is a glorious display of the wisdom of God, in all the truths and doctrines of it; that it is a mysterious wisdom, hidden wisdom, hid from the wise and prudent, and not to be attained unto by the light nature and carnal reason; it contains the deep things of God, which the Spirit of God alone searches and reveals; but why may not Christ, the Wisdom of God, be thought of? since many things are said in the following verses, as are of Wisdom, as a divine Person, in Proverbs 8:13; in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid, and on whom the spirit of wisdom and counsel rests, as Mediator; and who, as a divine Person, is the only wise God, and our Saviour: and to this question in Job's time, "where shall wisdom be found?" the only answer to be given is, that he, the Logos, or Wisdom, was with God, as one brought up with him, rejoicing always before him and that he lay in his bosom, Proverbs 8:30; and to the same question in our time it must be returned, that he is in heaven at the right hand of God; but that there is no coming at the true knowledge of him by the light of nature, or by the law of Moses, but by means of the Gospel, and through the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. The first of these senses, respecting the wisdom of God in his different dealings with men, good and bad, is most generally given into by interpreters, and seems to suit well with the preceding dispute between Job and his friends: but if we look forward in the chapter, we shall find this question repeated, and an answer given to it as in the negative, so in the affirmative, that God knows the place of it; that he has searched it out, seen it, and declared it; and it is this, "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding", Job 28:20; by which it should seem, that this wisdom is supernatural wisdom, or understanding in men; which lies in the fear of God, and the effects of it; in a spiritual knowledge of God and Christ, or of God in Christ; and in that godliness which is profitable in all things; and in that wisdom which comes from above, and is opposed to that which is earthly, sensual, and devilish, and is not to be found in carnal hearts, nor its worth known by carnal men, nor to be obtained by any thing in nature ever so valuable, but is the gift of God, the wisdom he makes men to know, in the hidden part, Psalm 51:6;
and where is the place of understanding? to attain to the understanding of the mysteries of Providence, or of Christ, or of the Gospel; or to have a spiritual understanding of divine things, and experience of them, which only is the gift of God, 1 John 5:20; for, by wisdom and understanding are meant one and the same, as they often are, whether understood as a thing or person; see Proverbs 1:2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. Can man discover the Divine Wisdom by which the world is governed, as he can the treasures hidden in the earth? Certainly not. Divine Wisdom is conceived as a person (Job 28:12-27) distinct from God (Job 28:23; also in Pr 8:23, 27). The Almighty Word, Jesus Christ, we know now, is that Wisdom. The order of the world was originated and is maintained by the breathing forth (Spirit) of Wisdom, unfathomable and unpurchasable by man. In Job 28:28, the only aspect of it, which relates to, and may be understood by, man, is stated.
understanding—insight into the plan of the divine government.
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