Job 28:28
And to man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) And unto man he said.—No one can for a moment suppose that this is an historical statement, or is to be treated as being one; but it is nevertheless profoundly and universally true. It is the wisdom of man as man to fear the Lord and to depart from evil; and this is God’s primary revelation to man, which virtually underlies and is involved in all others. When we are told, as we are elsewhere, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, this implies that the fear of the Lord does not supersede, though it may be essential to, any other revelation, or any other development of wisdom, or any other manifestation of it. It is to be observed that the word rendered “the Lord” here is not the four-lettered name Jehovah which was used by Job in Job 12:9, but the other name for the Divine Being (Adonai), which was in later times universally substituted for the name Jehovah by the Jews in reading.

Job 28:28. And — Or, rather, but, unto man — For this is added by way of opposition, to show that man’s wisdom doth not lie in a curious inquiry into, or an exact knowledge of God’s secret counsels, and the ways of his providence, but in things of quite another nature; he said — Unto Adam, in the day when he was created, and in and with him to all his posterity: that is, God spake it partly, and at first inwardly, to the mind of man, in which he wrote this with his own finger; and partly afterward, by the holy patriarchs and prophets, and other teachers whom he sent into the world, to teach men true wisdom; which accordingly they did, not by acquainting the people with the secrets of God’s counsels and providence, but by declaring to them his revealed will, and instructing them in their duty toward God and one another; making it their great and principal, if not only business, to make men wise unto salvation: see Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 29:29. Behold — Which expression denotes the great importance of this doctrine, and man’s backwardness to apprehend, consider, and practise it; and withal, man’s proneness to place his wisdom in vain and curious speculations; the fear of the Lord — True religion in all its branches, including the knowledge and love of God, followed by obedience to his will, and every part of godliness and righteousness: that is wisdom — In that only consists man’s true wisdom; because that, and that only, is his duty, and his safety and happiness, both for this life and for the next; and because this is attainable, whereas the depths of God’s counsels are unknown and unsearchable to man and all created beings. And to depart from evil — From sin, which is called evil eminently, as being the chief evil, and the cause of all other evils. Religion consists of two branches, doing good, and forsaking evil; the former is expressed in the former clause of this verse, and the latter in these words. Is understanding — Is the best kind of knowledge or wisdom to which man can attain in this life. The design of Job, in this close of his discourse, is not only to reprove the boldness of his friends, in prying into God’s secrets, and passing such a rash censure upon him, and upon God’s carriage toward him; but also to vindicate himself from the imputation of hypocrisy, which they fastened upon him, by showing that he had ever esteemed it to be his best wisdom to fear God, and to depart from evil. 28:20-28 There is a two-fold wisdom; one hid in God, which is secret, and belongs not to us; the other made known by him, and revealed to man. One day's events, and one man's affairs, have such reference to, and so hang one upon another, that He only, to whom all is open, and who sees the whole at one view, can rightly judge of every part. But the knowledge of God's revealed will is within our reach, and will do us good. Let man look upon this as his wisdom, To fear the Lord, and to depart from evil. Let him learn that, and he is learned enough. Where is this wisdom to be found? The treasures of it are hid in Christ, revealed by the word, received by faith, through the Holy Ghost. It will not feed pride or vanity, or amuse our vain curiosity. It teaches and encourages sinners to fear the Lord, and to depart from evil, in the exercise of repentance and faith, without desiring to solve all difficulties about the events of this life.And unto man he said - At what time, or how, Job does not say. Prof. Lee supposes that this refers to the instruction which God gave in Paradise to our first parents; but it may rather be supposed to refer to the universal tenor of the divine communications to man, and to all that God had said about the way of true wisdom. The meaning is, that the substance of all that God had said to man was, that true wisdom was to be found in profound veneration of him.

The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom - The word "Lord" here is improperly printed in small capitals, as if the word were יהוה yehovâh. The original word is, however, אדני 'ǎdonāy; and the fact is worthy of notice, because one point of the argument respecting the date of the book turns on the question whether the word Yahweh occurs in it; see the notes at Job 12:9. The fear of the Lord is often represented as true wisdom; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 19:23; Psalm 111:10, et al. The meaning here is, that real wisdom is connected with a proper veneration for God, and with submission to him. We cannot understand his ways. Science cannot conduct us up to a full explanation of his government, nor can the most profound investigations disclose all that we would wish to know about God. In these circumstances, true wisdom is found in humble piety; in reverence for the name and perfections of God; in that veneration which leads us to adore him, and to believe that he is right, though clouds and darkness are round about him. To this conclusion Job, in all his perplexities, comes, and here his mind finds rest.

And to depart from evil is understanding - To forsake every evil way must be wise. In doing that, man knows that he cannot err. He walks safely who abandons sin, and in forsaking every evil way he knows that he cannot but be right. He may be in error when speculating about God, and the reasons of his government; he may be led astray when endeavoring to comprehend his dealings; but there can be no such perplexity in departing from evil. There he knows he is right. There his feet are on a rock. It is better to walk surely there than to involve ourselves in perplexity about profound and inscrutable operations of the divine character and government. It may be added here, also, that he who aims to lead a holy life, who has a virtuous heart, and who seeks to do always what is right, will have a clearer view of the government and truth of God, than the most profound intellect can obtain without a heart of piety; and that without that, all the investigations of the most splendid talents will be practically in vain.

28. Rather, "But unto man," &c. My wisdom is that whereby all things are governed; Thy wisdom is in fearing God and shunning evil, and in feeling assured that My wisdom always acts aright, though thou dost not understand the principle which regulates it; for example, in afflicting the godly (Joh 7:17). The friends, therefore, as not comprehending the Divine Wisdom, should not infer Job's guilt from his sufferings. Here alone in Job the name of God, Adonai, occurs; "Lord" or "master," often applied to Messiah in Old Testament. Appropriately here, in speaking of the Word or Wisdom, by whom the world was made (Pr 8:22-31; Joh 1:3; Ecclesiasticus 24:1-34). And; or rather, but; for this is added by way of opposition, to show that man’s wisdom doth not lie in a curious inquiry into, or in an exact knowledge of, the secret paths of God’s counsel and providence: but in things of another and of a lower nature.

Unto man; unto Adam at first, and in and with him to all his race and posterity.

He said, i.e. God spoke it, partly, and at first inwardly, to the mind of man, in which God wrote this with his own finger, and engraved it as a first principle for his direction; and partly afterwards by the holy patriarchs, and prophets, and other teachers of his church, whom God sent into the world to teach men true wisdom; which accordingly they did, not by acquainting the people with the secrets and intricacies of God’s counsel and providence, but by declaring the revealed will of God, and instructing them in their duty towards God and men, making this their great, if not only, business, to make men wise unto salvation. See Deu 4:6 29:29. Behold; which expression notes the great importance of this doctrine, and withal man’s dulness and backwardness to apprehend and consider it, and man’s proneness to place his wisdom in vain and curious speculations.

The fear of the Lord, i.e. true religion, and the right worship of God, both inward and outward, all which cometh under this name.

That is wisdom; in that only consists man’s true wisdom, because that, and that only, is his duty, and his safety, and happiness, both for this life and for the next; and withal this is attainable, whereas the depths of God’s ways are unknown and unsearchable to human or created capacities. To depart from evil, i.e. from sin, which is called evil eminently, as being the chief, if not the only, evil, and the cause of all other evils, and that which is constantly and immutably evil, whereas afflictions are frequently made good and highly beneficial. Religion consists of two branches, doing good and forsaking evil; the former is expressed in the former clause of this verse, and the latter in these words.

Is understanding; is the best kind of knowledge or wisdom to which man can attain in this life. The same thing is here twice expressed in several phrases. And the design of Job in this close of his discourse, is not only to show the mistake, and reprove the arrogance and boldness, of his friends, in prying into God’s secrets, and passing such a rash censure upon him, and upon God’s ways and carriage towards him; but also to vindicate himself from the imputation of hypocrisy and profaneness, which they fastened upon him, by showing that he had ever esteemed it to be his best wisdom and true interest to fear God, and to depart from evil. And unto man he said,.... What follows; unto Adam, so some render it, as Mr. Broughton; taking what is after delivered to be said to the first man; either by suggesting it to his mind and conscience, and inscribing it on his heart, where the law of God was written, and by which he was directed to fear God and avoid evil; or by the express command he gave him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; thereby instructing him to fear him, and abstain from evil; which, had he done, would have been his highest wisdom, and a proof of it, and of his understanding; but it seems best to understand it in general of the sons of men, as the Targum and others: this is the substance of what God says in his works, which are done that men might fear him, and stand in awe of him, Psalm 33:6; and in his word, and by his prophets, and their ministry in all ages; whereby it appears, that this is the whole of men, to fear God and keep his commandments, Ecclesiastes 12:14. Some render the words, "but unto men he said" (p); though he knows his own wisdom, and the way and place of it, the course it steers in Providence, and has seen, observed, and shown it; has prepared, disposed, ordered, and searched it out, and perfectly knows it, and the causes and reasons of it; yet he has not thought fit to make these known clearly to men; who therefore must be content they should be secrets to them, and attend to the wisdom which is revealed, and is of the greatest importance and consequence to them; namely, what follows,

behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; by which is meant, not a fear of his wrath, and of eternal damnation, but an affection for God with reverence of him; such as is peculiar to children, a godly filial fear; and which is consistent with strong faith, great joy, and true courage; is opposite to pride and self-confidence, and takes in the whole worship of God both external and internal: and it is called the fear of the Lord, because he is the object and author of it; it is not from nature, or in men naturally, but comes from the grace of God, and is a gift of it; it is wrought in conversion, and is increased by the discoveries of the love and goodness of and is that wisdom which God makes his people know, in the hidden part; no man is wise till he fears the Lord; and when that grace is put into him, he begins to be wise, for this is the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7; and is a principal part of it, and very profitable to men, both for this life, and for that to come; and therefore it is their highest wisdom to be concerned for it: the heart of God is towards them that fear him; his eye is upon them; his hand communicates to them; his secret with them; he sets a guard of angels about them; causes the sun of righteousness to arise on them, and he has laid up much for them, for time and eternity:

and to depart from evil is understanding; this is the fruit and effect of the fear of the Lord, through which men have an hatred of sin, and an aversion to it, and are careful not to commit it; through it they depart from evil, and abstain from all appearance of it; see Proverbs 8:13; and it puts them upon a regard to God and his commandments, and to all that is good, and which is an evidence and proof of a good understanding, Psalm 111:10. Now Job suggests by this, that his friends should be solicitous about, and satisfied with, such wisdom and understanding as this, and not pry into the secrets of Providence, and the wisdom of that, which are not to be found out; and so cease to charge him with being an hypocrite, and a wicked man, because of the dealings of God with him, which were not to be accounted for: and by this Job appears to be a good man, and had an experience what he here expresses; that he was one that feared God and eschewed evil, according to the testimony given of him, Job 1:1; and this he gave proof of his former life and conversation; of which an account is given in the following chapter.

(p) , Sept. "dixit autem", Tigurine version, Beza; "dixit vero", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And unto man he said, Behold, the {o} fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

(o) He declares that man has as much of this heavenly wisdom as he shows by fearing God and departing from evil.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. and unto man he said] This ordinance in regard to man is also considered contemporary with creation; then God saw and searched out Wisdom, and at the same time, as suitable to man’s place, He ordained for him his Wisdom, which is the fear of the Lord and to depart from evil.

The Wisdom spoken of throughout the chapter is a possession of God alone, it is His who is Creator; man has a wisdom also, which is that of the creature, to fear the Lord. There is not, however, in all the chapter the shadow of a complaint; there is no turning of the spirit against God (ch. Job 15:13) under the feeling that the “envious” Creator has reserved the higher insight for Himself, and only bound on mankind the heavy burden of “fearing” Him. Such a thought is wholly at variance with the spirit of the passage. The speaker is calm and reflective and, to all appearance, satisfied that things are as we see them because they could not be otherwise.

Wisdom is the idea or principle lying under the order of the Universe, the world plan. This order of the world, however, is not a mere physical one, an order of “nature.” Such an idea as “nature” was foreign to the Hebrew mind. Equally unknown was the idea of a mere physical constitution of things. The constitution of the world was moral, and hence the life and destinies of men, no less than the phenomena of the world, were comprised under Wisdom.

When it is said that Wisdom has no place where it can be found and can be purchased for no price, the language is based upon the conception of Wisdom as an objective thing; but the meaning is that intellectual apprehension of the scope of the phenomena of the world and the events of man’s life is beyond the reach of man; such knowledge belongs only to God, who made the world.

To inculcate this truth and the other truth related to it, that man’s wisdom is the fear of the Lord, is the object of the chapter.

It seems an entire misapprehension of the meaning of the passage when it is regarded as teaching that “Wisdom, unlike earthly treasures, is nowhere to be found in the visible, sensible world”; that “not in the world of sense, but only from and with God can it be acquired, through the fear of God.” The distinctions introduced here are modern. The passage teaches that Wisdom cannot be found either in the visible or the invisible world (Job 28:22), neither by man nor by any creature (Job 28:21). It is a thing possible to God alone; and man does not attain to it through the fear of the Lord,—the fear of the Lord is the substitute ordained for man instead of it; for as the absolute Wisdom belongs to the Creator, so the fear of the Lord is the wisdom that befits the creature.

The connexion between chapters 27 and 28 is difficult to perceive. Very many suggestions have been offered, of which two may be noticed.

Chap. 27 ends with a dark picture of the fate of the wicked at “the hand of God,” and ch. 28 begins, “for there is a vein for the silver … but where shall Wisdom be found?” As Job in ch. 27 is understood to be modifying his former statements he is supposed by some to speak thus: “I concede that such (ch. Job 27:13-23) is the fate of the wicked [but all riddles of Providence are not thereby solved, for example the afflictions of just men like myself, nor can they be solved] for, though men may attain to much by their skill and insight, Wisdom is beyond them.” This makes the whole of ch. 28, introduced by for, the support of a thought which is not expressed nor even hinted at, but merely interpolated from the mind of the commentator.

Others, assuming Job to be the speaker, connect thus: “such (ch. Job 27:13-23) is the disastrous fate of the wicked [and it must be so] for Wisdom [which is the way to prosperity in life] can be reached only through the fear of the Lord [which such men have rejected”]. Apart from the strong interpolations needful to help out the thought, the extraordinary circumlocution, in the shape of the long disquisition on Wisdom, which the speaker is supposed to employ in order to express his idea, marks this attempt to construct a bridge between the two chapters as desperate. Besides, if the remarks made above in regard to the general meaning of ch. 28 have any worth, the attempt is based upon a reading of the sense of that chapter which is entirely wrong.

See further on these two chapters in the Introduction.Verse 28. - And unto man he said. Not in so many words, not by any written or spoken revelation; but by the nature which he implanted in man, and especially by the conscience wherewith he endowed him. Man feels in his heart of hearts that whatever wisdom may be in the abstract, his true wisdom is "the fear of God," his true understanding "to depart from evil." No amount of intelligence, no amount of cleverness, or of information, or of knowledge, or of worldly or scientific wisdom, will be of any avail to him, unless he starts with this "beginning" (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7), and builds on this foundation. This foundation, at any rate, Job had. since God bore him witness that he had it (Job 2:3).



21 It is veiled from the eyes of all living,

And concealed from the fowls of heaven.

22 Destruction and death say:

With our ears we heard a report of it. -

23 Elohim understandeth the way to it,

And He - He knoweth its place.

24 For He looketh to the ends of the earth,

Under the whole heaven He seeth.

No living created being (כּל־חי, as Job 12:10; Job 30:23) is able to answer the question; even the birds that fly aloft, that have keener and farther-seeing eyes than man, can give us no information concerning wisdom; and the world at least proclaims its existence in a rich variety of its operations, but in the realm of Abaddon and of death below (comp. the combination שׁאול ואבדון, Proverbs 15:11, ᾅδου καὶ τοῦ θανάτου, Revelation 1:18) it is known only by an indistinct hearsay, and from confused impressions. Therefore: no creature, whether in the realm of the living or the dead, can help us to get wisdom. There is but One who possesses a perfect knowledge concerning wisdom, namely Elohim, whose gave extends to the ends of the earth, and who sees under the whole heaven, i.e., is everywhere present (תּחת, definition of place, not equivalent to אשׁר תּחת; comp. on Job 24:9), who therefore, after the removal of everything earthly (sub-celestial), alone remains. And why should He with His knowledge, which embraces everything, not also know the way and place of wisdom? Wisdom is indeed the ideal, according to which He has created the world.

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