I recently became re-acquainted with Job 28, which is an astoundingly eloquent treatise on wisdom, and worth memorizing. I encourage you to look it up now and read it for yourself. Several things are noteworthy in this passage.
First, it appears that in addition to his real estate holdings and enormous flocks and herds, Job also has some mining interests—or, in the very least, some interest in mining. The detailed description of mining technology, even in this most ancient of all canonical books, is too accurate to assume otherwise.
Second, at first glance it doesn’t seem like this chapter fits here. Two long speeches follow it, one by Job and one by Elihu. But as Daniel Estes suggests in his HANDBOOK ON THE WISDOM BOOKS AND PSALMS* (Baker Academic, 2005) this chapter fits beautifully into the theological and literary scheme of the book. It provides a perfect segue into the wrap-up by Jehovah Himself. To me, it is as if Job is saying to his friends, “Okay, I’ve listened to you guys for quite a while now, and though some of what you’ve said might be true, much of it has been nothing more than sanctimonious blather. We need to recognize that we don’t have the answers—that true wisdom is known only to God—and draw this conference to a close.”
In the final analysis, the best thing Job’s friends had to offer him was home delivery. Even God condemns them:
After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (job 42.7,8)
Claims to and offers of wisdom abound in our world, and it does me good to read this chapter and be reminded that it cannot be found within myself or anyone else’s self but Himself. David told Solomon, who in turn tells me in Pro 4.5, to “get wisdom!” James, using a different analogy from Job, warns me that wisdom has only two places of origin: the character of God or the pit of hell (Jam 3.13-18) and that if my plan of action puts my own interests first at any level, the wisdom I am employing is hellish. This is a good but painful measuring device for my decision making. (From Carta del norte, 11 May 2009)