From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air. Destruction and Death say, “We have heard a report about it with our ears.” God understands its way, and He knows its place. (Job 28:20–28—NKJV)

There are many brilliant men and women in this world. They are brilliant about many things, skillful in arts, sciences, and learned in weighty matters, mighty among men. Equally true is the fact that most men and women are poorly informed with the wisdom to clarify practical matters of the moment and see their way clear to discern what to do.

It is this common problem with friends that Job faced, as his “advisors” came to comfort him in his trials. The trials were not because of his doing. In fact, Job had walked in integrity all his days and bore concern for the integrity of his family. God had blessed him for his uprightness—and then along came Satan. This adversary of all that is good stood before God and issued a challenge to God—afflict Job and he will curse God.

God allowed bitter days to befall Job—the loss of his wealth, the loss of his children, and then the loss of his health. In his extreme discomfort, along came his friends who reasoned that God would not allow this to happen to a man upright before God; there must be some unconfessed sin in Job’s life. Instead of comfort they poured salt in his wounds, so to speak.

The book of Job is largely a series of discourses between Job and his friends. They accuse; Job extols. By the time we get to chapters 26 through 31, Job is delivering his last major statement of his innocence and God’s Excellence. In chapter 26 he declares that God is great. Chapter 27 is focused on the fact that God is just. In our chapter, his statement is that God is wise. These are the comforts that occupy his mind and the comforts for which he longs, but he has not heard any of this from his erstwhile friends.

Chapter 28 is a wide panorama of all the wealth of creation. Job ranges from the wealth of the mineral resources in mining from which the people on earth gain their riches (1–4) to the wealth of the land in producing food (5). Job speaks of the ingenuity of men who can dig deep for riches where no animal has gone, use tools, fire, uproot mountains, move streams and reveal things hidden from sight (5–11)—all this brilliance and intellect from the ancient age just after Noah’s flood (cavemen, indeed!).

In the midst of all this brilliance, smarts, and incredible feats there is not the practical wisdom that provides the happiness of a satisfactory answer to the pressing and real problems that plague his heart. All mankind is subject to the same problems and experiences—the same to this very day. Job does us a great service by asking his next question found in verse 12 and also in verse 20: “But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?” He basically states that all the wise ingenuity that is able to wrench from the earth its resources cannot collectively purchase an ounce of timeless wisdom. In fact, as our text above states, it is not naturally known among the living and only the hard fact and reality of death and the grave hints that there must be some wisdom that transcends all the volumes of wisdom of the exploits of men. God alone is the Author of timeless wisdom. It is exclusively with Him.

The key to gaining a share in such timeless wisdom rests with God, and He has graciously revealed it to men in the words of Job 28:27–28: “Then He saw wisdom and declared it; He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out. And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’” The same thought is echoed throughout Scripture. (See Job 1:1, 2:3; Psalm 111:10, and Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10, among others.) Real wisdom does not often belong to those with “smarts.” It is granted to the humble of heart.

In the midst of your daily troubles, have you been living wisely, applying timeless wisdom? It is a wisdom that only comes at the feet of the Master. There is no other place to gain such an education. Have you been wise to reverently obey the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you demonstrated understanding in shunning evil? Trust and obey.