The list for developing wisdom might possibly include reading, encountering new experiences, extended education, befriending wise people, and even travel. There is a common notion that wisdom can be sourced through people or the world around us. Such a quest echoes Job’s words, “Where can wisdom be found?”
“But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.”
If Job is right, we may see elements of wisdom in the writings of the wise, gain increased perspective from a variety of experiences, people, cultures and study, but wisdom will not be found in the world around us. What is more, Job believes we underestimate its core value.
For What It’s Worth
The preceding verses of Job 28 explain in detail the depths people go to reveal earth’s “treasures” of precious metals and gems. In the darkest recesses,
“people assault the flinty rock with their hands…”
I’ve never been a miner searching for gold or diamonds, but I have had my share of swinging a hammer to chisel against “flinty rock”. In one of my not-so-wise moments, I decided to make a flagstone path between one farm house and another in our yard.
My Dad showed me the proper tools and technique. Now it was up to me to search the rock piles on our farm and beyond to find the right rock, the flinty rock, that would yield to the not-so-subtle persuasion of hammer and chisel. It took persisting through summer’s heat, enduring back-breaking labour to split, haul and set each stone. All for flinty rock!
I did it though — for the sake of a path!
This is an unworthy comparison to the efforts taken to uncover “precious” metals and gemstones. Am I willing to make such effort for wisdom? Will I seek wisdom with similar determination?
If I value wisdom, I will!
Why the Effort?
“The beginning of wisdom is this:
Though it cost all you have,
If I don’t correctly assess the true value and benefit of wisdom, I will give up before finding it. Why should one make the effort?
Here’s a few valid reasons found within Proverbs 4 and 8 alone. Wisdom will
- protect and watch over you
- exalt and honour you, giving you a garland and a crown
- provide “riches and honour, enduring wealth and prosperity“
- give a “rich inheritance to those who love” it
Solomon says the benefits of wisdom
“..are better than gold, even the purest gold,
my wages better than sterling silver.”
Where Can Wisdom be Found?
Since Job’s companions were lacking in wisdom, Job answers his own question,
“God understand the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells.”
“…The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom…”
Job throws in a bonus giving us both the “where” and the “how” of wisdom’s source. Is there an easier way? Another way? Any other way? Isn’t “fear of the Lord” outdated — archaic?
Solomon, the wisest man that lived, emphatically confirms,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
James acknowledges there is, in fact, a kind of “wisdom” to be gained now from the things around us. He warns that such “earthly wisdom” will eventually produce the unexpected results of bitter envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice. We don’t have to look far to see ample evidence of this principle at work.
“Such “wisdom”…is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”
He, too, points our vision upward to the ultimate Source of all wisdom.
This is wisdom worth taking hammer and chisel too, worth pursuing with all diligence and effort, worth seeking and holding on to at all cost. Don’t you agree?
But How do You Gain Wisdom?
Paul draws us to a centrality that neither Job nor Solomon had the privilege of experiencing. In writing to the Christians at Colossae, Paul says,
“The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Paul persistently laboured so that everyone might know Jesus Christ, because in Him
“…are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Splitting flinty rock won’t expose the greatest treasure available. Wisdom is discovered, granted and given to all those who are willing to pursue the vastness, beauty, magnificence and wisdom within the invisible God, made visible through Christ. Through a vibrant relationship with Wisdom, and here alone, does one become wise.
The people who now walk that little garden path will never know the hours of labour it took to transform flinty rock into usefulness. Thousands of steps have skipped, jumped and hopped along that little winding trail.
In the same way, as one looks to only earthly sources for wisdom, one is tempted to skip, jump and hop from one good read, piece of advice, speaker, preacher and scholar to another without truly gaining the depth of wisdom and understanding available.
Fortunately, many people seek wisdom; unfortunately most people search in an array of earthly and psychic realms.
Here is simple and sure advice from James,
“If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.”
Let us confidently and boldly ask for wisdom to saturate our lives, resting in His Presence, seeking His face, knowing Him more, and somehow moment by moment becoming more like Him in wisdom.