Job 28
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Amidst the darkness of suffering, and the deep sense of the mysteries of life, inexplicable by human wisdom, Job rises to the contemplation of that Divine wisdom which has founded all things, which knows all things, and in the reverent acknowledgment of which man may find for himself the true path both of wisdom and of power. Already the spirit of Job, purified by long suffering and experience, is rising into that presence where there is light and no darkness at all; and from this height of calm contemplation is fitted to become the teacher of his teachers, the "instructor of many."

I. TRUE WISDOM TO BE FOUND NOWHERE ON EARTH. (Vers. 1-11.) To illustrate this, we are pointed, in a fine description, to the art of mining, by which man lays open the costly treasures of the earth (Deuteronomy 8:9), but cannot gain possession of this highest and best treasure of all. Gold, silver, iron, and copper are dug out of the bowels of the earth, and melted from their ores; the miner's lamp dispels the darkness, as in every direction he searches for the "ore of darkness and deadly night." It is a picture of the eager, industrious, untiring toil with which men in all ages in the mines of Egypt, of Palestine, of the old and the new worlds, have sought to gather and to lay up treasures on earth for themselves. There is often even a frenzy, a reckless disregard of health and of life, in this passionate pursuit. With what eagerness should we rather pursue the quest of the heavenly treasures, the inward blessings which make men truly rich and happy (Matthew 16:26)! The description proceeds. The shaft (ver. 4) is broken away from those who dwell above; the miners plunge deeply into the earth, further and further from the habitations of men, so that they are forgotten by the step of every one who walks above. They are depicted as hanging far from mortals by ropes on the perilous descent of the shaft in their way to obtain the ore (Pliny, 'Hist. Nat.' 33:4. 21). Above, upon the bright earth, the bread-corn is growing, while belong. men are stirring, and rummaging in its bowels, using sometimes the disturbing and destructive force of fire (ver. 5). Precious stones as well as metals, sapphires as well as golden ore, fall a prize to the diligent miner (ver. 6). Then, to heighten the description, the inaccessibility of these subterranean ways is depicted. The all-roaming birds and beasts of prey have not discovered them (ver. 8). But undaunted man lays his hand on the flint, uproots the mountains, and bursts open paths through the rocks, and the fire of eager desire glitters in his eye as it falls on each precious thing. He toils to keep the water out of his shafts, by which they are so readily overflowed and spoiled; and thus he brings the hidden treasures to light (ver. 11). Such are the splendid capabilities of man - the courage, the energy, the defiance of danger - called out by his desires. His reward comes; but does it correspond to his exertions? Having passed the best of his days in these severe toils and anxieties and dangers, he thinks to sit down and solace his age with the acquisitions of his younger and more daring yea, s; but does the enjoyment of the poor remainder of life balance these struggles which perhaps brought age upon him before his time, and cut him off from pleasure in the proper days of pleasure, and from the youthful satisfactions that were then denied? "I am this day fourscore years old, and can I yet taste what I eat and what I drink?" (2 Samuel 19:35). "Whoever lives to Parzillai's years shall not be able, with all Barzillai's wealth and greatness, to procure himself a quicker and better relish of what shall be set before him than Barzillai had" (South).

II. WISDOM NO OUTWARD GOOD, AND BY NO OUTWARD MEANS TO BE FOUND. (Vers. 12-22.) Practical wisdom, the principle of right conduct, and theoretical wisdom, or insight, - where in all the wide world shall they be found (ver. 12)? None knows the purchase-price, nor the market for wisdom in all the wide land of the living. "Put money in thy purse" is the one maxim which applies in everything but this. "Money answereth all things;" but there are exceptions, and this is one. Gold and silver have no more power than stones and clods in this spiritual commerce. Cross the seas; visit the great cities; enter the churches; study at the schools; see and hear all; yet still the aching heart will cry, "Where is wisdom to be found? and what is its price?" All the gold and jewels of the Indies cannot buy it. Its worth is incomparable. Weight nor measure can be applied to it; it has no place in the business and exchange of the world (vers. 13-19). Again, then, and again the question recurs, "Whence comes wisdom? where is the place of understanding?" Science cannot answer, with all her keenness of vision and wealth of knowledge; no brightest eagle-eye has searched out its locale. Neither the living nor the kingdom of the dead can bring us news of its site (vers. 20-22). It must, then, be immaterial. And being real, it must be sought for and found by that which is real and spiritual in ourselves. The things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor imagination conceived, God reveals to the spirit. We must be conscious of a spiritual life and of spiritual needs; of a destiny for heavenly as well as earthly things; we must yield to the spiritual impulse, and labor for the satisfaction of the spiritual hunger as well as for the bread that perisheth, if this great question is ever for us to be answered.


1. The question answered. God knows the way to wisdom, for he knows its seat and place. (Ver. 23.) He is himself the All-wise One. His wisdom is seen in the marvellous construction and arrangement of the natural world. He regulates the winds and the waters (Isaiah 40:12), the rain, the lightning, and the thunder (vers. 24-26). And his absolute wisdom is the rule for the inward life of man, the still more wonderful world of the spiritual life. In the creation as a whole he announces typically his eternal will to all rational creatures (ver. 27).

2. The Divine declaration. (Ver. 28, "The fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.") God would not keep his wisdom altogether secret. He reveals, as well as is, wisdom. This is the original eternal command, the law that "is not of yesterday," and which has never been unknown in any generation of mankind. LESSONS.

1. The eternal wealth of God's nature. He needed no model or copy from which to frame his world. "He spake, and it was done; commanded, and it stood fast ' (ver. 27).

2. There is a wisdom which is an example and end, and a wisdom which is a shadow and means. The former is in God, the latter from God in us. So are we "partakers of the Divine nature" in reflection from him, union with him, and enjoyment of him (2 Peter 1:4).

3. Wisdom is the nature of God (Proverbs 8:25, sqq.), uncreated, essential; with us it is an acquisition, a derivation.

4. True wisdom for us depends on the living, moral communion of the heart with God. Without this it is vain to seek to know him. An Eastern proverb says, "He who would learn the secrets of the mighty, must diligently keep watch at his doors." Blessed they who thus wait continually at God's doors l

5. True wisdom is not to be obtained without its price. It must be wrought for by the endeavour of a holy and pious life. The departing from evil, the mortification of sin, the weeding out of vices, lays out work enough for us in this life, and makes the toils of man for perishable good seem small in comparison. "But the end is noble, and the reward is great."

6. The energy of man in the pursuit of earthly good should be a constant reminder to us of the need for like zeal in the pursuit of the eternal good (Matthew 6:19, sqq.; 1 Timothy 6.; James 5.). - J.

With singular fulness Job describes the early methods of mining, and the knowledge man had already gained of the hidden treasures of the earth, and the power he could wield over them. In this recognition of the power of man, and of his deep insight into the nature and constitution of the earth, and its many treasures and processes, he prepares the way for a setting forth of the limits beyond which man cannot go. With all his searching he finds not out the path of "wisdom," and with all his getting he fails to get "understanding." And this further prepares for a setting forth of the true sources of wisdom and the place of understanding. The path of true wisdom does not lie in those dark recesses of the earth where the vein of the silver lies hidden. It is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's keen eye hath not seen, and over which the beasts of prey have not trodden; nor hath the fierce lion passed by it. God alone miderstandeth the way thereof, and he alone knoweth its path. The plain inference, then, is - Man must ask wisdom of God.

I. THE ERROR OF SUPPOSING THAT A KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROCESSES OF NATURE GIVES A TRUE AND PERFECT WISDOM. In all these man may be deeply learned, and yet there be a path hidden from him. The danger of this day is a supposing that science truly so called is a sufficient knowledge for man. An accurate acquaintance with "the laws of nature" still leaves man ignorant of many necessary truths. For the right use of material substances, a knowledge of those substances and the laws of their combination is necessary; and for the safety of the animal life, a knowledge of its structure and processes - the laws of animal life - is equally needful. But the total idea of the human life is not reached by these. Fie who is capable of moral and spiritual acts has a moral and spiritual nature; and he has need of the knowledge of the laws of the moral government under which he is placed, and of the spiritual nature with which he is endowed.

II. THE LOWLY SEARCHING FOE THIS HIDDEN WISDOM WILL LEAD MEN TO A CONVICTION OF THEIR INABILITY TO ARRIVE AT A PERFECT ACQUAINTANCE WITH IT. It is hid from the eyes of all living. Very humbling is this to the proud heart of him who has obviously a supreme position amidst the works of God - who is above all creatures, subduing them to his authority; and above "nature," compelling it to be subservient to his wish. To know that he knows not, and to know that by searching he cannot find out the knowledge he desires, brings down his high looks. Here he must sit in the seat of the scholar; here, confessing his ignorance, ask.

III. THE TRUE SEARCHER, BAFFLED IN HIS MANY EFFORTS, TURNS AT LAST TO GOD, AND FINDS THE SOURCE OF WISDOM IN HIM; and learns that the fear of the Lord is the possession of the true wisdom, and the careful keeping of the path of righteousness the true understanding. That is to say, the highest wisdom is a moral state, and the truest understanding a religious obedience. From how many is this "hidden," and how unwilling are the ignorant to ask, and the proud to acknowledge their need! While he who consciously lacks this highest wisdom, and asks of God, proves that he giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not any for asking. - R.G.

This passage is justly famous for its graphic description of ancient mining. It gives us a picture of the miner's toil and peril, his industry, his skill, and his adventure. Let us see what lessons may be learnt from the miner and his craft.

I. GOD HAS LAID UP GREAT RICHES FOR MAN. People talk foolishly about exhausting the mines. Particular mines may come to an end, and certain lodes may be worked out. But the earth is not one mine or one English county. No one can calculate what vast stores of metal lie under the surface of the ground. The great treasury has scarcely been touched; ages upon ages will not suffice to ransack its stores. When we learn about Australia, Asia Minor, South America, etc., we discover that there is still boundless wealth under the soil. Thus God has made ample provision for the wants of his children.

II. THESE RICHES ARE HIDDEN BENEATH THE EARTH. Men must sink shafts and blast racks. God gives us great possessions, but we must put forth energy in acquiring them. Thus Israel had to fight for Canaan. Wisdom is got through toil and effort. Spiritual wealth is won at the cost of spiritual conflict. Though the chief conflict was Christ's, and though the best treasures are freely given, we must seek if we would find (Matthew 7:7).

III. THE MINER'S WORK IS TOILSOME. Few men have so disagreeable or hard a task. In dark subterranean regions, often breathing a close, unwholesome atmosphere, suffer'-ing from tremendous heat, labouring with axe and shovel, the miner has no idle lot. He may be forgotten by those who tread the greensward over his head. But we all profit by his industry. It is only right that his brave and arduous work should be generously recognized. In our happy homes and beautiful churches we should do wall to think of the miner, and pray for him just as we pray for "those in peril on the sea."

IV. INGENUITY AND ENTERPRISE CHARACTERIZE THE WORK OF THE MINER. What thought and effort and daring are put into mining! Surely this is nobler work than the killing which all the world honours in the soldier? We can understand why God has hidden the precious metals in the bowels of the earth, when we see what manly traits are evolved in the work of obtaining them. But if so, should not the same high qualities be brought forth in the search for the hidden treasure of the kingdom of heaven? Its gold, and silver, and iron, and copper are worth so much trouble, are not wisdom and goriness and eternal life deserving of the most strenuous efforts?

V. THERE IS PERIL IN THE MINER'S LIFE. Mining disasters are more fatal than shipwrecks. The miner needs to know a refuge more secure than any that art or science can contrive. He, indeed, should have his trust in God. But for others his peril is an occasion to rouse interest and deepen sympathy. We all profit by his labours; at least, then, let us all do what we can to protect him from the dangers which carelessness and selfishness create. - W.F.A.

The vulture's eye is keen, the lion's whelps are daring; yet a path which these wild creatures never saw is known to the miner, and climbed by him in his search for precious metals. He penetrates into fearful ravines, climbs dizzy cliffs, follows dark passages far into the mountain-side, descends deep shafts down to the hidden regions of the earth.

I. THE SUPERIORITY OF MIND TO INSTINCT. The senses of animals are keener than those of men; the sight of the bird and the scent of the wild beast greatly exceed our seeing and smell. Animals are stronger than men; we cannot emulate the vulture's flight or the stroke of the lion's paw. Yet, with duller senses and weaker muscles, we can rule over the animals; we can even beat them on their own ground. The superiority of man is the superiority of mind. Therefore, if he would retain and perfect this superiority, he must not sink down to the level of the beasts that perish. Sottish sensuality robs man of his supremacy. If it is by the mind that man conquers, it is disgraceful to live for the sake of the body. Only mental power gives so weak a creature as man any chance in the struggle for existence. Then it is most incongruous that bodily appetite should be permitted to enslave this power for its own low pleasures. Moreover, if the inner man is the higher man, that which is highest within is our truest and best self. The highest powers scale the highest peaks.

II. THE TRIUMPH OF ENERGY. The miner knows his secret path and climbs it, because he is determined to search out the precious metals, no matter where he may have to go in pursuit of them. Here is manly vigour. Now, it is just this vigour joined to intelligence that gives man success in the battle of life. No one deserves to be prosperous without it. It is only a, artificial state of society that allows the idle to be pampered in luxury. The healthy rule is that of St. Paul, "If any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). In the miner's path we have an evidence of what effort can do. This same effort is needed in every branch of life. Industry is healthy and fruitful, and the old-fashioned duty can never be lessened by any change of circumstances. If men shrink from work they proclaim that their better nature is conquered in them. It will be a bad day for England when her old spirit of enterprise is given up. In the Christian life there is a call for the miner's daring and energy. Here, too, heroic enterprises are undertaken by the nobler spirits. There are paths in spiritual experience that no one with a merely animal nature can ever see; but the brave sons of God walk thereon and find rare treasures by the way. Browning tells us -

"Life is - to wake, not sleep;
Rise, and not rest; but press
From earth's level, where blindly creep
Things perfected, more or less,
To heaven's height, far and steep." W.F.A.

I. WISDOM IS SUPREMELY DESIRABLE. Men sink shafts and traverse hazardous paths in search of the precious metals simply because of their value. The costly and difficult processes of mining would not be carried on unless an adequate reward were expected. Unless men appreciate wisdom they will not take much trouble in attempting to acquire it. The first thing is to see that "the price of wisdom is above rubies" (ver. 18). Knowledge is good, as the food of the intellect. The knowledge of God is most precious as the food of the soul. Practical knowledge is essential for guidance in life. Wisdom is more than the satisfaction of curiosity; it is the light of life.

II. WISDOM DOES NOT LIE ON THE SURFACE OF THE WORLD. It is like the treasures of deep rallies, and therefore it is not seen by the superficial. God does not cast his pearls before swine. There are blessings that all men - even the most heedless - have a share in. But the greatest blessings are not stumbled on unawares. These are for all who will seek them; but they must be sought. Hidden treasures are sometimes dug up from beneath ancient ruins - vessels of gold and silver that have lain for ages buried under heaps of rubbish. So Divine treasures have been hidden beneath piles of earthly and comparatively worthless things. Sin and worldliness have buried them. They need to be rediscovered. Thus man has both to recover lost spiritual riches and to mine in virgin soil for new wisdom.

III. WISDOM IS NOT EASILY FOUND. It is not enough to sink a mine, for perhaps we may not strike a lode; we must discover where the precious metal lies. The mining engineer must bring his science and experience to bear on the great problem as to where the shaft is to be made, and if he makes a mistake all the costly work of preparing the mine will be thrown away. Now, we want some divining-rod to show us where to seek for the Divine wisdom. Philosophers have dug their mines in various regions of life and thought. No doubt they have brought much precious ore to the surface. But the great treasure of Divine knowledge has not been struck by any human inquiry without the guiding of a special heavenly revelation. Seas may be dredged and strange wonders of the deep brought to light, but these additions to natural history do not help us much in coming to know spiritual truth.

IV. WISDOM CANNOT BE BOUGHT. Precious stones may be purchased for money. Knowledge may be obtained in classes for which fees are charged; and yet the fees cannot purchase real education, and unless the scholar uses his mind he cannot profit by his lessons. No subscriptions to churches and missions and charities can buy Divine wisdom.

V. WISDOM IS A DIVINE GIFT SEEKING SOULS. It is like the precious metals in the earth which God has given to man freely. The treasures of God are for all, without money and without price. Moreover, God shows us where to find these treasures. Christ "is made unto us wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:30). When we receive Christ, we have the Treasure for which philosophers and saints toiled and mined. He brings the Divine wisdom to the surface, to cur very doors. If we would acquire wisdom, we have but to open our hearts to welcome Christ. - W.F.A.

In the main, prices are determined by two causes - by the value set on things on account of their utility and attractiveness, and by the difficulty of acquiring them. Both these elements enter into the high price of wisdom.

I. WISDOM IS VALUABLE ON ACCOUNT OF ITS UTILITY AND ATTRACTIVENESS. People will not give a high price for what is not valued highly. Appreciation implies the perception of some equivalence in value. If wisdom is sought at a great price, wisdom is highly prized. Otherwise it would be left alone as not worth purchasing. Let us, then, observe the elements of value in wisdom.

1. Guidance. We need knowledge to save us from blundering. Bight principles are charts by which to steer. Moral folly plunges men headlong down to ruin; moral wisdom is the safe guide to life. We must know the heavenly way, we must see how to climb the steep hill, we must have skill to navigate the vessel of life.

2. Sustenance. Divine wisdom feeds the soul like heavenly manna, and refreshes it like water from the rock. It is reviving and nourishing as wine and milk (Isaiah 55:1). The soul is starved without the truth of God. That truth is its meat and drink.

3. Satisfaction. Much that men feed on spiritually is like chaff and sawdust; it does not really satisfy, though it seems to fill. But the knowledge of God is restful; it meets the deep needs and answers to the true desires of the inner life.

4. Culture. The effect of this heavenly possession is to elevate and transform the soul itself. It is more than a guide, a food, a satisfaction; it is a moulding influence. By a subtle alchemy it brings the soul round to its own character. He who has wisdom is wise. The possession of Divine grace makes us sons of God.

II. WISDOM IS COSTLY BECAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTY OF ACQUIRING IT. People will not give a high price unnecessarily even for what they value highly. What is both plentiful and easily accessible is necessarily cheap, however useful and attractive it may be. When the supply is fully equal to the demand, the price is low. But wisdom is not only inherently valuable; it is also only got at a great cost. Note the reasons for its dearness.

1. A difficult search. There may be an abundance of precious metals far under the soil, but if mines have to be constructed some expenditure must be incurred before the treasures can be acquired. Hence their costliness. Now, men have been seeking wisdom with great toil and weariness through all the ages.

2. Rarity. Prices mount high in times of scarcity. Famine may make corn more precious than rubies. When the world had fallen far from God down into the night of sin and ignorance, true wisdom became scarce.

3. The sacrifice of Christ. Christ has become wisdom to us, but at what a cost? First there was the condescension of his incarnation, when be emptied himself and became of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant. Then his arduous life was spent in bringing the knowledge and grace of God to men. His midnight watches, and his days full of work and conflict, were spent for this object. Lastly, his cross marks the supreme gift of himself in death to purchase for us the Divine wisdom. That wisdom is more costly than rubies; it is acquired by us at the cost of the blood of our Lord. - W.F.A.

Skilful is the hand of man. His researches are profound. He has digged deep into the earth. He tracks the vein of the silver and the place for the gold. He taketh iron out of the earth, and brass he melteth from the stone. He searcheth amidst the stones of darkness and the very shadow of death. His eye seeth what escapes the eye of the vulture, and he knoweth the path which no fowl knoweth. His power is over the hills, for he putteth his hand upon the rock, and overturneth the mountains by the roots. Rocks and rivers and flood are under his power, and the hidden things he bringeth to light. But with all his powers of research he is baffled in the pursuit of wisdom, and he knows neither the place nor the price of understanding. The perfect knowledge of the nature of things, and the high wisdom to guide in the proper use of' things, is not within the human grasp. Such knowledge is too high for him. It belongs unto God. It cannot be gotten for gold, nor purchased with the price of silver. This reflection may -

I. PROFITABLY TURN AWAY OUR HOPES OF GAINING WISDOM FROM MAN. We cannot gain it there; for "it is hid from the eyes of all living."

II. IT IS A BECOMING OCCASION FOR HUMILITY ON THE PART OF MAN. Vain man, who can do so much, is baffled here.

III. IT IS A MOTIVE FOR THANKFULLY RECEIVING THE TEACHINGS OF THE WISE. There are men to whom God has discovered the hidden springs of wisdom. Happy they, and happy all who learn of them.

IV. BUT ITS SUPREME LESSON IS TO DRIVE US IN OUR SEARCH FOR WISDOM TO GOD, to whom alone it appertains. "God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof" - even the wisdom that is "hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air." - R.G.

Wisdom is rare, precious, and costly. Men are skilful and enterprising in mining for the precious metals; but the search for wisdom, though carried on with the utmost assiduity, seems to be more difficult. Nevertheless, what is inaccessible to man is quite within the reach of God. We may fail in attempting to find wisdom, but God possesses it. He knows where it lies hidden from us; he can tread the labyrinth of the mine that leads to it.

I. THIS IS A GROUND OF FAITH. If God has true wisdom, we can be Content to leave with him those issues of life which we cannot understand ourselves.

1. In nature. To us many of the processes of nature are unintelligible. Not only cannot we understand the "how," but we are also perplexed about the "why." Apparently aimless and seemingly hurtful processes fill nature with dark mysteries. But these mysteries are all open to God. Of his works we can say, "In wisdom hast thou made them all." The world was not created by a blundering Demiurge, but by an all-wise God. 2 In providence. Our own lives are enigmas to us. We cannot understand why our plans are broken, our hopes scattered, our joys turned to bitterness It all looks wild, chaotic, aimless, sometimes even cruel We can but rest in the thought that God is higher and wiser than we are.

"Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright desirous,
And works his sovereign will" Therefore -

"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense."

3. In redemption. It may not be possible for us to understand the atonement. Theories are all inadequate. There is a mystery at the root of Christianity. But when God devised his great idea of salvation he had access to all wisdom. It must be wise. Our part is to follow it as far as we can see it, and to trust God for the rest.

II. THIS IS A KEY TO WISDOM. God knows where the treasure is hidden; he is familiar with the path that leads to it. Then he must be the Guide to wisdom. If we would attain to it we must seek it from God.

1. By prayer. St,. James has said, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). It is not only that wisdom is a boon bestowed in answer to prayer; prayer itself is the road to wisdom. St. Paul could see things in a new light when it could be said of him, "Behold, he prayeth." The spirit of prayer opens the windows of heaven and reveals the wisdom of God.

2. By godliness. We must be like God if we would share in God's wisdom. Sympathy with God will give us eyes to see as God sees. Nearness to him will introduce us to the path that he treads. When we walk with God we shall be led to those deep mines of wisdom to which he penetrates. Thus true wisdom is closely allied to true religion. "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom" (ver. 28). - W.F.A.

Wisdom - the "principal thing" - wisdom that "cannot be gotten for gold," or valued with "the precious onyx, or the sapphire," which "the topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal" - wisdom "belongeth unto God," and must be taught us by him, for we are ignorant. Wisdom consists in "the fear of the Lord," and in departing from evil. This wisdom man findeth not in the rocks nor in the depth of the sea. This is to man his truest, his highest, wisdom. This is the wisdom for the price of which "silver cannot be weighed." The fear of the Lord is the very beginning and end of wisdom to man -

I. BECAUSE IT IS FOUNDED IN A JUST RECOGNITION OF THE DIVINE SUPREMACY, AUTHORITY, AND POWER. The most foolish thing a man can do is to deny, either by word or by conduct, the authority of God. He who truly acknowledges the Divine supremacy will humble himself, and take his rightful place, free from presumption and self-asserting independence, which is the basis of all disobedience.

II. BECAUSE IT AFFORDS HIM THE TRUEST BASIS FOR FAITH AND HOPE. He who fears, and therefore reverences God, will learn how to commit himself into the Divine hands for all needful blessing. As far from presumption as from fear, he will be able calmly to trust in God and do good. He can have no real hope towards God who in irreverence and self-conceit cherishes not "the fear of the Lord" in his heart.

III. BECAUSE WITHOUT THE FEAR OF THE LORD THERE CAN BE NO TRUE LOVE FOR THE DIVINE NAME. That cannot be loved which is not respected and honoured. The true respect towards God is holy fear - the sacred reverence for the majesty, sanctity, and authority of the Divine Name.


V. BECAUSE OF THE SPECIAL PROMISES OF BLESSING MADE TO THEM THAT FEAR HIS NAME. From all this springs the duty of cherishing due regard for all things sacred, that the heart may be suitably and profitably impressed by them. "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." - R.G.

Man has searched for wisdom, but in vain. Then God, who has access to it, has revealed it to him, and has shown that it consists in the fear of the Lord and in departure from evil. The existence of a Divine revelation is here distinctly affirmed. God speaks through nature, Scripture, and conscience, and especially in Christ. Now, the Divine revelation of wisdom is here presented to us in two aspects - a positive and a negative. The first of these consists in religion; the second is of a moral character.

I. THE POSITIVELY RELIGIOUS ASPECT OF REVEALED WISDOM. When God reveals wisdom to man it first appears as "the fear of the Lord." Job says, like Solomon, that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7); it is wisdom; the two are identified. Now, the expression, "fear of the Lord," is the Old Testament name for religion- Therefore wisdom is religion. When we have found true religion we have discovered true wisdom.

1. The highest knowledge is obtained through spiritual experience. Science comes through the study of nature, and history is learnt by reading of past deeds; certainly religion will not dispense with the laboratory and the library. Still, even in these matters the truth-loving spirit-which is the spirit of science - is nourished and strengthened by communion with the eternal Truth. The highest knowledge, however, is of a different order; it is the knowledge that reaches to the meaning and purpose of life, and is not satisfied with the phenomena and processes that are the materials of science. This can only be had by the experience of the truth of God in religion.

2. The best course of life is that which is pursued in obedience to the will of God. It is the function of practical wisdom not so much to reveal mysteries as to show us the path in which we should walk. God has made known that path; he has shown us that the perfect way is one of Christ-like obedience. We live wisely when we acknowledge our Creator, obey our Father, loyally serve our King. Any other way must be foolish, because it will involve ingratitude and rebellion, and must therefore end in ruin. No wise man would choose to ruin himself.

II. THE NEGATIVELY MORAL ASPECT OF REVEALED WISDOM. "To depart from evil is understanding."

1. Sin must be abandoned before truth can be received. Sin blinds the spiritual vision. It is a moral lie, and the enemy to all truth. Bad passions and corrupt desires cloud the judgment and distort the understanding. They are the pure in heart who see God, and all the truth of God is open to the eye of goodness, but shut up and hidden from the prying curiosity of wickedness. A bad man cannot be a true philosopher. He may know many things; he cannot know real truth. The details and the worldly ideas may be acquired by him; but the deeper meaning of everything is lost to such a person.

2. A right understanding of life prompts to repentance. When the light of God begins to fall on the soul, sin is seen for the first time in its hideous natural character. Then we wonder how we could have fondled so loathsome an object. Its disgusting features drive us from it with horror.

3. The life of sin is ruinously foolish. It offers great delights, but its promises are lies. Even its pleasures do not satisfy, and they soon give place to bitter regrets. The wise way of living is the path of purity and integrity - the path which can only be followed in godly fear and Christian faith. - W.F.A.

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