Good morning! Today’s passage from Job (25-28) moves from the human scale of Job and his problems to a cosmic creator God of all the universe. This anticipates the move when God does manifest and speak to Job at the end of the book. In a way it also implicitly accepts the contention of Job’s critics, that God is too majestic to trouble with individual human affairs. Bildad has a brief declaration of human baseness in chapter 25 before Job talks for the remaining three chapters. Job’s reply to Bildad is sarcastic, but he then goes on to declare how utterly unsearchable God is from the human vantage point, essentially agreeing with Bildad. God can’t be bothered to whisper to such as human beings.
Whether or not God pays attention, in chapter 27 Job reaffirms his dignity and integrity, more than anything else. He’s refraining from lies or deceit, no matter what happens. He’ll not just consent to whatever the others say, not even to preserve his life against further hardship. But the chapter concludes with a very uncharacteristic declaration, where the speaker asserts the punishments stored up for the wicked, and the rewards of the innocent. This sounds so out of place in Job’s mouth that I have to wonder whether it’s from another author; quite out of character for Job.
The hymn to wisdom in Job 28 is remarkable for its creativity, vividness and theology. The chapter opens with a lengthy description of miners digging deep underground, coming up with jewels and gold. Animals don’t know the path to it, and most people up top don’t know it either. And while that’s all good, where is wisdom—a far more priceless treasure—to be found? There are no mines for wisdom, no hidden caverns where it can be found. Wisdom isn’t available anywhere that one can create a map for it. Wisdom is hidden from everyone alive, only God knows where to find it. God gives wisdom with the rest of creation, but it takes the reader of this passage to discover this one sentence of definition at the very end: “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” This famous sentence doesn’t counsel being afraid of God, but rather respecting and honoring the Creator. Job believes his own actions fulfil the second part, departing from evil even though it may well have made things worse for him. But does Job appropriately “fear” God? I’ll be interested in your thoughts. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Job 29-31. Thanks for reading!