Scripture Focus: Job 28.23, 28
God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells…
And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.”
Reflection: Mining for Wisdom
By Erin Newton
In Tolkien’s tale of Middle Earth, Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves venture toward the Lonely Mountain to recapture the dwarf kingdom. The movie elaborates on the dwarves mining for the “heart of the mountain,” the Arkenstone. Once possessing this stone, the owner gained the right to rule under the mountain. However, the king was corrupted by intense greed and the dragon destroyed the kingdom.
The interlude in dialogue between Job and his friends describes similar mining expertise. Iron, gold, and lapis lazuli are all found within dark caverns explored by humans. The author of Job indicates that not even animals can fathom the root of these precious minerals and stones.
Wisdom is placed in parallel to gold, silver, jewels and gemstones. They are all precious, valuable, and rare. Although one with dwarf-like accuracy can locate and extract veins of gold in the depths of the earth, the location of wisdom is evasive.
Wisdom is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Wisdom is not “among the living” (v13). Wisdom is not in the primordial depths (v14), a term reminiscent of creation where the Spirit hovered over these waters. Wisdom is not among death and destruction (v22), terms echoing ancient cosmology about the underworld. From primordial creation to cosmological death, wisdom is absent.
“Where then does wisdom come from?” As all other options are exhausted, the conclusion is that wisdom resides with he who is outside of time and space, God. The fear of the Lord is the apex of spiritual mining. Just as the miner studies the formations of the earth to search for a starting point, we are told that all pursuits of wisdom begin with a relationship with God.
Some prefer to seek wisdom through intellect, looking to become wise through a series of academic degrees. Some prefer to seek wisdom through prestige gained through wealth or popularity. Some seek wisdom through rebellion, going against the grain of typical society. The age-old Edenic pursuit was to seek wisdom from anything outside of a relationship with God. Like dwarves, we often dig too deep into pursuits that bring about our destruction.
It can be frustrating for such a worthy, invaluable asset such as wisdom to be summarized in simple terms. Although difficult to find, wisdom is freely given. The difficulty is not in its availability but in our pride. Wisdom is from God. To gain it is to know Him.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let us make a vow to the Lord our God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared. — Psalm 76.11
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
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