The 28 verse discourse contrasts the material wealth of this world, even all that God has created, with the indescribable and priceless wealth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. There are many "good” things available to man. Items of value that are found in nature and provided for man's use. However, in these possessions and resources we will not know true wisdom or understanding. They can not lead us to answer this one great question, “What is Wisdom, where can it be found?" Only through the "fear of the Lord" and by "shunning evil" will we come to know what "God has appraised, confirmed, tested and said to man." (vv. 27-28).
Each time I read through it I always visualize Job’s descriptions. His detail is awesome with every line providing purpose and point. You can see the lengths that we go to in order to find pleasure and search for greater meaning, only to discover that the true meaning does not reside deep in the earth, nor above the heavens, or with precious jewels, or even with death itself. To me, the meaning is real and much more than just a piece of literature to be studied as one might look at Poe’s ‘Raven’. That said, I would suggest that if it was only considered as ancient prose for a secular purpose, it would still be a pretty great one!
JOB 28: 1-28
1 There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
they search out the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
in places untouched by human feet;
far from other people they dangle and sway.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;
6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.
9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
10 They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.
11 They search the sources of the rivers
and bring hidden things to light.
12 But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
13 No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, “It is not in me”;
the sea says, “It is not with me.”
15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
it cannot be bought with pure gold.
20 Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction and Death say,
“Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.”
Note: I personally like the Amplified Translation with verse 28 that says, “The reverential and worshipful fear of the Lord....."