And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. — Job 28:28
When we picture a person who possesses wisdom, the image that comes to mind is probably not a diseased alcoholic with a criminal background, strapped into a bed in a locked psychiatric ward. That was Jesse Martin’s condition. Yet Jesse experienced a radical change in his life — one that indicated he was a wise man, according to Job’s description in our focus verse.
An ex-Marine gunnery sergeant, Jesse had prided himself on being a tough guy. However, his desire for drink had led him down a terrible path. He was without money, in trouble with the law, and homeless when alcohol delirium necessitated his admittance to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Vancouver, Washington. He had always scoffed at religion and had gone through World War II without saying a prayer. However, in that hospital at the brink of death, he began to take on a different perspective.
One day a nurse got permission to take Jesse to a church service being held by Apostolic Faith people in the hospital where he was a patient. After listening to several veterans tell what God had done for them, Jesse held up his hand to indicate he wanted prayer. Though the doctors had told him he would end up insane or in the grave, Jesse promised God that he would serve Him if He would help him out of that place. Miraculously, just a short time later, Jesse was discharged.
Jesse began reading the Bible and attending services at the Apostolic Faith Church. There he was told that God worked on the basis of unconditional surrender. As a soldier, those were words Jesse understood. He was willing to meet God’s terms, and what a miracle happened in his life! God saved his soul, and completely turned his life around. The body that had been ruined by alcohol was restored, and all desire for drinking was instantly gone. Jesse confessed to his part in a robbery he had been involved in, and was forgiven. He began living a new life of freedom and peace.
In our lesson text, Job asked the question, “Where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:12). Out of Job’s anguish and through all the debate between him and his friends, in today’s text he came back to the fundamental basis of wisdom — a right relationship with God, which begins with departing from evil. That wisdom is available to each one of us, no matter what our background or condition.
God made a wise man of Jesse Martin when he “departed from evil,” and He will do the same for anyone who comes to Him with an honest heart. Are you a possessor of the wisdom that comes from God? You can be!
Since Zophar seemingly had declined to address Job the third time, in today’s text Job continued his discourse to his three friends. This is the final speech in the dialogue section of the book.
In chapter 27, Job continued to assert his innocence, despite all the accusations that had been hurled against him. In verses 7-23, the fate of the wicked is described. Some commentators ascribe these verses to Zophar, suggesting this is his “missing” speech. Others state that the plural structure makes it more probable that this was a continuance of Job’s dissertation. Whatever the case, the vengeance of God upon the wicked will occur when they are weighed in the balance of justice and found wanting.
Chapter 28 begins Job’s final summation of his position. He presented no new arguments in this chapter, instead focusing on refuting his friends’ claim that wisdom had been granted them to ascertain the cause of his affliction. Job eloquently brought out that while man has been ingenious in mining the treasures found in the earth (verses 1-11), true wisdom cannot be found or purchased (verses 12-22). Rather, it belongs to God alone and can only be found by man as he fears God and turns from evil (verses 23-28).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The solution of Job’s three friends
E. The concluding statements of Job
1. The first statement (27:1 — 28:28)
a. Job defends his integrity (27:1-6)
b. Job describes the destiny of the wicked (27:7-23)
c. Wealth is the result of labor (28:1-11)
d. Wisdom is not the product of labor (28:12-22)
e. Wisdom is from God (28:23-28)
If we desire to receive true wisdom, we must fear God and depart from evil.