9 October 2018

Job 28:1-19

But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? (v. 12)

Psalm: Psalm 5:1-8


When I read this passage, I had to look up a lovely musical setting by William Boyce. I have known the music for as long as I remember. The question, “O where shall wisdom be found?” haunted and haunts me. With all the arrogance and confidence of youth I even preached my first sermon on that text while an undergraduate at Nottingham University. The sermon lasted two minutes, my confidence was only skin deep and I have an embarrassingly clear recollection of what I said. I’m not sure I can answer the question any better now, but have the sense to be less certain in my reflections. In Job, wisdom is almost treated as a form of being. Something, or even someone, to be found and known. Something so precious that all the wonders of the world and all the riches of creation cannot compare to it. It is the ultimate mystery. Richard Rohr in his book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your Transformation describes a mystery not as something that you can’t understand, but that you must keep on understanding. Job’s troubles and cries of desolation are the cries of someone haunted by this question: “O where shall wisdom be found?” His comforters don’t help him in his search and God seems to remain silent.

Job’s agonies and searching resonate with the human condition itself. Our scientific studies, our technology, mining into the depths of the earth, our invention, labour and all our endeavours mask a restless yearning; a haunting question for purpose, “O where shall wisdom be found?” However we might look, we will not find it within the created order, it is not through our philosophical reflections that this mystery will be uncovered. Slowly the passage steers our thoughts away from our abilities and the world in which we live, to that which is beyond the creation, guiding us to look into the silence that Job has experienced; the as yet undiscovered mystery of God.

To Ponder

  • What aspects of your faith do you find “beyond your understanding”?
  • What response do you want to make to the mystery and unknown nature of God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Mark Wakelin was born in Norfolk and taken to Africa as a baby by missionary parents. He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Church.

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