Constantly developing technology, advances in medicine, and the information available on the Internet combine with pride to convince people today that they have built a world of wonders—despite simultaneously destroying the best of that world in the name of being a more advanced civilization. However, Job lamented in Job 28:1-11 how many discoveries and advances the world had made at that time, but Job recognized it lacked something far more important. Indeed, we still find ourselves in the same predicament today. He said, “But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living” (Job 28:12-13). Job recognized that the collective intelligence of mankind was insufficient to offer true wisdom. We often act as if the combination of scientific discovery, accumulation of wealth, and exploration in the depths of the oceans and the far reaches of space provide all the understanding we need, but the reality remains that all these can do is provide facts and things; they can never supply meaning, because they cannot offer wisdom (Job 28:14-19).
This leaves an emptiness in life for a people whose very existence is tied to seeking meaning. Why else would we find so many people offering theories on happiness and meaning in life and others trying to create some kind of escape from this nagging question of purpose? Thankfully, Job did not leave his reflections tied to the physical realm. Instead, he pondered the question deeply. “From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living, And concealed from the birds of the air. Destruction and Death say, ‘We have heard a report about it with our ears’” (Job 28:20-22). Job began with an essential acknowledgment: wisdom does not originate with man. Instead of being the master and commander of life upon this earth, men ultimately must admit that they need wisdom and therefore do not yet possess it. Only by considering our lives in the context of the destruction we cause along the way and the ultimate end of death can we truly even place the question in proper perspective.
In the end, Job showed great wisdom in his conclusion, but he still recognized it did not come from him. Regarding wisdom he said, “God understands its way, And He knows its place” (Job 28:23) because He not only observes everything but also is its Author (Job 28:24-26). “Then He saw wisdom and declared it; He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out. And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding’” (Job 28:27-28). Meaning and purpose in life are tied directly to reverence for God and following His will. We exist for this purpose, and for this purpose alone can we even contemplate the question. How sad that such a simple yet profound thought eludes the masses, but how wonderful that God would share such wisdom with us. Job had great insight even in the midst of his struggles because he kept his focus on God. The more we can do the same by considering His revealed will, the greater wisdom and insight we will have as well.