The Task of Understanding

Job 28:28 says: “And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

This is a verse I’ve been meditating on for some time now. We live in a world where people live their lives without wisdom or understanding, and they’re okay with it. Perhaps its always been this way. I don’t know. Sin makes things hard, and people look in all the wrong places for the answers they need.

I am a person. To clarify further, I am a quiet person. I grew up in a large family of loud people. This isn’t a bad thing, but in an environment like that (as well as a God given personality that deemed it so), it forced me to become a good listener instead. It made me a thinker, but most importantly, it made me a ponderer. I would sit back and try and comprehend, which I later learned was something people do only on rare occasion. I would ask the questions that no one would want to ask, and thus, no one would answer them for me. These questions were important, and better than what was usually asked, but they were still off. These questions lacked understanding in of themselves. That’s where the name, Silver Questions, comes from. We can ask very valuable questions, but they always seem to fall short of the real issue. Precious, but not quite to the highest grade. The answers, however, can be something paradoxical, wondrous, and golden.

Chapter 28 of Job is full of asking questions. Now, listen, because I already gave  you the golden and precious answer that Job found. Here are some of the earlier verses for context:

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living. The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’ and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.'” (Job 28:12-14, ESV).

Job is asking the silver questions. He asks where he can find wisdom and understanding, but he knows it cannot be found on this world. So, he raises his voice to ask where else it could be. What conclusion does he come to? God saying to fear Him and to turn away from evil. Precious. Shining. Golden. God basically says that we can’t obtain it without having faith in Him first. You can’t find it, no matter how long you sit in the corner and ponder the world around you. It’s up to God to distribute it.

I was not happy with this answer.

This passage in Job told me that I didn’t know how much wisdom was actually worth. It told me that I couldn’t ponder my way out of having absolutely no answers. It told me that I had to trust in Him for it. I told me that I had to turn away from everything my sinful self had ever loved to receive it. Precious. Shining. Golden. But most importantly, not what I originally set out for. Instead, it was a thousand times more valuable than the small amount of silver that I was trying to obtain. To think we can find wisdom or understanding though education, society, or ourselves is nothing but falseness and vanity. These things simply allow us to find the important, yet still silver, questions to ask.

What is our job (no pun intended) then? To seek and ponder the golden answers. We follow along in faith and prayer, and we have to start somewhere. We have to start with the silver questions, because sometimes we can’t help but ask anything else.

I’m not offering concretes or absolutes. You can’t find those kinds of things in a blog post. However, channeled through writing, I hope to raise those silver questions. I hope to get you to think. And as we think, let’s find those golden answers that Job knew to cling to. They’re never easy to find, and some are impossible to track down, but if we never ask, then we’ll never know. The task of understanding is somewhat of an impossible one, as I’ve learned. People older and wiser than I have told me that the battle never ends. So let’s fight it together then.

We may not be happy with what we find, but it’s the shining and golden truth that will set us free.

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