The Excellency of Wisdom. B. C. 1520.
14 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. 15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. 18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. 19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
Job, having spoken of the wealth of the world, which men put such a value upon and take so much pains for, here comes to speak of another more valuable jewel, and that is, wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Those that found out all those ways and means to enrich themselves thought themselves very wise but Job will not own theirs to be wisdom. He supposes them to gain their point, and to bring to light what they sought for (Job 28:11), and yet asks, "Where is wisdom? for it is not here." This their way is their folly. We must therefore seek it somewhere else, and it will be found nowhere but in the principles and practices of religion. There is more true knowledge, satisfaction, and happiness, in sound divinity, which shows us the way to the joys of heaven, than in natural philosophy or mathematics, which help us to find a way into the bowels of the earth. Two things cannot be found out concerning this wisdom:--
I. The price of it, for that is inestimable its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world: Man knows not the price thereof (Job 28:13), that is, 1. Few put a due value upon it. Men know not the worth of it, its innate excellency, their need of it, and of what unspeakable advantage it will be to them and therefore, though they have many a price in their hand to get this wisdom, yet they have no heart to it, Proverbs 17:16. The cock in the fable knew not the value of the precious stone he found in the dunghill, and therefore would rather have lighted on a barley-corn. Men know not the worth of grace, and therefore will take no pains to get it. 2. None can possibly give a valuable consideration for it, with all the wealth this world can furnish them with. This Job enlarges upon Job 28:15-19, &c., where he makes an inventory of the bona notabilia--the most valuable treasures of this world. Gold is five times mentioned silver comes in also and then several precious stones, the onyx and sapphire, pearls and rubies, and the topaz of Ethiopia. These are the things that are highest prized in the world's markets: but if a man would give, not only these, heaps of these, but all the substance of his house, all he is worth in the world, for wisdom, it would utterly be contemned. These may give a man some advantage in seeking wisdom, as they did to Solomon, but there is no purchasing wisdom with these. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost, which cannot be bought with money, Acts 8:20. As it does not run in the blood, and so come to us by descent, so it cannot be got for money, nor does it come to us by purchase. Spiritual gifts are conferred without money and without price, because no money can be a price for them. Wisdom is likewise a more valuable gift to him that has it, makes him richer and happier, than gold or precious stones. It is better to get wisdom than gold. Gold is another's, wisdom our own gold is for the body and time, wisdom for the soul and eternity. Let that which is most precious in God's account be so in ours. See Proverbs 3:14-20, &c.
II. The place of it, for that is undiscoverable. Where shall wisdom be found? Job 28:12. He asks this, 1. As one that truly desired to find it. This is a question we should all put. While the most of men are asking, "Where shall money be found?" we should ask, Where may wisdom be found? that we may seek it and find it, not vain philosophy, or carnal policy, but true religion for that is the only true wisdom, that is it which best improves our faculties and best secures our spiritual and eternal welfare. This is that which we should cry after and dig for, Proverbs 2:3,4. 2. As one that utterly despaired of finding it any where but in God, and any way but by divine revelation: It is not found in this land of the living, Job 28:13. We cannot attain to a right understanding of God and his will, of ourselves and our duty and interest, by reading any books or men, but by reading God's book and the men of God. Such is the degeneracy of human nature that there is no true wisdom to be found with any but those who are born again, and who, through grace, partake of the divine nature. As for others, even the most ingenious and industrious, they can tell us no tidings of this lost wisdom. (1.) Ask the miners, and by them the depth will say, It is not in me, Job 28:14. Those who dig into the bowels of the earth, to rifle the treasures there, cannot in these dark recesses find this rare jewel, nor with all their art make themselves masters of it. (2.) Ask the mariners, and by them the sea will say, It is not in me. It can never be got either by trading on the waters or diving into them, can never be sucked from the abundance of the seas or the treasures hidden in the sand. Where there is a vein for the silver there is no vein for wisdom, none for grace. Men can more easily break through the difficulties they meet with in getting worldly wealth than through those they meet with in getting heavenly wisdom, and they will take more pains to learn how to live in this world than how to live for ever in a better world. So blind and foolish has man become that it is in vain to ask him, Where is the place of wisdom, and which is the road that leads to it?