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Daily Devotional Job 28:12–28

One of the most famous riddles in history is the “riddle of the Sphinx” found in a Greek tragedy: “What walks on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?” The answer, as you may know, is: “Human beings. Infants crawl on all fours. Then adults walk on two legs. Finally, elderly people walk with a cane, hence three legs.”

The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.

JOB 28:28

Riddles like this join humor with wisdom. These are often the kind of “riddles” found in biblical wisdom literature as well. The riddle in Job 28 is “Where can wisdom be found?” (v. 12). Job chapter 28 is an interlude in the book. The anonymous author is responding to Job and his friends’ failures to reach a valid or wise understanding of Job’s suffering.

The preliminary finding is nowhere in human experience (v. 13) or the natural world (v. 14). Human technology can delve the depths of the earth but cannot find wisdom (vv. 1–11). Although the rich and powerful can usually obtain whatever they want with money, wisdom is not to be had at any price (vv. 15–19).

So the question is renewed: “Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell?” (v. 20). The riddle’s solution is hidden not only from nature (v. 21) but also from elemental forces like Death and Destruction (v. 22).

The answer: “God [alone] understands the way to it” (v. 23). Not only does He know what no one else knows, He controls and commands everything. His wisdom runs the world!

This conclusion anticipates God’s speeches beginning in chapter 38. If the fear of the Lord leads to wisdom, then the answer to Job’s questions about suffering, the answer to the larger “riddle,” is to learn more about God by drawing worshipfully nearer to Him.

Go Deeper

Where is wisdom found? How does that answer help us better understand suffering and evil?

Pray with Us:

Where can we find wisdom? Again, Scripture points to the fear of the Lord (Job 28). Lord, we rejoice that true wisdom is found only in You. You control and guide our world. You show the way out of hardships and suffering!

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