Job 28 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Job 28)

Verse 1

[1] Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.

Surely — Job having in the last chapter discoursed of God's various providences toward wicked men, and shewed that God doth sometimes, for a season, give them prosperity, but afterwards calls them to a sad account, and having shewed that God doth sometimes prosper the wicked all their days, so they live and die without any visible token of God's displeasure, when on the contrary, good men are exercised with many calamities; and perceiving that his friends were, scandalized at these methods of Divine providence, and denied the thing, because they could not understand the reason of such dispensations: in this chapter he declares that this is one of the depths of Divine wisdom, not discoverable by any mortal man, and that although men had some degree of wisdom whereby they could search out many hidden things, as the veins of silver, and gold, yet this was a wisdom of an higher nature, and out of man's reach. The caverns of the earth he may discover, but not the counsels of heaven.

Verse 3

[3] He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

Perfection — Whatever is deeply wrought in the deepest caverns.

Stones of darkness — The precious stones which lie hid in the dark bowels of the earth, where no living thing can dwell.

Verse 4

[4] The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

Breaketh out — While men are searching, water breaks in upon them.

Inhabitants — Out of that part of the earth which the miners inhabit.

Forgotten — Untrodden by the foot of man.

Dried up — They are dried up, (or, drawn up, by engines made for that purpose) from men, from the miners, that they may not be hindered in their work.

Verse 5

[5] As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

Fire — Coals, and brimstone, and other materials of fire. Unless this refer, as some suppose, to a central fire.

Verse 6

[6] The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.

Sapphires — Of precious stones; the sapphire, is one of the most eminent, being put for all the rest. In some parts of the earth, the sapphires are mixed with stones, and cut out of them and polished.

Hath — The earth continueth.

Dust — Distinct from that gold which is found in the mass, both sorts of gold being found in the earth.

Verse 7

[7] There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen:

A path — In the bowels of the earth.

Vulture's eye — Whose eye is very quick, and strong, and searcheth all places for its prey.

Verse 8

[8] The lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.

Lion — Which rangeth all places for prey. The birds and beasts have often led men to such places as otherwise they should never have found out; but they could not lead them to these mines, the finding out of them is a special gift of God.

Verse 9

[9] He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

He, … — This and the two next verses mention other eminent works of God, who overturneth rocks, and produceth new rivers.

Verse 10

[10] He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.

Seeth — Even those which no human art or industry was ever able to discover.

Verse 12

[12] But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?

That wisdom — Man hath one kind of wisdom, to discover the works of nature, and to perform the operations of art; but as for that sublime wisdom which consists in the knowledge of God and ourselves, no man can discover this, but by the special gift of Cod.

Verse 13

[13] Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

Found — Among men upon earth, but only among those blessed spirits that dwell above.

Verse 14

[14] The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.

The depth — This is not to he found in any part of the sea, though a man may dig or dive ever so deep to find it, nor to be learned from any creature.

Verse 20

[20] Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?

Whence, … — By a diligent inquiry, we find at length, that there is a twofold wisdom; one hid in God, which belongs not to us, the other revealed to man, which belongs to us and to our children.

Verse 21

[21] Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.

Hid — The line and plummet of human reason, can never fathom the abyss of the Divine counsels. Who can account for the maxims, measures and methods of God's government? Let us then be content, not to know the future events of providence, 'till time discover them: and not to know the secret reasons of providence, 'till eternity brings them to light.

Verse 22

[22] Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

Death — The grave, the place of the dead, to 'which these things are here ascribed, as they are to the depths, and to the sea, by a common figure. Though they cannot give an account of it themselves yet there is a world, on which these dark regions border, where we shall see it clearly. Have patience, says death: I will fetch thee shortly to a place where even this wisdom shall be found. When the veil of flesh is rent, and the interposing clouds are scattered, we shall know what God doth, though we know not now.

Verse 23

[23] God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

God — God alone.

The way — The methods which he takes in the management of all affairs, together with its grounds and ends in them.

The place — Where it dwells, which is only in his own mind.

Verse 24

[24] For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven;

For — He, and he only knows it, because his providence, is infinite and universal, reaching to all places, and times, past, present, and to come; whereas the most knowing men have narrow understandings, and the wisdom, and justice, and beauty of God's works are not fully seen 'till all the parts of them be laid together.

Verse 25

[25] To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.

Winds — God manageth them all by weight, appointing to every wind that blows, its season, its proportion, its bounds, when, and where, and how much, and how long each shall blow. He only doth all these things, and he only knows why he doth them. He instanceth in some few of God's works, and those which seem to be most trivial, and uncertain, that thereby he might more strongly imply that God doth the same in other things which are more considerable, that he doth all things in the most exact order, and weight, and measure.

The waters — Namely, the rain-waters, which God layeth up in his store-houses, the clouds, and thence draws them forth, and sends them down upon the earth in such times and proportions as he thinks fit.

Measure — For liquid things are examined by measure, as other things are by weight: and here is both weight and measure to signify with what perfect wisdom God governs the world.

Verse 26

[26] When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:

When — At the first creation, when he settled that course and order which should he continued.

A decree — An appointment and as it were a statute law, that it should fall upon the earth, in such times, and places, and proportions.

Verse 27

[27] Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

It — Wisdom, which is the subject of the present discourse. This God saw within himself; he looked upon it in his own mind, as the rule by which he would proceed in the creation and government of all things.

Declare — Or reveal it.

Prepared — He had it in readiness for doing all his works, as if he had been for a long time preparing materials for them. So it is a speech of God after the manner of men.

Searched — Not properly; for so searching implies ignorance, and requires time and industry, all which is repugnant to the Divine perfections; but figuratively, he did, and doth, all things with that absolute and perfect wisdom, so exactly, and perfectly, as if he had bestowed a long time in searching, to find them out.

Verse 28

[28] And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Man — Unto Adam in the day in which he was created. And in him, to all his posterity.

Said — God spake it, at first to the mind of man, in which he wrote this with his own finger, and afterwards by the holy patriarchs, and prophets, and other teachers, whom he sent into the world to teach men true wisdom.

Behold — Which expression denotes the great importance of this doctrine, and withal man's backwardness to apprehend it.

The fear of the Lord — True religion.

Wisdom — In man's wisdom, because that, and that only, is his duty, and safety, and happiness, both for this life and for the next.

Evil — From sin, which is called evil eminently, as being the chief evil, and the cause of all other evils. Religion consists of two branches, doing good, and forsaking evil; the former is expressed in the former clause of this verse, and the latter in these words; and this is the best kind of knowledge or wisdom to which man can attain in this life. The design of Job in this close of his discourse, is not to reprove the boldness of his friends, in prying into God's secrets, and passing such a rash censure upon him, and upon God's carriage towards him; but also to vindicate himself from the imputation of hypocrisy, which they fastened upon him, by shewing that he had ever esteemed it to be his best wisdom, to fear God, and to depart from evil.