For the LORD gives wisdom;

   from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

   he is a shield to those who walk in integrity.

Proverbs 2: 6, 7

There are words all around us. They are shouted out in the morning, and they are whispered into the dreams of the night. Many people attempt to influence others into thinking in a certain manner by using skill with expression or through the pouring out of an overwhelming volume of sound and its accompanying fury. Yet, in all of this flood of thoughts, opinions, and concepts, there are only a few words that are spoken from a reliable source, and there is only one ultimate author that should be given complete acceptance and listened to with undivided attention. For in all of the aggregate information and influence that is out and around us in our world, only the words that God has set forth and ordained as His are absolutely thrust worthy, and come to us with the certainty to inform our journey through life in a manner that is both good for us and that brings healing to the hurt places in our world.

People who realize this eternal truth and who therefor seek after God’s Word with consistency and with diligence are to be sought after. They are aware of the sorts of wise things that are good and useful in living out each day as people who desire to love others well, to care about justice, and to hold up righteousness as the standard to follow through all of life. So, these are people to follow, and these are people to draw near to when we need understanding and guidance regarding the challenges and the struggles that we are facing. All of this sounds so serious and heavy; yet, there is great humor to be found in traveling in the presence of the Lord. He sees the irony and the curious silliness of life in a manner that only one who is very close to the subjects at hand could view them. So too does the person who dwells in the presence of the Creator hold a special place in his heart and mind for all that is light and humorous that comes about during these long and too often arduous days.

God’s wisdom is to be sought after. It is found in His Word and illuminated by His Spirit. These are the words that cut through the distractions and the untruths that are so prevalent in the air that we breath in our world. The Word of God provides the foundation from which all other thoughts, ideas, and concepts can be judged and evaluated as to their validity and usefulness in providing guidance for us. Thus, people who hold God’s Word as sacred and who search its depths as their source of wisdom and encouragement are to be valued and sought after. These are women and men who do dwell in the presence of the holy, and they are people who understand that strength of character is a gift that comes from the Lord and that love is the Godly characteristic that prevails in the face of all other forces and factors that might come at us during the day. People who so value the word of life that comes straight from the mouth of the Creator are to be prized, and their wisdom, grace, love, and humor are valuable beyond all measuring. 

Dedicated to Mark M. upon entering the next phase in service to our Lord.  

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Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,

but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13: 20

 

We do not always get to select the people who travel through life with us; yet, we do get to make decisions about most of the ones who we listen to with an interest in acting upon what they say. We also can select to follow the example of people based upon the manner in which they live out their words. Unfortunately, there is very little real wisdom out and about in our world; so, there are relatively few people among us who we should follow. The scarcity of wise counsel makes the time that we spend in the company of others matter much more, for that time is irreplaceable and its expenditure can influence the rest of life in ways that are significant beyond measuring. Thus, an hour spent in engagement with a wise person may offset many days lived out in the presence of those who are unwise.

 

In Solomon’s ancient economy of wisdom, the wise person was one who knew God, loved Him, and sought after the wisdom that God gives to us in His Word and through the presence of the counsel of His Spirit. So, the wise person was also a godly person, and people who were close to God tended to be wise people. There is no disconnect between the forms of wisdom that were real and true. There is also no gradient or degree of what can be seen as truth. Things are either true or they are not; so, they are lies. Along the same lines, people cannot walk through life as wise people while surrounding themselves with fools; so, people cannot be righteous, as God views it, and still engage with this world’s false understanding of truth even when it feels good to do so. The end result of all such exploration of truth and wisdom that is outside of God’s depiction of them is damage and harm to self and to others, and these sojourns are doomed to end badly.

 

We avoid most of the negative outcomes by staying close to God in His Word and through our relationships. It is impossible to avoid all interaction with ungodly people. In fact, attempting to do so would be something that God does not direct us to do. He sends His people into the presence of the ungodly so that we can demonstrate to them and to our world the love and the wisdom that are found only in the presence of Christ. Still, we are to surround ourselves with people who also know Christ and who seek to follow His righteous way through their days. This is the deep and intimate fellowship of faith that is found in Christ’s body, and the wise walking partners that are described here are our fellow travelers who dwell in the presence of the Lord and engage with life with His counsel as their source of guidance. This is a harsh planet and hard times and challenges will come to all of us, but God’s wisdom is always supreme, and His counsel will protect us and save us from the sort of harm that penetrates to the core of our souls.

 

 

As for the matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters who were in all his kingdom.

Daniel 1: 20

 

This is the account of a period of testing in which Daniel and the other three Hebrew youth with him were placed under close scrutiny by Nebuchadnezzar and his appointed officials. The testing was to determine just how much responsibility could be reliably placed upon these foreigner’s shoulders. Daniel and his friends made it clear from the outset that they were followers of the God of Israel and that they would do and say nothing that was contrary to the Lord’s will. This was not an easy path for them to follow in that they were living as slaves in a land where the king had absolute authority and power, and this king, Nebuchadnezzar, was a devoted follower of his land’s collection of gods and god-like images.

 

Now these Babylonians did not have it all wrong, for they recognized that understanding and wisdom in their complex and often perplexing world needed to come from sources beyond human capacity. They also recognized that some people were more gifted and better equipped in certain ways that were others. Thus, Daniel was tested in order to see if he was capable of providing the sort of wise counsel that could only come out of a person who had been granted this sort of heavenly wisdom and understanding. The standard of measure was the level of such gifts that the court’s own appointed and trained practitioners and workers of magical spells and incantations could issue forth; thus, they were held to a standard that could be called “The wisdom of the world.” The text tells the story. When Daniel and the others were consulted, they consistently spoke in terms that were honest, accurate, and authoritative to a degree that made the court’s own prophets seem weak, feeble, and incapable by comparison.

 

The magnitude of excellence that was exhibited by Daniel and the others was not really the point; rather, what mattered was the great difference in providing clear guidance and direction for life that came out of these people who were seeking out God and who were following the life-giving direction of His Word. What they said was true and that brought people into ways of thinking and of living that actually worked out for the betterment of their world. This is a great story of the way that God equipped these special men in this far away place to reveal His presence in their world by virtue of His equipping of them to be voices for righteousness in their culture. This is also an example of the way that God still speaks through people who believe in Him and who are willing to follow and to act upon what He says today. God’s wisdom continues to be real, valid, and powerfully present in our world. He still speaks through those of us who are committed to following Him, and the wisdom of the Lord remains such that it is ten times or more greater than all that our world and its practitioners of magic truths can summon forth.