The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

Psalm 111: 10

 

This verse from Psalm 111 starts off with one of the most repeated expressions of faith that is found in the Old Testament; it means that it is essential to have a level of respect, reverence, and awe for God. This is an attitude that recognizes the Lord as the foundation, the creative initiator, of all that stands up over time as wise in this universe. We can not hope to think, believe, and act wisely if we do not begin to look toward God as the one who brings true wisdom into clear view and focus.

 

The Lord wants us to model after His approach to acting on this wisdom; for, He is never still, silent, or absent; God is continually engaged with His Creation, and He is especially involved with His people. Likewise, God wants us to seek wisdom; then, He wants us to use it. I believe that the concept of commandments as expressed here is much broader than any formalized list. It seems to me that everything that the Lord has told us about living in His Word, through His Spirit, and by the gathered understanding that is developed by His body equates to God’s commandments.  We are to be people who seek to act wisely from God’s point of view, and we are to be people who demonstrate His wisdom in this world through the way that we fearlessly love others.

 

People who know the Lord intimately and follow Him passionately bring great joy to God’s heart, for they bring Him into daily contact with multitudes of others, and they are tangible sources of the sort of loving wisdom that everyone needs in order to live in peace and with real joy. This is an important part of the process that God uses to be bring about the redemption of the lost in our world. The greatest form of worship that we can give to God is expressed by lives that are lived in a state of actively seeking His wisdom in and for all things. We enter in sincere worship and express true praise to the Lord when we take that wisdom and make it the foundation of the way that we engage with and treat others just as Jesus commanded us to do.

 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

all those who practice it have a good understanding.

His praise endures forever!

Psalm 111: 10

 

It is an interesting mixture of elements that the writer of this psalm has blended together here. Fear, wisdom, and understanding are swirled around together, and the resultant drink is an enduring chorus of praise to the Lord. Life is often not conducted with fear of the Lord as its guidance and mindset. This concept of fear goes deep into God’s Word as Moses originally expresses it in his writings, and it is a theme that runs onward through the story of God’s relationship with us. This deep, foundational respect and reverence for God is, it seems, a rare quality today. This world is populated with people who respect little that does not come from within their own understanding; so, in their perspective, God has become irrelevant and is often placed on a shelf in a mental and moral museum of curious artifacts.

 

Yet, this way of thinking and of conducting life is in itself unwise to the point of being foolish. Wisdom is not something to be taken so lightly. It is the anchor for the sort of decision-making that keeps us out of dangerous and destructive situations and that helps us to remain engaged in close and lasting relationships with others. Wisdom overcomes desire and puts the brakes on impulsive thought so that restraint can gain control over our actions. The wisdom that God imparts to us in not just an inert idea or set of laws and rules to follow; rather, it is dynamic and alive. So it is something that we are required to engage with and in. As it is not natural or innate in us, we must turn to God for it and exercise discipline in growing it within us.

 

As we seek the Lord and know His heart and dwell in His will, we are granted ever-increasing understanding. It is this ability to respond to life in ways that reflect the nature and the character of God that becomes our platform from which day-to-day and moment-by-moment decisions are made. So, in a very real way, the Lord’s heart and mind become the direct and the ever-present originator of most of our thought and actions. A life that is lived in this manner is loving, concerned for others, respectful, and righteous, and it stands out in our world as a hymn of praise to the Lord.