“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.”
— Psalm 111:10 (NRSV)
What makes us thankful, praiseworthy, and utterly humbled before God? It is wisdom. In the company of young and old, fellow or foe, whose name do we hold high? If it’s the Lord’s, we’re comparatively wise.
If we know the only righteous one is God, we own a significant piece of life’s essence; the beginning of wisdom. If we understand every provision—yes, of our estimation, both good and bad—comes from the Almighty we’re streets ahead of the next person who does not believe.
A Wisdom Psalm
Psalm 111 is a wisdom hymn. It catapults upon our understanding the basic truths of God; of the fortunes of the righteous and the wicked in the mode of life. Such wisdom hymns call us to the black-and-white nature of the biblical life—obedience versus rebellion.
Wisdom is the moral imperative against an immoral world backdrop.
The black-and-white nature of the biblical life means, that once the Divine light is kindled within our hearts, and suddenly we think differently, we can never go back. True salvation, as both an experience and a state, is irreversible. The old life cannot be re-got.
A Wisdom Psalm like this affirms our belief. It gives us confidence when we’re respectful and mindful of God.
The Qualities In God
The body of this Psalm lauds the qualities of our ever just, righteous, faithful God.
These are the redemptive qualities that call us to the Hope in new life. In his dealings with us God is gracious and ever merciful. He is the Great Provider and the Keeper of the Covenant. The statutes of the Lord are immovable; nothing is more steadfast than God. In a changing world, God is the only thing that’s changeless.
Knowledge of these things makes a vast difference to us.
When we can see these qualities in God, we see them working for us, despite how easy or hard our lives are. Just the simple fact that we acknowledge the qualities in God is hope for us. In bearing the truth, however difficult, we align with wisdom; our knowledge is correctly based; so, too, is our faith.
The beginning of wisdom is the beginning of life. And the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. This is no ordinary fear. It is about simply understanding the truth of God. Everything else then follows from that correct standpoint. Our perspective is righted.
When we understand God in the midst of life we accept the unacceptable much more readily; we understand there’s a purpose in all things; we understand that visible and obvious things are not all there is. We can claim hope as ours. And peace too.
Such a wisdom as the knowledge of God is the beginning of all wisdom. Such a thing is solid, ever reliable, lauded for its trustworthiness.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. His praise endures forever.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.