Where can wisdom be found?
It is born in the fear of God.
Everyone who follows his ways
Will never lack his living-understanding.
And the adoration of God
Will abide throughout eternity! (Psalms 111:10, Passion Translation)

Wisdom, to the Old Testament writers, was living in harmony with God’s creation.  It was understanding the world that God had created and ordering one’s life to live in accordance with that understanding.  Where did wisdom come from?  It is born in the fear of  God. 

We think that wisdom is born in a good education, or in studying and comprehending the natural world, or in life experience, but the Old Testament writers did not agree with this at all.  Wisdom came from God–it was present at the creation–and therefore if one wanted wisdom, one had to find it in relation to God, specifically in the fear of God.  In that awe and weightiness that comes with our grasp of God as king of the universe and master of all things.

It follows then that if we do not have fear of God, then we will not have wisdom.  We might be bright, intelligent, have an excellent education, and all the appearance of wisdom, but Scripture is clear, wisdom is grounded in the fear of the Lord.

John Calvin writes here: “The prophet declares all the wisdom of the world, without the fear of God, to be vanity or an empty shadow.”

And so it is.

 

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Awake, O my soul, with the music of his splendor.

Arise my soul and sing his praises!

I will awaken the dawn with my worship,

Greeting the daybreak with my songs of light! (Ps 108.2, Passion Translation)

Is there anything better in this world than a psalm by David? I can’t think of anything at all.

Here David speaks to his own soul and calls it to renewed faithfulness with renewed day. The coming of daylight to us is not that big of a deal because we live in a world of artificial light and can make “daylight” in our homes whenever we want. David’s world was a world lit only by fire, so even the brightest lamp could only push back the darkness a little bit. When the sun rose, it was a very big deal.

Daylight was a reminder of God’s faithfulness day after day. David himself will write elsewhere:

What a heavenly home God has set for the sun,

Shining in the superdome of the sky!

See how he leaves his celestial chamber each morning,

Radiant as a bridegroom ready for his wedding,

Like a day-breaking champion eager to run his course. (Ps 119.5, Passion Translation)

Is there any activity that we can call our soul to each morning, that is better than to Awake! And sing the praises of our great Creator God? Is there any way to greet the dawn better than with worship? I cannot think of any. Neither could David.

Yet even so, you waited and waited, watching to see

If they would turn and cry out to you for a Father’s help.

And then, when you heard their cry you relented,

And you remembered your covenant

And you turned your heart toward them again,

According to your abundant, overflowing, and limitless love. (Ps 106.44-45, Passion Translation)

The context of this passage is Israel’s unfaithfulness in light of God’s own faithfulness. The psalmist describes the great deliverance from Egypt at the Red Sea and juxtaposes that with Israel’s unfaithfulness in the wilderness. Then he recounts Israel’s unfaithfulness in the Promised Land. They sank lower and lower, the Passion Translation reads, destroyed by their depravity (vs. 43).

But…

The psalmist doesn’t stop there. God’s nature is such that he is faithful to his covenant with his people, even when they are unfaithful to him. You remembered your covenant and you turned your heart toward them again.

God’s covenant is based on his abundant, overflowing, and limitless love, and it is this love for which we are grateful because in our own way, we ourselves are just like the generation of the Exodus; ever prone to unfaithfulness, ever prone to wandering, every prone to turning away from our God.

Thank the Lord that we can turn and cry out to you for a Father’s help.

May you be pleased with every sweet thought I have about you,
For you are the source of my joy and gladness! (Psalms 104:34, Passion Translation)

That the followers of Yahweh will think deeply [ESV “meditate” which ironically means “to growl or mutter”] about Him is assumed by the psalmist (David?).  Since Yahweh is the source of joy and gladness, then it seems obvious that the follower of God would think, ponder, consider, meditate, growl, mutter (to the Hebrews meditation seems to have been something done aloud) about and in the presence of God Himself.

The psalmist doesn’t tell us his exact thoughts, but he really doesn’t need to because a cursory reading of the psalms shows that they were thinking about God in relation to: creation, worry, presence, care, concern, the past, the future, the present, and literally everything else that concerned the psalmists.  Wouldn’t it make sense that God is somehow linked to everything that happens in our lives, and wouldn’t it make sense that it would be worth thinking “sweet thoughts” of how God is related to all the events of our lives?

I do not believe there is a right or wrong answer as we mediate about God, as if we could somehow do it wrong.  I think the Holy Spirit will lead us ever deeper into fellowship with him.

Spurgeon: “We ought, therefore, both for our own good and for the Lord’s honour to be much occupied with meditation, and that meditation should chiefly dwell upon the Lord himself: it should be “meditation of him.” For want of it much communion is lost and much happiness is missed.”

With my whole heart, with my whole life,
And with my innermost being,
I bow in wonder and love before you, the Holy God! (Psalms 103:1, Passion Translation)

Unsurprisingly, with its soaring eloquence, this psalm is written by David, the shepherd-king.  He pens words of entirety and completion here: Whole heart, whole life, innermost being  (ESV has all that is within me, which is fine, but certainly doesn’t capture what David surely meant in a poetic sense), these words imply that David is all in with the Lord; that every fiber of his being is committed to God; that there is not an inch of his person or character that does not desire to pursue God with everything that he is.

This is not to imply that David was perfect, for her surely was not.  The Hebrews understood righteousness, not as perfection, but as pursuing God according to how God had commanded his people to pursue him.  David delights in Yahweh and only in Yahweh.

Spurgeon writes here: “Our very life and essential self should be engrossed with this delightful service, and each one of us should arouse his own heart to the engagement. Let others forbear if they can: “Bless the Lord, O MY soul.”

 

But then I remember that you, O Lord,
Still sit enthroned as King over all!
The fame of your name will be revealed to every generation! (Psalms 102:12, Passion Translation)

The title attached to this Psalm by the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) is: “A prayer for those who are overwhelmed and for all the discouraged who come to pour out their hearts before the Lord.”

And so it is.  “Do not hide your face from me,” pleads the psalmist, “my days pass away like smoke.”  “My bones cling to my flesh,” and “I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink.” One could scarcely imagine a more vivid description of depression and discouragement.

However…

Along comes our verse in the middle of this very bleak and discouraging outlook: But then I remember that you, O Lord, Still sit enthroned as King over all!” 

Wow!  Now that was unexpected, and I believe this is exactly what the psalmist was trying to accomplish.  He first paints a true and realistic and starkly depressing picture of his life, then he stops in the middle and says, “but the truth of the matter is this: “God is still the king, even when my life lays in pieces before me.”

This is solid comfort because the storms of life will eventually break on us; difficult times will come; people will fail us; jobs are lost, illness comes, things that we had counted on do not pan out, and over all of this, over all of our disappointment and discouragement, God is still king.  He still rules.  He is still in control.  He is still working all things to the praise of his glory, and indeed for the ultimate good of his people.

Spurgeon comments here: “The sovereignty of God in all things is an unfailing ground for consolation; he rules and reigns whatever happens, and therefore all is well.”

As you serve him, be glad and worship him.
Sing your way into his presence with joy! (Psalms 100:2, Passion Translation)

One of the mistakes that we might make as we worship Our Lord is to be too focused on his justice and the weightiness of his judgment.  Now don’t get me wrong, God’s judgment is very weighty, but this is not what God wants us to focus on when we enter into his presence.  He wants us to Sing your way into his presence with joy!   An encounter with God ought to be one that we delight in, that we anticipate, that we enter with joy and thanksgiving in the knowledge that God delights in our delight.

This seems to be what John Piper means in his oft repeated sentence: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.”

Spurgeon writes here:

The measured, harmonious, hearty utterance of praise by a congregation of really devout persons is not merely decorous but delightful, and is a fit anticipation of the worship of heaven, where praise has absorbed prayer, and become the sole mode of adoration.

Then he quotes part of a song by Isaac Watts:

“Let those refuse to sing
Who never knew our God;
But favourites of the heavenly king
Must speak his praise abroad.”

May we sing our way into God’s presence with joy, every time we enter there.