Meditations on Monday: Wisdom and Understanding

October 30, 2023 | Written by Titus Jr Laxa

And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
    and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Job 28:28

No one wants to be a fool.

If there is anything we are afraid of, we can say, we are afraid of dying, of failing, and of being a fool. That is why very often in prayer requests, we often hear Christians asking for wisdom and understanding. We want wisdom whether or not to buy the house and lot being offered to us. We emphasize wisdom as what we need when making the decision of whether to get married or focus on our careers. We want our decision and choice to enter full-time ministry to be one that is guided by wisdom. Yet, what does wisdom mean? For some it means the ability to make decisions that will result in the highest blessing at the lowest cost. It means that when I make a decision, it will result in me having the greatest joy and the littlest regret. For example, if I'm seeking wisdom for which job offer I should be pursuing, what I am hoping is that I will have the ability to make the decision that will lead me to a job that will give me the most benefits and lesser stress. If I am seeking wisdom to pass an exam, it means that I want my efforts in preparation for the exam to give me the most retentive memory that will enable me to succeed in the test. However, is that what wisdom is all about?

Yet, in Job 28:28, we hear the Word of God expressing to us what wisdom is. Job, while writhing in the pain of his afflictions and the judgmental accusations of his three friends, cries out a simple, yet essential understanding of what wisdom actually is: the fear of the Lord. He says, "And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom," Job does not express wisdom as the ability to get out of his painful predicament, nor the ability to be witty and put to shame the excruciating judgments of his three friends. He says, that the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.

Now much has been said about the fear of the Lord. Some think of it as being reverential to the Lord, which often is expressed by the dour commitment of making sure they are doing their daily devotions, not forgetting to pray to the Lord, and being in church 52 days a year (or 2 days a year for some). Yet to fear the Lord, at its core, is to recognize Him for who He is in relation to you. He is Lord, and I am not. His Word to me holds authority over me, that whatever He says, I will do - because I fear and revere Him. To understand this, think back at the time you were in high school. You had two teachers back then, one a normal, very gracious yet lax teacher, who doesn't mind that you come to school late, and who doesn't teach much and just makes you attend class. You also had the terror teacher, the one who makes you attentive and scared, yet engaged with your school works. Suppose that both teachers give you an assignment with the same date and time for the deadline. Which one will we focus on doing? Which one will we prioritize and give our best effort? Nine times out of ten, we would most likely prioritize the one given by our terror teacher, why? Simply because we fear the teacher.

Today, with the emphasis on the love and kindness of God, we tend to forget that God is God, and to disregard His Word, His Will is foolishness. Yet why is fear of Him wisdom? This is because of two important truths about God, First, He knows the way we ought to take. He is the God who created us and have ordained for us the path we are to take and the choices we are to make, and He has revealed this will of His through His Word. When we ask wisdom on how to deal with our husband who doesn't listen to us, He has revealed His will. When we ask for wisdom on how to decide on our college course, when our parents are not supportive of our choice, He has revealed His will in His sacred Word. When we ask for wisdom how to resolve conflicts in the church, He has revealed His way to us through His Word. Second, to ignore His ways is to invite consequences that He has warned us to avoid. Thus, when we fear Him, we listen to Him, put weight to what He says, and follow Him, even if it may seem confusing or difficult - we are actually walking in wisdom.

You may ask, why is it important that we think about wisdom this way? The reason: How we understand wisdom will result in what we pursue. If our understanding of wisdom is the ability to make decisions that will result in the highest success and the lowest pain, then we will make our decisions merely on our perception of that premise. If submitting to my husband is something I tried but I have not seen changes in him, isn't it time to find another way to change his wayward ways? If this job I have committed to is too hard and giving me much stress, isn't it time to resign and find another? Yet, if wisdom means fearing God, then it means that what I will pursue is His revealed will. For if His will is the wisdom we seek, once He reveals His will, I will trust Him by obeying Him and leaving the outcome to Him, whether it will bring me the highest joys, or it will bring me through the valley of the shadow of death, I will trust Him. Why? Because He knows the way I should take, be it to satisfy me or sanctify me. Why should I follow what He says? Because I fear Him, and the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.

Oh Lord, help us to fear you for who you are. Let our fear result in following your revealed will. For in your will, there is wisdom. Help us Lord Jesus in our day to day decisions, to decide based on what you have commanded us to do so.


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