Friday, March 24, 2006

How to Have the Understanding That Leads to Success

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
(Psalm 111:10)
The Hebrew for “good understanding,” refers to the kind of knowledge that leads to success. How does one get this kind of knowledge?

By fearing the Lord and doing His commandments.

Now we might just as well say, “by keeping His commandments,” or “by obeying His commandments.” But I like “doing” — it has a certain tangibility to it. I mean, you can keep something in your heart; you can obey something in your mind. But doing implies a “hands on” kind of activity and provides a solid way to measure your response: You either are doing something or you are not.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:48-49)

But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
Now, the first line of Psalm 111:10 says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. The second line shows us what the fear of the LORD looks like — doing His commandments.

Actually, the words “His commandments” are in italics. That means that they are provided by the translator for clarification. A more literal reading of the line would be: “A good understanding have all those who do.” But do what?

That leads us back to the first line: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. This wisdom is the skill and insight that shows you what to do. What we are supposed to do, then, is act on the practical wisdom and insight that comes from fearing the Lord.

But what does it mean to fear the Lord? God is not a terrorist. He does not want you to live in anxiety, worry and panic. The fear of the Lord is quite different. When you have this, you need not fear anything else. Here is how I have described it elsewhere:
The fear of the Lord is to live in absolute awe of God, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to treasure His favor above all things and avoid His displeasure at all costs, to take pleasure in His word, His will, His ways and His works and to honor them in everything you do.
The awe of God is like the breath-taking experience of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, or looking out from the top of the Empire State building. It is like the respect an electrician has for electricity — he knows what a great benefit it is, but he also realizes that he doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of it.

The wisdom of God is found in His Word; His will and His ways are revealed in His commandments and promises.

Living in awe of Yahweh God is the beginning of practical wisdom and insight. Doing what that practical wisdom and insight teaches you brings you to the kind of knowledge makes your way prosperous and leads you to good success.