Monday, July 31, 2017

Let the Wise Listen

I just wanted to share something that stood out to me from my Bible study so far this week. This week's Torah portion is Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11; Deuteronomy 4:6 is what I mainly want to focus on, but I will include verses 1-9 for context: 


"And now, O Yisra’ĕl, listen to the laws and the right-rulings which I am teaching you to do, so that you live, and shall go in and possess the land which Yahweh Elohim of your fathers is giving you.
Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of Yahweh your Elohim which I am commanding you. Your eyes have seen what Yahweh did at Ba‛al Pe‛or, for Yahweh your Elohim has destroyed from your midst all the men who followed Ba‛al Pe‛or. But you who are clinging to Yahweh your Elohim are alive today, every one of you.
See, I have taught you laws and right-rulings, as Yahweh my Elohim commanded me, to do thus in the land which you go to possess. And you shall guard and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding before the eyes of the peoples who hear all these laws, and they shall say, ‘Only a wise and understanding people is this great nation!’For what great nation is there which has Elohim so near to it, as Yahweh our Elohim is to us, whenever we call on Him? And what great nation is there that has such laws and righteous right-rulings like all this Torah which I set before you this day? Only, guard yourself, and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the Words your eyes have seen, and lest they turn aside from your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children and your grandchildren." (ISR)

There is SO much just in these few verses that really stand out to me, but I made it obvious where I am going in this post.  Verse 6 says that guarding the Torah (I have mentioned in other posts that Torah simply means "instructions") of Yahweh is our wisdom and understanding. I couldn't help but think of several verses in the Book of Proverbs where wisdom and understanding is mentioned.  I think it would be safe to say that wisdom and understanding is the theme of the Book of Proverbs.  Wisdom is personified and frequently referred to as "she" and "her":

 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the broad places. 

 And now, listen to me [Wisdom], you children, For blessed are they who guard my ways.

We see in Proverbs 8:32 the same exhortation to guard the ways of wisdom that we saw in Deuteronomy 4!  

 1 Chronicoles 22:12 we read David instructing his son, Solomon: "Only, let Yahweh give you wisdom and understanding, and command you concerning Yisra’ĕl, so that you guard the Torah of Yahweh your Elohim."

 Job 28:28 says that the "fear of Yahweh is wisdom", and "to turn from evil, that is understanding." 

Going back to Proverbs, in the fourth chapter there is a sense of urgency concerning wisdom and understanding: 

 Children, listen to the discipline of a father, And give attention to know understanding;
For I gave you good instruction: Do not forsake my Torah.
For I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the eyes of my mother,
Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; 
Guard my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!  
Do not forget, and do not turn away From the words of my mouth.
“Do not leave her, and let her guard you; Love her, and let her watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is: Get wisdom
And with all your getting, get understanding.
“Exalt her, and let her uplift you; She brings you esteem when you embrace her.
“She gives your head a fair wreath, She shields you with an adorning crown.”
Hear, my son, and accept my words, And let the years of your life be many.
I have taught you in the way of wisdom, I have led you in straight paths.
When you walk your steps shall not be hindered, And if you run you shall not stumble.
Hold fast to discipline, do not let go; Watch over her
for she is your life.

And in Proverbs 23:23 we read this advice: "Buy the truth and do not sell it – Wisdom and discipline and understanding."  There are so many more verses that I could share from Proverbs alone, but I will stop there.    

In the New Testament we read about Paul praying for Believers to be "filled with the knowledge of His desire in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to walk worthily of the Master, pleasing all, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Elohim." (Colossians 1:9-10) And in Colossians 4:5 Paul exhorts Believers to "walk in wisdom".

Paul is not the only New Testament writer who wrote about wisdom.  James instructs us to ask for wisdom:  "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him." (James 1:5) And then in James 3:17 we read:
"But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." I put in bold "ready to obey" because it is the same thing as "guard" that is used in the other verses.

Throughout the entirety of the Bible we see a consistent thread connecting wisdom and understanding to Yahweh's Torah, and how His children must diligently guard the Torah

The Torah of Yahweh IS wisdom and understanding. 
 
 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. 
Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)