30 Days in the Bible, Day 13: Psalm 119:97-104
Many ancient cultures produced what is called by scholars today “wisdom literature.” The Israelites were no exception. The Bible contains several books that are entirely written in that genre, including most of the poetic books of the Old Testament. While Psalms is not entirely a wisdom book, it contains many references to wisdom, and several psalms would be considered pieces of wisdom literature. Wisdom was a prized attribute for a person in ancient cultures.
Our own culture generally values knowledge over wisdom. What is admired is the “expert” who has detailed knowledge about a particular field. Where modern thought falls short is in what the purpose of knowledge is. One can accumulate facts forever, yet never really use them to make a difference in life or society.
Ancient cultures can teach us a lot here, but we must be careful. Wisdom writings from other ancient civilizations stress the importance of wisdom for the individual. The wise person is one who can control himself and who uses what he has gained to make his own life better. Wisdom arises from pondering one’s own experiences and drawing the proper conclusions from them.
Biblical wisdom has a different emphasis. Wisdom comes not from personal life experiences, but from the Word of God. By meditating and studying the Word, you can learn to live a life that is directed by the Lord, and that avoids many experiences that give you a more painful kind of experience. (Ecclesiastes is a wisdom book written by someone who learned the hard way!) Since God is both omniscient (all-knowing) and wise, His revelation can point you in the right path.
Following the Scriptures doesn’t mean you will never have difficult experiences. (See Job.) What it will do is enable you, as you follow the precepts of God, to ensure that you don’t create difficulties for yourself through disobedience. This section of Psalm 119 (the “mem” section, for those keeping track of the alphabet) links the study of the Word with obedience to the Word. Wisdom thus becomes the practical way we put the Word into practice in our lives.
Even when going through trials, we can find wisdom in the Bible to take us through those times. We will have troubles, illness, loss, and struggle, but we can rely on the Word of God to guide us through those times. Let God’s wisdom, revealed by the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word, guide you along the path of your life.