Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.—Psalm 107:43 NIV
Presumably, we all have a desire for wisdom. As Christ-followers we want to be perceived as someone who lives life in a manner worthy of our calling as children of God. We want others to look at us and thirst for what we have, even if they don’t understand it or its source. We rely on God’s great love to lead them on the path to wisdom. We rely on God’s great love to lead us on the path to wisdom.
What steps do we take to travel wisdom’s path?
Matthew Henry says, “A prudent observance of the providences of God will contribute very much to accomplishing of a good Christian.”¹
To explain the providences of God, let’s look at what Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible has to say about the concept of providence.
“Providence occurs because God cares about the universe and everyone in it. All through the centuries of human existence there have been those who took great comfort in the fact of providence. It means realizing at certain places in life that God has been there before. It is the evidence that God has not left this planet alone in the vast universe or forgotten for a moment the human situation. God visits, touches, communicates, controls, and intervenes, coming before and between man and his needs. Providence is ground for thankfulness.”²
God sees. God knows. God provides.
We are wise when we allow God to contribute to the accomplishing of our becoming a good Christian.
How, exactly, does that happen? God provides the answer in His Word.
Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.—Psalm 107:43 NIV
Certainly, we are to consider the LORD’S great love. When we fully grasp how much He loves us, His love leads us from one adventure to the next. We see His hand in all we do and in all we become, and we know all of that goodness is because of His great love for us. Left to our own devices, we might have knowledge – but never wisdom.
But there’s something more—these things. God gives us a clue when He mentions these things. They hold another key to unlock wisdom. What are these things God tells us to consider?
As I read this last verse of Psalm 107, I wondered. I pondered. I considered as God commands. I went back to see what things God wants me—and you—to heed.
When a theme repeats itself, it’s like the beat of a drum driving a melody for us to remember. A catchy tune captures our attention. Words scribed over and over in Scripture should capture our attention as well.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.—Psalm 107:6 NIV
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,—Psalm 107:8 NIV
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.—Psalm 107:13 NIV
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,—Psalm 107:15 NIV
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.—Psalm 107:19 NIV
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,—Psalm 107:21 NIV
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.—Psalm 107:28 NIV
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,—Psalm 107:28 NIV
“As there is but one Helper, who is God, so there is but one means of obtaining His help, and that is prayer; but the essence and soul of prayer is faith.”³
Through our faith as we cry out to God, trusting that He hears our pleas and petitions, we gain His wisdom. He guides us through storms. He gives us His council. He hears our cries for help, and He responds.
His unfailing love toward us demonstrated, in part, by His answer to our prayer. We are wise when we look for and remember all His wonderful deeds. Surely as we live and breathe, God’s wonderful deeds exist. We may have to push aside the debris of our life—full of drama and dilemmas—and see, once again, God’s glory revealed through His goodness extended to us.
You see, it’s easy for us to forget and get lost in bouts of self-pity. I’m reminded of Jonah. Jonah, anchored to his disobedience to God, could have been destined for burial beneath the water’s surface. Yet God answered Jonah’s prayer when he was sitting in the belly of a fish.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave, I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”—Jonah 2:1-2 NIV
God saved Jonah’s life when he could have sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor to be seen no more.
A mammal submerged in the seas required to surface for air during Jonah’s 3 day “sabbatical” in the belly of a whale. Surely, Jonah would have drowned if not for God’s providence—unusual as it was. God doesn’t always answer our prayers in a way that makes sense to us. However, God’s response to our prayer remains utterly trustworthy. We believe it in faith when we know the depths of His love.
How soon Jonah forgot God’s saving hand that provided a fish to bring him salvation.
Jonah plopped down for a good pout. Here he had been delivered from certain death, yet he had the audacity to complain to God when God extended compassion toward the Ninevites (the evil people Jonah had run from in disobedience to God and landed him in the belly of the whale in the first place).
In all of Jonah’s self obsession, he whined as if he had never been the recipient of God’s goodness, mercy, and compassion. He didn’t want others he deemed undeserving to receive what he had been freely given from God.
Jonah said, “…I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”—Jonah 4:2b-3 NIV
Jonah didn’t see that he was no more deserving of God’s goodness than the Ninevites. Some would argue that he was less deserving. Jonah was a believer. He knew God, yet he had disobeyed God’s command. The Ninevites weren’t God’s followers in the first place.
How often are we like Jonah? “Lord, if I don’t get my way, I might just wither and die.” “Take my side.” Even if we are only looking at our version of the truth and not the complete picture that only God possesses.
None of us likes to struggle. None of us likes to learn lessons the hard way. We’d rather float on the luxurious yacht of life than be plunged into the deep sea. I’m not much for fish — especially if they are nibbling on my toes. If I’m sitting in said fish’s halitosis-smelling cavernous mouth? Even worse! No thank you!
When we are in a personal pit, it is difficult to see other people. In Jonah’s defense, he was afraid. The Ninevites were an evil, intimidating bunch. It might be equivalent to the modern-day encounter with a known terrorist group. Jonah couldn’t see past his fear to see what God had in mind. Instead of praying and asking for God’s help (and missing all of the ways God provided for him in the process), Jonah pouted about his personal needs.
But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”—Jonah 4:10-11 NIV
God cared about Jonah as He had already demonstrated. But you can bet God also cared about the 120,000 Ninevites who didn’t know Him. God sees the total plan. We only see our version of the truth, our little piece that affects us. Let’s make every effort to not let our little piece affect our entire perspective.
Whatever vantage point we are looking from, we should respond in gratitude to God for all He has given us. Regardless of what He gives someone else, He has already given each of us much. He knows what is needed in every circumstance. We do not. That’s why it’s important that we pray.
And when He answers? We are to respond with a heart of gratitude, not one of whiny entitlement. “Why don’t you do more God?” He’s already done so much. He did enough when He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet, somehow we all want more – including me. I’m as guilty as the next person.
How often do we not appreciate God’s answer to our prayers? How often do we not see His providential hand doling out to us all His goodness? I think we need to be intentional. Otherwise, the evidences He gives of His goodness might escape us.
“It is easier to cry to God in distress, than to give thanks in the Church after deliverance.—There is nothing better to be wished for than to have a heart capable of appreciating God’s benefits, and an eye open to His doings; for then thanksgiving and supplication, fear and trust, anxiety and hope, are in their true relations, and after the right manner.—He who has enjoyed God’s help should mark (1) in what distress he has been; (2) how he called to God; (3) how God has helped him; (4) what thanks he has returned; and (5) what thanks he is yet bound to render.”⁴
One who desires to travel wisdom’s path, never forgets all that God has done for her.
- She marks off where she was before God met her in her plight.
- She recalls her cry to the LORD.
- She inscribes upon her heart all the ways God has helped her.
- She thanks God for all His wonderful deeds and His unfailing love toward her.
- She fosters a heart of gratitude for all God’s goodness He has yet to bestow upon her.
These steps lead her on the sure and certain path to wisdom. Her footing is secure. And so is her faith.
As her faith is strengthened, so to is her ability to extend the goodness, mercy, & compassion God has so freely given her. She won’t look on covetously at what God has given someone else, because she is well aware of all He has already given her.
QUESTIONS & ACTIONS
- Mark off the path to wisdom God has personally led you on. Prayerfully take the journey through all five of the steps and apply them to your life.
I was ( ) before God met me in my plight / heard my prayer.
I cried out to God for ( ) and He answered my prayer.
Think of a way that you will remember God’s answers to prayer. (i.e. Journal, a gratitude box full of answered prayers, visual reminders, whatever will help you remember God’s faithfulness.)
Thank God for answered prayer. Be specific. God, thank you for ( ).
Thank God for future answer to prayer. Lift your petitions to Him in gratitude. Thank you, LORD, for (make your request).
¹Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.
²Elwell, W.A., & Beitzel, B.J. (1988). In Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
³Lange, J.P., Schaff, P., Moll, C.B., Briggs, C.A., Forsyth, J., Hammond, J.B., …Conant, T.J. (2008). A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms (p. 547). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
4Lange, J.P., Schaff, P., Moll, C.B., Briggs, C.A., Forsyth, J., Hammond, J.B., …Conant, T.J. (2008). A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms (p. 546). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.