Our saga continues as we look where wisdom leads. God asks us to heed His Word and walk among the wise. He instructs us. Like a compass, God’s Word points to the correct route. He doesn’t want us lost at sea. He wants us safe, tucked with Him for all eternity.
The world says, “Go this way. The worldly way is easy and full of earthly treasure. Take what is yours. Disregard others. You have freedom, because you can do whatever you want. Consequences? No matter. Worry about those later. You have plenty of time to do what your heart desires. You’re entitled. Compromise. Just a little. Then a little more.”
We can’t kid ourselves. It’s dangerous to do so. Satan is like a shark circling the waters. He is opportunistic. If he thinks we believe the world’s way, he will have HIS way in our life. Satan’s way is sure to leave us bleeding from the pain and suffering sin and disobedience bring. Pain not always instantaneous, but it catches up like an infection festering beneath the surface. Life in peril when we believe the enemy’s lies.
The Holy Spirit whispers, “No, not that way. It is not the way of the wise. The world’s way leads to death, darkness, and your demise. Follow My way. My way is the only way to true freedom—peace for your soul. My way saves life and helps you live it abundant. Adventure awaits you. Walk with Me. Your life will be so full of love you have no room left for anything else.”
Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.—Psalm 107:43 NIV
In our pursuit of wisdom, it is imperative we seek God’s guidance through prayer and wait for the truth He whispers in response.
Over the last several weeks, we’ve talked at great length about wisdom’s path. It is paved by:
- Our humble cry in prayer to the Lord for help
- God’s response as He hears and turns to us in our time of need
- Our grateful acknowledgement of God’s goodness
Like a compass points the way, God guides us through His fourth example. Let’s continue to navigate through psalm 107, and let God’s Word point us to His wisdom.
Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the LORD, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end.—Psalm 107:23-27 NIV
As I read this portion of psalm 107, I could not help but think of another seafaring brood. There was a band of brothers, so to speak, who had encountered a perilous storm. It takes hearty stock to set out to sea, especially in biblical times before motors and coast guards to come to the rescue.
I envision these brave men, skin weathered from too much sun and salt over time. Perhaps in need of grooming from wind-whipped strings of hair as sea breezes combed through tangled strands. Hearty stock probably not too concerned with how they looked, but boat deck gleaming and ropes well-groomed. Sails neatly tucked, unlike seafaring shirts that billowed. All hands on deck to ensure safe operation from one port to the next.
All hands on deck that is until Jonah hopped aboard. He chose to hide down below.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.—Jonah 1:5b NIV
Jonah attempted to avoid a problem—consequences for his sin. He blatantly disobeyed God and he knew it. He was well aware the storm the sailors battled was a direct result of his behavior.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it”…But Jonah ran away from the LORD…he found a ship …he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.—Jonah 1:1-3 NIV
God had clearly told Jonah what to do. Jonah chose to do the exact opposite. He attempted to flee from the LORD. Jonah feared man more than he feared God. He didn’t trust that if God called him to teach the wicked Ninevites he would be equipped to do so. Jonah wasn’t in this assignment alone. He forgot about Immanuel, God with us.
Jonah knew the LORD. But Jonah thought he knew BETTER than the LORD. Big mistake!
We’re not so unlike Jonah sometimes. We can think we aren’t equipped. We can believe we aren’t capable. We can assume we’re not qualified. We can doubt God is with us and think, “That mission is too dangerous.” We can try to avoid our assignments and deceive ourselves into believing, “That’s someone else’s job.” We can, but that would be a big mistake on our part as well!
We should know the LORD. But we should never assume we know BETTER THAN the LORD.
When we act in a way that assumes we know better than God, we put ourselves and those we love at risk. Yes, God forgives our sin, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences. We can bring storms into our lives. Worse, we can bring storms into innocent bystanders’ lives. People we love and whose lives we touch can suffer consequences from our sin.
Look what happened in the lives of those Jonah encountered. No more was their ship in such great shape.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.—Jonah 1:4-5a NIV
Jonah had boarded a ship of nonbelievers. These sailors didn’t follow Yahweh, the One True God. Jonah’s sin subjected these nonbelievers to a perilous storm. You see, Jonah should have known better. He was Hebrew (see Jonah 1:9). He knew God and he knew God’s commands, yet he ran away from the LORD. God sent the storm, because there were bigger things at stake.
Certainly, God would be concerned with Jonah’s disobedience. He wouldn’t want Jonah to fall into the deceptive cycle that ultimately destroys God’s children. Disobedience doesn’t allow us to be all God created us to be. Jonah was a prophet, but he wasn’t fulfilling his calling. Jonah showed cowardice. God called him to courage. God calls us to be courageous too.
God would also be concerned with the seafarers that worshipped other gods. God had some glory to reveal. After all, look how desperate these sailors were: they threw away their cargo. No supplies meant no supper. They would have no tackle to catch fish. They would have no supplies stored away to sustain themselves. A perfect storm provided an opportunity for God to reveal Himself to a gathering of nonbelievers. They would have no excuse not to know Him. (They still had choice, but no excuse.)
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.—Psalm 107:28 NIV
God hears the cries, not just of believers, but of nonbelievers too. God created us all: those who believe and those who do not. Of course He cares to hear our cries for help. We are all made in His image. He has a heart for us all. His hope is everyone would turn to Him. Sometimes answered prayer is the way He gets our attention. He reveals Himself by bringing relief. Christ to our rescue.
Listen to the cries of the non-believing sailors as they were forced to throw Jonah overboard in order to save the ship.
Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.—Jonah 1:14-15 NIV
Scripture does not tell us how long the sailors fought raging seas before finally having no other choice but to toss Jonah overboard. They must have been exhausted. Storms have a way of zapping our energy. I found myself wondering what thoughts raced through these sailors’ minds as the seas settled from a raging storm to a quiet calm. Don’t you wonder? What would you have thought?
I imagine myself sitting on that ship, leaning back against the mast or some other support, too tired to sit up on my own. I might have cried—tears of relief the nightmare was over. Waves of peace will do that to a woman. Deep sigh because danger no longer imminent.
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm and he guided them to their desired haven.—Psalm 107:29-30 NIV
Just as psalm 107 states, we can assume the sailors were glad the seas grew calm. They were scared. Scripture says they were terrified (Jonah 1:10) when Jonah admitted to his disobedience to God. The quiet hush of the seas had to feel like a haven to the sailors who moments before felt shipwreck certain. Instead, they saw God’s response to Jonah’s prayer: provision through a fish sent to save him from plunging into the waters’ depths (Jonah 1:17).
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.—Psalm 107:31 NIV
One thing we do know, these unbelievers expressed thanks to a God they hadn’t previously worshipped. Here’s what we know for certain about their response to all God had done.
At this (the calming of the storm) the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.—Jonah 1:16 NIV (added for clarification)
If unbelievers give thanks to the LORD offering sacrifices and making vows to Him, how much more should we?
God revealed His glory to the sailors and He reveals it to us. God reveals His glory every single day when we’re looking. His glory revealed through silencing of storms, but also through the beauty of a sunset, or the warmth of a kind stranger’s smile. All of God’s creation reveals His glory (Psalm 29:3).
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. Psalm 107:32 NIV
When God reveals His glory, we are called to glorify Him. In the assembly, in our churches and in our daily living we are called to exalt God. We exalt Him with our obedience. We exalt Him with our praise. We are to humble ourselves and lift Him up. Humility is wisdom’s way.
Remember, we should seek to know the LORD. But we should never assume we know BETTER THAN the LORD.
Wisdom’s whisper says, “Through humility, prayer, and praise we show the Lord we know His way is best!”
QUESTIONS & ACTIONS
- Do you find it difficult to walk in humility?
- How does the thought of disobedience impacting loved ones effect your actions?
- How can you grow in obedience to Christ?
- What’s one practical step to take today?