Understanding. That’s the word for the morning. It’s the one that jumped off the page. The word that appears three times in the portion of Psalm 119 I was reading. Interesting though . . . unlike the ESV most often, the ESV translators used “understanding” for two different words in the original. The first has the idea of being prudent or circumspect. The second, the idea of being discerning or insightful.
Prudent, circumspect, discerning. As I chew on those words they seem to be words that many would consider to be old fashioned. You know, the kind of words you’d find in a movie set in the early 1800’s. Words that you recognize as part of the English language, but not part of the everyday, modern day English language. Words perhaps not used as much any more because they are not valued much any more.
But being prudent, circumspect, and discerning are the way of wisdom (perhaps another old fashioned word). Wisdom being a much valued treasure in the economy of the kingdom of heaven (check out the early chapters of Proverbs). For, as said so well by Chuck Swindoll, wisdom is looking at life from God’s point of view, it is the art of skillful living. And wisdom, along with prudence, circumspection, and discernment, are to be found in God’s word.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep Your precepts. . . .
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
(Psalm 119:99, 100, 104 ESV)
The songwriter sings of meditating on the word of God, and of keeping the word of God as he made it a life habit to take in the word of God. Not that it’s about formulas, but this is probably a pretty good start at how to see life from God’s point of view and of building up muscle in the art of skillful living.
His discernment surpassed the academics. His prudence exceeded those who relied solely on experience. His ability to distinguish right from wrong was fine-tuned.
Wisdom is not dependent solely on how smart we are, but on how supple we are. Not just about how much we know of the Word, but how much the Word knows of us–“piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The art of skillful living is not simply gained by doing life and gaining experience for “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12). Rather it’s developed as, by faith, we step out and walk in the way God says we should walk and find that, in fact, it is the way of life everlasting. It’s as we taste and see that the LORD is good.
Yeah. I think that too many in our culture consider that being prudent, circumspect, and discerning are Victorian-era virtues not really relevant for today. They’re probably the same people who also believe the word of God is kind of out of date, as well. May that not be the case among the people of God.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)
Let’s be those who chew on solid food. Let’s continue to work out the Word in our lives and thus have our powers of discernment fine-tuned. Let’s continue to make His word our meditation, our way of action, and our source of wisdom.
And if that’s being old fashioned, then let’s be old fashioned.
By His grace. For His glory.