Psalm 119:98-100 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
At first glance this might seem to be a very conceited declaration, but there’s a lot of truth here. My father was his mother’s pride and joy, but there was still real truth in something she said to him once. My mother told the tale, with laughter, of how my parents and grandparents were riding in a car together one time and my father was bemoaning a tendency to conceit. His mother responded with, “But Max, there’s a difference between conceit and recognizing the truth.” The fact was that my father was certainly not perfect, but he was enormously gifted, and failure to recognize and apply that would not have been humility, but rather poor stewardship. The three points on which the Psalmist claims superiority are all based on his attitude and response toward God. If you have internalized God’s commands so that they become yours indeed, then you are certainly wiser than those who might oppose you because of their rebellion against God. In the second point, teaching something can be a good way to learn it, but when it comes to God’s Word, treating it as just something academic is going to blind you to the riches it contains. The NIV says “I meditate on your statutes,” but the Japanese says, “Your statutes are my thoughts.” You have to let the Word percolate through you to really grasp it. And the third point is one I really need to remember: age by itself doesn’t give understanding of the Word; you have to be committed to obedience. A right relationship to God and His Word is indeed the foundation of true wisdom, as the Bible tells us in many, many places.
This of course applies very directly to me. I’ve been blessed with a high IQ, but if I don’t apply that accurately to God and His Word, I am certainly a fool. I’ve got to remember Jesus’ words: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) I have been gifted in a number of ways, but none of that makes me superior in value to anyone else. As Jesus also said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) I am not to deny what God has given me, but at the same time I must never think I have “arrived.” Paul’s remarks on that point in Philippians 3:1-14 are very applicable. I am to seek the wisdom, insight, and understanding the Psalmist talks about, not for the purpose of “being superior” but so that I may be a good steward of God’s grace.
Father, thank You again for being so incredibly gracious toward me. I feel there is very little in my life I could point to as “achievement;” it’s all a testimony of Your grace. Help me be a good steward indeed, making the use that You intend of everything You have placed in my hands, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!