September 15, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.
Psalm 111 is an acrostic psalm where each line of poetry follows the letters of the Hebrew alphabet from beginning to end. Even today people make use of acrostics to help them remember things (e.g., “HOMES” helps us remember the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior). It’s quite appropriate that this psalm is written as an acrostic, since the theme of the psalm is remembering the great works of God, and His faithfulness to His people throughout history. Given all that God’s people have been through, and will continue to endure, it’s important that we remember that God keeps His covenant, and He will continue to look out for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
The conclusion of the psalm is a reminder that in the midst of giving praise to God and remembering His goodness and faithfulness, there is a need to have a reverent and respectful attitude toward Him. Wisdom is not simply a matter of remembering how good God is, and remembering all the many ways He has blessed and protected His people in the past. These are certainly worthy of our meditation, and deserve to be considered often to encourage and sustain us. But more important is that we remember the fact that the God we serve is the Lord of the universe, the One who saved us from a punishment we deserved. By His sovereign will and for His own purposes, He chose to free us from the penalty of our sin through the death and resurrection of His Son. As I’ve said before: He owes us nothing, we owe Him everything. Wisdom, therefore, truly begins with a fear of the Lord–an acknowledgement of His ownership of us, and His supreme power and authority over all creation, including our lives.
This perspective on our lives should guide us as we live out His precepts, following the instructions He has laid out for us. We obey God’s commands because we are grateful for all He has done for us. In light of the knowledge we have of God’s saving grace, our lives are a constant refrain of praise to Him.
May we remember all that God has done for us, not least of which is the salvation He bought for us in Christ. I pray that our understanding of how much we don’t deserve the grace we’ve been given will help us be wise in the way we live our lives to the glory of our great God and Savior.
Have a great week!
Colin D Smith