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The Wise God

The God Who Is  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:54
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God's Wisdom fills His people wiht song and wonder.

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There is a quippy statement that I found attributed to 2 different authors, so I’ll just share it as anonymous, “You are not what you think you are; but… what you think, you are
This is a poetic way of saying a verse that was quoted often by my mother. Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) — For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…
My experience has been that people’s countenance often reflects the ideas they entertain. I believe I’ve told the story about the optimist and pessimist boys who were sent to clean the barn. One focused on the manure while the other figured that manure proved that a pony was nearby.
There is a section of books in the middle of our Bibles that is called “Books of Poetry” or “Wisdom Literature”. These books do not advance the plot from Genesis where we read about the Fall to Christ, our Redeemer, to Revelation where we read about the Kingdom being fulfilled in a new heaven and new earth.
If these books do not advance the plot, why did God include them in the inspired Scriptures? These books are a collection over many years of the thoughts that God gave to humans about who He is.
As we speak about wisdom, the Bible uses a different definition than our common understanding. We tend to think of wisdom as choices that lead to success or desired outcomes and foolishness as choices that create problems. In the Bible we find clear definitions of wisdom and foolishness.
Proverbs 1:7 ESV:2016
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Psalm 14:1 ESV:2016
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
This morning we are going to look in detail at one of these poems/songs and briefly glimpse at several others to capture snapshots of God’s revelation of Himself to man.

Song of Wisdom (Psalm 1)

The Righteous (Ps 1:1-3)

Psalm 1:1–3 ESV:2016
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
1. What the Righteous are not (v.1)
a. “walk in” is to be “as they are”
b. This pictures a growing comfort – walk, stand, sit
2. What the Righteous are (v.2)
This is the idea of a thought that you just can’t escape.
I have friends and family across the political spectrum and some of them get really focused on one issue. I have one family member who seems to see every single news story as an attempt to take away his guns. I have another family member who sees greedy capitalism as lurking behind every social ill.
I continue to discuss and love both of these family members even though they seem to have blinders on and see every situation through their tinted lenses.
This is what v. 2 is saying – the righteous person filters every option through the screen of God’s law; and they delight in doing so.
3. A Righteous metaphor (v.3)
I’ve learned a lot about the grass of the Tallgrass prairie in the last year. I’ve learned that the root system for prairie grass can actually go down 7 – 10 feet so that when drought’s like we had a year ago come around, the plants continue to life so that after the burn they can produce lush, protein-rich foliage for the Spring herds.
This is the picture of v.3 that describes the plants that survive from moisture that may not be seen on the surface.

The Wicked (Ps 1:4-5)

Psalm 1:4–5 ESV:2016
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
1. “not so”
2. They are like Chaff
I’ve been intrigued by the harvest process. Jeff Harshman was describing to me his younger years that involved a lot of shoveling to get the corn from the field to the silo.
Today modern machines seem to almost automatically separate the grain from the cobs and the stalks and scatters the worthless parts out the back of the combine to be disked into the ground
What used to happen was the plant was beaten to separate the grain from the plant, then all of that was tossed into the air which would allow the dense grain to fall while the lighter parts of the crop would be blown away by the wind.
3. This is the picture the psalmist paints. The wicked are discarded and separated from that which has value.

The Wisdom Contrast (Ps 1:6)

Psalm 1:6 ESV:2016
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
1. The path/way of the righteous is established
2. The path/way of the wicked is erased.
As a response to the heat and humidity we’ve had recently, let me share 2 pictures from the part of Wisconsin where Ann and I were a week ago. Now, in full disclosure, these pictures were not taken last week! Each February Lake Geneva hosts the National Snow Sculpting Championship. Here are pictures of the last 2 champions.
But after the weeks of planning, and days of labor, the whole thing disappears in less than a month and today there is no evidence that these sculptures ever stood.

Application

1. Psalm 1 is called a Wisdom Psalm because it contrasts between two paths, with no third option.
2. Who do you think is the greatest Wisdom preacher of the New Testament? Jesus. When we looked at the Sermon on the Mount we looked at many of Jesus’ contrasts. [wide or narrow path, building on rock or sand, sheep or goats, etc.]
3. Wisdom genre divides between 2 options. This runs contrary to the popular idea that “he’s basically a good person, he just made some poor choices.”
4. Wisdom literature forces us to polarize at the black or white rather than live in the grey.
Transition: Let’s quickly look at some other example of the Wisdom idea.

Songs of Wonder

Foolishness Exposed (PS 14:1)

Psalm 14:1 ESV:2016
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
1. I briefly mentioned this psalm when defining wisdom and foolishness.
Many of our holidays have a religious origin. Did you realize that we even have an annual commemoration for Atheists? It happens on April 1 of each year.
2. Our scientifically enlightened culture tries to paint the person who believes in God as the simpleton who uses faith as a crutch or believes a fairy-tale.
3. How many of you are familiar with Pascal’s Wager? Pascal reasoned that there are only 4 possible combinations of the questions “is there a God?” and “Do I believe in Him?”
a. If there is a God and I do believe in Him then I have purpose in this life and hope in the afterlife.
b. If there is a God and I don’t believe in Him then I miss His purpose for me in this life, and have no hope in eternity.
c. If there is not a God and I do believe in Him then I may be delusional in this life, but have lost nothing in eternity.
d. If there is not a God and I do not believe in Him then I may have fun in this life but neither lose nor gain anything in eternity.
· With these 4 options, clearly the best outcome is if there is a God and we believe in Him, and the worst possible outcome is if there is a God and we do not believe in Him, for we suffer double loss. This is why the psalmist concludes it is the fool who says there is no God.

Creation points to a Creator (PS 19:1-6)

Psalm 19:1–6 ESV:2016
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
1. There is a purpose to the grandeur of the heavenly bodies
2. The 2nd part of this Psalm teaches that God not only speaks through creation, but He speaks through Scripture.

A Song of Experience (PS 40:1-3; 11-13; 15-16)

Psalm 40:1–3 ESV:2016
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:11–13 ESV:2016
11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. 13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!
Psalm 40:15–16 ESV:2016
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
1. God was gracious when I was in a slimy pit. (vv.1-3)
2. God offers hope in current struggles (vv.11-13)
3. God delivers when others mock (vv.15-16)
Transition: God’s greatness and goodness cause His people to sing. This is no perfunctory “now I lay me down to sleep” or “God is Great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food”. The God who is there is a God who creates, shows mercy, cuts covenant, rules and reigns as King and touches us at the deepest parts of our soul. The other 4 books of Wisdom literature also reveal this great Wisdom that comes from knowing and obeying this God.

Words of Wisdom

Proverbs (Prov 1:7)

1. Throughout the book 2 paths are offered. Often portrayed as 2 women—Wisdom or Folly.
2. Earlier I shared Pr. 1:7 which is repeated in Pr 9:10.
The fear mentioned here is not the terror that a young child manifests when a large dog growls or barks. It is not the animosity that we find between many in the African-American community and Law Enforcement nor the never-ending caution of those who are here illegally when they see Immigration officials raid their factory.
3. “This is the fear of God that recognizes that he is matchlessly holy, righteous, and just—and we are not. God is our judge as well as our only hope. There lies the beginning of wisdom.”[i]
4. The fool says “there is no God”. The wise person realizes who God is and that He is always present.
5. Proverbs shows how this wisdom plays out in life.

Job (Job 1:21)

1. Job is a story of a righteous and wise man whom Satan believes he can turn into a fool.
2. Although calamity comes into Job’s life, Job remains wise and patient
Job 1:21 ESV:2016
21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
3. This verse is the source of the modern praise song Blessed Be the Lord.

Ecclesiastes (Ecc 12:1,13-14)

1. Ecclesiastes is the journal of a man who tries to find meaning apart from God.
2. He tries power, pleasure, wealth and concludes they all leave a person feeling empty.
3. The only WISE conclusion is found at the end of the book.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 ESV:2016
1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 ESV:2016
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Song of Songs

1. This is a book that can make the most stoic man blush. Hence it is rarely preached from the pulpit.
2. Some have tried to moderate the embarrassment by saying that the book is purely a metaphor for God’s love for His people.
3. While this is an application of the book, I believe the root meaning of the book to its original audience is that there is something pure and beautiful about the love of a man and a woman within the boundaries that God intended.
4. Our identity as male and female was created by God and when we surrender to His purpose for intimacy and sexuality we live wisely.
5. So many of the gender identity issues being explored in our culture CANNOT exist if one has a biblical view of God. One can only come to non-binary conclusions if they deny that God exist or they view God as capable of making mistakes—which is NOT the God of the Bible.
Transition: These 5 books of Hebrew poetry Literature expose the difference between wise living and foolishness. If your experience is anything like mine, our lives are full of much LESS Wisdom than they should.
Conclusion:
What do we do when our lives are too often described by folly than wisdom? Is there a remedy for our rebellion and error?
Yes! As we gather around the Communion Table we celebrate that the same God who created, communicates, rules and reigns, took on flesh and died in our place to pay the penalty for disobedience and foolishness.
As Christ hung on that cross, He took upon himself all the guilt and shame that we deserve for our rebellion. He satisfied the demands that God’s holiness requires. And on the Resurrection morning God proved that righteousness had been satisfied by raising Christ from the dead and imputing His righteousness to all those who will believe in him.
In Christ the gap between God’s wisdom and our foolishness is bridged.
[i] D. A. Carson, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010), 97.
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