The Basis for Wisdom
The Source of Wisdom
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
What is the basis by which we determine moral truth? This question has become hotly debated as traditional values conflict with post-modern values. In this debate, the question we must ask is, “Whom do we believe?” Do we turn to God and his morality revealed in the Bible or do we turn to popular culture and the ethics of our present culture?
Having stated that the basis of all wisdom is the fear of the Lord, the sage now turns our attention to the question: how do we determine right and wrong? Where do we turn to find moral and spiritual truth? In response to the question, the Sage confronts us with two options: Do we trust in the wisdom of men, or do we turn to the wisdom of God? The sage begins by warning us of the dangers of trusting in our own wisdom. Verse 3 warns us not to “lean on our own understanding.” The picture is of a walking stick that one would lean upon to keep from falling. Thus, it speaks of relying upon a staff to keep one from falling. As we walk upon the rough and rocky ground of life, it is easy to become confident in our wisdom and moral standards. But this will only lead to our downfall.
Instead of relying upon ourselves or human wisdom for moral guidance, we trust in God. In other words, we must look to God and his law for all beliefs and decisions. We are to surrender our perspective of right and wrong to God. We must look to him for our answers to life. This requires that we know God. Again the picture of verse 6 is that of a person on a journey. As we walk the pathway of life, in every undertaking, decision, and action, we seek God and his guidance. To “acknowledge Him” means to know him. The verb is a command, stressing that this is the foundation for life. To know him is to be aware of him and understand him in all his attributes and character so that every decision we make is grounded in the totality of his multi-faceted nature. When we base our choices on his character, we will have the basis for making the right decisions. Our options will result in smooth pathways.
However, this requires that we denounce our wisdom (vs. 7). In 26:12, we are warned that there is more hope for a fool than the individual who trusts in himself to make correct moral decisions. We are hopelessly lost in our thinking because sin has corrupted and distorted our ethical perspective. Jeremiah states, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9). Paul says, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). In our quest to discover moral truth, the most deceptive threat is ourselves! Therefore, the answer lies in fearing God, recognizing that he is the foundation for all moral truth and his word is the only basis that can give genuine moral clarity to our lives.
Living rightly in a confused world starts by recognizing that the source, and only source, for wisdom comes from God and his revealed word. When God is the foundation on which we must build our lives, we will experience genuine healing of the soul (verse 8).