The believer, rather than the unbeliever, has true wisdom and understanding.
He has this true wisdom and understanding because he meditates in God’s testimonies. It does make a difference what your textbook is and what the source of your wisdom and understanding is. It does make a difference who your teacher is. And when in Psalm 119:99 the psalmist says, “I have more understanding than my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation,” he tells us that, although certain men taught him certain facts about this earth and that which it contains, he has another teacher Who causes him to understand correctly all that which man has taught him. His teacher is no one less than God Himself. That is what it means that God’s testimonies are his meditation. God’s testimonies testify of God, but they are also that which God testifies of Himself and of all His works among and upon mankind.
It does make a difference, then, whether you are willing to receive the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God that they are, or whether you want to lift some works of man to the level of that Word of God (because you have not this wisdom that excels) and then choose from both that which appeals to your flesh. To have wisdom that excels, you must have a textbook that excels. We may note that the psalmist speaks of having one text book, and that he ascribes all his true understanding to that which he has been taught out of that holy textbook. And, as we pointed out, he has an understanding which his teachers cannot have, because they have discarded, disregard or despise this Word of God.
What folly this, that in the sphere of the church, where men have for years and centuries had and still have the infallible record of the Word of God, that men will exchange it for the word of the creature of dust who depends so completely upon this God Who gave us His Word! That the professing Atheist, who says that there is no God, will look for the best teachers among men, is to be understood. But that in the church-world there are those who will with the lips acknowledge that there is a God and that this is His Word, and then will dare to take the haughty position that they have more understanding of how this world came into being and where it is going, because they have meditated in the writings and spoutings of unbelievers, is hard to understand.
You understand, of course, that it is not simply a matter of choosing between taking the Word of God or the word of man. It is not a matter of going to righteous Adam, to whom God gave true knowledge and holiness, and asking him to explain to us this vast creation, our calling in the midst of it and where all these things lead. It is instead rejecting the Word of God to listen to Satan’s graduates. You could approach. righteous Adam and get the same instruction that God would give, for God would then give it through Adam. You would not be elevating man’s word to be on the plane with God’s. You would be seeking God’s Word as He revealed it to man. You would be getting a photostatic copy of what is in the Word, exactly alike in every detail.
But what we get now, when we seek any wisdom and understanding apart from the Word of God, is to seek the philosophy of Satan. All men are under the power of his lie; and they all approach all matters of life and of their existence under the power of that lie. Paul writes to the Church at Rome in Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind (that is, the mind of our flesh, the mind which we have by our natural birth, the only mind that the unregenerated have) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” With that kind of a mind the unbeliever approaches all that which he sees on this earth. With hatred against God he scans the heavens and plans to plant his foot on the moon. With that kind of a mind he studies our diseases and physical afflictions. Refusing to refer to God’s testimonies and to consider that matter of SIN, he spouts forth that which appeals to the flesh of man and gives him false hopes. Refusing to seek the Creator’s version of the work of creation and asking the creature for a description and analysis of the Creator, he comes up with a lot of monkey business, and is willing to flatter (?) himself into thinking that he has such ancestry.
Shall these teach our children? Shall we even allow them in our Christian schools? Shall we let these “teachers,” who have been taught and have accepted the word of those who deny The Word, shall we let those who, in this, evidence their enmity against God in their own flesh, have an opportunity to corrupt the minds of our children? Or shall we insist that all those who teach our children get their wisdom and understanding from God’s testimonies? Is it an act of love to God to let His enemies teach the children of God, His covenant seed? We hear so much about love, love, love—and not simply from the hippies and yippies—but it must be love to God first of all and basically. We may not hesitate to hurt the feelings and to criticize men, when they perform acts of hatred against God, in order to walk in love towards God ourselves. And in that same love to God we must want to protect His children from His and their enemies. School boards, if they have any understanding of their calling and responsibilities and of the love of God, should get to work after meditating themselves in that Word of God. The matter is serious, and the hour is late!
The first principle, then, of all wisdom is that Jehovah is God. And the next principle follows at once: His Word is truth and reveals the truth concerning Him. All the teaching of the unbelievers in one way or another, to one degree or another denies that Jehovah is God and denies the truth of His Word. All the teachings of the unbelievers ascribe that which is the Creator’s to the creature. They do not all do this in the same way and in regard to the same virtues of God. They may even agree that He created the world, but they will so present that creation and the act of creating that world that Jehovah no longer is the sovereign God that He is and Christ is no more the first born of every creature.
God’s testimonies are the Holy Scriptures wherein He testifies of Himself. They are the testimonies that He gives. But they are also the testimonies that He gives of Himself. Let us refer back again to the second article of the Netherlands Confession. Its very heading is, “By what means God is made known unto us.” And as far as that Word is concerned, it declares, “Secondly, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.” By that Word we learn to know God. The “elegant” book of creation makes it very plain that there is a God, and no man is without an excuse in that respect. His power and divinity are to be seen in every creature. And in Scripture we learn to .know this God in as far as in this life we need to know Him, and in as far as He has made it possible for us to know Him. God’s testimonies, therefore, are both that which He speaks and to which He gives testimony, but they are also that which testifies of God.
The fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, requires a knowledge of Him as He is. It must not be the fear of an idol, an imaginary god. That is folly. But to stand in awe of Jehovah—Whose very name is awe-inspiring—is to have wisdom and understanding. In Psalm 111:11 the psalmist declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.” Now keeping His commandments, or doing them, exactly requires that we know Him as fully as He has revealed Himself to us. You cannot serve the man whose mind and will you do not know. You cannot keep the commandments of a God Who has not revealed His will to you. And doing God’s commandments means a whole lot more than simply to know what they say. It is quite possible to keep the external aspect of a command of God and still perform an act of hatred. It is possible to be a whited sepulchre, a Pharisee that is flawless as far as the eye of man can see and yet be rebuked by Christ as an evil doer. And it is exactly because we need to meditate more fully in God’s testimonies that we are at a loss at times as to what we ought to do, what is right and what is wrong, whether we are to approve of or reject a proposed action.
The answer we will always find in God’s testimonies. These will show us either that this denies that He is God and is an act of not doing His commandments, or these will reveal to us that by this action He, Whose praise endureth for ever, is glorified. That is why the instruction of our children must be based upon these testimonies and must be given by one who has meditated in these testimonies.
And meditating in God’s testimonies is not giving them a quick and superficial glance. Nor is it approaching the Word with our own preconceived ideas. Certainly it is not searching them to see whether we can find some proof and basis for what the unbeliever has already with his God-hating mind postulated as the right understanding of the facts at hand.
We miss some of the force of this statement of the psalmist in our translation. The word “meditation” comes from a verb that means “to bow down, to prostrate.” That is what it means to meditate in God’s testimonies. We come ready to listen and not to tell God what He ought to be saying. It means, therefore, that we do not come with an idea and an explanation that came from a man whose mind is enmity against God, to see whether God’s testimonies have to be explained in the light of what man has deduced. It means the very opposite, that we reserve all acceptance of what men say until we first listen to what God’s testimonies declare.
Woe unto us, if we bow down before those under Satan’s lie. Blessed we are, if we have that fear of the Lord that causes us to bow before the All-wise God, the Creator of all Who alone can cause us to understand all things as they are and were made by Him. We simply do not have true wisdom, if we are not wise enough to bow before God in His Word. And we perform an act of exceeding folly when we elevate man’s word and explanations above God’s testimonies.
Do you have that wisdom that excels? Do you meditate in God’s testimonies and provide for your children to be taught by those who bow before His Word? The psalmist can say, “I have….” Can you? You need not give answer to man for that. But before God you do give answer to what you do. One with understanding that the unbeliever does not and cannot have, rejects the philosophies that originate in man’s mind and turns to the All-wise and living God and cherishes His Word as his guide and instructor in understanding and wisdom.