I was reading in Deuteronomy 16 & 17 this morning, which has specific instructions for the people of Israel regarding the administration of law and order in the nation. If you have read Leviticus, you will know that theirs was a highly regulated life. As a nomadic people, with no central government control, it was important that their own laws were clear, and that justice was administered fairly.
We see this in v18 of Deuteronomy 16: Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
Even the wise can be seduced by money.
Later in this passage, there are even provisions for when the judges and officials are stumped by difficult cases:
If cases come before your courts that are too difficult to judge – whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults – take them to the place the Lord your God will choose. Go to the priests who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. (Deut 17:8-9)
I think the implication here is that the priests will take the matter before the Lord, and then communicate the judgment to the regular judges and officials. It seems that when things get complicated, it calls for a level of wisdom beyond that of ordinary humans. The Divine must be consulted.
For those familiar with the Bible, this is a familiar theme. We encounter much the same sentiment in Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
How easy to understand. How difficult to do. For those of us that have spent years, and possibly tens of thousands of dollars/pounds on our education, it is all too easy to fall back on our own understanding, to trust in the “equipment” that we have spent years honing. It seems very counter-intuitive to acknowledge that we do not know enough, that we are not wise enough to make the best decisions.
Yet that is what we must do if we wish to avail ourselves of God’s wisdom. Sometimes we do not have sufficient data. Sometimes there is data overload and we cannot sort out the layers of complexity. Sometimes it’s a relational issue, and our emotions cloud our judgment. Sometimes our personality (people-pleasing, or non-confrontational or over-confrontational) can take us in the wrong direction.
In all of these situations, Step 1 is one of humility: to admit: I don’t know enough. I need God to give me His wisdom.
Step 2 is prayer. For myself, I like to pray the prayer recommended in the book of James 1:5-6, not least because God promises that God will answer it generously:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
I like that! A guarantee – and it makes sense. Surely it is in God’s interests to give us the wisdom to follow the paths He wishes for us, rather than the rabbit trails we might run down, if left to our own devices.
So, that’s my prayer for us today. That we will be humble enough to recognize when we don’t have sufficient wisdom, and faith-filled enough to ask for it.
For further encouragement, try Proverbs chapter 2. Enjoy and be wise!