Today we will be looking at the topic of trust in God, and how remaining in and applying God’s wisdom continues to increase our faith or trust in God. As our faith increases, we then share the truths of his wisdom with others, and the Kingdom of God expands. True wisdom creates an active trust in God.
Proverbs 22:17-19 – “Turn your ear, and listen to the words of the wise. Apply your heart to my teaching. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. I teach you today, even you, that your trust may be in Yahweh.”
The writer of the Proverbs provides us with understanding regarding the nature and results of true wisdom. True wisdom lives deep inside of us and causes us to trust in God. However, it only accomplishes its goal as we apply and review it regularly to where it is a ready resource for us to draw from.
The process begins with our ears; we must turn or incline our ears toward wisdom. The Hebrew word conveys a stretching out, as in stretching out the fabric of a tent when pitching a tent. This involves an intentional and focused purpose in what we listen to. We have so many different audio distractions in our age that it is common for the words of wisdom to be drowned out by the many other options available to us. We have radio and music in the car, music, podcasts, and videos in our headphones and on our phones and other devices wherever we go. It’s almost as if we cannot do anything anymore without having some sort of digital crutch with us.
One of my pet peeves among my family is when the TV is on “just for background noise” while another activity is going on. It may just be the way my brain is wired, but I believe that level of multiple distraction can be harmful to our ability to focus and concentrate long term. Whatever is on the TV is not meant to be a background filler, but a full-on attention getter and keeper. Regardless if we are paying direct attention to it or not, I believe that split in focus does not go unnoticed by our subconscious mind and tends to splinter our ability to create full awareness on spiritual training when it is needed.
As a brief example of this, an article from 2016 in Science Daily related a study in child development in settings with various noise environments.
“The environments children are in, including how much and what kinds of stimulation they are exposed to, influence what and how they learn. One important task for children is zeroing in on the information that’s relevant to what they’re learning and ignoring what isn’t. A new study has found that the presence of background noise in the home or at school makes it more difficult for toddlers to learn new words.”
(Society for Research in Child Development. “Background noise may hinder toddlers’ ability to learn words.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160721072605.htm)
Understandably, we are all exposed to various audio levels throughout each day, but when we are voluntarily choosing to add additional distractive noise into our background environment out of habit, we may be hindering our ability for overall focused comprehension when it is truly needed.
Another aspect of hearing the words of the wise, as the proverb points out, is literally hearing the words spoken instead of just read internally on the page.
While most believers today are used to reading the Word for themselves, in recent years I have become more reliant upon good audio versions of the Bible for my meditative read-throughs of the Bible. I have found that if I listen with headphones I can many times glean aspects of phrasing that I have missed in just reading the passages. The headphones help to block out background distractions and allow me to focus more on the immediate text. For even further increased comprehension, I will sometimes read along with the narration, but use a different version than the audio file. This many times leads to new discoveries when I encounter unique phrasing in one text over the other, and I pause the recording to do a little quick research on why this is so.
In our modern culture, we take for granted that we have the Bible readily available in written form and in many freely available audio versions. Yet historically these truths were conveyed to each generation orally and in person, as literacy was not nearly as widespread as it is today.
To hear the words of the wise implied a nearness of relationship as these truths were conveyed person to person. To hear the words of wisdom, one had to be in the company of the wise. In so doing, the learner would be exposed to not only the teaching, but the lifestyle of the sages. The wisdom of the elders would be taught not just with a lesson, but their lives.
Proverbs 23:12 – “Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge.”
Proverbs 5:1-2 – “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen closely to my understanding so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.”
The next aspect of creating a growing trust in God comes when the wisdom is applied in the most inward recesses of our being: in our hearts. To apply the wisdom is to place or station it in this place so it will remain sure and steadfast, and become part of our deepest make-up, our very constitution.
Ecclesiastes 12:11 – “The sayings of the wise are like cattle prods, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails…”
Proverbs 2:1-2 – “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding…”
Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”
The heart is where God desires his instruction to be placed; so much so, in fact, that this was a condition of the new covenant with his people:
Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” – Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Because of this, one of the qualifiers of being considered among God’s people is having his Word in the heart.
Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
As this wisdom is established in our hearts, it causes us to act in ways that honor him when we keep his commands, faithfully discerning his will in our daily lives. One of the ways this is evidenced is when the wisdom of God in our hearts progresses to become fixed upon our lips; we can recite and manifest the knowledge we have gained in daily practice.
I can recall as a new believer in Messiah I was given a list of memory verses to learn to assist with the basics of living a believing life. The method presented to me was the Topical Memory System still put out by the Navigators ministry today. It contains a total of 60 verses surrounding five separate important topics to help with recall. Looking at the list today, I can see that there are many verses I still remember from 35 years ago, and others that I will need to refresh as I haven’t reviewed them regularly since. However, I am convinced that learning that practice early on served me well as I have drawn from the resources of those verses time and time again throughout my believing life. By spending time learning the verses by heart, I was strengthened through reciting them over and over. By being able to recall those verses when needed, I was helped when I needed it most. (If you would like to consider this method for yourself, simply type in “Topical Memory System Navigators” and it should come up in a search).
Additionally, what is in our heart can’t help but come out through what we say and do. Yeshua confirms this aspect of our inmost being when he teaches, “Out of the overflow (or abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). His immediate context was demonstrating how evil in the heart is expressed, but the writer of this proverb shows how the positive, the good, and the useful will also spill from the mouths of those who have placed good in their hearts.
Some other proverbs that also delineate the ability of the wise to pour forth wisdom in speech. Lady Wisdom, or the personification of wisdom, is illustrated with the following instruction:
Proverbs 8:6-9 – “Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. All the words from my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge.”
Proverbs 10:13, 21 – “Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense. … The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.”
Proverbs 15:7 – “The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools.”
I like the idea of the lips of the wise broadcasting knowledge and feeding many who are hungry to hear the truth. I am reminded of Paul’s instruction to the Roman congregation:
Romans 10:14-15, 17 – “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. … So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Messiah.”
As believers today, we may not always have a community of elders to live among and draw direct wisdom from. However, Yeshua reassured his disciples that the resource of God would be near to all who believed in him.
John 7:38-39 – “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Yeshua were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Yeshua had not yet been glorified.”
This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”
Paul confirmed that this was the expected ongoing practice of believers, to be constantly engaging with spiritual wisdom that comes from God.
1 Corinthians 2:12-13 – “But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, that we may know the gift that has been given to us from God. But those things we speak are not in the teaching of the words of the wisdom of men, but in the teaching of the Spirit, and we compare spiritual things to the spiritual.”
As believers, we have the ability to draw from a wealth of spiritual resources and to prayerfully consider and discern these truths for ourselves. We are no longer limited to a localized circle of elders, although if we have access to fellowship with such a group, we can see and learn the distinctions of the faith worked out in practical ways through their actions.
In summary, when we listen, apply, and regularly recite the wisdom of God, our lives will be demonstrating a real trust and growing faith in God. Within this process of listening, applying and reciting, God engages with us, showing us his ways and directing us to purposes and goals that glorify him and expand the Kingdom of God on the earth. We have to remember that biblically speaking, trust or faith in God is not just a feeling or an inward state of mind, it is an active outworking of revealed truth which has been assimilated into the heart. This type of “living trust” is what shines into the darkness of this world to draw others to God and his wisdom.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.
Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.