33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36, NKJV)
The gospel reveals the purposes of God to save sinners – us – through the redemption He makes available through His Son Jesus Christ. Paul had plumbed the depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge in the first eleven chapters of his letter to the Romans. Today’s passage summarizes with clarity and force that the judgments and ways of God are not measured and tempered by human wisdom. It is not man’s place to teach God. We must resist the temptation to make God in our own image, and then expect Him to agree with the ingenuity of our intuition, insight, expectations and knowledge. No, we must humble ourselves before the magnitude of God’s wisdom and knowledge. He is our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Redeemer. Every blessing we have is because God is all wise, all powerful, and all merciful. To Him be the glory forever.
1 I said, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” 2 I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. 3 My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:” (Psalm 39:1–3, NKJV)
David took special care when wicked people were before him. He knew the ungodly, if given a chance, would unjustly turn their evil against him. They did so frequently throughout his life, without justification. When confronted by evil people, David chose to carefully guard his conduct and his words, lest he should fall into sin himself, and become “the reproach of the foolish” (Psa. 39:8). We may feel the impulse to lash out against the wicked, instead of speaking with the restraint of wisdom and truth. David knew the former would produce no good. Plus, it would fail to express the hope he had in the Lord and His deliverance from evil (Psa. 39:7-8). Like David, we should be “slow to speak” and “slow to wrath” when the wicked are before us. Even as he sighed with sorrow and grief of heart over the wickedness before him, David did not speak until he could do so as an expression of his faith and hope in the Lord (Psa. 39:3-8). His momentary silence allowed him to guard his ways, gather his thoughts to avoid sin, and then to speak fearlessly with faith in the Lord. It is a mark of spiritual maturity to remain calm, composed, and faithful when evil is before us (Jas. 1:19-20).
Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9, NKJV)
One’s wisdom is calculated by that person’s relation to the ways (precepts, commands, Psa. 119:3-4). “The ways of the Lord are right,” that is, they are just and true (Deut. 32:4). One cannot go wrong by knowing and following the ways of God. Therefore, to understand God’s ways, to know them and to “walk in them” is to be wise and prudent. This wisdom is joined with righteousness as one lives according to God’s ways or rules of conduct. On the other hand, transgressors deviate from the ways of the Lord; they stumble upon His word. Paul’s description of the Roman Christians illustrates the wisdom Hosea commends: “For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore, I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple (innocent, jrp) concerning evil” (Rom. 16:19). Be wise. Make the right choice, to know and to walk in the ways of the Lord. God’s ways are right and good, and the righteous walk in them.