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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish

By Horatius Bonar


      "Oh that they were wise." -- Deuteronomy 32:29

      THESE are the words, not of anger, but of love, of disappointed affection, of a sorrowful friend, of a tender- hearted father, of an earnest, gracious, long-suffering God. In them God yearned over Israel. In them He still yearns over us. In them we learn the attitude in which God is standing over us, all the day stretching out His hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people.

      I. God's desire to make us wise. Himself the infinitely wise God, He longs to make us partakers of His wisdom. He has no pleasure in our ignorance; nay, it excites His compassion as much as His displeasure. He knows the preciousness of wisdom, and He loves not to see us without it. He wishes us to be wise. Why then does He not make us so, seeing He is as powerful as He is wise? I cannot explain this whole puzzle, it is inscrutable. Only let us remember, (1.) That He is sovereign as well as loving; (2.) That wisdom, from its very nature, cannot be forced; (3.) That the power of a human will for evil, for resistance both to wisdom and to love, is very great, far greater than can be supposed from the feebleness of the creature in whom it is. We cannot disentangle the whole knot, but we know from His own words that He desires sincerely and honestly, to see us wise. What else can our text mean--"Oh that they were wise." Is not this good news? God desires to make you wise! If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.

      II. Man's unteachableness. The wish to be wise and the unwillingness to be taught is one of the many strange contradictions of humanity. The search for wisdom and the rejection of it when God presents it, is a spectacle, strange, but not quite unaccountable. For the wisdom man searches for is wisdom of his own selecting; it is wisdom without God, it is wisdom which will not contradict his propensities and lusts, it is wisdom reasoned out by himself and according to himself the credit of discovery. Submission to divine tuition is what he specially dislikes; liberty to take or reject God's instruction is what he claims for himself, and the present age is developing man's unteachableness to the full. He claims to be his own teacher, and to be the judge of the wisdom which he is to receive. He insists that his own reason, his own conscience, his moral sense, shall sit in judgment on all that is presented to him. The authoritative presentation to him of any doctrine he holds to be inconsistent with his liberty, and therefore even when he receives the doctrine thus presented he rejects the authority on which it comes; he may receive the truth, but it is because his own reason has proved it or accepted it, not because God has offered it. He would have his faith to stand in the wisdom of man, and not in the power of God.

      III. God's provision for our becoming wise. He has not left us to gather wisdom at randon, nor contented Himself with the mere expression of a wish that we should be wise. He has given substantial proof of His sincerity in this thing. He has provided,

      (1.) The lesson. This book of his contains that lesson. It is full, varied, complete, simple. It is a lesson for learned and unlearned, for Jew and Greek, for rich and poor,--the same lesson for all. In this one book is written the lesson of lessons; the lesson which, when learnt, removes darkness, ignorance, disquietude, and gives light, peace, health, and an eternal salvation.

      (2.) The school. It is the school of Christ. For our first step is to become His disciples, to accept Him and His rules for the guidance of our studies. "Make disciples of all nations" was His commission. So we enter His academy, we enroll among His scholars. This discipleship is the first step to wisdom, it is the renunciation of the false schools, of the world, of man, of philosophy, and the submission of our whole man to the regulations of this school.

      (3.) The discipline. It is not simply pouring in information that is required. The mind, the soul, the conscience must be so disciplined and prepared as to receive it aright. Various is this discipline, this training. Hardship, sorrow, trial,--all kinds of chastisement are required in order to fit us for the reception of the wisdom. In this divine school all these are brought into use, daily use, to make us receptive, pliable, teachable, submissive.

      (4.) The Teacher. He is the Holy Ghost. Sometimes we are said to "learn of Christ" and to "learn of the Father," but the Spirit is the special teacher; " he shall teach you all things;" "who teacheth like him." His teaching is perfect, irresistible, yet not miraculous; gradual, natural, yet supernatural. He teaches us out of that book which he has inspired.

      Thus God yearns over us, grieving at our ignorance, mourning over our unteachableness, offering to teach us, to make us wise. Thus pitying us, He provides for us; leaving us inexcusable if we remain untaught. Oh that thou wert wise, He says to each one of us,--sincerely does He say it. Let us place ourselves entirely in His hands for instruction, for light, for blessing. All He asks is that we enroll ourselves as His scholars and submit to His teaching. In His infinite compassion and love He beseeches us to be wise.

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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