Christian lifeHosea 14:9 Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
The progression in the Japanese is interesting, from wisdom to discernment to knowledge. (The NIV says understanding.) As is almost always the case, this is best read in the context of the rest of the Bible. We know from several passages that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” so that is the starting point. If you fear God, then you should have enough wisdom to grasp what Hosea has been saying about the loving grace of God. When you grasp that, then you need to progress to more and more knowledge of God and His ways. The last half of this verse is particularly interesting. The Japanese says “The Lord’s road is flat, or smooth.” (The NIV just says “right.”) That’s the road which the righteous walk. The closer we are to the Lord, the smoother our way! However, the very things that make obedience to God so easy for the righteous, make the rebellious stumble. We’ve all seen people (and have probably done it ourselves) who complained about virtually every aspect of a Christian lifestyle. “Why do I have to do this? Why can’t I do that?” The simple answer to such questions is, “they make life easier and better.” However, the rebellious don’t want to hear that. My mother had an expression that paints a pretty graphic picture: “independent as a hog on ice.” A pig’s trotters aren’t well suited to walking on ice, and the more they struggle, the wilder the results. The rebellious are very much like that in trying to walk the smooth, level way of the Lord.
I’ve certainly had my times of slipping and sliding. That’s why I know my mother’s expression! As a pastor I deal with people in “hog on ice” mode all the time. I am not to look down on them, but always speak the truth to them in love. I need to remember that all correction needs to go back to a right relationship to God, because only then will people gain the wisdom, understanding and knowledge they need to get things right. Only then will the corrections come from within them, rather than being external rules to be resented and/or defied. Self-destructive behaviors dry up quickly when we grasp God’s love for us, how precious we are in His sight.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your patience with my many “hog on ice” moments. Help me be increasingly effective in leading others into a love for and knowledge of You that will keep them secure in Your way, so that the tricks of the enemy may be defeated and more and more people be brought into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!