The God of Scripture: Riches, Knowledge, and Wisdom
By Samantha Sykora
As we conclude our series on the God of Scripture, let’s ponder the glory of this God we serve.
Numerous places in Scripture call us to give God the glory that is rightfully His. One place in particular, 1 Chronicles 16, is David’s song when the Ark of the Covenant was transported to Jerusalem. He says in verses 25-27, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. He is to be held in awe above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.” And again, in verse 29, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.” Like David, Paul also ascribes glory to God with great awe. In Romans 1-11, Paul expounds on God’s plan of salvation. At the end of chapter 11, he responds with a hymn marveling at the mind of God, which is beyond our comprehension, and Paul concludes that all glory is rightfully God’s. God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep that there is none like Him in all of creation! Let’s consider this glorious God by reflecting on Romans 11:33-36.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
In reverence and amazement, Paul records a hymn exclaiming the depth of the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God. They are so great that their depth is beyond our comprehension. It is unfathomable!
Riches, Wisdom, & Knowledge
The riches of God refer to Gods mercy and grace toward undeserving man. According to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, mercy is “God shielding sinners from what they deserve,” namely the wrath of God (Read Rachel’s previous post for more on this topic!). God created mankind for His glory and called them to be a holy representation of Him. Again and again, mankind has exchanged the praise and worship of God for idols of their own making. In the Old Testament, Israelites exchanged worship of the one true God for the worship of false gods and hand-made idols. Today, we idolize ourselves, seeking to serve our own desires rather than God through numerous avenues including our use of money, our driving ambitions, our pleasure in sex, our reputation, and our intellectual pursuits.
In each of these idolatrous actions, we violate God’s good design for mankind and earn the wrath of God. Because God’s justice is perfect, He must give our sin its due punishment. In God’s plan of salvation, He satisfies the demands of His justice and wrath in the person of Jesus Christ. As God-incarnate, being both fully God and fully man, Jesus adequately appeases the wrath of God by taking upon Himself the penalty of our sins. Conversely, we behold the grace of God through Christ. Grace is “the unmerited favor of God toward humanity and especially His people” (The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary). By His grace, God credits those in Christ with His righteousness though we ourselves were utterly unrighteous. Through Jesus’ substitutionary atonement, the wrath of God is satisfied and the mercy and grace of God are displayed.
Paul additionally highlights the wisdom and knowledge of God (v. 33). Both similarly pertain to knowing all things, however God’s wisdom directs all things to the best possible end (Morris, Pillar New Testament Commentary: Romans). God not only knows all things (knowledge), He also designed and directs all creation for His intended purpose (wisdom). He knows our thoughts and our ways before we even act (Psalm 139), and His counsel is flawless (Isaiah 28:29). Because He is infinite in knowledge and perfect in wisdom, He is absolutely worthy of our trust!
Oh the Depth!
God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so great that the mind of the Lord is beyond our ability to fathom (v.34). His thoughts are far more profound than our thoughts, and His ways are beyond our discernment (Isaiah 55:8-9). No one can fully see all that God is doing or His purposes behind each decision. When you and I make decisions, we may seek counsel from wise friends; but unlike us, God does not gain knowledge from an outside source (Isaiah 40:13-14, 1 Cor. 2:16). He is the very source of all knowledge, and the depth of His knowledge knows no bounds.
Furthermore, God is self-sufficient in that He doesn’t need anything (v. 35, Acts 17:24-25). Because all of creation belongs to Him, nobody can give Him anything that is not already His (Job 41:11). He is the author, sustainer, and end purpose of all things (v.36); therefore, He rightfully deserves all the glory.
Why it Matters
Because all glory belongs to God, He should be the chief aim of our lives. It is imperative that we understand this fundamental truth. When I fail to see God as central to every aspect of my life, my world will revolve around my ambitions, my will, and my glory. When we stray from God in this way, we steal His glory for ourselves, and this destructive path only ends in our demise.
Moreover, God’s glory is central in a right theology. In his dissertation, Concerning the End for which God Created the World, Jonathan Edwards helpfully explains that God created the world to convey His glory unto eternity. God foremost works for His glory in creation and especially in the redemption of man. If God Himself is central to His work, a right study of God must also share this focus. Let us strive to seek God as central in all things, not simply for our good, but also for His glory.