The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2-3a NRSV
The prophets speak of fearing God. In this passage, Isaiah is pointing toward the new king of Israel. As Christians, we often immediately interpret this as Isaiah prophesying about Jesus.
This kingly personage is to be anointed with the spirit of the Lord which contains wisdom/understanding, counsel/might and knowledge/fear of the Lord. The prophet combines seemingly unrelated abilities into these spiritual gifts. Isaiah refers to wisdom and understanding as one spirit, the spirit of counsel and might as another and finally to knowledge and fear of God as the final spirit.
I see wisdom and understanding as the closest fit. Of course, a person could have understanding but not wisdom. I do think someone who is wise does have understanding, though.
Counsel and might are two harder concepts. I think of counsel as seeking advice or at least listening to others. Might I think of in terms of warfare. In other words, I associate might with physical strength. Perhaps this is the mental/physical link that we all have a better understanding when we are worn out and have are hard time thinking straight.
Wisdom, understanding, counsel and might would all be good strengths for anyone in leadership, especially a king! What about knowledge and fear of God? The Psalms say that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We could interpret that in terms of knowledge. Perhaps fearing God is something every good leader should know or that the truly knowledgeable fear the Lord. Maybe a knowledgeable king would know that it is not by their power and might that they rule but through God's will. A healthy fear of God as king-maker would be pretty appropriate. As Isaiah goes on to say, he delights in fearing God. Fearing God for a ruler (or even a Messiah) is a good thing in order to keep power.
But it is so good for the rest of us? Something to ponder until tomorrow....
God, you are capable of giving our Godly rulers a spirit of fear of You. Is that also something you give to us? Help us to understand that we are not in control but you are. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims