The Source of Wisdom

PROVERBS 1

Proverbs 1 7 NIV

For the rest of the week we will be examining the first five chapters of Proverbs.  The writer of this portion of Proverbs is Solomon, the man who asked God for wisdom.  The book of Proverbs was written as an instruction guide, offering advice, and teaching fundamental truths about life.

Proverbs 1:1-7 introduces the book of Proverbs.  This section implores the reader to study continually, always in search of knowledge and wise instruction so that he may gain wisdom and develop the discernment necessary for righteous living.  Discernment is the ability to judge well, make the right decisions or proper choices.

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

                                    (Proverbs 1:1-6)

Then in verse seven we have the theme.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  All knowledge and wisdom begins with God.  Knowing and obeying God is the foundation for every Christian.  The Creator used wisdom to create the entire world, and wisdom is fundamental to all of life.  “By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” (Proverbs 3:19-20)  We can know nothing, without it first coming from God.

The proverb of greatest importance is to fear God.  There is nothing more important than to know and obey God.  The next instruction for a successful life is to obey your parents.  In Proverbs 1:8-9 Solomon warns us to honor our parents’ teachings. He says that a parent’s instructions should be seen as treasures, valued and obeyed.  “Listen, my son, to your father’s instructions and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”  (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Skipping ahead a little to the beginning of chapter 2, we hear again the importance of pursuing wisdom.  We are told to purse wisdom, just as we would pursue a hidden treasure.  Then we are told again that God is the source of all wisdom.  And finally that wisdom will lead us to righteousness, justice and protection.

1My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

(Proverbs 2:1-11)

Just as surely as God gave Solomon wisdom, he can give it to you, too.  “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). However, it does require a constant searching, as if searching for a hidden treasure.  Actively studying your Bible every day is a great way to search out the treasure of wisdom.
Jill McClain

Wise Enough to Know We are Not Wise Enough on Our Own

1 Kings 3 9

Yesterday, we looked at the relationship between King David and Bathsheba that led to the birth of Solomon.  When King David died, Solomon became king.  “Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” (2 Chronicles 1:1)

God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what he would most like to receive.  Solomon could have asked for remarkable good looks, great bravery in battle, a large loving family, or great riches.  However, Solomon instead asked for wisdom and knowledge.  God replied to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you.”  God was very pleased that Solomon chose wisdom as the gift he most wanted to receive from God.  So, He not only agreed to give Solomon wisdom, but He also said, “I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”  (2 Chronicles 1:11-12)   Later in that same chapter we read that Solomon had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses and that “he made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones”. God blessed Solomon not only with wisdom, but also with fame, riches and prestige.

Especially during the beginning of King Solomon’s reign, he used his great wisdom and discernment to help govern his people.  One such instance is recorded in 2 Kings 3:16-28.  Two prostitutes came before Solomon asking him to solve a dispute.  Both women claimed to be the mother of the same baby boy.  Solomon said he would cut the baby in two and give each woman half of the baby.  One woman quickly offered that the baby should be given to the other woman.  Solomon determined that the woman who was willing to give the baby up, rather than have him cut in half, must be the true mother for she loved the son too much to have him harmed.

Today you may be contemplating important plans for your future.  Maybe you are struggling with how to deal with a difficult person in your life.  Or possibly you are dealing with a family crisis. When you are faced with difficult choices in your life, how reassuring to know that the Creator of the universe can grant you the wisdom and discernment needed to make sound decisions.  Will you ask Him to? Will you search out the wisdom He has already shared with you in the Bible?

Jill McClain

Sometimes the Greatest Discoveries Begin as Problems

Prov 16-3 bike

 Here are 4 ways to help you apply the proverbs to your problems.

 1. Learn how to read this book.

The real nature of most proverbs is not a rule that is used the same way in all circumstances at all times.

 Rather, a proverb is often a recommended way of acting that will be wise in some settings and not in others. Or, a general observation of experience that is very often true and useful, but not always true in every situation. The same act may be wise in one setting, but foolish in another. The same fact may hold in one situation and not in another.

 The same is true of proverbs that state a fact, not just proverbs that call for an act: “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “out of sight, out of mind.” Or “birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract.”

 These are all true proverbs. But they are not always true in every situation.

 

2. We learn that life is too complex to be lived by proverbs alone. We need wisdom to know how to use the proverbs.

 When the author tells us, back to back, “Answer a fool according to his folly,” and, “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly,” he is teaching us that we need discernment about when to do the one and when to do the other.

 If a sergeant tells his platoon to walk slowly and carefully, and also tells them to run like crazy, he expects them to know that sometimes they are navigating a minefield, and sometimes they are under fire in the open country. You store away both pieces of advice in your mind. Wisdom knows when to use the one and not the other.

                                               

3. We learn that proverbs alone do not make a fool wise.

A perfectly good proverb in the mouth of a fool does not make him wise. It makes him useless at best.  Proverbs alone don’t make fools wise.

 What does help us become wise? A mixture of (1) storing up proverbs and other forms of revealed wisdom, (2) meditation on them, (3) serious prayer for God’s help, and (4) a divine gift of wisdom.

 Proverbs alone don’t make you wise. You must be wise to use proverbs wisely

 

4. We learn that we should store up reasons why a proverb might be useful sometimes and not other times.

In other words, store up this truth: there are times when it will be pointless to answer a fool, because it will only drag you into his folly. It’s best to just let him make a fool of himself and be discredited rather than ruining your own usefulness.

 

But also store up this truth: there are times when he is not just making a fool of himself, but also is drawing dozens, or thousands, into his folly so that he feels justified and wise in his foolish ideas. You need to step in and expose him as foolish for the sake of others, and for his sake.

Pastor Andy

Who Are You Walking With?

Proverbs 13

He who walkswith the wisegrows wise,but a companionof foolssuffers harm.Proverbs 13-20

The recurring promise of Proverbs is that generally the wise (the righteous who obey God) live longer (9:11), prosper (2:20–22), experience joy (3:13–18) and the goodness of God temporally (12:21), while fools suffer shame (3:35) and death (10:21). On the other hand, it must be remembered that this general principle is balanced by the reality that the wicked sometimes prosper (Ps. 73:312), though only temporarily (Ps. 73:17–19). Job illustrates that there are occasions when the godly wise are struck with disaster and suffering.
So if the two major themes which are interwoven and overlapping throughout Proverbs are wisdom and folly. Wisdom, which includes knowledge, understanding, instruction, discretion, and obedience, is built on the fear of the Lord and the Word of God. Then folly is everything opposite to wisdom.

The portrait of the fool emerges as a contrast to the one who seeks the wisdom of YHWH.

  • In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly. 13.16

The fool is an undisciplined scoffer of God and His wisdom. The fool in his folly is reckless in his anger — worse than a Momma bear on the prowl for her cubs! Even worse, he is proud of his foolishness, wearing it as a badge of honor, unaware that the cycle of folly is destroying him each time he returns to it.

Contrast this with the 60+ references to “the wise” in Proverbs alone. Again, this is far from an exhaustive list, but the character of the wise emerges with even a quick look from Proverbs 13.  When you read Proverbs 13 you will see fools and wise in the context of money, parenting, friends, the list goes on like a warning sign or a blaring horn warning you of danger.  Take a look at some of the examples:

  • 11 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,
    But the one who gathers by labor increases it.
  • A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
    But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
  • 20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
    But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
  • 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
    To turn aside from the snares of death.
    15 Good understanding produces favor,
    But the way of the treacherous is hard.

The wise man exercises discernment and self-control, a distinct alternative to the reckless behavior of the fool. Wisdom is also the measured way of life, guarding against impulsiveness by counting the cost of one’s actions. He who is wise seeks counsel, is quick to listen, and is thoughful in his speech.

Which one are you?

Read Proverbs 13 and decide for yourself who you are walking with.

-Andy Cisneros