Proverbs: Deep Dive
THE PEARL: WISDOM
| CHRIS JUSTICE
To me, the most wonderful thing about Proverbs and specifically, the writings of Solomon, are their simplicity. The profound wisdom and insights shared are not hidden under complex layers, behind abstruse writing locked away for only the most intelligent. It is assessable to all, with his heart laid bare and his learnings clear.
If you are reading this and Solomon is new to you, know that he is referred to as the wisest man (excluding Jesus) to have ever walked this earth. This is referenced by a word from the Lord (1 Kings 3:12) and from observance and reinforcement by others (1 Kings 4:30). You can read more about Solomon in 1 Kings 1-11, or from him directly in Ecclesiastes.
Ultimately, the reverence and respect due to his words should be weighted accordingly.
What you are about to read follows the thought process I personally had when understanding wisdom. I hope, that to you the reader, each point builds on the one before. Starting from the beginning, to hopefully give a clearer understanding of both the importance of wisdom and how one can grow in it. Subsequently, as you read through Proverbs I hope this Deep Dive helps in understanding the importance of the lessons taught throughout.
So, what is wisdom?
Wisdom has many different definitions; skill, application of knowledge, experience, good judgement or ‘know how’ to name a few. Robert Deffinbaugh also illustrates that wisdom cannot exist without knowledge of all the facts pertinent to any purpose or plan. So, the benefit of wisdom is putting the knowledge, information or experience to good use rather than wasting it.
“For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” - Ecclesiastes 7:12
We have a general knowledge of what wisdom is, but what is the purpose of gaining it? The book of Proverbs tells us “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” - Proverbs 4:5-7.
They are some pretty weighted words if you remember who is writing them. But why is wisdom so important? The rest of verse 4 outlines this, comparative scriptures throughout proverbs speak on how the wise bear fruit and the fool brings shame.
Wisdom brings long life – 3:1-2, 13-18
Wisdom on prosperity. – 8:18-21
Wisdom gives protection - 2:7-8-11, 4:6
Wisdom will bring honour. - 4:8-9, 8:18
Wisdom has power - 24:5
Wisdom will bring life and favour – 8:32-35
We now have a general understanding of what wisdom is, and a general understanding of it’s benefits. But how do we then ‘get’ wisdom?
Let’s look again to the book of Proverbs.
Wisdom has a start.
In Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
And again in;
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
In two proverbs it states the fear of the Lord is both the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. Which, as mentioned before are two aspects that let a man put his endeavours to good use, and live a long, healthy, wealthy, powerful life. (Proverbs 10:27, 14:26, 14:27, 15:16, 15:33, 16:6)
So what is the fear of the Lord?
Well, this would be an entire series of Deep Dives, but to summarise…
“To fear God is to have a loving reverence, to be submitted to his Lordship and to obey his commands.” (Larry Lea)
And what is reverence?
1. A feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe.
2. The outward manifestation of this feeling: to pay reverence.
3. A gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy. (Raising of hands in worship, bowing in prayer)
Fear of the Lord is living acutely aware of His Majesty, His authority, His power, His freedom, His love and all of his other attributes.
True Wisdom is a gift.
This is the next part that blows my mind as I read Proverbs, wisdom is a gift.
Look at these verses “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;”- Proverbs 2:6 and in James 1:5 it says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
The greatest example of this? – Solomon himself. We see in 1 Kings 3 Solomon asks for wisdom, from a place of humility, to serve, and receives in abundance.
What of wrong wisdom?
The implication that ‘wisdom’ comes from God has the counter, “what of wrong wisdom”?
This is unpackaged quite often in the Bible. In James 3:13-18 James talks about it more simply. There is a distinction between Godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Godly wisdom comes from (you guessed it) God. Worldly wisdom comes from the deceiver.
Now that is not to say all wisdom apart from God is evil, however, it is to say; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”- Proverbs 3:5-7.
When it comes time to make a big decision, lean on and trust God, not what the world has taught you.
Treasure the pearl
When I look at the life of Solomon there is one final lesson I take when studying Wisdom.
Wisdom alone will not keep you.
Solomon made, in hindsight, some extremely questionable decisions. He married multiple women from other cultures which subsequently swayed his beliefs and his heart for God. He built false idols and worshipped false Gods, and was ultimately judged for his apostasy.
For all his wisdom and insight the wisest man to have walked the earth was still human.
The final lesson to me is simple. Do not believe you are wiser than the situation. I have no doubt in my heart Solomon knew marrying outside of Judaism was a bad idea. I also have no doubt in my heart that he believed he would be fine. But his confidence was misplaced.
In the final words written by Solomon, he says it best
“The end of the matter; after all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecclesiastes 13:12
Wisdom is stored, and given when needed.
Lastly, Proverbs 2:7 “he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;”
1 Cor 2:12-14 “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
So, I hope as you journey through Proverbs that your thoughts will wander and explore and journey through this incredible book and as you let your brain think over these incredible words that you will grow in wisdom and understanding.