Proverbs — News From The Source
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
The old saying, “News travels fast,” has been given a whole new meaning with the emergence of the internet and particularly social media and the 24-7 news cycle. We are literally inundated with information not all of which is true or relevant to our lives and add to that the seemingly endless replays of ads for and exhaustive number of consumer products, medications, food or non-food items, the latest this and the latest that.
Then add to that the sound effects intended to grab your attention away from whatever may have drawn you away from being glued to the TV. Add to that the handheld devices called smart phones which, compared to the phones of nearly 90 years of the 20th century, makes such comparison almost oxymoronic.
There is no comparison. The only thing that is common to both is the ability to talk to one or at most two people at a time. Calculating, emailing, texting, internet browsing, talking to the phone and requesting it to do various functions, get directions, call someone or place, take a note, play music, a specific song, take a picture or record a video, edit music and images, send and receive email, faxes, images, book travel, purchase products, buy or sell a house or a car, check the weather, buy groceries or meals and have them delivered to your door, search information from a host of “news” sources. Whatever you can imagine “there’s an app for that.”
One would think that with all of these sources of information and communication available to us that our world would be a pretty exciting and engaging place for everyone who has access to these amazing tools; that we would be more aware of each other's common worth and value as human beings on a planet we all share; that we would be more respectful of our differences and more willing to dialogue with one another in that spirit of mutual respect with a desire to know and embrace the truth.
At least that is what the social scientists told us back in the 1900s that life would be like in future, in the 21st century and beyond. But, here we are, and they could not have been more wrong.
The key to their error in evaluating their time and projecting into the future was they failed to hear and head the Word of God concerning the nature of fallen creation apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Man left to his own sin-corrupted devices will never attain freedom from his sin nature and therefore never attain true peace within themselves nor among the nations of the world.
By our human nature we are driven to seek our own way and to rebel against the ways of God, until we come to the end of ourselves and are willing seek God the Creator to know His will and way and answer His calling on our hearts. Jesus said this:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
In all the overwhelming superfluous words uttered daily through all of the communication systems throughout the world, how many offer the message of Jesus Christ as the means of achieving the ultimate desire of man to be fulfilled in this human life or have any hope for life after his time here on earth? Very few indeed. Nevertheless, it is still the only means by which it can be achieved.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Long before smart phones and 24-hour news broadcasts there has been the Word of God. Since the mid 15th century we have had access to it in printed form. Today it is more available to every man woman and child in the world than ever before. But still, men choose to spend more time seeking answers among themselves than turning to God’s Word for wisdom and instruction for life. For countless years those desiring to appear moderate and reasonable in their respect for all religions have created in their own minds an equivalence between faith in Jesus Christ and all other religions of the world. It's all relative, they say, and each is equally valid in its claims for the good of its devotees. But merely claiming it doesn't make it so.
Over the next few weeks we will turn our attention particularly to the Book of Proverbs and seek to learn what God would speak to our hearts concerning our selves, our relationships, our communities and our world to gain a Godly perspective on this present age and how we are to live the life and that more abundantly that Jesus came to give us.
Now we know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And we will have more to say about that later in our study. For now, we will begin with the first verse and work our way through the book. The verses are not in any chronological order because every verse or every few verses contain stand-alone truths that can be considered on their own.
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”
This is our purpose:
1) know wisdom and instruction,
2) to take note of and recognize words of understanding,
3) to be taught by and learn from wisdom, justice and judgment
4) to develop an evenhanded impartiality in the way we judge any matte
5) to gain a more refined manner of articulating wisdom to others
6) to again knowledge and discretion in all the ways we live and steward our works and behavior.
All these are the rewards of gaining wisdom.
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels…” Proverbs 1:5
We begin with this foundational truth that to be wise we must be willing to hear and to learn wisdom. It would seem self-evident but it is not. Many people determine the measure of wisdom within themselves and then seek affirmation from those they also think to be wise, but not to be instructed by them or corrected in their thinking. They only want approval that they are as wise s they think they are.
The rich young ruler that came to Jesus was such a person. He had indeed been diligent in studying the Law off Moses and in carrying out its commands, but he lacked something. He didn’t know what it was, but he sensed there was something missing.
So, he came to Jesus for an answer, however, when he got the answer he was not willing to receive it so he went away, the Scriptures tell us, sorrowful for he had great possessions. He believed that all of his diligent adhering to the law had resulted in his great wealth and acquisition of stuff. He wanted Jesus to commend him and affirm his good works, but Jesus told him he lacked something. He needed to go his way, sell all he had and give to the poor. What wisdom was trying to teach him was that he lacked the heart of generosity and compassion that would bring him eternal life.
He needed to sell all that he had and give to the poor. That was the answer to his question, that his what he asked to know, but he didn’t want to exercise the wisdom to attain it. He probably thought by giving to the poor he would then, become poor and be left with nothing. So, he went away sorrowful.
What he would have discovered if he had been obedient to the instruction of the Good Teacher, he would have gained more than he could have ever imagined, because his giving would have resulted in him receiving multiplied blessings. Long before it was written he would have experienced what is written for us in Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.
Giving results in receiving and abundant giving results in abundant receiving.
So the first lesson is to be willing to hear and to heed instruction. On the face of it we might think it’s not what we want to do, but the wisdom from above, like all spiritual things, must be received by faith first then the reward comes after obedience. The choice is always ours to hear, to believe and then to receive. This is the pathway of wisdom.