Over the years I have taken several of Solomon’s Proverbs
and expanded them into discussions and applications.
I hope you will find them interesting, uplifting, and full of practical counsel.
Over the years I have taken several of Solomon’s Proverbs
and expanded them into discussions and applications.
I hope you will find them interesting, uplifting, and full of practical counsel.
I know you’ve heard the old saying: The rich get richer. Well, it’s true in realms other than financial, too.
Prov. 15 A
wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel—
In this opening exhortation, Solomon boldly claimed that his Proverbs would help a lot of different kinds of people. When you read verses 2–6 you will be impressed with two things: 1) the power for successful living that are in these nuggets; and 2) that anyone—from wise old men, to the young and naïve—can prosper from them; anyone, that is, except a fool. He alone will find no benefit from Solomon.
This is an interesting sadness and divergence of life. Why are some people so eager/willing to hear and accept advice; and others are so opposed to it?
Is it pride that tells the fool he doesn’t need anyone else telling him what to do? It occurs to me that the more options one has, the more he has freedom to make successful choices. And really, all advice from others does is increase one’s options!
Maybe laziness hinders the fool. Isn’t it easier to just decide and be done with it than it is to research, ask questions, seek input, and listen to advice before weighing it all out and deciding? “Slow down; do it right” is a motto worthy of adoption.
And so says Solomon. A wise man knows the wisdom of hearing from the wisdom of others. Remember, Solomon? He asked God for wisdom to lead an entire nation. Granted! His wisdom is divine wisdom. If listening to a wise man is the way a wise man increases wisdom, then how much more does he increase it if he listens to Solomon’s God-granted wisdom? And, if even a wise man gets something from Solomon, how much more will I, the average “Joe,” find what I need to act/speak/choose wisely?
It’s a no-brainer; except for the fool. Solomon has something for you. The wise get wiser!
Yours for the wisdom to seek and accept advice from God,
It has happened more than once: some scientist following the path of his experimental discoveries only to see it leading him toward a “Divine” conclusion; rather than accepting the conclusion in favor of a creator, abandons that line of research and heads off in another direction.
Prov. 17 The
fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Scientists are not the only people who abandon an idea because it takes them away from their desired goal!
I like how Solomon started his Proverbs. After six verses telling us who would benefit from his collection and how (note that of all possible beneficiaries, the fool was not mentioned), he gave us a stern admonition. If you have the right attitude about God and His insight and ability to tell you how to conduct life you will be on the road to gaining knowledge. But, if you are a fool—one who thinks nobody’s insight is any better than his own—you will reject the very information that could save your bacon…or even your life!
If you are willing to admit that God is the creator and knows something about how He put us together, what makes us ‘tick,’ how we interact as social creatures and the inner thirsts of our spirit; then you will be humbly willing to listen to Him tell how life works and warn of its dangers.
On the other hand, if you’re of the mind that God doesn’t care—or doesn’t exist—then you’re on your own down here. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
It all starts with your attitude toward God; and it moves on to how much reliable “knowledge” you will glean about living this life.
for an insightful life,
While exploring Yosemite National Park I learned a lot about the Giant Sequoia trees. One outstanding detail regards their seed cone.
As you can see, the cone of this giant tree is surprisingly small, about the size of a chicken’s egg! But, it is so firmly attached to its limb that it will not fall; that is, until a certain little beetle gnaws it free!
Most impressive, though, is the stubbornness of this cone. Once freed by the beetle, it falls nearly 300 feet, and then just lays there, unopened. Nothing can penetrate its tightly bonded structure. Neither insects nor squirrels can get to its seeds, which are safely encased in their impermeable vault.
So, how does it ever shares its seeds with the soil? How will the next generation take root? “Forest fires” is the answer! It takes the intense heat of a forest fire to force the cone to open. The fire completely removes the seeds’ competition by consuming all the undergrowth and then opens the cone so they can emerge, sprout, and grow into giants.
Sometimes the “fires” of life seem to consume us and our efforts. But, learn a lesson from the Sequoia. Let the intensity of those flames clear the clutter from your life and open you up to new and exciting possibilities.
Yours for the wisdom to grow from the flame,
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” So said Jesus in Luke 11:9.
OK, look at three Jesus-directives: Ask, Seek, and Knock. What does each imply and involve?
We’re all pretty good at asking God for help, blessings, or favors. Too many of us, unfortunately, stop there. We’ve asked, now it’s up to God to answer, right? So, we sit back and wait for the answer; and most often we are disappointed.
But what did Jesus further say? The next instructive is “Seek!” You have more to do than simply ask Him for guidance. Most often, He has already answered your question somewhere in Scripture. Go find it. Or, He has prepared servants who already know His wisdom. Go seek them out. “Seek” tells you to get involved in finding God’s answer.
But there’s still more. Jesus told you to “knock.” What does that mean? Imagine looking for a person in an unfamiliar town. First, you ask for directions to his house. Once you get the address you still need to find the location, so you go looking for it. You seek it out. Now, you’re standing in front of the door you just found. What are you going to do? You lift your hand and knock, hoping it will open.
Notice how persistent you had to be in the illustration. But also notice the success. Jesus promised to everyone who pursues answers and blessings from our Father that “it will be opened to you.”
The answers you crave from God are available to you, just like Jesus promised. And, He told you how to get them. So first, get on your knees and plead with Him. Then, get up and pursue the blessing, just like He showed you.
May you find many blessings from our Father in this aggressive application of faith.
Yours for Divine answers to earth-bound questions,
A section in Proverbs begins: “Wisdom shouts in the streets.” The streets and especially the gates of the city were central places where business was transacted: whether commercial or social. Get a picture of Wisdom shouting. She doesn’t shout above the din and hubbub; she calls out through it. I mean: each incident is an object lesson to the astute observer. In every transaction and interaction Wisdom is to be found, if one will look for her.
Prov. 123 Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
A friend once said, “Anyone can learn from his own mistakes; a wise man will learn from the mistakes of others.” Sometimes, however, people not only fail to learn from others’ miscues, they won’t even learn from their own! I wonder how many times you’ve seen someone else fail at some undertaking and you’ve thought to yourself, “I could make that work.” Insanity has been popularly defined as: Continuing to do the same things but expecting different results.
The reproof of wisdom is failure (in whatever venue you interact: social, business, personal, family, etc.). The opportunity to learn her reproof is played out in the daily drama of other people’s choices—not necessarily your own. To “turn to” wisdom’s reproof is to take note of the probable failure of your choices, and change direction.
Let’s say you are about to “chew out” your (mate, friend, co-worker, employee, child, etc.) for some “infraction” you perceive to have occurred. Now, there is a ton of information wisdom has to offer on this topic. Observation clearly shows that rather than deepening the relationship, “chewing out” actually weakens it. Plus, there is also evidence in experience that it produces weaker results than other methods.
So, the impulse is to vent and abuse the other in your anger. But wisdom says this harms relationships and produces feeble results. Will you continue on your course? Or, will you turn to Wisdom’s reproof?
The one who pauses to reflect and reconsider will discover better solutions, better choices and better courses of action. This is the spirit of wisdom. This is knowing her words.
Listen to the wisdom surrounding you.
Yours for great relationships and strong results,
Have you ever been in circumstances where you dreaded what was about to happen and wished you could “undo” the choices leading up to it?
Prov. 128 Then
they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me,
Wisdom’s wistful warning is: “If you don’t pay attention to me in your decisions, there will be no wisdom to bail you out when the consequences come crashing in.”
I wonder how many patients dying of lung cancer wish they had long ago listened to the warnings against smoking. I wonder how many pregnant teens who suddenly see their entire life change wish they had listened to the thunderous roar of evidence against pre-marital sex and could take back their passionate indiscretion. I wonder how many red-nosed sots, suffering with liver failure, would give anything to undo the damage they inflicted on their bodies; who wish they could go back in time and respond differently to the clear warnings—in word or in example—they once ignored.
What I really wonder is: How many people would have a better life today if they had only responded positively to the warnings which wisdom wondrously wrapped around them in their lives? I mean, we all have parents that can see where we’re headed. What if we pay closer attention to them and give them more respect? We all live in commun-ities in which some of the residents have made disastrous mistakes. What if we pay closer attention to those lessons? We all have access to the Bible and the wisdom of God which enables and ennobles us to better living. What if we paid closer attention to its warnings and exhortations?
The deep pathos of our Proverb is this: What remedy does a person have when he comes to the disastrous consequences of heedless living? There is no wisdom which can reverse the unyielding flow of time! What is done stays done. If we choose not to listen to wisdom as we live life, there will be no way to undo the outcome. Once the barrel goes over the falls, there is no turning back; there is no “fixing”; there is only the inevitable, inexorable crash.
Yours for a life guided by wisdom on the front side,
Discoveries (of principles or truths) that lead to success and progress come in two forms: accidental and sought out. Jesus recognized this regarding the good news of the kingdom of heaven when He talked about the treasure hidden in a field (accidental discovery) and the costly pearl (sought out). His point was that one should be willing to sacrifice everything when he finds such a valuable treasure, no matter how he finds it
My point is focused on the finding. I have no control over accidental discoveries: they are, by their nature, unexpected surprises! On the other hand, discoveries that emerge as the fruit of search and thought are not only rewarding, they are also very satisfying. But, by their nature, they require focused effort.
Prov. 23–5 For
if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of Yahweh,
And discover the knowledge of God.
Look carefully at the two “if” clauses; then
note the “then” conclusion.
“If you cry…” (#1) conjures up in our minds a parent calling out to a child lost in the woods. We get a sense of urgency and persistence. They are determined to locate the child and aren’t going to let up until they do.
Wouldn’t it be profitable if everyone we knew cried out for understanding with the same urgency and persistence?
you seek…” (#2) reminds us of the expense and energy invested in prospecting
for precious metals or other natural resources. A recent news piece showed that
a major oil company was about to invest $1 billion to drill for oil in the
Imagine how rewarding it would be if everyone we knew invested themselves so ardently in “mining” the mind of God.
“Then you will discern…discover…” shows the lush outcome for the persistent investor of himself, who passionately seeks God’s insights into life!
What wouldn’t you give to know about life what God knows? Well, give that, too; your life will be tremendous!
Yours for an awesome life,
Why is “doing the right thing” not as easy as it sounds? It might be our zeal in pursuing God’s wisdom.
Prov. 24–5 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of Yahweh,
And discover the knowledge of God.
a summer in British Columbia. I decided to take a “job”
It was a small, two-man placer mine operation; but there was still a lot to do. My job was “fetch and carry.” Jade and gold were available; we were looking for gold. A mud dam on a small stream formed a pond. A loader took half-yard bites out of the hillside and dropped them into a hopper atop the sluice box. We pumped water to wash the tailings down the sluice. Thus, the gold in the hill would rest in one of the traps along the sluice. At the end of each day all tailings were removed from the work area and the sluice was examined for gold.
It was hard, hot work. Exertion, sun, and black flies made the job uncomfortable. Water, grime, and sweat made us grubby. As cold as the water was, it was good to get into it at the end of the day! So, why did we put ourselves through all this? Gold!
We didn’t strike it rich, but some have. The hope of the “big strike” drives men to all the discomfort of mining.
What if we pursued wisdom and an understanding of God with the same vigor, commitment, and resources? Well, here are two conclusions. One: though it was doubtful we would find gold, it is a Divine guarantee that all who search for His wisdom will find it. Two: whereas gold can be lost, squandered, or stolen; God’s wisdom remains and enriches us always. So, why not pursue the sure and eternal wisdom of the Divine? You’ll certainly be richer (and, wiser) for it!
Yours for true wealth from right
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal body guard constantly watching over you and protecting you from danger?
Prov. 210–11 For
wisdom will enter your heart,
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
Maybe you’ve seen the commercial about the “guardian angel.” The protected one gets hammered by one calamity after another while his guardian is distracted, that is until he pulls out the wrong credit card! Of what possible use is such an oafish guardian, anyway? We could use something more alert and better able to shield us than that.
Well, there is something. Passionately sought wisdom (vs. 4) enters the heart as your own personal “super hero!” Notice these phrases in vs. 11: “guard you,” and “watch over you.” Life is filled with temptations and choices; allurements and decisions. And every option carries consequences, whether good or bad.
Wisdom to the rescue! With wisdom passing judgment on each notion and assessing the outcome in advance, you’ll be armed to make beneficial decisions and to avoid hazardous outcomes. That is what Solomon promised.
In reading the remainder of Proverbs 2 we encounter two specific areas of wisdom’s deliverance and the pleasant outcome she bestows. First, she will deliver you from the “way of evil” (vs. 12). That is, you will neither choose to turn to the dark side, nor will you be vulnerable to the crafty deceit used by those who do. Second, she will deliver you from the “strange woman” (vs. 16). I see the strength of wisdom on display here. Perhaps there is no stronger or more irresistible temptation than the allure of a loose woman to a young man. If wisdom can protect him from her, how safe can you feel with wisdom at the helm?
So, Solomon offers a pleasant outcome when wisdom has sheltered her charge from the folly of evil and lust: vs. 20. You will live among the righteous and dwell on God’s good land. Not so of the wicked; they will be cut off in their folly (a result of not following wisdom’s counsel).
Yours for a truly “sheltered” life,
This is about walking in a father’s wisdom: accepting it as your own even when you haven’t yet paid the price of experience to “own” it.
Prov. 31–2 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life,
And peace they will add to you.
With each new computer I upload all the pertinent files and documents from the old one. My new system doesn’t have to “re-learn” all that old data; it was imbued with it by the magic of file transfer!
What if that were possible with people, too? Just imagine the mistakes, heart-aches and failures you could save your children. With a mind-meld transfer your child becomes equipped to go forth on his first date; or, for his first solo drive in your new car; or, to interview for college admittance or for a job. If only it were that simple!
Instead, God gave us a “hands on” way to safe-guard our children: and it involves both parties! Let a father be diligent to “upload” key information through verbal communication and through illustration. Then, let the child “lay it to heart.”
Solomon meant for us to go beyond “the motions” of repeating the commandments. He meant for them to become part of our “self-talk”; who we are.
A father’s advice “taken to heart” is far better than a direct mind-to-mind upload. The information safely transferred and processed according to the child’s needs. And, the loving relationship between father and child is deepened.
I’m glad we don’t come equipped with a UBS-style port for instant upload. Sharing and embracing ideas is far better!
for a long, peaceful life,
Here is a Proverb that struck me as extremely valuable. See what you think…
Prov. 33–4 Do
not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Two anchor-points for life emerge from this exhortation: Kindness & Truth. These character traits of the heart govern and determine the quality in every one of our relationships.
“Kindness” is more than being nice to others. It comes from the word which most describes the nature and character of God! In the NASV it is usually translated as “lovingkindness”; though other similar words are sometimes used, such as "steadfast love," "loyalty," or even "holiness." In the KJV it was used the following ways: mercy, 149x; kindness, 40x; lovingkindness, 30x; goodness, 12x; kindly, 5x; merciful, 4x; favour, 3x; good, 1x; goodliness, 1x; and pity, 1. As I indicated, this Hebrew word catches and portrays the character of God more than any other word. Thus, He is loyal, merciful, compassionate, kindly disposed, and steadfast in His love toward us. Solomon here calls on us to enrich our lives and those around us by letting the "jewelry" of kindness be our adornment.
“Truth” is more than factual accuracy. It is the habit of heart that demands and embraces truth—even if truth exposes an error in my thinking or flaw in my character! Which means: I’m not motivated by personal desires, egoism or prejudices. It means I can look objectively at any circumstance and find what really “went down,” even if it puts me or my loved ones in an unfavorable light.
The selective vision of subjectivity allows me to see only those aspects of an event that agree with my “case.” But truth written on the heart allows me to look past personal feelings and see objectively.
So, be loyal and long-enduring with your friends. Always look for the truth and smile when you find it. Both God and man will be pleased to know you!
for a great life,
People seem to love wood. We admire the beauty of wooden furniture, even cutting boards. But God made it more than beautiful; it’s a life-saver!
Not too long ago, the US Department of Agriculture recommended plastics above wood. They claimed that non-porous surfaces like plastic would be less likely to hold bacteria and would be easier to keep clean and germ free. Also, they argued, since plastics were synthetic, they would tend to kill bacteria. However, recent studies showed the opposite: pathogens prefer plastics.
Microbiologists at the University of Wisconsin researched to find decontamination techniques in order to make wood as safe as plastic. What they found was this: If they inoculated wooden boards with either salmonella, listeria, or e-coli 99% of the bacteria died. When the same were put on plastic, none of them died. Left overnight, the plastic bacteria multiplied, but none were found on the wood.
They inoculated plastic and wood on three consecutive days and left them unwashed at room temperature. The wood had 99.9% fewer bacteria than had been placed on it. At the same time, in the words of the experimenter, “the plastic boards were downright disgusting.” Wood has anti-bacterial properties not found in any man-made material. The researchers tested maple, birch, beech, black cherry, basswood, butternut, and American black walnut with the same results. It did not seem to matter whether the wood was new or old.
Those U.S.D.A. officials said that their recommendation of such non-porous materials was based on common sense and not scientific data. In this case, when the scientific data came in, common sense was shown to be wrong. It also appears that our God, the Designer of wood, knew what He was doing.
If “walking with God” is merely theoretical, it is of little value. But, if His advice/counsel/direction percolates into the core of my being I have a good life laid out before me.
Prov. 35–6 Trust
in Yahweh with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Trust Yahweh...don’t rely upon myself (v. 5) hits at the very heart of my decision making. How many times have we read something in the Bible that seems like the wrong thing to do? This always happens during hard decisions, and never during the easy ones; doesn’t it? It takes a lot of trust to “turn right” because God said to, when every neuron in your brain is shouting “don’t do it!”
It’s easy to turn right when it seems like the right choice; or, when there are no striking consequences if I do. But, when my mind screams “left”; turning right can only be based on total trust. Solomon did say, “with all your heart!”
Acknowledging Him “in all your ways” makes it universal, too. There is no room for vacillation. Honoring Yahweh is full-time business; just like life. “All...ways” means every choice, every action, every word, and ultimately, every thought.
Our Father wants the close intimacy of total trust. I can totally trust because I am totally convinced of His unwavering, unfailing love. He would sooner sacrifice His only Son than steer me astray.
Acknowledging that marvelous truth means I can entrust the path of my life into His hands and know that it will lead “straight.” That is, with me trusting Him, listening to His counsel and warnings, my decisions will be away from harm.
Yours for a successful, trust-filled adventure through life,
Why do some men resist getting directions from others; especially from their wives? Is it over confidence? Is it ego? Is it a lack of trust in others?
Maybe you’ve seen the TV commercial of a man driving along pulling a nice recreational boat. His wife is with him suggesting that he get directions to the lake. Instead, he turns off onto a dirt side-road in the middle of the desert and mutters, “This is starting to look familiar.”
Prov. 37–8 Do
not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body,
And refreshment to your bones.
In this Proverb the first two lines discuss decision making processes and the second two describe outcomes. Take them in reverse order.
Life is complex. Each of us is complex on our own; but mix us together into a society of humans and the complexity multiplies. We interact. We compete. We cooperate. We agree; or, disagree. Some act against others out of jealousy, rage, self-will or some other egocentric motivation. Shortcuts abound; not all of them legal! Temptations abound, as well. Life is a series of complex, and often competing, choices.
How you choose effects how you feel. You might be filled with a tranquil sense of well-being. Nothing is gnawing at your soul. Or, you might be filled with tension and anxiety. People you’ve “stepped on” might turn around and step on you. Shortcuts you’ve taken might be dead-ends or road blocks instead.
Of these two, we both know which will have a longer and better quality of life!
So, how can you avoid stress, tension or anxiety in life and have calm enjoyment of life? Follow God!
I use some rather complex software on my computer. You likely do, as well. Now, if you’re like me, you’ve had some frustrating experiences with that software. However, the team that wrote the code for it doesn’t have those same frustrations. (I’m not referring to frustrations related to developing the software, but of using it once developed.)
Why not? The answer is simple: they know what they’re doing, but I’m just “experi-menting.” I’m convinced that my programs have more functionality than I use. I’m also convinced that I some of what I currently do could be done more efficiently—if I knew what the code writers know!
That brings me to the point: God wrote the human code! I don’t mean the Bible (the “user’s manual”). I mean, the Creator designed complex codes into your genes: codes which relate to every interaction you have with life and to every choice you make. So, here is your biggest choice: Will you stumble through life trying to “figure it out on the fly;” or, will you respect the Designer and seek and follow His guidance? “Healing” and “refreshment” will be yours if you get your insights from Him!
Yours for a life “by the book,”
You’ve seen the type, those people who use religion as a path to riches. Disgusting, isn’t it? So, what about today’s Proverb?
Prov. 39–10 Honor
Yahweh from your wealth,
And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
My friend Steve used to opine: “God is so wise; He knows who will use His blessings in a way that will accomplish His will.” What he meant by that is this: Whenever God finds one who consistently uses his possessions to advance God’s work, God supports that man.
This is not a “use God to get rich” scheme; the one who has his heart set on God’s interests isn’t concerned about getting rich, just in helping others. This is what Solomon meant by, “Honor Yahweh.” Any man who makes the sacrifices and contributions of God, honors God. Any woman who benevolently assists others on God’s behalf, honors God. And He makes sure that these folks—and all like them—have the resources to put to such noble uses.
This is not a swindle or gimmick. Who can imagine “pulling a fast one” on God? It is God’s assurance that if you trust Him by using your things for His business—even when it seems you don’t have enough—you’ll always have sufficiency to do so.
But there is even more in this, isn’t there? I see abundance beyond the level of re-investment. I see rich blessings from a Father who rejoices to see His children honoring Him. I see a Father who wants His children to have an abundant life, once they get their priorities straight.
One very practical way to sum it up might be this: Honor Him and He will be your supply; fail to honor Him and you’re on your own.
for the rich blessings our Father longs to supply,
Musing about today’s Proverb led me to ask, “Why would anyone turn their back on something as valuable as advice that has been tested by experience?”
Prov. 46 Do
not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
The “woman” in question is Wisdom. It is she who guards and protects those who embrace her. She lavishes her care with due diligence on all who attend diligently to her.
Wisdom is derived from God’s counsel and from life experiences, whether one’s own or that of others. Wisdom is the insight and foresight to see the outcome of choices (based on those life experiences) before making them; further, it is the ability (based on the foresight) to modify choices to achieve desired and beneficial outcomes. Wisdom is like one’s own “guardian angel!” Who wouldn’t embrace such a treasure?
That question leads us to the question Solomon must have considered: “Why would anyone forsake wisdom and no longer love her?” Obviously, he was concerned that his sons might turn their ears away from Wisdom’s warning; but, what would drive them to do so?
Both passive and aggressive incentives exist to disregard wisdom. Passively, I might simply let her slip from my mind. Wisdom is not held in high esteem. My confidence in my ability to make decisions keeps me from considering my choices carefully. Or, my concern for future consequences may not be in “full bloom” yet. For whatever reason, I don’t give wisdom even a nodding consideration.
Aggressively, I may be so moved by the intensity of the moment—excitement, passion, fervor, enthusiasm, etc.—that I push ahead against the advice of Wisdom. I want what I want and don’t care that there may be hurtful consequences. I act spontaneously…and suffer later!
Solomon’s answer to each of these possibilities is the crux of this Proverb. “Do not forsake her” means listen to her even when your passions are intense. She will guard you…mainly from yourself! This is the answer to acting aggressively against the advice of wisdom. Instead of turning your back on Wisdom, embrace her counsel.
And, “Love her” is the answer to neglect or indifference. Value what she can do for you. Hold it like a treasure in your heart.
My advice is this, spend time musing on wisdom’s great worth. Muse at times when there are no choices to make. Gain a love for her that will neither let you neglect her nor abandon her.
Yours for a life-long love affair with Wisdom,
Since it is so important, how can I acquire, or “get,” wisdom?
Prov. 47 The
beginning of wisdom is: Acquire
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
One thing is clear: Solomon considered wisdom as foundational to life. So, go get it. But, where or how? Another thing is also clear: Solomon used wisdom and understanding interchangeably. It is as though understanding is the gist of wisdom.
On the first point, where is a young man going to find wisdom to acquire it? Prov. 17 says that fearing Yahweh is a good place to start. Holding Him in high regard keeps my heart open to His counsel. Reading His word, then, fills my receptive mind with His insights about life. I doubt He’d ever make mistakes as big as mine! So, one source of wisdom to acquire is my God Himself.
Another source would be the counsel of wise people. Solomon noted that in abundance of counselors there is victory (246). Life experiences teach valuable lessons. A friend once said, “Even a fool can learn from his own mistakes; but a wise man will learn from the mistakes of others.” An open ear can save me much grief.
Thirdly, I can glean wisdom by observation. As Solomon said in 120, Wisdom shouts in the streets. Every day, life is full of people making choices and reaping consequences. If I am observant, I can “buy up” these cause-and-effect events and learn how to avoid unwanted consequences and how to obtain desired outcomes.
Finally, my victories and mistakes are an open market from which to “buy” wisdom. It was Einstein who gave birth to the phrase: Insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results.
Wisdom is fundamental to good outcomes. These four sources are always open to you: Buy well!
for wise acquiring,
Would you agree: There’s plenty of advice out there? Not all advice is good and much is unsolicited. It just about makes a guy want to ditch it all and just use his own ideas. Well, consider this Proverb.
Prov. 413 Take
hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.
Everybody’s heard the bath-water/baby analogy. Maybe when others “weigh in” with their advice, the simplest response is like Don Williams sings in one of his songs: “Though I thank you all for being kind, I can make mistakes myself just fine!” That is, maybe our default response is just to ignore all outside input.
I’ll not tell you what to do with bad or unsolicited advice. You probably wouldn’t listen! But I will call your attention to a couple sources of advice you can’t afford to ignore.
Undoubtedly, you have people who genuinely and deeply care for you: your parents; your close friend; your spouse & your God. I submit that decision-directing input from any of these is worth considering. Staying “open” to their wisdom could spare you much grief or remorse.
Look at the first line of our verse. Notice: “take hold…do not let go.” Suppose you were bobbing precariously in heavy seas and your father tossed you a life-line. What would you do with it? Doesn’t “take hold” gain a more vigorous meaning in this illustration? What could possibly induce you to “let go?”
Now, imagine your father (or mate, or friend, or even God) “tossing” you bits of wisdom to keep you from mistakes and consequences (like drowning in the ocean). Would you shun them? Would you casually, limply fumble around with them? Or, would you embrace them in your heart? What might seduce you to relinquish them?
It is easy to become distracted by an alluring idea: get-rich-quick, self-gratification or impulse. Then, in our distraction we’ll have to “let go” the wisdom to pursue the allure. But if we understand what Solomon urges in the second line—she is your life—we’ll come back to our safety line.
Now, back to our illustration. You’re being tossed by heavy waves, but holding tight to the life-line. Suddenly, your favorite hat is washed from your head by one of those waves. Do you let go of the life-line to pursue the hat? Or, do you hold tight to your tether and save your life?
It’s the same, isn’t it? If following the allure means turning loose of wisdom, what hope is there for a good outcome?
I wonder how many people judge Christianity by what they’re required to “give up,” instead of prizing it because of what they receive. I wonder, too, how many Christians see too much negative in their walk and fail to see the bright beauty of it!
Prov. 418 But
the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
“Path” suggests a journey or way of life. As the righteous man goes forward with his life it is as though he were walking into ever-increasing illumination. He gains clearer understanding about interactions with people, clearer insights into the motives and shenanigans of rascals, clearer impressions of beauty of the righteous life, and clearer realization that he is walking toward God!
As the dawning of the sun brings increasingly brighter vision, so the deepening of one’s understanding of the ways of God brings illumination to all things human. Our intimacy with God lets us see life from His perspective. We will see and evaluate all manner of human interactions: with life, with others, with disasters, with work, with success or failure, with family, with self, even with God!
Everyone understands how the dawning of a new day spreads light everywhere, gradually dispelling all darkness; everyone, that is, except the blind! Even so, all men can equally understand that walking with God increases one’s illumination and clarifies his insights into life!
All men can understand that, and the righteous will use it to his advantage. The righteous will realize that an enlightened path is far less hazardous than the path of darkness. The righteous will use God’s light to brighten his life and to clarify his choices. The righteous will conduct his life in ever-increasing beauty; the beauty of holiness.
for an enlightened life,
I’m convinced you’ll either pay attention to good advice, or you’ll pay for neglect!
Prov. 51–2 My son, give attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding;
That you may observe discretion,
And your lips may reserve knowledge.
As you visualize one “inclining his ear,” do you see him leaning closer to hear clearly? Or, do you see him impatiently waiting for the other to quit talking?
The honest interest in the insights of an experienced older person has tremendous rewards. Imagine being given secrets that cost others dearly to learn. It’s almost like cheating at life! Only, it’s legit.
Temptation says, “Take this lusty bait!” But, if you take it, you’ll get hurt. Wisdom of experience says, “If you take that bait, you’ll get hurt.” Which voice gets your attention: the one that says, “Try me;” or the one that says, “Danger?”
The voice you listen to pretty much sets up your outcome. On the one hand, when you listen to wisdom, you’ll learn to be discreet, making choices against the danger of temptation. Your lips will “reserve knowledge;” i.e., you’ll know what to tell others, especially what to “tell” yourself. But, if you listen to the self-serving call of temptation; not only will you be hurt by your choices, you won’t know what to say or do to get out of it!
Oh, if only our young would listen to the advice of those who’ve paid the price to know!
for wise choices in life,
Though the seduction of temptation is strong (since it appeals to our wants), it is not inevitable that we must succumb to it. As Vs. 1 urges, if we are willing to listen to the voice of experienced reason, we can escape unscathed.
Prov. 51–3 My son, give attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding;
That you may observe discretion,
And your lips may reserve knowledge.
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
And smoother than oil is her speech;
Having looked at Vv. 1 & 2 in a previous blurb, let me draw your thoughts to Vs. 3. In the phrase “For the lips…”, Father Solomon pleads with his sons to see the necessity of having ready answers for choices and behaviors.
It’s almost like two lawyers pleading their case. The argument of the adulteress is sweet, smooth, smothered in honey, and hard to turn down. It will allure and could turn his mind to jelly. How can he say “No,” unless he has already taught his lips insight and knowledge of the nature of the seduction and its outcome?
Make sure your lips reserve knowledge, because her lips are seductive. As we have often observed, the term “adulteress” suggests a broader seduction than merely sexual, perhaps because the sexual aspect is so strong. If “reserving knowledge” is powerful enough to equip a young man to withstand this admittedly overwhelming seduction, isn’t the same process able to prepare me to resist any destructive desire and allure?
I love that a well-prepared heart can withstand life’s fiercest tempests! The key thought is “well-prepared.” Give your lips the knowledge they need ahead of time so they can say “no” appropriately. It’s too late to wish for a rain coat when you’re out without one and the torrent begins.
Yours for choices that see the end and chose well,
While reading from Proverbs 5 I thought about Solomon’s “seductress.” Whether he warned his sons about actual prostitutes, or about any allurement under the guise of the prostitute, is unclear. What is clear is this: looking only at the allurement can fill one’s life with misery.
Prov. 56 She does not ponder the path of life;
Her ways are unstable, she does not know.
This is the last of four verses warning against the honey-tongued adulteress. Danger and destruction are wrapped up in the package she offers. Hers is not a malicious destruction. She doesn’t “intend” to hurt you, she just doesn’t think about anything other than the pleasure of the now! And that thoughtlessness fails to observe and prevent impending destruction.
Three phrases jump out at me: “she does not ponder,” “ways are unstable” and “she does not know.”
“She does not ponder” pinpoints the center of the problem. If only she had “thought ahead!” If only she had seen the trouble coming! If only she had chosen a different route to avoid the fatal collision! If only…
Living for the “now” doesn’t give one the foresight or the time to respond when ruinous disasters emerge.
“Her ways are unstable” makes me think of driving on black ice. You could be motoring along at speed and hit a batch of it unawares. Most likely, you will lose control of your car; maybe you will crash; possibly you will kill yourself. Black ice makes one’s road “unstable.” So does living in the “now!”
“She does not know.” The pathetic aspect of this is that she could have known! Anyone can “trace out” the likely chain of events set in place by “now” decisions. Doing so, that same anyone can change her decisions—if she sees them leading to calamity. But, living in the “now,” heedless of the future, she does not know what will happen next!
I think thought for tomorrow will make today’s living better! What do you think?
for great tomorrows,
I wish I could tell my mother something that would comfort her: “Mom, I never once tried drugs; not in high school, not in college, not after college. I never experimented with drugs, not even marijuana. Your warnings worked; they were not wasted on me.” Though she’s been gone over four years, her guiding love and wisdom still protects me.
Prov. 58 Keep
your way far from her,
And do not go near the door of her house
I remember the high points of that evening vividly. We were watching TV together as a family. Police shows were popular. I recall two: Dragnet & Naked City, but I don’t remember which was on. The episode centered around teens getting messed up and in trouble because of drugs. At one point mom looked at me and said: “Rod, I hope you never do drugs.” Her eyes were filled with love, fear, and tears. It scared her to think of my future; and it etched the same fear into my young heart. I never went down that road.
I wonder what the escalation rate is in crimes associated with or stemming from pornography. My point is that there always seems to be a portal into the dark world of crime and depraved living.
I’m not discussing any vice in particular: smoking, drinking, sexual abandonment, theft, or the like. I’m talking about how a person might get started down any one of these “Loser Lanes.”
The closer the moth comes to the tantalizing flame, the more likely it is to become crispy! The more leeway I give myself around those things which allure me, the more likely I will be snared by them.
Solomon so warned his sons regarding the seductress: “Stay away from her.” Do not suppose you can flirt with danger and not be hurt. Why would you willingly expose yourself to a lifestyle that isn’t worth living? Why would you take even the first step down a trail that ends in tragedy?
It is a sham and a lie to say to yourself: “I’ll just look.” How many full-scale sex addicts—with their empty lives and ruined families—started by just looking?
Here is a truth worth framing: “You will never come to the end of a road which you never started down.” Avoid the road that leads to ruin. Live above life’s losers; leave unopened the door of doom.
Yours for successful avoidance,
Do you remember the girlfriend who almost was? She might have been; but you didn’t ask her, not even to join you for a latte. Ah, if only…
That’s the good that might have been. What about the heartache and tragedies that might have been avoided?
Prov. 511–13 And you groan at your latter end,
When your flesh and your body are consumed;
And you say, “How I have hated instruction!
And my heart spurned reproof!
And I have not listened to the voice of my teachers,
Nor inclined my ear to my instructors!”
John Greenleaf Whittier is credited with the following piercing words;
“For all sad words of tongue
The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.”
Wisdom, as I see it, is “outcome-based decision making.” Solomon’s “latter end” is certainly “outcome”; but not such an outcome as one might hope for. Do you recall what we used to call cigarettes? “Cancer sticks” or “coffin nails” come to mind.
My grandad died of cancer. His use of chewing tobacco turned into lip caner...which spread. The warnings abound—health reports, government PSAs, even anecdotal evidence—smoking leads to a lousy latter end. But he didn't listen.
Many such subtle dangers, disguised as today’s enjoyment, lurk to destroy your future. That warnings of older, experienced people will remove the regret and despair from the future of all who take instruction. “If only I had listened” DOES NOT have to be your sad lament.
Yours for a groan-free future,
Have you ever noticed how sticky a spider’s web is? Don’t you love it when you walk face-first into one? As your hands flail, grabbing at the sticky mesh, you must be a strange sight to onlookers.
Today’s Proverb reminds me of the sticky web, yet in a sinister sort of way.
Prov. 522 His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
Solomon asserts, “Sin has cords.” What is the function of “cords?” Cords bind. They restrain. They attach two items to each other. They might entangle.
The phrase “cords of sin” doesn’t give a pleasant feel, does it?
What do these cords do? They ensnare and bind. The wrong I’ve done has a way of haunting my memory and hurting my conscience. It sticks to me like a web. We might call this “nagging guilt.”
The wrong also fastens itself to me in this manner: consequences inevitably follow. Tommy and Judy had some “secret fun” one night when no one was aware. Almost immediately a sense of guilt settled over them that they couldn’t quite shake. This was bad enough—to lose a bit of self-esteem—but about a month later their sin had a heart-wrenching surprise for them: Judy was pregnant. Bound by the cords of their sin, Judy and Tommy would be hobbled by an unwanted pregnancy and all the responsibilities of caring for a baby.
The wrong I’ve done ensnares me in a third way: it so tweaks my interest and weakens my resistance that I’m drawn to do it again.
Guilty conscience, life-ruining consequences and being enslaved to lust; sin certainly can bind a man!
What God told Cain in the garden is His advice to each of us: “Sin’s desire is for you; but you must master it” (Gen. 47). Be sure, your sins will master you (bind you with cords) and ruin your life unless you master them! Always look to Jesus for disentangling and overcoming power.
Yours for an unentangled life,
The baby chicks we purchased last Spring are now laying eggs (August 15th was the first). But, this isn’t about eggs, it’s about birds (chickens are birds). This isn’t even about birds, really; it’s about frantic, frenetic effort to escape as illustrated by birds (in this case, chickens).
Prov. 65 Deliver
yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand,
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
I don’t have any experience catching a gazelle with my hands, so I’ll have to limit myself to chickens (though I have caught a hummingbird that way; it was trapped in my shop window). I once sprained my ankle pursuing a wayward chicken, but that’s a different story.
Even birds I’ve raised from chicks, with whom I’ve interacted every day (feeding, changing water and tending to other needs) and who depend on me for everything; even they squawk and flap and scurry if I try to clutch one of them. Imagine how much more our feral feathered friends would flee and fluster if nabbed!
More than this, after I have successfully clutched a clucker, she squawks and flaps even more furiously to get away…and I’m not even designing harm to the hen. I’m not badgering the biddy, either, just checking for general health and well-being.
Now if a stupid bird (I say that kindly) will give this much diligence and effort to avoid the benign encounter, how much more should I be motivated to extricate myself from every malicious entanglement? If one without wit or wisdom is so inclined to be free, why not rather me?
It’s certainly sad to see anyone languishing in life or snared in some situation. It’s even sadder to see them give up and not fight for their freedom. I just want to say: “Don’t be a coward; be a chicken!” Fight ferociously for freedom!
Or, in the words of Piet Hein (Danish poet): “Here’s a maxim to help you fight on longer; Things that don’t kill you outright only make you stronger.”
Yours for diligent freedom,
Wasn’t it Dr. Freud who wanted to know about your mother? Well, guess what; how you well get along in life is related to how closely to attend to your mother’s advice.
Prov. 622 When
you walk about, they will guide you;
When you sleep, they will watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.
Each line says, “they will … “. We wonder, who is “they?” If you said, “my parents,” that would be a good and acceptable response, but it’s not completely accurate. Verse 20 mentions the commandment of father and the teaching of mother. So, the accurate response would be, “my parents’ instructions.”
How well do you follow your parents’ instructions? What do you find to be the result of staying within those guidelines?
I remember certain things dad taught me. (I’m sure there are multitudes of teachings I don’t consciously recall, but that are at work in me anyway.) I remember him telling me, “It’s quicker to make two trips than to try to take more than you can handle in one.” Of course I had to “prove him wrong,” so I challenged it. I would drop things, or get snagged on something and lose my entire load. He would remind me, sometimes rebukingly. Finally the lesson became permanently mine. Now I find it faster to make two secure trips than one bold, overloaded trip. So, though dad has passed from this life, he still “guides” me with his wisdom.
Now, they guide me, whether consciously or unconsciously, those lessons learned through advice from parents or by experience.
I can walk through life making safe, prudent decisions. I can sleep well at night, knowing nothing is coming back to haunt me. And when I get up in the morning, I have a course of conduct pre-programmed that will keep me away from difficulty and guide me toward accomplishment.
Imagine! All of this simply because I listened to dad’s advice about two trips! (Plus all those other things he counseled me about.)
So, if you ever wondered why you have to listen to your father “lecture” you; it’s because God wants you to have wisdom to keep you out of trouble and into success!
Yours for a trouble-free life,
I really like this Proverb; I hope you do, too. In two short lines Solomon captured the essence of education: illumination, illustration and correction.
Prov. 623 For
the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light;
And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.
A man has a son whom he loves. As the boy grows, father tells him what is expected. To make sure he knows what that means, father shows him how to do it. But, not leaving matters to their own course, father inspects his son’s work…with the intent of tweaking or fine-tuning it. Superior performance is the result of this loving care. When the child can “see” the right way he can go forth to his success.
Zig Ziglar tells the story of his momma sending him out to cultivate the beans. She told him what she wanted; she showed him how to do it; then she came back to check on his output. I remember how he put it when she looked at his inferior work: “Son, for someone else’s child, this might be acceptable; but I expect more out of my son. Go back and do it the way I showed you.”
see, momma didn’t just tell Zig what to do; she showed him how to do it. But
more than that, she held to a high standard of performance. As Zig says: “She
inspected to make sure she got what she expected; then she corrected.” As you
might know, Ziglar went on to become a top-performer in the sales world. Then
he used all he gleaned from momma and others to become one of
I believe his success started with a momma who cared enough to instruct, illustrate, check-up on and correct him as a child. I believe your child’s success will come from the same fountain (your determined heart). And, I believe your success will also depend on how well you learn, live and are corrected by the ways of God. Let His light illumine, guide and instruct your way.
Yours for a well-lit path,
Consider what I found in this
Prov. 71–2 My son, keep my words,
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Thinking about this Proverb led me to this picture! It resembles one taken at a wedding rehearsal in my back yard early September 2001. It’s one of over fifty roses I have growing around my property. The rose is called “Tropicana,” a hybrid tea rose.
How do roses and keeping God’s word relate to each other? That’s easy for me to explain.
Roses take a lot of care: regular feeding, significant watering, diligent treatment against fungal infections and frequent pruning and weeding. I say they take a lot of care, but that isn’t necessarily true. I’ve seen roses in other people’s yards that were sickly, straggly, covered with black spot and having only a few pitiful blooms.
Every time I see a poor rosebush victimized and mistreated so, I draw one conclusion: the people who bought the plant may like the idea of roses, but they don’t treasure it! If they did, they would tend it, care for it and treat it like “the apple of their eye.”
That phrase speaks about that object upon which the eye loves to gaze. I become very defensive and protective of that which my eye loves to see: especially my wife, children, and grandies (and, my roses!).
The beauty, elegance and fragrance of a flourishing rose are one’s rewards for vigilant care. In the same way, the rewards of vigilantly treasuring God’s wisdom and taking care that nothing erodes it are worth the vigilance. He guarantees “life!”
The scrawny roses that evoked my sympathy were mostly victims of neglect. Something was more important than tending to their needs. In like manner, if God’s word and the quality of life it can produce for me are precious to me, I will tend to it as it flourishes in my consciousness. Other interests will not distract me from making sure that God’s wisdom yields its sweet fragrance in my life.
God’s word is a wonderful flower that can sweeten every life into which it comes as a cherished treasure. Attend to His wisdom as though the beauty of your life depended on it—for in actual fact, it does!
Yours for a life free from the “black spot” of neglect,
I worry about phonies and the shallow sort who pretend to be Christians, but neither their heart nor their actions are in it.
Prov. 73 Bind
them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
start by identifying “them.” A quick glance at verse one helps clarify it:
“them” refers to the father’s words, his advice about life. In Heb. 124–7 we learn that
Our world has its share of superficial believers. You’ve seen the sort. They’ll wear their religious paraphernalia (beads, bracelets, necklaces, special T-shirts, etc.), they’ll wear “sacred items” (skull caps, phylacteries, vestments, etc.), they’ll cite or quote scripture on the smallest of stimuli; but their lives fall short of the ideal they advertise.
I’m not talking about everyone whose life falls short of the ideal, just those who “wear their religion” but who do not internalize it. This Proverb is about internalizing the advice and making it part of everyday practice. Notice the two key analogies: 1) on your fingers, and 2) on…your heart.
I see it this way, if what I have heard from God actually makes it to my finger tips, then I have translated the written word into a living force. It becomes more than a “nice message.” It guides my decisions, words, and activities. Also, I find it interesting that the message is to be “bound” onto my fingers, as though it were too important to let “slip through!”
Secondly, we have the matter of the heart. Too many times we hear what we need to hear, but don’t let it “get traction” in our lives. Why? We used to say, “in one ear and out the other.” Solomon said it differently. He said, “Write it down on your heart.”
We live in an age of computers so the idea of writing code that governs the running and the direction of an application is familiar to us. The heart of man is his CPU and God’s word is the “code.” Enter the code from the manual into the CPU and watch changes take place in the direction of your life!
Yours for internalized guidance,
The aftermath of a mighty wind is often ugly. Once-stately trees sprawl on the ground, their branches broken and strewn. A sudden blast of wind knocked them over and left gaping holes in the ground, in the landscaping, and sometimes in roofs.
Prov. 74–5 Say
to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And call understanding, “Intimate friend;”
That they may keep you from an adulteress,
From the foreigner who flatters with her words.
The intro focuses on the value of this Proverb: Yielding to a sudden impulse can leave ugly, permanent scars.
Maybe, if the homeowners thought about the possibility of wind they could have strengthened the trees with guy wires. Then the wind would not be able to wreak its damage.
Wisdom acts like the guy wires against impulsive damage to my life. The urge to any harmful “yielding” doesn’t have to ruin me. I can resist; especially if I strengthen myself with thoughts about the outcome.
To live in the moment is to live recklessly; to live without stability. The flattering words, “You’re really going to like this,” beguile the unprepared soul into regrettable actions. Maybe it’s an extra helping of sweets; maybe, an illicit affair; maybe it’s an angry outburst; or maybe, a peek at a porn site. They each promise an in-the-moment reward.
Do not be deceived; that half-hidden promise is a blast of destructive impulse. The other half, the hidden half, is the outcome.
But, by making personal friends with understanding and wisdom you will see beyond the immediate, all the way to the consequences. The ability to see the consequences makes wonderful guy wires for your stability in choosing. Seeing those extra pounds that are so hard to shed gives you strength to say “no” when temptation purrs in your ear, “This is so yummy.” Contemplating the devastation to your family makes it easier to turn a deaf ear to the allure of the adulteress. It is a blessing to be able to foresee consequences.
God grants us the ability to envision the outcome of our actions. It’s called “Wisdom.” Let’s use it to keep our lives free from ugly scars.
Yours for sweet futures,
Have you ever ridden a horse that didn’t want to do what you wanted it to? Most horses have a mind of their own; but we learn to override their head-strong ways by keeping a firm grip on the reins. Have you ever been dumped from a horse who didn’t want to go your way? I’ve seen it happen.
It is appropriate to think of this after reading this Proverb.
Prov. 725 Do
not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her paths.
In context Solomon is talking about the ways of the seductress. Whether he’s referring only to the allure of forbidden physical intimacy, or whether he’s using that strong seduction to illustrate the dangers of yielding to temptation of any kind is not clear and remains a matter of the reader’s discernment. In either case the problem of losing control of discretion under the pressure of desire is a real problem and leads to real disaster.
Here Solomon advises “don’t let your heart turn aside.” Notice the control he expects you to take over your “I wants” and “I gotta haves!”
What you do comes from within; from your heart. You can control the images in your heart through reading and reasoning on God’s guidance in much the same way as you control what images you see on TV—by changing channels when necessary! When you get lazy, become lax, or get too curious, then you expose your heart to greater pressure than you might be able to handle. You lose control of your heart. It wanders into the darkness of deadly desire. You lose your way.
Like riding a horse, you must retain control of the beast at all times. If you let the horse “have his head,” you could be in for a rough ride…or, a hard landing! If you let seduction beguile you away from your walk with God you will “wander” aimlessly on her paths; and it could get rough.
So, keep your eye on the upward highway of God, keep a firm hand on your desires and keep seduction out of your heart.
for a powerful life,
I am enjoying old reruns of Magnum, PI, the private investigator in Hawaii. He listens to his “little voice.” It seems to keep him/get him out of trouble. It isn’t quite what Solomon had in mind with this Proverb; but it’s similar.
Prov. 81–2 Does
not wisdom call,
And understanding lift up her voice?
On top of the heights beside the way,
Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
Let’s start where the paths meet. Envision a young man faced with a decision. Choice “A” is alluring; holding the appearance of instant success. But, it opens a door into a dark world. Danger lurks; but will he see it over the brilliance of the alluring gratification? On the other hand, choice “B” would take him in a different direction; perhaps a slower, less exhilarating route to his dream. And even though it is less exhilarating, it is certainly the route of surer footing and less danger.
Whichever path he chooses will clearly set the tone for his life. Much is at stake at this intersection of life. How will he make a healthy decision?
Wisdom calls out. She is not quiet; she shouts (lifts up her voice). Hill-top or valley; highway or bi-way; city, town, or country-side: wisdom fairly fills the air with her warning and beckoning. The choices—and their impact—of any/all who have been at this same intersection are recorded on the pages of their lives and outcomes. They are recorded for all to see and read—and learn/be advised from.
choices in life have led them to outcomes or consequences (the results of the
choices)—no exceptions. Learning to “read” the relationship between choice and
outcome; this is the essence of wisdom. The beauty is this: we each have a ton
of witnesses to read. As my friend once said, “Even a fool might learn from his own mistakes; it takes a wise man to learn from the mistakes of others.”
Yours for ears to hear her call,
Let me begin by disabusing us of one modern myth: there is no wisdom to be found in the ways of a crook, no matter how shrewd he may appear.
Prov. 86–7 Listen,
for I shall speak noble things;
And the opening of my lips, right things.
For my mouth will utter truth;
And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
Thus spoke Wisdom as she advocated her cause, pleading with us to listen.
Noble things, right things, truth: these alone flow from the lips of Wisdom. Any wickedness is an abomination to her.
Or, to say it simply: there is no right way to do a wrong thing.
But wisdom is not so much about the ethical as it is about the outcome. It not just about “right and wrong;” it’s more about long-term consequences. “Will this decision/action take me safely and only to my goal?”
So, can wisdom—true wisdom, God’s wisdom—ever guide my choices into activities that do not promote my well-being? I think not!
Again, there is no wise way to do anything contrary to the nature of God. Man was made to be like his Maker, and ultimately, with his Maker. Any course of action—no matter how meticulously devised to be successful in itself—that takes me away from my Maker, that makes me unlike my Maker, flies in the face of my well-being.
This is not wisdom; this is one of Satan’s most effective ploys. By diverting our attention from being like God to being effectively shrewd or cunning, Satan gets us to ruin ourselves.
Wisdom speaks only noble, right and true plans. We should listen to nothing less.
for noble planning,
Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides in “Dune” once said, “I see the truth of it.” The willingness of an open mind to grasp a truth not formerly seen by it is the heart of wisdom.
Prov. 89 They
are all straightforward to him who understands,
And right to those who find knowledge.
Check out the context: wisdom is making her “sales pitch.” She makes an appeal to all who can hear: “Listen to me, because I only speak noble and true words.” Nothing that wisdom advocates will lead to wickedness or harm.
But, who will see the value of her advice? Not everyone listens to wisdom. Why not? Self-interest, instant gratification, pride, contempt: these are a few of the barriers. Wisdom speaks in a soft, but persistent, whisper. You have to pay attention to hear her.
Whether it be the words of a friend, the disapproving glance of a spouse or parent, the ‘little voice’ inside or any other subtle warning, wisdom is there to protect you. Her advice is always pure; she never wants to see anyone get hurt. But she depends on you.
So many other “voices” are shouting in your ear that her voice may not be heard. But, you have an edge available to you. What is it? If you have an understanding mind—that is, if you can remain calm enough to analyze the situation—wisdom’s whisper turns into a mighty voice. If you search out information instead of respondingimpulsively to the pressure of desire, you’ll have powerful tools to guide your decisions. And decisions based on thoughtful consideration of information will take you on a course that is “straightforward;” i.e., without huge difficulties or sadness.
So, always take a thoughtful approach. Wisdom speaks loudly to those who listen with understanding and knowledge.
Yours for calm “truth-seeing”
While reading Prov. 8—a great discourse on the value of wisdom—I got to thinking about those unfortunates who not only don’t like other people “giving them advice,” but are so “self-sufficient” they don’t even ask for input from others. What a mistake!
Prov. 810–11 Take
my instruction, and not silver,
And knowledge rather than choicest gold.
For wisdom is better than jewels;
And all desirable things can not compare with her.
If you had your choice between: 1) a big pile of money, or 2) an hour with a seasoned business man who had made lots of money; which would you choose? Have you heard the old adage, “a fool and his money are soon parted”? Guess who does the “parting”; the wise man whom the fool overlooked in his haste for the pile of money!
Wisdom is so much more precious and versatile than money! Money just sits around, enabling us to buy things. Wisdom, however, dynamically helps us guide our choices and set our course. Using wisdom we can avoid the catastrophes that no amount of money could “fix.” I guess that means that wisdom—often in the form of counsel from others who have “been there” before—is, in this case, far more valuable than wealth.
Yours for wise choices,
Years ago I watched the movie “Oliver.” It was a musical adaptation of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” Young waifs were taught to “pick a pocket or two” by and for Fagin, who provided them with board and shelter in exchange for their nimble fingers. For his part, Fagin fenced the booty throughBill Sikes, a right nasty chap. But Fagin would hold out his special treasures from Sikes, accumulating quite a treasure trove of gems and such.
In one scene Fagin fled from Sikes carrying his special stash close to his breast. But when he stumbled the gems and jewels scattered from him and plopped into the filthy, muddy canal. Fagin yearningly stretched grasping fingers after his lost treasure. It was useless. They all sank into the mire.
I recalled the scene after reading this Proverb.
Prov. 811 For
wisdom is better than jewels;
And all desirable things can not compare with her.
There was poor Fagin. Everything he spent his life acquiring, all that was precious to him, had vanished. Worse than that: the life’s pursuit of baubles sent him down a road absent of wisdom. In the end he lost all he had treasured and was left with no resources other than to do it again…as an old man who should be retiring!
Poor Fagin; he chose to pursue wealth rather than wisdom. When he lost the one, he had neither!
Compare that to the man who chooses to gain wisdom in whatever endeavor he undertakes. This man will never lose the wisdom he acquires; and even if he might lose some money, he has the insight to recover from it.
I agree with Solomon: wisdom is far more precious to a man than gold, silver or costly jewels. Wisdom grants one the resources to obtain whatever wealth he requires. But wealth has never been an adequate substitute for wisdom; and there are just some sticky situations a wisdom-deficient man can get himself into that nothing can remedy, not even money!
So I say: pursue wisdom and all of life’s resources will be available to you; but pursue wealth and you won’t have the wisdom to extract yourself from life’s difficulties. It’s your choice.
for the lasting benefits of the pursuit of wisdom,