Note: This article was authored and originally published by Geoffrey Alfassa of Redeemed South Bay Church earlier this year. See the original posting at http://www.redeemedsb.org/blog.
The book of Proverbs is a book devoted to training young men in wisdom. The main theme of the book of Proverbs is summarized in 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It is a book that focuses primarily on teaching wisdom, yet it is not a sort of wisdom that exists on its own disconnected from God, but a wisdom that begins with “the fear of the Lord.” In other words, Proverbs asserts that the foundation for attaining wisdom is a relationship with God that is characterized by awe and reverential respect, which results in joyful obedience from the heart. In this blog, to encourage us make the most of our study in Proverbs as a church, I would like to point out three reasons Proverbs gives us to pursue wisdom: because it is attainable, beneficial, and inexhaustible.
1. Wisdom is Attainable
First, the book of Proverbs presents itself and its contents as being able to lead one to attain wisdom (1:2). Wisdom is characterized as calling out in the street and attempting to persuade men to turn from their simple ways (1:20–22). Yet even though she makes herself available, she is rejected (1:24). Although many reject her, those willing to do the hard work of seeking wisdom by studying Proverbs will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (2:1–6). Yet this is only because God graciously gives wisdom to the one seeking it (2:6). Wisdom is acquired by treasuring up the commandments of Proverbs in one’s heart through memorization and application (7:2). Wisdom is learned through a daily effort to incline one’s heart: their mind, emotions, and will, to living in submission to wisdom’s guidance (7:2–3). Wisdom is gained by being attentive and hearing the instruction given throughout the book (4:1). Wisdom is obtained by turning from simple ways, and by being committed to walking in the way of insight (9:4).
2. Wisdom Benefits Everyone
Wisdom is not only attainable but once attained it benefits everyone! The book of Proverbs contains no small amount of ways in which wisdom will benefit a person. Generally, wisdom will benefit a person in every area of his life: relationships with family, relationships with governing authorities, finances, labor, diligence, sleep, speech, and many of these are interrelated so that discipline and growth in wisdom in one area leads to blessing and growth in another. More specifically however, wisdom benefits a person by making wise the simple (19:7). Wisdom multiplies a persons days (9:11). It prolongs their life (10:27). It brings joy (10:28). It makes a father glad (27:11). Wisdom enables one to truly love their neighbor from their heart and motivates them to walk in righteousness, justice and equity (2:9–10). Wisdom causes one to hate evil (8:13). It helps protect one from poverty (20:13). Wisdom keeps one from falling for the trap of the adulterous woman (7:5). On the other hand, those who do not have wisdom are a harm to themselves and others. Those who hate wisdom are said to love death while the one who finds wisdom finds life and favor from the Lord (8:35–36). Living wisely keeps one from being hated by the Lord (6:16). Wisdom and obedience keeps one’s prayer from being an abomination to the Lord (28:9). The one living wisely finds refuge in the Lord even in his death (14:32). And on the day of wrath it is the righteousness that comes from trusting in the Lord and living wisely that delivers from wrath (11:4). Ultimately, living wisely benefits oneself and others and pleases the Lord (27:27). For all these reasons, since wisdom is attainable, and it benefits oneself and others, all should seek it earnestly.
3. Wisdom is Inexhaustible
Lastly, Proverbs shows that wisdom should be pursued because it is inexhaustible. While some would consider this a reason not to attempt to gain wisdom, those who fear the Lord and want to please him during their time on earth, and who want the practical benefits and blessings that come from living in wisdom, will do well to attempt to master the contents of this book. If wisdom benefits all and is inexhaustible, there lies ahead for the one seeking wisdom innumerable blessings and benefits from gaining wisdom! Having nearly 10,000 words in the Hebrew, the contents of the book are not inexhaustible. Many have even memorized the whole book. Proverbs calls for not only the gaining of knowledge but the applying of knowledge as well, “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge” (22:17), and “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge” (23:12). The acquisition of knowledge is not enough; the application of knowledge must be our goal. That is wisdom: applied knowledge. Each day brings a plethora of circumstances that should not only remind us of a proverb but also give us the opportunity to apply that proverb in our situation, allowing it to guide us in our decision-making. While a life time would not be enough time to master the wisdom provided in this book, it is true that even a days worth of meditation and observance will already make one wiser and benefit oneself and others. “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (16:20). May the Lord cause wisdom to enter our hearts as we seek to learn and apply the attainable, beneficial, and inexhaustible wisdom of the book of Proverbs!