Day 18: Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. (Proverbs 3:13)
New Living Translation
Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
the one who gains understanding
Joy filled is the person who finds wisdom, the same one who receives understanding
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
How can you be happy? King Solomon told you how. The man who had everything knew more about happiness than anyone. What was his advice? Knowing that wisdom and understanding greatly affect every part of your life, he said to find and get both of them.
Daily goals for your life should include seeking wisdom and understanding. They will do more for you than any other thing. They will bring you true happiness and many other blessings. What is your chief ambition in life today? Are you chasing vanity instead?
Solomon taught his son to search for wisdom (Pr 2:1-9); it would save him from much trouble (Pr 2:10-21). To encourage his son, and you as well, to pursue wisdom, he described its great blessings (Pr 3:14-18). It and understanding can make you happy.
Compared economically, obtaining wisdom and understanding is better than a prosperous business in gold and silver (Pr 3:14). They are of greater value than rubies (Pr 3:15). In fact, wisdom and understanding are more important than anything you could possibly seek in your life (Pr 3:15). Financial gain does not give lasting happiness to any man, and it brings enormous worries and problems with it (Pr 23:4-5; Eccl 5:10-17; I Tim 6:9-10).
Wisdom and understanding will give you a long life, riches, and honor (Pr 3:16). They will bring you pleasantness and peace (Pr 3:17). They will be the source of a wonderful life; and if you keep them, you will be very happy (Pr 3:18). There is nothing this world has to offer that can compare. Why waste any more effort chasing their soap bubbles?
If this fabulous description of the benefits of wisdom and understanding were only half true, you should still make getting them a priority. Nothing else you are working for even comes close. But Solomon, king of Israel, knew what he wrote. Having tried every sort of project and pleasure to find profit and happiness in this life, he concluded that wisdom and understanding are the great goals (Pr 8:32-36). Trust his efforts (Pr 25:2; Eccl 2:12).
Wisdom and understanding know the basis and purpose for life and how to deal rightly with each situation life brings. Instead of the hopeless confusion of not knowing what man is here for nor how to handle life’s problems, those with wisdom and understanding find life a pleasant and peaceful experience with much happiness. They are successful and rich, as measured by noble standards, and they are honored among good men.
Wisdom and understanding are built on the foundation of fearing God (Pr 1:7; 9:10). They are increased by rejecting your own ideas and trusting the Lord’s instruction (Pr 3:5-7), which is found in His holy scriptures (II Tim 3:16-17), especially Proverbs. God raised up Solomon and inspired these select proverbs to teach young men, and every reader, wisdom and understanding (Pr 1:1-4). Learning them should be your daily goal.
Every day should include begging God for wisdom (Jas 1:5), repudiating your own folly (Job 33:27), searching the Scriptures for it (Acts 17:11), and doing what you learn (Jas 1:22). With effort applied in these areas, you will find a liberal supply of wisdom and understanding (Pr 2:5,8; 8:17). But you must sacrifice to make this a priority (Pr 18:1).
Ultimate and infinite wisdom and understanding are in the Lord Jesus Christ (Col 2:3). He came to give His elect children the abundant life, as they believe and obey more and more perfectly (John 10:10). In Him is full and unspeakable joy (I Pet 1:8; I John 1:4). Believe on Him and follow His scriptures today for happiness in this world and the next.
Proverbs 3:13-18 – What is Wisdom and Why Should You Pursue It?
Sometimes when we’re after something – no matter how difficult or easy it may be – it requires a bit of persistence. If we deem that the goal is worth the price, then we’re going to go after it. If we’re motivated enough, we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve our goals.
What is one thing that you would stop at nothing to get? What’s at the top of your list of things to persistently pursue? In Proverbs 3:13-18, we’re told that “wisdom” should be put at the top of that list.
Pursue Wisdom at Any Cost
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.”
– vv. 13-18
The main point of this is pretty clear: put wisdom at the top of your list of things to go after. Set your sights on wisdom. Pursue wisdom at any cost.
God, through Proverbs, is calling us to orient our lives around the pursuit of wisdom. But if we’re going to be this radical, we’re going to need some reasons why. Why should we pursue wisdom like this? What’s the benefit?
Before we answer that, we need to know what wisdom actually is.
What is “Wisdom”?
Simply put, wisdom is (according to the Bible) the ability to make godly choices. There are a lot of other “wisdoms” out there. But the unique thing about biblical wisdom is:
• it comes only from God
• it comes only through a faith relationship with Jesus Christ – trusting in Him and placing your life fully under His authority
• its goal is to glorify God
Now, there are a lot of people who operate according to worldly wisdom instead of biblical wisdom, and the Bible has a word for them: fools. A fool’s source of wisdom comes from human minds through magazines, TV, internet, etc. Fools do not acknowledge God and have not committed their lives to trusting Him and placing their lives under His authority. And the goal of worldly wisdom is personal gain, not glorifying God.
Biblical wisdom is living under the authority of God and His Word. And it’s the ability to apply God’s Word to your life. There are some objections, however, that people might have to pursuing this kind of wisdom.
“I Don’t Have Time to Pursue Wisdom”
You might be thinking, “Wisdom is fine, but I’m too busy with my life to pursue it.” Isn’t this objection about priorities? Essentially, you’re saying, “I know what my priorities are and they take precedent over what God says in His Word.”
This objection actually misses the whole point of this passage. It’s not pitting wisdom against life – the point is that wisdom is the key that unlocks all the truly good things in life. If you want to be truly successful in life, pursue wisdom.
“Wisdom is Boring, and I Want to Have Fun”
You might also think that wisdom is for people who don’t know how to have fun. And you want to have fun, so wisdom is not for you. Well there’s good news for you: God is not opposed to fun! He invented it. But … it dishonors God when we make fun our god instead of Him.
Living and making choices in light of God’s truth actually makes fun more fun than worldly fun. Verse 17 says, “[Wisdom’s] ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” The kind of fun that wisdom leads us to doesn’t have fun at the expense of others.
“Wisdom is Only For Smart People”
If your objection to pursuing wisdom is that it’s only for smart people, then there is again good news for you. Wisdom is intensely practical. It’s for people who are trying to grind it out one day at a time.
Wisdom has to do with things like successful relationships (read Wisdom and Loving Faithfulness), using your words (read Wisdom and Words), sexual temptation (read Wisdom and Sexual Temptation) and finances (read How to Honor God with Your Wealth). It’s not about how smart you are, it’s about your desire to please God by applying His truth to your life.
“I’ve Tried to Get Wisdom, but It Doesn’t Work”
The final objection you might have is, “I’ve tried to gain biblical wisdom, but I’m not seeing the results promised here.” This objection is based on a common misunderstanding of what Proverbs is all about. The promises here are not hard-fast, absolute promises – they are things likely to happen if we make wise choices.
It’s kind of like the saying “you get what you pay for.” It’s a short, catchy saying that points to a larger principle. Have you ever purchased something dirt cheap that turned out to be of really good quality? Yes, you probably have. And this is exactly the way these promises in Proverbs work.
The blessings of long life (v. 16a), riches and honor (v. 16b) are not guarantees. They are general benefits that are likely to happen when you gain wisdom.
Pursue Wisdom in 2019
Wisdom is the ability to make godly choices. It’s living in light of God’s Word and acting accordingly. Unfortunately, you can’t just find wisdom or buy it – it takes intentional, committed decision to pursue it. And when we choose to do this, God promises to help us (James 1:5).
Let’s make 2019 a year of pursuing wisdom in a way that we’ve, perhaps, never done before.
1. What are some things you pursue? Is wisdom one of those things?
2. What is “wisdom” according to the Bible? How is this different from other “wisdoms”
3. What might be keeping you from pursuing wisdom?
4. If you’re gaining wisdom, but the promises of Proverbs 3:13-18 don’t seem to be holding true, what might be the reason?
5. How do you gain biblical wisdom?
6. What steps will you take to pursue wisdom in 2019?
Guest speaker: Jeff Walsh
Proverbs 3:13-18 (NKJV) Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; 14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. 16 Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.
Just reading this text should show us the importance of having wisdom and give us a desire to attain it. Note carefully, all the blessings that wisdom brings. After reading this text, you should only have one question, “How do I get wisdom?” That’s a good question, how would you answer it? To answer it, you would have to know what wisdom was, do you? How would you define it?
In the entrance hall of Rockefeller Center in New York City are found four large murals that depict the progress of mankind. The first painting is a picture of primitive man laboring with his hands in an attempt to survive in his alien environment. In the second scene, he has become the creator of tools, and the comforts of his civilization are multiplying. The third mural shows man to be both master and servant of the machine, and the vast forces of the material world are under his direction and control. The last picture shows Christ delivering the Sermon on the Mount, and up toward him are struggling masses of men, women, and children. Underneath the mural are these words:
Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on whether he can learn new lessons or make new discoveries or conquests, but on his acceptance of the lesson taught him close on 2,000 years ago.
This is the artist’s way of saying that true wisdom, for man, is adjustment to and acceptance of God’s revealed truth. It lies in seeing himself, the creature, in right perspective to God, the Creator, and in acting accordingly.
Philosophers have taught that wisdom is that for which man should most singularly strive. Siccero, in 52 BC wrote, “Wisdom is the best gift of the gods, it is the mother of all good things.” This is not only the view of philosophers, but much more importantly, it is what the Bible teaches:
Proverbs 4:1-7 (NKJV) Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; 2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. 3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, 4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. 5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. 7 WISDOM IS THE PRINCIPAL THING; THEREFORE GET WISDOM. And in all your getting, get understanding.
The world in which we live cries out that “Money, sex, power, or luxury is the principle thing” but God says, “it is wisdom.”
WHAT WISDOM IS NOT:
To understand wisdom, we need to understand what it is not. If you were to stand at the airport and watch the planes coming and going, you might be able to get a general idea of the overall plan of the various flights. As you watched them take off, land, circle the runway and taxi in, you could learn some things about the overall plan.
But if you were to go into the tower with all the radar showing the visible location of every plane and hear the tower’s communication with the planes, you would learn much more. At once you would be able to look at the whole situation through the eyes of the men who control the aircraft. You would see why the plane must circle the runway before it lands. You would see why the plane on the ground must wait for clearance to take off. You would understand why that plane stopped its taxing and returned for repairs. The why and wherefore of all these movements becomes plain once you can see the overall picture.
This is NOT an illustration of what God does when He gives us wisdom. Wisdom does not consist of a deepened insight into the providential meaning and purpose of events going on around us. It is not the ability to see WHY God has done what He has done in a particular case, and what He is gong to do next.
Was Job a wise man? The Word of God says he was:
Job 1:1 (NKJV) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
The Word of God says that Job feared God, and as we’ll see in a minute, it also teaches that wisdom is inseparably linked to fearing God. Right now, I want you to see that Job was wise but yet he never understood WHY all his trials came upon him.
Job 2:3 (NKJV) Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
God said that Job’s trials were “without cause” so there is no way he could have understood the WHY.
WHAT WISDOM IS:
It is like being taught to drive. What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things, and the soundness of your judgement as to what scope a situation gives you. You don’t ask yourself, “Why is this road so slippery” or “Why is the turn so sharp” or “Why is that car parked where it is” or “Why did they suddenly stop right in the middle of the road?” Does the “why” really matter? Instead of asking “why,” you simply try to see and do the right thing in the actual situation. Divine wisdom enables you and me to do just that in the actual situations of life.
To drive well, you have to keep your eyes focused to notice exactly what is in front of you. To live wisely, you have to do the same thing. Wisdom is properly evaluating circumstances and making right decisions. It’s the ability to respond correctly to the circumstances of life.
Job demonstrated wisdom in his responses to the circumstances that he found himself in. He never understood the WHY, but he did respond correctly.
Job 1:20-21 (NKJV) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job 2:9-10 (NKJV) Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
In Jewish usage, wisdom described the individual who possessed moral insight and skill in deciding practical issues of conduct. A wisdom derived from his personal knowledge of God.
I love the story of the young man of 32 who had been appointed President of the bank. He’d never dreamed he’d be president, much less at such a young age. So he approached the venerable Chairman of the Board and said, “You know, I’ve just been appointed President. I was wondering if you could give me some advice.” The old man came back with just two words: “Right decisions!” The young man had hoped for a bit more than this, so he said, “That’s really helpful, and I appreciate it, but can you be more specific? How do I make right decisions?” The old man simply responded, “Experience.” The young man said, “Well, that’s just the point of my being here. I don’t have the kind of experience I need. How do I get it?” The older man replied, “Wrong decisions!”
We all need wisdom and we need a better way to gain it than the experience of making wrong decisions! Well, if you want to learn about wisdom, the Bible is the place to go. It has a lot to say about wisdom and how to obtain it.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, we have “The Preacher” trying to bring home to the unbeliever the impossibility of finding happiness “under the sun” apart from God. The author speaks as a mature teacher giving a young disciple the fruits of his own long experience and reflection. He wants to lead this young believer into true wisdom, to keep him from the “control tower” mistake. He didn’t want him to think that wisdom, when he gained it, would tell him the reasons for God’s various doings in the ordinary course of providence.
What the “preacher” wants to show him is that the real basis for wisdom is a frank acknowledgment that this world’s course is perplexing, that much of what happens to us is inexplicable to us.
Many of life’s occurrences bear no outward sign of a rational, moral God ordering them at all. This book is a warning against a misconceived quest for understanding. It states the despairing conclusion to which this quest, if honestly and realistically pursued, must lead.
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 (NKJV) When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.
Solomon is saying, “You can’t understand the divine purpose in the ordinary providential course of events, and the harder you try, the more meaningless it gets. It is to this pessimistic conclusion that optimistic expectations of finding the divine purpose of everything will lead you.
Seldom does the world appear to us as if God is running it. Has anyone ever said to you, “Why did God let this happen?” Why do two teenage boys go to school with bombs and guns and kill many of their classmates? Why does a man blow up the federal building and kill so many helpless people? Why does a mother kill her two young children? Why are children abused by their own parents? I don’t know! Wisdom is not understanding the “why” of all these things. Wisdom is responding correctly to all of life’s circumstances.
In chapter 12, verse 13, Solomon give us his conclusion:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NKJV) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.
Wisdom is not understanding, but responding correctly to the circumstances of life. Wisdom is acceptance of, and adjustment to, God’s revealed truth. Herbert Hoover defined wisdom as “knowing what to do next.”
HOW DO WE GET WISDOM?
God is the source of all wisdom:
James 1:5 (NKJV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV) For the LORD gives wisdom; >From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
This makes sense, doesn’t it? Since God is the Creator of all life, it only makes sense that He is the source of wisdom. The Scriptures tell us that it is the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom.
Psalms 111:10 (NKJV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.
In scripture, wisdom is inseparably linked to fearing God.
Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
So, wisdom starts with a fear of God. To the Hebrew, wisdom is right living, responding correctly to life’s situations. So, when you fear God, you will begin to live right. If “wisdom” and “understanding” are parallel in this verse, and I believe they are, then the “fear of the Lord” and the “knowledge of the Holy One” are parallel also. If we fear God, we will walk in wisdom and if we know God, we will walk in understanding. To know God is to fear Him, and to fear Him is to walk in obedience.
In our day, the idea of “fearing God” seems old-fashioned to many Christians. But there was a time when to be called a “God-fearing man” was a great compliment. You don’t hear that phrase used anymore today. I don’t think we understand what it means to fear God. Let’s look at how the Bible uses this word “fear.” Paul said the ungodly have no fear of God:
Romans 3:18 (NKJV) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
That is why they are ungodly, they don’t fear God. What we think about God will determine our behavior. God is Holy and He is Just. God’s main attribute is not love, it is holiness.
1 Peter 1:13-17 (NKJV) Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
God is Holy and we are to fear Him. As God dealt with the children of Israel, he continually stressed that they were to fear Him.
Deuteronomy 4:10 (NKJV) “especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
Deuteronomy 5:29 (NKJV) ‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!
Do you see the connection here between God’s Word and fear? It starts with God’s Word, which produces fear, and then comes obedience.
Deuteronomy 6:23-25 (NKJV) ‘Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 ‘And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 ‘Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.’
The fear of God is not strictly an Old Testament concept, it is very much part of the New Covenant.
Jeremiah 32:40 (NKJV) ‘And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.
Paul and Peter both use “the fear of the Lord” as a motive to holy living. And Isaiah, speaking of Christ, said:
Isaiah 11:3 (NKJV) His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
If Jesus, in his humanity, delighted in the fear of God, surely we need to work on having this attitude in our lives.
The Bible uses the term “fear of God” in two distinct ways: that of anxious dread, and that of veneration, reverence, and awe. Fear, as anxious dread, is produced by the realization of God’s impending judgement upon sin. For the child of God, the primary meaning of the fear of God is: reverence and honor. It focuses not upon the wrath of God, but upon the majesty, holiness and glory of God. It could be compared to the awe that an ordinary citizen would feel in the presence of a great king. Notice how John responded when he saw Christ in all his glory:
Revelation 1:17 (NKJV) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
The reverent Christian first see’s God in His transcendent glory, majesty, and holiness. In our day, we have magnified the Love of God almost to the exclusion of the fear of God.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The way to perfect holiness in your life is to have a fear of God.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 (NKJV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Paul says, “Influenced by the fear of God, I persuade men.” The Bible teaches that God is holy and that He is to be feared. We desperately need to recover a sense of awe and reverence for God in our day. We must begin to view him in the infinite majesty that belongs to Him who is the Creator and Supreme Sovereign of the universe. There is an infinite gap in worth and dignity between God, the Creator, and man, the creature. The fear of God is a heartfelt recognition of this gap– not a put down of man, but the exaltation of God.
Notice the attitude of the redeemed in heaven:
Revelation 15:3-4 (NKJV) They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! 4 Who shall not fearYou, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”
To fear God is to confess his absolute uniqueness– to acknowledge his majesty, holiness, awesomeness, glory, and power.
The reason that there is so little wisdom in the church today is because there is so little FEAR of God. We do not know Him, so we do not fear him. God is holy and he is to be feared. The fear of God should provide a primary motivation for, as well as result in, obedience to him. If we truly reverence God, we will obey him, since every act of disobedience is an affront to his dignity and majesty. Fearing God results in obedience, and this is wisdom. How can we come to really know God so that we do fear Him? There is only one way and that is through the Bible, which is God’s self revelation.
If you discipline yourself in the area of Bible study, you’ll begin to know God, and as you get to know Him, you’ll fear Him, and as you fear Him, you’ll walk in wisdom.
True wisdom comes only from God and it comes only to those who fear Him. And wisdom is divinely wrought in those, and those only, who apply themselves to God’s revelation.
Psalms 19:7 (NKJV) The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
It is God’s word that makes wise the simple. So many Christians live as fools simply because they will not put forth the time and energy to spend time in God’s written word.
Colossians 3:16 (NKJV) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Wisdom is acceptance of, and adjustment to God’s revealed truth. Those who have wisdom will be blessed:
Proverbs 4:7-9 (NKJV) Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. 9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
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What’s Wisdom Worth? (Proverbs 3:13-18)
I. Lady Wisdom’s Dinner Party
In your mind’s eye, try to imagine the scene painted by these words:
Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.  She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.  She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town,  “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! To him who lacks sense she says,  “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
Those are the opening words of Proverbs 9. As you might have painted in your own mind, the scene is of a large home and a lavish banquet. Lady Wisdom (Solomon’s personification of wisdom, kind of like we do with ‘Mother Nature’… Lady Wisdom…) has made all the preparations for an incomparable meal. The table is set and the invitations have been issued. In fact, that invite is still being declared today, this very morning. Listen again to Wisdom’s call in 9:5, 6…
“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
Have you responded to that invitation? Have you been to Lady Wisdom’s dinner party? Are you there even now? Or… do you at least recognize how hungry you are? One thing that might make her invitation more… (pun intended) appetizing, is understanding just how delicious and just how satisfying her “bread and drink of the wine” really are.
This morning, consider with me what wisdom is worth by turning over to Proverbs 3.
II. The Passage: “She is a Tree of Life” (3:13-18)
You may remember that Proverbs chapters 1-9 represent a kind of introduction to the book, the majority of which is a collection of shorter sayings. As we’ve talked about in previous weeks, King Solomon’s main objective in this intro was to encourage his son to prize and pursue wisdom.
Now, there are many places throughout this introduction that speak about the value of wisdom. But chapter 3, verses 13-18 are especially helpful. Listen as I read those verses…
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,  for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.
Isn’t that good stuff? Let’s take a few minutes to break this passage down. In doing that, I think we’ll find a helpful guide to the rest of this opening section of Proverbs. So, let’s think with me about…
1. Wisdom’s Value: The Metaphorical (vs. 13-15)
You may have noticed how verses 14 and 15 speak about the value of wisdom, but they do so by comparing wisdom to the kinds of things that most people think of when they hear the word valuables. Do you see those? We read in verse 14 about silver and gold, and in verse 15, about jewels. But why this specific comparison?
Well, a chapter earlier, Solomon made this same analogy when he called his son to “treasure up my commandments” (2:1) He went on to explain what he had in mind: when it comes to “wisdom” and “understanding” (2:2), when it comes “insight” (2:3) “if you [writes Solomon in 2:4] seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,  then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”
Do you hear what Solomon, what God, is saying? People go to incredible lengths to obtain earthly wealth. All of us have been tempted to believe that if we had a bigger balance in our checking accounts, if we had more assets in our portfolio, if money simply wasn’t an issue, then life would be better; we would be more comfortable; we would have less problems; we would feel happier and more secure. And so, we are regularly tempted to prize and pursue earthly wealth.
But wisdom is far better than any earthly treasure… the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Is that how you think about wisdom? Is it really that valuable? It is. And Solomon goes on to explain why. If you look back at vs. 16, 17, you’ll read about…
2. Wisdom’s Value: The Practical (vs. 16, 17)
Look at how Solomon moves from the metaphorical to the practical. Here is the actual gain, the tangible profit, a person receives from wisdom…
Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
Silver, gold, and jewels can buy you a nice house, a nice car, and nice vacation, but they cannot buy you a “long life”; they cannot buy you the “honor” King Solomon mentions here; you cannot use them to purchase the “pleasantness” or “peace” of verse 17. Interestingly, though you cannot purchase wisdom, wisdom can result in “riches”. But how? What does Solomon mean when he describes wisdom’s “gain” or “profit” with all these terms?
Well, let’s take “long life” (v. 16) for example. This concept of wisdom leading to “life” or “years” or “length of days” is found all throughout the introduction that is Proverbs chapters 1-9. We find it in 3:2, 3:18, 3:22, 4:10, 4:22, 6:23, 8:35, and 9:11. So how can wisdom help you to live longer. Well, according to Solomon, wisdom is profitable for life in that it protects us from death.
Let me give you a couple of the examples we find in this opening section. In 2:12-15 we read about how wisdom delivers us from the deadly consequences awaiting foolish and wicked men. In general, if you run around with violent people, if you abuse your body with addicts, if you keep company with people who love to break the rules; if you stay out late with fools, then in general, statistically, you will lead a shorter life.
Another example, in fact, the most common example in chapters 1-9, should come as no surprise when we remember this book was originally written for a young man. 2:16-19, 5:3-23, and 6:20-7:27, all of these verses deal with adultery and “the forbidden woman”. What does sexual immorality have to do with “long life”? Well, in all these sections, Solomon makes statements like this one:
…for her house [i.e., the adulteress] sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed [i.e., the dead];  none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life. (2:18, 19)
Chapter 6, verses 32-34 spell this out in dramatic, real life, situational terms:
He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.  He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.  For jealousy makes a man furious [that’s the wronged husband], and he will not spare when he takes revenge. [Deadly?]
And if we moved beyond “long life” and talked about the other examples of wisdom’s “gain” in verses 16 and 17, things like “riches”, “honor”, “pleasantness”, and “peace”, we would find other practical examples of how wisdom works. For instance, in 6:1-5, we read how wisdom delivers us from the financially costly consequences of securing a loan for a stranger (that’s like co-signing on a lease for someone you don’t know). Right after that, in 6:6-11, we read how wisdom can deliver us from the very real social, relational, and financial consequences of… laziness.
These are just some of the common, everyday examples of how wisdom helps us avoid the costly, and sometimes deadly, consequences of foolish, reckless, and/or wicked choices. Which of us doesn’t have regrets because of such choices? Maybe this morning, you are still dealing with health consequences, or a severed relationship, or a tarnished reputation, or financial shackles… all because you acted unwisely. That is the practical ‘poverty’ of foolishness, a poverty that leaves us longing for wisdom’s profit.
But with all this in mind, it’s important we also talk about…
3. Wisdom’s Value: The Spiritual (v. 18)
Isn’t interesting how Solomon goes on to speak about wisdom’s gain in verse 18. Why is wisdom so valuable? Because… She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.
Now, know this: Solomon will go on to use that same “tree of life” imagery three more times in Proverbs: in 11:30, 13:12, and 15:4. What’s the point of this comparison? Well, just like the tree of life in Eden, just like the tree we read about in Genesis 2 and 3, wisdom, both gained and given, results in a kind of life-enhancing transformation, by which we are (v. 18) “called blessed”. This is more than a practical, ’cause and effect’ kind of benefit. Lady Wisdom explains it this way in 8:35… For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD…
Simply put, in addition to the blessing of living a wisely-ordered life in God’s wisely-ordered world, there is also direct blessing from God for those who fear Him and walk in wisdom. We find one clear example of this a few verses before our main passage. Look at Proverbs 3:9–10…
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;  then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Fear-of-God-influenced finances are always the wisest monetary policy. Why? Because the wisdom to give back some things to the One who gave you everything always leads, in one way or another, to a fuller experience of His perfect provision. Do you believe that? Does that kind of wisdom influence your financial choices?
But God promises even more in terms of blessing for the wise man or women: (2:7) …he is a shield to those who walk in integrity… (3:6) …he will make straight your paths. (3:26) …the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. (3:33) …he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. (3:34) …to the humble he gives favor. And there are, as we will discover throughout this book, many, many, many more examples of how God blesses the one who walks in wisdom.
III. Are You Ready to Receive?
Brothers and sisters, friends, does that give you a better sense of what wisdom’s worth? Do you understand why her invitation is so good, why her food is so delicious, why her banquet is so satisfying? In both practical and spiritual terms, there is nothing as profitable as wisdom. Why? Because wisdom leads you to God and teaches you how to live for him, in the world he made, in every area of your life.
Why this message, this morning? Because when we return to the book of Proverbs, when we begin to mine its treasures, ponder its sayings, consider its counsel, we need to come with eyes wide open; with humble and hungry hearts; with an eagerness and sense of expectation befitting this book. We need to come with a deep sense of neediness as those who so often follow folly. Tying together what we’ve talked in past lessons, if we are to ever truly ponder and practice wisdom, we must first prize and pursue her.
Are you ready to receive all that God has for you in this book? Are you? Amen!
But when we step back from this book and look at all the books of the Bible, we are reminded of this: in Proverbs 9:5 the invitation to bread and wine is an invitation to be nourished by wisdom. In this NT, the invitation to bread and wine is an invitation to be nourished by Jesus… by his life-giving death, and destiny-transforming resurrection. Wisdom first invites us to her table, so that we realize how badly we need Christ’s table.
And when we, by faith, are fed at Christ’s table, we find power, pattern, and pardon. A power to live wisely, a pattern to follow faithfully, and a pardon to restore completely, time and time again.
All of these introductory messages in Proverbs prepare us to receive the fullness of this book. But we cannot receive this wisdom unless we first receive Jesus Christ, God’s perfect provision for foolish sinners like us.
Brothers and sisters, friends, let us seek this treasure, keeping in mind the truth of 2:6… For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Let’s pray in light of that amazing truth.
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What Does Proverbs 13:3 Mean? ►
The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.
Every verse in the book of Proverbs holds gems of wisdom from the Lord… whether they are words or warning or precious pearls of instruction – exhortation to live a godly life of simply encouragement to trust in the Lord with all our heart and to keep the eyes of our heart firmly fasted onto our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The council in this little verse of Scripture has colossal consequences, for although the mouth is so small, and the tongue is a tiny member of the body – it has far reaching ramifications. Jesus tells us that it is the words that comes out of the mouth that defiles a man, for our speech reflects the thoughts of our heart, while James reminds us that a tiny spark, carelessly cast from the tongue, can ignite a great and destructive inferno.
How true that the one who guards his mouth and the word of his lips will keep himself out of trouble and preserve his life, while the one who opens his lips wide in careless cackling will come to ruin – how important therefore to let all the conversation that pours from our lips, be always full of grace and seasoned with salt – so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
The Lord Jesus is the perfect example of One whose words were gracious and kind; wise and instructive, for who spoke the truth in love. As we bathe the thoughts of our heart in the Word of God and meditate on the truth of His wisdom – we will not only guard our mouth to keep us from evil but will pour out His words of healing and help to others – until it is not I that speak – but Christ that speaks through me.
What does Proverbs 3:13 mean?
In this verse Solomon describes the one who finds wisdom as “blessed.” The word “blessed” means happy. Psalm 1:1 identifies the “blessed” [happy] person as the one who rejects the lifestyle of the wicked but delights in God’s Word.
In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus identified the blessed as the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those who are reviled falsely for His sake (Matthew 5:2–11).
Solomon describes wisdom and understanding in Proverbs, but does not explicitly supply definitions. As used across the text, however, wisdom is the ability to act according to accurate knowledge. Understanding, in Proverbs, is insight or intelligence—the ability to know something well enough to pass its value along to others. The acquisition of both wisdom and understanding produces happiness. Believers find life’s greatest happiness in knowing and doing God’s will and having the insight to determine how they should respond to a godless culture.
Proverbs 3:13–26 extols the virtue of wisdom. Solomon began this discussion in chapter 1, and explained in chapter 2 that the Lord gives wisdom to the upright. Now he describes as blessed the person who finds wisdom, and explains its benefits and applications. Wisdom, as used in this book, refers to the ability to apply godly knowledge. While not a guarantee someone will act accordingly, having a grasp of God’s intent for our lives is immensely valuable.
This chapter of Proverbs is addressed to Solomon’s son. The term, ”my son” occurs 15 times in chapters 1—7. The words may apply to one of Solomon’s students in his court or to one of his biological sons. The application of wisdom in Proverbs 3 shows the benefits of trusting in the Lord with one’s whole heart. Solomon credits obedience to and trust in God for longevity, success, guidance, health, reward that exceeds monetary wealth, enjoyment, peace, security, confidence, excellent human relationships, the Lord’s blessing and favor, and honor. As with all ”proverbs,” biblical or otherwise, their purpose is to impart general wisdom, not absolute prophecy. Like the original audience, modern readers are not expected to see these guidelines as absolute guarantees for any one person