You can check out the podcast here.
Last time we were in Proverbs, we learned that it is not a bait and switch. The one that finds wisdom and gains understanding is a blessed person. Nothing we desire compares with wisdom. She holds long life in her right hand and riches and honor in her left. Get on her path because it leads to peace. This morning, we’ll see why.
Take the time to read Pro. 3:19-26 so you get a feel for where we are.
When you think of creation, it’s pretty mind blowing. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens.” Wisdom was around from before the beginning and was necessary when God created the heavens and the earth. This is much deeper than God knowing things and understanding things. Think about the depth of knowledge that God had to have to create what we know. He put the sun at the center of the solar system and then placed earth in the perfect spot so that we wouldn’t burn up by being too close and we wouldn’t freeze by being too far from the sun. The earth takes 24 hours to rotate on its axis and 365 days to rotate around the sun. The earth rotates at just the right speed so that our seasons are predictable and time progresses properly. The moon is in just the right place to provide a night light and control the tides of the oceans. If you go back to Genesis, you’ll discover that everything was created in just the right order to sustain life. By God’s design, we were supposed to live in harmony with all creatures. We’d be chillin’ with the lions, and tigers, and bears. And the snakes.
It’s God’s wisdom and understanding that enables the earth to continue spinning and rotating around the sun. It’s impossible to fathom how incomprehensibly brilliant one would have to be to create everything that works so harmoniously together and there are people that dismiss that work and declare that it simply happened by chance. Think about the smart inventors of electricity, the automobile, the computer, the toaster, the zipper, and the coffee maker. As awesome as these people and inventions are, they still have limitations and flaws. “By His knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew.” He had a plan and a purpose for creation. John 1:3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Col. 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.” His ultimate act was the creation of humanity. The only creatures that were made in the image of a perfect and holy God.
Solomon tells his son to remember once again. The belief in a literal creation account is fundamental in beginning to understand the vastness of God. Solomon tells his son don’t forget God’s involvement in creation. “Let them not vanish from your sight; keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck.” (Pro. 3:21-22) The “them” here does not necessarily refer to creation, but to the entire passage. It goes back to the premise of 3:1 when Solomon says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.”
The passage is tied up neatly in v. 22 when Solomon says, “So they will be life to your soul and adornment for your neck.” Life to your soul. If we take that literally, we could say the man who finds wisdom will have life. Before you jump to the erroneous conclusion that good Christians oughtn’t die young, hold on. We need to think eternally to give us a better idea of what Solomon means. We know no one lives forever physically, but we do know that everyone has an eternal soul. When wisdom and understanding are found, “We can walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble.” That is a generality and is not a guarantee that we will live a carefree, trouble free life. Solomon is the wisest man ever to live, yet he stumbled later in life because he chose to disobey the commands and principles of God. When you act unwisely, the consequences will likely come. One of the awesome benefits of finding wisdom is a peace that passes all understanding. Phil. 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” With all the troubles that seem to confound us and plague us, Solomon says, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” This does not mean you will always sleep soundly when you want to sleep. It does mean you will not be plagued with anxiety.
Solomon goes on to say, “Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes.” This first phrase literally means do not be afraid of some person or thing. In context, Solomon’s not talking about snakes or spiders or the dark. He’s really talking about the wicked and here it means criminal or evil man. Onslaught means fierce or destructive attack. This points back to Pro. 1:27 that says, “When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.” Solomon says rest easy, “For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” For a point of clarity, this is talking about, “The man that finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding” from verse 13. Human wisdom only goes so far without God.
Wisdom was involved in creation and it’s involved with sustaining life today. We must maintain godly wisdom and understanding. When we do that, we won’t be afraid and we won’t be anxious because our trust and hope are in the Lord.
You can listen to the podcast here.
Last week Solomon told us to honor God with our wealth as the topic of money never seems to be too far away in Scripture. He also said that we shouldn’t despise the correction of the Lord. It is for our training and is a sign that God does love us. This morning, we’ll see why.
Proverbs 3:13-18 says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.”
Is Proverbs a bait and switch? This is the method sometimes used by advertisers to get you in a store. Promises of reduced prices or incredible deals lure you in. Think about Black Friday where you can get a ginormous flat screen TV for a couple hundred bucks. Of course you stand in line for hours and hours often sacrificing your Thanksgiving to get that good deal. Once you get in, you find the store has one TV and that it’s already gone.
Is Proverbs the same way? The short answer is no! We all know Christians that have endured physical pain, have some dreaded disease, have died at a far too young age, or endure poverty. I’ve mentioned formulaic patterns in Proverbs that generally bring about the things we’ve talked about. That’s how it generally works, but not always and not for everyone all of the time. Keep in mind the time at which Solomon wrote these instructions. It was the time of the old covenant where blessings and curses were tied to the faithfulness of Israel. We’re under a different system now. We fall under the age of grace. We look forward to all of God’s promises being fulfilled at some point, but that point may not come until we die. Until that times comes we, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Pro. 3:5)
So what’s the Proverbs format? It’s the same as we’ve seen before, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.” There are certain points in life that are defining moments. There are the typical happy moments in life. Births, graduations, new jobs, promotions, and marriages. There are also the painful moments in life that can define us. Job loss, death, disease, divorce, sorrow, suffering. Faith does not normally grow as much in those joyful, happy times, but rather God refines us when we’re in the fire of adversity and sorrow. Nothing happens in our life without purpose. Although we may not see it while we’re in it, God is working His plan for our good. He will allow in our lives whatever He needs in order to accomplish what He has in mind for us.
A truly defining moment comes when a person realizes who Christ is and what He accomplished. Hopefully, when that moment occurs and the light bulb blinks on, salvation follows so God can accomplish what He wills. In this verse, we have that moment. In God’s eyes, wisdom and understanding rank above riches. Wisdom and understanding are above jewels. Solomon is so bold as to say, “Nothing you desire compares with her.” Now that’s a fantastic statement. The profit of wisdom exceeds that of riches.
We move right into Solomon personifying wisdom once again. In her right hand is long life. In her left hand are riches and honor. These are the things most people in the world would say they really wanted. People sacrifice so much in the pursuit of these three things yet the correct answer is staring us in the face. Wisdom provides these things, but they may not come in the form the world thinks. Perhaps they don’t come in the form we want either. We must align ourselves with God and the Bible rather than expecting God to change or otherwise alter His character. “Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace.” This is quite a word picture here. Pleasant means a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment. Wisdom is like a perfect day in the mountains or at the beach. She is like the aroma of freshly mowed grass, brewing coffee, or frying bacon. She is totally satisfying. No matter which path of wisdom you go down, “All her paths are peace.” As long as you follow wisdom, the paths end up at peace. In Phil. 4:7 Paul said it this way:“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” All of this comes through the loving hands of our Father.
Solomon closes with one final though of wisdom and says, “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” Perhaps your mind was immediately drawn back to Genesis and the tree that was in the middle of the garden. That may not be what Solomon was referring to, but you cannot deny the parallel. In the garden the tree of life was provided by God and gave Adam and Eve what was needed to sustain life. In Solomon’s view, wisdom does the same thing. She provides life and happiness results in the lives of those that are willing to grasp her.
Verse 13 states, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.” Verses 14-18 are the arguments that prove that. True wisdom can only comes as a result of knowing God. Knowing God can only come as a result of knowing Christ. Proverbs is not a bait and switch. Knowing Jesus brings all of this and so much more.
You can listen to the podcast here.
In our last message, Solomon advised us against relying on our own ability to think and reason. It’s best to trust in the Lord. When you follow Christ, He’s going to straighten your path. It’s no guarantee that everything will be peachy, but He will be there with you in all your trials and tribulations. This morning, Solomon brings up a new topic that dovetails with the mandate in v. 6 that says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”
In Proverbs 3:9-12 Solomon tells his son, “Honor the Lord 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 son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”
Are you asking yourself, this again? It seems no matter where you turn in Scripture, the topic of finances seem to come up. Old Testament and New, in the gospels, in prophecy and poetry, in Paul’s and Peter’s letters we find the topic of money. While some folks would prefer not to talk about it, God feels it needful to bring it up no matter where you turn in the Bible. He knew and knows the tendency we have to elevate money above all other things. Paul warned Timothy that, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10) Way before Paul came on the scene Solomon told his son to, “Honor the Lord from your wealth.” There might not be a better way to gauge a person’s faith and trust in the Lord than with their bank account. Notice that this isn’t a suggestion. We demonstrate our love, gratitude, and obedience to God when we give to Him. Deut. 8:18 says, “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Our ability to earn anything comes from God. We honor God not only with actual money, but also, “From the first of all your produce.” Produce can also be translated first fruits. Ex. 23:19 says, “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.” In Bible times, farming was common and it was expected to give the first and best of the harvest back to God.
For today, the application would be that you give of the first that you produce. That means when you get paid, you set aside a portion to give back to God. What portion you may ask? If you want to adhere to the O.T. standard, then give 10%. If you want to argue that tithing is not taught in the N.T., fine, give generously. What is generous? I would say that 10% is a good place to start. What if you don’t have a job and don’t earn a paycheck? The principle is to give from your first fruits, from whatever you may receive. Birthday money, graduation money, allowance, structured settlements, annuities, publisher’s clearing house winnings, etc. Give back! Why do this? Why all the fuss about money? Because God knows that money tends to separate us from Him. Too many people believe money is an end rather than an end to a means. I know people who have begged God for a job or a better paying job with all kinds of promises. When God delivers, those promises are forgotten. Why would God bless you with a better job when you haven’t honored him in the job you have right now?
Solomon says we give back, “So our barns are filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The result of your generosity releases God’s generosity. The word for plenty here is better translated sufficient amount or more than enough. It means you’ll have what you need. Sometimes we have a twisted way of thinking that bigger is better and more equates with God’s blessing on us. Haggai told the people, “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” (Hag. 1:6) The reason for this was people were taking care of themselves and neglecting God’s house. The premise is blessings will come, but they don’t always come in the format we’d like or expect.
Verses 9-10 talk about honoring God during times of plenty, but that shifts in the next verses to something different. Solomon offers up a seemingly abrupt shift and talks about God’s discipline. Too often we shun God’s discipline or correction. It’s funny that we whine and complain about this. We don’t give a rip when our kids whine and complain when we discipline them for wrongdoing, but when it’s us . . . we cry out for mercy. Look at the stern warning for Solomon’s son in vs. 11-12 as he says, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” That word discipline carries some negative connotations. We typically use it in reference to punishment, but the word can also mean instruction and that’s the meaning here. Our walk of faith is a continual training ground where we learn and mature in our faith. Sometimes that instruction comes as a result of unpleasant circumstances. Heb. 5:8 reminds us, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
Sometimes, and it seems lately from the people that I am engaged with, professing believers become angry with God when these circumstances present themselves. Somehow God is to blame for the problems instead of the One that we should run to. Christ suffered immense pain, yet it was not because of His sin. Sometimes we suffer and are in emotional or physical pain because we live in a fallen world and God is providing instruction to us in how to glorify Him. Don’t hate God’s reprimand. No one likes to get scolded or talked to or otherwise dealt with. If I’m doing wrong or have done something wrong and no one tells me, how will I learn? It’s the same way with God. Don’t hate it when God rebukes you for violating His principles. Learn from it. It’s a sign of His love and concern for you: “For whom the Lord loves, He reproves.” In practical terms, we sometimes see the opposite of this played out too. It typically occurs in a store. Little kids begging for some piece of candy or a toy and mom or dad says no. That kid often pitches a royal fit demanding they get what they want. Sometimes parents are filled with empty threats of punishment that rarely come. When you correct your children, it demonstrates your love for them. It’s the same with God. His correction and discipline for us demonstrates His immeasurable love for us.
Honor God by giving back to Him. He expects our obedience and He will provide the training, correction, and reprimands necessary to ensure we stay on the right path. He also encourages us by saying well done. Do right because it’s right to do. Seek to please God and welcome His correction. Think of how much you love your children and yet you discipline them. Think how much more God loves you.