A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Traits of a Wise Person
Proverbs 27 SCC 1/10/16
The wisdom of a wise person preserves his or her life. Preserving one’s life is necessary because without wisdom it is jeopardized by any number of incidences. There are numerous scenarios that can wreak havoc in and over ones life. These possibilities can be predicted and prepared for if one understands how life usually works in these particular situations. Understanding can lead to preparedness, which leads to wise execution preserving character, relationships, friendships, finances, health, reputation, and protection. The qualities of wisdom become the traits of a wise person.
WISDOM PRESERVES ONE WHEN LIFE BECOMES PROVOCATIVE
In this section we see life can tend to incite and provoke. Irritations can be vexing and wisdom is essential to avoid reacting foolishly.
1. A wise person does not presume upon the future knowing the future is uncertain v 1.
While the verse is not ruling out wise planning for the future, it does warn of overconfidence that one can base decisions on predicting future events. No one can presume upon the future but God. It’s prudent to not postpone what you know is in your power to do at once.
2. A wise person knows it is best to let others praise you v 2.
Not only should one refrain from boasting of the future but also boasting of what one has done. We can be provoked into doing both especially when motivated by pride, arrogance and the desire to be self congratulated, noticed, recognized, and received by others.
3. A wise person understands fools irritating words and actions should not be reacted to v 3.
What a fool provokes can be unbearable. The mental effect on the one bearing a fools provocation is more wearying than physical work. It is a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical malaise one experiences by a fools actions and words. It’s exhausting and discomforting.
4. A wise person knows that jealousy is more unbearable than anger v 4.
Wrath and anger creates furious wrath that is cruel. Jealousy is even worse as a raging emotion that often defies reason taking the form of destructive violence. It leads to merciless revenge that makes it impossible to oppose.
5. A wise person knows that love that manifests no rebuke is useless v 5-6.
Multiple counsel is helpful in decision making, and individual counsel will sharpen our knowledge, but there is one area of counsel which must come from a friend—personal rebuke. Rebuke is defined as disapproval of a person’s behavior. Rebuke is personal and deals with more than just your actions.
A true friend is someone who will rebuke you, but he is also someone who has won the right to be heard before he rebukes you. Counsel, even critical counsel, can come from a committee, or a board of directors, or even an informal group of acquaintances. But rebuke that is loving, and sweet and faithful, comes only from a friend who has won the right to be heard. Love is interested in the greatest good of another not their greatest happiness.
6. A wise person knows those with great needs are more appreciative than those who are satisfied v 7.
Here is another contrast between one who is full, appetites are satiated—that is has what is needed of possessions, education, experience, friendships—with one who is hungry—that is can appreciate the value of a gift or new opportunity since they have seldom received such.
7. A wise person knows one leaving security too soon may be unprepared to care for oneself v 8
There are a number of reasons why one would leave security to venture out on one’s own. But the danger is being unprepared for such and undertaking. It may not be irresponsible to wander but it could lead to unnecessary hardship that could have been avoided with better timing and wise preparation.
NB: So life has any number of potentially exasperating circumstances that can incite one to jeopardize the future or character, or personal and spiritual growth or relationships. Solomon says be aware of this and do not get provoked into foolish, silly, and destructive actions and attitudes that compound the consequences. Life is fragile, and one must rule his or her spirit to preserve one’s life along the way and be productive. A wise life is a well-managed life according to wisdom.
WISDOM VALUES RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE CONSTRUCTIVE AND CARING
Life is filled with many kinds of relationships. The value of these relationships is expressed by mutual benefit and shared values that contribute to people’s lives.
1. A wise person appreciates genuine advice from a person who cares v 9.
Advice from a friend can be pleasant news. The emblem of oil and perfume convey the value of the advice and counsel received from one who genuinely cares. The salve is able to address the situation exactly and the counsel delivers the appropriate insight required for it.
2. A wise person believes a friend who is available is better than a relative who is not v 10.
It is important to not burn bridges if at all possible with anyone. Life can become so complicated that we never know whose help we may require. Maintaining relationships with family and friends is required but realize that a neighbor who is near will be of more help than a relative far away. Don’t burn bridges.
3. A wise parent’s wise children are the best defense against incompetent parenting v 11.
The first responsibility of a child is to pursue wisdom. This is the most basic theme in Proverbs, and it is ultimately up to the child to pursue it. When a child becomes wise, he learns the way things usually are most of the time, and lives in accordance with that. This has two effects mentioned here. One, it makes his father’s heart glad, and two; it helps his father in his social interactions.
4. A wise person wants the naive to learn to avoid the pitfalls of life v 12-13.
The naïve need motivation to be trained since life will be much less painful knowing how to avoid its pitfalls v 12. A prudent person has developed this wariness avoiding stumbling into things. A wise person knows people must be held to their obligations even if made foolishly v 13. This is part of the training of the naïve. Making obligations with strangers requires precautions and guarantees.
5. A wise person does not appreciate loud and untimely greetings v 14.
The wrong time for a right action can become a nuisance. It might be referring to one who goes to great lengths to praise another creating the impression of closeness but it is considered a curse rather than praise from the recipient who hears it.
6. A wise person knows a quarrelsome wife is unbearable and uncontrollable v 15-16.
A contentious wife is the worst thing a man can live with. Quite the opposite of a gracious or prudent wife is one who is contentious. Solomon says two things about the contentious woman: she is agony to live with, and there is no way to restrain her.
7. A wise person knows constructive criticism between friends develops character v 17.
The idea is that people can help each other improve by their discussions, criticisms, suggestions, counsel, and conversations rather than by stimulating by anger like the woman of v 15-16. That interaction makes them sharp or insightful like a razor. They can see reality.
NB: A variety of relationships in life, some valuable, some painful, some jeopardizing, all require the application of wisdom. Constructive and caring relationships are valuable and should be pursued.
WISDOM UNDERSTANDS THAT ONE’S HEART MOTIVATES LIFE CHOICES
People are driven by inner impulses, which affect everything we do and become.
1. A wise person knows working well at one’s job brings favorable results v 18.
The inner urge to be rewarded motivates one to be diligent about whatever he is in charge of. Anticipating some kind of personal profit keeps him watching over what is his responsibility.
2. A wise person knows that the heart reflects the true nature of a person v 19.
The inner thoughts of one reflect his true character. Looking at the attitudes of one’s heart allows one to come to true self-awareness.
3. A wise person knows that the desires of humans are insatiable as death v 20.
We can only pursue pleasure, not obtain it. Pleasure is a carrot on the end of a stick. We either find it does not provide the happiness we expected, or it is quickly replaced with another pursuit.
4. A wise person knows the way one reacts to praise reveals what one is really like v 21.
A person is tested by the praise he receives. Gloating over it or receiving it modestly says much about one’s character. Praise tests this by bringing it to the surface. People can make judgments accordingly.
5. A wise person knows that the folly of a fool cannot be removed by force v 22.
Solomon sees no possibility of his rehabilitation because no one can change someone else’s spiritual character. His foolishness comes from his spiritual nature, which Solomon sees as incurable.
6. A wise person knows that preserving ones income is essential to further success 23-27.
Prosperity should not result in luxury. Solomon says if you have somehow (through your work, chance events, or an inheritance) become prosperous, live modestly. Live in such a way that your family and those for whom you are responsible have their daily needs met. Pay attention to your wealth, but don’t live in luxury.
NB: Life is filled with choices and those choices are impacted by one’s inner life. If that inner life is engineered by wisdom, then life choices have the potential to be fruitful and beneficial. If not, they can just as easily produce havoc, damage, and destruction.