A STUDY OF WISE LIVING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
The advantage of Wisdom in Various Kinds of Relationships
Proverbs 3 SCC 6/14/15
Wisdom’s relationship to society: Distinction
GENERALLY EXPECT FAVOR WHEN SOCIETY IS SYMPATHETIC TO GOD
Generally expect a long and peaceful life 1-2
We have years of life and peace given as a result of keeping Solomon’s commands. That is generally true of wisdom, when applied to earthly life. But remember, being free from danger and trouble does not necessarily accompany heavenly values. Jesus told His disciples that they would be persecuted if they kept His commandments (John 15:18). God does promise a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7), but that’s a psychological peace, whereas Solomon is talking about a physical and sociological peace. The days of Christ and the apostles were shortened, and they had less earthly peace because of their obedience. So this is only true in a physical earthly context, which is sympathetic to the commandments of God—as the Old Testament theocracy of Israel was meant to be.
Generally expect honor with god and people 3
Kindness and truth generally lead to favor and a good reputation. These are the two foundational words for all our dealing with others. The word love is an emphasis on loyalty—literally loyal love. Faithfulness is the common word for truth. Notice here that they go together as a foundation for all relationships. Don’t focus on one without the other.
Generally expect favor and a good name 4
This gives favor and good repute in the sight of God. But it will only give favor in the sight of man in an earthly kingdom sympathetic to the truth of the Word of God. If you proclaim the eternal truth of the Gospel and the righteousness of the Kingdom of God in the societies of our world today, you will not generally find favor with men.
Wisdom’s relationship to the Lord: Allegiance
SPECIFICALLY BELIEVERS ALLEGIANCE TO THE LORD IS PARAMOUNT
5-6 Trust the Lord and not in oneself. The point is that we should trust God’s point of view not our own understanding, as a basis for living. The fear of God should replace pride. Then our paths will be made right, smooth, or straight. This refers to God’s revealed directive will, not circumstantial leadings. Trust in the Lord is in the context of do not forget my teaching and keep my commandments v 1. So the historical context is the teachings and commandments of the Mosaic Law, not looking for unusual circumstances or receiving thoughts after praying. In all your ways acknowledge Him, means to fear the Lord and turn away from evil v 7 not to look for God in circumstances during or after conversant prayer.
7-8 Revere the Lord and avoid evil. Do not be wise in your own eyes. That means don’t think I am right apart from the path of wisdom. It means to not use my own way of looking at things to determine the way things actually are. Things are the way they actually are, not the way I think they are. And God determines the way they actually are. So it is the fear of the God of the Bible, and turning away from evil as He defines it that gives me the real wisdom, which directs my path.
9-10 Give back to God some of one’s wealth as a sacrifice in recognition that God gave it. Give to God from the best of what you have or earn, not what is left over. An application would be to give off of the top of your paycheck, or sales, or special income, before you use the rest of it. However, we must relate this to our age. Solomon was living under the Law, which required that a tithe, and any free will offering, be brought to the central sanctuary in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 12:5-6). The idea was that the rest of their income was their own to use to become prosperous in the land of Israel. God promised that He would then add to their prosperity, so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.
The church is not to focus on earthly prosperity, but on the kingdom of heaven and its heavenly rewards. All wealth belongs to God. We are stewards of it. We are not to tithe or give part of our wealth, thinking that the rest is ours to add to our earthly prosperity—as it was for Israel. We will have more if we give more (Luke 6:38), but the context is that of heavenly rewards (Luke 6:35; 1 Corinthians 15:19) or the care of God in the midst of persecution (Mark 10:30), not prosperity in the land in which we live.
11-12 To not rebel against the Lord’s discipline for it is evidence of his love. This passage is quoted and discussed in Hebrews 12:4-11. The point is God will bring things into the life of His children, which has the purpose of conforming them to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). What’s important to realize is that this is a work of God, not something we are to identify, label, and use for decision making. There is no way to know if any particular event in our lives is the discipline of God. But we should discipline ourselves according to the commands of Scripture, not our life circumstances.
Wisdom’s relationship to life: Vitality
WISDOM HAS A LIFE SUSTAINING IMPACT WHEN IT IS APPLIED TO ONES LIFE 13-26
Wisdom is the most valuable possession 13-18
Blessing depicts the human condition of well-being that comes with God’s favor v 13. Finding wisdom and gaining understanding is the content of the blessing one receives. Then this perspective is validated:
1. Wisdom is better than wealth and riches v 14-15. The value of wisdom for a prosperous earthly life is incalculable.
2. Wisdom is the source of a long and beneficial life v 16. The use of the ‘right hand’ and ‘left hand’ in the description is a merism meaning ‘everywhere and in every direction’ is benefit from wisdom.
3. Wisdom brings vitality to life v 17. Pleasant ways and peaceful paths are presented to the one who distills life with wisdom.
4. Wisdom is life giving described here as the tree of life v 18. This is the symbol of the fullness of life. The gifts of life are available to enjoy.
Wisdom birthed creation 19-20
The value of wisdom tells us that the way things usually are is the way God made them to usually be. The same wisdom we are to learn is the wisdom by which God made the 3-dimensional universe. God made things a certain way, and wisdom is to understand that way and operate by it. If I use my eyeglasses to stir my coffee, my ink pen as an ice pick, or my shoe for a hammer its not the wisest use of my eyeglasses, ink pen, or shoes because that is not what they were made for. The best use of all things is something consistent with what their maker intended. And that’s wisdom. In the case of our life, we will be the best we can be, if we live the way God made us to be.
Wisdom is the basis of a safe life 21-26
21-26 adds another practical value of wisdom. If we understand the way things usually are, and know the usual effect of our actions, then we will be best equipped for sudden fear and the onslaught of the wicked—read v 21-25. Of course, this requires sound judgment and discernment in the passage. Preservation and security will be the result v 26. The point: Safety accompanies wisdom.
Wisdom’s relationship to neighbors: Considerate
BELIEVERS SHOULD NOT BE UNNEIGHBORLY 27-31
First, don’t withhold help from a needy neighbor v 27-28. Romans 13:8 explains, Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Owe nothing means not to withhold something from someone you owe something to. If it is in your power to pay it, then pay it.
Second, don’t think up things that would harm a neighbor v 29. For some reason, it is tempting to consider bad thoughts about our physical neighbors. The dog barks too much, his kids play loud music; he disagrees with me about the property line. Many neighbors will call the local officials to get their neighbors in trouble when it doesn’t affect them at all. Solomon says that is not wisdom.
Third, don’t start an argument v 30. The specific command is not to contend. So don’t rub someone the wrong way. If a person has done you no harm but you don’t agree with him, or he is obnoxious, or he is slandering you, let it go.
Fourth, don’t model violence v 31. It is often tempting, especially for boys, to think violence is heroic. Many of our video games present a violent warrior as a hero killing everyone in his path. Solomon says don’t make violence heroic.
Fifth, don’t emulate rabble-rousers v 32-35 In verses 32-35, Solomon mentions 4 kinds of people God will curse: the devious, wicked, scoffers, and fools. These verses also mention 4 kinds of people God likes: the upright, righteous, afflicted, and wise. The obvious point: be part of the second group, not the first group. God will punish the wicked and reward the righteous.
So What? In v 7 it says ‘fear the Lord and turn away from evil’. So fear associated with morality.
1. In the Bible we are told to ‘fear God’ 3 times more than we are told to love God. Could it be that a decline in the fear of God is a dominant factor in the decline of morality and an increase in the percent of tolerance and availability of sin?
2. While emphasizes the love of God neglecting the fear of God societally and religiously, at the same time more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, stroke, influenza and chronic lung disease combined (the Jason Foundation). The approval of gay and lesbian relations and sex between unmarried are both over 60%. Could it be a result of a society that no longer fears God?
Every sexual and sociological trend is ramped up against biblical morality. Think about it. Solomon says ‘Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.’