A STUDY OF WISE LIVING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Live Wisely Because Wisdom is Valuable
Proverbs 8 SCC 8/9/15
Chapter 8 is about a call to wisdom. It is very much like chapter 1. It is almost like Solomon is starting over. But he isn’t. After giving several applications of wisdom he comes back to an exhortation to wise living. The repetition is intentional and meant to drive home the absolute essential need for wisdom. These are not necessarily new, but they are put in a unique way making a new emphasis.
WISDOM IS USEFUL EVERYWHERE IN LIFE 1-3
Verse 1: Wisdom advances herself to exhibit her attractions out in the open not lurking in the streets in secret. Wisdom wants to be useful for everyone and is found to be beneficial everywhere in life.
Verse 2-3: Her crying out in the heights, beside the way, beside the gates, at the openings and entrances is where the people gathered to buy and sell, to settle disputes, to determine proper decisions—all of which requires wisdom. Wisdom is useful ‘on the ground’ where you live, work, and raise family. It is found in the streets and not a product of miraculous leadings.
PT: Wisdom is about bringing our chaos to order, our randomness to regularity, our confusion to understanding. Proverbs is not about maturity per se. Wisdom is the foundation of maturity. Maturity must be built upon wisdom. There is no maturity without wisdom. But the two are not the same. Maturity requires creativity. Wisdom requires regularity. Wisdom is moving from chaos to order, from random, disorder, and confusion, to living in light of the way things usually are most of the time and that is useful everywhere in life.
WISDOM IS USEFUL TO SECURE THE UNDERSTANDING TO LIVE LIFE 4-9
Listen to wisdom’s wisdom 4-5
Wisdom invites all classes of people to embrace her. First it is the ‘sons of men’ meaning humankind v 4 and then the ‘simple’ and ‘foolish’ v 5 are to gain prudence and understanding by embracing wisdom. So wisdom is useful no matter where you find yourself in life. If, for some reason you are currently naïve, then the understanding wisdom supplies is needful. Or if foolish, the chaos you created can be improved upon with wisdom. Wisdom is always valuable no matter your life circumstance.
Wisdom is protection from foolish chaos 6-9
Verse 6: First, wisdom declares herself to have noble things to say. Personified as opening her mouth, she speaks only what is excellent and upright. Wisdom is not treacherous. Listening to wisdom will never get you in trouble.
Verse 7: The information wisdom conveys is always reliable. Wisdom tells the truth in the sense of what is firm and dependable. This conveyance of truth makes wickedness detestable to wisdom. Wisdoms counsel will never produce evil.
Verse 8: Everything wisdom teaches appeals to what is righteous. There is no hidden agendas and no deception when wisdom speaks her mind. Wisdom cannot conceive of guidance that is perverted.
Verse 9: All her counsel is in plain view of the truth. It is faultless. It is intelligible and precise to those who have discernment, of course, who wish to discover knowledge and understanding.
NB: Wisdom is having a firm grasp of the obvious. It’s a skill for recognizing life’s regular things. Wisdom is the way things usually are most of the time. The wise man knows what to expect. He has understanding because he thinks in terms of the regular things of life. So wisdom is a skill for understanding life according to its regular things. Wisdom can be counted upon to live skillfully.
WISDOM IS USEFUL FOR ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE ABOUT LIFE 10-21
Wisdom has incomparable value for life 10-11
The point of this second invitation to embrace wisdom is the instruction it delivers and the knowledge it furnishes v 10. Both of these are more valuable than the most precious metals—silver and precious gold. True wealth derives from these qualities v 11. The only way we could arrive at this conclusion is if we perceive eternal things to be more advantageous. A foolish person would never consider this to be true.
Wisdom has practical value in life 12-16
Verse 12-13: Wisdom claims to lodge with prudence. Prudence is correct knowledge in unique situations. Shrewdness and farsightedness enhance one’s ability to carve a wise path in life v 12. This parallels with the fear of God v 13, which leads to a rejection of evil, pride, arrogance and distortion. These are the very vices paving the way to chaos and self-destruction. Pride is independence from God rather than dependence upon God. Choosing to live in opposition to God’s Word will only harm oneself here in this life and on into eternity.
Verse 14-16: Notice that counsel, sound judgment, and understanding—all of which form a powerful force—is associated with wisdoms embrace v 14. This is especially noticeable when those in power, kings, rulers, princes and judges, who reign, decree, rule and judge government is derived from wisdom v 15-16. The converse is also true—leaders who lead foolishly destroy people. So wisdom is what successful leaders use to lead others.
NB: Wisdom is not up on a pedestal. It is down to earth. It is where the rubber meets the road. Wisdom is the difference maker. Wisdom is useful for leadership because of the wider influence leaders have in the lives of the community they serve. A wise leader knows this and his or her rule is judicious.
Wisdom rewards when applied to life 17-21
Verse 17: Wisdom declares that she will reward those who love her. All of the attributes of wisdom enumerated in this chapter are accessible to those who seek wisdom. Wisdom must be sought and found. Wisdom must be pursued to be enjoyed. The point is to find wisdom--to discover her benefits.
Verse 18-19: The outcome of acquiring wisdom is described as both riches and honor v 18 and fruit v 19. The former leads to enduring wealth and righteous living. Godly living is a major benefit from acquiring wisdom. The latter produces yields more expensive than pure gold and choicest silver. The point is that the benefits of wisdom applied to life are far superior to that which is regarded on earth as the most precious possession ever.
Verse 20-21: Wisdom has a walk v 20 and a path v 21. Wisdom struts to righteousness and justice. If you pursue wise living you will dwell in the realm of the sacred. These paths are prosperous endowed with wealth v 21. The practical value of this insight is that material substance is replenishable not for everyone all the time but because of the skill a wise person has to maintain it. Wisdom is capable of enriching your life with significant value throughout your life.
WISDOM IS USEFUL SINCE BY WISDOM GOD CRAFTED LIFE 22-36
Wisdom preceded creation 22-26
Verse 22-23: The motivation for embracing wisdom is her existence before the creation of the world v 22. ‘Before’ occurs 5 times v 22-23, 25-26. This indicates that wisdom was present when God crafted the universe. So wisdom existed before creation and during the creative act v 23. This personified wisdom derives from God’s essential being and as such is unlike the rest of creation which came into existence outside of Him as a creative act of God. It is this wisdom derived from God’s essential nature that is to be embraced in life. God has revealed it to us so we may live consistent with it.
Verse 24-26: These verses reiterate that Wisdom was established before creation. So before the waters were separated making clouds and oceans on the 2nd day v 24 and before the dry land appeared on the 3rd day v 25, wisdom existed and operated. Wisdom was established or appointed even before dirt and dust and landmasses were in place v 26.
Wisdom existed during the creative act of God 27-29
Not only did wisdom exist before creation (I was established v 23, I was brought forth v 24-25) wisdom was a craftsman at Gods side when he created the world (I was there v 27, I was beside Him v 30). Wisdom personified as an assistant in the Lords creative act indicates that God was wise in what He created. The entire universe was constructed wisely. Wisdom used to assemble the universe from the very beginning makes wisdom essential for living within that universe. Gods wisdom had a hand in establishing the heavens apart from the earth v 27; creating the earth in a sphere v 27; established the atmosphere before any living thing created v 28; creating the sea with a predetermined shoreline with the land in one place and the sea was in another place v 28-29. Wisdom determined all of this. Creation was not the construct of a chaotic act. It was an ordered act the essential basis of wisdom for life.
Wisdom’s claim to reward is credible 30-36
Verse 30-31: If wisdom is so basic to the universe, then it is essential for living consistent with the values and ethics embedded within it. Those are consistent with wisdom. It rejoices in God’s presence v 30 and brings joyful, fulfilling, rewarding and satisfaction to those who apply it to life v 31. This claim is credible due to her presence from the very beginning of life. Look and listen for life is in her ways.
Verse 32-34: Wisdom once again addresses herself directly to my sons. Here is wisdoms appeal once again to seek her and pursue her. Do not forestall her. Listen to her v 32. Heed her instruction v 33. Watch and wait for her v 34. Blessing mentioned twice is her reward. It comes from following wisdom eagerly and passionately.
Verse 35-36: Wisdom asks what is closest to God’s heart and discovers the blessing and favor of the Lord v 35. Fools ask what they can get away with and still hope for blessing v 36. God’s goodwill is available to the wise. Rejecting wisdom results in harm and death. People have two choices in life.
1. The only way to avoid the destruction of a chaotic life is the application of the wisdom of God. Chaos is unavoidable otherwise. Life trends toward chaos. We cannot control our circumstances. We cannot determine how people will manage relationship with us. Potential chaos stalks us on this side of the grave. Spurning wisdom sets you up to self-destruct.
2. Wisdom must be cultivated. It does not show up all of a sudden when you need it. If you do not already have it you will most likely contribute to the chaos you are confronted with. That is why wisdom cries out and calls us to pursue it as life itself. We are too easily distracted and too willing to play the percentages hoping that we can get a handle on our chaos without the hard path of ordered living. Wisdom requires we take responsibility not handouts.