William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs
Every father wants what is good for his son. To that end, a father may give what he perceives to be words of wisdom to his son. In Solomon’s case, the words of wisdom he shared were not his alone, but from the Spirit of God. In them, his son could find “length of days and long life and peace.”
Putting God First
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The key to living a blessed life is to have the right person reigning in our hearts. Human wisdom says no one can do a better job directing my life than me. We deceive ourselves, thinking that we know what is best for us. Later in this book, Solomon will write:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)
This is important. In fact, it is repeated in 16:25! A few centuries later, Jeremiah would make a similar statement:
…the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)
Solomon did not tell his son to consider God’s way every now and then. He commands 100% confidence in God and His way. If we desire to be truly blessed, we will forsake our way and walk God’s way. If we lean on our own understanding and reject God’s wisdom, we’ll inevitably find trouble. A life that is not focused on God’s way is a life that has missed the mark.
The wise king calls upon us to fear God and turn away from wickedness. And with such a choice, he pronounces the following:
It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:8)
Worldliness is not healthy. The activities of the wicked tend to damage the body and unnecessarily tread close to death’s door. God’s way brings life, health and strength.
Further, Solomon says we should honour the LORD with our possessions. We’ll not delve into the discussion of tithing vs. free will offerings here. That is for another time and another article. Rather, we want to focus here on what it means to honour God with our possessions.
First, we can’t be using our possessions for evil (v 7) and honour God at the same time. Further, we cannot devote our leftovers to Him and expect that He is honoured in that. He deserves the firstfruits.
The Jews in Malachi’s day were bringing sacrifices that were lame, maimed, and blind to give to the LORD. The prophet told them to take such things to their governor and see if he would be satisfied (Malachi 1:8). God deserves our best. Is that what we are giving Him?
The duty of giving comes with a promise. Notice:
…so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3:10)
The lesson is not give to the LORD and He’ll make you rich. Rather, put God first in life and He’ll meet our needs. It is the very thing Jesus taught:
…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Every good thing we have is a blessing from the Lord (James 1:17). It is right that we put His cause in a prominent place in our lives, which includes our financial obligations.
The Blessing Of Chastening
…do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
After quoting this text, the Hebrew writer speaks of how no one enjoys chastening, and yet for those who receive it, the result is “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
Exactly how does God chasten us? Certainly through the message of His word, but also it may come through circumstances in life; through trying times when we’ve made bad decisions. It may come through the voice of rebuke from a fellow Christian, or through an enemy of the cross pointing our an area of hypocrisy in our lives. Regardless what avenue the correction comes through, may we heed it and make the needed changes.
To reject the chastening of the LORD is foolishness; receiving it is wisdom. Therefore, receive it. Solomon explains that it will bring happiness (v 13) and that the value of godly wisdom is far greater than this world’s treasures (v 14-15).
Again, Solomon extols the blessings of wisdom, whether it be derived through diligent pursuit or by the chastening of our heavenly Father. He identifies four things:
- Long life (in general) awaits those who follow the path of wisdom, and most certainly, eternal life in heaven.
- Riches and honour. Such things are not the aim of those who seek to follow the Lord, and yet God’s word says that those who humble themselves will be exalted.
- Pleasantness and peace. Jesus invited us to take up His yoke, for it is easy and light, and brings rest to the soul. His way is better, is more pleasant, and leads to peace between God and man, and with our fellow man.
In verse 18, He refers to wisdom as a tree of life. It is not the tree of life, but a tree of life which will lead us to the tree of life. Do you follow? If you and I want the right to the tree of life (Revelation 22:14) which is in heaven, we need to follow the tree that has been left for us here upon the earth – the wisdom of God.