William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs
Six times in the first seven verses, Solomon mentioned the importance of wisdom. Hear it, understand it, know it, receive it, apply it. A few into the book, the wise king will declare:
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7)
Wisdom is essential.
Availability of Wisdom
Some of the most valuable items in this world are very rare and difficult to come by. There are some who spend a lifetime and place themselves in great danger while pursuing these uncommon treasures. Yet the most valuable thing we could pursue is not hidden at all. It is readily available, if we are inclined to seek it.
Solomon personifies wisdom in our text, stating that she is all around us calling for our attention. Unlike the wicked voice of those who tempted Solomon’s son to participate in their wickedness, true wisdom calls us to a life that will bring glory to God and goodness to ourselves and others. Solomon presents the same contrast of worldly wisdom VS godly wisdom that is spoken of by James (3:13-17). Worldly wisdom is always the way to suffering and death, godly wisdom leads to life. The very purpose of the Proverbs is to proclaim the wisdom of God. As we open the book, the voice of wisdom is raised in the open square, chief concourses and open gates of our heart. Are we listening?
Turn At My Rebuke
How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. (Proverbs 1:22)
Solomon will mention the simple several times throughout the book. The simple are contrasted with the prudent and equated with the fool. The simple do not follow the voice of wisdom, but the impulses of their own hearts. The simple need to turn at the rebuke of God’s word.
What a blessing that God wants us to hear His word, and that He so graciously makes it available. To those who will hear the rebuke of wisdom, He promises:
…surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1:23)
Will we hear the rebuke of God’s word?
You Disdained All My Counsel
…I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded …you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke… (Proverbs 1:24-25)
Wouldn’t the world be a great place if everyone would heed the call of God’s word; if all partook of His counsel and answered His rebukes. And yet through the prophet Isaiah, He would say the following of His own people, Israel:
I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; a people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face… (Isaiah 65:2-3)
God is longsuffering; He is patient. The call of His word continually rings forth, and yet if we refuse to respond, the end will not be good. Solomon spends the next several verses telling us what will come to those who close their ears to wisdom.
…I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. (Proverbs 1:26-27)
How does wisdom laugh and mock at the misfortunes of those who have rejected it? It is not an audible laugh or mockery, but simply this—wisdom’s message remains the same. In effect, it is a perpetual, “I told you so.” Paul tells us that whatever we sow we will also reap (Galatians 6:7-8). Wisdom says the same. If we do what is right, we will be blessed accordingly; but if we do wickedly, we will receive our due reward. We read:
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies. (Proverbs 1:31)
I Will Not Answer
…they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. (Proverbs 1:28)
On more than one occasion in the life of king Saul, we find him inquiring of the Lord but receiving no answer (1 Samuel 14:37; 28:6). Saul was more concerned with his will and way than God’s. God would not alter or compromise His will for Saul; neither will true wisdom change to accommodate the wicked. The same message was given through Isaiah:
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doing from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good… If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword… (Isaiah 1:15-20)
God’s wisdom remains available, but the wicked are wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 3:5-7) and do not love true wisdom, but choose to continue in their wicked ways (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). They must repent. They must turn to the Lord and hear, understand, know, receive and apply His wisdom. Solomon concludes:
…the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil. (Proverbs 1:32-33)
Friend, what wisdom are you living by? Are you arrogantly walking in our own way, or have we humbly submitted to God’s way? He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our God and our Eternal Judge. He knows the way we should walk. Wisdom calls out, she raises her voice, she cries out and speaks her words. Are we listening?