Where Wisdom Begins

Bible Focus: Proverbs 1-9

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
   To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
   Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.
   The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:1-7 ESV

Early adulthood typically gives us more time, energy, and variety of adventure than at any other time in our adult life. During those years, our entanglements are probably minimal. Serious health issues are often nonexistent. Many of us can work hard, play hard, stay up late, and eat what we want, with seemingly little consequence. Small wonder, then, that most of us don’t have exceptional discipline during those years.

But at the same time, those years usually give us many chances for personal growth and spiritual development. If we choose to humbly learn from those who have more knowledge and experience, then the lessons and habits that emerge will benefit us for years to come. Unfortunately, we often let our own opinions or desires get in the way of receiving such benefits. Later, we might wonder how different our life might have been, if we had only given up some of our stubbornness and taken more time to humbly learn wisdom.

The wisdom of the Bible is available to more people now than at any other time in history. Many people today don’t spend much time in the Bible–including many who claim to believe its words. However, if we take time to meditate on the words of the Bible and humble ourselves before the God of the Bible, then he will gladly teach us the precious wisdom it contains.

If we take time to meditate on the words of the Bible and humble ourselves before the God of the Bible, then he will gladly teach us the precious wisdom it contains.

King Solomon, Israel’s third king, was given wisdom from God like no one else in history (1 Kings 3:5-15). Solomon led Israel into great peace and prosperity, and Solomon built a beautiful temple in Jerusalem dedicated to God. God inspired Solomon to write and collect many proverbs to instruct others in the wisdom of God. This collection eventually became known as the book of Proverbs.

On some level, the study of Proverbs can benefit anyone, no matter what they believe about God. This is because Proverbs contains accurate descriptions of human society and the natural consequences of human actions. However, if we only view Proverbs as a source of good advice, then we’ll miss its greatest lesson: true wisdom is found though a humble, trusting, obedient relationship with God.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 CSB

The first nine chapters form an extended introduction to the rest of Proverbs. The writer adopts the perspective of a father instructing his son to choose between two paths: the straight path of wisdom and the crooked path of foolishness.

The crooked path is less demanding and filled with quick pleasures, but it lures people to great destruction. The straight path requires listening, correction, and discipline, but it rewards people with great fulfillment. And it’s evident from the start that God is not neutral on this choice of paths. God’s choice is the straight path, because the straight path is his design.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for your own benefit; if you mock, you alone will bear the consequences.”

Proverbs 9:10-12 CSB

Unfortunately, all of us have chosen the crooked path at various points in our life. We’ve all departed from God’s design and embraced sinful ways.

But here’s the good news: through Jesus, God made a way for us to be cleansed from these sins and restored to God. We have all been crooked, but if we humbly trust in Jesus, he will begin to turn us straight. We have all been foolish, but if we submit to his words, God will begin to teach us wisdom.

Featured image from Mathijs Deerenberg on Unsplash.

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