Wisdom from God is a great deal! The benefits are numerable and eternally significant, and it costs us nothing but the time and effort to study God’s Word and humbly submit to all it teaches.
Digging for the Diamonds of Wisdom
As we pick up our study of Proverbs at verse 20 of the first chapter, we find Solomon urging us to embrace wisdom. In doing so, he focuses on wisdom’s benefits as a motivation for our search.
Like the book of Psalms, Proverbs is a book of poetry. It uses word pictures, figures of speech, and other poetic elements to communicate important truths in a rather pithy, memorable way. Solomon begins this section with the poetic device known as personification.
Godly wisdom is personified. It is pictured as a woman, calling out to all who will hear, inviting them to listen to her: “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out” (verses 20-21).
The sad truth is that most people are not listening. They just keep walking down the street because they think they have all the wisdom they need in life. Wisdom says, “I have called and you refused to listen . . . you have ignored all my counsel” (verses 24-25).
That is the sad truth. and here is the sad result: When problems arrive and people realize they need a sudden dose of wisdom to deal with it, they will be frustrated. Wisdom says in verse 28, “They will call upon me, but I will not answer.”
Beloved, wisdom is not an emergency button you push whenever you want; it is a companion you walk with in life. People who want help only when the house is on fire, so to speak, really are not interested in changing their lives. Solomon reveals their true feelings here in verse 29: “They hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
When Solomon says they hated knowledge, that does not mean they didn’t want to study for their final exams or go to college. It means they hated the knowledge of the truth of God.
The apostle Paul put it well when he described such people as always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). They never connect the dots between what they are learning with how they should be living. They might be educated, but they have become educated failures.
In contrast to them, chapter 2 begins laying out some of the benefits of receiving wisdom from God. Solomon tells his son in verse 4 to “seek [wisdom] like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures.”
Rocks and pebbles are on the surface, but diamonds are deep underground. Wisdom is like diamonds; you have to dig for it. You have to really want wisdom.
So how badly do you want wisdom? Well, consider some of the benefits of beginning a quest for the treasures of wisdom. Solomon says in verse 12 that wisdom will protect you from “the way of evil” and from evil men. It will also protect you from sexual sin, verse 16 says. And in verse 20, you find that wisdom will guide you on the “paths of the righteous.”
The “righteous” are those characterized by right living—being right with God and everybody else. That is the path that makes life worth living.
Now in chapter 3, Solomon gives us a wonderful promise in verses 5 and 6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him [that is, put Him first] and he will make straight your paths.
Trust the Lord and His Word. Walk with Him, and you can be sure of His guidance. Walk with God today, and you won’t miss tomorrow.
In the next few verses, Solomon refers to the Lord’s discipline and instruction, which lead us toward both spiritual and physical prosperity.
You need to be careful here, though. These proverbs are general principles—they are not automatic guarantees. When you wisely steward your finances, you will generally experience financial success; when you work with integrity, you will more likely get promoted. In other words, living a wise life generally leads to a healthier, more prosperous life. But not always. The will of God might bring you financial hardship or physical suffering so you learn to trust Him more.
In fact, Solomon tells us here in verses 13-14 there is something better than prosperity:
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom . . . for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit [is] better than gold.
Listen, God’s blessing is not just related to your bank account. God’s blessing is far richer than gold or silver.
Chapter 3 ends with a series of “do nots”: do not withhold good from others (verse 27); “do not plan evil against your neighbor” (verse 29); do not envy a violent person or choose any of his ways (verse 31). It is a mark of wisdom to avoid such sinful actions in our relationships with others.
The fourth chapter of Proverbs continues this theme of wisdom’s benefits. In verse 5 Solomon urges his son—and the rest of us, by the way—to “get wisdom; get insight,” to go after these. Why? Verse 6 says, “Do not forsake [Wisdom], and she will keep you.” And in verse 8 we read, “Prize her highly, and she will exalt you.” Here is the blessing of digging for godly wisdom.
Chapter 4 concludes with some further exhortations. In verses 24 to 25 we read, “Put away from you crooked speech . . . let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” That is, don’t get sidetracked as you pursue a life of wisdom.
There are going to be a lot of distractions along the way—a lot of side roads and temptations to take you off the path. But Solomon writes in verse 27, “Do not swerve to the right or to the left.”
I hope you get the message of these opening chapters: Only God’s wisdom can lead you to the right decision for the right reason at the right time, as you are guided by a right relationship with God and His Word.
Wisdom makes the difference between making a living and making a life worth living. So, the real question is this: Do you really want wisdom? And if you do, how badly do you want it?
I have read that a young man once came to Aristotle and asked how he could find the wisdom he observed in Aristotle’s life. Aristotle told the young man to follow him across the courtyard. They came to a water fountain and a pool of water; and without hesitating, Aristotle waded into the pool, where the water was waist high.
The young man stopped at the edge, somewhat confused. Then he thought, Well, Aristotle said to follow him in order to find wisdom; so gathering up his robe, he climbed over the edge and went in. When they reached the middle of the pool, Aristotle suddenly turned, grabbed the young man by the nap of his neck and pushed his head under water. The young man thrashed about with his arms and kicked with his legs, thinking he was going to drown. At the last moment, Aristotle pulled him up and carried him to the side of the pool.
As the young man caught his breath, somewhat in shock, Aristotle asked him, “When I held you under the water, what did you want more than anything?” The young man said, “Air, sir, air!” Aristotle then said, “When you want wisdom as badly as you wanted air, you will find it.”
As we have begun to learn, God’s wisdom is more precious than diamonds; but as with diamonds, you have to be willing to dig for His wisdom. Search and study God’s Word, and pray, as you seek out this precious jewel of wisdom for your own life.
And that is exactly what we are doing together on this Wisdom Journey through the book of Proverbs.