I began my study of Proverbs a couple of weeks ago because Twitter sent me into a slight fit of rage. All the worldly one-liners about the meaning of life, how to live it to the fullest, how to achieve world peace and the best place to gain wisdom makes me want to vomit. In fact, just an hour ago this 8-word nugget of earthly guidance popped up on my feed; “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” My eyes rolled to the back of my head. Tweeting quotes like this are the work of the devil. Through us he finds cleaver little ways to mislead and corrupt God’s children.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
The sentiment of this tweet is a lie, and not only does the tweeter believe it, but so do the 60 other people who re-tweeted it and the 63 people who “liked it.” How unfortunate. God tells us to be weary of looking for wisdom within ourselves.
Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Proverbs 26:12
This tweeter thinks she is making a positive difference in the world – her profile says, “Just someone trying to make this world a happier place” – but in reality, she is misleading the 17.2K followers who swallow her words hook, line and sinker. That number scares me. Over seventeen thousand people enjoy the wisdom she proclaims, wisdom like, “fall in love with life, with yourself. Everything else will fall into place once you’re happy.” That particular tweet of hers was re-tweeted 139 times and “liked” 126 times. Thanks to social media sites like Twitter, just one person can reach thousands instantly, negatively impacting their follower’s chance for a future in Heaven. Quotes such as these are founded on impossibilities. You cannot find happiness or know yourself and what you were created for without first knowing Jesus.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
Last week we wrapped up chapter one of Proverbs. This week we’ll dig into verses 1-22 of chapter two, where we’ll learn about the benefits to heeding God’s wisdom. Instead of being led astray, following a path that will only lead to eternal darkness, we can instead find success and protection in God and walk a pleasant path guarded by our Lord against the wickedness of the world — those who who are enchanted by wrongdoing are devious and delight in the corruptible ways of evil.
Part Three – Chapter 2:1-22
Moral Benefits of Wisdom
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.
The culture of the southwest, where I was born and raised, is embodied by stories of gunslingers, miners and men from the east driving chuck wagons across the western mountains in search of gold. The California Gold Rush of 1849 drove hundreds of thousands of men to the hills of California, leaving their families behind, hoping to “strike it rich.” In a letter written in 1849 by Mr. Shufelt, which was later auctioned off in 1924 and is now part of the collection of the Library of Congress, we read the words, “I have left those that I love as my own life behind and risked everything and endured many hardships to get here.”
Why don’t we put that kind of effort into reading and understanding God’s Word?
Bill and I read our devotional books and listen to Dr. J. Vernon McGee on a daily basis, but God tells us that if we are to know Christ, if we are to truly find the knowledge of God, then we are to search for it as for hidden treasure, as one would search for silver, like the men who made the California Gold Rush famous. A deep understanding of God and the wisdom He desires us to have will only come from delving into His Word, reading the scriptures that He ensured would be available to all people for every generation and devoting our time to Him as we would devote our time to achieving earthly success. We are to “cry aloud for understanding” and “apply our heart” to His words. We are to be diligent in our bible study.
Luckily, you do not have to have to be a theology student to understand God’s word. God is your Teacher, your mentor and your guide. If you ask Him to help you understand His words He will gladly show you.
For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…he guards and protects…wisdom will enter your heart. Proverbs 2:6-10
Following Godly advice will spare you from heartache of all kinds, often from the worst kind.
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.
16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.
20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the unfaithful will be torn from it.
Last week we looked at the evil man, and the danger that he can create for a young, impressionable man growing up. This week we are introduced to the strange woman. The King James translation of Proverbs 2:16 says, “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words.”
In that day, the strange woman was the gentile, a foreigner to the Israelites. The young man is warned about this woman, who will attempt to corrupt him, and as a result, ruin (or end) his life.
None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. Proverbs 2:19
My friend, and student in the Master of Divinity program at Liberty University, Lari Trombley, wrote that the strange woman, or “Dame Folly” as Lari has so aptly named her, “represents the things people place in value above Jesus such as money, power, pleasure, and addictions. (This) message (as it applies to the people of the Old Testament or to those of the modern day) remains the same, following Dame Folly leads to death….”
It is important to recognize that although the NIV version of verse 16 speaks of the adulteress woman, God’s reference to the “unfaithful” isn’t just speaking to those who have committed adultery. Proverbs 2:22 says that the unfaithful will be torn from the promised land. This message is for all people because we have all sinned, worship false idols, and give of ourselves to that which falls outside of God’s direction. It is God who says that we cannot worship both Him and the world.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15
Wisdom, or as Lari has personified it, “Lady Wisdom,” will lay for you a path of righteousness. It will save you from death and torment, not just those of this world – disease and shame – but from eternal death and suffering. In Proverbs, wisdom and foolishness are personified as The Evil Man, The Strange Woman and Wisdom for man’s sake. In order for us to clearly understand the two distinct paths (the way of God or the way of the world) described in Proverbs, and the result of taking one or the other, we require a human correlation: relationships.
By personifying Lady Wisdom and Dame Folly, the author (of Proverbs) clearly necessitates relationship. In order to achieve wisdom, the man must become intimate with Lady Wisdom…. The fact that the man cannot enter into relationships with both women leaves clear implications regarding the actions of believers here on earth. The believer cannot worship the things of this world and live in relationship with Christ. Relationship with Christ requires letting go of the things of this world and following Him, entering into a discipling relationship with the Holy Spirit whereby the believer becomes a bold proclaimer of Christ’s wisdom. -Lari Trombley
If you feel guilt, as I do, at the realization that I am all too often guilty of bowing to the things of this world rather than at my Savior’s feet, know that this is the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sin, for you are a child of God, and He will not allow you to wallow in your sins forever. There is only place where you can get rid of your guilt, and that is at the cross of Christ. Claim your place amongst the promised Land by asking for forgiveness, trusting in your Savior and walking along the path of righteousness!
For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it. Proverbs 2:21