She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens. Proverbs 31:13-15
Solomon's mother is describing for hiim the excellent wife. She began with how the excellent wife is faithful and true to her husband. The second trait that she describes for him is how the excellent wife cares for her household. There are thre things mentioned in these verses. Let's take a look at them.
First we see that she looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. Just an observation that we should make initially is that this lady is not into watching soap operas and reality shows and eating bon-bons on the couch. She is a busy lady, as most wives are. She is looking for things to do. Here we see that she is searching for wool and flax - evidently to do some kind of handcrafted items for either her family, her employees, or paying customers. It is interesting to find, after reading an Enclyclopaedia Brittanica article on these two substances - that far more than just knitting or sewing is involved in gathering these two things. The wool is gathered from sheep - and is first strained in a manner of speaking to get the fatty substance from it. This is used for greasing things - and was also considered a beauty aid in how it softened skin. The flax was gathered from the field and was used for a number of different things. The fibers of the plant were used to help make linen - while the seeds and the crushing of the plant produced flaxseed oil - which was used as a health aid - especially with problems like constipation. The flaxsed oil was also considered a wonderful health aid for older people - as we now have learned that is lowers cholesterol and helps with blood flow in the body.
The excellent wife was not afraid to work with her hands on these things. In fact she considered it a delight to work with her hands. I remember my grandmother working with her hands almost constantly. She was able to knit or crochet, tat or sew and even talk to us while she was doing it. These are things we've pretty much lost in our generation - and it has hurt us. I fear that the majority of women in today's work are not delighted in working with their hands - and instead of having women who talk with their children and families, giving them wisdom and speaking of the things of God - we now gather around a television to listen to the converstaion of fools. Do you really want your kids growing up with the Kardashians, Snooki and JWow, and the Dance moms as their role models?
The excellent wife also enjoys cooking. She does not live out of a box - although that did not exist at that time. This lady goes out of her way to bring interesting and delicious foods to her family. Some southerners take this passage to mean that she grills out all the time (you know - she brings her food from a'far - from a fire - southern drawl removed). She looks for good food - and seeks out merchants who bring interesting and exotic foods that will make for exciting fare for the family.
The third thing we see is that this excellent wife has servants who work for her. But she is humble - not seeing herself so high above others as not to serve them as well. She brings portions even to her maidens as she rises early in the morning to cook for them as well as her family. I have to admit to nostalgia when reading this - because I cannot remember a time, other than when my mother was sick, that I did not wake up to the smell of something cooking for breakfast in the morning. I took it for granted - and yet - there was a solidity brought to me because I would sit with my mom and dad and eat breakfast with them. We'd talk - and when I was older (adolescence and high school) they would drag conversation out of me. It might shock you to learn that they did this even though I was a competitive swimmer for four years, waking up at 5:00 a.m. to get to an early morning practice. What was interesting is that even though the hour was early - my mom never complained about it. She just delighted in doing kind things for me.
Ladies - I've always marvelled at how you can give yourselves away for your husbands and children! The selflessness and hard work truly amazes me. The excellent wife is like this - delighting to work with her hands - to make even exotic and exciting meals - and to rise early to feed her household. The word that I guess describes all this is the compound word, "servant-hearted." What a blessing comes to a famiily when they have such a lady as the woman of the house. Her character is much like that of her Lord Who said that He did not some to be served either - but to serve and give His life for others. Ladies, when you live like this you bless your entire home - not just with hand-made items, food, and breakfast . . . but with the very spirit of Christ permeating your home.
My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; Proverbs 5:1
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." This was the way Shakespeare began the speech of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. It was a cry for people to listen and to pay close attention because something very important was going to be said. Proverbs has its own soliloquies as well - but they come from the mouths of mothers and fathers to their sons and daughters. This is how the father begins his speech to his son - by calling him to listen and to pay close attention to what he is going to say.
Give attention, pay heed, pay attention, listen is what the father is saying to his son. But he is not calling him to attention to just anything - he is calling his attention to the wisdom that the father shares with him. Wisdom is the familiar word "chokmah" in the Hebrew meaning which means not just seeing or knowing things from God's perspective - but having a skill and experience in using this wisdom to make moral and practical decisions. We are not to turn the education and en-wisening of our children over to others. That is what western culture has done too often. We turn our kids over to the school - even to their Sunday school teachers and youth leaders. Let them teach our children wisdom - that's what they're for right? WRONG! They are there to only add to and embellish the core teachings that should have come from us. When we do not do our jobs as parents - believe me - no one else can make up for it.
The father calls his son to bend his ear close when he speaks and when he instructs. "Incline your ear" is like Shakespeares, "Lend me your ears," comment. It is saying to the son that he needs to stretch out his ears - bend them toward what the father is saying. He is to extend and lean his ears to what is being said - but even more to that - to understand his father's words and see how they apply to all of life! We talk about how the younger generation is leaving the church. They are leaving because they see very little relevance to their lives from what is being taught. They see the Bible as stories told to them when they were little - as an antiquated book that no longer applies to today's world. Why? Because they did not hear from dad - nor see in dad a daily pursuit of the truth - as well as a daily understanding of how that truth applies to making decisions in the everyday life that he leads. Of course they are going to think it is of little value. Oh, but when a father teaches his children these things - calls them to listen and bend their ear close as he instructs them. When dad reveals to them a life lived from the perspective of God and of Scripture - that - dear brothers and sisters is a life that will call a son to follow. That child will value what he has heard and SEEN in his father. He will listen because he has SEEN how important this book - the Bible - is to how his father lives. That, my brothers is how we recapture this generation. We do so by living according to God's wisdom - then calling our sons to listen as we recount time after time when that wisdom guided us through the minefields of life. What is the particular "minefield" that the father is so intent on teaching to his son? It is the minefield of sexual immorality. He is talking to his son about women - actually about a certain kind of woman - the immoral one. He is also sharing much wisdom with his son about the battle that will ensue when he deals with women like this. He does not hide such things from his son - he teaches them honestly and very straight forwardly. This is not something that is relegated to the sex ed teacher - it is something the father teaches his son. I'm about to say some things that will probably offend some - while at the same time making others shout for joy that someone is saying them out loud. Sex education was meant to be taught at home and in the church. Never was this meant to be a topic brought up without very clear moral underpinnings. If you look at the first 9 chapters of Proverbs you will see that this issue was raised BY THE FATHER to the son several times. God intended for a godly father to teach his son about sex - and about the pitfalls of being a fallen male in this world. The Bible is not squeamish on the matter of sexuality. It faces it head on - sharing general teaching, instruction, warnings, as well as cautionary historical examples of sexuality running wild and causing great destruction. I've long held that if the whole Bible was ever to be put on film - it would carry at least an R rating. The perils of heterosexual sin, homosexuality, and perversion are not hidden from us. They are displayed in such a way that we see their destructive power and desire to avoid them. Dad, are you teaching your son these things? Have you sat down and taught him about his sexuality - with a proper moral foundation underneath so that his sexuality does not run rampant and destroy relationships and possibly even his health and welfare? Because the church has not stepped out in front on such issues - and because fathers have not taught their sons and instructed them in how to wisely deal with their sexuality - the world has taken over. The result is sexuality taught without biblical morality. How's that working for us so far? Have we brought about a safer, wiser, more responsible sexuality among our children and youth? It has been a disaster because teaching sexuality without morality has led to a sex-crazed society that has cheapened sex and made it accessible and acceptable in every situation. Dads . . . YOU are responsible for how your son and daughter views sexuality. If you do not teach them the truth - they most likely will not know it. The television and movies will not tell them about such things within a biblical context. Magazines and books won't do it either. They will promote the perversions of sex passed on by our society and those who view sex as an anything goes activity - just so long as you use protection. Fathers! Nothing will protect your child from the dangers of unbiblical sex. There is not a condom or a safety device made that protects the heart and the spirit from the devastation and destructive power of sin. May God grant us a revival among fathers - that we will call our children to listen - and we will talk to them frankly and honestly about their sexuality. May we also give them a godly, biblical framework in which to enjoy their sexuality as God intended. If we do not talk to them and teach them - I can promise you others will who have no intention of offering them the greatest protection we can have in sex - the wisdom of God.
Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor's house, Or he will become weary of you and hate you. Proverbs 25:17
Here is a wise proverb concerning friendship that may seem strange at first glance. Having a friend is a wonderful thing - but there are friends who are what some call, "high-maintenance" people. They are the folks who start out as friends - but who soon so dominate your time that you start feeling like you want to avoid them. Yet the more you pull away - the more they seek to dominate your time. You wind up spending hours listening to them every day - and in the end - you wind up almost hating to see them - see their texts - or see their number come up when you look at your cell phone. This is what God is warning against in this proverb.
Friendship does demand some time spent together. This proverb is not encouraging us to be distant to everyone - and rarely spend time with each other. It is just using hyperbole to warn us against being the "over-needy" friend who seems to have to spend every waking moment with their best bud. The warning is to rarely let your foot be in your neighbor's house. The concept here is actually more that you rarely let your foot be there by your own choosing. What is advised is to be a good friend in life - but to be careful about how often you show up at their house. If you are invited, that is one thing, but when you are coming on your own constantly, it can begin to be a bother to them. Therefore, when it is your choice, be careful, be wise, and be somewhat infrequent. Don't be rude - just let your friend be the one who primarily initiates you coming to their home.
The word "weary" is telling us something important here. It lets us understand the hyperbole that is being employed in this proverb. We need to be careful to not "weary" someone else. The Hebrew word used here is "yisbaacha" and it means to be sated or full to the point of sickness. You know the feeling you get when you have eaten so much that you are about to throw up? That is what is being described here - in fact the same concept was used just a verse earlier to speak of eating too much honey. Now it is being used to describe a friend who spends too much time with you - and you are 'sated' with their presence to the point of being - honestly - sick of them. The warning here though is to us! Don't be that kind of friend. Be a friend naer enough to be a blessing - but yet still far away enough to NOT be an annoyance. It takes a wisdom to be able to discern which you are being.
There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30
This has got to be one of the most discouraging passages for an atheist or an agnostic. Here they are doing all that they do against the Lord - thinking there is a wisdom that they can have that is not of God - an understanding apart from Him and counsel that goes against what He says.
Yet the facts speak for themselves . . .
No wisdom against God . . . When you hear words that contradict those of the living God in Scripture - it is not a wise thing you are hearing. There may be people who say things that accidently agree with God's Word in the midst of their foolish ramblings. Some may consider them wise - but only because they agreed with a principle found in the pages of Scripture. But when they contradict God's Word - there is no wisdom in that.
No understanding against God . . . Understanding means a discernment, a reasoning or a skill with facts that gives one the ability to see what is coming. Since God is the One Who is from all eternity - and Who knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning - one would think we would get the fact that He is all-knowing. Thus . . . He knows the future - and His Word will always reveal the best course - the one in keeping with understanding. Ever wonder why the so-called "experts" can take all their studies - all their learning - and come up with such inane conclusions? Ever wonder why all the prognosticators get it wrong again and again? It is because they do not turn to God for wisdom - and out of that wisdom gain understanding. They think they can come up with conclusions that disagree with God and still be right. But there is no understanding that is against the Lord. Let them make their forcasts - but we know from the Word of God how all things will go and even more important - how they will all end.
No counsel against the Lord . . . The word counsel here means advice - but even more than that - a plan or a plot. There are those to whom the world goes seeking advice. People like Dr. Phil and Oprah and her constant lineup of false prophets seem so wise - so understanding - and therefore the masses cling to them and to their plans. They think that they will be blessed by following them. But the fact is that there is no plan against the Lord. Oh there are actually thousands of plans and plots against Him - but none that will succeed in the end. I find it fascinating that Oprah and all her spiritual advisers come up with the same basic idea - that we are god and can make our own truth. As we accept that and work within it, we will become better, more balanced people. What do I find fascinating about this? It is the same advice given in the garden. "You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day that you eat, you will become like God, knowing good and evil." That is the same lie that Satan used to deceive Eve. That counsel did not work then - and surprise - won't work now either.
There is something that truly irks me is when I go to a movie or see a show or read an article that drips with man's arrogant self-congratulation over his own counsel. The arrogance of mankind is astounding when we think of how man gathers his own wisdom - makes his own forecasts - and then sets out on a plan - yet God is nowhere mentioned or accessed. Generations have come and will march into dust so sure of themselves and their plans. Yet the ultimate test is the judgment seat of Christ. It is the day when all the plans of man will come to an end. On that day we will know as we have never known before that there is no wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel against the Lord.
I hear the words of the psalmist ringing in my ears:
"Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in
the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! Psalms 2:10-12
Now there is wisdom - there is understanding - and good counsel that will stand well throughout eternity. Get ready to face the Son - honor the Son - worship the Son - for in the end the only wisdom, understanding, and counsel that will matter is that which is in agreement with His.
The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the innermost parts of his being. Proverbs 20:27
Here is a proverb that wisely reveals to us the workings of the Spirit of God within a man. One might ask how this imparts wisdom to us. We must remember though the definition of wisdom. That definition is seeing things as God sees them - and thus making decisions that are in concert with His will and purposes. With wisdom defined in this way we can easily see why a verse showing us the workings of the Holy Spirit in man is very valuable to grasping wisdom in our lives. Such information allows us to better understand how God imparts and gives us His wisdom.
The first thing we learn is that the "spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord." A lamp is something we use to give us light. What is being said to us is that the lamp of God is the spirit of man. When God wants to reveal Himself and make Himself and His wisdom known to man, He does so in and through our spirit. By the working of the Holy Spirit - Who speaks in our spirit - we are made aware of the mind and heart of God. Watchman Nee in his amazing volume on the working of the Holy Spirit, The Spiritual Man, spoke of how the Holy Spirit worked in us through our intuition, our conscience, and through something I'll call "our knower." Let's take a look at these three features of our spirit in concert with God's Spirit.
God reveals Himself to us primarily through His Word. As we read and know His revelation of Himself in the Word, the Holy Spirit will speak to our conscience. This might also be referred to as conviction. We are convicted of truth and our conscience speaks to us. This is not some kind of "devil on one shoulder - angel on the other" kind of experience. Instead is it a settled understanding of some things. First is might be that soemthing it true - true about God - true about who we are in Christ - true morally - true in any number of ways. Our conscience speaks to us and we know that it is true (because we see it in God's Word). We also might see that something is sinful. God's Word points out an action, an attitude, a word spoken - and our conscience bothers us as we come to the settled conviction that either we have sinned, or that something is sin. Another way this works is when we are convicted about something as the will of God. Our conscience prods us to act - to speak - to turn away from some temptation or toward an act of obedience - serving in some way - witnessing - and any number of other aspects of walking in obedience with God.
The second tool used by the Holy Spirit is our intuition. This really also fits the idea of our "knower." This is when the Spirit of God works in our spirit to help us just 'know' that soemthig is true. This would speak to the working of God to simply through an intuitive knowledge - to bear witness with the truth. One thing about this 'intuitive' aspect of God's working must be said. That is that God's Spirit will NEVER contradict God's Word in what He grants us as intuitive knowledge. Probably the best way I can describe this working is that we have a sense that someting is wrong - or something is warning us that we are about to sin. There is also a way where we just know that something is God's will and that we should act. Again - this is one of the more subjective ways the Spirit of God works - so this must be tested with God's Word - and a working knowledge of it.
We need to note how God's lamp works in this proverb. We read that it, "searches all the innermost parts of our being." God's lamp - our spirit as the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us - searches us out. Even to the very innermost parts of our being this lamp lights things up within us. The reason this is needed is at least in part because sin has made it difficult to know our own hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all else and is dsperately wicked. We are told immediately afterward, "I the Lord search the heart." Thus this working by God's lamp is vital to us knowing the truth.
It is wise to regularly - even daily or hourly - submit to the teaching, leading, and searching of the Holy Spirit of God. This work that God does is so very important if we want to know the truth. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to teach us - we know the truth. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to lead us - we will walk in the will and ways of God consistently. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to search us - we will be delivered from sin and from deceiving ourselves by following our hearts instead of being led by the Spirit and the Word. Wisdom - yes this proverb gives us great wisdom indeed.
The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes
humility. Proverbs 15:33
There are few people who do not want to be wise. The rub comes when they learn how to become wise. There is even a higher cost when you learn the method by which God will bring us to the point where we become wise.
The first thing we need to grasp is that wisdom comes from God. If men, in their experience of life, manifest wisdom - it is only because they have stumbled across it over the course of their lives. Even a blind squirrel will find a few nuts as he wanders underneath the trees. Wisdom is defined best as seeing things as God sees them. Therefore if we are going to become wise - we will have to respect God and what He has to say. That is the crux of what Solomon is saying here when he states that the fear of Jehovah is the instruction for wisdom. If we do not respect and reverence God - we are fools. If we do not honor Him and give Him the honor which He deserves, we will not be wise in the end.
We note here that the fear of Jehovah is the "instruction" for wisdom. The word for instruction here is the Hebrew word "musar" which means to instruct with discipline. This means far more than just learning something in our heads. This involves both mental instruction of the head - and discipline to make sure that what goes into our heads is then applied and carried out in our lives. This often involves some correction, pain, and difficulty as we have to learn to value God's perspective more than our own. This is the process of wisdom - and depending on how stubborn or prideful we are in holding to our particular perspective - how painful and hard it will be to become wise.
The last part of this proverb lets us know the one overarching principle that will apply throughout this entire process. "Before honor comes humility." Humans (at least fallen ones - and that means all of us) want the honor now. They want honor immediately. If we want the honor of other men and the world that may be possible. If we want the honor that comes from God and that is lasting - we will have to take a different path. Honor from God requires humility first. It is the humility that is willing to empty ourselves and lay our own will and ego down. This is what Christ Jesus did according to Philippians 2
, and God requires nothing less of us. Oh how hard the human will goes down. But in order to be wise - and to receive honor from God - that is what we will have to do. But such wisdom and such honor is better than anyting billion things the world can offer us in the way of its trinkets and trash.
Want to be wise? Want lasting, eternal honor? Then wisdom is what you want. You will haae to first admit you don't have any - and then turn to the only One Who can give it to you. You will need to see your view of God raised infinitely higher - where you find His wisdom and guidance impeccable in every way. You will need to embrace His thoughts and working in your mind even in the most difficult times when honestly, it does not make sense. You will need to lay your own thoughts in the dust - until you learn that they are in agreement with His - then praise Him for enlighening your mind to have such thoughts. This is the way of wisdom - which is also the way of humility. But I can promise you by the Word of the Lord that this is also the way of true happiness, true contentment, and a true reward that will last infinitely beyond any trophy, any medal, any certificate, or any human reward that will fade and fade away with time.
He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it. Proverbs 11:26
Today's proverb is fascinating to me because it addresses an abuse that often happens in the area of economics. This abuse, though a proven way to make money, results in the inflation of prices for food. What has happened over the course of economic history is that when this is done - and it reaches a critical level in food prices - it leads to riots and in some cases the overthrow of a government.
Our proverb speaks of one who has much grain. Here is a man who has worked hard and labored to produce a crop on his farm. As a result he has a large amount of grain. He can choose to withhold grain from the people and not sell it. By doing this he will drive the price of grain up due to a scarcity of grain in the market place. This will make him very wealthy, but in time it will backfire on him. The people, who need grain, will begin to curse him because his actions are preventing them from eating - or is making it to where being able to provide food is becoming very expensive. The cost is not coming due to natural reasons such as a flood or drought or crop failure. The added cost is coming due to a man's greed. But for the man who sells his grain there will be a blessing - not just a financial one - but one from God Himself. This proverb allows us to consider the whole area of how Biblical authority addresses economic theory.
In our day it is considered a wise business move to hold on to goods until they wind up in short supply. This allows the person who has them to artificially inflate the price of what they sell so that they can make huge profits from it. Such actions eventually become accepted business practices on larger levels so that embargos are used by nations to boost the price of their domestic products. In time groups of businesses form consortiums that try to corner an entire market so that they can set the price wherever they want. The government then steps in a tries to enforce what they call "social justice." They impose restrictions on businesses so that things will be fair. The problem is that in time the government oversteps their bounds and corruption within the government (due to the sin nature in all of us) begins to crystalize. It is then that officials learn how to use their power to corner their own political markets and do the very thing they initially were trying to prevent in the public sector. The problem throughout all this is that the poor are hurt the most by such practices.
Some think wrongly that the end of all labor is to make money. But Scripture militates against that philosophy. God desires us to work hard and be diligent to make a profit - but - He also desires for us to be compassionate in the process. This sets up a very interesting tension in life and in the economic theory that governs Bible-believing Christians. At one end is the philosophy of pure Capitalism. This philosophy functions under the idea that life is about the profit motive at all times. But God warns against a "love of money" which He says is a root of all sorts of evil. At the other end is Socialism and Communism. This philosophy functions under the assumption that a government should rule over all land and production efforts. Their goal is then to take all profits and distribute them equally to all the people. Both of these extremes will fail.
Pure Capitalism will fail because greed will so rule men's hearts that they will lack compassion for others - and especially for the poor. In time their greed will consume them with a desire for more and more profit - and an insatiable desire for more and more wealth. In the process they will shut their hearts to the plight of the poor. This will lead to greater levels of abuse of the poorest - who will then curse those who have the economic power - and will ultimately lead to revolution and the overthrow of those who have the wealth and power in society.
Communism and Socialism will fail because of greed as well. Though such economic philosophies sound wonderful at the outset, they fail because of several factors. First, there is no man who is not fallen. When given the power to confiscate the wealth of a society, they will NOT distribute it equally. They will eventually treat themselves well - and let the rest of society live on the rest. This has happened in every situation when such an economic system prevails. Their goals may sound lofty, but their practices wind up eerily similar to the captialist. Second, there is no motive in this system to work. Actually there is a motive - to do what you do for the good of all others in the collective society. But this equates good as distributing things equally among all in the society. This will not work in a fallen world because over time some will sinfully decide that if they don't work hard - or at all - they will still get an equal part of the collective pie. Others who intially work hard - will be greatly discouraged that it is their hard work that is allowing the lazy, the undisciplined, and the slothful to live just as they do. In time there will be an equality - but it will be an equality of poverty and want - because no one will be motivated to work to the best of their ability. No matter how hard they work - they only get the same part of the collective's goods. These will never be enough for collective prosperity because sinfulness will move many to barely work at all - or at a level where they are forced to work.
The system God will bless is one that encourages and rewards hard work and industriousness. This is captialism - but there must be a restraint in this system as well, if it is to succeed. This is what I call "Compassionate Captialism." It is a system where the profit motive and self-interest is encouraged. But it is also a system that values compassion and kindness. Where a profit and self-interest motive might move a man to withhold grain so he can make an obscene profit - he does not do it. He is moved by the desire to serve those who buy his grain. Understanding this he chooses to sell his grain - not just for a profit - but for a profit that also allows those who are poor to be able to afford to feed their families. In the end, this man is blessed with profit - and also is blessed with the favor of God for acting with kindness and compassion toward those who can easily be taken advantage of by the system. He chooses a wise profit level rather than one driven by greed alone. This promotes peace and the welfare of all those in the market.
It is fascinating to see the wisdom of God address all areas of life. One would not readily think that the Word of God would be a good place to learn economic principles. Yet when we read and mediatate on God's Word - immeasurable benefit is gained from it. Oh, that we would not divorce academic pursuit from the queen of the sciences - theology. May God gives us wisdom to see that His perspective is best in all academic and lifestyle pusuits. Then we can be blessed - not just a religious context - but in all of life.
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.” Proverbs 8:34
Wisdom had regaled us with tales of creation and what it was like to watch and be a participant in the very creation of all that God has made. We have seen from Wisdom's statements and from an examination of the world around us, that we can trust Wisdom and what God says to us through His Word. Now we hear Wisdom calling us to be a listener - to be one who watches and waits for what God has to say to us. Just as God has been true about His creation of this world - so He is now calling us to listen to what He has to say to us about life itself - and how to live it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me. This is God's promise of happiness for those who listen - who heed what He has do say. The word for blessed means one who is happy. The happiness experienced is not a transitory happiness based on getting our own way and living for what we want to live for day to day. It is a happiness at a much deeper level - more than happiness. This is about a deep-seated joy that comes from knowing and walking with God. It comes from knowing Him - and knowing His blessing in our lives. But this blessing is conditional - it is for those who listen to Him. We need to open our ears and more than that, our hearts, to what God desires for us. There needs to be more than basic hearing. Let me explain with a less than gracious example from my own experience.
I am a guy - which usually means there are times I have "listening" issues. My wife is very gracious in spite of my listening disorder. There are times when she is talking to me (come to think of it - I also have four daughters who struggle with this "lack" of mine as well) that she will pause and ask me if I am listening to her. My response is to repeat the last sentence she has just said. This is not amusing to her at all. She did not ask if I heard words that she was saying to me - she wanted to know if I actually listened to her. This, my dear fellow males, means was I listening for the purpose of furthering our relationship. Was I listening so as to hear more than just words - was I hearing her heart. If I had honestly answered that question I would have had to say no. I was not listening - I heard some stuff - but I was not really hearing with understanding. I was not hearing to have a relationship. To put it in a way that maybe we can understand - I was not truly "getting her." That would have required listening. It would have required zeroing in on what she was saying with an intent to know what she said, why she said it, and respond in an intelligent and caring way that expressed that I loved her . . . more than the football game that I was currently watching. (Wow - that was far more cathartic than I thought.)
God wants us to LISTEN to Him. He wants us to do two things each day. First He wants us to be "watching at His gates." The "gate" was the place where important decisions were made. This was serious stuff - because it was at the gate that the wisest and most influential men gathered. God wants us to listen and watch for the really important stuff in life. We need to watch for Him - because He will give us guidance on the major decisions and major life choices that we face each day. But he also calls for us to be "waiting at His doorposts." What a wonderful picture that this is. The doorposts referred to the opening of the house. This speaks of two things. First it speaks of intimacy - of a relationship where we can talk about everything in life. God tells fathers to talk to their children in this way. He wants us to speak to our kids when we get up and go to sleep each day. He wants us to talk to them about Him when we go out and come in. He also wants us to write on our very doorposts the Word of God - so that is what we see when we go out and come in. This is every day life - and the wonderful blessing of having a friend with whom we can talk when we are going through our day.
The second thing this points to is redemption. We wait for God at the doorposts of our house. This was the place where every year the Jewish family would put blood for the Passover. This blood was left on the doorposts overnight. Over time the obedient Jewish family would wind up with permanent blood stains on their door frame. But oh what a wonderful picture this is of how we wait for God. Wisdom reminds us that we are God's people. We are bought with a price - and we are redeemed. When we wait for Him here - we experience intimacy - but we also are reminded that we are intimate because we are redeemed.
Wisdom calls us to walk with and know God. This is done in every area of our lives. It is in the big stuff - and in the little stuff. It is in the huge decisions that will direct our lives - but it is also in the little decisions that set the daily course of where we will walk today. The thing wisdom asks of us is that we listen. That does not mean being able to quote Bible verses by rote - but not really know what they mean. Listening means coming before God and hearing Him with a bent to know His heart. When we do that - we will see that this is the true way to a deep abiding happiness that will last throughout a lifetime.
"I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, to endow those who love me with wealth, That I may fill their treasuries. Proverbs 8:20-21
What is the way to wealth in this world? Today many would see that wealth and earthly riches are attainable by any means possible. People do very ungodly things in order to get rich. Yet from what we see here in today's proverb, wisdom says that she wants to give wealth to those who walk in righteousness and justice. So which way is it? The world's way or wisdom's way?
First of all we read in this passage that wisdom walks in a righteous path. The words used here indicate that wisdom always walks this way. This is the very lifestyle of wisdom - to embrace and to walk in righteousness. Therefore we can rightly assume that those who receive the wealth that wisdom endows also walk in this way. Second, we read that wisdom also walks in the middle of the path of justice. The idea here is not that wisdom is trying to walk in the middle - meaning that wisdom sees the path of justice as a tightrope - and that walking wise is a difficult path to follow because it involves walking with a balance. The idea is that there is the road of justice - and wisdom drives right down the middle of it. Wisdom does not hug to one side or the other of the road, trying to live as close to the edge as possible. Instead, wisdom drives right down the middle - choosing the right way every time.
Wisdom walks in this way so that she can offer to men true wealth. When wisdom says this to us, we need to see that she says that she wants to endow those who love her with wealth. The picture painted though is not that our eyes are on the wealth. Our eyes are fixed on wisdom. It is not money we love - it is wisdom. The wealth that she gives us is simply an offshoot of living for her. This is emphasized even further by the next statement made here - "that I may fill their treasuries." For those fixated on wealth and money - they see money as the goal. For those whose hearts are right - they see that wisdom herself is filling their treasuries. The wealth is wisdom and her ways - wisdom and her paths - wisdom and the ability to walk and choose rightly and justly.
Will wisdom gives us money? There are times when this is true - when making a wise choice will help us immediately in the bottom line of our finances. But there are other times when the right and just choice will negatively affect our immediate bottom line. No matter which one it is - the man who truly walks in wisdom and seeks her and her ways is not fixated on his bank account. He longs for wisdom herself. He desires for the wisdom of God to fill the treasuries of his heart and mind all his days. This is the promise of wisdom - not a greed-motivated desire for a fat wallet, but rather a love-motivated desire for the fullness of the mind of Christ as we make every decision of life.
The wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor. Proverbs 3:35
Proverbs is all about the difference between the wise man and the fool. It is one of the major themes throughout this book. Therefore it should not be too suprising to see at the close of chapter three that we have a comparison between the wise and the foolish. The comparison that we see shown to us is what these two are receiving for their choices. The wise man receives honor - while the fool gets dishonor. What is most interesting though is how these two ends are described for us.
The wise man is said to "inherit" honor. The Hebrew word "nahal" which is used here means to take property as a permanent possession. This was the word that was used to describe how Israel was to receive the promised land. The whole idea of inheritance also brings into focus that there is going to have to be a death for us to receive what God gives us. This points us to the sacrifices that were made when the Mosaic covenant was established. There was no covenant without blood - and without death. But for us the death is not ours - but the death of the sacrifice made on our behalf. Throughout the Old Testament that was the death and sacrifice of the animals upon which they had laid their hands and confessed their sin. But this was just a picture of what was to come. It was a picture of Jesus Christ who would take sin upon Himself and pay the full price for it. As a result, we would be able to inherit salvation - and honor from God. Truly, as the passage says, the WISE will inherit this honor. This reminds us that the ultimate wisdom from God, as stated in 1 Corinthians 1:21-24
is Jesus Christ as Him crucified. "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to
know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." The wise turn to Jesus - who is the wisdom of God unto us - as well as our righteousness and our redemption.
The fool though is said to "display" dishonor. Here is a wonderful illustration of not just truth - but even of salvation and how we can know that we are saved. The wise inherits honor, but the fool displays his dishonor. Here we have a picture of the fool. Since he has no wisdom by which he can be honored in God's sight - all he has left is to live out his days displaying the dishonorable way that he lives. He shows forth what is in his heart - which is sin and dishonor. He has no work of grace going on inside of him - which is part and parcel of why he lives the way that he does. The lack of grace - the lack of salvation - the lack of wisdom - all will be disaplyed daily in a lifestyle that greives God. Dishonor will be given to God in how he lives because he is lost. So what we see throughout his life is not grace working to show honor - but foolishness and sin revealing dishonor.
What do people see in us? What are we revealing or displaying to the world around us. If we were burnt in a fire - we would display the effects of the fire in our bodies for the rest of our lives. If we worked out 3 hours a day - there would be a display in our muscles of the fact that we have done this. What we see in the physical is also true in the spiritual realm as well. When we live by God's wisdom - or better said IF we live by God's wisdom - it WILL be seen in our lives. We will display an honorable life. If we are NOT displaying an honorable life, we should not lie and tell people we are living by His wisdom. IF we are being a fool - and living by the principles of the world - we will display dishonor in our lifestyle. If we are living in a way that dishonors the Lord - it is proof that we are living by foolish principles.
There are many who ask the question, "How can I know that I am saved?" They may ask, "How can I know that I am doing God's will?" They want some kind of definitive thing that they can do once and say they know that they are saved. Yet God's Word tells us in a myriad of ways that the proof is in the lifestyle. This does not mean that we are saved by works - because God's Word is clear that it is only by grace we are saved. But . . . if there are no works - no change - no godliness - no living for God's glory and honor . . . we can honestly say that there is probably no salvation. If there is a continued lifestyle that displays dishonor to God - and dishonor towards His Word - dishonor when it comes to a righteous life - then we can know that we are living as a fool - and honestly - we don't know God through the grace He has given us in Jesus Christ.