Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29
When a man works hard he honors God in what he is doing. But there is also another way to honor God in your work. The man who becomes very skilled in what he does and does it to the glor of God truly honors the Lord. According to today's proverb the Lord will not be the only one honoring him either.
A question is asked as we begin this proverb. The question is this, "Do you see a man skilled in his work?" Skilled is the word "mahiyr" which means to be well-versed, to show extraordinary expertise in some area. One who has a skill of this level is said to be one who is referred toglowingly by anyone blessed by it. Ezra was such an expert in the Word of God as referred to in Ezra 7:6 - and the Messiah is spoken of glowingly as one who is skilled or an expert in righteousness in Isaiah 16:5. These two cases have to do with the things of God - but there are also experts in a field of endeavor that are a blessing as well. Such was the case with two wonderfully blessed men who helped in building the tabernacle of Moses. Bezalel and Oholiab were the two men God had gifted in all kinds of metal and embroidery work. They were skilled with jewels and with building the glorious things that God required for the Tabernacle. Their skills, which were relatively unknown, were brought to the forefront by God Himself for use in constructing the Tabernacle in Exodus 31 and 36. Their skill, developed over years of hard work and a drive for excellence landed them a job working for God Almighty, building the very tent of worship in which God would be properly sought.
Being skilled at something requires work and focus. These are things that are valued in the kingdom of God. God desires for us to work hard - and here we see also to work with skill and excellence. God mentions the excellence of those who worshipped Him specifically mentioning men like Chenniniah and Asaph. There were even men who served God with excellence doing things we might never notice - such as Obed Edom who was known for his care for the Ark of the Covenant and later an excellence as a door keeper in the house of the Lord. Finally, there were the mighty men of David listed in 2 Samuel 23 who were known for their leadership and bravery in fighting the battles of the Lord.
When a man has developed skill and excellence above all others we are told that he will serve before kings and important officials. Such a skilled man will not serve or stand before ordinary men. His skills will make a way for him - and he will be known widely. In a day where too many look to knowing the right people to get ahead - or a big break to suddenly be noticed, this is a welcome call to hard work and excellence. It is a reminder that time and time again men and women have distinguished themselves by being the very best at what they do. That is the way to true success in business or in some skilled profession. Any other way to make it to the top will leave the one gaining the position very vulnerable. His vulnerablility will be to those who actually have the skill to be where he is. When that is the case - the one who is there will resort to intrigue, betrayal, and many other kinds of wickedness to stay at the top. Better to let your skill talk for you - than to trust in your ability to be one step ahead of your competition. Because at the end of the day - or better said at the end of life - we will not get ahead that way. We will be known for our willingness to serve - and to serve with skill and excellence for the glory of God. That is the way to get ahead now - and even if you are unnoticed in this world - you'll be rewarded in the next.
Do not move the ancient boundary Which your fathers have set. Proverbs 22:28
This proverb is understood as one speaking about real estate and how land is treated. At least this is language which is used. The "ancient boundary" referred to markers, usually rather large stone markers that were set in place by the previous generation - by which the boundaries of the land were marked. Those who do surveying today do the same thing - except they use deep metal spikes driven into the ground as the markers. All land surveying is done from these markers to make sure that land that is sold and transferred is done legally. So on the surface level this passage is saying that God is against illegal land transactions where one party tries to cheat another out of land by moving the ancient boundary marker to their advantage. But there is more to this proverb than what we see on the surface - there is a principle that is very important for us grasp - especially in light of our ever-changing culture.
There are physical boundaries - and there are social and spiritual boundaries. There are things which our forefathers gave us as a nation - and things which our spiritual forefathers gave us in the church. The question in an ever-changing society is this. When is it right to change things - altering with the times - and when are we dealing with the ancient boundaries that our fathers set for us? Even more important for us in the church there is the question of when is something an enduring spiritual truth - and when is it something a tradition arising out of denominational preference?
First of all, I am not sure that anyone can know all boundaries perfectly. Nations and especially churches are in conflict about such things on a regular basis. What is tradition that is the ancient boundaries - and what tradition is . . . well, just tradition? When it comes to things like this, we need an authority in the matter - and it needs to be outside ourselves. It even needs to be outside of our fathers and forefathers. Therefore we turn to the Scriptures for guidance. The things that are immovable have to do with theology. We can NEVER change our theology. Things like the Deity of Christ - His virgin birth, death, burial, and resurrection can never be altered. Things like the person and nature of God - the Holy Spirit - the veracity of the Bible as God's self-revelation are all non-negotiables. Then we have the negotiable items. These are driven more by basic principles and preferences. One very controversial area in the church is music and ministry styles. There are basic principles of sharing the gospel. The gospel must remain pure - but the style in which we share it will morph as society changes. Wisdom says that there is merit in modernizing our style of ministry - how we share the gospel - ways we interact with people - but the truth of the gospel itself is never to be changed. Similar things exist in musical worship. The principle that God is worshipped and is the center of our thinking and focus cannot be changed. We sing to Him and He is the One on whom we focus in worship. Instruments in worship may change over time - even styles of music will alter over the years, but there is never to be a change in focus.
Traditions can be tricky things. Those who survey land know that it can be a tricky thing to do it properly. At Calvary Chapel we had a problem with survey work that was not done properly for us in a land transaction. The surveyor did not accurately read the set pin for our land. He just guessed at it - and as a result made what seemed at first a minor miscalculation in drawing a line for our land border. The problem became much more pronounced though as the line went out further. Eventually the line which ran for about 100 yards cut off an ever-increasing pie-shaped part of our land. What started out as a small error - got far worse as it widened out. The final result was a large corner of land and a large error - all because he ignored the set pin put down by the fathers. This can happen to us spiritually as well. It may seem like such a small thing - a small change that we are making. It may seem like we're only ignoring a small principle of the Scriptures at first. The problem is that as time progresses, ignoring the ancient set point of our fathers (which they set according to Scripture) will be far worse in the future. Such things won't happen if all we are doing is seting new traditions for a new generation of people. But ignoring Scripture - ignoring the ultimate Father and the boundaries He has set - will cause great harm in the end - and honestly - even in the meantime.
Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself. Proverbs 22:24-25
Having angry friends will eventually train you to be an angry man. That is the gist of today's proverb. The statement, "do not associate" speaks of friendship. It speaks of those with whom we have close relationships. We are to avoid thos who are "given to anger" - meaning those who give themselves over to their anger. They do not control their anger - their anger controls them. If we wonder what a man given to anger looks like, we receive a little better description of him immediately afterward. He is referred to as a "hot-tempered man." The Hebrew here is very descriptive - referring to this man as a "hot-headed" man. The picture is of the angry man who becomes red in the face as he blows his top. We've all seen that before and need no further description to know about what the Bible is speaking.
The reason why we are not to have a friend who has serious anger problems is because of the principle of friendship. Here is the old west version of this principle Those we hang with may be the reason we are being hanged. In modern terms this principle is simply this. We will learn the behavior of our friends. The Bible puts it this way, "Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33) Therefore if we become close friends with a red-faced man - we will eventually be like him. We will learn his ways. The end of this is even more problematic. We will, through this situation, find a snare for ourselves.
The snare mentioned here is that we ourselves will become a "red-faced man." The anger that is in our close associate - will begin to manifest itself in our lives. Just a few days ago I was listening to a message by pastor Ken Graves and he made a devastatingly true comment about those who say that they have an "anger problem." Pastor Graves stated, "You don't have an anger problem, you have a self-love problem." That is a crushing thing to grasp when God first reveals it to you. Of course, this is only true because we pamper ourselves and justify our anger. We don't like it when people treat us badly - because we love ourselves so dearly. People should realize that we are worthy of far better treatment. If they just knew how truly awesome we are - like we know ourselves to be awesome - they'd treat us much better. Therefore we are justified in our anger - because a truly awesome person is being wronged! There, dear brothers, is the snare. The snare is not anger itself - but the self-love that perpetuates it.
God commands us to be angry - but not sin - and not to let the sun go down on our anger. There are truly righteous reasons to be angry (and none of them involve a love of self). Jesus was angry when He cleansed the temple courts. His anger was a righteous indignation that His Father's glory was being denigrated by making the place of worship and prayer a den of thieves. But other times Jesus was insulted, called terrible names, and even beaten and crucified - and did not react angrily. Maybe we should associate with Him and learn His ways? The Word tells us that if we take His yoke upon us and learn of His ways - we will find peace for our souls. God's promise is that as we behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord - we will be changed into that same image from glory to glory. Our character will truly reflect the glory of Jesus temperment. We will be changed from "red-faced" men to being "glory-faced' men.
Do not be among those who give pledges, Among those who become guarantors for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take your bed from under you? Proverbs 22:26-27
Here is a proverb dealing with debt. And the debt spoken of here is actually not your own debt - but signing to assume the debt of others. Here it is called giving a pledge or becoming a guarantor for another debt. This is something the Scriptures are against in every situation. We are told numerous times to not become a guarantor for another person's debt. The reason for this is simple - when we do we put everything we have at risk.
The way that this is brought home to us by Solomon is to state what happens when the debt is no longer paid by the one we vouched for when we signed on as a guarantor. If they do not pay the debt - or make the payment - guess where they are coming to "legally" get their money? You got it - they are coming for you. And they have a legal right to whatever they have to take in order to pay that debt. In extreme situations this could even involve losing your home.
Why should he take your bed from under you? That is the question that is asked here - and it is the fact of your guarantor-ship. No matter what it costs, the people who hold the loan that you guaranteed will be able to take it from you. What is presented here is a worst case scenario. Here the banker comes and takes even the bed you are lying on from under you. In our society, where finance has been perverted by socialism and a government that attempts to have a system where no one fails, we think this is heartless and wrong. But the fact is that the person who co-signed for the loan did so under no durress and under no threat of force. They did a very stupid thing in guaranteeing another person's debts. Therefore when that person does not follow through - legally and completely in the moral right - the person who holds the loan has every right to recover their money. This is the case whether they get it from the person who took out the loan - or the unwise one who co-signed it.
Whether we realize it or not - we are being co-opted into co-signing for the foolishness of our government in this current age of socialistic decision making. Every time our government decides to go further into a debt that they cannot pay - giving away money that they do not have - we the people are on the hook for what they are doing. As I said, they are co-opting us into defacto guarantor status for the public debt. They do so through the tax structure that will be imposed to pay for the piper one day. They also do so through the way the Fed is allowed to print money with nothing other than the future collective worth of our nation to back it.
I need to say something that will sound like prophecy - and yet it really is not. There is coming a day, soon, where we will have to pay for the foolishness of our legislators (and this sin is rampant in both parties). When that day comes we will suddenly realize that by being co-opted into being a guarantor for the public debt - we are going to have the very bed we sleep on taken out from under us. This is not so much a prophecy as it is a principle of Scripture. We've ingored this princple for too long not to pay the price for it in the end. Sixteen trillion dollars for which we are guarantor is no longer something we can ignore. Unfortunately the day is fast approaching - we need to prepare for it and be ready for the day of our financial reckoning. God have mercy on our souls - and on our nation.
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the LORD will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them. Proverbs 22:22-23
How does God feel about the poor and the afflicted? What kind of safeguard does God have against those who would treat these people with disregard? How does God protect these two groups from being expolited by the unscrupulous actions of others? That is what today's proverb is about.
This proverb begins with a warning against robbing the poor or crushing the afflicted at the gate. The gate was the place where financial transactions took place in Israel. It was the "Wall Street" of their society. Because this is where the "movers and shakers" of their culture would meet to transact major business, it was also the place God commanded that the poor and the afflicted be given honest and fair treatment.
The Lord warns against robbing from them and afflicting them. The word rob is the Hebrew word "gazal" which means to take something by force or to seize something from another because they cannot resist. Here God is protecting the poor and afflicted because they would not have the kind of business savvy or representation to protect themselves. The poor are those who a low or small in matters of importance in society. The word for poor is used to describe the lame, those who were defeated in a military engagement, or someone who is so weak that they are languishing before others. They cannot rise up to defend themsleves in the gate. They can barely care for themselves. Thus they are easy prey to those who want to abuse and steal.
The Lord also warns against crushing the affllicted. The afflicted are those suffering in a state of poverty, oppression, or misery. They are in serious want - and biblically are those whose only hope is in the deliverance and grace of God. They are easy pickings for the ungodly and unprincipled. To crush them is to beat them down and oppress them. Again, their sad state of affairs makes them unable to stop those who would use their power and position to take advantage of their poverty.
The warning God gives those with power and authority in the gate is to refrain from treating these people badly. But if someone at the gate would proceed in acting unjustly, we have a picture that should cause us to shrink back in terror. God says that He Himself will plead their cause. The poor and afflicted have no representation - or do they? God said that He would be their representative. He would "plead their case. This word "plead" is a legal term. It means that God Himself will rise up and argue their lawsuit. The word is "riyb" and it means to strive and contend in a lawsuit or legal case.
Imagine someone among the poor and afflicted - trying to muster up enough strength to stand in the gate and argue their case. They have no ability to do this - and some in the crowd would even begin to laugh as they haltingly began their defense. Yet, as they stood humiliated in that setting suddenly a noise would be heard - a mighty rushing of wind from heaven - and all present would begin to tremble as the mighty presence of God descended into the area of the gate. The Lord, manifesting Himself as a mighty angel, suddenly appears at the proceeding. All shrink back from His glory and majesty - as they realize that God Himself has come to argue the cause of the afflicted and needy one. The prosecutor falls on his face and becomes speechless in the presence of God. Then God proceeds to take up the case of this one so frail and helpless. But God not only pleads their case with a passion and wisdom that causes all to fall silent. He also does something that terrifies everyone in the court-setting of the gate. Proverbs 22:23
tells us that God will "take the life of those who rob them." The phrase "take the life," is literally in the Hebrew "rob the soul." God promises to rob the soul of those who would rob the poor and afflicted. Our scene now resumes with God finishing His arguments and brilliantly defending the poor and afflicted in the gate. Then He turns to the one who so arrogantly thought he could rob the poor and crush the afflicted. He reaches out a hand toward this one and tears his soul from his body. Robbed of his very soul, the arrogant one falls lifeless to the ground. All gasp in horror as they watch this fool careen toward the ground with a thud. His lifeless, soul-less body now a monument to God's judgment upon those who would abuse the poor.
This is what God promises to those who abuse the poor and afflicted ones. This is what He says will come to those who live their lives for the sordid gain they can gather from the weakest among us. Some may read this and mock, saying that they've seen the wealthy and powerful do this many times without retribution from God, but know this - their day is coming. This proverb is a promise from God - so you can know that one day it is going to happen. May you be ready by being one who loves and is gracious and compassionate towards the poor.
To make you know the certainty of the words of truth That you may correctly answer him who sent you? Proverbs 22:21
Why does a wise man teach his student or his son wisdom? Why does he call him to listen and apply himself to gaining a knowledge of how to live? Why does he call his pupil to trust in he Lord and to learn how to put that trust to use in very practical ways? Why does he write to him of the wonderful Words of God - words that are filled with glorious counsel and knowledge that will last a lifetime? We've been looking at verses 17-21 for the past several days - and learning from this call to God's wisdom. Today we come to the final verse of this call and in it we find the reason this teacher/father has called his student/son to pursue and seek after God's wisdom.
"To make you know the certainty of the words of truth." It really does not get much more plain that this does it? The teacher is pointing the student to God's Word and wisdom because he wants him to know the truth. Even more than this - he wants him to know that the truth is true. I know that this sounds a little strange to us - but the literal translation of this phrase is this, "to make you know the truth of the words of truth." The idea here is that first of all there is an ultimate truth. There is an absolute truth upon which we can base our lives and our moral choices. The world today does not believe this. They believe that all truth is relative - and that we make our own truth. This is the same lie Satan used in the garden, and the same lie that Romans chapter one says God reveals His wrath against. In a nutshell it is the belief that we are gods - and therefore we make our own truth relative to what we (the god of ourselves - and our ultimate deception of self-worship) want for ourselves.
The book of Proverbs (and indeed the entire Bible) militates agaisnt that view with the strongest prejudice possible. God is ths author of truth - and He has revealed Himself through the Word of God, the Bible. We know truth - if we know the Bible. Remember that the teacher here is urging the student to know wisdom - the knowledge and understanding that comes from seeing the world as God sees it. When we read His Word we KNOW the truth. But when we learn to think according to His wisdom - to reason, to consider and discern things by His Word - then we will know not just the truth itself, but also the certainty of it - the truth that the truth is the truth.
Please stay with me until I finish this argument. We not only need to know Scripture - but we also need to know how to reason by it and defend it. Do not misunderstand what I am saying - God's Word IS the truth. But as we walk through this world filled with its deceptions and lies - we are going to need to be certain of the truth. We WILL face opposition to our beliefs from the world that is around us. I live in the college town and know from dealing with students who have had professors attempt to destroy their faith that there is a need to be able to defend the truth in your mind - and at times - openly to others. This will not come by reading a little devotional each day - and having a few moments of prayer at meals. This comes by speanding time thinking, considering, and learning to reason and discern as God's Word directs. It means knowing God - spending time with Him in intimate fellowship so that you can know the conterfeits and lies that will seek to draw you away from Him. The teacher/father knows this - and that is why he is calling his student/son to know wisdom. For when he knows wisdom and has a functioning worldview that operates according to God's wisdom - he will know the certainty of the Word of God.
The second reason he makes this call is given in the last half of this verse. "That you may correctly answer him who sent you?" The Hebrew here can honestly go one of two ways - as this is a little difficult to translate. Yet either way is very helpful to us. One way to translate this is that we are correctly answering the one who has sent us out. What this is promoting is accountability. We are sent out by God - or by an authority who is under Him - and in the end we will have to give an answer. The word "correctly" here gives the idea of returning truth to someone. Thus, as we are sent out to live a godly life, we are going to be accountable for the truth that has been given to us. Godly wisdom is crucial to this responsibility. We can return the truth we have been given - which basically would mean that we give an account of how we have lived by God's truth in life - and in making moral and spiritual choices. Knowing wisdom will mean being faithful to God - and therefore doing well as we are accountable to Him or to those He has placed over us to lead and guide us.
The other way this second phrase could be understood is in the context of living in the world - and giving an account for our faith. Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 3:14-16
when he says, ". . . and do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being
ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame." We need to be ready to answer those who "send for us," or who basically call for us to answer their questions about our faith, about our Lord, and about why we live the way we do. This is somewhat of a call to know apologetics - or being able to share the reason you believe. Wisdom will give this to you. You may answer with truth the questions that are posed about your relationship with God.
We are called to know wisdom - to know God's wisdom. This is a call to be able to think, consider, discern, and reason according to what God says in His revelation of Himself - in the Word of God. As we heed this call God will instruct us and help us gain wisdom. And as we learn to apply this wisdom in a way that will help us build a godly, Christ-centered, Bible-based worldview and way of living - we will find that we become very confident of our faith - of the truth itself. One of the things our world desperately needs is beleivers who know what they believe, why they believe it, and Whom their belief helps them to know. May we be among those who not just hear the call to God's wisdom - but who realize we need it - heed it - and are blessed because of it.
Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge, Proverbs 22:20
God's call to wisdom is a call to consider and live by excellent things - to live a life of the highest order. Some would call living for God a life that is boring and mundane. Nothing could be further from the truth. The one who considers the things of God and lives accordingly is one who sees the most excellent course - one that is spoken of in the highest terms possible. To consider this is to deeply plumb the counsel and the knowledge of God Himself. Far from boring - this is the most glorious pursuit a man can give himself to on this earth!
The wise man begins by asserting to his pupil that in speaking of wisdom, he is speaking of something of the highest order of all. He speaks of writing to his pupil "excellent things." This is an interesting term, because it speaks of something associated with the number three. When referring to a a measure of something it usually refers to a large measure of a substance. It is used in music of an instrument with 3 of something on it - such as a lute. But when used in contexts other that this it refers to a high-ranking officer (who was called the third man in a chariot) or something that is of a very high worth. What is being communicated though is that what the wise man has given his student is the most excellent thing he could give him.
This is a thought we should explore for a moment. Every parent wants to give the best things to their child. Unfortunately for most parents this means things they can buy and things that require money. But what the wise man is saying to his student - and what every father should say to his children is that what is most valuable you can receive without cost. The gospel is the most valuable thing we can give our chidlren and our students. Nothing can compare with it! We should give them the gospel - and give it to them within the context of teaching and training them in the Word of God. That is what is what is worth more than silver, gold, rubies, and diamonds! But is that the way we present the Word of God to our children - to our students - to others? No wonder they consider the things of God boring - we treat them like an ugly step-sister, rather than like a treasure that is worth searching a lifetime to find! But that is how this teacher refers to the material (the Word of God and the wisdom of God in it) that he has presented to his student.
He speaks of counsels and knowledge next. The Word counsels is "moetsah" which means a plan, a purpose, and in some contexts it infers intrigue and mystery. The teacher says that the things of God are His eternal plans and purposes. It does speak of how God desires for us to live every day, but there is so much more. It speaks of what God is ultimately after in this world - and it ushers us into the very counsel of God Himself. This will be good for every day decisions - but it will also thrill and astound us as we see the eternal mind of God working out His own eternal purposes and plans. When Paul saw this in the book of Romans - he exclaimed in ecstasy, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD , OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be
the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36
, NASB) So infinitely far from boring, this is the stuff that thrills our hearts and makes our minds swoon at the very consideration of such grand things.
He also speaks of knowledge. This is the Hebrew word "daath" which communicates to us that this was a technical and specific knowledge. It spoke of knwoing by experience, relationship, or encounter. This was the word used by Balaam in describing that God had revealed Himself to him in a vision. His response was astonished wonder and amazement. So as this teacher speaks to his student - he speaks of the awe-inspiring knowledge of God that comes as we truly know and experience him. Once again we say that this is far from boring. It is the knowledge of the Divine Himself. It is a thrilling thing.
Let me ask a very serious question after looking at this proverb. Do you look at the Word of God and find yourself lost in wonder, awe, and praise? Do you see the Word and find yourself astounded by the glorious counsels and knowledge that it offers to you as the Holy Spirit takes you as His pupil and teaches you? What the teacher does here is to make his students stand back in utter astonishment at the joy of having the Word and the Wisdom of God available to them. He brings them to the point of panting after God and His wisdom - like a dog would pant for water on a fiercely hot day. He shows them the living water - but only after pouring salt on their tongues. He points them to a knowledge and an understanding that would make any sage jealous. Yet all he is doing is sharing the truth about God's Word with them. He is doing so with the hope that his students will long for it - and will desire to know it as he has in his lifetime. Oh may God give us such teachers - men who will whet our appetite for spiritual things and make us literally long for more every time we open God's Word!
So that your trust may be in the LORD, I have taught you today, even you. Proverbs 22:19
The reason we need to heed the call to wisdom is because by living a life according to God's wisdom - we will be led to trust in the Lord in all that we do. Seeing life from God's perspective will inevitably lead us to a point where we trust His worldview rather than any other one that is put before us. This is what the father is seeking to teach his son. It is what the wise man is seeking to teach those who lack wisdom. They are trying to make it clear that God's ways are infinitely superior to those of man. They are attempting to show the young and the old that there is a radical difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God.
Trusting in God means having a confidence in Him. It means standing firm in the principles we see taught in Scripture - even when many others are turning to worldly principles. From what we've already seen in this section of verses - this is a far better way to live - one that is pleasant and good. But ultimately to live this way we will also have to be able to speak this way - even at times defending the way that we live to those who think it is foolish and stupid. This is why the father has taken the time to call his son to apply his heart to wisdom and knowledge. It is why he is trying to get his son to think and to reason according to what God says in His Word. It is why he is so adamant in getting his son to meditate and ponder the truth of God deep in his thoughts.
The man teaching either this son, or the unlearned one in God's wisdom - is teaching in a very concrete direction. When he tells his son that he has "taught" him each day - the word he uses means not just to impart information. He is teaching with a purpose. "Yada" is the Hebrew word he uses - and it means to know something. The knowledge though is not just information to pass a written test. It is to know so as to perceive, disciern, and eventually experience something. Thus this teaching is meant to bring his pupil to a point of experiencing God at work in his life. One of the things that this type of teaching moves toward is that people would consider what is said. This means they are doing far more than hearing and doing it. They are considering what is said - it makes them think and reason. They begin to perceive that God is at work in the world - and that He has specific wisdom for them which will teach them how to live in this world. They begin to discern things around them. They see that things are different - choices lead different directions - actions and attitudes lead to a way of living - a lifestyle. They see that God wants to meet them in their everyday experiences - that He is interested in ALL that they do.
God wants to move us from merely practicing a religion or holding religious views - to a life that considers God when they make decisions and live their lives. He wants us to see ALL of life in His way - which we will learn is the way of Life itself. He desires for us to see His way in the midst of all our choices - and to see His way as the very best way. Oh that we would teach our sons - teach those around us such wisdom. That we would call them to so much more than just a Sunday morning religion. We need to call them to see and experience God in all of life - all that they do - all that comes their way. This is the call to wisdom - in effect it is a call to know, love, and experience God in every day. May we not only heed such a call - but also learn wisdom so that we may call others as well.
For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, That they may be ready on your lips. Proverbs 22:18
How can wisdom help ensure that you have a pleasant life? That is what we have presented for us today as we continue to look at God's call to Wisdom. We are offered a promise by God here - that if we keep the words of wisdom within us - it will be pleasant for us. The word pleasant is the Hebrew word "naem" which means to be sweet, beautiful, comfortable, delightful, and enjoyable. So wisdom kept within us - wisdom that we gain by listening to wise men and women - wisdom that we let knock about in our heads as we think on what it is saying to us - and the understanding that comes through it - will make our lives pleasant.
This is not promising us that we will never have any problems - but it is saying that wisdom will make even problems and difficulties more pleasant because we will know God's direction and leadership in the midst of them. Note here that this is true if we "keep them within" us. This is saying that just a casual aquaintence with wisdom is not enough. We have taken the time to either memorize or extensively meditate on these godly principles. In fact we have thought about them enough that they are "ready on our lips." There is enough confidence in what we've learned that we are ready to speak of them - and that they have become principles "rooted" deep within us. This passage reminds us of God's promise to Joshua that says, "This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night - so that you may be careful to do all that is in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." (Joshua 1:8
, NASB) There is a blessing that will come to us - that will make our lives very pleasant if we will take to ourselves the Word of the Lord - keep it in our hearts and minds - and begin to do all that we do based on the wisdom that God grants us from His Word.
Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge; Proverbs 22:17
All throughout the book of Proverbs we have little sections devoted to calling people to wisdsom. Here is another one. From this verse all the way through verse 21 we are called to give ourselves to the "words of the wise" as we walk through life.
The call here is to hear what the wise are saying. Something that we should realize is that as we walk through life God is going to bless us with those who are wise. Unfortunately the cutlure of the west has turned from learning from the elderly - and thus has cut off from ourselves a wealth of wisdom and understanding in the process. There is much to learn from someone who has walked through life many years. If nothing else -we can learn from the fact that they've faced things we have not - and that they are failed at things and learned form their mistakes.
The call is to incline our ear and hear these words. This is in some ways a call to humility. We have to submit ourselves to their words if we are going to learn anything. If we think that we are the fountanhead of wisdom itself - we will be too arrogant and too apt to "lean on our own understanding" to listen to what someone else has to say. There is much to simply learning to shut one's own mouth and hear what others have to say. That is why God admonishes us through the book of James to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. The wise old saying goes that God gave us two ears but only one mouth. By this He is saying that we need to listen twice as much as talk. That one thought alone, if adhered to, would grant us a great deal of wisdom.
The thing though that the wise old sage offers to the youth is that not only should he listen, but he shoud also apply himself to understanding what he has heard. This is where a great deal of wisdom is gleaned. We not only listen, but then later we take the time to mull over what has been said with a view to truly understanding it and applying it to the various situations that we face in life. It is not enough just to listen - we must apply what we've heard as well. This application process happens as we also truly seek to grasp the very root truth of what we've heard. This means going to the level of the worldview that wisdom teaches us. That worldview is one of knowing and valuing to the utmost what God has to say to us. Wisdom is best defined as seeing things like God sees them. This means that we take what we've learned from God not just as information, but as a framework to understanding everything in the world around us. This is the way to wisdom - to see and to grasp things from God's perspective - and then to live as He would direct us.