Proverbs 30:1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:
Here we have an interesting verse in Proverbs. It is generally accepted that this person named Agur was an actual man - and that his students, Ithiel and Ucal were also real as well. Thus this is probably part of the collection of wisdom that Solomon had. He was probably greatly impressed by this collection of wise sayings and incorporated it into his own collection as well.
What do we know of these three men? Well, beyond the meaning of their names and this particular collection of sayings - nothing. Yet God used them to offer to us an entire chapter of Agur's wise sayings. In fact, Agur is called, "the oracle," which means that Solomon considered him a prophet - or at least a man inspired by God to put these sayings from Him into a list of sorts. Let's take a closer look at their names and what they mean.
Agur means collector or gatherer. This name probably designates that he was a collector of wise sayings - but the "son of Jakeh" refers to his father. Jakeh means to be on one's guard - and this particularly before God Himself. Thus the idea here is that of piety - guarding ourselves before God - and guarding others so that they walk in godliness. Thus, when we grasp Agur's full name - he would be considered to be the gatherer, the son of the man who guarded piety - who desired to walk in holiness and purity before God. If a name meant anything - and in Hebrew culture it did - then this was quite a man God used to collect these sayings from God and then declare them as an oracle from God Himself.
Not only did this man offer these wise sayings as much needed wisdom - he took the time to state them to others. Ithiel and Ucal were Agur's students. Ithiel means, "with me is God" while Ucal means "to eat or to devour." These are quite the names of his students. Evidently his students wanted the presence of God in their lives - and also had a hunger for the things of God. At least this is what their parents hoped and desired for them when they named their children.
We come back to this verse - apart from trying to gain information from the names themselves and see a very important principle of discipleship here. At face value, we have a situation where a godly man - even a prophet or oracle of God is taking two others under his wing for the purpose of declaring to them the things God has made known to him. This is the heart of true discipleship. Life on life ministry is so important. It is not enough to just try to read the Bible - we so desperately need for godly men to pour their lives into younger men and pass wisdom to them. Jesus did it with 12 - Paul did it with Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Epaphroditus and others. If we are wise, we will do it too.
The other thing we learn is that this kind of discipleship only happens as godly men take the time to spend a life gathering wisdom from God for the purpose of living a godly, holy, God-glorifying life. That means a life devoted to reading, studying, and knowing the Word of God. This means other things that waste our time need to be set aside for the Word. In our day we have young men who are experts at video games - who spend countless hours playing them. They will not be wise. There are others who waste countless hours watching television - and in our current culture - who use Netflix to watch entire seasons of shows for days at a time. They too will not become wise. A choice has to be made to become an Agur, an Ithiel, or a Ucal. The choice has to do with time - with what is eternal - and with whether we desire to be worldly-wise - or Word-wise.
A sated man loathes honey, But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet. Proverbs 27:7
This proverb is about much more than just when a person likes and dislikes honey. It is about hunger - first physical hunger as the physical meaning suggests - but it is about much more than just physical hunger. It is about how we walk through life - about worldliness and about knowing and walking with God.
The physical picture painted for us is very clear. When a man is sated he loathes honey. To be sated means that you are stuffed. This is like when you have eaten too much at a meal and you are miserable. It wouldn't matter what someone offered you - you would not want any part of it. This is why the man loathes something as sweet and enjoyable as honey. He is too stuffed with food to enjoy anything. The opposite is also true though. A famished man considers any bitter thing sweet. The famished man is truly hungry. He has not eaten all day long - and as a result he is ready to eat anything. Even something which others might consider bitter is sweet to him. He will take it up and eat it grateful for anything to help him with his hunger.
Beyond the physical picture shown to us are great spiritual truths for us to glean. A man sated with the world will look at the Word of God and loathe it. He is filled up with the daintes of the world and as a result has little or no spiritual hunger. 1 John tells us that everything in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life comes not from the Father, but from the world. When we fill our hearts and souls with whatever our eyes desire, whatever our flesh demands, and with a heaping helping of boasting in this life - we will not have any desire for the Word, which is sweeter than the honey or the honey comb. The glories of God and what He has in store for us seem like nothing when we are glutted with worldliness and selfish pursuits. This is why it is so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He is so filled with what "this world" has to offer - that often he has no room left for the things of God. We need to see the danger of feasting on the world, the flesh, and the fast food of the devil. When we do - we will despise and loathe the things of our Lord.
Then there is the famished man. The man who knows that the things of this world and this life are temporary. They are fleeting pleasures - what the Bible calls lying desires. They lie to us because they constantly promise fulfillment - but in the end they do not satisfy. They don't provide contentment - they do just the opposite. They eye is never filled with seeing - the flesh is never satisfied with food - and when we set our sights on wealth and riches, they take flight and soar to the heavens, always just a little beyond our ever grasping hands. Knowing these things - he seeks God for his "daily" bread - and asks not for riches. He knows that often the man with them forgets his God. Thus he wants something more. He has heard of this One Whose Spirit within is like a spring that rises up to heaven and salvation itself. He has heard of One Whose bread of life actually fills. He seeks the One Who offers rivers of living water - not a river outside of himself - but one that God puts within that overflows out of him to bless others. He is a famished man when it comes to worldliness and sin. He is a famished man when it comes to the religion of the eyes and flesh. He knows that boasting in this life provides him nothing in the end. Therefore he hungers and thirsts after God. He has heard from One that blessed is he that hungers and thirsts for righteousness, for he will be satisfied.
This hunger makes it to where any bitter thing is sweet to him. Where the worldling is constantly receiving but is never satisfied, this one receives everything from the hand of God - good and bad - and it all works together for good in his heart and life. Whereas the worldling ever complains that it is just not enough - the spiritually hungry one has eaten of contentment itself in the presence of God. Having his spirit filled to overflowing - he knows that all that God allows in his life (whether sweet or bitter) is working on his behalf. He even knows that the light and momentary discomforts, disappointments, disconcerting events - are working toward an eternal weight of glory that cannot be ascertained. God is at work in this famished man's heart - thus any way that God's providence and sovereignty designs his circumstances are going to be satisfying for eternity.
When you look at this proverb - and the truth that it represents - you come away with the paradox of God's work in this world. The filled go away hungry - while the hungry are deeply satisfied. The difference between seeking this world - and the world to come - is the difference between knowing contentment and fulfillment in hunger - or just walking through life empty even though you are sated with the world and all it offers. Truly, blessed are the poor and destitute in spirit - for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
What makes you feel safe and secure? What do you rely upon to make you confident about these things. Today in our look at Proverbs we will see how two types of people seek security and safety, but how only one of them will truly obtain it.
Our proverb tells us of a man who "trusts in his riches." The word for trust is the Hebrew word "batah" which means to not just trust, but to have a confident trust. This man feels secure and safe - without fear - as a result of his riches. He may have a bank account that is full - a set of stocks that are the best on the market in returns - plus a sure-fire business model that assures him of success in life for years and years to come. This is what makes him feel confident - his wealth. Here is the problem with this man. Scripture tells us that the one who trusts in his riches will fall. This word is a very frightening one. It means to fall down to a prostrate position. Here it has the idea of being overthrown. The overthrow described here is death. Regardless of what amount of money you have - and how secure that you think it is - your money will not survive your death. In Psalm 49:5-9 we read the following, "Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth And boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him— for the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever— that he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay."
The Psalmist here reminds us that no amount of money will be able to pay for a soul and the redemption it needs. The man who trusts in his wealth - who thinks that the abundance of his riches will rescue him from death and from the punishment due for his sins - is in for a tremendous amount of disappointment. The day will come when he will stand on the same footing as any other human being - and have to give an account for his sin. If anything, the fact that he has wealth and riches will make his judgment even more stringent. Jesus said that to whom much is given - much will be required. The man who trusted in his riches rather than trusting in Jesus Christ - will end up in the lake of fire for all eternity.
The righteous are contrasted with this unwise rich man. In fact we are told that the righteous man will flourish like a green leaf. This is the man who realized that there is no amount of money that could ever pay for redemption. His desire to please God and to honor Him will make this man do everything in his power to obey God. He does not look for a righteousness based on money - or even on his own good works. He knows that the man who will flourish in this life and stand in the next is the man who has been justified (made righteous) by faith. Thus his life is not spend trying to earn God's favor and love - he knows that such things have already been purchased by the blood of Christ. His desire is rather to listen to God - walk in fellowship with Him - and - out of that fellowship enjoy spiritual growth. This is why he will flourish like the green leaf. He is not trusting in growing himself. He trusts in a God who blesses him first with righteousness to stand in His presence - and then trusts Him to lead him in the way that will glorify God in all that he does.
What are you trusting to make you secure? If you think your security depends on how much money you have here in this life - or how great your wealth and insurance coverage is - you will lose everything. If instead you see that there is only really one security issue, you will do well. If you grasp that the clear and present danger is the wrath of God for sin - you will choose the way that will make you stand righteous in that day - and that righteousness only comes through the gospel - and the gift of it by God in response to repentance and faith in those who believe on Jesus.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life. Proverbs 6:23
Today we are going to cover an amazing proverb that applies to every area and every aspect of life itself. Here, like in the gospel, we are told of "the way of life." Unlike in the gospel, this "way of life" is not one that can redeem us from sin - but it can be used by the Holy Spirit to make us a lifetime learner - a disciple who knows how God works through His Word and through the way that it is taught to us by the Spirit. If there was ever a day to listen closely - today would be that day.
We are told of two things at the beginning of this proverb. We are told of the commandent and the teaching. These two things are compared to a lamp and to light. First we have the commandment. This is the same word that is used for God's 10 commandments. It refers to God's Law - and I believe beyond the Old Testament it can be applied to the inspired Word of God anywhere in the Old or New Testaments. We are told here that the commandment is a lamp. A lamp is something that can emit light if used properly. The lamp will always have the potential for light to come from it. It is something that holds light - and if lit it will radiate light. Interesting for us who understand the figures and types that are used for God's Holy Spirit, a lamp is filled with oil which is a type throughout the Old Testament for the Spirit and His work. When that oil is lit - the lamp produces light. In much the same way, the Word of God always has within it the teaching of the Holy Spirit - His leading and His instruction, warning, and rebuke. When we come to God's Word, the lamp, we have the wonderful working of the Spirit of God as He illumines the Scriptures for us. But before we think that simply reading or hearing the Word will always produce light, we need to remember that the commandment is a lamp. It can produce light - but it can also remain unlit and just be a lamp. There are those who misuse God's Word and no light comes forth. The devil himself quoted the Scriptures to Jesus - to try and get Him to sin. In that instance the lamp did not produce light - but it was abused to promote darkness. There are also professors even at semniaries who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. The teaching they do promotes darkness. This means that we cannot make a blanket statement that when the Bible is taught or read that it always results in light.
The second statement made here is that the teaching is light. First off we need to note here that we are not reading that the teaching is the light. "THE" light is reserved for references to Jesus Christ Himself - God - and amazingly enough, us when we are manifesting God's character to others. Here we read that the teaching is light. The word for teaching here is the Hebrew word "torah." Here torah means instruction or direction. In the Old Testament the word mean instruction in a general manner from God Himself. The idea here is that the command is the lamp - and when the Spirit or a Spirit-inspired teacher is instructing from it - the lamp becomes light - or begins to illumine with light. This is so important for us to grasp because it is the very way that God will instruct and teach us. We come to the Word, but we covet that when we do the Holy Spirit instructs us as we read and as we meditate upon what the Word says. Do not misunderstand me to say that the Bible becomes the Word as it is taught. That is false doctrine. The Bible is always the inspired Word of God that gives us the revelation of God. It is just that we are blind to it without the instruction of the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts and spirits so that we can receive what God says. That is why I think it is important to consciously ask the Spirit of God to teach us when we come to the Word of God.
There is one other thing this passage teaches us about the functioning of the Word in our lives. Today there are many who teach that the major reason for God's Word is that we can "confess who we are" in a positive way. There is a potential problem with this doctrinal view. We can get to the point where we only receive "positive" messages about ourselves from God's Word - and not conviction of sin. When we read this passage though, it seems that we are learning something contrary to the positive confession doctrine.
"And reproofs for discipline are the way of life." When we read this we have to come to the conclusion that a large part of what the Word of God is going to do is reprove us. It is probably at least one fourth of what it does because we read in 2 Timothy 3:16 that the Word of God is profitable for reproof. Actually the 2 Timothy passage says not just reproof, but also correction as well. The Word of God comes to us often to reprove and correct us. One of God's complaints against the false prophets is that they would whitewash Israel's sin. They would constantly talk about blessing without helping Israel and Judah to see that they had sinned against the Lord. It does not matter how many "positive" confessions you make to yourself, God, and others - if you have unconfessed sin in your life - God will not bless you. And since we are fallen creatures who live in a fallen world - we need for God to reveal to us that when we are acting "fallen!" If you read Romans 7 - you do not come away with the thought that Paul just needed to be more positive. He was wrestling with very real sin - and a very real fleshly, sinful nature that could not be defeated except through Jesus Christ. That is why we need desperately to see that we need to be reproved and disciplined by God to become all that God desires for us to be in Christ. Without that reproof and correction, we will not know from what we need to turn.
The way of life is through being disciplined by God - and that involves the Lord reproving us for our sin. When we come to His Word - His commandments - He is going to reveal to us how we have sinned against Him. He does not do this because He hates us. Contrary to that thought, He does it because He loves us! He desires for us to share in His holiness (Hebrews 12) - and that means He wants us to share in His life.
Wisdom is coming to God's Word in the right way each day. It means that we approach the Lord each day being open to what He wants to teach us. As we do this we also open ourselves to His Spirit to reveal to us that we may have sinned - or we may be lacking godly character - or a good attitude toward an authority. There are any number of ways that God might speak to our hearts and help us to abandon sin - and embrace His holiness. Regardless of what specifics are involved, God desires to bring blessing into our lives through this process. Remember - the reproofs and discipline are the way of life! He is bringing you life when He does these things. Be wise therefore and receive what He is saying each day - whether it is encouragement, exhortation, teaching, or reproof. They are all in his arsenal of blessing to conform you to the image of His Son and change you to be a better vessel for the blessing of not just yourself - but everyone around you.
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. Proverbs 3:13
Happy is the man who finds the wisdom of God. That is what our proverb says today. But the happiness spoken of here is no mere good mood - it is a happiness rooted in spiritual things - in knowing God Himself.
The word "blessed" here is the Hebrew word "eser" and it means to be in a state of bliss. This word is almost exclusively used in a poetic context and is usually used in an exclamation. "Oh the blessedness!" would be the normal expression using this word. This word is used several times to speak of the joy and blessedness - indeed the bliss enjoyed by someone who has a relationship with God. Here though, the word is referring to one who finds the wisdom of God. Even more so, the blessing refers to one who not only gathers wisdom from God - but who can use it to discern. He gains understanding from God's wisdom entering his life.
When we find wisdom, we learn to turn from the worldly ways of this present life and seek out God's answers for things. We come to see life from the perspective of God. What God thinks and what God wants becomes paramount in our lives. Oh, what a blessing comes when we finally turn from our own selfish thinking and learn to look at things His way. We turn from the insanity of a self-driven life to a life guided and led by a loving God who knows what is best in every situation.
When we gain understanding we are even more blessed. This is the ability to discern - to distinguish between things that differ. We can know the difference between our will and God's will. We know what is right and what is wrong. We can discern between two or three different options which one is God's will. In a world where we have to make hundereds of decisions each day - that is a wonderful gift.
If you have found wisdom - and are gaining understanding - don't take it for granted. It is a rare thing for a man to have wisdom come into his life. It is an act of God's grace and mercy. For this you should fall to your knees and thank God for such a fantastic gift!
A righteous man who walks in his integrity— How blessed are his sons after him. Proverbs 20:7
What is it that will bless our sons while we are live - and more importantly after we die? Some thing that leaving them a huge inheritance of money, stock, and real estate would be the best thing. Actually, Proverbs says that an inheritance quickly gained will be lost in the end. So what is it that will bless our sons now and far into the future?
Solomon tells us that the best thing we can do for our sons is to be a righteous man who walks in integrity. The first thing we see here is that this father is a "righteous man." This means that he does what is right in the sight of the Lord. He lives in a way that honors and glorifies God. It also means that this father has looked to Jesus Christ for salvation - since that is the only way we can truly be a righteous man - by grace through faith. But this father also is one who lives in integrity. The word integrity here is the Hebrew word, "tamam" which means to walk in a completeness and moral innocence. This man walks through life in complete obedience to God as well as complete submission to what God's Word instructs him to do. He also walks in a moral innocence that comes from desiring holiness and spiritual maturity in his life. The last way that this word is used is to speak of someone who walks in simplicity. When I read this I am reminded of Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians that he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He desired for them to walk, "in simplicity and devotion to Jesus." This would wonderfully describe the kind of integrity that the righteous father would want his children (especially his sons) to see in his life - an integrity of devotion to Jesus Christ - simple devotion to Him.
When a father walks in this way - how blessed are his sons after him. They may not have riches. They may not have huge estates and vacation homes. They may not have all the things that this world says a man shoul have to be successful. But what they do have is something very rare. Possibly more rare that diamonds and rubies. They will have a godly upbringing and a godly example from their father. This will bless them long after the toys and trinkets of this life are gone. They will be blessed in having the kind of rearing that will help them through the minefields of the world system. These minefields include the devil's traps in the areas of sexual immorality, impurity, evil desires, and greed. It will help them navigate through the shoals and hidden reefs of youth and the dangerous coastal rocky shorelines of mid-life crisis. They will have watched a godly father navigate these dangers successfully - thus leaving them a legacy of godliness. They will have mapped out for their sons the course that will lead them safely to the harbors of heaven. They will know to close their ears to the siren songs of their flesh and the world - and to sail with their eyes fixed on the Word of God. They will run their race with their eyes fixed on Jesus - and on the example their fathers were of a life centered in Him.
You can spend your life working to leave your sons a fortune. You can make sure that they are set for life when you die - at least in financial realms. The problem with such an inheritance is that without a godly compass these things can actually be more of a danger than a help. A son needs the blessing of a godly man who walks in his integrity. We say often that the things of God are more often caught than taught. How true this is in regard to teaching our sons how to walk with God. I do not discount teaching because it is absolutely necessary. But without a corresponding walk in integrity before the eyes of our boys, they may not get all they need to succeed at life. And regardless of how they fare in the business world - in the end they will need life, life eternal more than anything else. May we be wise fathers who not only teach them the things of God - but also walk in out as they look to see if we are only offering them precepts - rather than living principles.
Apply your heart to discipline And your ears to words of knowledge. Proverbs 23:12
This is a simple admonition here in Proverbs - and yet if we will look at it carefully, it will yield to us some very helpful information.
The first thing we see is that we are to apply our heart to discipline. The word "apply" here means, "to bring to" - thus what God is saying to us is that we need to bring our hearts to something. Here we read that what we bring our hearts to is discipline. The word discipline is "musar" which means to instruct with discipline. It refers most often to the discipline given by a father - both by word and by the rod.
It is very easy when discipline is applied to us for us to not allow it to reach the heart. We may hear the words - and receive the correction - but we do not bring our hearts to it. True correction and discipline is for the heart - not the bottom. It might be applied to the rear end with the rod - but the aim in these things needs to be directly to the heart. Those who protest the use of the rod see the issue being striking a child - and they see it as evil in all circumstances. But the godly parent is not aiming for the rear end alone. They want to instruct with their discipline. They want their words and their use of the rod to affect the heart of the child. If you have their heart - in the end you will truly change their behavior. What Solomon is saying though, is for the one receiving the discipline. Apply your heart to what God is trying to teach you.
If you are like me - there are times when you bristle at discipline. It is not pleasant to have God apply the rod to us. It is not a delightful thing for us to be corrected and rebuked. But when God grants us discipline it is only for our best interests. We can be absolutely assured of this. Therefore we need to train ourselves to receive it joyfully - gratefully - and educationally. If we do, maybe we won't need a second dose of discipline to complete the job for us.
The second admonition here is that we also apply our ears to words of knowledge. Knowledge here refers to more than just head-learning. Solomon is telling us about a knowing of God and His ways. He refers to a working knowledge - a practical knowledge - intimate knowledge - knowledge that truly changes the way we act. The verb "apply" is assumed here - thus we are told to bring our ears to this knowledge that God is seeking to give us. It is more than just hearing it - it is concentrated listening. It is listening to learn and to apply it to one's life. This is key to us becoming wise.
If we will truly bring our hearts and ears to what God is seeking to communicate to us, we will be blessed greatly. God longs for us to be wise and to know and follow Him with all our hearts. These two practices - bringing our hearts to times of discipline - and bringing our ears to hear obediently what God says to us - will assure that we grow and personally experience all the godliness that God desires to give us when He works and speaks in our lives.
POSTSCRIPT: Recently, individuals have quoted articles from this section and stated that we teach child abuse at Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. To this I feel the need to respond. First, biblically, we are told that if we have a problem with our brother to go to our brother - not the internet - and confront our brother. To date, these individuals have yet to contact me to discuss these things. That should say volumes in itself.
Second, we do not teach child abuse at our fellowship. This blog is an endeavor to teach what is in the Bible for the edification and upbuilding of God's people. Anyone who has been to our fellowship knows that in our classrooms we administer NO physical discipline. We correct with words and with "time outs" and eventually with a report to parents. From our nursery throughout every age group our people are instructed NEVER to administer physical discipline. We believe this right alone belongs to a parent. Even then we teach the following about any application of physical discipline.
Discipline is about the heart of a child. Physical or corporal punishment is ONLY to be administered in a spirit of love for the child. Teaching and loving verbal correction is key - as is prayer for the child's eventual salvation in Jesus Christ. Any physical punishment administered due to anger or rage is out of line and wrong. The parent is to discipline the child with appropriate discipline - not abuse. In the end the child should be taught - and in every circumstance hugged, loved, and prayed with after any physical punishment to assure them of our love. The idea of a "beating" is completely out of step with what the Scriptures are teaching. Instead the idea of loving discipline is intended.
By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. Proverbs 16:6
Here is wisdom . . . He atones for iniquity by lovingkindness and truth. The Hebrew does not give the impression that any kind of lovingkindness and truth will do - it is His that does this - it is God's mercy and truth that grants us forgiveness of sin. Let's look at this - because imbedded in this verse is the gospel itself!
Lovingkindness is the Hebrew word for God's covenant love and mercy. This word speaks of God's grace - that He shows us mercy in keeping with His covenant with us - and with the fact that He has set His love upon us. Here is salvation described gloriously to us. God Himself has set His love upon us - and because of His mercy and what He has done to give us something we don't deserve - He has forgiven us all our sins.
What is even more wonderful about this verse is that God does not separate the work of His grace from the work of His truth. It is by both God's mercy and truth that iniquity is atoned for when God is working in us. He brings truth to us by the Spirit of God when the Word convicts us. He does this by bringing of all things the Law which convicts us of sin. Without this work of truth showing us our sin - we are unfit for mercy - for mercy presumes that we realize that we don't deserve anything but judgment from God. But when truth brings us to the end of ourselves and our godless ways - we come to grace and cry for God's mercy.
Once that work of grace happens by God's truth and mercy - we need something to keep us away from evil. Proverbs tells us that this work happens as we fear the Lord. When we properly reverence God - when we see Him as holy - we tremble over sin and over anything that would be rebellion against Him.
What a great verse instructing us how to walk with the Lord. We are taught of both salvation and sanctification - of grace and godly fear - of mercy and of fear. There is a balance to the things of God that too often is lacking. We all tend to lean more toward mercy or truth - and yet God's Word tells us that both are necessary. We want all grace or all fearing God. What we find is that God tells us that both must be present for us to grow in the Lord. May we have the wisdom to embrace both the work of grace and the work of the fear of God in our lives.
To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, Proverbs 1:2
Why should we study the book of Proverbs? What is there that we can learn from this book and these pithy little comments made by Solomon - many of which he learned at the feet of David while just a boy? That is what these first 6 verses in Proverbs one are going to tell us. There are very few books in the Bible that actually tell you why you should study and read them. Proverbs does this - telling you exactly what you will get if you read the pages that follow.
1) To Know Wisdom - Here is the first benefit of reading Proverbs. We will know wisdom. To know here means to learn and perceive - to discern and to be skillful. What a loaded word this is. There are two things happening here. The first is an acquiring of skill and general knowledge. This is done by reading, studying, and simply learning what Proverbs says. But there is a more sublte learning taking place as well. This is where we are discerning and perceiving things. To perceive and discern something requires the power of discrimination. We need to be able to tell the difference between things that differ.
We are to know wisdom. What is meant by wisdom? The word, as used in the Scriptures, means the ability to use knowledge rightly. It means using the knowledge God gives properly. Thus many biblical scholars refer to wisdom and seeing things from God's perspective. Some of this will require just learning what God says - and learning how God responds to things. But more of it will require taking what God says and applying it to our culture and every day lives. We then distinguish between what is in accordance with God's Word - and what is not. In the end, we learn wisdom! We know how to walk in this world in a way that pleases and honors God.
2) To Know Instruction - The second word used is instruction. This word means discipline. It refers in some places to the discpline given by a father to a son or daughter. This instruction may come as instruction alone - but some times it comes via the rod/correction. This kind of instruction brings life, wisdom, and the favor of God (see Proverbs 4:13; 8:33) The book of Proverbs will help us see things like God sees them (wisdom), but they will also correct and rebuke us. This is hard sometimes, but remember that this is done as a loving father would rebuke and correct. Thus, God's corrections are so we can receive life and wisdom - as well as to know the favor of God on our lives and the things we do.
3) To Discern the Sayings of Understanding - It is one thing to hear something - it is quite another to discern what is being said. Here is one of the wonderful benefits of studying the Proverbs of God. They give us "sayings of understanding." We love these sayings - and they are quoted a lot. But it is not enough to just be able to quote them - we need to grasp what they are saying to us - what they mean. We might hear the quaint old phrase, "A penny saved is a penny earned," but outside of thinking it is neat - we might not have a clue what this saying it teaching us. Even worse, we may have no idea how to apply it so that we become someone who knows the value of saving money. The reason to study Proverbs is so that they will not just sound spiritual - but that they will move us to spiritual action and lifestyles. According to one commentator, sayings of understanding are basically says calling us to righteous action. They encourage us to turn away from evil and embrace God's ways. We do this at first with simple obedience - but over time we discern more than just a call to do something. Proverbs answers the oft asked question of the two year old - WHY? At times God will tell us to obey - and what we need to do is obey immediately, but as we grow in wisdom, discipline, and discernment - we will find that we are getting the "why" of God's commandments more and more. At this point we are grasping the value of "discerning the sayings of understanding." We will be greatly blessed as we embrace obedience with a new depth of discernment and understanding. We will grasp the character of God behind the wisdom and instruction. We will become a proponent of obedience to God, not just from surrender and submission, but also from a sense of awe as we consider His infinite wisdom.
Study Proverbs - read about it and spend time learning and discerning as a result. You will find at first the blessing of God's ways and paths, but soon you will also marvel at the infinite wisdom and understanding behind each and every one of them.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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