Have you ever noticed that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters?
I’m not going to make the stretch saying that this, therefore, means we are supposed to always read a new Proverb every day of the month. However, whenever I find myself at a loss for what to study next, I usually go back to Proverbs – choosing the chapter that corresponds with that month’s calander day. As a result, I’ve easily read the book of Proverbs 15 times in my life.
Most people, whether they’re Jesus followers or not, have probably come across at least one verse from the book of Proverbs in their life – verses like “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” and “A friend loves at all times” are quite Instagram-worthy and look great on inspirational wall-décor.
The book of Proverbs, however, has a much deeper, filling purpose than just nice sayings or social media captions.
People have often asked me where a good place to start is when they want to spend more time reading their Bible routinely and my answer almost always is, “Friend, read Proverbs.” No matter where you are at in your walk – a new believer, a seasoned Christ-follower, or even just someone who wants to be more committed to walking with Christ, you will ALWAYS walk away from Proverbs with a refreshed and restored spirit. Promise.
That leads me to today’s post – “Born to be Wise”
It would take an entire book (or two…or twenty) to really unpack the wisdom of Solomon poured out in Proverbs. For the purpose of this post, I want to highlight some direct principles that we can glean from Proverbs:
We are called to be Wise
Proverbs 2:5 tells us that wisdom comes from God – and we learn from studying this book, that this only comes from God when we fear Him. When we recognize Him for who He is – the Almighty, Powerful, Soul-Awakening God of everything in existence, that is when we can begin to gain wisdom. We are called to be wise because we are called to know more of Who God is. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is calling to us, then we are called to know more of God. In a way, it’s cyclical thinking, that never gets us away from our deep need for God and our deep need to be wise. Why?
Because wisdom is the root of everything we need. Many times, Solomon relates the fear of the Lord to wisdom. (Proverbs 2:5) (Proverbs 1:7) (Proverbs 3:7) (these are just a few. Fear of the Lord and wisdom are linked all over this book)
Wisdom is Calling You
Over and over throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us that wisdom is readily available to us when we ask. Solomon uses the illustration of a woman – like a desperate mother – standing in the city streets, calling to the lost, to hear her teaching.
“Does wisdom not cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, Beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the city gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: ‘To you, o men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. O simple ones, understand prudence, and fools, be of an understanding heart. Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things.” ( Proverbs 8:1-6)
Wisdom, above all things – above riches, and power and love and land – is the most important gain we can have.
“My son, let them (Solomon’s teachings on wisdom) not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way and your foot will not stumble.” (Proverbs 3:21-23)
Why? We already know that the beginning of wisdom is a call to know God better. What more could we want? Excellent question. Let’s keep going.
Wisdom protects us:
“When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you.” (Proverbs 2:10)
“When you roam, they (the teachings of wisdom) will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you.” (Proverbs 6:22)
“When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
Wisdom gives counsel on our relationships:
We all have relationships – it’s a common fact that if you are a member of society, then congratulations, you have relationships. In this constantly-connected world we live in, it’s nearly impossible to be lonely. Whether its old relationships or new ones, we’re constantly assessing our connections with others. With so many people in the world, and so many different connections that we form, we need guidance on how to handle these relationships. In Proverbs, Solomon outlines what a healthy relationship looks like – perfectly describing the kind of friends that we should cling to and flee from.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
“As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9)
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy flatters.” (Proverbs 27:6)
Wisdom tells us to flee from what is evil – giving us the power to discern between righteousness and darkness.
I’m young. In fact, even when I’m in my forties, I think I’ll still feel young. We’re all born like naïve little Bambi’s, wobbling around on our new legs, just trying to figure out this crazy thing called life. Wisdom, however, calls us to look to God – the creator of life – to gain discernment and understanding. In our hearts, we think we know what’s right, but wisdom calls us to look beyond just accepting what *feels* right.
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives.” (Proverbs 21:2)
“Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight.” (Proverbs 15:21)
“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge but the mouths of fools feed on folly.” (Proverbs 15:14)
“A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.” (Proverbs 14:16)
Wisdom puts feet on our perspective on life
It’s so easy to lose perspective on life. I get worried about my grades (hey, college students!) and my financial perspectives (hey again, college students!) We get overwhelmed by all the things we need to get done. Our minds and hearts become consumed with our many, many responsibilities. Through wisdom, Solomon helps put all of that into perspective for us:
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better than gold.” (Proverbs 3:13-14)
“How much better it is to gain wisdom than gold, and the gaining of understanding should be chosen over silver.” (Proverbs 16:16)
“There are gold and plenty of jewels, but the lips of knowledge are precious gems.” (Proverbs 20:15)
Wisdom puts perspective on who we are
Along with getting weighed down with all of our responsibilities, we get weighed down by our identities. How many of us have reached a point where we thought “I really can only count on myself to have my own back”? How many of us wake up every day thinking that we have to constantly fight to keep our “status” (whatever it may be – social, relationship, economic) at a maintained level or higher? Solomon comes alongside us throughout the proverbs, reminding us – we are not the ultimate masters of our fate. Wisdom tells us not to keep our eyes on ourselves, but upward, on God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on YOUR own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and HE will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26)
“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
Wisdom invites us in. We are born to be wise. We are called to be wise. Wisdom keeps us, protects us, guides us. Wisdom puts into perspective everything we do and everything we are.
What are we waiting for?