The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost 2018: Wisdom
Our lesson today comes from the book of Proverbs chapter eight:
"The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord:"
Now the question arises Who is the person talking here? Some would say that it is Jesus Christ and other like St. Alphonsus would say that it is Mary. Because of time I will not go into the arguments. But if you look at verse 1 it answers the question: “Doth not wisdom cry aloud” (v. 1); and in verse 12, we read, “I wisdom dwell in counsel, and am present in learned thoughts.” through out the chapter you will see repeatedly first-person references like when it says my lips, or my mouth, etc.), therefore, the one speaking is first and foremost is wisdom personified. I will leave the theologians to hash out whether Jesus or Mary is the secondary speaker in this chapter.
So what is the definition of wisdom?
Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge. It is not enough to know something; we have to be able to put knowledge into action. Some wisdom seems like nonsense to us, painfully obvious but somehow elusive. Things that we take for granted and forget, children will remind us of and we say, “of course.” We adults think we are so wise but then out of the mouth of babes comes a wisdom that sounds foolish, but it isn’t. For example:
Patrick, age 10, said, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”
Michael, 14, said, “When your dad is mad and asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer him.” And Michael added, “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.”
Randy, aged 9, said, “Stay away from prunes.” One wonders how he got that bit of wisdom.
Kyoyo, age 9, said, “Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.” And Eileen, 8, said, “Never try to baptize a cat.”
My favorite bit of wisdom comes from a North Dakota Indian tribe: If you discover you are riding a dead horse...dismount.
The primary Hebrew word for wisdom is chokmah. It comes from a root word meaning “intelligent, prudent, cunning, clever; to teach, instruct.” Another Hebrew word translated wisdom is sekel. It comes from a root word meaning “to be circumspect; to act prudently, to prosper, to have success; to have expertise; to teach; to give insight, have comprehension.” and so when we read Proverbs 1:2 we see the first to stated purpose of Proverbs. It is To know wisdom,[chokmah]” and “ and instruction [sekel].”
The main Greek word for wisdom is sophia, which denotes practical skill the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions. God provides a description of wisdom [sophia] in James 3:17. “But the wisdom, that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation [which today we would use the word pretense].”
When wisdom is first mentioned in Scripture, it is in reference to the skillful making of things to benefit the work of God. For example, God instructed that wise men should make the priestly garments. “And thou shalt speak to all the wise of heart, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's vestments, in which he being consecrated may minister to me.” (Exodus 28:3).
Next, God chose wise men to construct various buildings for the work of God. The man God chose to build the tabernacle was filled with wisdom. “And I have filled him with the spirit of God, with wisdom and understanding, and knowledge in all manner of work. them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship...And I have given him for his companion Aholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. And I have put wisdom in the heart of every skillful man, that they may make all things which I have commanded thee,” (Exodus 31:3–6). The theme of building, in association with the wise, continues throughout Scripture. God gave Solomon great wisdom and understanding, and with it, Solomon built the Temple. In the Book of Proverbs, he stated, “Wisdom hath built herself a house.” (Proverbs 9:1). Again he explained, “By wisdom the house shall be built, and by prudence it shall be strengthened.” (Proverbs 24:3).
As a boy, Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature; He was a carpenter in His father’s shop. When He began His ministry, He used the analogy of a wise man building his house on a rock. Paul described his own ministry by comparing himself to a wise master builder. (See Matthew 7:24 and I Corinthians 3:10.) so the function of wisdom is to build up, but the result of foolishness is destruction. “A wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish will pull down with her hands that also which is built.” (Proverbs 14:1).
What Are Characteristics of a Wise Person?
• A wise person will love one who rebukes him. “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee” (Proverbs 9:8).
• The wise will consider the lessons of nature. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and learn wisdom” (Proverbs 6:6).
• A wise son delights the heart of his father. “A wise son maketh the father glad” (Proverbs 10:1).
• A wise person loves the law of God. “The wise of heart receiveth precepts” (Proverbs 10:8).
• A wise person controls his tongue. “He that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).
• A wise person wins others to Christ. “He that gaineth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
• A wise person listens to counsel and instruction. “he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsels.” (Proverbs 12:15). “A wise son heareth the doctrine [instruction] of his father” (Proverbs 13:1).
• A wise person makes friends with the wise. “He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise” (Proverbs 13:20).
• A wise person knows how to use information in the right way. “The tongue of the wise adorneth [or uses] knowledge [in the right way]: but the mouth of fools bubbleth out folly.” (Proverbs 15:2).
• A wise person will avoid conflicts with leaders. “The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it” (Proverbs 16:14).
• A wise person will learn how to give precise answers. “The heart of the wise shall instruct his mouth: and shall add grace to his lips.” (Proverbs 16:23).
• A wise person knows how to give good counsel. “The lips of the wise shall disperse knowledge: the heart of fools shall be unlike [the wise].” (Proverbs 15:7).
• A wise person will reform rebels. “A wise servant shall rule over foolish sons” (Proverbs 17:2).
Why Is Wisdom So Important?
In order to explain the superior value of wisdom, God compares it to the most precious things in life.
1. It is more valuable than gold— “For my fruit is better than gold and the precious stone, and my blossoms than choice silver.” (Proverbs 8:19).
2. It is more precious than jewels— “For wisdom is better than all the most precious things: and whatsoever may be desired cannot be compared to it.” (Proverbs 8:11).
3. It is more valuable than riches— “With me [wisdom] are riches and glory, glorious riches and justice.” (Proverbs 8:18).
4. It should be our first priority— “The beginning of wisdom [Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore] get wisdom, and with all thy possession purchase prudence.” (Proverbs 4:7).
How Do We Get Wisdom?
1.By asking God for it—“But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5).
2.By studying God’s Law—“And you shall observe, and fulfill them in practice. For this is your wisdom, and understanding in the sight of nations, that hearing all these precepts, they may say: Behold a wise and understanding people, a great nation.” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
3. By keeping God’s commandments with us—“Through thy commandment, thou hast made me wiser than my enemies: for it is ever with me.” (Psalm 119:98).
4. Through the fear of the Lord— “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is prudence.” (Proverbs 9:10).
5. By reading the Book of Proverbs—“The [proverbs] of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. To know wisdom, and instruction: To understand the words of prudence: and to receive the instruction of doctrine, justice, and judgment, and equity:” (Proverbs 1:1–3).
6. By God’s testimonies—“The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.” (Psalm 19:7).
7. By hearing instruction—“Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not” (Proverbs 8:33). “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:9).
8. By seeking it early—“I love them that love me: and they that [watch for me early] in the morning, shall find me.” (Proverbs 8:17).
9. By listening to rebukes—“Give an occasion to a wise man, and wisdom shall be added to him. Teach a just man, and he shall make haste to receive it.” (Proverbs 9:9).
10. By seeking wise counsel—“He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise” (Proverbs 13:20).
Lastly, How Wise Are You?
• Do you go to sleep with thoughts of God so that your reins can instruct you in the night seasons?
• Do you rise early in the morning to seek the wisdom of God? • Have you developed skills so that you can make things with excellence? • Do you love those who rebuke you?
• Do you study the world of nature for insights and analogies?
• Are your parents pleased with your character and your actions?
• Have you searched for rhemas from Scripture and meditated upon them?
• Is your heart filled with truth so that you can control your tongue?
• Are you skilled in winning others to Christ? • Do you seek the counsel of wise friends?
• Do you look for ways to apply the truths you have learned from God’s Word?
• Do you value wisdom more than silver and gold?
• Do you study the testimonies in Scripture for application to your own life? • Do you delight in the commandments of the Lord?
• Do you live in the reality that God is watching and evaluating everything you say and do?
Take your sheets home with you. Read over it, meditate on it, then ask yourself “how wise am I?” Is there any area that I need to do better in?