Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wisdom's Moral Imperative

For whoever finds me [wisdom] finds life and receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 8:35).

Scholars often contrast the authority of the Law and prophets (“Thus says the LORD”) with the “sanctified common sense” of the proverbs (“It seems to me …”). Some even say that proverbs are suggestions which we are free to accept or reject (the grain of truth in this—that we need wisdom to know when and how to apply a proverb—does not disguise the lie).

Proverbs 8 includes both an emphatic statement of proverbial authority, and one of the great invitations of the Bible (8:32–36). Wisdom gives four reasons for her demand that we choose life by listening to her and keeping her ways.

(1) Wisdom alone teaches the truth. Her words are true, noble, and right, never wicked, crooked, or perverse (8:5–9). They are therefore absolutely trustworthy. In our day and age, what would we not give for advice that we could trust wholeheartedly (8:10–11)? Such trustworthy wisdom and advice too often lie neglected within our grasp in the Word of God.

(2) Wisdom gives better rewards than any other possible investment of time, effort, or energy: power, justice, riches, honor, wealth, and righteousness (8:12–21).

(3) Wisdom alone knows the secrets of creation, since, as the firstborn of all creation (8:22–24), she was there beside God as He worked (8:25–30a), and rejoiced in all that He made (8:30b-31). Who would not follow counsel based on a perfect understanding of life?

(4) Wisdom alone gives life. Do we want to live or to die (8:35–36)? Will we mold our lives by the wisdom of the proverbs, or will we disregard their instruction? This appeals to our self-interest as nothing else does—who wants to die?

Martin Luther allegedly said: “The greatest thing I can do for God is to believe Him.” If I truly believe that the best thing for my car is to change the oil every 3,000 miles, then I will change it every 3,000 miles. If I truly believe that “the purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters” (20:5), then I will ask God to help me not judge by surface appearances but to give me understanding to draw out the wisdom hidden in the heart.

God has saved us from death to life. If wisdom is indeed the way of life, then we have a moral obligation to live wisely—to fear the Lord—by obeying the counsel which He so freely and lovingly gives in the proverbs. Strive to take with you today one new point of wisdom from your study of Proverbs.