Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Praying for Wisdom (James 1)

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach" (James 1:5).

“This wonderful Book is indeed a mine of Divine wisdom,” Charles Bridges wrote of Proverbs. “The observation of human nature is minute and accurate. The rule of life and conduct is closely applied, to make ‘the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works’ (2 Tim. 3:16–17).”

We learned in our study of the Psalms last year that blessed is the man who follows God’s ways. The book of Proverbs brings those righteous ways into focus and gives practical instruction in how to live according to God’s law. Even though many may admit the divine authenticity of this book and acknowledge the wisdom contained therein, they still ask how they can study this book profitably, how can they feed their soul with its instruction. Bridges answers, “Begin with prayer—‘Cry—lift up thy voice.’ Then combine a pondering mind with a praying heart. Actively apply thyself to ‘seek and search for the hid treasures.’ The riches lie not on the surface. Only those, therefore, that dig into the bowels of the earth—not the readers, but ‘the searchers of the Scriptures’—are enriched (John 5:39). If the surface be barren, the mine beneath is inexhaustible. Indeed it is a wise discipline that has made an active spirit of meditation necessary to give solid and fruitful interest to this study, and to possess ourselves of a blessing, which carelessness or indolence will never realize.” Bridges also advises to keep your eye on other parts of Scripture as you study the Proverbs. 

The Proverbs are divided into three sections for easy understanding. The first part extends from the opening of the book to the end of the ninth chapter. While applicable to all ages, this section is chiefly confined to the conduct of early life and its manifold temptations and dangers. The second part begins with the tenth chapter where we find a number of individual proverbs, most likely written for those who are advancing from youth into adulthood. This section is designed to enforce moral principles in just a few words, so they can be easily acquired and remembered. The third part is constructed like the second and comprises the last seven chapters.

Take Bridges’ advice and pray to God for the desire to grow in wisdom and to search His Word for knowledge and depth of insight. Ask Him to reveal to you through these studies all the ways in which you are living like a foolish person. Ask Him to make you teachable and willing to make changes as you are instructed in the Proverbs.