Tyler David teaches on wisdom in a person using Proverbs 8:10-31
Series: The Pursuit of Wisdom
In the Scriptures you have different genres of literature. One is wisdom. The books that make up the wisdom literature are the Psalms, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, some say James, and Proverbs. But Proverbs is distinct and is known as the Book of Wisdom.
Wisdom is something we seldom think about. We don’t think about wisdom in terms of God’s Word, or our lives, or how He relates to us. When we think about these things we think about morality and what we should and should not do, what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. As essential and important as that is, morality for the large part is very unhelpful for the majority of the circumstances we face.
Our lives are filled with conundrums, stress, and anxiety. Most of the time in our decision making it’s not an issue of morality, but rather wisdom. I doubt any of you have had prolonged seasons where you have wrestled with the question of whether you should kill a person, or steal, or commit adultery. You know the answer and the Bible is clear about it. No.
The questions that consume our thinking are not about morality, but about wisdom. We stress over questions like where should I live? Should I date this person? How should I raise my child? Should I take this job or that job? Should I move or stay? Should I invest in that? Morality is not that helpful in circumstances like these. These decisions can affect your life dramatically. You make the wrong decision and the outcomes could be disastrous. What we need is wisdom.
We need to understand there’s a way God made the world to work best.
Back in the day before I was dating my wife, I was really insecure with the women I dated. I was the classic, clingy guy. So on my first date with Lauren, I was trying to play it cool and keep the insecurity down. I took her out to lunch then that night we reconnected and watched a movie. It went amazing. But at the very end I revealed I lacked wisdom. Lauren told me how interested she was in dating me. I was feeling too comfortable and got attached too quickly. At the end of the date, I was about to leave, and I looked at her and said, “I really like you.” You hear that and think it’s not that bad. But I guarantee you, my eyes said, “Please never leave me!” My wife responded the way God knew I needed her to. She said, “Okay.” I went into a spiral of insecurity, got awkward and said, “Ok, well, I’m going to go,” and I just left.
In that moment I didn’t need morality. I needed wisdom. I needed wisdom to tell me, “Hey, take it easy big fella, it’s the first date! Ease up.” I needed wisdom to tell me that in Proverbs we’re told that a fool always says what’s on their mind. I should have read Proverbs and had the wisdom of having a filter not to share exactly what’s on my mind.
For situations like these, where there isn’t a black and white, or right or wrong answer, we need wisdom.
But we don’t have this category in our thinking to look at the world. If we don’t understand how God and His Word relate to us in these situations we will either misuse the Bible or neglect it.
Some of us misuse the Bible by thinking God is going to give us a direct answer to every question we have somewhere in the Scriptures. We do the Bible Ouija Board method. We take the Bible, tell the Holy Spirit we trust Him, open it up, flip through the pages and land our finger on something. Then we say we have to do whatever it says. Or we take a verse completely out of context and begin to say it’s why God wants you to make a certain decision.
We do this, because we think the Bible will give us answers to everything and anything we need. We begin to say, “God told me to do x, y, or z,” but then that thing ends up being a very bad decision. Well, then who was wrong, God or you? We end up being let down, because what we thought was the best decision ended up being the worst decision.
Others of us totally neglect the Bible. You’ve tried looking for answers, but there’s nothing helpful. It doesn’t tell you what to do. So you give up and become a functional deist. In your mind, you can know God, go to church, and even interact with Him, but He has no real bearing for you in your daily life and decisions. In your mind, it’s almost inconceivable this spiritual God could help you with daily interactions, decisions, and circumstances.
If you don’t have the category of wisdom, we either misuse or neglect the Bible. Either way, we all stress out over decisions that are not clear in the Scriptures, we begin to over analyze and second-guess everything. We think there must be a secret hidden life God has for us, but we can only get it if we make all the best decisions. This is why God tells us in the Scriptures to pursue wisdom.
Wisdom won’t give you answers to every question, but it will give you clarity to every situation. It gives you discernment, an eye to see how things really are. You see how God made the world to work best. Wisdom begins to show you there are patterns God wove into creation and you begin to recognize them and His logic. You begin to see the patterns and gain clarity. Not every answer, but clarity.
Take my instruction instead of silver,and knowledge rather than choice gold,11 for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. 12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion…I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. 15 By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; 16 by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. 18 Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. 19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. Proverbs 8:10-12, 14-19 (ESV)
Wisdom is personified and it speaking to us, telling us that it’s more valuable than everything else we could gain in this life. It’s more valuable than money, power, and relationships, because these things will be taken from you. At some point, you’ll find the limit of these things. You could have all the money in the world, but it can’t help you deal with the death of a loved one or help you sort through your own emotional trauma, stress, and anxiety.
Wisdom can be with you all the time; it can’t be taken from you ever. Wisdom will give you insight, discernment, and strength in every circumstance. But if you’re going to possess wisdom, you need to know more of what it is.
God made the world in wisdom. He wove it into creation with patterns and principles where things work best. God didn’t create a random, chaotic world. He created one with rhythm, harmony and pattern.
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. Proverbs 8:22-31 (ESV)
Before everything else was created, wisdom was there. God made the world through wisdom. God has mad the world with a sort of logic to it. There are particular patterns, actions, and ways that tend to lead to the same results.
You can see this with the physical world and natural laws. Take the Law of Aerodynamics. If you want to fly, you have to follow it. God has woven the logic of how flight works into creation. If you don’t follow the law of aerodynamics, you’re going to crash.
The same is true with our lives. There are particular actions, attitudes, rhythms, and disciplines that tend to lead to flourishing in your life, job, and relationships. Let’s quickly discuss two principles wisdom gives us that tend to lead to success.
First, wisdom says those who are successful typically have worked hard. God wove a pattern of logic into the world that says hard work tends to lead toward success.
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23 (ESV)
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Proverbs 13:4 (ESV)
Second, wisdom says if you consciously train your child in the way they should go, when they’re older, they will walk in it. If you teach what is good, right, true, and beautiful to your children, then over time, eventually they will walk in those truths.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
It’s crucial for you to understand there is a difference between the wisdom of God in Proverbs and the promises of God in the rest of the Scriptures.
The wisdom of God in Proverbs is distinct from His promises.
The promises God made through Christ are going to happen. At the end of Matthew 28 when Jesus was resurrected and looked at the disciples and said, “Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age,” is a promise. God’s love in Romans 8 that says, “Nothing in all of creation can separate us who are in Christ from the love of God in Christ Jesus,” is a promise. The forgiveness of sins in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” is a promise. It’s going to happen.
Promises are always true, all the time.
Wisdom is different.
Wisdom tells us what is generally true, but there will be exceptions. God made the world to work a particular way, but sin ruined this world, so now things don’t work the way they’re supposed to all the time. Now the fabric of creation is frayed and certain patterns stop not producing the results they’re supposed to.
Take hard work for example. Generally, hard work leads to success. But there are hard working people in this life who still struggle to be successful. Why? Because of discrimination, societal oppression, disability, lack of education, all sorts of things. You can be hard working in this life and still be unsuccessful.
Take parenting. Generally speaking, if you train a child in the way they should go, they’re not going to depart from it when they’re older. But, we know people in this room who had bad parents and yet are walking in the truth of the gospel. There are also parents who train their children the best way they could, but their kids still walk in destructive ways.
There are always exceptions.
Wisdom tells us what is generally true. It doesn’t give us all the answers. It doesn’t offer any guarantees. Wisdom is saying, “I want to know the patterns of this world and more closely align my life and decisions to them.”
As you read the Scriptures, God begins to show you these patterns. It becomes abundantly clear that knowing wisdom and having wisdom is more than just knowing Proverbs. You begin to find that in all the patterns and principles there is one particular pattern woven through out all of them. There is one logic that is in everything God has ever made, spoken, or done.
Wisdom is not about fundamentally memorizing a teaching or pithy statement; it’s about knowing a person.
The world works best when Jesus Christ is at the center of it.
God made everything to revolve around Him. The wisdom of God is personified and embodied in Jesus Christ. All wisdom is found in Him. 1 Corinthians says, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,” (1 Cor. 1:30, ESV).
Jesus is wisdom. He doesn’t just teach us wisdom. He is wisdom.
That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 (ESV)
You can never have the wisdom you need for all the circumstances in your life if you don’t know Jesus. He is the wisdom of God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)
For all the statements Proverbs gives you, Proverbs says itself that wisdom starts by knowing God rightly, fearing Him properly and revering Him as He should be. Then wisdom flows down.
The way you know God rightly is through Jesus.
It’s counterintuitive, but you don’t gain wisdom by analyzing your situation over and over. You gain wisdom by starting to analyze who God is over and over. That’s where clarity begins to happen. But we reverse it and tend to analyze and stress over our situation and go to God later.
Fear of God, knowing and respecting Him, is the beginning of all wisdom.
You’re thinking you know this. You know you need to have Jesus, and to know Him, but you’re just looking for an answer. You just need to know what to do. We find ourselves in these grey areas of life where we could take two different jobs, or serve in various places and you just want to know what to do.
What we really want is a book that tells us the answer to everything.
Instead, God gives us a book about a person.
In those times of decisions making, if we had to choose between a book with all the answers or a book about God, I think most of us would choose the answer book. That is the foolishness that rests in all of us. We want to get what we want without having to interact with God. We want His wisdom, but we don’t want to talk to or worship Him.
We have this natural aversion to intimacy with God. We push Him away to figure out the information. But when we push God away, we’re pushing wisdom away.
We have to know Him first, before we understand wisdom, because this is the only way we’ll ever be satisfied and happy. You could know the right answer to every predicament and still be left wanting. You have longings burned into you that no amount of practical information can fix. These are longings God placed in you.
If I look at our society, we have how-to manuals for everything. How-to shop. How-to eat. How-to have sex. How-to do this or that. Yet, people are not any more confident they’re doing the right thing. People don’t seem less stressed or anxious.
You can know every answer and still be left wanting.
You’re not made for a how-to manual. You’re made for a relationship with God.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 (ESV)
Eternal life is not a how-to plan; it’s a relationship. Knowing God is what you’re ultimately after. It’s in this relationship where wisdom begins to flow into all of your life. God takes our blinders off and we begin to see the world as He sees it. We think once we know God He’ll tell us everything we need to know and won’t ever be left in another conundrum. But God doesn’t promise to give us all the answers. He promises to give us satisfied hearts that are less worried about having all the answers.
Seeking wisdom always starts with seeking God.
There are a few practical things we can do to start pursuing wisdom in our relationship with God.
Read your Bible as often as you can.
The Bible is God’s authoritative testimony to what the world is like. When you read the Bible, you’re putting on the glasses of God, viewing the world the way He sees it. Like any new prescription, it takes a while to adjust to it. At first, the Bible can be disorienting, but after you adjust it by reading it consistently, it begins to show you how things actually are.
Wisdom is seeing the patterns of God as He’s weaving them into the world. The Bible is our prescription to see those patterns. Over time, the things that were difficult to you begin to be clearer and simpler.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (ESV)
As the Word of God transforms your mind, as you adjust to the prescription of God and see the world as He does, you’re able to test and discern your circumstances and decisions.
Pray for wisdom.
Wisdom is not static information. You can have two almost identical situations, yet wisdom may prompt you to act very differently in each one. Every circumstance is unique. Every new challenge brings new nuances. The only person who has all the information is God. So we have to humble ourselves and ask Him for wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)
Understand that getting wisdom is a slow process.
You and I want to microwave everything in our lives. We want quick and immediate results. We have to realize gaining wisdom is a slow and steady process. Those who get wisdom pursue it consistently in Christ over time. The pathway to wisdom is not one big leap, but rather ten thousand small steps.
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. Proverbs 8:34 (ESV)
When the wisdom of God is speaking Jesus is speaking. He is the wisdom of God. Wisdom is speaking and saying, “Come and get to know me. Come follow me everyday of your life.”
We are going to make unwise decisions and foolish choices. But when you know Jesus and interact with Him, it makes up for all the unwise things you’ve done. He brings the satisfaction that overwhelms all of them. His promise is that even your foolish decisions He will use for good (Romans 8:28).
May we be a people less concerned with knowing the answer to everything, and who seek wisdom in the person of Jesus, trusting He’ll give us what we need. Even when we’re unsure and things are unclear, let us remember we still have promises to cling to. Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of knowledge, promises He will be with us to the end of the age. He’ll never leave us nor forsake us.