Wisdom: Introduction to Proverbs

Wisdom: Introduction to Proverbs

Note: In putting together a monthly devotional on the book of Proverbs, I will take one proverb from each chapter for all 31 chapters. For each proverb, I will supply different translations, with the hopes of allowing the Scripture to teach itself without my comments. I will also unpack any terms or words that need some definition to further the understanding of the proverb. Since Proverbs is a Wisdom book, I will begin by unpacking a Biblical view of wisdom.

Wisdom: Introduction to Proverbs.

Wisdom: the practical art of living skillfully (Peterson); moral understanding; astute discernment; shrewd insight; cleverly practicing the truth in daily life; learning to live as our Creator intended; a lifestyle of applying God’s revelation-knowledge to decision-making; “practical spirituality.”

Wisdom is the skill of developing heavenly street smarts. So we are not talking about our world’s mean streets. We mean Kingdom streets and godly smarts. In Luke 16:1-9 we find an interesting little story, the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. Surprisingly, the hero in this parable is a dishonest businessman. He used his wits to set up a clever scheme to get his job back. This manager was street smart and was in the end affirmed for his shrewd plan, even though it was dishonest. Jesus used this story to criticize His followers for not being clever or shrewd in matters pertaining to the Kingdom. They were not keeping their spiritual wits at the ready. They were not very clever in the ways of the Kingdom. Eugene Peterson writes about this in terms of “being on constant alert, looking for angles, using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, concentrating your attention on the bare essentials.”

Being wise is using your spiritual wits to be spiritually productive, to surviving successfully in the ways of the Kingdom. The RSV notes put it this way: “People of God ought to use their energies to further their spiritual welfare, just as dishonest people use their ingenuity to promote their material welfare.” That is wisdom… Applying God’s truths to daily life in a way that cleverly, shrewdly operate “on earth as it is heaven.” As Jesus told His disciples, “Be wise as snakes and innocent as doves.” Be cunning, shrewd, clever, and harmless. (Matthew 10:16).

Job knows wisdom when he sees it. He says wisdom is like a secret treasure buried by God. Wisdom is a sublime mystery, says Job, and only God knows where it dwells. In Job 28, he offers fascinating thoughts in praise of wisdom. He details man’s valiant efforts to mine for silver and gold, digging deep in the mountains for precious jewels. Then he asks a question… We spend all that energy and time and ingenuity to find so-called precious materials, but what about wisdom and understanding, which are far more valuable and the most precious of all? Despite our grandest efforts, Job says, we look for wisdom in vain, unless we start with God.

The prudent miner for wisdom starts by approaching the King of the mountain in reverence, devotion, and trust. Holy fear of the Lord opens the door to wisdom. We honor and adore the King, His presence transforms us, and we grow in wisdom as a result. We find that wisdom is taking root in the fertile ground of our worshipful relationship with God. And in our pursuit of wisdom, much after Job’s time, we find the Father pointing us to the Son Jesus Christ, “who has become for us wisdom from God.” (I Cor. 1:30). Go to Him, says the Father, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  (Colossians 2:3). You can’t be wise, says the King, without the Prince.

True wisdom is a gift from God. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” (James 1:5-6, NLT).

References: The following translations and versions of the Holy Bible were used in these meditations on Proverbs…

NKJ = New King James

TPT = The Passion Translation

NASB = New American Standard Bible

Tanakh = Jewish Publication Society translation of the Hebrew Bible

Message = Translation/Paraphrase by Eugene Peterson

NLT = New Living Translation

NJB = New Jerusalem Bible

AMP = Amplified Bible