For the past few months I’ve been hiding Proverbs 1-4 in my heart. It’s been a slow go, but that’s ok. However long it takes, it’s always beneficial to hide the Word in our hearts. And if it takes longer than expected, that just gives me more time to chew and meditate on the truths contained in it. Memorizing Proverbs is a different kind of challenge compared to the Psalms or the epistles of Paul but I’m enjoying it.
One thing that strikes me in these first four chapters is the unrelenting call to pursue wisdom. It’s everywhere and it seems to be overkill. But I’m learning that anything that’s repeated in the Scripture is there because we are hard headed and stubborn people who are always prone to forgetting and need a constant reminder like a wayward toddler who constantly drifts toward the busy street.
Right now I’m working on the fourth chapter and I want to highlight both the positive and the negative commands as it regards the pursuit of wisdom.
Hear, be attentive, let your heart hold fast, keep, get, get, love, get, get, prize, embrace, hear, accept, keep hold, guard, be attentive, incline, keep, keep, look forward, let your gaze be straight, ponder.
If I’m not mistaken, that’s 22 positive commands urging us to go after wisdom, to make it a priority to seek the Lord’s instruction. I’ve always chuckled at verse 7 and its ‘Captain Obvious’ tone: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom…” but I think this calls for some reflection on our part. What are we going hard after in this life? Think of the Nike motto, “Just Do It”. There’s no lack of energy being sunk into lots of other endeavors in this world, but who are those that go after wisdom with the kind of holy tenacity that Solomon commends?
Do not forsake, do not forget, do not turn away, do not forsake, do not let go, do not enter, do not walk, avoid, do not go, turn away, pass on, let them not escape, put away, put far from you, do not swerve, turn your foot away.
There are 16 negative commands here. Notably, in Proverbs 4:15, there are 4 admonitions when considering the path of the wicked: “Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” If you haven’t gotten the picture yet, verse 15 should act as a club over the head. Many of us think we can “handle” looking at certain things or watching certain kinds of entertainment. Proverbs 4:15 is like a bullhorn perched right next to our foolish ears: NO!
The Promise of Wisdom
We could stop here and allow ourselves to despair thinking that these calls to get wisdom are just too extreme. It’s too hard. But go back to chapter 2 and listen to the promise God gives to those who go after wisdom.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” Proverbs 2:1-8
Do you see these stunning promises? God is graciously waiting for us to seek his wisdom and his instruction and he will give it. And James agrees! “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
The Worth of Wisdom
These promises are great but if wisdom wasn’t worth seeking, we wouldn’t be motivated to get after it and be confident that the Lord would give it. So in chapter 3, Solomon offers these words:
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18
Do you see the repetition of the word blessed at the beginning and at the end of this passage? Wisdom is worth the work because happy is the one who finds it! There is guaranteed reward for those who pursue it.
In hiding these words in my heart, I’m seeing a subtle shift in my affections. It’s not so much a ‘do this, don’t do that’ mentality. It’s a shifting of my heart towards what is wise and good and a turning further away from what is evil and foolish. It’s like I can sense the grooves in my heart that run toward God and his ways getting deeper and the grooves sin has cut into my flesh becoming less worn. I desire to follow more on the path of the wise and as I observe the folly of this world and the folly in my own sinful heart, the value of the way of wisdom becomes clearer before my eyes.
So let’s get after wisdom. Let’s ask the Lord constantly for it. Let’s pursue it with that holy tenacity. It is worth it.