The Path To Wisdom – Part 1

Does not wisdom call?  Does not understanding raise her voice? (Proverbs 8:1)

As promised, this week we are going to take another walk, this time down a street we will call Victory Lane.  Over the past few weeks we have discussed the perilous consequences of ignoring the voice of Wisdom;  now let’s look at the great rewards of heeding her voice.

We are going to park in Chapter 8 for a bit.  Over the next few weeks we will examine some of the many facets of wisdom and discover how wisdom and understanding will help us live a richer, more victorious and God honoring life.

In this part of our study we’re going to cover five aspects of the “call to wisdom”:

  • The pursuit
  • The preeminence
  • The presence
  • The pre-existence
  • The prediction

 

The pursuit of wisdom (verses 1-11)

Does not wisdom call?  Does not understanding raise her voice?  On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.  O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.  Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.  All the words of my mouth are Righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.  They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.  Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

Wisdom is a gift from God.  It is a gift He wants us to have; a gift He offers generously.   As evidence of that statement we go 1 Kings 3:5-12.

5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.

We see in this passage that the Lord came to Solomon and offered him a gift of his choosing (v5).  Do you think God was surprised by Solomon’s request?

Considering that God is omniscient, that He knows all things, the answer to that question would have to be “no“.

So, why did the Lord ask?  Why didn’t God just give Solomon the wisdom He wanted him to have?  Here is a thought.  Could it be that by giving Solomon the opportunity to make his request and then God’s fulfilling that request, God’s faithfulness was made evident?

True confession.  I sometimes struggle with prayer.  Sometimes I question why, since God already knows what’s in my mind and heart, do I need to pray at all?  When those kind of thoughts come, I have to remind myself, it’s not about me.  I have to remember, it is for HIS GLORY! HIS GREAT NAME!

For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:22)

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,  so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:10-11)

When we pursue the things of God, when we pray according to God’s perfect will, we can be certain that God will hear and answer.  Psalm 17:6 says – “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words”.  And in Psalm 37:4 we are told – Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Look again at 1 Kings 3, verses 10 and 12.  God didn’t just grant Solomon’s petition, God took pleasure in His son and God gave beyond that which Solomon asked.  Our God is an extravagant God!

In our Proverbs reading this week we have seen that the voice of God calls out to us.  We learn that His omnipresence is our fortress, His omniscience is our shield, and His omnipotence is our strength.

The value of God’s word cannot be measured by man for it is far beyond all human understanding; no man can comprehend the goodness of God.  As we put our trust in Christ and live in obedience to His great counsel, we will grow in knowledge and understanding; we will walk joyfully in the fear of the LORD.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  “For who has known the mind of the Lord,  or who has been his counselor?”  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)


THIS WEEK:

  1. Based on this week’s passage from Proverbs , what do we gain when we answer the call to wisdom? (verses 1-5)
  2. What are the 5 assurances we can have concerning the words of wisdom? (verses 6-9)
  3. In your own words, write a summary of the ultimate benefits of following wisdom’s instruction? (verses 10-11)
  4. Google the term “Godly Wisdom”.  From your search, choose 10 verses and note what each one teaches you about God.

READING FOR NEXT WEEK:

Proverbs 8:12-21.

 

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Summer Bible Study Offered

I am excited to be a part of Heart2Heart Ministry’s Summer Bible Study of “War Room”. This 5 week study, based on the movie of the same name, will focus on the powerful weapon of prayer.

Thanks to modern technology, anyone, anywhere can participate. The study is being offered on multiple days and times which means you can choose what works best for you.

This is a great opportunity to make some new friends while studying God’s Word. I hope you will join us.


Click here to enjoy a short clip from the movie War Room. 


Online study via ZOOM


Starting May 27th

Meeting each Wednesday Morning
11:00 AM-12:00 noon
Hosted by Sandra Smith


Starting May 29th

Meeting each Friday Afternoon
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
Hosted by Mikki Halbach


Starting June 1st

Meeting each Monday Evening
7:00 PM-8:00 PM
Host TBA

Visit Heart2Heart Women.Org if you would like more details about the study.

Two Paths – Part 1

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths

Before we begin, I need to say that this was not an easy lesson for me to write nor is it an easy lesson to receive.  But please know that it was composed from a heavy heart, with much thought and much prayer.

Throughout our study in Proverbs, we have seen that there are two opposing voices continuously at work in the heart of man: the voice of Wisdom and the voice of the fool.  Each voice will take us down a path; one path leads to joy and life, the other to suffering and destruction. It is our choice which voice and which path we will follow.

In our lesson from Proverbs, Chapters 5 and 7, we are going to look at the journey  and the resulting consequences we can expect from the choice we make.

These chapters deal directly with the sin of adultery.  In 1 Corinthians 6:13-18 Paul writes:

 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

While all sin is an offence against God, as we can see from Paul’s words, sexual sin is especially destructive to ones own body and soul and to others whose lives are affected by the adulterers sin. Solomon describes the ramifications of such sin in the final verses of Proverbs chapter 6.

He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.  He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.  For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.  He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.

As we consider the sin of adultery, maybe you’re saying “not me”.  But, the Bible tells us, in pretty strong terms, that there is another type of adultery – spiritual adultery.

Spiritual adultery can take several forms.

The sin of worldliness.  Jesus taught that “no man can serve two masters”. When we measure what’s right by what the world says rather than what God says, or when we compromise what we know to be truth for the sake of being accepted, isn’t that what we’re doing?

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5)

The sin of idolatry.  From His own words we know that God is a jealous God (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God Exodus 34:14)While we may not bow down before little images, we must be careful that we don’t let the things of this life become more important to us than the things of God. 

then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. (Ezekiel 6:9)

The sin of lust.  Jesus said: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery ’But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 

Our enemy, the devil, is cunning.  Peter warns us Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

And James tells us why it is critical to be watchful as he describes just how easily our desires can become the sin of lust.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)

Do you find that when life is going really good you tend to grow distant from God?  It seems that when the “highway of life” is smooth, we get the idea that we can manage just fine on our own. A dear friend gave me a wonderful coffee mug with this quote: “if you only pray when you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble”.  That is so true. When we think we’ve got it all together, that’s when we don’t and it is in those times that we can be most susceptible to temptations.  I love what Paul says in Romans 12:12: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

These chapters are so rich in wisdom that I couldn’t find a way to cover it all in one lesson.  Therefore, we will continue in these same next week.


THIS WEEK:

Have you known someone who was involved in the sin of adultery? (either as the adulterer or the victim of).  List the destructive results you witnessed as a result of that sin.

Review the sins of spiritual adultery discussed in this week’s lesson.  Are there any areas  in your life that you have never considered to be spiritual adultery but now recognize as such?

I made the point that sometimes we are more distant from God when things are going good for us.  Can you remember a time when that was your experience?  If so, try to recall the circumstances and what happened that brought you back into intimacy with God.

 

NEXT WEEK:

Your reading this week will be a little different.  Please read and meditate Proverbs 7 according to the reading plan below.

  • Day 1:  Verses 1-5
  • Day 2:  Verses 6-9
  • Day 3:  Verses 10-20
  • Day 4:  Verses 21-23
  • Day 5:  Verses 24-27

 

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THE FEAR OF THE LORD

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“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

I encourage you to write this verse on the note pad of your mind and be mindful of it with each lesson; everything else that we study hinges on this foundational truth. As we continue through our Proverbs study we will come back to this passage time and again.

Solomon tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. As I thought about the definitions for fear and whether our fear is to be one of terror or of awe and reverence, I realized, it should be both. For when we fully comprehend the inherent nature of the living God, how can we not stand in reverent terror, how can we not stand in awe?

To better understand why the verse is so important to our study, let’s review the key word definitions you were asked to look up in your study assignment last week. (From Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions.)

  • 1) Fear: (yir’âh). 1) fear, terror, fearing. 1a) fear, terror. 1b) awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear). 1c) fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety. 1d) revered.
  • Beginning: (rê’shı̂yth). 1) first, beginning, best, chief. 1a) beginning. 1b) first. 1c) chief. 1d) choice part.
  • Knowledge: (da‛ath) 1a) knowledge, perception, skill. 1b) discernment, understanding, wisdom.
  • Fools: (‘ĕvı̂yl). 1) be foolish, foolish. 1a) (substantive). 1a1) of one who despises wisdom. 1a2) of one who mocks when guilty. 1a3) of one who is quarrelsome. 1a4) of one who is licentious.
  • Wisdom: (chokmâh). 1a) skill (in war). 1b) wisdom (in administration). 1c) shrewdness, wisdom. 1d) wisdom, prudence (in religious affairs). 1e) wisdom (ethical and religious).
  • Instruction: (mûsâr). 1) discipline, chastening, correction. 1a) discipline, correction. 1b) chastening.

We don’t like to think about fearing God do we? We even try to reason it away by saying that fear doesn’t really mean “fear”.  After all, God is love, why would a loving God want us to fear Him?

Yes, it’s true. God IS love. But, God also is holy. And because He is holy, the Bible tells us, no one is able to stand in His presence.

Exodus 33:20. But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

1 Timothy 6:16. who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

Directly from God’s word, this is what we know about who God is; He is— 

Elohim – The Creator God (Genesis 1:1)

El Shaddai – The All Mighty God (Genesis 17:1)

El Roi – The All Seeing God (Genesis 16:13)

Elyon – The Most High God (Genesis 14:18)

YAHWEH – The “I AM” God (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58; Revelation 1:8)

There is a lot of uncertainty in our world right now and for many of us, uncertainty creates fear. While we are instructed to fear the LORD, we are told not to fear the things of this life. So often, we get it backwards don’t we?  We lose sight of the holiness and power of God and worry about the things of this life, and, in doing so, we allow those worries to become fears. Lest you think that the “Fear of The Lord” as just an Old Testament thing, notice what Jesus has to say in Matthew 10:28.

 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”


This week:

Look up the following passages and note what scripture teaches us– 

  • About God
  • About human fear

Isaiah 35:4

John 14:27

Joshua 1:9

Matthew 6:34

Isaiah 43:1

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 34:4

Psalm 27:1

Psalm 115:12

Psalm 118:6

Deuteronomy 31:6

Psalm 56:3-4

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 41:13

Isaiah 54:4

Matthew 10:28

Romans 8:15

Hebrews 13:5-6

1 John 4:18

Do you consider yourself as having the right perspective on the fear of The Lord? On earthly matters?

Are there human fears you struggle with?

Select at least one of the verses from the above list that you feel best addresses your fear(s) and make an effort to memorize it so you can recall it when are faced with fear.


Study Assignment for Next Week:

Reading for next week: Proverbs 1:8-19

WHY PROVERBS?

(1) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: (2) To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, (3) To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; (4) To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, (5) A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, (6) To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:1-6)


As we delve into our study of the book of Proverbs, it might be a good idea to pause and reflect on what it is that we are studying.

What is a Proverb? The Oxford dictionary defines it as “a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice”.

Strong’s defines it this way : “In some original sense of superiority in mental action; properly a pithy maxim, usually of a metaphorical nature; hence a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse): – byword, like, parable, proverb”.

I like Strong’s definition as it relates to the study of God’s word. It gives the sense that accepting and applying Proverbial instruction will lead to a superior thought pattern, i.e. Godly Wisdom leading to Godly living.

As we examine this week’s passage, we see that Solomon tells us exactly what his purpose is for writing and he gives us the benefits we can expect by following the advice given.

 

The Purpose (Verses 2-4)

To give instruction in wisdom so that one might gain:

    Discernment
    Understanding
  •  
  • If I was asked to point to one thing that I believe is lacking in our Christian circles today, it would be the lack of discernment and consequently, understanding. It is worrisome to me because it is not only lacking in young Christians but also in those who are, or should be mature in their faith.
  • We have at our fingertips so many resources today that I am afraid we have become somewhat lackadaisical in our study. Too often we rely on what some “expert” thinks, rather than taking the time to dig and discover for ourselves. I am not knocking biblical commentary, it is a useful tool for studying God’s word. I use it myself and am thankful for it.
  • Something that I learned early in my Christian walk: let scripture interpret scripture. I am concerned that we rely on commentary without first taking the time to search what God’s word has to say about itself. If we haven’t first studied the scriptures for ourselves, how can we know if the commentary (or any other extra-Biblical writings) we are trusting line up with the true meaning of God’s Word? [Let me say here that this caution also applies to Bible translations. There are some modern so called translations in which the writer has taken great liberty with the scriptures, giving personal interpretation rather than true translation from the original languages].
  • There are many resources for study starting with the cross references in your bible. One of the best resources, I would even say a “must have” is a good concordance. Another great tool is a bible dictionary. You can find all of these resources on line.
  • Another reason many of us are not growing in discernment and understanding is that we don’t seek the instruction of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 says “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”.

Now we come to the reason that developing discernment and understanding is so important. Solomon says that with discernment and understanding we will receive the instruction needed for wise behavior. In other words, how to live lives of righteousness, justice and equality.

  • Solomon goes on to tell us that discernment and understanding are necessary for discipleship. Look at verse 4. “To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion”. How can we hope to teach and train in what we don’t have? Titus 2 tells us we are obliged to teach those who are younger (either in spiritual maturity or in age) to live wisely. If we aren’t growing ourselves we can hardly be an model to them.
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The Benefit (Verses 5-6)

By studying and accepting the truths of scripture (which is God’s pure and infallible word), and gaining understanding (through the instruction and power of the Holy Spirit), the wise (you and I) can be assured that we will grow in knowledge and wisdom; that we can acquire what Strongs describes as “a sense of superiority in mental action“.


How Did It Go?

In the introduction last week, you were given the steps for the method we will be using throughout this study. In the comments section, please share (only as much as you are comfortable with) how you applied the steps to the assigned passage for this week and/or your overall experience.

  •  
  • Read it – Read the through passage – often.
  • How often did you read the passage?)
  •  
  • Pray/Meditate on it – Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and understanding, then listen for Him to speak to your spirit. (John 14:16-17, 16:13)

Did you take time to pray before you read the passage asking the Holy Spirit to give you understanding?

  • Examine it – Study resources: Biblical cross references, other trusted translations, bible dictionary, trusted commentary.

Did you look for and mark key words or phrases in the passage? Did you look for parallel (cross reference) verses? Did you use other study resources? If so, what were they.

  • Apply it – Remember there is only ONE interpretation of scripture but there can be numerous applications. Make note of specific ways you can put what you have learned into practice.
  • What are some ways you put what you learned into action?

How can what you learned from the passage translate into your growing in discernment and understanding?


Study Assignment for Next week:

Read Proverbs 1:7

Look up the Hebrew meaning for the following words: *

  • Fear
  • Beginning
  • Knowledge
  • Fool
  • Wisdom
  • Instruction

 

Resources

Bible Hub

E-Sword (this is available as an on-line download or an app)

Bible Study Tools (available on-line and as an app)

If you have a favorite study resource, please share

The Beginning of Knowledge

As I know that many of you have done, I too chose a “life focus word” (my term) for 2020. A “life focus word” is one which is intended to impress upon us a practice that we commit to making an active and deliberate part of our day-to-day life (my definition). The intent is to bring greater awareness to the things we do; the words we use, the decisions we make, the ways we relate to others.

With a lot of thought and prayer, I chose the word “wisdom”. I came to realize that the saying “older and wiser” is not necessarily true, at least not for me. Oh, maybe by the worlds standards it is but those aren’t the standards I want to live by, do you? As you can see from the definition below, secular thinking considers wisdom to be based on experience and knowledge.

According to Collins Dictionary “Wisdom is the ability to use your experience and knowledge in order to make sensible decisions or judgments.”

At 70 plus years I definitely have some life experience and over those years I have acquired a good bit of knowledge. But wise?

With my “life focus word” decided, I realized that I needed to know what (Godly) wisdom means and so I turned to the most famous and accurate book of wisdom – The Bible; more specifically, the book of Proverbs. Early in the year I began to study Proverbs as a key part of my daily devotion time. I am thankful to have learned a bit about wisdom, as God defines it, however I have just scratched the surface. There is so much more to learn.

Before we start digging into Proverbs, let’s fast forward a few thousand years and look at what a New Testament writer had to say about wisdom. His counsel will be a good launching pad for our study.


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

  • We learn from this verse in James that wisdom is a gift from God
  • That it is ours for the asking
  • It is given liberally
  • There are no strings attached
  • God wants us to have it

Over the past couple months I have discovered so much from my study that I felt compelled to invite you to join me on this “wisdom quest journey”. Each week we will take a passage from the book of Proverbs to study using a four-fold method.

  • Read it – Read the through passage – often.
  • Pray/Meditate on it – Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and understanding, then listen for Him to speak to your spirit. (John 14:16-17, 16:13)
  • Examine it – Study resources: Biblical cross references, other trusted translations, bible dictionary, trusted commentary.
  • Apply it – Remember there is only ONE interpretation of scripture but there can be numerous applications. Make note of specific ways you can put what you have learned into practice.

The first lesson of the study will post on the morning of March 17th, one week from today, and each Tuesday morning thereafter. I look forward to our sharing from this amazing book.

Study Assignment for Next week: Proverbs 1:1-6