“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9: 10
Proverbs 7-9 (Psalm 149)
The book of Proverbs is written entirely in the form of Hebrew poetry; probably to aid learning by rote. The Hebrew word that we translate as ‘proverb’ is ‘mashal.’ It could mean a ‘powerful word’ or a ‘comparison.’ These proverbs come mainly in the form of instruction or wisdom sentences. In today’s chapters we see both as essentially, the call to heed wisdom and dismiss folly is made. Folly is found mainly in the form of sexual seduction and arrogance. The former identifies the alluring nature of such seduction but identifies how a night’s pleasure leads to ruin and death (7:24-27). The latter describes an attitude that says, ‘I know best, I do not need to heed advice,’ (9: 7-8); again such a path culminates in death (9: 18).
The path to life is found in God’s wisdom and in following His commands. This journey and understanding begins in an awe-filled fear of the Lord and in knowing Him. Wisdom was present with God in creation and can be seen in such. She (Wisdom) provides a perfect home and ample provision (9: 1-6). The seven pillars (9: 1), probably describes the fact that wisdom produces a perfect world (seven being the number of completeness within a sacred context). Why, oh why, is folly so often heeded and wisdom dismissed when the results of both are so clear and obvious?
The lessons for application are clear; just what we would hope for, even expect with proverbs! Worldly wisdom may appear alluring, seductive and astute, but following such a path leads to our eternal separation from God. In this life, entertaining such pleasures, literally wars against our souls (1 Peter 2: 11). Knowing and fearing God introduces wisdom and life to our being. Two strategies exist to keep us in His path and away from the wide road to destruction. Firstly, knowing and obeying His commands (7: 1-4). This means more than reading and knowing Scripture, we are to love His Word and put it into practice. Secondly, we are to ‘choose’ God’s wisdom, not the worlds (8: 1-3, 10). There is a conscious act of our will, prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is needed.
For Christians today, it is difficult to read these Scriptures, and not substitute the word wisdom with Jesus. We can also see in these passages, His and the Holy Spirit’s presence at, and contribution to creation. There is a wonderful symmetry in Scripture and after all, it is through faith in Jesus that new life is given and true life lived.
The Question of Application
What voice do you listen to most in life, the wisdom of God or the folly of the world? How might God’s Word help you to discern the answer to this question and empower you to follow the Lord’s path?
O Lord, from whom all good things come: grant to us your humble servants, that by holy inspiration we may think those things that are good and by merciful guiding perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
The Perfect Wisdom of our God by Keith & Kristyn Getty
Contributors to The Bible Blog include: