Returning to the pages of Proverbs today, we pick up where we left off at chapter 4.
Listen, sons, to a father’s instruction.
Pay attention and know understanding;
2 for I give you sound learning.
Don’t forsake my law.
3 For I was a son to my father,
tender and an only child in the sight of my mother.
4 He taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words.
Keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom.
Don’t forget, and don’t deviate from the words of my mouth.
6 Don’t forsake her, and she will preserve you.
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is supreme.
Yes, though it costs all your possessions, get understanding.
8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you.
She will bring you to honor when you embrace her.
9 She will give to your head a garland of grace.
She will deliver a crown of splendor to you.”Proverbs 4:1-9 (WEB)
This chapter opens with Solomon addressing his sons. It will read rather familiar to you, if you remember much of what we have covered previously.
Proverbs, and especially these early chapters, can feel a little repetitive. Repetition is required because, quite simply, it takes us a long time to learn things. Take your exams from school, how much of what you learned do you remember now? Chances are, not a great deal! Why? Did you not learn it at the time? You might have stored the information in your memory banks for a while, but without constant and regular review, the information will fade over time.
We do not read the book of Proverbs once, and then “get it!” It will take review and revision time and time again.
We do not read the book of #Proverbs once, and then “get it!” It will take review and revision time and time again. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity #WisdomTweet
The danger of repetition is that we assume we already know it. Do not skim over the words above and think, “Heard this before…” Instead, engage with the text and see what is different or what you missed last time.
At verse 4, Solomon begins to tell us what his father – King David – taught him. For me, this is a fascinating insight. What would this great king teach his son, who would one day become another great king?
He tells Solomon to retain his words. This reminds us that our memories are powerful, and should be used to store up the commands of God. And yet, he says retain the words “in your heart.” Your heart is not where your memory is, so how do we retain anything in it?
Clearly he is referring to our inner self, as opposed to our “blood pump.” So how do we retain anything on the inside? I refer back to my points about repetition above. Our hearts do not change from a single reading of Scripture. Instead, we must soak in it, reviewing it over and over and allowing it to alter us little by little. With the Spirit’s help, God’s Word is slowly engraved in our hearts.
I particularly love the straightforwardness of verse 5! Get wisdom! Get understanding! And he repeats the demand in verse 7 also. Get wisdom! Go after it with all you can. It will save your life!
Verse 6 asks us to “love” her – wisdom. This, I think, is the first reference to this. It makes sense, having studied all the benefits that wisdom provides, that we should indeed love her. We throw the word “love” around fairly freely at times; we love coffee, we love ice cream, we love meeting up with our friends… and none of that is necessarily wrong. Let us not be casual about our love for either God, or the wisdom He offers us. Let the love we have for both be deep and strong.
Verse 7 adds a new dimension also, pointing out to us the cost of seeking wisdom. It tells us that even though obtaining it may cost us all our possessions, we should still go after it. Why would wisdom have a cost? Anything of value surely does! To obtain wisdom, it may require us to do certain things, such as study, pray, meditate and read. All these things require time, and time we might have wanted to give to other things. Likewise, it may take money to buy resources or cause us to give up certain possessions which distract. Wisdom is offered freely, but may cost us something. We cannot have all that the world offers, and fully seek after God and His wisdom also.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
While the Proverbs speak of wisdom versus possessions, and Jesus of “God rather than money”, the two are closely connected. I think it hard to separate God from His wisdom, and so we cannot chase money and expect to be able to serve God and receive wisdom. We must choose where our life is focussed.
The thing is, if you seek after wisdom, and if you seek after God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33), you will find all these other things as well.
So… get wisdom!