This is the second article in a 31-day study of Proverbs and our chapter today is Proverbs 2. This chapter is a gold mine of information regarding why we must seek wisdom, how we can do so, and what benefits it will bring. First, let’s look at how we can seek and find God’s wisdom.
We must read God’s Word. “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…” (1,2). To gain wisdom, we must first and primarily turn to the source of all wisdom, which is the God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. To begin anywhere else is to ignore the most obvious means God has given us to learn about Him and, hence, to grow in wisdom. Notice here also that the author does not distinguish between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Rather, he assumes that what we learn intellectually will necessarily become heart knowledge as well, impacting not just the mind, but the life.
We must pray. “…If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding” (3). Solomon knew that just as he requested wisdom from God, and so received it, so we can do the same. We must pray relentlessly and sincerely, not with mere platitudes, but with a voice that cries out in desperation for insight and understanding.
We must be diligent. “If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures” (4). These words remind us of Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure, which is in Matthew 13. The Lord compared the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. When a man knows there is treasure in a field, he will joyfully sell all he has and buy that field. Many years before Jesus walked the earth, Solomon wrote of wisdom as being a hidden treasure which we must work diligently to find. We must desire wisdom more than any earthly treasure and be willing to sacrifice to attain it.
If we pursue wisdom, through the Bible, through prayer and through diligence, we will find it. “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” (5,6). There is both a human and divine aspect to this and we see that wisdom is both a task which we need to perform and a gift of God. God rewards our diligence and our godly desires with His gift of wisdom. We read also that knowledge and understanding come from the mouth of the Lord, who has spoken to us through the Bible. Thus there is a continual process of seeking through the Word and finding through God’s grace.
The author goes on to explain the benefits of wisdom. If we diligently pursue wisdom, here are the benefits we can expect:
Wisdom will guard us from sin and its consequences. In particular, it will guard us from men who rejoice in evil and would seek to lead us astray into their sinfulness.
“discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech,
who forsake the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
and delight in the perverseness of evil,
men whose paths are crooked,
and who are devious in their ways” (11-15).
Wisdom will give us the understanding of good and evil, sin and blessing, to know perverse speech and evil men. Those who are “of perverted speech” are men who are rebellious and whose words directly contradict and seek to overturn the truth. When men attack truth, they attack the God from whom all truth flows. These men, given over to their sin, rejoice in it, reveling in their disdain towards God. They are crooked, devious and perverse, choosing darkness over light, folly over wisdom. But God’s wisdom can preserve us from falling in among such men.
Wisdom will also preserve us from corrupt women who are consumed with the lusts of the flesh.
“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;
for her house sinks down to death,
and her paths to the departed;
none who go to her come back,
nor do they regain the paths of life” (16-19).
Wisdom will preserve us from the woman who seeks to lead men astray; the woman who is willing to forsake her husband to engage in immoral acts with others. She will knowingly and willfully engage in sin which is in direct contradiction to the commandments of God.
We see in these verses the comparison of life and death, but these words mean more to the author than mere existence and merely ceasing to exist. By “life” he refers to a way of living that is characterized by wisdom, morality, uprightness and submission to God. Death is just the opposite, as it refers to a downward descent towards the grave that is characterized by folly, immorality, chaos and hatred towards God. In Proverbs, the dead may still be on the earth seeking to spread their death to others.
And finally, we see a contrast between a lifetime of wisdom and a lifetime of folly.
“So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it” (20-22).
The wise will inhabit the land, which points back to God’s continual Old Testament promises whereby inhabiting land was a sign of His special favor and blessing. This promise always pointed forward to the promise of an eternal inhabitation in heaven with Him. But then there are the wicked, who will be cut off from the land. Their eternal destination will be determined by their choice to live a life of folly. They will have no place in the land – no place in God’s presence.
As I read about men of perverse speech and women who seek to lead men astray, how could I but think of our culture and its downward slide into immorality. Truly we need God’s wisdom now as much as any time in history. More and more the world around us is deliberately choosing foolishness over wisdom, and the Christian will be ever more in stark contrast to those around him. Yet we can always have the confidence that in the end we will inherit the land.
Our lives must show wisdom, and thus we must pursue it. We must do our part and trust that God will do His. Our lives must be characterized by the pursuit of wisdom. We must be people of the Word, people of prayer, and people who ask God for His wisdom. Have you asked God for wisdom? Do you cry out to him for discernment, insight and understanding? Seek Him, as Solomon did, and He will grant you the wisdom that flows from His perfect, holy character. Seek and you will find.