What do you want most in your life? Freedom from burdens? To get married and have a family? Career opportunities? More money? More time? More choices? More authority and responsibilities? More status? More this and more that?
In a casual reading of Proverbs 9:1-11, we get a poignant reminder that if there is anything that we ought to desire most in our lives, it ought to be wisdom. Not for wisdom’s sake but because by the Scriptures’s own testimony, nothing you desire can compare with wisdom (vs. 11).
1 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2 At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: 4 “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. 5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. 6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. 9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge. 10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.Pro 8:1-11 (NIV)
LIFE HAS MANY PATHS THAT DEMANDS A CHOICE
2 At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud…
Throughout our life we are faced with a need to make choices. Choice after choice is demanded of us, and often times we may not like the choices we make, but we make them because the next series of choices have come down the pike and we must confront them, ready or not.
The highest point along the way, where the paths meet is Solomon’s way of describing the process of life where we end up facing the most important questions of life: Who do we worship? What is truth? Where do we find meaning and purpose? How do I find favor with God? Where do I go in the midst of suffering, pain or difficulty? Who will love me when no one else will?
Solomon argues that along side this question-laden path of life where we desperately need answers, there is a wisdom that calls out to us to support and guide us no matter what we may be dealing with in our life. The initial question we all must answer is, will we let this biblical wisdom into our hearts.
The visual imagery of beside the gate leading into the city represents the starting point. Will answering wisdom’s call be our first response to the questions of life or will we seek to make due without the wisdom of the Bible? Solomon has harsh words for those who ultimately choose to make due in life without God’s wisdom which we pick up in the last verse, …all who hate me love death.” When you face difficulty or find yourself in need of solid answers in life, is your first impulse to seek the wisdom of God or is to make a way without him?
GOD’S GENEROUS AIM IN WISDOM
One of the beauties of God’s wisdom is that it is wisdom for everyone; all mankind. God’s wisdom does not discriminate; rather, it is us who discriminate against God’s wisdom. The simple miss it, the foolish reject it.
4 “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. 5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
Yet, in God’s mercy God offers wisdom whether you are a simple or foolish. But way of clarity, it should be noted that this is Solomon’s way of describing all of humanity. At first glance it may appear Solomon puts only certain people into two camps: the simple or foolish, as if this is the way to describe only those who need God’s wisdom. Rather, this is Solomon’s way of describing all of mankind’s condition before God. That is, all of mankind are simple and foolish. It is fair to say that all mankind are simply foolish when we choose a pathway of life apart from God.
Solomon gives us a first glimpse into the aim of wisdom. Those who are simple, we gain prudence; those who are foolish we set our hearts on it (i.e. wisdom). Another way to think of this: The simple become prudent, the foolish gain understanding. Prudence and understanding are pre-cursory aims to the end of wisdom.
BIBLICAL WISDOM LEADS US INTO THE TRUTH
There are many things that often appear right in life but in the end they lead to death, (Pro 14:12). So when we are invited to consider God’s wisdom, we need to told and immediately understand that God’s wisdom leads us into the truth.
6. Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. 9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
In moments of desperation we are most vulnerable to appealing to things that indicate a claim on truth. It’s when we are weakest that we are prone to relying on ourselves versus relying on God. So Solomon beckons us, to listen. How well do you listen when you need answers? For me, especially when I am desperate or when the stakes are high, listening can be a challenge. But the reality it…we are listening. The more operative question is: to whom are we listening? This is part of what will help us discern the pathway of truth versus a pathway of, let us say, non-truth or even death.
Solomon says of wisdom, my lips speak what is right; my mouth speaks what true? Another way to think of this is, biblical wisdom is truthful; biblical wisdom is right. But more than this, biblical wisdom contains a moral dimension; that is, it leads us away from wickedness; it leads us toward what is just and flows out of a discerning heart that rests upon knowledge. This knowledge is a knowledge of God.
When our decision making process doesn’t assume the existence of God; does not begin with God; does not consider the moral demands of God, we are most open to the erroneous ends of the pathways of life. In the end, we will prove ourselves haters of God and lovers of death.Tweet
A COSTLY CHOICE OF DESIRES
Solomon points to a great contrast of value. Money is often esteemed as the root and source of fixing problems and holding solutions for us in this life. And in fact, it is the case that the more money we have, the easier some things are. If you have money, it is likely you will have access to food, healthcare, housing, education and the like. On one hand, money is a good thing. Yet, there is something even more valuable than money: biblical wisdom.
So Solomon is pointing us to think deeper than just money. He has us consider desire. It isn’t the case the everyone necessarily desires more money. But it is the case that everyone has desires, and our desires are on a spectrum of least to great.
Thus, Solomon calls us to consider our desires by challenging us with a fairly radical idea: God has something that not even your greatest desire can compare with — biblical wisdom.
The cost of biblical wisdom may be material but more importantly, is it a subordination of the material and of your greatest desire.Tweet
Whatever it is you desire, even the choice silver, the wisdom of God is more precious. All of the ideal satisfactions you can possibly imagine cannot compare with biblical wisdom.
A daunting question at this time will be: Do I believe this? Do I believe that what God offers me by and through his wisdom is in fact more valuable, more precious that anything else I can possibly desire? Picture in your mind’s eye the greatest desires for the greatest thing…now listen to what Solomon says about that thing: It doesn’t compare with wisdom.
May this Proverb lead us into considering our desires and asking for the grace we need to make God’s wisdom our greatest desire ever.