In the closing verses of Proverbs 2:20-22 Solomon kindly explains the ultimate aim of wisdom. After explaining how we get wisdom, where true wisdom comes from, 6 ingredients to fear and know God and two ways wisdom saves us, Solomon concludes with a stark picture of the high aim of wisdom itself: To differentiate life and death.
That is what wisdom seeks to do for a person – to differentiate between life and death; good and evil; right and wrong; understanding and ignorance. That is what we seek when we seek wisdom – we seek to know what is the right way, what is the way of life, what is the best way, what is the good way. When you obtain the wisdom of God, the end result is life while the end result for anyone outside of that wisdom is death.
20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.Proverbs 2:20-22 (NIV)
The operative phrases we must rely on to understand Solomon’s esteem of biblical wisdom is paths of the righteous, and the end destination of these paths is the land. By land, Solomon may be referring to the Promised Land, but not the least of which is land where God’s people dwell in safety. And while he may have surmised actual, physical peace in an earthly sense, Israel writ large understood, and certainly so does the Christian today, any land worth living is merely a foreshadow of a heavenly land, Heaven itself.
It should go without saying that the wicked of whom Solomon refers does not and will not live in Heaven. The heavenly land exclusively inhabits the righteous who have arrived through righteous pathways. For the Christian, the person to whom Solomon ultimately point us to is Christ himself (Cf. John 10:7, 14:6).
Matthew Henry helps simplify Solomon’s point. When we walk in the way of the righteous, one does so peaceably…their uprightness will contribute to it, gain[ing] them the good-will of their neighbors, and entitles them to God’s special favour. We are reminded here of Timothy’s understanding of the good that comes from righteous living; living in a manner pleasing to God.
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.[Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
WISDOM FOR EVERYDAY LIVING
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine in the myriad of life situations you and I face, there is in fact a wrong way or a right way to live. In our culture, day and time, that is hard to accept. In our post-modern mindset, we are taught to follow our hearts and do what ever makes us happy, so long as no one gets hurt. Perhaps if I do something to helps others, then that is an added bonus.
To be fair, most of the daily decisions you and I face are not life and death decisions in and of themselves. On the surface, most of the decisions we make and the circumstances we face are run of the mill, garden variety, activities of daily of living: Eating, sleeping, working, paying bills, buying groceries, raising kids, enjoying marriages, etc.
But we don’t run our lives in a purposeless vacuum. You and I require meaning and purpose. Having something to live for is an innate facet of who we are as God’s image bearers. In reality, no one doesn’t envision a life after death or at a minimum question whether there is life after death. Even the most ardent atheist; though they’ve come to arrive at their atheism, has considered at least some questions about life after death. A true atheist determines there isn’t one.
FAITHFULNESS & RIGHTEOUSNESS
To live in the land, one must remain faithful on the paths of the righteous. But to what exactly is a righteous person faithful? A righteous person is faithful to that which makes them righteous. So what makes someone righteous? God makes people righteous.
Righteousness is dependent on fearing of the Lord, and the faithful fear the Lord even unto death.Tweet
Fearing the Lord is the presuppositional state of the heart of one who is righteous. One cannot be righteous apart from an accurate fear of the Lord. Notice my qualifier…accurate fear of the Lord. Proper fear is under-girded by an understanding of the truth of existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; under-girded by an acknowledgement it is God who makes someone righteous; under-girded by a humble awareness that all our knowledge, all wisdom, all life and breath exists only because God makes it so. We live and have our being because of God.
More than this, however, is this: Fear of God the Father leads us to the worship of Christ the Son. We cannot have a have fear of God without submission to Jesus.
Righteousness therefore, properly understood, is not passed on to us in a lofty sense. That is, through traces of a blood line from Abraham. Rather, righteousness is bound up in what is imputed to us through the blood line of Christ.
Therefore, if your righteousness comes from Christ, then not only are you blameless but you will, as Solomon says, live in the land.
FAITHLESSNESS & WICKEDNESS
There are many reasons and opportunities for someone to fall away and fail to fear the Lord. Not the least of which is the enticing nature of sin.
Sin always presents itself as beautiful, good and desirable. Sin always deceives us into believing that the thing we’re after will extend the quality of our life in some way.Tweet
The pleasure of sin is short lived but the lie we’ve believed to get there often takes root, so without the presuppositional assumption of the existence of God and the requirements to fear him, we will remain in dark ways until the day we die.
The life we hoped to live in the land will be cut off. But more than that…we will be torn from it. In the way Adam and Eve were effectively cut off and torn from the Garden of Eden, no longer able to live in the land of the Garden of Eden, so those who are found unrighteous will be torn from the land of the living. Unlike Adam and Eve’s experience, however, if you die and are still found to be unrighteous, the tearing you will experience will be permanent.
THE AIM OF WISDOM
Therefore, understand that the aim of wisdom is to grant life that you can live. But in order for life to be granted; in order to live in a land worth living (Heaven), you must be righteous. Further, you must have a righteousness established through Christ, granted to you not based on where are you from (like the line of Abraham). Rather, may it be granted to you on the basis of where you are found; that is, in Christ.
The highest aim of wisdom is to lead us to Christ. When we have Christ we live and without Christ we die. If we have Christ and his righteousness, we will live forever in Heavenly glory. If we have anything less than this, we will torn from existence and forever cut off with no hope of restoration after our death.