PROVERBS 8: 1-11
WISDOM'S NOBLE CALL
Speaking without wisdom is of little value and wisdom without a voice is of little use. So here we have wisdom taking voice and speaking. The Word of God and wisdom go hand-in-hand crying out to be heard.
Wisdom's inviting call here in chapter eight is in sharp contrast to the alluring voice of the destructive temptress in chapter seven. In chapter eight wisdom, the daughter of heaven, cries in the marketplace inviting all to come live life with her. She stands in stark competition with the adulteress of chapter seven lurking in the streets enticing and persuading with worldly lust. Wisdom, though not perceptible to touch and feelings as lust and greed are, is nevertheless real.
Wisdom leaves no doubt about the importance and meaning of her call (CIT). She comes near to mankind and seeks to win them by her noble and uplifting gifts. May we heed the call and follow heavenly wisdom's guidance.
I. Wisdom's Call is Public, 1-3.
II. Wisdom's Call is Personal, 4-5.
III. Wisdom's Call is Purposeful, 6-9.
IV. Wisdom's Call is Profitable, 10-11.
Wisdom's public invitation begins in verse 1 with two rhetorical questions.
"Does not wisdom call, and understanding lift up her voice?"
"Does not"points to that which is a fact. This cry is a appeal to consideration and recognition that wisdom calls and understanding gives voice. Wisdom's call and voice beckons to be heard. Though its call is not alluring and tantalizing like sin, it is clear, strong and inviting and readily recognizable to all who would but become aware that she is speaking.
Wisdom cries and understanding put forth her voice so that they are in no way veiled from man. She cares too much to keep silent. Her message is too important to be whispered. She has no intention of letting her righteous cause be drowned in the sea of wicked propositions that threaten to engulf the young. [Hubbard, David. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol 15: Proverbs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 119.]
Four synonyms in verses 2 and 3 touch each other without overlapping. They indicate some of the places where the voice of wisdom and understanding call to people so that ignorance of her appeal can never be plead.
Lady Wisdom in verse 2 stands again (1:20-21) in full view of the people, in the places where power is exercised and choices are made. "On top of the heights beside the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand."
Wisdom does not cry in unknown or secret places but in the high places, the noticeable places, beside the busy road. She cries out at the intersection of life where the paths meet. Where decisions must be made concerning which path to take.
Wisdom is not wishy-washy, "she takes her stand." She knows the right way and gives correct guidance.
Wisdom's call is hear in the public and private sectors of life. "Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, at the entrance of the doors, she cries out (3)
"The gates at the entrance to the city" designate the heart of commerce, judicial activity and social exchange. It was where the most significant and constant activity occurred in the ancient world.
She also "cries out at the entrance to the doors" within the city or town. Has she not followed each of us to our homes, places of business, places of diversion and places of sin?
Wisdom sounds from the hilltop like a watchman's warning; it rings from the junctions of the main roads where merchants, travelers, pilgrims, farmers, and soldiers salute each other. It echoes in the gates of the city where deals are struck, political decisions made, and judicial verdicts rendered. Wisdom calls to the public domain, wanting to shape the entire life of the community. It calls for obedience in politics, commerce, community relations, as well as religious activities.
We should listen to this public call. It tells us that, though church and state may be separated by the First Amendment, our faith must inform and govern our behavior in all areas of life. There can be no true discipleship which is only private. The places from which wisdom lifts her persistent voice are the very places where our witness is needed. [Hubbard, 119.]
The loudness and perseverance of the cry demonstrates the earnestness of a true friend and the dangerous consequences of not listening. Would wisdom and understanding cry so loud or continue so long had she not loved our soul? Had she not wanted to save us from the consequences of our stubborn ways would her plead have been so well placed?
She cares too much to keep silent. Her message is too important to be whispered. She has no intention of letting her righteous cause be drowned in the sea of wicked propositions that threaten to engulf the young. [Hubbard, 119.]
II. WISDOM'S CALL IS PERSONAL, 4-5.
Wisdom's call is individual and personal. Verse 4 informs us that wisdom calls out to all mankind. "To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men."
Here wisdom is again personified and allowed to speak for herself and does so as a woman which makes it impossible to escape the comparison and contrast with the adulteress' call of the last chapter.
The call is offered not to demons but to men. Not simply to the righteous but all to the sons of men, to all mankind. Wisdom calls to every child of Adam. Just like the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed to every person, wisdom reaches out with its offer where every man may be found this side of the grave. It is a wise individual who accepts the invitation.
Has she not put forth her voice in the Bible, in the family, in the preached word, in business dealings and in the activities of daily life?
It has been wisely said that many people might have attained wisdom had they not assumed they already had it. One of the keys to becoming a wise individual is to hear the cry of wisdom. To be teachable is an absolute prerequisite to being made wise. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness," Jesus said, "for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). It is not the one who sits back and thinks he knows it all, but the one who hungers and thirsts to be taught, to be instructed, to be guided by wisdom who will grow. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Com: Vol 2. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2006, S. 195.]
In verse 5 wisdom cries out to all of us who carry the constant potential of foolish conduct. "O naive ones, discern prudence; And, O fools, discern wisdom.
The naive (one not fully aware of life, of its consequences, its repercussions) and the fools (one with a stubborn mind closed to God) are those who "lean on their own understanding." Those who care more to be in the know than to be holy, who value the tree of knowledge more than the tree of life. The call is for them to have a heart to understand. Yes, wisdom must be learned but it is preeminently learned from God as the following verses will make clear. Wisdom presents doctrine that is to be put into practice in life.
The naive and foolish are singled out because they are those most in need of wisdom but more likely to ignore her invitation. O that the simple and the fool would leave their way and follow wisdom! Then they would truly discern and understand. They would gain prudence or a sensibleness in their approach to life and understanding (which is insight or pulling together of knowledge).
III. WISDOM'S CALL IS PURPOSEFUL, 6-9.
It is the wise individual who listens to and accepts wisdom's reliable invitation. Verse 6 begins the cluster of terms describing the excellence of wisdom's teaching. "Listen, for I shall speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will produce right things."
Listen for where else can you hear such noble and excellent things. Wisdom's speech is worthy to be known, and worthy of the attention of one and all. Wisdom reveals divine and heavenly things so right, so excellent (or "outstanding," such lofty and noble subject matter) that there is no comparison with them. Wisdom's speech makes all other learning pale and childish (and most certainly earthly). Things which relate to the Eternal God, your immortal soul and everlasting abode are certainly excellent, and most certainly right or valid.
God's wisdom is accurate and dependable and keeps us from twisted, distorted speech verse 7 states. "For my mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips."
For ( - ki) indicates that the phrase continues to give reason to listen. Out of wisdom's inner meditation comes utter truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth is wisdom's testimony to the world. Every word of God is true.
The opposite of truth is given as wickedness here. Wickedness that is brought about by believing in wicked words and principles. It disrupts the stability of communities. People have grown so accustomed to not believing speech that the honesty of wisdom's speech needs to be emphasized.
Strong words are used by weak people. We do not need to be those who strengthen our words by profane statements.
Verse 8 points to straight talk that has a helpful, healing intent. "All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; There is nothing crooked or perverted in them."
All the dictates and directions of wisdom are righteous. They are pulled from the light and law of nature and there is nothing in them that causes inappropriateness or actions that are lacking dignity or righteousness.
The word crooked means that which is bent and twisted. Her deeds are not a distortion of morality or truth. [Wisdom is no caricature of the truth but is truth.] The word perverse was used primarily with threads, cords, ropes and the like and means to twist or twine them over and into one another. "crooked" and "perverse" both depict bending or interweaving of the truth either by deliberate misstatement or by conscious omission of relevant facts.
There is nothing crafty or deceitful in the words and thoughts of wisdom. There is no crafty twisting of the truth that would deceive for its own purpose.
In a society that bristles with perverse speech—crooked, foolish teachings, unreliable opinions and advice, words that you can bank on are worth their weight in platinum.
Verse 9 indicates that understanding and knowledge are its goal. "They are all straightforward to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge."
Wisdom's utterances are not crooked, conniving, or twisted but rather they are all straightforward. They are aimed at the right end, to make useful one's true intelligence. They are straight and give no occasion in themselves for stumbling or falling. They ring with integrity and uprightness.
Scripture difficulties are not because of the Bible itself but because of blind man's inability to understand the straightforwardness of them. Carnal man cannot understand Scripture much better than a blind man can see the noon day light of the sun (1 Cor 2:14)! The Prince of this world twists things, not God. God unfolds truth and opens men's hearts to receive it and understand it. Yes, there are truths of great heights and depths and breaths but man can grasp them and find knowledge.
IV. WISDOM'S CALL IS PROFITABLE, 10-11.
Verse ten instructs us in wisdom's value by way of comparison. "Take my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choicest gold."
This statement is a command and not merely a comparison. It is no pious statement. It is the reality of eternity. Right knowledge and understanding are to be preferred before all the wealth of this world. Instruction is to not only be heard it is to be taken hold of, or firmly gasped. We must welcome it and let it make its eternally valuable impression upon us.
The idea that wisdom's value exceeds material wealth is further expounded in verse 11. "For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things can not compare with her."
In antiquity "jewelry" was the most portable, guardable, displayable form of riches. "The things one may desire" seems to include all manner of wealth, beautiful artifacts and so forth.
Wisdom will bring us a better price in the long run than coral, rubies or other jewels. God's wisdom will adorn us far more richly and elegantly than all that sparkles and glimmers. Its preciousness is far more than precious stones of great value.
Wisdom contributes to a person's character, integrity, ability and peace. Whatever you can desire and wish for from the wealth of this world, nothing will be of more eternal value than God's wisdom.
Is that what you believe? Is that your perspective? Do your daily actions demonstrate that you desire God's wisdom more than all the wealth this world holds out? Or are you like the grey hound dogs, always running around in an earthly circle chasing the elusive rabbit. Don't be disappointed and end the race of life where you began. Seek wisdom. Let not the pomp of this world be your gaze but desire wisdom and experience the joy, peace, love, health, contentment, and fulfillment of the true wealth of the world which gold, silver & jewels cannot buy.