Summary: An admonition for believers to pursue God’s wisdom.
November 17, 2002
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas
“Be a Wise Guy”
The Text: Proverbs 3:13-26
The Text Outline:
I. The Worth of Wisdom (vv.13-18).
A. Wisdom is more precious than material wealth (vv. 13-15).
B. Wisdom’s benefits are more valuable than material wealth (vv. 16-18).
1. Long life
II. The Work of Wisdom (vv. 19-20).
A. The Lord created wisdom
B. The Lord created the universe by wisdom
III. The “Will” of Wisdom (vv. 21-26).
A. The believer must order his life after wisdom (v.21).
B. The believer will receive rewards for wise living (vv.22-26).
1. Wisdom “will” result in life and grace (v.22).
2. Wisdom “will” bring safety (v.23).
3. Wisdom “will” result in tranquility and assurance (vv.24-25).
4. Wisdom “will” bring the Lord’s protection and confidence (v.26).
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains
understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all
the things you may desire cannot compare with her (Prov. 3:13-15).
If you have, or ever have had, little children, you know the difficulty involved in teaching them the different values of money—the difference between quarters, nickels, pennies, dimes, and bills. This is because our currency is valued according to an abstract concept we know as assigned value. Assigned value is simply that action whereby an extrinsic value is assigned to an object which it does not intrinsically possess.
For example, holding out ten pennies to a four-year-old in one hand, and one quarter in the other, and then asking the child to pick a hand will invariably result in the four-year-old picking the hand with the ten pennies. Because the child is unable to conceive of how a quarter can have more value than a penny, ten pennies, to him, seem like more.
As this principle relates to another quite undervalued commodity these days, I fear that though we are adults we may be behaving very much like children. The commodity in question is, of course, wisdom. Some of our senior saints can recall a day when wisdom was highly regarded in individuals, when it was taught in school, and learned on a parent’s knee. But not today. Today it is clear that wisdom is not a valued possession at all, if it is even considered at all.
In Proverbs chapter 3 verses 13-26, King Solomon, the son of David, purported to be the wisest man who ever lived, is instructing his son concerning the unassailable, timeless value of wisdom. In this text, Solomon, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, reveals the matchless worth of wisdom, the work of wisdom, and the “will” of wisdom, or the rewards, the benefits, of living wisely.
We must of course begin by defining what wisdom is and what it is not. Wisdom is not the necessary result of a good education. The world is full of well-educated fools. Wisdom is not academic achievement, a high IQ, or equivalent to “acing” the SATs. Quite simply, wisdom is skillful living.
Throughout this Book of Proverbs, which is a collection of wise aphorisms on how to live a blessed life, several Hebrew words and their related synonyms are used for the concept “wisdom.” The primary word, and the one used 45 times throughout the book, however, is the Hebrew word hokmah. The principal meaning of hokmah is “skill.” This same word is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe the superior aptitude of sailors, singers, craftsmen, administrators, and counselors. Thus we may confidently say that wisdom is that knowledge, which when acted upon, results in skillful living.
Wisdom is knowing the irrevocable results of an action before the action begins. Living wisely is living with intention, thoughtfully, choosing the right and avoiding the wrong—when the right is popular, and when it is not; when others are watching, and when they are not. Wisdom means living your life with God as your primary referent, with moral intelligence and discernment, knowing that real life as it is really lived is lived according to the unalterable law of sowing and reaping. Wisdom dictates that in this life what you give is what you get, how you treat others is how you will be treated, and righteousness results in blessing and sin results in heartache—every time. Living wisely means choosing the moral, and therefore often difficult, path, while avoiding the immoral, and therefore most often easy, path. The wise person lives with eternity in view, in such a way so as to produce glory for God and something of benefit to others.
Our passage from Proverbs chapter 3 begins its exhortation to get wisdom with a description of the priceless value, or the worth, of wisdom.