Summary: here are you at on the wisdom continuum? How do you handle human vulnerability – yours in particular? How you answer the questions I will raise will provide a good diagnostic for your level of godly wisdom.
Diagnosing Your Wisdom Count
1. There are many portions of Scripture considered wisdom literature.
2. Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and certain Psalm (like 112), along with the NT Book of James and some of Jesus’ teachings, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, fit the definition of Wisdom Literature.
3. There were also certain Jewish books written between the Old and New Testaments, like Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) and the Wisdom of Solomon that were never accepted by the Jews as authentic Scripture, but nonetheless demonstrate the desire on the part of the ancients to purse wisdom.
4. People nowadays describe the sum total of our talents and abilities and an individual as "human" or "personal" capital, our potential value to society, others, a business, our families or community.
5. May I suggest to you that the degree of wisdom we have greatly affects our personal capital. The good news is that you can grow in wisdom: it is free, for all, and the only cost is meditating upon verses in Proverbs and integrating them into your life.
4. Today, I will ask you some questions to help you determine your wisdom count, to take inventory.
Main Idea: Where are you at on the wisdom continuum? How do you handle human vulnerability – yours in particular? How you answer the questions I will raise will provide a good diagnostic for your level of godly wisdom.
I. Where Do You Find REFUGE? (10-11)
This, friends, is a piercing question that cuts right to our hearts…
A. In the TOWER of God’s Name?
1. The Name of God implies his character, his trustworthiness; Solomon tells us, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." (Proverbs 22:1); the big question in life: Is God worthy of his Name?
2. From the Jewish Encyclopedia:
"The citadel forming the center of a fortified city was also termed "migdol" (Judges viii. 9, ix. 46). It was usually erected at the highest point of the city, and formed the last place of refuge in case the town was besieged and its walls stormed (Judges ix. 46)."
3. Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
4. Used of the Tower of Babel constructed so that people would not feel vulnerable to the God who had sent the Flood…
5. Prayer: our first and last resort: My father-in-law and luggage on the rack…
6. The Lord as our tower: illustrates salvation ("call upon the Name of the Lord")
B. Or in possessions or PORTFOLIO?
1. Riches, possessions, and status do protect us from many vulnerabilities in life
2. The problem: people think that because some wealth can protect us from some things, that more must be better and that wealth guarantees all around protection
3. We are still oxygen breathing, aging, vulnerable creatures
4. A healthy poor man has it better than a rich sickly man.
Events in life will devastate you. You have or will panic, your heart has or will be broken, you have had or will have questions for which you have no answer. Will you flee to God? What is your migdol, your last resort?
C. Some people escape LIFE by work and investment
• Story of rich, foolish farmer (Luke 12:16ff)
• A person can be too industrious
Application: Devotional people often talk about the principle of idolatry .. things or prestige can displace God. One of several tests is where you run. The bottle? The TV? The bank? Or to God?
II. How SMUG Are You? (12)
A. Haughtiness comes from a false sense of CONTROL
1. Part of the reason James teaches us to say "Lord willing" is to nurture humility, the realigning of our thinking with the reality of our vulnerabilities …
2. Human nature craves security: routines, neatness, planning, authority, money, décor, influence…
3. Humility is both the prerequisite to God’s grace and the Spirit’s power. James 4:5-6 teaches this:
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
4. Boldness is a virtue and related to faith & direction; boldness recognizes the possibility of failure and consequences, haughtiness minimizes these.
B. It creates environments for sudden DESTRUCTION
1. Nebuchadnezzar: warned but had to be taught
2. Belshazzar: partying while his nation was on the brink of destruction
C. Humility is the real prerequisite for HONOR
Aesop taught a fable that makes the point:
Two roosters were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the farmyard. One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished rooster skulked away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the conqueror, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed with all his might. An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon him and carried him off in his talons. The vanquished rooster immediately came out of his corner, and ruled.