Summary: The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
The Qualities of a Wise Man
November 6, 2011
Tonight we’re going to talk for a little while about what it means to be wise, and I guess it would be appropriate to remind you that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10) and that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (I Cor. 1:25).
When we talk about wisdom we’re not looking for what the world has to say. They can use big words and develop complex theories, but they have nothing more than wind in their hands without the substance of God. His foolishness (if He has any) is wiser than even the highest wisdom of men. What we’re about to look at is the Revelation of Christ, and I want it to be treated that way. It bothers me a little when I sense that the Scriptures are treated more like a companion to life than as that Revelation that shows us who God is. It’s not uncommon enough to hear the Proverbs read like a bunch of fortune cookies: you know, good advice for happier living.
But we who desire a higher view of God also want a higher view of Scripture. What we’re about to read isn’t just good advice; it’s not worldly wisdom. These are the words of God which teach us who He is and shows us what He does through us who believe: For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. (Prov. 2:6).
Let’s keep this in mind as we study these verses.
Now, we’ll start in chapter ten. Most of the Proverbs aren’t tied together and they stand alone. Sometimes you run across one that’s just a few words, and other times you’ll find one long Proverb that takes its own chapter. Well, it’s not the cleanest outline, but I think we can put verses 8-14 together to list just a few of the qualities of a righteous man. Here’s the first one:
8The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
Most of these in this section compare the wise and the fool. In this case,
The wise man listens and obeys while the fool chatters away (:8)
I get this image in my head of two men going into the temple to pray and offer sacrifices and I think of that verse that says, “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil” (Eccl. 5:1). The wise man walks in knowing his sin and knowing his place before God. There’s no trying to justify himself, there are no excuses, and he can only trust in God’s mercy. But the fool walks in arrogant and brash. It’s not the boldness that comes with Christ; it’s the foolishness that comes from worldly wisdom, spiritual ignorance, and arrogance.
It’s the Pharisee who says, “I thank thee, that I am not as other men are” (Lk. 18:11). He doesn’t even realize that he stands under the judgment of God, and so he just goes right on prating (chattering).
But the wise man won’t even lift his eyes; he just asks for mercy (Lk. 18:13) and he gets it. The fool falls, but the wise receives commands.
Now think about what we’ve been saying: we need a higher view of God. If we have a higher view of Him, then we’ll take what He says to us very seriously. We’ll have a higher view of Scripture. You know, there’s a difference between a man who says he believes Scripture and a man who actually walks by faith.
Some people find they agree with the Bible morally. You know, it sort of fits in with their world-view. They hold it up and claim to follow it, but when there’s a need for real sacrifice it’s strange how quickly it becomes good advice. They agree that it’s better to be wronged than to hurt others…at least until it’s their turn to be wronged. They have no problem with the stuff on forgiveness until they’re the ones who have to do the forgiving. You see it’s one thing to believe it’s good advice, but it’s something else entirely to see it as the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
The wise in heart receive commandments. Why? Well, think about it! How did he become wise in heart? Aren’t all hearts “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”? But God has given us a new heart that wills to obey His commands (Ez. 11:19-20, 36:26-27). Obedience is a fruit of righteousness—a fruit that comes from the good works of Christ. So the wise in heart are those who love God. Because they love Him, they obey His commands (Jn. 15:10).