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The Bible is the source of true wisdom, providing answers to life's toughest questions and helping us make decisions that will add length and depth to our days. The book of Proverbs gives invaluable insight into the "nitty gritty" issues in our daily lives. Knowing what to do with the facts we have requires more than knowledge - it requires a marriage between knowing and doing. To be wise, we must listen to God's Word and follow it exclusively. If you want to know yourself, if you want to know what life is about, know God.
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Proverbs Chapter four in verse five. Last week we started to introduce the book of Proverbs. We have committed ourselves to a series of studies in this book entitled that makes good sense.
We need God’s good sense to make sense of our lives, and we’re going to take up the themes and the theology of the book of Proverbs here in the next few months. But we want to understand the content of the book, we want to understand the intent of the writer, and we want to understand the very concept of wisdom itself. So I’m coming back to introduce the book of Proverbs again this morning.
We’ve entitled this message you’ve got to get it. Because in all our getting, says the writer, we have got to get wisdom. Get wisdom, get understanding. Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her and she will preserve you. Love her and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore, get wisdom and in all you’re getting, get wisdom.
In a commentary entitled they give us some bad advice, Paul Harvey reminds us of what knowledge without wisdom can do to a generation. Listen to these insightful words.
They told us if we would relax about sex, take our clothes off and not get all uptight about it, that there would be no sex crimes. So we let it all hang out. And the incidents of rape has increased 12% in one year. They told us we had been too tough on criminals, that we should go easy on them, so we went easy on them. The rate of violent crime has increased 40% since 1983.
They told us to be more generous with poor folks, so we were. Now, the Consensus Bureau says that there are more poor than ever. They said that churches were old fashioned, that they must modernize, liberalize, rationalize, compromise. And those that compromise, most are shrinking fastest.
If it appears up to here that they have given us awfully bad advice, they have. They insisted that our schools put God out of the classroom and rely on enhancing junior’s intelligence. So we graduated a generation of juniors with refined intelligence, but undisciplined emotions. So school age suicides have increased.
They told us alcoholism and drug addiction were sicknesses, not crimes. Now, we are gagging, choking, strangling on forbidden fruit. They said informal marriage was enough. So now the odds are five to four, your rapture will be ruptured. And two in seven that the next baby will be born illegitimate. Who are they who have been thus misleading us? They are the materialists who defy the finite sciences. They meant well, but their intentions are paving the road to hell.
Now, Paul Harvey, you have quit commenting and gone to preaching. “I don’t mean to,” he says, “but I can’t separate goodness and badness from today’s news and explain it. Every ugly headline in today’s newspaper and yesterday’s and tomorrow’s is because somebody’s emotions got out of whack.”.
He might be as smart as all get out, but if he’s emotionally color blinded he is an unguided missile destined inevitably to self-destruct. Spaceship Earth came with a book of instructions. Let’s see what it says.
It says, we should not be slothful in business. In fact, it says he who does not work, let him not eat. It says women should wear modest apparel. It says don’t steal anything, anything. It says don’t get drunk. It says you sleep only with your own wife. It says you don’t do what you want to do, you do what you ought to do.
And for those whose consciences are anesthetized, it specifies which is which. In other words he says, “If that rule book were not the divinely inspired, it would still be the best blueprint for an orderly existence. If it did not promise life here after, it would still contain the best formula for a good life here.”
I think Paul Harvey’s onto something here. Our generation, the most knowledgeable of all generations, the most technologically advanced generation that has ever occupied the floor space of planet Earth is suffering from bad advice.
Our families are disintegrating. Our young people see no purpose to life and are committing suicide. Our best universities are producing a crop of moral failures who can lead businesses but can’t lead their children. The humanist, the secularist, and the atheist has given this generation some very bad advice.
And I think American families are waking up to that fact. They want a moral foundation upon which to raise their family. They want to know that there are some truths you can anchor this life to and the next life to. They want God’s perspective on man. They want heaven’s view of earth. They want to know that there is a certain way to live with certainty.
And folks, I want to bring you, considering the humanist outlook on life, I want to bring you to the corrective lands of God’s word. And I want us to see life from God’s perspective, how life is meant to be lived and how life is meant to be employed and enjoyed.
And that brings us to the book of Proverbs, because here is a book that is completely given over to helping us live skillfully. Here is a book whose teaching is intended to inform us and transform us in terms of the way we live.
One writer says of the book of Proverbs, “The book of Proverbs tells us how to wise up and live. It discusses everything from training a child to ruling a nation, from eating too much to talking too much. From how to succeed in life to how to live for God.”
I hope you don’t believe the Bible’s impractical or irrelevant. Again, you’ve been given some very bad advice.
And so I want to lead you as the supreme teacher in this church to consider the content and the intent of the book of Proverbs with me again this morning. And then in succeeding Sunday mornings, we will begin to look at some of its themes and some of its theology. And we’ll see that it presents to us some very good formulas for life.
It will help us to unlock the meaning of life and the best means to living it. And it seems to me nothing is more pressing and nothing more relevant to us than that reality.
I think each one of us want to live skillfully and we want to live successfully, and the book of Proverbs will help us do just that.
So I’m not going to rehash or rehearse what we did last Sunday morning. We introduced the book. We looked at its author, we looked at its aim, we looked at its audience. And if you missed that, I’d encourage you to get the CD and bring yourself up to date on who wrote it, why it was written, and to whom it was written. When it was written and how it applies to us today as we properly interpret it.
Where I want to pick up this morning is this whole theme of wisdom. We’re introducing the content and the intent of the book, and this is a book that belongs to a section of the Bible called the wisdom writings. We’ve got the law, we’ve got the prophets, we’ve got the historical books of Kings and Chronicles, but there is a section of the Bible called the wisdom writings. That will include Job and Psalms and Proverbs and Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes.
And these books were particularly written to enhance our understanding of life, down in the nitty gritty issues of the daily grind of human experience. They get into the fine print of life. Raising children, loving your wife, making ends meet financially, developing good and satisfying relationships. Guarding your integrity. Watching your sexual purity. How to deal with critics and how to answer someone that speaks to you with spite.
That’s how real and relevant the book of Proverbs is, and it is God’s down to earth wisdom on life. And you need to sell everything and buy its truth.
Now we started to look at the concept of wisdom under three general headings, the supremacy of wisdom, the skill of wisdom, and the sources of wisdom. We looked at the supremacy of wisdom last week. That takes us to Proverbs chapter four and verse five, get wisdom, get understanding. Verse seven, wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom, and in all you’re getting get understanding.
I don’t know what the next most important thing is in your shopping list, but I’ll tell you what the Bible tells you it should be. Wisdom.
You’ve got to buy the truth of this book at all costs because you’re very life and the living of it depends upon it. Wisdom is going to inform you and transform you to be more successful, not in a worldly sense, but in a Biblical sense. To help you live a balanced life, to enjoy well-rounded relationships to make a success as best as you can of your family. To live with purpose and integrity. That’s what the book of Proverbs is all about and the wisdom that it gives, and therefore it is of primary and principle importance.
Remember, we saw that it was likened to silver and gold. We need to get on board with this treasure hunt for insight and instruction on life, because we’re very susceptible to some very bad advice. And our country is suffering under the weight of such advice from multiplied experts, so-called.
We saw that we needed wisdom because of the complexity of life, because of the urgency of time, because of the [inaudible 00:11:54] of man.
Well, that takes us now to the second thought, and this is where we’re really picking up where we left off. We not only looked at the supremacy of wisdom, we now come to look at what I call the skill of wisdom. You and I need to be very careful here. Wisdom is different from knowledge. So you think you and I make the mistake of thinking that someone is wise if their head is stuffed with facts and figures.
School teachers are wise. Business managers are wise. University professors are wise. They may be, but not necessarily so just because they hold positions where they can indeed trout out facts and figures and help us understand certain things.
Now, while wisdom is not without knowledge, the Bible breaks with our culture here and argues that you can have knowledge without wisdom. Wisdom is something beyond knowledge. It is not beneath it, but it is beyond it. It includes it, but it is not defined by it alone. Wisdom is more than knowledge.
Wisdom involves the heart as well as the head. You see, knowledge can be nothing more than learned stupidity. See, from a biblical point of view, you could spend semester after semester understanding Darwin’s theory. And you may become proficient in understanding the philosophy of evolution, but the Bible said you have simply learned stupidity. Because the fool has said in his heart there is no God.
And there is a difference between instruction and wisdom. Remember we said last week in the words of T.S. Elliot, the British poet, where is the wisdom we’ve lost in knowledge? Where is the truth we’ve lost in information?
Wisdom’s much more than knowledge. If knowledge is the acquisition of facts, wisdom is the proper and proportionate application of those facts. Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know, and that doesn’t come with a high school diploma or a college degree. Let me say that again. Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know. It is also knowing what is right and what is wrong so that what you know is worth acting upon.
That’s how critical wisdom is. It is the right use of knowledge for good ends. Wisdom involves a marriage of knowing and doing, it is the junction says one writer of the good and the true. I like that. It’s the junction of the good and the true.
Listen to what C.H. Spurgeon says on wisdom. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great as a knowing fool, but to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom. And by the way, when we speak of knowledge we are talking about a biblically informed view of life.
We’re talking about a Christian and theological worldview that gives us a proper perspective in life. And when we’ve got that proper perspective, godly insight and godly wisdom will help us to apply it proportionately and wisely. What a gift then wisdom is, it is a skill for living. It is doing the right thing at the right time in the right way.
You can’t put a price on that, can you? Man, if you’ve got that without a college degree, you just stay the way you are. Don’t let the professors mess you up. Wisdom is not below knowledge, but it is beyond knowledge. Wisdom means being skillful and successful in one’s relationships and responsibilities. It involves observing and following the creator’s principles in order in the moral universe.
Let me put it this way. Wisdom is the skill of cooperating with God’s moral order and providential government within this world. Now, you and I know that God is the antecedent of everything. God is the author of all things, that God has set his world up in a certain way. And it is not a moral vacuum. Certain actions cause certain reactions, certain causes cause certain effects. And the Bible tells us that God’s eyes go to and fro throughout the earth beholding the good and the evil, and God manages his world morally according to his law.
And if you and I don’t want to bump up against a judgment of God, if we don’t want to have a head on collision with the almighty, then you and I need wisdom. To live within the boundaries of his law, to understand God’s perspective on life, why he created us, why he put us here? What is the end of our existence?
Well, the Westminster confession got it right, didn’t they? The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. In therefore wise men understand that life must be lived in accordance with God’s ways and God’s word. That wise people [inaudible 00:17:31] lady wisdom, because wisdom teaches us how to live in a right way, adding length to our days and depth to our lives. Listen to Proverbs three verse 16. This is what wisdom will do for you. It will bring length of days, it will bring riches and honor.
Speaking of wisdom, verse 17 of Proverbs three says, her ways are the ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.
You see, there is a right way to live that adds length to our days and depth to our lives, and there is a wrong way to live that shortens our days and spoils our lives. It’s called folly in the Bible, or disobedience.
Proverbs 10 verse 27, the fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
There’s a right way to live, there’s a wrong way to live, there’s a right path, a wrong path, and when you find yourself at the crossroads of choice, wisdom will be there to point you down the right path. And in the following the right path, you avoid the judgment and displeasure of God, which is a wise way to live.
That’s why wisdom is so important. It is a skill that enables us to live rightly with God and with each other according to God’s purposes.
In fact, let me reinforce that to you, because go back to chapter one and verse two, the Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel. Here’s the purpose of the book. This is the preface of the book. Solomon’s telling us where we’re going here. The purpose of all these proverbs and all these general insights into life are given to us in order to help us to know wisdom and instruction and understanding.
I want to unpack those three words so you and I might understand what wisdom is. Let’s just circle the first word there, wisdom. It’s the Hebrew word hocoma, it appears some 38 times in the book of Proverbs. And it’s fine in different places in the Old Testament. And the basic idea behind it is skill, ability to order one’s life correctly, to act appropriately.
Let me show you this in a very interesting way. Let’s go back to Exodus chapter 31. When we go back to Exodus chapter 31, we find ourselves in the context where God is instructing Moses concerning how his tabernacle is to be built. This was this tent, this portable place of worship that was pulled down and put up as the people of Israel traveled.
And in Exodus 31, God is instructing how this place is to be built to certain specifications. And we read in verse three of chapter 31 that God was going to give certain men skill to build this tabernacle to his specifications. And I have filled him with the spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood and to work in all manner of workmanship.
Here’s what God says in verse six concerning this man who will do this and others who will join him in the doing it. I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you. That’s our word there in verse six, wisdom, hocoma.
And see how it’s attached to this idea of giftedness, the ability to do what needs to be done and get it done. That’s wisdom folks. It’s the ability to live life skillfully. It’s to do what you know God would want you to do and to do it well.
See, it involves the heart. It’s an ability and an agility to adjust to life and to act appropriately. No school gets you ready for that unless it’s a Christian school. The word of God counsels us on how to act appropriately and skillfully.
Proverbs then signifies that wisdom is a skill for living, an ability to make wise choices. To live according to the moral standards of God so that our lives can produce lasting results.
And there are two component parts to it. Let’s go back to Proverbs chapter one and verse two. This skill is learned. We are taught it. We are not born with it. We need to place ourselves under the instruction of wisdom. That’s the point of verse two, to know wisdom and instruction, and to perceive the words of understanding.
Wisdom here is informed by instruction and understanding. These two words deserve special mention because they are repeated throughout the book of Proverbs. The first word instruction is mosar in the Hebrew, it appears 30 times in the book of Proverbs.
Now, it’s actually badly translated here, but it’d be better translated discipline. Discipline. It’s actually used in Proverbs three verse 11, of God’s chastisement of his people. In Proverbs three verse 11, we read, my son do not despise the chastening of the Lord nor to test his correction for whom the Lord loves. He corrects just as a father, the son in whom he delights.
The word there, chastening is our word. It means to be brought under. And if you and I are going to be wise and live skillfully, we need to bring ourselves under. In this case, not the chastisement of God so much in a negative sense as his chastisement, his instruction, his directing of our lives.
We need to allow God to correct our waywardness, challenge our folly, and develop our ability to act correctly. And that will produce discernment. That’s our second word there, understanding. It appears 14 times in the book of Hebrews, bina. In the Hebrew it means to distinguish between things, to compare, to form evaluations.
It speaks of training people to discern lessons about life, the good and the bad, the temporary and the eternal, the permanent and the immediate. And all of that is involved in the skill of wisdom. You and I will not be wise automatically. We must unroll ourselves in the skill of wisdom. We must sit under the tutelage of the lady of wisdom, and we must allow ourselves to be disciplined.
That we might become discerning, that we might act wisely. And therefore it calls from us a decision. If you and I are going to be wise, if you’re going to benefit from this series in the book of Proverbs, you must come with an alert mind, an obedient heart, an open Bible, and you need to be here every week saying to God, “Oh God, chastise me. Correct me. Counsel me. Change me. Help me to be wiser than I am. Help me to see what I don’t see. Help me to understand that which confuses me. Help me to be a better father, a better husband.”
“Help me to be a more obedient child. Help me to be wise with my workers. Help me to know who is a good friend who would bring trouble to my life.”
We need to discipline ourselves. We need to be instructed and informed, and we must be willing to be changed if we’re ever to be wise. Wisdom then is that skill of cooperating with God’s moral order.
And by the way, it does remind us again, this is contrary to the prevailing opinion of our culture where our young people are being badly advised that you know what? Give free reign to your heart’s desires. Do what you want rather than do what you need to do.
And we need to help them understand, and wisdom will teach them, that paradoxically freedom emerges from self constraint. And liberty is found in accordance to God’s law. That’s paradoxical, but it’s also very practical and it’s very real. The composer Igor Stravinsky wrote this of his life as a skilled musician. My freedom will be so much the greater and the more meaningful, the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint and control diminishes strength.
The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit. He’s reminding us that achievements in any area of life require discipline. An athlete never wins a prize. A businessman never becomes a vice president. A scholar never writes a good book, or an artist never creates beauty without discipline.
And you and I will never be wise unless we are willing to submit ourselves to the wise council of God’s word. And be disciplined by it and be brought to see life from God’s perspective.
But we need it, don’t we? We need that skill. I like the story of Charles Steinmetz who was a dwarf and physically very deformed, but what he lacked physically he made up mentally because he in his day, he was one of the smartest men when it came to electricity. So much so that Henry Ford, the motor manufacturer, hired him to build some vast generators that would run his first plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Along came Steinmetz, this small but remarkable little man, and together put the pieces of the machinery together. Ford Motor Company was up and running. Until one day, sometime later the factory came to a grinding halt. The machines had shut down, the generators had become silent, and the mechanics that Ford had employed tried their best to get things working again but to no avail.
And so Henry Ford called on Charlie Steinmetz, and he came to his friends rescue.
He wasn’t there that long. In fact, he fiddled around with some gauges and tinkered with the motor and tried a button here and did a little wiring there. And within a few short hours everything was fixed. And the motors were running again and the factory was working.
Within a few days, Steinmetz mailed a bill to Henry Ford. It was a bill for $10,000, and it shocked Mr. Ford. He couldn’t understand why two or three hours of work would cost such an exorbitant amount of money. And so he actually wrote a letter back to his friend concerning the bill, and said, Charlie, it seems awfully steep this 10,000 for a man who for just a little while tinkered around with a few motors.
Steinmetz wrote a new bill, sent it back to Henry Ford. And this time he itemized the bill. It read like this. Henry, for tinkering around with motors, $10. For knowing where to tinker, 9,990.
Now, any engineer understands that. I spent a lot of time preparing to be an engineer in aircraft, went to night school for four years, but I learned more by spending time with the journeyman who were simply wise men. They had learned the job, they knew it innately, they knew it naturally. I learned more from them than I ever did from a textbook. Because they knew where to tinker, they knew what to do.
And such is the skill of wisdom, biblically speaking. You can’t put a price on that, can you? Knowing what to do in a given situation, how to build lasting relationships, how to raise well-rounded children, how to drink from the well of your own wife all of your days.
In fact, this nation would save itself billions of dollars if our citizens began to learn the skill of this kind of wisdom.
Which brings me finally to look at some of the sources of this wisdom. Let me put you in the direction of three things here as quickly as I can, and we’ll pick up with some of the themes and theology of the book next week.
What are the sources of wisdom? We’ve been looking at its meaning, but what is its means? How do we get wisdom?
Well, first of all, it begins with God. It embraces his word and it includes the wise council of others. They are three wells that you and I can draw wisdom from, and they are purposefully put in a descending order of importance.
Look, listen, wisdom begins with fearing God, trembling at his word, and then looking to others who fear God and tremble out his word for counsel. Let’s begin where I just started. The fear of God. Wisdom begins with God.
It’s very clear from the book of Proverbs that this is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God, verse seven of chapter one is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. I’ll read one more because there are others, but believe me, this thought permeates the wisdom writing of the Old Testament.
Proverbs nine verse 10, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. If you want to know yourself, if you want to know what life is about, know God.
This is where A.W. Tozer got his words for his famous book the knowledge of the holy. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the holy is where understanding begins. It all begins with God, and why not? Because everything began with God.
You see, this is our worldview. We’re not a bump in a log. We didn’t emerge from some pond slush. In the beginning, god, in his wisdom, out of a context of grace and good for his glory, created the heavens and the earth. And he populated that earth with a man and with a woman. And that’s where everything begins.
That’s the genesis of genius. It all begins with God and fearing him, because wisdom originates from him, resides in him, and emanates from him. Look at Proverbs chapter two in verse six.
For the Lord gives wisdom. From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. My friend, if God put this world together, if God knit us in such a wonderful way together in our mother’s womb, then God is the secret to understanding how we put life together, is he not? And that’s why we’ve got to fear him. And let me explain what that means.
Let me just unpack that phrase as quickly as I can, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Now, let’s just look at that word beginning here in chapter one verse seven. I don’t want you to think that that means that here’s where you begin. You start to fear God and then you graduate from that. And you leave it behind and you go onto something else. That’s not the meaning of the word beginning here. This is not a beginning in a sense of order, this is beginning in the sense of importance.
You could read it like this. The fear of the Lord is the most important thing when it comes to knowledge. It’s not the first thing, it’s just the most important thing. It’s always important. You never graduate from this idea of fearing God, it is foundational to everything. You never get beyond this reality of needing to fear God.
It’s the most important thing and the most intelligent thing a man can do with his life. If you want to know what you need to do this morning, if you haven’t already done this, you need to put your faith in God through Jesus Christ. That’s where life begins.
You need to get connected with God through his son, the one mediator between God and man. Your sin separates you from him. Jesus Christ is God’s answer to the sin question. In his death upon the cross he became a lightning rod for the just, wrath of a holy God. And he took that to himself.
So as we put our hand in his, he connects us with the Father. And that’s where life and knowledge and understanding begins. The fear of God is this idea of being properly related to God and humbly submitted to him. It is a perspective on life that understands that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
It understands that God created us, and life is to be lived in union with him. When we talk about fearing God here, that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about being properly related to him and submitted to him.
It’s not the fear of a boy who’s being threatened by the local bully, it’s the fear of a man who stands in the oval office in conversation with the President of the United States in such a moment deserves respect and awe.
In fact, this idea of relating to someone of tremendous authority is one of the ways in which the book of Proverbs presents the whole idea of fearing the Lord.
Turn to Proverbs 24 in verse 21. My son, fear the Lord and the king. Do not associate with those given to change, for their calamity will rise suddenly and who knows the ruin those two can bring?
Remember what we said? This book is possibly directed to the young up and coming leaders in Israel. And in addressing one of these young men or euphemistically, all of those young men, they’re told to fear the Lord and the king.
Seems to me that there’s an analogy being drawn here. You’ve got the fear God like you would fear the king. Now, we live in a republic and a democracy and this thoughts foreign from us, but we need to put ourselves in the sandals of those who read this book and wrote this book.
The king has authority. He owns the subjects of the kingdom. He’s got laws that must be obeyed. If they’re obeyed, you’ll enjoy living in the king’s kingdom if he’s a good king. And that’s where our analogy holds. But if you disobey those laws, life will not go well. And you need to properly relate to the king and submit to him if you’re to enjoy life in his kingdom.
And that’s exactly what the fear of God is. It’s acknowledging that in the beginning, God. That God created us, we are subject to him. That life is to be lived according to his law for his glory. That man is most greatly satisfied when God is most greatly glorified. That’s the way God made us.
And therefore the beginning of wisdom, the ability to live skillfully and successfully starts there, and never leaves there. It’s putting God in his proper place.
I like the story of the little boy, and you probably can identify with this, especially the man and the boys of the congregation. Who came to his daddy and said that he couldn’t get a piece of his model car to fit. He understood where it went, but there was no room for it. And the dad looked at the problem, he read the directions, and he discovered that the problem was that that particular piece in the model should have been glued back in step four, but the boy was almost finished.
I remember doing that a number of times with [inaudible 00:38:02] models. And in that analogy we are reminded that sometimes when life’s pieces don’t fit, it’s because we have skipped certain steps. And the first step in life is to fear God, to get right with him through his son, to come to understand his authority over your life. But it’s not the authority of a tyrant, it’s the authority of a good king who wants even himself to serve his subjects.
And so wisdom begins with repentance and faith, and continues with submission and humility. It brings us to the second thought that you and I, if we’re going to be wise and live effectively, make something of our lives that will echo right into eternity. We’ve got to fear God and we’ve got to submit ourselves to his word. We’ve almost got there.
We understand God is king, he has stipulated his law for his kingdom. And you and I need to live in obedience to that law. That’s where liberty and life is found.
And there is a connection between fearing God and reverencing his word. Go back to Psalm 19. Psalm 19 in verse seven. Here’s what we read concerning God’s word. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.
There is a relationship between fearing God and trembling at his word. If we’re going to enjoy the cleansing effects of the fear of God, we need to submit ourselves to the law of the Lord, which is perfect. It converts our soul. It rejoices our heart. And it makes wise the simple.
You want to be wise? Read God’s playbook for life. The Bible itself states that it makes wise the simple. Scripture is the record of God’s own witness to himself and what he does, and what he will do for those that submit their lives to him.
And therefore, you and I need to be tutored by the word of God. It will equip us onto every good work. Second Timothy three verse 17.
Folks, this is a precious book. God is its author. It is a complete and completed reservoir of truth about God and about us, how we relate.
What is the purpose of history? How will it end? What lies beyond? What must be done in between? This is God’s playbook on life. This is the mind of God put into words. This is what I’ve called the Christians encyclopedia Brittanica.
I believe that’s up to 39 volumes now. But God has given us a moral and spiritual encyclopedia, it’s got 66 books in it. 39 in the old Covenant and 29 in the New Covenant. And it addresses everything that pertains to life and godliness. Now you say to me, well, you know what? The Bible doesn’t answer all questions. That’s true.
When I talk about the sufficiency of the Bible, I’m not saying that the Bible tells us everything there is to know. But I’ll tell you what I’m saying. I’m saying the Bible tells us everything we need to know.
If the Bible can’t answer it it’s because you’re asking the wrong question. And this book has been given to us. It is the king’s law. It is the royal law. And as you and I submit to its wisdom, we become wise.
In fact, a number of years ago I was struck by the fact that if you go to Psalm 119, it’s the longest song in that hymnal. It’s all about the word of God and God’s statues and God’s commands. But did you know that every stanza in that long hymn begins with a Hebrew letter? And if you actually study it it starts with the first Hebrew letter and goes right through to the last one.
Now, I think the intent of that is it’s a kind of a way to memorize it, it’s a memory technique. But I think beyond that it is also saying that the word of God is the A to Z when it comes to life.
Wisdom, like a microscope magnifies and focuses life using the optics of scripture. That’s why it’s so important for us.
Listen to these words and we’ll just touch on the last thought. William Lion Phelps, who lived between 1865 and 1943, whose students for years voted him Yale’s most inspiring professor. He said this on a number of occasions without apology. Quote, “I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without a Bible.” That’s true.
Because you see, he understands that there’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is sourced in God. Wisdom is found in the whale of divine scripture. And you and I need to afresh believe it, totally study it, continually read it obediently and follow it exclusively.
Here’s the last thought, and time’s gone. Wisdom comes from knowing God, and knowing God involves knowing the word of God. That’s a priority.
But beneath that, on a secondary supplementary level, there are those that God puts into our lives who know him and know his word. They are called the wise.
In Jeremiah 18 verse 18, there were three types of teachers in the Old Testament that shaped Israel. There was the priest, there was the prophet, and there was the wise man. And these wise men wrote these wise books. These men were made wiser by their experiences. And their experiences were shared in forms of Proverbs.
These wise men didn’t receive direct revelation, by the way, they weren’t like the prophets where God spoke to the prophets and they spoke for God. These wise men were informed by the law, were informed by the prophets, but they observed life from a biblical point of view.
And they looked at how God had put this world together, and they come up with certain maxims and truisms that they had observed to be generally true in life. Solomon wrote the most of these Proverbs. He is the wisest of the wise man, but there were others. And all their writings were collected.
And God, the Holy Spirit, through the process of inspiration enfolded them into the cannon of scripture. And he wants us to learn from the wisdom of godly men who were governed by God’s word and who loved God himself, and who have lived longer and seen more than most and understood best.
And as I close this morning, you and I need those kind of people in our lives. The book of Proverbs encourages us to constantly look for counselors. Proverbs 12 and verse 15, we read, the way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.
In Proverbs 15 verse 22, we read, without counsel plans go array, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
One particular verse of interest is Proverbs 11 verse 14, where there is no counsel the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
And the word counselor is an interesting Hebrew word. It means the helmsmen. It speaks of ropes that guided ships back in that day. And so here’s what the Proverbs is saying, bring on board your life certain wise men, certain wise women, who have lived longer, seen more, done more, who have a deep and abiding relationship with God and can offer you wise biblical counsel. And that will help you steer a right course and avoid the rocks of foolish behavior and foolish belief.
The Israelite had those kinds of people to go to. And today we have pastors who know the word of God. We have parents who love the Lord Jesus. We have school teachers who are wise. And you and I need to look to each other. Young couples need to look to older couples.
Perhaps it would be a good thing for a young couple to go to an older aged class and just sit among the gray heads and the gray hairs and learn.
Wisdom doesn’t come with gray hair if the person has been obedient, but if they’ve been obedient with that gray hair comes great wisdom. And you and I need to go and harvest their knowledge. “Hey, what did you do when little Johnny was driving you up the walls? What did you do when your teenager rebelled? How did you make your career choice? How did you stay sexually pure? You’ve been married for 60 years, you’re a testimony to this church. I need to learn, how did you navigate the mind field of temptation? Please tell me.”
And if their wisdom’s worth anything, they’ll immediately take you to the word of God and tell you how they applied principles and patterns in the word of God that helped them navigate life and avoid the dire streets of failure.
Let me finish with this thought. In a business class at the University of Wisconsin, the students had to interview a number of local people and write a report. One of the students thought the assignment was a waste of time until he spoke with a 78 year old farmer.
He asked the old man, “How much education do you have?”
The farmer answered, “Six years of schooling, 72 years of learning.”
You see, that’s what wisdom’s about. Wisdom is being schooled in the word of God, and learning through observation and experience. That the word of God works, that God is faithful, and that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is the way of death when that way is a departure from the paths of righteousness.