What Wisdom Requires

Monday, May 4, 2020

What Wisdom Requires

WHAT:     Read the Text:  Proverbs 1:1-7

SO WHAT:     Reflect on the Text:

1. Wisdom requires an application of knowledge

Become a lifelong learner. Push yourself intellectually. But becoming knowledgeable in and of itself is not enough. It might make you a great trivia night team member, but it stops short of wisdom.Wisdom means applying that which we know to everyday situations of our lives.2. Wisdom requires a mindfulness of others

The application of truth involves actively promoting what is right and just and fair in our sphere of influence (1:3). A wise person is thus mindful of how he or she treats others (cf. Mic. 6:8; Zech. 7:9; Rom. 13:8).Wisdom also means that we are mindful of how we respond to others. None of us are ever fully wise in our faith journey. That is why we must remain mindful of others who care enough to hold us accountable (cf. Prov. 15:32).

3. Wisdom requires a right relationship with God

The “fear of the Lord” (1:7) is a repeated theme, found fourteen times throughout Proverbs. The fear of the Lord thus serves as the starting point to forming a correct governing position for skillful living.

A fool does not fear God, but a wise person does. Consider Moses in Exodus 3:6 and Peter in Luke 5:8.

The main principle for becoming wise is to recognize who we are in relation to God:  Sinners who deserve judgment. We cannot be wise apart from an appropriate fear of a just and holy God who demands payment for our sin. It is the starting principle.

But even though Moses hid his face before the Lord in fear, the Father desired for Moses to come out of hiding from Midian. Even though Peter fell to his trembling knees, Jesus lifts him up and says, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 5:10).

Do you see the paradox? The same Almighty God who we must cower before is the same All-loving God who says, “Do not fear.”

All of our learning and relating and living must start here. Wisdom requires a right relationship with God through a saving relationship in Jesus Christ.

NOW WHAT:     Respond to the Text:

  • Do not live unwisely – act in accordance with what you know. Do not text and drive. Do not let disparaging remarks define or discourage you. Wash your hands frequently. Eat more fruits and vegetables. You get the gist.
  • Advance justice and equity by caring for those who cannot repay you, by treating others with kindness even when they have offended or wronged you, by supporting and encouraging those who are sad or who are saddled with adversity. You get the gist.
  • Acknowledge your sin and come out of hiding. Throw off your fear through faith in Jesus and come running to the Father (listen to Steffany Gretzinger’s song Out of Hiding).
(ranked in order)#1. Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, by John Kitchen
– What I Like:  Undoubtedly my favorite resource to consult on Proverbs. Kitchen provides a verse-by-verse exploration of this book of wisdom, and he does so in a thorough, insightful way without getting weighed down with minutiae. He balances the technical with the practical exceedingly well, and I enjoy his writing style. If you only owned one work on Proverbs, this is the one to have.
– What to Know:  Not much to dislike.#2. Proverbs (The Study of God Commentary), by Ryan O’Dowd
– What I Like:  This work is straight-forward and concise in providing perspective on all the proverbs. O’Dowd often provides some helpful historical and cultural insights. Overall it is a solid help for someone teaching or preaching through the Proverbs.
– What to Know:  You will find some sections of the commentary much more helpful than others.#3. Proverbs: The NIV Application Commentary Series, by Paul E. Koptak
– What I Like:  For the most part, this is a clear, easy to understand commentary.  Koptak is judicious with his explanations under the Original Meaning heading, and I like that he gives focus to significant words and phrases.  Koptak and O’Dowd are essentially interchangeable for me.
– What to Know:  Sometimes Koptak can go off on tangents that seem a bit overboard with the connections he makes and with the applications he draws.

#4. Proverbs (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms), by Tremper Longman III
– What I Like:  Longman is a bit more academic than the aforementioned works, offering more depth to words studies, etc. This commentary is well laid out in its verse-by-verse format.
– What to Know:  At times, his comments on passages are overly brief, and I do not find this contribution (albeit interesting) as helpful for preparing messages.

#5. Living the Proverbs: Insights for the Daily Grind, by Charles Swindoll
– What I Like:  For practicality and application, Swindoll’s book is top-notch. The teacher/preacher, as well as an individual just looking for an accessible read, will benefit from this work. I am glad I own this book.
– What to Know:  This is not a commentary, and it only covers a select number of the Proverbs.

Worth Mentioning:
* Proverbs (Geneva Series of Commentaries), by Charles Bridges
Proverbs & Ecclesiastes (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible), by Daniel J. Treier
* Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (New American Commentary), by Duane A. Garrett