Wisdom – The Book of Proverbs, by Jim Nelson

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Years ago, I listened to a Pastor tell his flock about the life changing effect the book of Proverbs had on him.  He said there are 31 chapters in Proverbs and challenged them to read a chapter a day.  In one month you’ve completed the whole book, then repeat for the next 12 months. The Pastor said this will transform you as you gain God’s wisdom.  Wisdom as defined by scripture is the ability to see people, events, and situations as God sees them not as we see them.  In the book of Proverbs, Solomon reveals the mind of God in matters high and lofty and in common sense, ordinary, and everyday situations.

Lynn and I have challenged our children over the years to actually follow this challenge, and read the book of Proverbs over and over and meditate on these powerful truths.  I did this years ago, I never made it to 12 times in one year, but did complete it 3 times in 3 months.  I make it a priority to read Proverbs once or twice every year and to apply these powerful short statements of wisdom to my life.  I truly love this book, it’s been transformational, as the whole Bible is.

One of the verses that has had an impact on me is Proverbs 9:10.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”   This verse teaches that the fear of the Lord is foundational to true wisdom; all other types of learning are worthless unless built upon a knowledge of the Lord Himself.  The person who has this wisdom will get to know and love the Lord. There are eighteen references to “the fear of the Lord” in Proverbs.  As you read and study these verses carefully, you’ll get a good understanding of what these important verses mean.  If we truly “fear the Lord,” we acknowledge from our hearts that He’s the Creator, we’re the creatures; He’s the father, we’re His children; He’s the Master, we’re the servant, He is our Savior; we’re redeemed.  You come to the point of complete love for Him.    

This love drives us to obey His Word out of our deep reverence and awe for Him and what He has done for us.  Charles Bridges, a Pastor and Theologian from England in the 1800’s quotes on the “fear of the Lord”.  “It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law.  His wrath is so bitter, and His love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please Him, and – because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptation – a holy watchfulness and fear, that we might not sin against Him”

It appears that no topic escaped King Solomon’s attention.  Matters pertaining to personal conduct, sexual relations, business, wealth, charity, ambition, self-control, discipline, debt, training of children, character, alcohol, politics, revenge, and godliness are among the many topics covered in this rich collection of wise sayings.  Proverbs outlines for us the character of the wise: they listen to instruction (1:5); obey what they hear (10:8); store up what they learn (10:14); win others to the Lord (11:30); flee from sin (14:16); watch their tongue (16:23); and are diligent in their daily work (10:5).

We commonly think of wisdom as the ability to use knowledge in the right way, and this is a practical definition.  But, in the Bible, wisdom means so much more.  True wisdom is a matter of the heart and not the mind alone.  It is a spiritual matter.  There is a “wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 2:1-8, and James 3:13-18), and there is a divine wisdom from above.  In Proverbs, wisdom is actually pictured as a lovely women who calls people to follow her into a life of blessing and success.  Folly is pictured as a wicked women who tempts the foolish and leads them to hell.  Of course, Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God to the believer (1 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3). 

The book of Proverbs summons us to understand and apply all of God’s revealed wisdom for all of life.  This rich book of short, pithy wisdom presents a consistent theme: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. 

Can I challenge each of you to make a New Year’s resolution to study the book of Proverbs, meditate on it, and let it transform your life? 

Your brother in-Christ, Jim Nelson

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