Wise up, fool

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom and whatever you get, get insight” (Proverbs 4:7). We all want to be wise, every body agrees on that. The question is how do we get wisdom? And what does the wise life look like? Most of us are busy, tired and working hard, but are we spending our energies wisely? Or will we look back and regret the activities with which we exhausted ourselves?
 
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and specifically of practical wisdom. It seeks to guide us to live lives that reflect the wisdom of God. We have been reading the early chapters in our small groups, but why not read the whole book during March? (31 days in March, 31 chapters in Proverbs). During the month we will write a series of blogs every few days to give some pointers as we read.
 
Where do we start? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). People sometimes note that Proverbs does not explicitly refer to the story of salvation history and that many of the short sayings in chapters 10-30 do not even mention God. Right from the very start of the book, however, we see that the heart of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. This is a deeper wisdom that mere human sayings.
 
As we read Proverbs, it is helpful to distinguish between law and wisdom. The law has no exceptions and must always be followed. Wisdom states the general way of the world. So Proverbs 10:4, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” is a statement of the way that God’s world normally works not a promise that hard work will always lead to wealth. Sometimes Proverbs which do not seem to come to pass in this life need to be set into the context of eternity
 
The book uses expressive language and metaphor. If we savour the language and images as we read them it will help this wisdom to sink deeper into our hearts.

Richard Dryer, 27/02/2015

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