God’s Merciful Gift of Wisdom

Christianity is unique among world religions because it does not ask for a man to live a holy life in order to merit reward or eternal bliss.  Instead, Christians live holy lives as a result of the mercy and grace bestowed upon them as Christ abides in them and they in Him.  Eternal life is more than a destination for Christians; it is a quality of life that the world’s religions cannot offer.

Proverbs 1, 8, and 9 contain personifications of wisdom.  A personification attributes personal, human-like qualities and activities to abstract concepts like wisdom.  Jesus Christ is often thought to be wisdom in these passages.  The fact that the representation is female doesn’t prevent us from identifying wisdom with Christ.  Wisdom is a feminine noun in Hebrew; therefore, when a pronoun refers to the noun, translators normally use the feminine form.

Increasingly, people are intensely adverse to having their corrupt behavior identified and confronted.  It’s always been this way.  Extrapolate and explain the consequences of foolish behavior, call for repentance and conversion, and speak firmly, lovingly, and compassionately.  These are our responsibilities as Christians.  But more and more, they are not well-received in our entitled world.  You will be thought as a fanatic but also as very weak-minded and enslaved.  You can feel the sneers and mocking glances.  However, if we must lose the favor of man for the favor of God, then so be it.

What is foolish to people in our lives is wisdom to God.  Nothing we say or teach or promise will persuade men unless the proclamation, teaching, and promises come from the Word of God.  The voice of wisdom is found only in the all-sufficient Word.  It is calling aloud outside and raising her voice in the open squares.  Wisdom and God confront us in Proverbs 1.20-33.  There are two important aspects to this text:

  1. God’s grace comes to those who will receive wisdom.
  2. God’s judgment comes to those who despise wisdom.

Receiving Wisdom

“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity” (Proverbs 1.22a)?  It’s not only to the willingly naive that the invitation to receive wisdom is given, but to the morally dull and obstinate (the fool).  It’s not only to the naive and obstinate that the invitation to receive wisdom is given, but to the worst of the fools, namely the scorner.  This is the one who delights in mockery, acts with insolent pride (Proverbs 21.24), hates correction and will not tolerate authority (Proverbs 15.12), responds with insult (Proverbs 9.7-8), and will not listen to rebuke (Proverbs 13.1).  You would think that God would not invite these types of foolish people to receive anything but judgment.  However, love and mercy belong to God.  So, God invites them to turn at His rebuke that the spirit of wisdom might be poured out upon them (Proverbs 1.23).  If they will, God will make His words of wisdom known to them.  How much better off we would be, if we allowed words of wisdom from parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to prevail upon us!  But often we think nothing of justifying our foolish actions, multiplying our guilt before God, and turning a blind eye to clearly indefensible thoughts and conduct.  We must turn at His rebuke.

The LORD is gracious to make promises to those who accept His invitation to receive wisdom.  Our weakness in temptation and ignorance of what is right keeps us under the sway of the wicked one.  We hear the voice of the LORD calling us to turn at His rebuke, but we don’t know what to do or how to turn.  Surely the LORD will pour out His Holy Spirit upon our spirit.  He will provide the Spirit of Wisdom and of Grace.  He will make His words known to us.  “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3.1).  Turn at His rebuke and receive wisdom.

Despising Wisdom

God calls, but what if we refuse (Proverbs 1.24)?  What if He stretches out His hand, the hand of wisdom, and no one regards Him?  What if we disdain all of wisdom’s counsel, and have none of His rebuke?  Then all that is left is not the tender invitation of wisdom, but her laughter at our calamity, her mockery when the terror of judgment falls upon us like a storm or a destructive whirlwind.  This is when distress and anguish comes upon us because we have despised wisdom (Proverbs 1.25-27).

Vengeance belongs to the LORD.  There comes a day when we call on God …on wisdom, but there is no answer (Proverbs 1.28).  We seek for wisdom diligently, but do not find her.  We have despised wisdom, hated knowledge, and do not choose the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1.29).  We would not have any of wisdom’s counsel.  Instead of turning at wisdom’s rebuke, we despised wisdom’s rebuke (Proverbs 1.30).  Therefore we shall eat the fruit of our own way, a way we have chosen (Proverbs 1.31).  We are filled to the full with our own fancies …our own foolishness.  There simply isn’t any room for God or for wisdom in our lives.

Receive wisdom and know the goodness of the LORD.  God is good and only gives that which is good.  If anyone lacks wisdom, simply ask of God and He will give it.  Many of us have been persistent in our disobedience in spite of God’s merciful invitations to get wisdom.  We have squandered days, weeks, months, and even years toiling in our simplicity.  God is patient and longsuffering.  Day after day He renews His merciful invitation to receive wisdom.  But consider those who have lived lives cut off from wisdom because of their sins.  God’s patience must end in our repentance.  Repent today while it is still called to day.

Despise wisdom and know the justice of the LORD.  It is true that God is not willing that any should perish; however, it is also true that all must come to repentance in order to live an eternal quality of life.  God will by no means clear the guilty.  He repays wickedness in this life and in the life to come.  God will do right.  “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31).  Receive wisdom and all the promises she affords by the grace of our Almighty Father.

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