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Monday, December 21, 2009

On Wisdom and Understanding

In Proverbs 9, the writer continues the theme of wisdom personified (as in Proverbs 4 and 8) and again wisdom and understanding walk hand in hand. Here Wisdom has built a magnificent home and prepares to receive guests. Bypassing the usual modes of invitation, she goes to the "heights of the city" and calls out loudly that all might hear her. She is seeking the naive, the fool, to come to her and forsake folly. Her food and drink are sustenance for the soul.

Invitation
"Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table; she has sent out her maidens, she calls from the tops of the heights of the city: 'Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!' To him who lacks understanding she says, 'Come, eat of my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding'" (vv. 1-6).

The next thing the writer does is explain why anyone who gives this invitation is accepted and loved - or rejected and dishonored.

Contrast
"He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning" (vv. 7-9).

Then a clear definition of wisdom and understanding is given, eliminating confusion or doubt, and a promise is given to the one who embraces them.

Definition
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you" (vv. 10-11).

And finally, the writer makes known that wisdom must be obtained by each person on his own. A child is not automatically a Christian because his parents are believers (I have heard it said many a time that God does not have grandchildren, only children). He must make that decision himself. And if he refuses the invitation and scoffs wisdom and understanding, he alone will bear the consequences.

Responsibility
"If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it" (v. 12).

Only you, as a result of understanding the depth of your sin, can repent of those sins and turn to the Savior to beg for forgiveness. No one else can do that for you. If you do so, wisdom, understanding and eternal life in Christ are yours; if you don't, the dreaded and unthinkable consequences of abiding hell are eternally yours to bear.

The Christmas Gift
If you have never pursued the wealth that is gained in obtaining the wisdom of fearing God and the understanding of the indescribable Gift that His Son, Jesus Christ is to a dying world, let this be the time you do so. Get a Bible in your hands. Open it. Read it. Seek wisdom, get understanding, receive the Way, Truth, and Life and then have yourself a very Merry Christmas indeed.

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