“WHAT IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM?” — Proverbs 9:1-10 (8-16-2015)

August 16, 2015 Text: Proverbs 9:1-10

Dear Friends in Christ,

One morning the young new president of a bank made an appointment with his predecessor to seek some advice. He said, “Sir, could you provide some of the insights you have gained from your years here that have been the keys to your success.”
The older man looked at him with a stare and replied: “Young man, two words: good decisions.” The young man responded, “Thank you, but how does one come to know which is the good decision?” “One word, young man: experience.” “But how does one get experience?” “Two words, young man: bad decisions.”
Do you agree with that? Have you learned more from your bad decisions than your good decisions? And that wisdom you have been gaining throughout your lifetime, where does it come from? The wonderful Old Testament Book of Proverbs is going to help us answer the question . . .
The Book of Proverbs, God’s instruction book to bestow the Lord’s wisdom through King Solomon and others is filled with gems like this: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Prov. 3:7-8) “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” (Prov. 17:14) “A man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Prov. 10:9) And then this beauty as we get into the text: “If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” (Prov. 9:12) Those are pretty good, aren’t they? And there are 31 chapters of such wisdom.
We are focused on the beginning of chapter 9. The beginning verses are the invitation to wisdom. Everyone is invited to come and gain wisdom. Verse 6, “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” The life wisdom gives is more than our health and well-being. It is the life that God gives, life that is meaningful, satisfying, and God-pleasing.
There are going to be roadblocks as we live this life of wisdom that the Lord grants. Verse 7 identifies such. “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.” How true! How true! I have shared my own stories over the years at ballgames and other places how this happens. Now sometimes you might think your semi-old Pastor is a little over the top with some of this and then this recent story from my father. It seems my niece was driving on the Beltline in Madison, Wisconsin recently when a male on a motorcycle starting following her and shouting profanities at her. What had she done? Flipped him off? Cut him off? No. As she exited the Beltline and he continued his pursuit, he was yelling at her because she had an ichthus on her car, the Christian fish symbol and he didn’t like it. He actually got off his ride and was going to confront her when she was able to drive away safely. “Do not reprove a scoffer or he will hate you.”
So we need the Lord’s wisdom as we battle the evil. The wisdom of God is personified in Jesus. He came to give us life to the full. He gave His life on the cross to restore us to God and by teaching us God’s wisdom for our lives.
The text tells us that we gain wisdom by eating Wisdom’s food and drinking Wisdom’s wine. How we do this is clarified in verse 10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” There is the answer. Wisdom flows from a right relationship with God characterized by trust in His love, awe of His greatness, and fear of offending Him.
Too often we think we know it all. As a result, we live dangerously and hurt others and ourselves. We can easily become smug and self-righteous and cut ourselves off from God. We discover that we have a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do. We desperately need what Jesus has to offer.
Jesus has freed us from our foolishness and bad decisions. His life, death, and resurrection take away the guilt. As the Word made flesh, Jesus came into the world with grace and truth. The truth of His Word guides us into wisdom and knowledge and helps us make good and right decisions. Jesus is the giver of God’s life for wise and godly living to all who believe in Him.
Look to Jesus, the wisdom of God and the power of God, to learn and live wisdom. He enables us to fear and love God so that we live wisely. He teaches us and empowers us through His Word and nourishes our faith and life in Him through the banquet of his body and blood until we eat and drink with Him in the heavenly kingdom. Until then, we happily learn and live wisdom and find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”