Proverbs 3: 1 – 12.
To be wise is to move beyond one’s ethics, morality and righteousness, to a level of competency in solving life’s intricate issues. The Book of Proverbs provides us with some handles in our quest to acquire wisdom. It is first and foremost to faithfully and patiently walk a routine journey with our Lord, learning to understand and adapt to life around us, as we seek to see issues through His eyes. It is certainly not about developing a technique attempting to second-guess God’s will but to just follow Him along this ‘straight path’ that He had planned for us (Eph 2:10; Prov 3:6). There are no short-cuts to wisdom, as it is contingent on an inseparably intimate relationship. The writer of the Book described it thus (Prov 3:3): “do not let love and faithfulness leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” The Hebrew words ‘hesed’ and ‘emet’ (love and faithfulness) are linked synonymously, as they customarily describe a part of Yahweh’s character. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to intentionally and constantly draw near to God to actuate this profound relationship, allowing His Holy Spirit to transform us in Christ. This is the goal towards becoming like Him in unassailable love and faithfulness, with an inner confidence in our God (c.f., Rom 8:28-30; James 4: 7-10).
It seemed inevitable that as we begin ‘to know’ God, we gain a deeper insight into our own foolish heart (Prov 3:5-6). Consequently, wisdom is concurrently about being in touch with the reality of our innate limitations, weaknesses, and foolishness in all its glaring inconsistencies; where an intense relationship with our holy God will inescapably raise a mirror towards our own human fallibility! Knowing ourselves acutely can be deflating and at times excruciatingly painful, if not for the secure foundational embrace of God’s irrepressible and committed ‘hesed’ and ’emet’ over us (Rom 5:6-11; Heb 13:5-6). Moreover, the Lord has also surrounded us in community with wise God-fearing men and women, who are themselves well on the way into ‘the straight path,’ to aid us in our faltering steps. Hence, the acquisition of wisdom, where the disciplines of love and faithfulness are openly modelled, as intended by God, is never in isolation; it is meant to be taught and expressed in community and principally for the benefit for others (c.f., Prov 3:7-8).
All enriching relationships are based on our grasping of certain principles of wholesome associating in mutuality and reciprocity, and in this respect, there is no difference with Yahweh. God has differentiated the basis for a holy rapport with Him only in Christ (John 14:6; Rom 8:29-30; Eph 2:18), and this entailed a familiarity with and an unswerving obedience to His Word (John 14:15). The Bible is replete with commands and obligations for the faithful, and in this regard, one of the writer’s pertinent instructions in this segment to the wise is to honour Him from their wealth (Prov 3:9-10). Wealth, as a blessing from God, is specifically presented for its persistent immoral and unethical hold over the human heart. A wise person knows he is only a steward over his aggregated belongings, and as such, is accountable for how he handles it and disposes of it (Ps 24:1; Ps 50:10-11; Haggai 2:8; 1 Cor 4:6-7). It is this lack of a sense of entitlement that detaches us from whatever wealth we may possess, that would enrich us in not lacking anything as God will meet our every need (Prov 3:10-11; Ps 84:11; Matt 6:33-34; Rom 8:32). It is obvious that an element of faith, small be it as a mustard seed, is required to live in this mode!
In this world, ‘the straight path’ includes its fair share of difficult and troubling scenarios, and it is under these trying circumstances over our lifetime that we become schooled in wisdom (Prov 3:11-12); for wisdom routinely faces suffering head on with grace and perseverance, devoid of self-centeredness (Heb 10:32-34). It is in this humbling learning process that our relationship with God grows as our appreciation for His Word deepens, where knowledge of ourselves mature, and our commitment to our supporting community strengthens (c.f., John 8:34-36). We have the assurance that whichever path He sets for us, He has unswervingly committed Himself to walk through it with us (Heb 13:5-6).