Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 3, If Wisdom Were A Person

Solomon gives wisdom a personality as if it were a human being with a voice.

"Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech." (Ecclesiastes 1:20-21) He says, "Godly wisdom is not hard to find. She's out in the open. She raises her voice and invites us to learn. I spent many years of life pursuing the wrong kinds of wisdom and knowledge, while all along the right kind of wisdom was pursuing me."

This is what the voice of wisdom asks, "How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?" (Ecclesiastes 1:22) Wisdom encourages the listener to take stock of his life. How long will he keep going down the wrong path? How many more years will he waste by living apart from the Lord?

The action taking place in verse 22 is similar to the action that takes place when the Holy Spirit goes to work on us. His is the voice that troubles our consciences. His is the voice that promises something better in exchange for our sinful way of living. When we stop trying to shut our ears to His words and actually start listening, His is the same message that wisdom delivers in the next verse, "Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you all my teachings." (Ecclesiastes 1:23) 

Repentance comes first and fellowship with the Lord follows. Then the Holy Spirit, as Christ promised, "will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you." (John 16:13-14) Our Lord wants us to learn of Him. He desires to pour out His thoughts to us. He wants us to pour out our thoughts to Him. This is how we develop human relationships and this is how we develop a relationship with God, by two-way communication. He will make known to us His teachings and will lead us in the right direction. He says, "Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3) 

What does wisdom have to say of the one who continually resists godly wisdom, who has no desire to repent and live a life that honors the Lord? "But since you refuse to listen when I call and since no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you---when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you." (Proverbs 1:24-27) Wisdom remarks, "In the day when the trouble you've brought on yourself falls on you, I will have nothing to say but, 'I told you so.'" Solomon may have learned this imagery from his father David, who told us not to fret over the evildoers in this world, "The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming." (Psalm 37:12-13) David pictures the Lord laughing at those who think they will obtain victory over His children. In the same way wisdom laughs at those who think they can commit evil deeds and get away with them.

"Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes." (Proverbs 1:28-29) Wisdom is not saying that there will come a point when the person who wants to repent can't repent. She's saying something like this, "You wouldn't listen to me when I daily cried out to you. You wouldn't heed my warnings. You wouldn't accept my wisdom. Now that you're in trouble and are experiencing the natural consequences of your deeds, you want me to come and bail you out, but it's better for you to endure these hardships and learn your lesson." 

Wisdom is speaking about learning lessons the hard way, as Solomon did. She's not saying God will cover His ears and refuse to accept anyone's sincere repentance. As any parent knows, sometimes it's better not to step in and keep a child from having to deal with the consequences of his rebellion and disobedience. If someone constantly makes all the problems go away, the child will never learn to take responsibility. God dealt with wayward Israel in the same way a parent would deal with a disobedient child, by allowing them to reap the consequences of their continual rebellion so they would learn not to stray from Him. He allowed calamities to come upon them because this is how they behaved,  "All day long I have held out My hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations," and, "My people have forgotten Me days without number". (Isaiah 65:2, Jeremiah 2:32) Yet when they learned their lesson and repented, the Lord did not close His ears to their cries. This is what He promised to do when that time came, "Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

Why should we seek godly wisdom? Because wisdom says, "For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." (Proverbs 1:32-33) Solomon is speaking more in legal terms than in spiritual terms. To live an honest life is to be free of the fear of being called before a judge or of being cast into prison. Doing what's right keeps a person from being afraid someone will suddenly serve a warrant on him or break down the door or seize evidence of a crime. Obeying the laws of the land and the laws of God keeps a person out of a great deal of trouble. Solomon isn't promising us that hard times will never come into the lives of the godly. We know better from our study of Job and we know better from our own experience. But he's saying, "Do you want to live in peace? Do you want to go about your business and enjoy your blessings? Then you must live wisely and honestly."

These verses also have a spiritual application. God cannot bless disobedience. To do so would be to reinforce the behavior, the same as rewarding a child for disobedience would reinforce the behavior. If our lives are ruled by godly wisdom, we need have no fear of God's wrath. He may allow troubling circumstances to come into our lives for other purposes, but they won't be coming into our lives in order to discipline us. We will be able to endure them with clear consciences, with the encouragement of knowing there is nothing between us and God. He will be our comfort and strength. 

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