Saturday, June 10, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 17, Wisdom Is Power, Part One

We live in a world that sometimes seems out of control. We might feel tempted to throw up our hands and ask whether anything we do really matters. But the person who possesses godly wisdom has no need for such a fatalistic attitude. We are not at the mercy of "fate". We are not powerless to make changes in our lives. Godly wisdom is power! Today Solomon discusses some very practical ways in which wisdom helps us lead productive and successful lives.

"Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: 'To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.'" (Proverbs 8:1-4) The king says, "You can't excuse your foolishness by claiming wisdom was too hard to find. It isn't. The person who wants godly wisdom can have it. The Lord is close to all who call upon Him. He is eager to teach men and women about righteous living. He will not withhold godly wisdom from anyone who seeks it."

Wisdom, personified here as a woman, continues, "You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for I detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge." (Proverbs 8:5-11) The wisdom that comes from God can be trusted because God cannot tell a lie. (Titus 1:2) Worldly wisdom can lead us astray. On almost any subject we decide to Google we can find conflicting advice and confusing information. But God's word is one hundred percent trustworthy. It's solid enough to support us our whole lives through. It's powerful enough to get us into heaven.

Wisdom urges us to choose godly wisdom above all other things, even above wealth and fame. "Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10-11) Solomon possessed wealth and fame. He was known throughout the ancient world. He was the richest king on earth and even in today's money he would likely take the top spot on the Forbes 500 list. He had more worldly wisdom than anyone who had ever lived, but because he spent most of his life out of fellowship with the Lord, he lacked the godly wisdom that comes with having a relationship with the Creator. So now he knows from experience that it's better to be poor and know the Lord than to be wealthy but spiritually empty.

Many valuable characteristics are developed in the person who has godly wisdom. "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion." (Proverbs 8:12) As we studied earlier in the week, wisdom empowers us to think before we act. When we look up the word "discretion" in the thesaurus we find out that the person who has it gives attention to what he is doing. He is mature and responsible. He is vigilant, careful, and cautious. He considers all the potential consequences before taking action. He is shrewd, thoughtful, and possesses good common sense. Who doesn't want these qualities? Qualities such as these will help us avoid making many a terrible decision. The one who lacks godly wisdom is like the foolish youth we've studied for the past two days. He was the type of person who simply goes with the flow, who lives in the moment, and who doesn't think ahead to the potential consequences of his sin.

We will conclude today's passage with this beautiful statement, "To fear the Lord is to hate evil." (Proverbs 8:13a) We cannot love the One who is goodness and light and perfection and righteousness without hating His polar opposite, which is evil. We can easily test ourselves and our love for the Lord by pondering on whether we find it easy to sin against Him, for the Lord Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commands." (John 14:15) Of course we will never achieve perfection as long as we live in these human bodies on this fallen world, but if we examine our hearts and realize we are finding it far too easy to sin against the Lord, and especially if our consciences don't trouble us about it, then we have drifted too far from Him. Solomon is a good example of this. He appears to have begun his reign in the right spirit. He prayed a very humble and sincere prayer at the dedication of the temple. But he gradually drifted away from the Lord into sin and his conscience became so hardened that his sin didn't trouble him. It was only after the emptiness of his heart drove him into deep depression and despair that he came to his senses and realized that he would never find satisfaction in a life that didn't include the Lord.

If you're feeling empty and dissatisfied today, maybe it's because you haven't spent any quiet time with the Lord lately. I know from experience that this is often the cause of my depression. When I start to feel aggravated at every little thing, or when there's a restlessness in my spirit, it's because I've been too busy doing all sorts of other things and ignoring time with the Lord. It's so easy in our busy world to prioritize other things above spending time with God, but the truth is that we will have a better handle on everything else if we make Him our number one priority. If we keep the Lord in His proper place in our lives, everything else will fall into its proper place. We will have a sense of security and confidence at the core of our being. We will have peace in our hearts. We will be better able to organize other aspects of our lives when we keep God in the number one spot.

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