Lessons From the Old Testament: Seeking Wisdom

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter ...
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The book of Proverbs teaches us the value of wisdom, but in addition it teaches us how to seek it.  There are at least three perspectives Proverbs gives us in this regard:

1.  Wisdom is only acquired by those who want it badly enough.

Here is the challenge from Solomon to those who want wisdom: If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5).  It is not surprising, therefore, that if you would gain a full understanding on any topic addressed in Proverbs you will need to go to the labor of reading through what would seem to be a jumble of proverbs to find and categorize each according to topic.  Solomon does not  make it easy for us because only those who want it badly enough will pursue it.

2.  Wisdom will not be found by those who demand simplicity.

Every issue in Proverbs has many sides to it.  “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4), yet not all poverty can be attributed to laziness:  “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker” (14:31).  And poverty isn’t the worst thing: “Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (16:19).  Only the fool looks for easy answers.

3.  Wisdom will not be found by those who want guarantees and rules.

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (26:4,5).  So which is it?  It is one answer in one situation, and it is another answer in another situation.  Jesus refuses to answer the Pharisees on one occasion (Matthew 21:23-27).  Paul chooses to answer the false apostles with his own “foolishness” on another occasion (2 Corinthians 11).  Some would like to take Proverbs 22:6 as a promise (“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”) because they want to ignore the reality that some parents do exactly that and their child still chooses to remain in disobedience even as an adult.

Are you willing to seek wisdom?  Get out your prospector’s pick, you’re going digging.

For further study:   Interpreting Proverbs by Robert V. McCabe