Proverbs – Wisdom That Works – Part 1
Backstory and Beginnings: How to Become Wise – Proverbs 1:1; 1 Kings 3:3-15
Crosspoint Church – Dave Spooner – May 16th, 2021
- Wisdom literature connection – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job (and sometimes SOS) are considered the “wisdom literature” in the Bible.
- Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job deal with the subject of how we are best to live our lives while we are here on the earth in view of our relationship with God and each other.
- The big theme of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job – providence and the sovereignty of God – is the thread that is woven into all three of these books. Here are three key verses for each of these books: Proverbs 3:5-6, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Job 42:2-6.
- Proverbs gives us general principles of life: wisdom that works, insights for living, guidance for all who will listen.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
- We have a choice between following our own understanding or choosing to submit to God and His ways. In so doing, He will make our paths straight.
- Ecclesiastes deals with the exception that sometimes good things happen to bad people (the race is not always won by the fastest, large inheritances are given to fools, evil people get away with evil, and it looks as if life is random and therefore somewhat meaningless. However, here is the conclusion which is drawn.
Eccl. 12:13-14 NIV
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
- The bottom line is God is sovereign. Fear Him and follow Him, for we will all give account to Him, and nothing that we do is hidden from Him.
- Job deals with the exception of when bad things happen to good people and deals with the question of the wisdom, goodness, and sovereignty of God.
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
- We are not as smart and wise as we think we are. There is so much we do not know and cannot understand. We are to give ourselves over to the wisdom and sovereignty of God and choose to follow Him and trust Him in love and humility.
General Overview of Proverbs and this series:
- Proverbs is cited about 60 times in the New Testament. (NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible)
Backstory and Beginnings: How to Become Wise
Proverbs 1:1 NIV
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, King of Israel:
- Solomon was the son of the famous King David (the Bible contains much about David’s life). God gave this promise to David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Sam 7:16 NIV) He promised David that his son will sit on his throne. “The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: ‘One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.’ ” (Ps 132:11 ESV)
- David had many wives, and there was tension as to which of David’s sons would sit on his throne. While David was dying, one of his sons, Adonijah, took the throne for himself, and David remedied the situation by giving the command that Solomon was to be the next king (see 1 Kings 1-3).
- We can see God’s sovereign mercy in the selection of this son, Solomon, to be the next king based on the backstory of his parents. This understanding leads us to the first point of becoming a person of wisdom, that we each need to receive God’s mercy in understanding our backstory, that each of us is a recipient of the mercy of God.
Receive the mercy of God
2 Sam. 12:24-25 NIV
Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
- God, gives us mercy because He chooses to. God gives us love because He chooses to. He actually delights in choosing the lowly, weak, common, foolish things for His kingdom and His purposes so that none of us would be given over to boast about how great we are (see 1 Cor. 1:26-30).
- In order to become wise, we have to receive God’s mercy with humility, understanding that He is the one who chooses us, not that we choose Him. And He is the one who loved us first; we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Embrace the love of God
1 Kings 3:3–4 NIV
Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.
- Solomon, in response to the love of God, embraces His love by receiving this love and loving Him in return. He showed love by walking in what he knew was good, right, and just and in worshiping the Lord.
Understand your place
1 Kings 3:5-7 NIV
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.
- Solomon knew that who he and his family were, was the result of the kindness of God. He understood that he was first a servant of God, that God was not his servant nor was He obligated to him. Solomon saw himself first as a servant, and this was his place.
- Solomon went low and was humble. God resists the proud and draws close to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). Humility and servanthood are key characteristics of those who are wise.
Recognize your task
1 Kings 3:8 NIV
Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.
- Understand what you have been given to do. You need wisdom to know what to do with what you have been given. We make a mistake in not grasping what we are responsible for. Our first responsibility is what God has given to us, and then second is understanding how we can best use what He has given us and what He is asking us to do.
- God never asks you to do something that you can accomplish in your own strength. “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Ask for what you need to do His will
1 Kings 3:9 NIV
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
- Notice what Solomon asked for; he asked to be given what he needed to accomplish what was asked out of love of the Lord and service to him. His motives were pure and in line with the will of the Father, and what was asked was give to him and even more.
1 Kings 3:10-14 NIV
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
- God in His goodness gives us more than we need and more than we deserve. This is why Paul writes “Now to him who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21 NIV)
1 Kings 4:29-30
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.
- And these things are written and preserved for us in the Bible, for us to learn and apply to our own lives.
Conclusion and Communion
- Receive God’s mercy and love, respond in humility and service, ask for what you need, and God will provide what is needed, glorify Himself, and reward you with satisfaction.
- Jesus is called the “wisdom of God.” He is the source of all true wisdom and demonstrated this wisdom by how He interacted with us. He is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
1 Cor 1:30 NIV
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.