If you'd like to read the Bible, but you're not sure which book to read, allow me to recommend one that will help you think more deeply about how we ought to live our lives: Proverbs. This book has an endearing and very honest tone as you read through it. It's as though you can almost hear a father's voice speaking to you. It's also a book that proves it's teachings to be true, as the author, Solomon's own life would later demonstrate how harmful neglecting these appeals of wisdom can be on a person's life.
Reading through this book may at first seem intimidating. If pondering on deep thoughts and sayings are not a normal part of your culture or daily life, it may even seem foreign and difficult to understand. However, it has been my experience that things become more clear when reading through this book, several chapters at a sitting, and reading them multiple times. The first chapters in Proverbs really seem to be emphasizing 5 things to me that I'd like to share here.
Wisdom Comes From God
There is something God has provided us with in order to make decisions in this life that are for our own good and the good of others, and that is wisdom. Before we were created, God used wisdom to create the universe.
"The LORD founded the earth by wisdom, He established the heavens by understanding. By His knowledge the ocean depths were burst open, and the clouds drip with dew." (Proverbs 3:19-20)
Since God is the source of wisdom, we must humbly recognize He has something that we need, and not turn elsewhere and deceive ourselves into believing we have acquired wisdom apart from Him.
"For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He watches over the way of His godly ones." (Proverbs 2:6-8)
Wisdom Is Precious
Often we focus all of our strength and attention on acquiring possessions in this life, and neglect seeing the value of wisdom over those things.
"Blessed is a person who finds wisdom, and one who obtains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver, and her produce better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her." (Proverbs 3:13-15)
We need to get some perspective and understand how much more precious the acquisition of wisdom can be for our life than the things we are currently in pursuit after. Wisdom will help us make sound decisions in life to help us think about the bigger picture rather than simply living in the moment and later regretting our simplistic thinking.
Wisdom Is Needed
We have authored and spread many well known cliches that make excuses for living recklessly, giving little thought to our choices. We might even go as far as saying we needed to make those poor choices in order to learn from them and grow in our knowledge in this life. However, God has provided wisdom for us in the Bible, especially in Proverbs, in order to help us to be aware of the consequences that will inevitably follow our poor choices, and help keep us from making them.
"My son, pay attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. They are not to escape from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:20-23)
Wisdom is necessary. Even our bodies are impacted by whether we live wisely or not. When we make poor choices, follow the wrong crowd, and live differently than God commands us, we will create a less than ideal existence for ourselves. Physical and emotional pitfalls are waiting for us if we ignore God's wisdom.
You Must Seek Wisdom
It is very clear that the father in Proverbs urges his listener to do his own part in weighing carefully what is being said. He speaks with a sense of urgency and caution, while at the same time pointing out that many people ignore wisdom and why this must not be the case.
"My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom; incline your heart to understanding. For if you cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and discover the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:1-5)
When you want something, you pursue it until you have acquired it. In the same way, we must desire wisdom in such a way that we will stop at nothing until we have acquired it from God. We must dedicate time studying the wisdom He has given us in the Bible, and we must come to Him in prayer seeking help and clarity in every area of our lives.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7)
A lack of intentionality on our part by default leaves us living as though we don't need God or His wisdom, and instead we are choosing to trust ourselves, rather than Him.
You Must Live By Wisdom
As already stated in the beginning, although this loving father passes on the wisdom he has acquired from God, he does not live by it in his own life, as can be seen in other books of the Bible. However, his life's poor choices serve to highlight that our acquiring wisdom is not the final step, but actually living by it is what is ultimately necessary. What good is knowing how to live, if we aren't going to live by that information? There is a relationship in place, a dependance in God in order to live the best way possible.
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)
There is more than one way we can despise wisdom. We can resist learning wisdom in the first place, but we can also resist living by that wisdom. As we pursue the LORD, by learning more about Him and what He tells us is the truth, we are living for Him and placing ourselves under His Lordship. A refusal to live according to the wisdom He has graciously and faithfully provided us with is to rebel against His authority in our lives. There are consequences for our choices, and some can reach an eternal extent. Living wisely, obeying what God teaches us in the Bible, will reap the fruit of life, whereas ignoring wisdom may lead to the consequence of physical death for some, and perhaps even spiritual death for eternity.
"For the ways of everyone are before the eyes of the LORD, and He observes all his paths. His own wrongdoings will trap the wicked, and he will be held by the ropes of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his foolishness he will go astray." (Proverbs 5:21-23)
"For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate with the upright. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous." (Proverbs 3:32-33)
"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble." (Proverbs 4:18-19)
Choose the path of the righteous. Pursue wisdom from God and live by it as you follow Jesus, the Righteous One.
For further study: