Bible Proverbs: Christian Wisdom

Proverbs is a textbook of wisdom. Throughout, the bible contrasts archetypes, the fool and the wise person. From these archetypes we learn what God expects from us.

Proverbs is a textbook of wisdom. Throughout, the book contrasts archetypes, the fool and the wise person. From these archetypes we learn what God expects from us. What does a wise person look like?

The book of Proverbs was written almost entirely by King Solomon. Solomon has been known through the ages as a wise man, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this book is a collection of his wisdom. It is unknown when the book was written except that it was early in the reign of King Solomon.

Proverbs is 31 chapters long and for this reason is often used for daily devotional readings. It would be easy to think that the writings would become stale after months of repetition, but just the opposite is true. I've used the Proverbs for devotionals for years and find new wisdom in them with each reading.

Solomon defines wisdom by example. Throughout the book, at least five major themes emerge: obtaining wisdom through knowledge and understanding, striving for holiness, avoiding anger and strife, keeping our own counsel and valuing hard work. The person that can apply these values achieves wisdom. In contrast, the fool is the antithesis of one who values these things. This comparison is made repeatedly, reinforcing the value of wisdom.

Obtain knowledge and understanding

More than all others, the point that Solomon tries to drive home is that wisdom comes from knowledge and understanding. Knowledge is the acquisition of a set of facts. Understanding is the ability to apply and build on facts. One without the other has little value.

He also makes the point that we obtain knowledge from listening. Over and over Solomon stresses that hearing instruction leads to wisdom. He further advises receiving constructive criticism willingly. These two pieces of advice are easily given but hard to follow. In order to do so, we have to set aside our egos and that is a monumental task. Here are some of Solomon's teachings:

· "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:" (Proverbs 1:5)

· "Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not." (Proverbs 8:33)

· "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)

· "The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge." (Proverbs 18:15)

The cycle of holy wisdom

Solomon understood that all things come from God. He also knew that to learn about and understand the teachings of God was to gain knowledge. Beyond learning is the application of knowledge. He teaches that to understand God's lessons is the way to salvation and that leading others to understanding is a mark of wisdom. We can gain this kind of holy knowledge and understanding by paying attention to the company we keep. If you seek understanding, follow those that demonstrate understanding.

If you imagine a circle you can visualize how wisdom and salvation are achieved. At the top of the circle in the 12 o'clock position, place yourself with a spiritual mentor. Moving around the clock to the 3 o'clock position, you've gained respect for the Lord and are learning to understand His holiness. At the 6 o'clock position, you've gained knowledge, understanding and salvation. At the 9 o'clock position, you are ready to witness and lead others to understanding. Back to the 12 o'clock position, you are ready to serve as mentor.

We never really complete the circle. We will be perpetually the student and the teacher as there is always something new to learn and gain understanding of in the Word of God.

· "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)

· "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." (Proverbs 11:30)

· "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." (Proverbs 13:20)

Avoid conflict and anger

More energy is wasted on conflict than anything else. Conflicts and anger are seldom righteous in nature. Even when they start out over a righteous cause, the problem quickly becomes the conflict and not the righteous cause. Entire churches and nations have been destroyed over foolish conflicts that could have been dropped had anyone been wise enough to walk away. Solomon teaches us to avoid conflict, strife and anger. Even the best argument is wasted on a fool.

· "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." (Proverbs 14:16)

· "It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling." (Proverbs 20:3)

· "It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom." (Proverbs 10:23)

Keep your own counsel

Sometimes the very best thing you can do is stay silent. It's also good to reveal yourself to only a few people where opinion is concerned. Avoiding conflict is most easily done by not being drawn into it in the first place. This is achieved effectively with silence.

· "A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." (Proverbs 29:11)

· "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." (Proverbs 17:28)

Work hard

Most everything worth having has to be worked for and so it is with wisdom. We don't gain knowledge and understanding by sitting idle. Solomon understood the value of hard work and made it a major theme of the Proverbs.

· "He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame." (Proverbs 10:5)

· "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:" (Proverbs 6:6)


With wisdom comes reward. Solomon's teachings were aimed mostly at our spirit, because he understood that feeding our spirit would benefit our lives. Beyond the physical life, gaining knowledge and understanding, learning holiness, keeping peace and working hard are all goals of those who seek the Kingdom of God. The Proverbs of Solomon will help us reap success in this world and the next when we understand them and apply them.

· "The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools." (Proverbs 3:35)

· "A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength." (Proverbs 24:5)

· "He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good." (Proverbs 19:8)

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