By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Get Wisdom: Principles from Proverbs
I just returned from three days at The Cove, the Billy Graham Evangelist Association’s training center in Asheville, NC. What a wonderful three days of studying the Bible and learning from my friend and Bible teacher, Alex McFarland.
Alex teaches at The Cove almost every year. If you have never been to a seminar at The Cove, I highly recommend attending one. My husband and I attend 2-3 every year. Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the view is breathtaking and serene, the buffet meals are delicious, the teachings are biblically rich and encouraging, and the people who work there and those in attendance are all faithful Christians who love to talk about Jesus! When you go through the gates of The Cove, it’s like leaving the world behind and experiencing a taste of Heaven.
Below I’ll give some take-aways from the three day conference, but first I want to share from my own personal study of the Book of Proverbs. I think Proverbs is a fun book to read because each verse is packed with wisdom and godly counsel…and, it’s a quick read with only 31 short chapters that impart instruction for daily living. While much of the book is easily understood, there are also verses that can be confusing and easily misunderstood and misapplied. Some things to remember when reading Proverbs:
Proverbs ARE NOT Promises for Prosperity
Proverbs ARE Principles for Perspective on Life and Practical Living
Proverbs GIVE Providential Wisdom and Preventive Warnings
Proverbs should be thought of as short lessons
that come from long experiences.
The Book of Proverbs was written primarily by King Solomon. According to 1 Kings 4:32, Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. The Hebrew word for proverb means “a comparison,” and in the book we see contrast and comparison between:
Godly living and a sinful life
Goodness and evil
Family/friends and foes
Humility and pride
Justice and law-breaking
Love and hate
Laziness and work
Lust and contentment
Wisdom and folly
Riches and poverty
The aged and the youth
Life and death
Everything in life and every facet of human relationships is covered in this book, making it a book that is applicable to all people, at all times and in all places.
The purpose of Proverbs is clearly defined in verses 2-4.
- To know wisdom and instruction;
- To perceive the words of understanding;
- To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
- To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Who will benefit from Proverbs is also clearly stated at the beginning of this book:
Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
I find it interesting to note that the first instruction in the book is about gaining wisdom and that comes from the “fear of the Lord.”
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
This truly is where all learning begins and from which all righteous living flows. Compare this verse to what God told the Israelites He desired of them.
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, “and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NKJV):
Loving the Lord, walking in His ways and serving Him all begins with the “fear of the Lord,” which we find proclaimed as the beginning of wisdom in the first chapter of Proverbs and again in Proverbs 9:10.
The “fear of the Lord” is also described as:
- Hating evil, pride, and arrogance (Proverbs 8:13).
- The way by which “men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6)
- The way to find instruction of wisdom (Prov 15:33)
- The way to prolong one’s days (Prov 10:27).
- The tender of life and satisfaction in God ( Prov 19:23).
- Strong confidence (Prov 14:26)
- A fountain of life (Prov 14:27)
- The way to receive riches, and honour, and life (Prov 22:4)
WOW! Do we really begin every day with the fear of the Lord? Do we understand that our sanctification (the process of growing in holiness and our relationship with Jesus) comes from knowing and revering who God is and His awesome nature and mighty works?
When we build our foundation for life upon 1) who God is, 2) what He has done for us and 3) who we are in Christ, we can read Proverbs and gain the insights and lessons God has so graciously given us for practical and purposeful living.
A few key take-aways from three days of
Proverbs with Alex McFarland at The Cove.
- Jesus came to die for your sins…not take away your brain
- Fear can have many meanings: dread (Deuteronomy 1:20); awe (1 Kings 3:28); respect (Leviticus 19:32) and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)
- Proverbs tells us about wisdom and the book of James tells us that God gives wisdom to us and that we should ask for it. (James 1:5)
- With the explosion of data in our world today there has been a deconstruction of knowledge. Proverbs is a call to stop your world and listen to God.
- Wisdom’s challenge is to live in light of eternity
And this is perhaps my favorite quote from Alex during the entire conference:
Wisdom is the ability to:
think through the mind of God,
see through the eye of God,
hear through the ear of God and
live through the heart of God.
Wisdom is amending one’s life in light of God’s revelation
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