Important Benefits From God’s Wisdom

Important Benefits From God’s Wisdom

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

In the first chapter of Proverbs, Lady Wisdom was shouting at the crowd in the town square. From our last article, we know that she was looking for simpletons, mockers, and fools to warn about what would happen if they didn’t listen to her advice. In Proverbs 2, we meet another set of three people, but these are servants of Lady Folly who are ready to lead people down the path to eternal damnation. But first, we are told to find wisdom once more. 

Lady Wisdom is not always in plain sight. If she were, you wouldn’t have to dig sometimes to find her, just like a miner who digs precious metals and ores out of the ground. One can, thankfully, also cry for her (2.3-6; cf. James 1.5). Crying is a good way for a baby to get food (1 Peter 2.2), and it works just as well for people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness (Matthew 5.6). God will not only feed us, but He will also tell us what to do to please Him.  

Lady Wisdom also helps people deal with their neighbors fairly and correctly (2.9). She shows us what God’s justice looks like so we can do the same thing when dealing with others. This example is critical because people don’t always see things as God does. But her advice is also helpful when dealing with risks posed by others. God’s wisdom, which Lady Wisdom represents, is great because it acts as a shield and watchman (2.7-11). 

But here is where our triplet comes in. We have a perverse guy, people who walk in the dark, and the adulteress (2.12ff). God’s wisdom is helpful because it tells us more than just what to avoid. It gives us what we need to do. So, when our triplet comes, we know how to send them away. This wisdom comes from letting God’s word into our hearts, where it guides us. As David said, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119.11 NASB1995). 

But we must do more than say no to evil. We must take charge of being good. How does that happen? When you don’t hang out with bad people, you hang out with good people instead (2.20-21). Paul told the Corinthians that the people they hung out with could change their morals (1 Corinthians 15.33). Lady Wisdom helps you tell the difference between good and bad people so you can be a good judge (Matthew 7.20). 

The end of Proverbs two is a warning. Those who aren’t looking for Lady Wisdom or calling for her will be led astray by our trio. Once a person is lost, God will take them out of His garden like he would a dead branch or tree. No one wants this to happen to them. In the meantime, let’s also remember what Jesus said about seeking, asking, and knocking:  

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7.7-8 NASB1995). 

Wisdom 101’s Syllabus

Wisdom 101’s Syllabus

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

I doubt I’ve ever fully appreciated the book of Proverbs more than now as I’ve undertaken the task of teaching it in a Bible class. The reason for this, I suppose, is that I always viewed Proverbs as a group of wise sayings that one could visit and choose from as you might items on a buffet. “Yes, I will take a side of the ‘virtuous woman’ with ‘train up the child,’ please.” But it is an anthology about wisdom whose contributors include Solomon, Agur (Proverbs 30.1), and King Lemuel (Proverbs 31.1). Moreover, we know scribes during the reign of King Hezekiah took proverbs attributed to Solomon and added them at that later date (Proverbs 25.1). So, the book of Proverbs came together over an extended period. Yet, we know that by the time scholars translated Proverbs into Greek for its inclusion within the Septuagint, it was in its present form.  

Despite being an anthology, the compilers have done a marvelous job fleshing out two “characters.” One character, whom we must pursue, is “Lady Wisdom.” The other character we are to shun, “Lady Folly.” (Is she Lady Wisdom’s doppelgänger in the original sense of that word? An evil counterpart?) The ultimate form of “Lady Wisdom” is King Lemuel’s mother, the woman of virtue. However, there is a question about whether this woman is real, like Bathsheba, if Lemuel is a pseudonym for Solomon or a metaphor for the woman who embodies all Lady Wisdom’s traits. Solomon’s section treats his audience as a son, so we get the idea that Lady Wisdom is like that ideal woman for whom a young man should pine. How much more thrilling, then, when one catches a glimpse of the beautiful Lady Wisdom as she calls out in the streets or lifts her voice in the square (Proverbs 1.20). It is evident that the authors don’t anthropomorphize wisdom with every usage of that virtue, but enough to conceptualize wisdom as God’s companion, His daughter, perhaps, with whom we must also associate ourselves.  

Given this elaborate backdrop, the first six verses of Proverbs 1 strike me like a collegiate syllabus. Professor Solomon enters the classroom and passes out his plan for the material he will cover during his course. Wisdom 101. It is a level one class since it is  “To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion” (1.4 NASB1995). So, there are no prerequisites for this “class.” Even so, enlightenment is granted even to the more learned by the assistance of the one giving them wise counsel (1.5). But the authors outline their intentions. Their “purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, help them understand the insights of the wise…teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, and to help them do what is right, just, and fair” (Proverbs 1.2-3 NLT). After one has learned the basics, he will “receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles” (Proverbs 1.5-6 NLT). 

I will be honest with you. I didn’t always pay attention to the syllabus when I was a student earning my degree. I’d hear my classmates talking about a due research paper. When I protested that the professor had said nothing in class about a term paper, my friends pointed me back to the syllabus, where the professor had given details of the assignment in black and white. My previous problem of not appreciating the book of Proverbs likewise extended from my failure to read Solomon’s syllabus in the first chapter. It is not just a collection of pithy sayings. God introduced me to the most remarkable woman whom I could ever hope to meet. And if I play my cards right, I will make her my companion also. Along the journey, I will become a better person and, subsequently, a better person to others. Eventually, I will even stand in a position to help guide others through life. Not bad for a book of poetry.    

What Makes A Fool Tick?

What Makes A Fool Tick?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

A qualified fool is someone who lacks wisdom and also tends to have an embarrassing lack of common sense. In the ancient past, being called a fool held a lot of weight and it wasn’t something that was taken lightly. There’s a healthy emphasis placed on the fool throughout the Psalms and Proverbs, and his time in the spotlight is far from flattering. He’s often in sharp contrast to the wise and intelligent person. What may cause some of these passages to sting in a personal kind of way is when they reflect our own actions or inclinations.

Psalm 14 begins stating, “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God.’” Today the atheistic minds that fill the rolls of teachers, scientists, and authors are held in high regard. To some they are seen as the “brains of society” and the pioneers of the future. Evolutionary doctrine may dominate the classrooms and laboratories, but God calls them foolish. They are not “progressive” or “admirable” because they’ve missed or rejected something crucial. The one that denies the existence of a God that they are surrounded by, alive because of, and will be judged by— is the fool. David goes on to state in the same Psalm how God had looked down on the earth to see if anyone had been seeking after Him. When God looks down on our lives what does He see? 

Maybe you would never audibly state, “I don’t believe in God!” But we can’t forget that our repetitive actions are those true statements that tell the world what we believe.