Today’s reading: Proverbs 1-3
I don’t think anyone sets out to become a fool, and yet the world has more than enough of them. I’ve acted foolishly before. So have you. It comes down to the choices we make. Will we choose wisdom, or will we reject it in favor of something that seems to offer a better or quicker reward? Often the choices lead gradually downward. enticing a person further and further away from wisdom until they sink in an inescapable mire of foolishness.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline… “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” Proverbs 1:7, 22
Look at the initial choice: fear of the LORD versus rejection of wisdom. Look at what follows: three different kinds of fools that illustrate the downward spiral.
- The simple one (pethiy). Someone who doesn’t know better, who is naive and gullible, empty-headed. Usually this would be a young, unlearned, and inexperienced person. They can potentially learn. They haven’t rejected wisdom yet.
- The fool (keciyl). This person is not young or unlearned, but they have rejected wisdom and instruction. They are silly, dull, stupid, and irreverent.
- The mocker (luwts). One who scorns wisdom and boasts of it. They not only reject wisdom but oppose it.
The fear of the LORD is the starting point for wise choices. If we fear or respect God we also respect his discipline and accept that there are absolute truths that govern our lives. For the writer of Proverbs, wisdom begins with fear of the LORD and is fulfilled by following God’s directions, resulting in righteousness. It doesn’t come automatically. We have to “store up God’s commands,” implying memorization. We have to “call out” and “cry aloud” for wisdom, speaking of a passionate, emotional effort. We have to search for it like a hidden treasure, revealing that it takes hard work. The work is worth it, however. Wisdom brings God’s protection, victory, safety, long life, prosperity, power over temptations, and respect.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Proverbs personifies wisdom as a woman who stands at the most important intersection in the city and calls out to all who lack wisdom. Stop rejecting wisdom, she tells them. Make the right choice now. When calamity falls on you it will be too late. How are you responding to wisdom’s call? You may think you have accepted her invitation, but look at this checklist and be sure:
- I’ve taken up my shovel and I’m actively digging for wisdom, not just sitting back and thinking it will fall into my lap.
- I’ve put my trust in God and accept that his ways, as revealed in his word, are absolutely the truth.
- I accept God’s discipline and rebuke when I make mistakes, learning from them and not running away from God when I fail.
Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom. Charles Spurgeon
Image by Mykl Roventine on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0