A Dire Contrast
The book of Proverbs is filled with contrasting forces. Lady wisdom and woman folly are each described in detail and are obviously complete opposites (Proverbs 9). The path of the wise is laid out over the course of the whole book while the way of the fool is also depicted. The man who delights in his wife contrasted the one who commits immorality with the forbidden woman (Proverbs 5). It is clear there are grave differences between wisdom and foolishness, immorality and noble character, and of course the path of God versus the road of sin. A man filled with wisdom will stand before kings because of his skill and diligence in his craft (Proverbs 22:29). Whereas the foolish comes to ruin because he will not even bring the food from his plate to his mouth (Proverbs 19:24)
To say that those who live with wisdom are born that way is to miss the entire message of Scripture. No, it is the Gospel of Christ which changes a soul bringing the glorious light of divine truth into their heart. Solomon himself was not born with great wisdom, rather he asked God who gave it to him with eager generosity (1 Kings 3:1-15). We are born into sin and yet by the grace of God working through His Spirit according to His Word, because of the work of Christ in their soul there is a foundational heart difference between the foolish and the wise man. It is the desires of their heart. For what is the soul impacted with wisdom longing? What is the joy of their soul and how does that contrast with the wicked?
Wisdom’s Desire For God Versus The Folly of Sin
It is undoubtedly true that wisdom has many benefits. A wise man finds a wise woman to marry who blesses him all of his life (Proverbs 31:10-12). Wisdom gives one the stores of provision which are the fruit of diligence (Proverbs 5:6-8). It gives refreshment to the bones and the clarity of God’s straight paths (Proverbs 3:5-8). With all that being said, the wise man does not first desire the benefits of wisdom, but rather the God of wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10).”It is first a delight in the Holy One seeking to glorify Him and know Him which leads to the path of wisdom. A man or woman transformed by grace understands that it is God who gives wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Proverbs 2:6). Therefore, they come to Him as the fountain of all goodness and understanding.
This reality of knowing and finding joy in God leads them to also rejoice in His wisdom. It is why they are to search for it as for a treasure, because they know its value:
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.” -Proverbs 3:13-15
A soul in love with God also loves His wisdom and enjoys the benefits of it as good gifts from their Father. This is why the wise man is told to delight in the wife of his youth, because God gave her to him and his enjoyment of her gives glory to their Creator (Proverbs 5:15-19). As they grow in wisdom they not only find joy in God’s direction, but they also begin to hate what He hates. Which is why it is said “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13).” The internal soul of the person is being changed. They see sin as foolish, dangerous, and against the God who has been good to them. Instead of longing for it and clinging to it like the wicked, they run from it. A sinner who is dead in their trespasses apart from Christ longs for more sin being evermore desirous of it. The wise soul can see the pitfalls of evil and walk in righteousness by the power of God. However, that wise individual must be certain to constantly keep their feet on the path of righteousness.
Guarding The Way
One of the powerful realities of Scripture is the way it shows the strengths and weaknesses of the characters within it. Such is the case with Solomon who wrote most of the Proverbs. He was the wisest man who ever lived and yet he left the path of wisdom following after many wives who led him astray toward false gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). Here we come to the danger of complacency:
“For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
This is a powerful take home point, the wise soul must constantly be pursuing wisdom or else they will slip into folly and sin. We must always be fixing our eyes upon the glory of God, constantly be studying His Word, and daily be after the business of applying it in every realm of life. It is imperative that we keep our way with diligence not sliding either to the left or to the right. The temptation for those who are excelling is to ease up a bit, take it slow, and begin to loosen their grip. Knowing this, God commands us in His Holy Word not to be complacent but to be working more and more. His goal for us is to increase in His grace so that we become brighter each day (Proverbs 4:18). Our mission is not to be better than the man beside us, nor satisfied because we are wiser than yesterday, no our goal is to be constantly living more righteously imitating our perfect God. That is the journey of a life time. We see His glory and we long to live for His praise and magnification! This fuels us to live with biblical desires for our whole life instead of growing complacent and turning aside down the path of folly!