Note: This sermon was preached by Rev. Steve Wilkins at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian (CREC).
The overarching purpose is to communicate wisdom to the hearers. Wisdom brings skills and mastery in some field. This same word is used when dealing with artistic skills in the Old Testament (Exodus 28). Wisdom does not mean the ability to foresee the future. Wisdom is not some secret insight into God’s decrees. In Proverbs to have wisdom is to have skill; to do what is fitting and appropriate in the situation God has placed you, so that you produce results that are beautiful. The goal of Proverbs is to teach us to live skillfully. This is to be applied in the body so that the world may become beautiful.
Wisdom is based upon the fear of the Lord (1:7). To fear is to respect and reverence. If you fear the Lord, you do not want to displease Him. The wise man knows that though he cannot understand all of God’s ways, He understands that all happens for the good of His people. The wise man trusts in Yahweh.
Wisdom is a matter of relationships. It is very personal, not abstract. Wisdom comes through relating and communing with God and His people. If you isolate yourself from the church, you will perish.
Christ is the One who gives us wisdom and this is why He is called the wisdom of God. The Scriptures describe Jesus as the Word incarnate and wisdom incarnate.
Proverbs is the wisdom of a King to His Son. Solomon is teaching His son to be a skillful king. This is kingly instruction. In Christ Jesus we are priests and kings. Proverbs teaches us to be what we are as kings and priests. That means living in such a way to bring blessings to others. We ought to learn to live wisely according to the Proverbs. Our goal is to make the kingdom prosperous and fruitful.
The will of God is to make Satan mad and God glad.
The ultimate goal of the book is to conform to the image of God. Christ was the one who feared God perfectly in the midst of his trials. Jesus called upon His father in his hour of trouble. He learned obedience through the things that he suffered. Christ grew up in wisdom.
We are called to be faithful sons of the last Adam and take dominion over the earth with equity, justice, compassion, mercy, etc. This is not an easy task.
Wisdom comes to us through the church. Families cannot survive apart from the church. In chapter 1, the father instructs his son in vs. 10-19. He tells his son exactly what evil men do. They are like Cain who was a killer. They swallow men. The father knows how rebels think.
In the first nine chapters there are different women seeking the prince’s affection. The father lays out the differences between the women. The choice for a bride is critical, because the prince has to lead and the future of his people depends on the bride that he chooses. You have two choices: lady wisdom and folly. The prince has to turn away from follow and embrace wisdom. This is true to every marriage. Marriage is a public institution. Marriage always changes the world for good or ill. Vs. 20
20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out,
in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
22 “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
Lady wisdom is bold, wise, and she does it in the middle of the road. Wisdom is not effeminate. In the Bible wisdom is not dispassionate. The man who is persistently indifferent to growing in wisdom is a fool and will receive the foolish reward.
Wisdom calls you to repent now, but first it tells you the blessings of repentance. Wisdom is reserved for those who seek it. The only thing required is to desire wisdom. Turn from your folly and you will find it. But the fool brings judgment upon themselves. Wisdom stretched out her hand, but you did not care. Now, you are left to folly. Folly mocks at wisdom’s warnings,
vs. 26 – I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you. 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.
Wisdom distances herself from folly. The consequence of folly is loneliness, emptiness, filled with the sense of lost opportunities. You will have no one to blame, but yourself. Jesus says sin leads you to the outer darkness. Whatever form calamity and disaster take, it will surely come.
Wisdom does not allow you to shift the blame. In the end you will eat the fruit you have eaten, whether death or life. The wise commit themselves to the fellowship of the righteous. You cannot hear the proverb without hearing the voices of the prophets. The prophets said these same words to Israel as a body. Israel was called to marry herself to wisdom. The threats to Israel came to pass and it will come to pass to all who hate wisdom.