3:16 – The Rest of the Story – Our Response 5: Proverbs

A Bible Study exploring all the 3:16s in the Bible as they illuminate

  • the Human Condition
  • God’s Revelation of His Plan
  • God’s Fulfillment of His Plan
  • Our Response (Current location of study)

Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.” – Proverbs 3:16

When David’s son Solomon became king of Israel, he asked God (1 Kings 3:7-9), “And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” God was pleased with this request and he told Solomon (vss. 11-14), “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, vas your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.

The Wisdom of Solomon (Part 1)

God made Solomon very wise, and it is this wisdom that contributed a significant portion of the “wisdom” literature of the Bible. Most of the book of Proverbs, the books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, and a couple of the Psalms. According to 1 Kings 4:29-34, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

The first three chapters of Proverbs provide an argument for the value of wisdom. These verses can be summarized as follows:

  • The Beginning of Knowledge (Chapter 1, verses 1-7) – The book states its intent in the opening verses as being “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth“, and then it defines that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
  • The Enticement of Sinners (Chapter 1, verses 8-19) – Verse 10 says, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” It then provides examples of wrongful peer pressure to do evil, finishing in verse 19 with “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.
  • The Call of Wisdom (Chapter 1, verses 20-33) – This section essentially equates wisdom with the leading and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Verse 23 says, “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” This is consistent with what I talked about in my discussion surrounding Ephesians 3:16. The Spirit will not force us to do anything, but when we listen and are receptive to His leading, He will guide us into the ways we should go. Verse 33 promises, “but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.
  • The Value of Wisdom (Chapter 2) – Verses 1-5 contain an “if… then” clause. “… if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, … then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” Then we learn from verse 6 that “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;“, followed by a promise in verses 9-12: “Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech.” Solomon then proceeds in verses 13-22 a couple of examples of men (and women) of “perverted speech.”
  • Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart (Chapter 3, verses 1-12) – The verses in this section are summed up well in verses 5 and 6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,” followed by the admonition in verses 11 and 12: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
  • Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom (Chapter 3, verses 13-35) – The conclusion to this treatise on the qualities of wisdom includes our 3:16 verse (bolded below) for this study. Verses 13-18 describe the benefits of wisdom to the person who finds it (personified in feminine terms): “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. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.” The remainder of the verses provide further examples of wisdom-driven acts, including those of God in His act of creation (vs. 19-20), and examples of what human activities should look like (vss. 21-35).

Our response, as seen in this study, should be to seek out wisdom and then to allow it to drive our actions. We’ll see next time, in our study based on 1 Kings 3:16, examples of Solomon’s actions which were driven by wisdom, and also a look at how Solomon chose NOT to follow his God-given wisdom.

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