Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. — Proverbs 3:13-14
In the mid-1800s, James Marshall was contracted to build Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. When the mill was nearly completed, it was found that the tailrace, which allowed the mill water to flow back into the South Fork of the American River, was not working correctly and had to be made deeper and wider. On January 24, 1848, while inspecting the tailrace, Marshall spotted shiny yellow flakes in the water — he had found gold! Although Marshall and his associates tried to keep their discovery a secret, the news leaked out, and the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and 1850s began.
Soon, gold was found in other parts of California as well, and people from outside the region started making their way to the state to seek their fortune. They came by land and by boat, some from thousands of miles away, all hoping to strike it rich. The journey was difficult and dangerous, yet eighty thousand people came to California in the year of 1849 alone! Though gold worth billions in today’s dollars was eventually found, only a few individuals became wealthy. Most of those who came seeking gold had very little to show for their efforts in the end.
In today’s focus verses, Solomon told his listeners that wisdom and understanding were worth more than fine gold. In our society, people typically seek wisdom in a variety of ways. However, like the prospectors who came to California during the Gold Rush, most of them do not succeed in their quest, for true wisdom is found only in God.
God’s wisdom is essential in the walk of a Christian. He will help us make decisions both inconsequential and life-changing. Whether we seek His guidance concerning a small matter such as how to respond to an abrasive co-worker, or a major decision such as whom to marry, we will find He gladly gives wisdom and understanding to those who seek for it in Him.
Ultimately, gaining and applying God’s wisdom leads to eternal life, which is the greatest treasure we will ever find. When we dig into God’s Word and spend time on our knees in prayer, God will be faithful to give us the wisdom and understanding we need.
Proverbs chapters 1-9 are thought to be specifically addressed to the young men of Israel. While both chapters in today’s text begin with “my son,” Solomon was not only speaking to his own offspring, but to all those under his rule in Israel.
Chapter 2 gives instruction on how the wisdom of God will bring protection to those who seek after Him. Effort must be made in order to receive the blessing of God’s knowledge, and the first four verses lay out a formula for seeking God’s wisdom. Action words such as receive, hide, incline, apply, cry, lift, seek, and search make it clear that this endeavor is not to be taken lightly. In the original language, the word “heart” (verse 2) referred to the intellect and will in addition to feelings, so the whole of a person is to be involved in this action. Verse 5 relates the outcome for one who exerts such effort: he will “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
The remainder of the chapter describes what God will protect from. Verse 12 tells of an evil man whose words are froward, which means “perverse” or “crooked.” Verses 16 and 17 tell of a strange woman who flatters with words but whose ways lead to death. Both of these individuals attempted to lead the follower of God astray through their words, but verse 11 makes it clear that discretion and understanding will protect one from being deceived.
Chapter 3 relates how God’s wisdom brings direction to the paths of those who follow Him. Verses 1, 3, and 5 are an admonition to apply God’s Word and wisdom to the heart. To “bind it about thy neck” is to keep it close, so that it is readily available. This indicates a need to go beyond knowledge that is only in the mind. God’s wisdom does a work on the soul of the person who applies it. Again, Solomon laid out a formula for how to receive God’s wisdom and benefit from it, this time using an “if… then” structure. “If” a person does what is admonished, “then” God will respond with positive results.
Both chapters 2 and 3 use a metaphor comparing searching for treasure with searching for wisdom. Solomon indicated that sinful men will lust after the treasures of this world, but the heart of the righteous will seek those things that are above. Both chapters promise many blessings to those who seek God’s wisdom, and both end with warnings of destruction and shame to the wicked and foolish.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The superiority of the way of wisdom
B. The value of wisdom (2:1-22)
1. The conditions of obtaining wisdom (2:1-4)
2. The benefits of wisdom (2:5-22)
C. The rewards of wisdom (3:1-35)
1. The rewards of wisdom (3:1-12)
2. The superiority of wisdom (3:13-20)
3. The application of wisdom (3:21-35)
a. The promise of blessing (3:21-26)
b. The obligations of wisdom to one’sneighbor (3:27-35)
Seeking for God’s wisdom in our lives is not a casual activity. When we put the time and effort into our search for God’s wisdom, we will find the benefits and blessings are immeasurable… and eternal!