Monday, June 8, 2009

Proverbs 3: 13-26

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What is the value of wisdom? Do you believe this?

When you finish reading verses 13 through 18 of today's chapter, do you ask yourself why you seek things other than wisdom? Doesn't Solomon paint such a gorgeous picture of how fine a life we would have if we just sought God's wisdom?!

I'll confess that I'm not big on jewelry, so the thought of seeking, attaining and dealing precious metals and gems doesn't get my attention. But, pleasantness, peacefulness, happiness...ah! Puts Thomas Jefferson's thoughts into new perspective, doesn't it? Is it the pursuit of happiness or the pursuit of wisdom,
then happiness comes! Again, the reminder in 18b, "who hold her fast." Wisdom isn't once attained then forever kept. We must pursue and actively hold on.

What caught my eye was the phrase "tree of life" in 18a. How is this related to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis that launched the human fall from God's grace?
"The 'tree of life,' became a common poetic simile to represent that which may be a source of great blessing. ...Life, long life, is here attributed to a certain possession or quality of mind and heart. Wisdom is a source and supply of life to man. This wisdom is essentially of a moral quality, and this moral force brings the whole man into right relations with the source of life. Hence, a man truly lives by reason of this relationship (Prov 3:18)."
--The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The commentary in this encyclopedia explains that if man had eaten from the tree of life in Eden that it would have created an intolerable situation for God--because sinful man would be made immortal! Thus, God's only recourse was to expel Adam and Eve from the garden, making the Eden tree of life unattainable on earth. It is that powerful truth that is captured in the use of 'tree of life' throughout Proverbs and into the New Testament as well. What grace to be shown God's wisdom, a "tree of life," through which we can grow again in relationship with a holy God!

Verses 19 & 20 are a bit curious. Rather than continuing in the vein of what wisdom yields, the subject is changed to "the Lord" and what He did by this same wisdom, knowledge and understanding. And were those not amazing things!?! This makes that "tree of life" reference even more vivid and more desirable. It gives us insight into God Himself, that He did not go about creation haphazardly or indulgently. Creation came through wisdom, with purpose! We will never, ever, be God, but to be a branch connected to the vine that's connected to the tree of life....
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
--John 15: 4-8 (NIV)

Our passage ends as it began, with the reminder to "take hold of her [wisdom], and happy are all who hold her fast." With wisdom, we walk securely, we walk in the Lord's protection--whether awake or asleep, we do not need to fear the circumstances brought about in our earthly lives. We also do not have to fear the day of judgment that is coming in the end times (vs 25b).

"For the Lord will be your confidence."
You know I love looking at the Hebrew, and it's simply because the original language carries so much description, creating a more accurate picture of what the Scriptural text says. "The chief Hebrew word translated 'confidence' (batakh, and its forms) means, perhaps, radically, “to be open,” showing thus what originated the idea of "confidence”; where there was nothing hidden a person felt safe; it is very frequently rendered 'trust.'” [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

Nothing hidden! To have a trust that is firm, which is what is implied in this particular passage, so that we need not fear being caught, snagged, taken down.
Look back up to silver, gold and jewels. Do they still have the same allure next to the invaluable presence of safety, protection and blessing that abound in our God through pursuing His wisdom?

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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 3: 27-35
  1. Reflect on the things in your life that you value. Are these things priorities that would reflect someone earnestly seeking God and His wisdom? Read Colossians 3: 1,2 and Matthew 6: 19-21.

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


T. Anne said...

Wonderful! To be a branch connected to the vine and producing much fruit is my dream.

Carmen said...

What a wonderful passage this is! I love the Hebrew meaning for the word confidence. To be open, to trust, to have nothing hidden and yet feel safe. I believe there is a tremendous treasure in the meaning of that word.

When we are honest and open about who we are, we also become "safe" to others. There is a trust that develops and you come across as confident because you have nothing to hide.

Now I know I'm a little off topic here, but perhaps being who you are is wisdom as well...because we can't hide from God anyways, and we will be known as we truly are one why not start today?

Thanks for another wonderful read!

The Patterson 5 said...

Great thoughts about Thomas Jefferson....pursuit of wisdom....then comes happiness.
The value of wisdom here is compared with earthly riches when wisdom seems to me to be more eternal richness. Wisdom is worth much more than any earthly prize. Wisdom leads to relationship with God who is the ultimate joy giver!
Interesting thoughts on the tree of life! Thanks Sue for sharing this study with us! It's rich and far more precious than jewels!

Sue J. said...

I really like the observation, Carmen, about being "safe" to others. When we read about the early church in Acts, they gave everything to each other, without reservation--nothing hidden; no barriers, etc.

We are so closed up as Christians today. We can't even let our guard down within the church, oftentimes, for fear of how others will look at us. Not what God intended.

I think we can tie your comment about knowing who we are with Ginny's about wisdom being eternal richness. Try as we might to grasp who we are here, until we see God face to face, there will always be something we won't have figured out. Maybe that's part of the ultimate richness that Heaven offers us.....

Really great comments, gals!

Chatty Kelly said...

Jewelry? Oh, yea! I totally get the sense of joy that comes with that. (LOL!)

But the sweet mothers that something we can all relate to. It is a strong desire, especially after several nights up with a wee one. It seems with lack of sleep everythng is worse...but one night of sweet sleep can refresh & renew and make all things seem better.

Like wisdom.