My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Yesterday’s reading from 1 Kings ended with an extraordinary description of Solomon’s wisdom…
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…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…and 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 (1 Kings 4:29-34).
This is the context for the book of Proverbs, a book of wisdom literature penned by Solomon. In the first chapter, we find the mantra for the entire book… “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We will find as we read through Proverbs** that it is the unteachable heart that receives the most ire. The wise person is humble and teachable, i.e. “listens to instruction,” whereas the fool is “wise in his own eyes.”
The beauty of studying wisdom literature alongside the gospels is that we get to see Wisdom personified in Jesus. And when we are tempted to despair because of our many shortcomings concerning wisdom… the story of the cross helps us look away from our sin and toward the one who has paid our ransom.
**For the next two weeks, we will be reading through the book of Proverbs, (alongside the New Testament) and then we will come back to 1 Kings. I have re-ordered the Old Testament books in the Bible Reading Plan to give better context for certain books and also to break up the Wisdom and Prophecy genres. You can view the order of Old Testament books at this link.**