Focal Passage: Proverbs 1:1-19
For the next 10 weeks these lessons are drawn from Proverbs, the book which is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament compiled and written by Scripture’s wisest man, Solomon.
The foundation for the book is outlined in the first 19 verses of the first chapter. Many of these proverbs stand alone as statements of truth, but the whole book is a guide book for the people of faith. It has been said that Proverbs is the world’s oldest textbook covering instructions in daily living, and thus a guide book for parents teaching their children and a valuable resource for everyone.
Our first lesson in this series is entitled “Seek Wisdom’s Way” and affirms the purpose of the book as a practical guide for living As mentioned above the introduction in verses 1-19 forms the basis of the book with the stated purpose, “…that men may know wisdom and instruction…” to the end that one may know how to interact with others, parents with children and children with parents.
In these verses, the subject of wisdom is introduced. A dictionary definition of wisdom says “wisdom is the quality of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action.” While this definition is inadequate, it does offer a starting point for us to consider. Wisdom cannot easily be defined, but we know it when we experience it. It may be rare for us to experience interactions with people we would consider wise, but fortunately wise people can be found. The book of Proverbs helps in our search. In my opinion, all people are capable, and believing people certainly should long for, and exhibit this quality.
Knowledge is often equated with wisdom but they are not the same. To seek knowledge is encouraged in Proverbs, as is wisdom, but knowledge, standing alone fails to include the attributes of wisdom. People who are knowledgeable are people to be sought after and listened to, but even among people with great knowledge, wisdom is not always evident. Wisdom is that ability to act on the knowledge we have and make the proper response. To gain that quality, as we shall soon see, is a gift from God, and our response to Him.
In my experience as mediator in troubled churches, I encountered a lot of knowledgeable people, some expressing great wisdom, but not always. One experience as mediator is still vivid in my mind. After listening to the pros and cons of the church’s dispute, I was weary and ready to go home.
One last member came for an interview. He was a young man of challenged ability, and I frankly wondered if I would learn anything from the interview. As he sat down I inquired how he felt about his church. What followed was a powerful and moving lesson for me. He began to relate what his church meant to him, how he loved them and how they loved him. Then he said that everybody ought to love Jesus. That way everybody would “get along.” One may call this illustration simplistic and misplaced, but one thing is apparent to me, this lad expressed wisdom.
The title of our lesson is appropriate. “Seeking Wisdom’s Way” means that wisdom is a direction and an effort. In later lessons the word discipline will enter the picture, for the quest for wisdom will surely require discipline.
The implication of seeking wisdom is an activity of believing people. In fact believing in God is possible only for people of faith. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …” surely means that true wisdom comes only from Him. The last part of that verse says: “fools despise wisdom and discipline” (v. 7). When a member of my family came back to the Lord, he referred to it as the coming out of his “stupid” stage. That’s wisdom too.
— Hay lives in Dyersburg where he has served as an intentional/interim pastor since his retirement from the Executive Board staff of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.