Proverbs- Session 3- 3:21-35

Session 3- Choosing Wisdom
Proverbs 3:21-35

Session Resources:

  • Videos Summary

Subject:  Wisdom

Central Theme:  Choosing Wisdom

Objective Sentence: We should choose wisdom for three reasons.

Keyword:  Reasons

Reason #1- The Probabilities of Wisdom.  V.21-26.

Reason #2- The Characteristics of Wisdom.  V.27-30.

Reason #3- The Results of Wisdom.  V.31-35.

Introduction:

Connection:

  • I hope that you have picked up on the fact that the major theme of the book of Proverbs is Wisdom.
  • The thematic reason that the book of Proverbs is in our Bible is to help us to value, understand, and grow in wisdom.
  • If there is anything you and I need in our lives in terms of being what God wants us to be it is wisdom. We need God’s wisdom in our lives.

Tension:

  • So today I want to be a salesman.
  • What I’m selling you today is this proposition.
  • You should choose wisdom.
  • What do I mean?
  • If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.
  • In this text Solomon is pleading with his son to choose wisdom. Choose understanding.  Make the wise choice.  Don’t be foolish.  Don’t be morally inept.
  • I want to convince you today to choose wisdom.
  • You may have chosen already to pursue wealth, happiness, niceness, being liked, having fun, getting married, having friends and much more.
  • But today I want you to make the choice to pursue wisdom in your life.
  • Why should we choose wisdom.

We should choose wisdom for three reasons.

Reason #1- The Probabilities of Wisdom.  V.21-26.

(21) My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:  (22)  So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.  (23)  Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.  (24)  When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.  (25)  Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.  (26)  For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.  Pro 3:21-26

Explanation:

  • Solomon continues to instruct his son in the ways of wisdom and we get to listen again.  As we begin verse 21, Solomon says “let not them depart from thine eyes”.  To properly interpret this text we have to know what the word “them” is referencing.  Let’s look at the two previous verses:

Pro 3:19-20  The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.  (20)  By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

  • The word “them” in verse 21 refers to “wisdom” and “understanding” in verse 19.
    • Verse 19 and 20 tell us that God createdthe world using wisdom and understanding.
    • The way the created world functionsis according to wisdom and understanding.
  • So it is in this context that Solomon tells his son to keep a hold of wisdom and understanding.  “Don’t let them go, son!”, cries the father.  “Keep them in front of you”.
  • Why?
  • Because when we live in accordance with wisdom and understanding there are four probabilities that Solomon mentions to his son that are the result.
  • Probability #1- Life. (v.22a)  

(21) My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:  (22)  So shall they be life unto thy soul,

  • Solomon says that the understanding and wise person has a quality of inner life.
  • The person that lives wisely lives in alignment with what God desires.
  • Their inner person is right with God and with others.
  • The outer behavior is in line with their inward thought life, emotional life, and spiritual life.
  • Probability #2- Decoration. (v22b). 
    • Solomon says that understanding and wisdom will be “grace to thy neck”.
    • Like a necklace adorns the wearer, so wisdom and understanding dress up the person that lives by them.
    • They become known as people of wisdom and understanding.  It becomes the visible character quality of someone’s life.
  • Probability #3- Protection. (v23-24). 

(23)  Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.  (24)  When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

  • We should avoid thinking that wisdom and understanding are like lucky charms.
  • They are not rabbit’s feet to somehow magically keep us from bad circumstances.
  • Wisdom and understanding help us to make choices that keep us from being in trouble.  They keep us from taking bad steps.  They keep us from creating needless enemies, and pointless difficulties.
  • Probability #4- Confidence. (25-26). 

(25)  Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.  (26)  For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

  • Wisdom and understanding help us to have a peace of mind and a lack of fear.
  • When we have made wise decisions and trust in the Lord, He becomes our confidence.  He becomes our peace of mind.

Application:

  • Think about these 4 probabilities.  Are they characteristic of what you are experiencing in your life?
    • Do you have an inner quality of life brought about by wise choices?
    • Do you have an outer quality of reputation brought about by wise choices?
    • Do you constantly reap difficulty and problems that are borne out of the results of unwise choices?
    • Do you have an inner confidence and peace of mind because you have lived out what God has commanded and trust in him?

Response:

What is the wisest decision you can make for your life today?  Decide and then act.

Transition Sentence:  You should choose to live in wisdom because of these probabilities.    Now for reason #2.

Reason #2- The Characteristics of Wisdom.  V.27-30.

 

Explanation:

A. Wisdom necessitates generosity.

  • In our country, even in the most difficult of times, there are levels of prosperity the likes of which our current world and the world of history have never known. We truly live in abundance.
  • At the same time, there are those in our world who have a need.
    • Their greatest need is to know Christ as Savior.
    • They have other urgent needs that may keep them from looking into their greatest need.
    • The urgent needs may be so pressing that their greatest need gets overlooked by them and by others.
  • Solomon infers that the way of wisdom is the way of generosity. Look at verse 27.

(27) Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.  (28)  Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. Proverbs 3:27-28

  • He tells his son in these verses to help those in need if it is in his power to help.
  • He tells him not to put off generosity for tomorrow if there is a need for today. If there is a need today, and you can wisely fulfill that need today, then give generously today.

Application:

  • My mom often has quoted this verse to me, and it is applicable here:

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Jas 4:17

  • Believers in Christ, and dare I say American believers in Christ, should be world renown for their incredible and sacrificial generosity.
  • There was a group of people in the Bible who had become known for their overwhelming generosity:

(1) Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;  (2)  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.  (3)  For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;  (4)  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)

  • May our church continue to be known for our incredible generosity, especially as concerns Gospel proclamation.
  • Let us be generous with the Gospel, with our money, with our time, and with our resources. This is the way of wisdom.

Response:

Find a way to be generous today.

Solomon continues with another characteristic of wisdom.

B. Wisdom necessitates peace.

Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.  (30)  Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Proverbs 3:29-30

  • Verses 27 and 28 refer to doing good and living generously with those around us.  We are to help where we can.
  • Verses 29 and 30 speak to not doing harm to our neighbors.
  • It is unwise to create strife between neighbors without cause.  Peace between people is to be protected.
  • There is value in harmony between people.  Jesus said this about peacemakers:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Mat 5:9

  • The apostle Paul said in Romans:

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.  (18)  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  (19)  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Romans 12:17-19

Application:

  • This does not mean that there is no time to defend yourself or your family.
  • Protecting the innocent is necessary.
  • There is such a thing as a just war.
  • Yet wisdom suggests that peace is valuable.
  • We should not do things to needlessly cause conflict.  What does this look like?
    • Be quick to forgive.  Our neighbor will sin against us at some point.  We, as believers, have been forgiven by God.  We forgive because we have been forgiven.
    • Show grace.  Similarly we have been given what we do not deserve.  We should be conduits of God’s grace to others as we have been the recipients of God’s grace.
    • Be reasonable and gentle.  Being gentle does not mean that we are weak. It means that we know how to appropriately use our strength.  We are reasonable in our dealings with others.  We are able to see their point of view, and take their point of view into consideration when we deal with them.
    • Provide for ourselves through hard work.  When we are responsible for ourselves and our family we are less tempted to try to live off of others.  We are less tempted to defraud.  Ephesians says it this way:

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28

  • Is there a behavior or attitude towards someone that needs to change in your life?  Repentance to God and to them is the wise response.

There is a last characteristic of wisdom spoken of in these verses.

C. Wisdom necessitates justice.

Explanation:

  • There is a short term gain that can come when you live unjustly.
  • This is the reason why people steal, lie, defraud, and cheat those around them.
  • There are industries set up to cheating people out of their resources.
  • There are businesses designed to oppress the poor.
  • A temptation that we can run into is thinking that it is unfair that they are getting away with it and that there is no consequence to what they are doing.
  • We may be tempted to think that God is unjust by letting unjust people get away with oppression.
  • Even worse, there may also be the temptation to get involved in their oppressive activity.
  • We may be tempted to mimic their plans, thinking that this is a “get rich quick” scheme that will work for us.
  • Solomon tells his son to avoid these kinds of temptations, and he gives him reasons why he should.

(31) Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.  (32)  For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.  (33)  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.  (34)  Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.  (35) The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools. Pro 3:31-35

 

  • All of the reasons he gives are grounded in the character, attitude and response of God to the unjust.
  • Reason #1-  The unjust are an abomination.

(32)  For the froward is abomination to the LORD:

  • The Hebrew word translated here as “abomination” is defined by Strong’s Concordance as “properly something disgusting(morally), that is, (as noun) an 1 God resists people that are characterized by being unjust.
  • Reason #2-  The unjust are cursed. 

(33)  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked:

  • The idea here is that they are not going to prosper long term in their oppression.
  • They may get away with it for a time, but they will ultimately not prosper because of their oppression.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said,

“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” (Longfellow)2

  • Reason #3-  The unjust are scorned. 

(34)  Surely he scorneth the scorners:

  • Those that scoff at the justice of God will find themselves subject to it.
  • Reason #4-  The unjust are shamed. 

but shame shall be the promotion of fools. Pro 3:31-35

  • Though there may seem to be a pride and arrogance by those that seem to be getting away with their schemes, there will come a day when their deeds will be exposed, and their prosperity will turn to poverty.  They will pay for what they have done.

These are the characteristics of wisdom- generosity, peace and justice.  The last reason we should live wisely is because of what happens for those who exhibit wisdom through living justly.  We see…

Reason #3- The Results of Wisdom.  V.31-35.

Yet notice the converse response of God to those who are wise and just.

  1. The just are intimate with God. While the unjust are an abomination, God draws near to the just.

(31) Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.  (32)  For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.

 

  1. The just are blessed. While the unjust are cursed, the whole house of the just are blessed by God.

(33)  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.

 

  1. The just are given grace. While the unjust will feel the full wait of God’s justice, the just are given unmerited favor from God.

(34)  Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

  1. The just are glorified. While the unjust will be brought to shame, God will lift up the estate of the just.

(35) The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools. Pro 3:31-35

Application

  • Again, one must take the genre into consideration when interpreting these verses.
    • The Bible says that there is no one righteous.  None of us have lived lives free from being oppressors or from being unjust.
    • Solomon is teaching his son that when one chooses the lifestyle of oppression and defrauding others they are putting themselves in the position of opposition to God.
  • The good news is that God loves His enemies.
    • When we trust in Christ as our Savior, we acknowledge our sin and ask God for His forgiveness.
    • When He forgives us, He sends His Spirit to indwell us and to begin to change us from the inside out.
    • We can then partner with God as He sanctifies us.  He can take unjust people and make them to love justice.
    • He can help the foolish become wise.

Response:

  • If you are living a life characterized by oppressing those around you, it may be an indication that you have no relationship with God.
    • God loves you and sent His Son to die for you.  Repent and accept him as Savior today.
  • If you know Christ as Savior, partner with the Lord in His desire to make you someone who loves wisdom and understanding, and therefore justice, equity, righteousness, grace and mercy.

Conclusion:

Objective Sentence: We should choose wisdom for three reasons.

Reason #1- The Probabilities of Wisdom.  V.21-26.

Reason #2- The Characteristics of Wisdom.  V.27-30.

Reason #3- The Results of Wisdom.  V.31-35.

Bibliography

James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D. Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries. Public Domain, 1890. E-Sword.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Quote by Henry Wasdworth Longfellow on Goodreads. n.d. 14 May 2020.

 

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1 (James Strong)

2 (Longfellow)

 

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