Proverbs: Wisdom & Benefits (II)

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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Topics: Wisdom for Children & Four Benefits (Part Two)

[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 2:1-22″] 1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; 10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. 16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19 none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life. 20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it. (Proverbs 2:1-22 ESV)[/learn_more]

 

Wisdom for Children

We’re looking at little more closely at the 4 main benefits Solomon emphasized his son could expect from following the steps outlined in vss. 1-4:

1. (5-8) “Then you will understand the Fear of The Lord”.

2. (9-15) “Then you will understand righteousness, and justice and equity, and every good work. ”

3. (16-19) “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman” (i. e. temptation).

4. (20) “So you will walk in righteousness. ”

 

Understand Righteousness

The 2nd benefit of following his 7 steps in searching out God’s Word is he would “understand righteousness, and justice and equity, and every good work. ” In this portion are Gospel centered realities that Solomon puts in front of his son, long before the Gospel as we know it had been fleshed out the way it is in the New Testament.

First then he mentions understanding “Righteousness”.

What do we need to know about righteousness? A lot! What righteousness is from God’s viewpoint for one. We think of righteousness on the sliding scale of human imperfection. God sees righteousness on the scale of His own, eternal, absolute perfection. So we and Solomon’s son together need to understand that the righteousness which God demands of us is not the weak, sin-riddled righteousness which passes muster compared to other broken people – but righteousness compared to infinite holiness. And if that is God’s standard, then the second thing we NEED to know about righteousness is HOW TO GET THAT KIND OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Only the Word of God will tell us, it must come from the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.

In other words, when we search out God’s Word, we understand our real need as God knows it, and we come to understand His remedy for our need in Christ Jesus. This can be found nowhere else in all of human religion – but in God’s Word alone. Only in the Bible will we find this unpacked: Philippians 3:8–9 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— “

Second, Solomon says we can come to know “justice. ”

And we need to understand what justice really is, if we would understand what the Gospel really is. If God’s nature does not require justice in regard to our sin – then the cross is meaningless. Only when I know it would be justice for God to punish me eternally for my sin, can I understand both the need for and the wonder of the substitutionary atonement of Christ at Calvary.

See: Romans 3:21–26 and Romans 4:1-8. Christ died because righteousness demands sin be dealt with, and in the Cross, sin is punished to the full, so that those who trust in Christ’s substitution can go free – without violating God’s justice.

Third, God’s Word opens up “equity” to us – the true nature of fairness, and why grace is not contrary to it.

Matthew 20:1-16 contains Jesus’ parable concerning the Kingdom where he talks about a man who contracts with some to work for him early in the day for a fair wage, then 3 subsequent times throughout the day. At the end, all are paid the same. When that is objected to we hear this stunning pronouncement regarding the Landowner’s freedom to give those who worked less the same wage, as what those who worked the whole day had agreed to: Matthew 20:13–15 “He replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? ” Only in God’s Word will come to understand equity on God’s terms.

Last, we will understand “Every good path”

– how to live out righteousness, justice & equity in every day life. So we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ”

What an amazing provision God makes for us in His Word. All of which is ours – when we apply ourselves to gain it.

Moving on now to consider the third benefit:

 

Deliverance from Evil

The third benefit he lists is “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman. ”

As a father speaking frankly to his own son, Solomon pulls no punches. He knows two things are true in regard to our fallen condition; a. Everyone is subject to temptation. The areas of temptation may differ from person to person – but no one is without them. b. Young men are especially prone to sexual temptation. There is no sense trying to dodge it, nor is it profitable to shift the blame to women. Every young man struggles with what to do with his burgeoning sexuality. Period. And every man – regardless of age is called to learn to manage his sexuality righteously. There is a pure and holy context (within monogamous, heterosexual marriage) and there is a defiling context – the “forbidden” woman. The woman who is not his wife. In person, in print, in pixels, on-line, on the phone or in the imagination. If she is not yours by marriage, she is forbidden.

Because Proverbs is primarily written from a father to his son, the metaphor for temptation is couched in terms of what will be most common to a young man. But it takes no imagination to see how that metaphor could be modified to the peculiar temptations of young ladies, older men or older women. The issue is temptation more than the particular kind of temptation. The text could just as easily used some different picture. But in this context, it is spot on.

Once again, it is the “fear of the Lord” – created through devoting oneself to seeking out, treasuring, inclining the heart to, pursuing God’s Word that is insisted upon.

The Word meets this need in a host of ways – only a few of which are:

It informs us we are made for higher things than to be given over to mere sexual lust – having been created in the image of God. (Gen. 1:27)

It shows us how sexual lust is the first sign of our fallen condition. (Rom. 1:18-25)

It instructs us in marriage and the right relationship between the sexes – where God blesses sexual love as a high and holy type of intimacy between Christ and the Church. (Heb. 13:4, Eph. 5:22-32)

The Word is replete with various ways to detect how our own hearts are drawn away and provides myriads of “techniques” or ways to overcome. (Rom. 6, Rom. 8:13, 2 Tim. 2:22, Gal. 5:16 – etc. )

The Bible is a mirror to show us what is really going on in our hearts so that we do walk in self-deception. (James 1:22-25)

It shows us how we are not alone in temptation and how God is on our side in facing it. (1 Cor. 10:13)

We are exposed to nature of God’s judgment upon sexual sin. (Eph. 5:3-5)

We are told how it defiles not just ourselves, but others. (1 Cor. 6:15-20)

And it tells us how to depend upon the indwelling Spirit of Christ in gaining the holy skill of dying to sin’s cries and arguments. (Rm. 8:13)

Because sexual temptation is so pervasive, and because it is one of the most glaring realities of our own age and culture – nothing can be more useful in discussing all temptation under this umbrella.

Would YOU be delivered from whatever the “forbidden woman” is in your life? Seek out the fear of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

~ Reid

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Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.