Why Seek Wisdom?
The first obstacle to getting help in life is being willing to admit you need help. You will never want wisdom until you realize you don't have it. In chapter 1, we saw that a wise man is not someone who has obtained wisdom, but simply someone who wants to be wise. Chapter 2 moves on to offer encouragement to seek wisdom earnestly. It is a longer sermon-style proverb told from the perspective of a father addressing his son about how to obtain a good life. He is trying to show his son what seeking wisdom looks like and all the benefits that he will obtain from it. How to Seek Wisdom (vs 1-4) Receiving It (vs 1) "If you will receive my words..." - The first step in seeking wisdom is to be open to `receiving it.' The father is offering wisdom. The first step in gaining wisdom is seeking. The first step in seeking wisdom is being open to receiving it. Receiving wisdom is not a passive thing. It means valuing what someone is telling you, being attentive to it, and being humble enough to realize you need it. Storing It (vs 1) "and treasure my commandments within you..." - One of the biggest reasons wisdom isn't valued is because we think we don't need it right now. Wisdom isn't always immediately applicable to our current situation. There is a reason for this. It is better to learn how to handle a hard situation before we are actually in that hard situation. Like basic training which equips soldiers with how to handle circumstances before they encounter them for real in wartime, wisdom is often offered in times of peace, but if we will treasure it and store it away, we will have what we need when the time comes. To do this, requires patience and a focus that sees farther that our immediate concerns. Hunting for It (vs 3-4) "cry for discernment/seek her like silver/search as for hidden treasure" - Seeking wisdom starts with the humility and being open to receiving it. Seeking wisdom means storing it to use at a later date. Seeking wisdom means earnestly, sincerely, single-mindedly searching for it. It means realizing its true worth and wanting it above all. If someone told you that someone close to you knew the secret location of a million dollars, what would you do? Most of us would drop everything, try to figure out who it was who knew, and how to get them to tell you how to find it. That is how we are supposed to seek wisdom, like a hidden treasure. Why Seek Wisdom (vs 5-22) Most people after reading that you have to seek wisdom like it's a hidden treasure feel a sense of let-down. We want real treasure not cheap platitudes that don't work. Truth be told, most of us don't ever seek wisdom because we don't think we will find anything but overly sentimental bumper stickers, or overly bitter rants about the way things used to be. Such thinking is nothing new. That is why this proverb proceeds to show the benefits we can expect from wisdom. This is what wisdom will do for you... Wisdom Will Draw You Closer to God (vs 5-8) - The first reward for seeking wisdom is that it will draw you closer to God. As we saw last week, wisdom, at its core, is theological. Seeking wisdom leads to God because you will discover the fear of the Lord. The opposite is true as well. Seeking God leads to wisdom. Look at verse 6, "for the Lord gives wisdom." Some people just want God to tell them what to do. Some people want to decide what to do on their own. Both are extremes. God doesn't want immature, ignorant people who don't know how to live. He also doesn't want independent, isolated people who don't realize their need for Him. He desires to give us wisdom, not so that we can be free of Him, but so that we can be free, joyful, mature co-laborers with Him. Wisdom Will Help You Live Well (vs 9-11) - Wisdom leads to God. Wisdom also leads to a good life. Sometimes we think the path wisdom will lead us on is like quitting a bad habit or going on a diet. All we see is the delicious, but bad for us, food that we have to give up. But the picture painted in the next few verses is an internal transformation, changing us from the inside out. * You will know the right thing to do (vs 9) - The first thing wisdom will give you is insight into what the right path is. As you think about which path is right and why, you will see the value of wisdom and desire to choose rightly. * You will enjoy doing the right thing (vs 10) - As you think through wise choices, wisdom will become more than just a habit. it will become pleasing to you. You will see good produced by wise choices and will enjoy doing good. You will also see evil for what it is and no longer desire it. * You will be protected from evil (vs 11) - Wisdom protects you from evil both by showing you the right way to go, but also by making you the kind of person who delights in choosing rightly. It's a double defense that leads to living well. You will know the right thing to do and you will enjoy doing it. Wisdom Will Protect You from Bad Relationships (vs 12-15) - Not only does wisdom positively and proactively help you live skillfully, but it will also protect you from the ways of people who don't care for wisdom. We sometimes excuse our association with bad people by saying we are trying to change them for the better. The proverbs are clear that if a person doesn't want wisdom, it will lead them and those around down a terrible path. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals." This proverb goes on to describe the signs of such a person: * Speaks perverse things (vs 12) -Jesus told his disciples in Luke 6:45, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." The words that come out of a person's mouth are an indicator of what is inside of them. A person speaking perverse things is revealing what his heart is full of. * Delights in evil (vs 13-14) - What we take pleasure in is a further indicator of the state of our soul. None of us is perfect. We all still stumble into sin. Sometimes we embrace sin willingly. But to call sin good, to no longer be ashamed of sin, or to long for sin more than righteousness is a dangerous place to be. In Philippians 3:19, Paul talks about people who "glory in their shame." They are proud of what they should be ashamed of. * Devious in their ways (vs 15) - The wicked are people whose paths are crooked. They get distracted and delayed by every sort of evil. They turn aside to investigate new opportunities for indulging their desires. Their path isn't clear to themselves, and they try to hide it from others. Secrecy and deception are signs of an unwise person. Wisdom will Protect you from Ruining Good Relationships (vs 16-19) - This proverb refers to two kinds of people that wisdom will help you avoid. The evil man (vs 12) and the evil woman (vs 15), who is also described as strange, foreign, or adulterous. Both of these characters represent types to be avoided. The call to avoid the adulterous woman occurs several times in the Proverbs. It is addressed to a married young man. It promises that wisdom will help you avoid her and, in the process, preserve your current marriage. Though primarily about marriage, it also applies to all relationships. It shows how wisdom will protect us from ruining our good relationships. The adulterous woman is the symbol for a relationship saboteur. It might also be the backstabbing friend, or the gossipy co-worker, someone who will destroy good relationships if we aren't careful. This proverb gives three characteristics of such a person. * Flatters (vs 16) - Flattery is hard to resist. The reason is that relationships are hard, especially between people living closely, whether they are married, friends, family, or coworkers. We see people at their most vulnerable and at their worst. We are always around them so we don't censor ourselves. Often, we dump our negative emotions on them. Then all of a sudden, we meet someone new, who tells us everything we want to hear, who only focuses on what they like about us, and takes our side in every struggle we are in. * Leaves (vs 17) - Flattery offers a false promise that relationships should be easy and that those other relationships are bad for being hard. It's a lie. Its goal is to cause us to forsake our commitments and leave when times get hard. That is what this woman in the proverb has done and what she will encourage you to do, by promising you ease and pleasure. * Forgets (vs 18) - All of this becomes possible by encouraging you to forget the promises you made. She "forgets the covenants of her God," and she encourages you to do the same. Covenants and promises are there to help you keep going through the hard stuff, giving you reason to stay focused and continue when you feel like giving up or going away. Ruined relationships happen when people forget the promises, they made to one another and leave when things get hard. Only Two Possible Destinations (vs 20-22) The Proverb ends with a description of the only two destinations in life. Wisdom and righteousness will lead to blessing and abundance. The wicked will be cut off and uprooted. The writer isn't saying that if we do what God says then God will externally give us blessing, and if we don't, He will smite it. He is saying that the paths we take lead to different destinations. Wisdom is a harder path of training and at times difficult, but it leads to life and blessing. Wickedness offers ease and pleasure but leads to death. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Don't be deceived by the offer of an easy journey. First, it's a lie. Second, it doesn't matter if the journey is easy if it doesn't lead you where you want to go. 1 2 Why Seek Wisdom Proverbs 2:1-22