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Devotionals March 8 – April 7, 2021: True Wisdom: The Book of Proverbs

Everyone in the world today is seeking wisdom. People think that being wise will enable them to impress others and make their own life easier. Many try to find this wisdom by searching the internet for advice on their problems or reading the words of supposedly “wise” men such as famous philosophers or the latest self-help guru. Americans are searching for wisdom and they are willing to pay for it, as evidenced by the fact that the “self-help” industry in the United States is projected to be worth almost $14 billion by 2023. Some even disdain the advice of others completely and try to gain wisdom by experiencing as much as they can during their life on this earth. But sadly, these people will never find what they are looking for because they are looking in all the wrong places. A man can accumulate all the knowledge in the world but still not have any real wisdom.

What is the right place to search for true wisdom? If you are familiar with the Bible, undoubtedly the book of Proverbs comes to mind. This entire book is devoted to the subject of wisdom. It was written by King Solomon, who famously asked God for wisdom and was given it in abundance. 1 Kings 4:31 says that he was “wiser than all men…and his fame was in all nations round about”. Solomon used this God-given wisdom to rule his kingdom well and to write many proverbs, which were a common literary form in the ancient world. They are short, easy-to-remember sayings whose implications carry a great deal of wisdom. Proverbs were a useful tool for teaching and advising the people, especially the young people. The book of Proverbs includes mostly Solomon’s own thoughts and experiences but also what he had learned from other wise men, all providentially arranged together. Yet Proverbs is more than just a collection of practical advice from godly, wise men. It is the divinely inspired Word of God. Therefore, it must be read both as wise sayings from a father to his dear son, and as wisdom being passed on from our Heavenly Father to his dear children.

A believing young person can be instructed in wisdom by listening to the wise teaching of their parents and other godly mentors and by reading God’s Word. The timeless truths found in the Book of Proverbs are still as applicable to young people today as they were at the time when Solomon wrote them. Although the circumstances may be different, the principles of godly living remain the same. That being said, some research on the customs and culture of Israel in Solomon’s day may be necessary to fully grasp the concept of certain proverbs. A good study Bible or commentary can provide helpful historical context to aid in your understanding of the text.

It is also important for interpretation purposes to remember the literary style of what you are reading. Wisdom literature such as Proverbs requires consideration and contemplation. It is not meant to be read quickly and without thought. You will not be able to flip through Proverbs like a self-help index and find a clear answer for every difficult situation you face. Proverbs is meant to be read in context just like the rest of the Bible. Although many of the verses are intended to be understood as separate thoughts, we still must interpret the meaning based on the theme of the section and in accordance with the rest of Scripture. When reading, also keep an eye out for literary devices such as personification and parallelism, which Solomon used to illustrate the abstract principles he was trying to teach. One final thing to keep in mind when reading is that many proverbs are general observations about the reality of the world as it is now, not necessarily a statement of how it should be or a guarantee of the same outcome in your own life. Focus on the general principles illustrated by each proverb when applying them to yourself, instead of the details.

While the book of Proverbs does give instruction on a wide range of subjects, it is not just a practical guide to life on this earth. The verses of this book ultimately teach us about our Savior, Jesus Christ. In him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”. True wisdom does not come from simply living a long time or studying up on how to do the right thing. It can only be found in our Savior. Wise behavior is the fruit of our union with Christ, who is wisdom.

While it is true that wise behavior will generally make your life more pleasant and impress those around you, this should not be the believer’s goal in their quest for wisdom. The point of reading the book of Proverbs and seeking true wisdom is to gain instruction in righteousness. Proverbs 1:7 serves as a summary of all the other proverbs when it says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. The fear of the Lord expresses itself in faithful obedience to God’s holy law. We must ultimately strive to gain wisdom in order to form a closer relationship with our perfectly wise Heavenly Father, the Source and Giver of all Wisdom.

Merely reading the book of Proverbs is not enough to make a person wise. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Solomon made a Book of Proverbs, but a Book of Proverbs won’t make a Solomon”. True wisdom comes only from God. He made Solomon wise and only he can make you wise. We cannot acquire wisdom on our own. But careful study of God’s Word is one of the means that he uses to instruct his people in the way of wisdom. Wisdom comes from being fully immersed in God’s Word as a whole and seeking his counsel through prayer. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). When he became king, Solomon asked God for “an understanding heart” (1 Kin. 3:9). Make this your prayer as well when you consider the godly wisdom found in the book of Proverbs this month.

 

Reading Plan

March 8               Read Proverbs 1

Sing or pray Psalter #304

March 9               Read Proverbs 2

Sing or pray Psalter #305

March 10             Read Proverbs 3

Sing or pray Psalter #232

March 11             Read Proverbs 4

Sing or pray Psalter #89

March 12             Read Proverbs 5

Sing or pray Psalter #190

March 13             Read Proverbs 6

Sing or pray Psalter #213, vv. 1-4

March 14             Read Proverbs 7

Sing or pray Psalter #366

March 15             Read Proverbs 8

Sing or pray Psalter #215

March 16             Read Proverbs 9

Sing or pray Psalter #90

March 17             Read Proverbs 10

Sing or pray Psalter #201

March 18            Read Proverbs 11

Sing or pray Psalter #95

March 19             Read Proverbs 12

Sing or pray Psalter #290

March 20             Read Proverbs 13

Sing or pray Psalter #31

March 21             Read Proverbs 14

Sing or pray Psalter #97

March 22             Read Proverbs 15

Sing or pray Psalter #145

March 23             Read Proverbs 16

Sing or pray Psalter #104

March 24             Read Proverbs 17

Sing or pray Psalter #337

March 25             Read Proverbs 18

Sing or pray Psalter #38

March 26            Read Proverbs 19

Sing or pray Psalter #334

March 27             Read Proverbs 20

Sing or pray Psalter #161

March 28             Read Proverbs 21

Sing or pray Psalter #40

March 29             Read Proverbs 22

Sing or pray Psalter #194

March 30             Read Proverbs 23

Sing or pray Psalter #135

March 31             Read Proverbs 24

Sing or pray Psalter #136

April 1                  Read Proverbs 25

Sing or pray Psalter #333

April 2                  Read Proverbs 26

Sing or pray Psalter #321

April 3                  Read Proverbs 27

Sing or pray Psalter #404

April 4                  Read Proverbs 28

Sing or pray Psalter #410

April 5                  Read Proverbs 29

Sing or pray Psalter #381

April 6                  Read Proverbs 30

Sing or pray Psalter #329

April 7                  Read Proverbs 31

Sing or pray Psalter #322

 

Originally published March 2021, Vol 80 No 3