The mother whose wisdom is included alongside the wisdom of Solomon

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Have you ever paid close attention to Proverbs 31? This is an oft cited chapter that refers to the „virtuous woman”  / or the „woman who fears the Lord...” and lists her qualifications. If you have not read the entire chapter, you might mistakenly attribute this chapter to Solomon. Yet verse 1 states:

„The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:”

Now, there is no other mention of this king anywhere else in the Bible, and some older commentaries attribute King Lemuel to being Solomon. Regardless who this king is, the verses in Chapter 31 are quoted from this mother of King Lemuel.

Now read this chapter again, noting that it is written by a woman and if you are one of those women who usually cringes or avoids reading this chapter altogether, because you think it describes a „superwoman” or that it is an impossibility for one woman to display all of the qualities described here, I would encourage you to read the article attached in the link at the bottom of this article, beneath the notes.

The Words of King Lemuel

31 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?
What are you doing, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10  An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Photo credit

Some short notes which makes some  great points from this Proverbs 31 commentary at

Her textual identity –

  • The text of Proverbs does not name the noble woman it describes in such detail. The author is King Lemuel, who was known by Israel‟s sages even though he remains unknown to us. He received the instruction from his own mother. In addition to admonishing her son that a king must not give in to any unrestrained living that would jeopardize his ability to rule, she summarizes the kind of wife that would add honor to his name. He must look for a truly valiant6 wife who fears the Lord and not be tempted by mere beauty and charm. Lemuel applies the advice to more than the royal household, for the husband described within is an elder of the city, not a king. Thus, what was originally designed as advice for a prince has been included in Scripture for the benefit of all classes.
  • Some deny that this too-good-to-be-true wife could be just one woman. She must be an ideal, composite picture of what one could desire in a wife if it were possible to acquire it all in one package.  Nevertheless, we cannot escape the textual presentation of her as one, distinct person whose wisdom benefits not only her household but the community as well. Seeing her as a composite creates unwarranted opportunity for excusing ourselves from any obligation to be like her.

Before determining how this instruction should be applied to today‟s woman, several assumptions need to be recognized.

  1. Assumption 1: She is a mature woman.The woman described in the text is a mature woman, not a new bride. She shows the confidence of one who has gained experience over time, both in her spiritual development and in her skills as a homemaker. Young men hoping to discover a readymade Proverbs 31 wife are setting themselves up for a disappointment if they expect to say “I do” to a bride with this much skill or wisdom. In the same way that homemaking skills become perfected with practice, so also understanding and wisdom increase over time when one walks with the Author of wisdom. A new bride may not match the Proverbs 31 woman‟s skill, but she will be counted wise if she makes a conscious choice to follow the Way of Wisdom.
  2. Assumption 2: Her husband is a wise and mature man. Second, this woman is married to a man who is qualified to sit in the gates as an elder of his people. He has presumably been successful in his own endeavors and thereby has gained the respect of the community. He recognizes that he has a superb wife and appropriately leaves the management of the home to her.
  3. Assumption 3: Her household is economically well off. Third, the Proverbs 31 wife is part of a well-to-do household. Waltke mentions that the poem “assumes the husband has founded the home on a sound economic foundation (24:27) and within that context his wife can settle down and function to her maximum ideal.20 The text indicates that the woman‟s prudent management of the family‟s resources brought economic security to all of her household. Many women conclude that it would be impossible to live up to this woman‟s example without also having her servants. In their dreams, the servants would do the household work and leave them free to carry on her other pursuits. However, this betrays both a misunderstanding of the role of servants and of the author‟s point. In the North American context, servant brings to mind either  the historical slave of  the Southern plantation, or (2) a domestic worker whom only the rich can afford to pay. Neither description comes close to depicting the Proverbs 31 household servant. Even today where modern “electric servants” to which the West has become accustomed do not exist, household chores can be both physically demanding and time consuming. Without readymade clothes, canned foods, and prepared spices, clothing and feeding a household require a huge amount of one‟s day. With no electricity or indoor plumbing, every chore done by the machines the West takes so much for granted becomes a major job. The housewife needs help. Servants help, but they also bring responsibility. The Proverbs 31 woman shouldered this responsibility as normal routine in her household and did it well. The wise woman can live with or without servants. In either case, she organizes and carries out her work with wisdom, overseeing and advising everyone in her household.
  4. Assumption 4: The Proverbs 31 woman is a healthy woman. The fourth assumption from the text is that the Proverbs 31 woman is healthy, strong and fit for her job. Can a woman excuse herself from being a Proverbs 31 wife, then, if she has not been blessed with a healthy body and a vigorous immune system? If the amount of household tasks accomplished is the rule by which we measure a woman‟s worthiness, then we have established a superficial standard for wisdom. Certainly a healthy body is valuable, but wisdom is not dependant upon physical strength. Being a Proverbs 31 woman does not demand the perfect body. Instead, it needs a healthy spirit that is attuned to the Spirit of God.

In summary, then, although the author of Proverbs 31 delights in all this jewel of a woman does in the ruling of her household, her above-rubies value is not dependent upon her homemaking skills, her worthy husband, her comparative wealth, or her physical health. Her value is in using the wisdom God has given her, a wisdom that springs from her fear of the Lord. 

This is no assumption. The writer summarizes this remarkable wife with these words: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”24 Herein is the key to understanding the entire poem: the noble wife is a woman who fears the Lord. Focusing only on this industrious woman‟s work will cloud this crucial point.

Many women, even non-Christians, out of innate common sense and providential goodness devote themselves to caring successfully for their husbands and children, making the needs of their household the primary focus of their lives. What, then, differentiates the wise wife of Proverbs 31 from her counterparts? It is her fear of the Lord, not her wise shopping or her control over her children.

How does the Proverbs 31 woman‟s fear of the Lord make her different from other accomplished homemakers?

1. Her focus is on God.
2. She hates evil.
3. She is compassionate and fair to all.
4. She delights in the Lord’s commands.
5. She is teachable.

You can read the entire commentary here –

David Platt – Wisdom Books – What is God’s will for my life (A study in the Book of Proverbs)

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david plattProverbs is the most prominent wisdom book in Scripture and amidst all the wisdom that is contained in Proverbs there is also a good bit of confusion. Confusion as to how to understand individual proverbs and then confusion how this book, as a whole is to be understood. We live in a day when the most common question, not only constantly ask, but, almost anxiously ask:

What is God’s will for my life?

We are talking here about things that are not directly spelled out in Scripture. Scripture says specific things about specific circumstances. But, there are so many circumstances we face, some of them small, some of them big, on a daily basis, that the Word doesn’t speak directly to- whether it’s what we eat, or what we wear today, small decisions like that. Big decisions like who to marry, what career paths to choose, where to live. How do we know God’s will in these areas of our lives? Obviously, Scripture speaks to all of those things in some way. The Scripture talks about taking care of our body; that’s gonna inform the way that we eat, or honoring God in the way we dress. Or, Scripture is going to speak in to whom we marry. Scripture tells us not to marry an unbeliever, or what career path to choose, immoral career paths that you should not choose according to Scripture. But, when it comes down to the details of what this looks like, we want to know what God’s will is. Our hearts desire  God’s will, but we have a hard time transitioning from our hearts to our minds, and making decisions.

We are afraid, almost constantly afraid that we’re gonna do the wrong thing, and that we’re gonna make the wrong decisions with different situations we face. We just wish we would have it spelled out in front of us. It would make it a lot easier. But, if that were the case, it would miss the whole point. And so, what I want to show us today in Proverbs, in this book as a whole is a picture of incredible comfort, and incredible confidence that you can have when you’re walking through the decision making process, when you’re walking through decisions that you make on a daily basis- knowing that you are living out and following the will of God, based on the picture we see in Proverbs. (3:00)

I want us to read the first 7 verses here in Proverbs. They are kind of an introduction to the book, they tell us purpose of the book. Proverbs is divided into two major sections: The first 9 chapter are a kind of preface to the book- talking about wisdom, giving a reason why we need to read the rest of the book- because wisdom is valuable. We need to get wisdom, treasure wisdom, we see that over and over again in these first 9 chapters. Then you get to chapter 10, and from chapter 10 – 31, what you see is different proverbs, different wise sayings. A lot of them 2 liners, 3 liners, maybe 4 liners, that are written to be memorable, to lodge away in your mind and in your heart, that take the Word and apply it to the practical things that we face in our lives. Most of this is written by Solomon. Not all of it, other parts written by different folks, or at least compiled by different folks, but, most of it is written by Solomon.


I want us to look at these first 7 verses that give us a purpose statement for the entire book. And then focus on one particular verse that’s gonna guide us through our times in proverbs today.

1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;  fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I want you to underline that last line. All throughout these first 7 verses we see these words used almost interchangeably- wisdom, and instruction, insight, prudence, knowledge, discretion. And then you get to verse 7 „The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” some translations say „the beginning of wisdom,  fools despise wisdom and instruction„. In fact, you turn to chapter 9:10 „The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” This is the verse I want you to etch in your mind this morning, I want us to think about the relationship between fear of the Lord, between worship of the Lord and wisdom. 

Wisdom is the fruit of  a right relationship with God.

Wisdom spring from , results out of a right relationship with God. When we walk in the fear of the Lord, when we worship the Lord, we will walk in wisdom. Our wisdom in daily decisions is dependent on out relationship with God and having a right relationship with God. And, this makes total sense. Go back to creation, think about Genesis 1 & 2. We saw man in complete harmony with the Creator. Genesis 1 & 2, before sin entered into the world, Adam and Eve were in complete harmony with God, perfectly relating to God, and as a result of that we saw man in complete harmony with the creation, in complete harmony with each other- Adam & Eve. That was the picture. They were not wandering around wondering, „What is Your will for our life?” God had made it clear: Don’t eat from this tree, enjoy one another, enjoy me, be fruitful and multiply. So, they were living in harmony with God and with each other. So, there wasn’t a worry, „Am I gonna make the wrong decision?” It was clear.

You know what happened. They take the command of God and they disregard it and results in the fall. The result of the fall is twofold:

  1. man’s relationship with the creator is destroyed (were it not for the grace of God, they would have been dead on the spot) and man’s relationship with God, since that day has never been the same. Never. But, not just man’s relationship with the Creator destroyed, but
  2. man’s relationship with creation is distorted. Their relationship with each other was immediately affected. And their relationship with the world, the creation around them was immediately affected. And it makes sense, once they were disconnected in their relationship with God, it had a huge effect on everything around them.

I want you to notice that there’s a vertical component and a horizontal component here. There’s a vertical component- our relationship to God that has a direct effect to our horizontal component- our lives in this world, our relationships with other people in this world, our decisions that we make on a daily basis, living in this world. All of that flows from what is going on in our relationship with God. A vertical component that affects the horizontal component. We see that.

So, in order to have a right relationship with the world around us, and to walk with wisdom in the world around us, making wise decisions, we need a right relationship with God. Wisdom is the fruit of a right relationship with God. So, now we come to Solomon. This is what I love on how we are reading the Bible this year. Because we have a tendency to take a book like proverbs and kind of picture it that it’s just kind of flowing out there as it’s own book, with all these random sayings. But, what we’re doing is we’re seeing where Proverbs fits in to the story of redemption, fits into this story of redemptive history that we’re walking through.

The background & history of the Book of Proverbs

A couple of weeks ago, we got to 1 Kings chapter 4, and we stopped. Over the last two weeks we’ve been reading Song of Songs and Proverbs. So, I want to take us back to where we stopped in redemptive history. Turn back with me to 1 Kings chapter 3 & 4, to remind ourselves what is going on when we come to the book of Proverbs. What is the background, what is the history on this, this book didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Look at 1 Kings 3:5,7-12

book of proverbs At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” 7  And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not knowhow to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.   (the parallel version of this is 2 Chronicles 1) (12:30)

In other words He says, „I am going to make you wiser than any before you and anyone to come in the picture in the Old Testament. You are going to be the wisest.” And that’s exactly what we see. Go to 1 Kings 4:29-33:

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mindlike the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

Now it makes sense why we stopped to read Proverbs at this point. Verse 32 says he spoke 3,000 proverbs. That begs the question, „What do they say?” And so, that’s why we’re stopping to read Proverbs now. I want us to take the Book of Proverbs right here and put it in this context of redemptive history. Because what’s happened is Solomon has become king, he has asked for wisdom, God has given him wisdom beyond that of anyone else. And right after this, what we’re gonna read in the week to come, starting in verse 5, what Solomon does is he starts to build the temple. He makes preparations to build the temple, in chapter 6 he builds the temple, in chapter 8 he dedicates the temple.

Redemption anticipated in Solomon

What I want you to see is the relationship , here in the context of redemptive history between wisdom and worship. Because, at this point of redemptive history, we are at the height, at the apex of wisdom and worship in Israel’s history. The wisest man, the wisest king ever. The temple being completed, that’s what David longed to do, but, God reserved for Solomon to do, to get it completed so the glory of God can dwell upon His people. This is at a point in redemptive history in the Old Testament where wisdom and worship are coming together like they’ve never come together before and like they will never come together again in the Old Testament. This is the apex of the mountain.

In the reign of Solomon we’re seeing two things. The wisdom of Solomon is tied to the worship of Solomon. His relationship with God affecting his relationship with other people and creation around them. So when you look in Proverbs you realize this is not just a book about wisdom, this is most definitely a book about worship as well.

The wisdom of Solomon is tied to the worship of Solomon.

  • We revere His person. You see exhortations all over Proverbs to revere the person of God. At least 18 different times we see the fear of the Lord mentioned. This is where wisdom starts.
  1. The Lord is the almighty Creator of all things– Revere Him as almighty Creator of all things. Proverbs 3:19-20; 14:31; This is where wisdom starts, with an acknowledgment of God as our Creator. This is why you can take the most brilliant atheist in the world today, with all kinds of intellectual knowledge and Proverbs, and Psalms, and the rest of Scripture would label Him a fool. And it’s not because he doesn’t know anything. He has tons of knowledge. There are a lot of smart atheists. But, the reason he is a fool is because all of his knowledge is viewed through a perspective that is Godless, that denies the existence and the truth and the reality of God. And as a result, the lens through which he views everything in the world is ultimately empty. That’s foolishness. It may look like wisdom to the world, but that’s foolishness compared to the wisdom of God. Wisdom springs from an acknowledgment of reverence: For the Lord is the almighty Creator of all things. Wisdom starts with the worship of God.
  • The Lord is the sovereign sustainer of all things– God is not only Creator, but, He’s the sovereign sustainer of all things. This is all over chapter 16. vv. 1,3,9,33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Chance does not rule, God rules everything. He is guiding, leading all things, all times are in His hands.
  • The Lord is the eternal judge of all peoples– Proverbs 16:11 „A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. Proverbs 11:21 Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered. All throughout this book we see different things that the Lord hates, that are an abomination to the world and the reality that God will judge all peoples ultimately. This is cause for fear. You, right where you are sitting, were fashioned and created by the infinitely wise, all powerful Lord and King of all of creation. And He holds your days in His hands. You may make plans, but He guides. And one day He is going to judge you. That brings us pause, that brings about a holy fear for the Lord. And this is the spring form which wisdom flows. (21:00)
  • We rejoice in His grace. Proverbs 3:3-6 talks about the steadfast love and faithfulness that God gives, in the verses that are most common to us: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 3:11-12  My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Even His discipline is evidence of His love for us
  • We receive His Word  Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. We receive His Word. It’s part of wisdom. Wisdom springs from His Word.
  • We remember His purpose. And we remember His purpose. The picture throughout Proverbs is we see how God acts and the way God displays His character. God reveals His glory. And that’s what the temple was all about. The whole worship life of the people of Israel is about revering Him, rejoicing in the grace, receiving His word, remembering His purpose to make His glory known throughout the world. All of that is known throughout Proverbs. (22:30)

So what we see, at the time this is being written is God centered worship, which leads to the second:

God given wisdom for the king

The height of wisdom is displayed here in all of these proverbs we have written down. Now, how do we understand these proverbs? What we have to understand first and foremost is that proverbs are guidelines for living, not guarantees in life. These sayings, particularly chapters 10-31, they’re guidelines for living, not guarantees in life. Here’s what I mean by that. You look at chap. 3:2 where it says, „If you obey the commandments of the Lord, then you will have long days in this life. That’s a good guideline for living, but the reality is that when you look at David Brainers, Robert Murray McCheyenne, all of these brothers who were giving their lives in radical abandonment to the commands of Christ died in their early 30’s. So, it’s not like, „If you’re gonna obey the Lord, you’re gonna live past your 30’s.” In the same way that you see in Proverbs 11:8, is says, „The righteous man will be delivered out of trouble.” That’s a general guideline. But, we know, we have persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, who are pursuing righteousness right now, who are not being delivered out of trouble.
It doesn’t mean that Proverbs aren’t true, that they’re false. What it means is that’s not how they’re supposed to be interpreted. It is not promises to claim. That is not how Proverbs is intended to be interpreted. Instead, what we’ve got is general guidelines for living, for our lives, which are very helpful. We need to remember these kinds of things. They are patterns, but they are not promises that we claim in every single circumstance that we face in life.
I want to give you an overview of some of the recurrent themes. This is by no means exhaustive.
  • In the Family – Proverbs puts focus on the family.

  1. Love your spouse loyally. The husband and wife are encouraged to share one another sexually and emotionally, in love with one another. Proverbs 5:15-19 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; You see in Proverbs 6, at one point, a husband’s jealousy for the affections of his wife looked at as natural and good. Obviously, we have in Proverbs 31, a picture of a Godly wife, a Godly woman. Some of the most intense passages in Proverbs come in this area with warnings against adultery. Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9, all have stern warnings, the kind of warnings that, I think, we would be wise to meditate on regularly, more important than even reading marriage books in our culture. Proverbs 7:6-27 „For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice,and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. 10 And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11 She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. 13 She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, 14 “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; 15 so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. 16 I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. 19 For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; 20 he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” 21 With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. 22 All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast 23 till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life 24 And now, O sons, listen to me    and be attentive to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, 26 for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.Men, if there is any inkling in you, wandering toward, in thought or deed toward another woman, meditate on Proverbs 7. And see yourself as an ox, walking willingly to a slaughter. And let it soak in that you do not know what you are doing and it will cost you your life. Obviously, this is written from Solomon’s perspective, the whole picture throughout Proverbs is through a man’s perspective. But, the picture, obviously, even to look at from a woman’s perspective, to encourage sisters across this room to stay close to your husband. To not be found wandering far away from your husband. Stay close to your husband. Do not let your life or your house be a way of death. These are wise words. (29:00)
  2. Instruct your children intentionally.Proverbs 23:13-14- Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

Among friends

  1. Avoid evil company. We imitate our friends. Proverbs 24:1 Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. I would just say to every high school and college student, I mean this is across the board, but, some of the greatest counsel I received in high school and college is to be wise with the friends that I surrounded myself with, cause that has every effect of how our life ends up looking. 
  2. Promote good companionship. We see positive pictures of selfless, sensible friends, honest friends all throughout Proverbs. „A friends loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17.

With words

Proverbs talks about words: Guard what you say. Don’t speak in haste. How many words do you regret because they were spoken in haste? Proverbs says, „Be quiet. Think first.” It says, the tongue has the power of life and death; it has the power to heal and destroy. The tongue has the power of reward and damage.
  1. Guard what you say and
  2. Guard what you hear. Proverbs talks about how to receive words. Words of criticism and words of flattery that are not always good.

With wealth

  1. Hard work is valuable. Proverbs, over and over again tells us that hard work is valuable. There is profit in work and it says over and over again, „Don’t be lazy.” Get up and do something. That’s wise. There is a high value on work here, but, it’s not work to gain more and more barns for ourselves.
  2. Helping the needy. Proverbs also talks about helping the needy. It’s vital. Proverbs makes very harsh statements about those who neglect the poor. Proverbs 29:7 „A righteous man knows the rights of the poor, while a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.” It seems to be an overarching truth that extreme wealth and extreme poverty  are both undesirable. It’s interesting, when you look into it, in the book of Proverbs we see people who are righteous and are wealthy, and who are righteous and are poor. And we see people who are evil and are wealthy, and evil that are poor. So, there’s no ground to say, „Well. if you’re righteous, then you’re rich, or, if you’re evil you’ll be poor, and vice versa. Instead, what we see if Proverbs 30:8-9- give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” So, there’s an emphasis of wisdom that is found and contentment in the Lord.

So, we see all of these kind of different truths coming together. We could talk for days about all of these different things. There’s so much to saturate there, but, instead of thinking about all these specific proverbs, I want us to come back to this overarching picture of worship and wisdom, and how the two go together.

Worship & Wisdom and how they go together

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Worship is the beginning of wisdom. A right relationship with God brings about a right relationship with the world around us. That’s the picture we see at this point in Solomon’s life. If we read anymore in the Old Testament, we know what’s coming. It’s not gonna be long until Solomon turns his heart away from the worship of God, and he actually turns his heart towards the very things he has warned us not to turn our hearts toward: To wealth and women. And, as a result of his worship life being misdirected completely, then his wisdom wanes. And, Solomon’s life ends no where close to how it looks here in 1 Kings chapter 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, which shows us a mirror of ourselves. Don’t miss this: Left to ourselves, we are prone to worship the things of this world, and to follow after the wisdom of this world.
What we see in Solomon is possible and present in every single one of our sinful hearts in this room. Which means, we need someone else besides Solomon to help us. And that’s where we see that Solomon was only anticipating redemption in this life, and setting the stage. Now I want you to see how Proverbs fits into redemptive history and how reading the book of Proverbs, although it does not mention the name of Jesus once, it leads us to love Christ, to lean on Christ because this is redemption that will be achieved  in Christ. Turn to Luke 2:41. This is where my study in Proverbs just came alive, as I saw these truths we talked about , this relationship in redemptive history between worship and wisdom, and those coming together- God given worship, God given wisdom.

Redemption achieved in Christ

We don’t have a lot of material about Jesus’s boyhood, about His growing up, His teenage years. But this is one of the glimpses that we do have in Luke 2:41 ”

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Vertical and horizontal. Do you see the picture here? This glimpse we have of JesusHe is sitting at the temple, at the place where the glory of God dwells. He makes a startling statement. He asks the question: Do you not know I must be at my Father’s house? He is saying that this, the temple, where the glory of God dwells, this is where I belong. It’s a bold statement. It is only heightened even more when you get to John 2, when He’s outside the temple , He’s beginning His ministry and the picture we have in John 2 and He identifies Himself with the temple. It’s what John chapter 1 set the stage for: „We beheld His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We have seen the glory of God in Jesus, Jesus identifies Himself as the temple in John 2. You want to encounter the presence of God? You want to behold the glory of God? Here I am. And from this picture we see Him teaching others wisdom, growing in wisdom. So, don’t miss what we’re seeing here in the New Testament. The whole picture we’re gonna see in the Gospel:

  1. Jesus is the true temple. He is where the presence of God and the glory of God dwells. This is the reality of  the incarnation. Do you want to see the glory of God, do you want to experience the presence of God? You come to Jesus. He is the true temple, and in this way- Jesus enables the worship of God. Don’t miss it. New Testament Gospel truth: Man will not meet God in a building to worship Him. Man will come to Christ to worship God. Man will encounter the glory of God in the person of Christ. He is the one who makes true worship possible. On the cross, He died to reconcile man to God. The curtain of the temple was torn in two and man is now able to relate to God, to worship God truly   as a result of Christ.
  2. He is the perfect king. – that Israel has been waiting for. David failed. Solomon failed. So on, and so on, and so on, which is why we see in Matthew 12:42, Jesus is speaking to religious leaders and He says, „One with greater wisdom than Solomon is here. Solomon, who was the wisest you know in Israel’s history, has nothing on the wisdom of Christ. But, here’s the question I want you to ask: Why? Why was Jesus’s wisdom greater than Solomon’s wisdom? Because wisdom is the fruit of a right relationship with God. Solomon was not in a perfect relationship with God. He was in an imperfect relationship with God, and, as a result, it flowed into an imperfect wisdom and a life that failed. Jesus, however, was in perfect relationship with God. Perfectly and fully relating to God, identified as the temple, with the Father. And, as a result, wisdom flowing from Him, the very wisdom of God flowing from Him.
  3. Jesus embodies the wisdom of God. He is wise, exactly as the Father is wise, because of His unity with the Father. That’s why Colossians 2:3 tells us that „in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In Christ. Don’t miss this: What Solomon anticipated, Christ achieved. The picture in Solomon- his heart was stained by sin. Jesus comes on the scene perfect, without sin, in perfect relationship to God, in perfect wisdom, and in His relationship with the world around Him. True temple and the perfect king. Which means, to every single person in history and to every single person in this room: If you want to walk in wisdom, and not waste your life in folly, then there is only one path to take. And it is the path of faith and trust in and surrender to Jesus Christ.

Just like Proverbs presents us over and over again with the way of folly and the way of wisdom. The Gospel presents us with the same choice. A way of folly- follow after this world, be wise, be smart according to the standards of this world, indulging in this world, out of right relationship with God, and lose your life. Or, the way of Christ- To trust in Christ and what He has done on the cross to reconcile you to God, to be united in relationship to God, and from that relationship to have wisdom flow. And, as if that’s not good enough, this is where it gets just breathtaking.

Redemption applied in us. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says that Christ is our wisdom. We were the foolish things of the world, Paul says. And God called us in Christ, and he says, „In Christ, He has become your wisdom, He has become wisdom to you.” This is mind boggling, breathtaking, and overwhelming. Think about this: When you trust in Christ, and your life is united with Christ:
  1. In Christ we live in continual worship. Paul says later, in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that we walk in the presence of God, we enjoy the presence of God. We enjoy the glory of God by His Spirit’s presence in us. He houses His presence in our bodies. He is in us. This is glorious truth. In Christ, we live in continual worship, which means, of all people we
  2. Revere His person humbly. We walk in reverence of God. 1 Peter 1 We walk with reverent fear. He’s our Creator, our sustainer, our judge, and our Savior. And we live in His presence, so on a moment by moment basis there is never a moment where there is not reverence involved. 
  3. Rejoice in His grace wholeheartedly. We know the truth of Proverbs 28:30 seen in an entirely new way. Those who confess their sins receive mercy. Praise God we know that in its fulness.
  4. Receive His Word consistently. We have the word of Christ. He says to us in Matthew 7 „“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Hear my word, put it into practice, you will be wise. Guaranteed.
  5. Remember His purposes daily. In Ephesians 1, we see the wisdom of God in Christ linked to the glory of God in getting a people for Himself in human history. The picture is God redeeming for Himself a people  in all His glory.
  6. In Christ, we walk with continual wisdom. And all of this is what we walk in– the purpose of God, the Word of God, the grace of God, revering God, we live in continual worship as those who have the Spirit of Christ in us, which means, because through Christ, we have been reconciled to God, to walk with Him in worship. What flows from that? The fruit of a right relationship with God is WISDOM. And so, now we live, we walk in continual wisdom. That’s the point, it’s what we see: Wisdom is the fruit of a right relationship with God. This means wisdom is flowing here. Jesus is our wisdom. What does that mean, how is Jesus our wisdom?
  • (1) He gives us wisdom whenever we ask. The New Testament makes that clear: If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all without finding fault, and it will be given to Him. Brothers and sisters, every single time you will ask for wisdom, the Father will never answer NO. He will give it freely, when ever we ask. But, heres the beauty. Not only does He gives it through Christ, but
  • (2) He guides us in wisdom wherever we go. He says, „Here’s what you need to do and I’m going to live in you, and I’m going to lead you, and I’m going to guide you, and I’m putting that into practice. You are in Christ, and in Christ are all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom, which means, in every single decision you face this week, you have Christ who has all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom in His Spirit, living in you, guiding you through everything, and walking through.

You have no reason to be worried. You have no reason to be anxious. And you have no reason to wander if you’re gonna make the wrong decision, if you are trusting in Christ, abiding in Christ. He is good. He will lead you and guide you. He’s not even gonna leave you to find the most subjective feeling that feels the most right to you, or to flip the coin, or to tell God, „Well, if I do this, , you do this, and I’ll do this.” You see nothing like that in Scripture. Leave behind that and trust in Christ, who has wisdom from God and for you. Abide in Him. And here we come back to his question that we so anxiously asked: What is God’s will for my life?

And the answer we gladly receive: God desires for me to know and follow His will so much, that He lives in me, and leads me to accomplish it. That is Good News. I am not saying that it’s easy. I’m not saying that there isn’t work involved here. I’m not saying: Close your eyes and it pops right in front of you, as to what you are supposed to do. There’s still agonizing, there’s still wrestling, and researching this or that. There’s still all that , but, we’re not doing it alone. We’re doing it with the Spirit of the wisdom of Christ Himself, in us. Him leading, Him guiding, and what we discovered is that the goal is not an answer to our questions. The goal is intimacy with Jesus Christ, Himself. And it’s not about getting to a destination, Christ is the destination. And it’s not as much about knowing His will, it’s about knowing Christ, and trusting in Christ, and leaning on Christ, and walking with Christ, and enjoying Christ as our wisdom, at every step.

Paul Washer – Biblical Manhood Part 1 – What a Man is Not

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Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person (via) Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung from a post on the Gospel Coalition website on Feb 24,2011

Our evening service was canceled last week because of the snow. The portion below is an edited portion of the larger sermon, a message on conflict from Proverbs. I thought it was worth posting (although now I haven’t preached it yet) as a follow-up to Tuesday’s post.


Quarrels don’t just happen. People make them happen.

Of course, there are honest disagreements and agree-to-disagree propositions, but that’s not what the Bible means by quarreling. While studying Proverbs recently I was struck by the fact that most of the advice about conflict is not on how to resolve it, but how to avoid it.

Quarrels, at least in Proverbs, are unnecessary arguments, the kind that honorable men stay away from (17:14; 20:3). These fights aren’t the product of a loving rebuke or a principled conviction. These quarrels arise because people are quarrelsome. Some Christians have a lifeline to Speedway and love to pour gasoline on every tiny spark of conflict.

You don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the nice Nazis to believe that quarreling is wrong. You only have to believe the Bible (James 4:1). Hot-headed, divisive Christians are not pleasing to God (Proverbs 6:19). We are told to drive them out (22:10) and avoid such people (Rom. 16:17). This doesn’t mean we only huddle with the people we like. We are not talking about awkward folks or those who disagree with us. We are talking about quarrelsome Christians–habitually disagreeable, divisive, hot-headed church people.

So what does a quarrelsome person look like? What are his (or her) distinguishing marks?

1. You defend every conviction with the same degree of intensity. You don’t talk about secondary issues, because there are no secondary issues.

2. You are quick to speak and slow to listen. You rarely ask questions and when you do it is to accuse or to continue prosecuting your case. You are not looking to learn, you are looking to defend, dominate, and destroy.

3. Your only model for ministry and faithfulness is the showdown on Mount Carmel. There is a place for sarcasm, but when Elijah with the prophets of Baal is your spiritual hero you may end up mocking people instead of making arguments.

4. You are incapable of seeing nuances and you do not believe in qualifying statements.

5. You never give the benefit of the doubt. You do not try to read arguments in context. You put the worst possible construct on other’s motives and the meaning of their words.

6. You have no unarticulated opinions.

7. You are unable to sympathize with your opponents.

8. Your first instinct is to criticize. Your last is to encourage.

9. You have a small grid and everything fits in it. Everything is a social justice issue; everything relates to the regulative principle, everything is Obama’s fault; everything is wrong because of patriarchy; everything comes down to one thing–my thing.

10. You derive a sense of satisfaction and spiritual safety in being rejected and marginalized. You are constitutionally unable to be demonstrably fruitful in ministry and you will never affirm those who appear to be. You only know how to relate to God as a remnant.

11.You are always in the trenches with hand grenades strapped to your chest, never in the mess hall with ice cream and ping pong. Remember G.K. Chesterton: “We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return to at evening.”

12. You have never changed your mind on an important matter.

Just some food for thought. I know I choke on my own words at times.

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