Words of Wisdom
[A Study of Proverbs]
[Please read the first paragraph of Part One before proceeding.]
In this teaching, we are going to go back to Proverbs, Chapter Three and work that chapter extensively. Ideally, Chapter Three focuses mainly on the subject of WISDOM. We will conclude our study on Words of Wisdom with Part Four where will we will continue our study on the last part of Chapter Three.
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
God is exhorting us as His son not to forget His law, which is His Word. Why is He telling us this? Because the only source of true wisdom comes from His Word. The rest of the verse tells us to keep His commandments in our hearts. You can’t keep God’s Word in your heart unless you know it, study it, and apply it. The best way I have found to keep God’s Word in my heart is to memorize as many Scriptures as I can pertaining to everyday situations. When I come up against a situation that I know is devilish, I know by heart the Scripture for that emotion or situation. In the next verse, God tells us the benefits of doing what Scripture 3: 1 tells us to do. This verse is self explanatory. Do you not want to experience those benefits?
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
In this verse, God is telling us not to let mercy and His truth get away from us. He is saying to bind them around your neck, which is a figure of speech. He also says to write them upon the table of your heart. I must say again that when you memorize Scriptures, you are writing them upon the table of your heart. Can you possibly miss the wisdom in these verses? And again, in the next verse, God tells us the benefits of doing what is said in verse three. He says you will find favor and good understanding in the sight, not only of God, but of men also. You will learn to live, if at all possible, peacefully with all men. There is a much greater success in your life if you walk by the Word of God. Worldly people who forsake God and His Word will only spend their wheels in this life. The adversary will always make it appear like they’re headed towards success, but they will always fail. That’s why there is so much suffering in this world today. People refuse, by their own free will, to keep God first in their lives.
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
There is an awful lot of wisdom in these first four verses. So let’s continue to examine and study verses five through eight. These verses impart great wisdom and have often been quoted. You will probably be familiar with some of the verses.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
How are we to trust in the Lord? God says to do so with all of your heart. This means with the innermost part of your being. You are not to trust in man or the police department or the politicians or even your priest. You are to trust in God. Then the verse says not to lean or turn to your own understanding. Many times God will work in very unusual ways and you will not understand what He is doing. He is the creator of life. Don’t you think he knows how to live it? Our understanding is mainly based on our five senses and our five senses can be very deceiving. To walk by our five senses is to walk in a carnal manner and it says in the epistle of Romans that to be carnally mind is death. In contrast, to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Now which one are you going to choose? Is that not a ridiculous question? But you would be surprised how many people do not trust in God today, but they lean on their own understanding. This is because of the power of the god of this world. His time is short and he is working overtime to take you with him. I have tested and tried every one of God’s principles that I could possibly know and they all work with a mathematical exactness and scientific precision every single time. What choice are you going to make?
In the next verse, as usual, God repeats Himself because He knows that we learn by repetition so He says the following. In all of your ways – that means all, people. In all of your ways you are to acknowledge or go to Him, but that’s not all. If you do this, God says He will direct your paths. He will help you to make the right decisions and He will steer you in the right direction so that you can become successful and full of joy and happiness even in this life. Again, you have a decision to make. What’s it going to be?
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
In the next verse, God tells us not to be wise in our own eyes because what we see pertains to our five senses. Don’t turn to man and his ways, but respect God. Once you respect God first, then, then, then you are to depart from evil. What is evil? Evil is anything that contradicts the Word of God. You know the difference between good and evil. Again, and not to be repetitious, but the question begs itself. What choice are you going to make? Are you going to go to God for guidance or do you think you’re going to be wise in your own eyes? Oh, the enemy will deceive you into thinking that you can walk by sight, and not spiritual insight. Don’t let him take you for a ride. He will eventually destroy your life. Now you’re going to get sick of this. But what choice are you going to make? Are you going to get away from evil influences, which many times are people? Are you going to break bad habits that you know are wrong? Or are you going to let the destroyer destroy your life? Tough choice, isn’t it?
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear [respect] the Lord, and depart from evil.
And again, watch the pattern that God follows. He gives you the benefits once again of respecting Him and departing from evil. This is in the next verse – verse eight.
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Don’t you want to be healthy? That’s what this verse is talking about. You see when you keep God first and you depart from evil, the enemy cannot get into your life. He’s the one that brings sickness and misery to people. But God protects His people so that any form of evil cannot get into your house and cannot get into your life. Choice?!
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
If you desire to have the wisdom of the Lord, you must honor and respect God with all of your heart and with everything you own. Actually, we own nothing -- we simply steward things for God. This simply means that we take care of what God gives us. Although obvious, God is telling us how we are to obtain wisdom. Then God goes on in the second part of the verse and He tells the believer that he must also honor God with the firstfruits of his increase. This may confuse some people, but it's talking about the subject of prosperity. We should know by now that we should tithe at least 10% of our gross income. This money is to go to the person or organization that is teaching you the Word of God rightly divided. When we studied with a very large Ministry, we use to give away about $500 per month as a tithe. Later in our lives, as God promises in His Word, God blessed us back more than abundantly. Financially, we are set for life and have never had financial difficulties. So don't tell me that tithing doesn't work. In the type of ministry that we operate right now, our financial burden is very light. We do not accept tithes of any type, neither do we need them. That's a lot in one verse, isn't it?
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
We have already covered the blessings that result from adhering to verse nine. The first part is talking about barns and wine and things that were part of everyday life back in biblical times. In essence, God is saying that He will bless you to the point where you hardly have room for all of the abundance. From my experience, I can tell you that this is true. But I learned recently that it does not matter what my experiences teach me when it comes to what the Word of God teaches us. Your experience may be true and line up with the Word of God. But what the Word says is what really takes preeminence over everything and that includes your experiences. So what God is really doing here is giving us a promise that if we listen to and carry out His Word, we will prosper above and beyond what we can ever imagine. In my own life, I have experienced so much prosperity in so many areas, that I don't want any more. Too many material things will choke you. So God knows how much you need and want and He will stop at that point.
My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:
It's as if God knows that some of us are going to argue with what has been previously said. Especially the part about giving money to your church or organization. Man, that really hits people when you asked them to open up their pocketbook. So God says in a loving manner, “My son”…………. Isn't that a nice way to begin this subject matter? He says don't despise the fact that I'm going to straighten you out and don't be afraid of my attempt to correct you. That's really all this verse is saying. The next verse tells you why God will correct you and that you should not be weary of his correction, but you should be blessed that God is taking the time to help you out and to steer you in the right direction. This is a difficult area for many people, including myself at times. Once we study so much of the Word, why we think we know it all and no one can tell us anything. Don't have this type of attitude. It is from the god of this world and the only reason it is happening to your mind is because he is influencing you and you may not even know it. Listen to reprove and correction especially if it comes from another believer. God may know that you will not listen to Him, so he may send another person to talk to you. This has happened to me many times in my life. If it's not your spouse, it could be your brother or your sister or a friend or any other believer.
For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
The Lord loves those who will listen to Him. This is very similar to a figure of speech meaning that God can work with that person who respects Him. To the unbeliever, who God knows will not listen to Him, He will not make such an effort to correct that person because, by their own free will, they will not listen and God knows this. God loves to correct His son in whom He is proud of and He delights over him because He knows that that son will listen to Him. It's that simple. God corrects you, as a faithful believer, because He loves you and He wants to see you walk the way the Word of God says you should walk. He will not let you stray and make mistakes and be influenced by the god of this world if He has anything to say about it and He does.
One time, I finally had the nerve to sit down and reprove and correct my branch leader. He was doing things that did not line up with the Word of God. This was difficult but I sat down at my kitchen table with this great man of God and I slowly moved towards the subject. This person did something that amazed me and raised my respect for him. He said not a word and that is the only way to react to reprove and correction from another believer when it is right on from the Word of God.
At the end of that session with this person, he got up and he put his hand out and shook my hand and he said something like “Thank you Ralph -- I never knew I was doing the things that I was doing until now.” I was amazed at the outcome and I must admit that tears were struggling in my eyes. This man was and still is a great man of God – fearless, bold, humble. I was fortunate to be a part of his fellowship. I hope that true story helps you if someone reproves you. They are trying to help you and the only way I can put it is “Keep your mouth shut.” Just listen and you will get blessed. Now one final point. When or if you are doing something wrong in your life and are unaware of it, it is obviously destroying you in some way. When someone outside of your own life, comes to you and tries to help you by first making you aware of the problem, why you should get down on your knees and kiss their feet and you know what I mean. When someone straightens me out and shows me that I'm doing something wrong, I just love that person as much as I possibly can. If it weren't for that person I would make the same mistake destroying my own life.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
There is nothing wrong with being happy. Being happy is a good thing. Do you want to be happy, then you will seek out wisdom and you will also seek out understanding. Where are you going to find these things? Do/apply the Word of God and that settles it. We have named these teachings Words of Wisdom. God gets right to the point in this verse and He specifically mentions finding wisdom.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
This chapter actually seems to be getting simpler and simpler. God is saying, in using the word ‘merchandise’, that it means the value of something. He is saying the value of obtaining wisdom is much better than the value of silver. And God is also saying that the profit that you receive by applying wisdom and applying it in your life is really greater than the gain you would receive from fine gold. You see, the value of silver and gold is fleeting. It can be here one day and gone the next. But the innermost working of wisdom is permanent in a person's heart. It can be applied at any time and brings great profit to a believer. This wisdom is free. God does not charge anybody for it. Try and get your hands on silver and gold at no charge. It's a wonderful verse if you understand that God is trying to put in your heart how valuable it is to have wisdom as a part of your being. God continues telling you the value of wisdom in the next verse.
She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
God is using the pronoun ‘She’ to refer to wisdom. God says that she is more precious than rubies. I guess many people get off on precious stones. They don't do anything for me and also don't do much for my wife. She has no desire for precious stones. We like to get things and buy things that are useful and productive and help us to live the more than abundant life. I'm not putting down anyone who likes diamond rings, but everyone has their own preferences.
God also says that all things that you can desire -- now God gets into stereos, jet sprays, Corvettes. These are some of the things that I like. So God is also telling us that there is nothing that can be compared to having a working knowledge of wisdom that emanates from the Word of God. Again, can God put it any simpler? But do you know there are some people that would rather have those precious stones and all those other things I mentioned rather than the wisdom of the Word of God? These people are in a sorry state and are being tricked by the god of this world to think that the more material things they possess, the stronger and more powerful they will become. That is until they need that power more than anything in the world and the adversary pulls the rug out from under them and they fall flat on their face and they have nothing left. As I said in prior teachings and in this one also, what choice are you going to make? You must know the Word of God rightly divided very well to be able to discern the counterfeit. The adversary, the devil, Satan, whatever you choose to call him is a master -- a master of deception. Do not think for a minute that he cannot fool you because he can. But the more of the rightly divided Word you know, study, and apply, the less chance he has of deceiving you. Why? Because this accurate knowledge of God's Word enables you to be able to separate truth from error.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
Again God is referring to wisdom using the feminine gender. For some reason in this life, we do the same thing, don't we? We refer to hurricanes and give them a feminine name. As my wife likes to get me going, she says that most guys give their cars a feminine name and this is true. So it seems to be just a quirk of our lifestyle.
God says that length of days is in wisdom's right hand. In her left hand there are riches and honor. What a promise this is. I know we’re not supposed to seek vengeance and it's a real tough thing to do. But you know what my vengeance (figure of speech) would be? That I outlive all of my adversaries and I'll tell you the truth, I'm going to do it. I like to work out and exercise. I like to swim a mile. I like to walk 8 and 9 miles. Do you know that in my neighborhood not one person does any type of exercise? Nothing! It's pathetic - it's sickening. So who is going to bury who? I simply take care of myself because the Word says we are a tabernacle for the holy spirit. That’s why.
God says that those who walk by the wisdom of His Word will have length of days -- they will live a long time. I mentioned before about material things. Riches are a relative thing. I do not want any more material things in my life. I have enough and to me they are riches because they serve a purpose and they make me happy. How about honor? Where do we get honor today? Well that's a tough one. We may get some honor from other believers who respect our stand. But don't expect to get honor from the unbeliever and from the person who has one quarter acre of grass and he buys a riding lawnmower because he’s so damn lazy it makes me sick to my stomach. God says that if we walk by the wisdom of His Word, we will have riches and we will find honor. Riches and honor also, to me, are relative terms. If I find one believer that enjoys this website and studies it well, I feel honored. If I have all the material things that I can ever desire in my life, I feel that I have riches because I don't want any more.
Do you see what God is trying to say and He says it so simply? Let me conclude this one section with an actual event that is taking place right at this very moment.
I have been trying something new when it comes to cleaning leaves on my property. I am not using any machines except one very simple one and it's called a rake. It does a really good job, it gives me exercise, and I can do my whole yard in about the same time or less than my neighbors who are using every type of machine imaginable to man to clean the leaves off their yard. Right now, as I speak to you, I have a neighbor who has a huge riding lawn mower going up and down his yard picking up a small portion of leaves. It's pathetic to me -- it's sinful. I could rake that person’s yard in less time than he can with his big machine. And also I'm not burning up gas and I'm not making any noise whatsoever. The fact that I do this is because God has instilled the wisdom of His Word in my life because I have studied diligently and worked at renewing my mind since 1974. And the really agitating part is that these people who are so damn lazy actually think they're right. I'll give one more example. I'm not saying you shouldn't have a snow blower if you have a large driveway, but this same person uses a snow blower to clean his driveway going downhill. I can clean his driveway quietly and more efficiently with a snow shovel. And what are the benefits of the wisdom that I apply? I get exercise. It was brought up to me just yesterday that in biblical times everyone walked at least 5 miles a day. That was part of their life and lifestyle. This convenience trip that the world has introduced is a trick of all tricks to get you to sit on your butt and do nothing. Then you wonder why hospitals are so busy. I know I sound a little bit obnoxious but I'm going to say it anyway just this one time. My wife works in a hospital so go ahead, give her the job security. It's terrible, isn't it? Well these people could use some reproof and correction but they have eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear because they have rejected God's Word in their lives. I belong to a national gym and I must say that I admire all those people that belong to that gym. Because they're trying -- they're doing something and obviously that's better than doing what all my neighbors are doing -- nothing!
Proverbs: 3: 17 – 20
Since there are 35 Scriptures in this chapter, we are going to end part three with verse 20 and we will continue with part four which will entail verses 21 through 35. Just like in a fellowship, a teaching should only be so long. Otherwise the person will tend to lose interest in what he or she is reading or hearing. This is an important detail and one that is often overlooked.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
Again, the subject is wisdom and God says that the ways of the wisdom acquired from His Word are pleasant. Now who in the world doesn't like things that are pleasant? You will find a counterfeit in the world but it won't last for long. In fact, it will probably trick you into letting down your guard and then the adversary will pounce on you in some area of your life.
The Scripture also says that all the paths of wisdom lead to an end result of peace. Do you know of anybody who is not searching for peace in their life? It has been said that if a company could successfully manufacture a pill that would give a person peace, they would make trillions of dollars. Well, God has that ‘pill’ and it is called wisdom and it is acquired by an accurate knowledge and application of His Word. I have a tendency to say at the end of each one of these Scriptures “that simple”. I will say it one time. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
More benefits and more promises. Wisdom is a tree of life to those that hold upon her. Happy is every one that retains her. We have to read between the lines here. We can't overlook the fact that God is saying that we have free will to hold wisdom in our hearts and to retain it in our hearts. Do you see it in the verse? Wisdom is only going to be a tree of life with all its blessings to those that hold and retain her. And we know that ‘her’ is referring to wisdom. If we don’t know that by now, I suggest you begin reading this teaching over again. I do not like to be repetitious and God does not like repetitious prayer. But you will get some people who are unbelievers or unbelieving believers that will make an issue out of the pronoun ‘her’. Let's keep the teaching simple because it is a very simple teaching. However, it is filled with treasures -- treasures beyond our understanding at times. But we can pick up very much of the abundant life and the promises that God has made in His Word for us, His children.
I would think that a good example of the hidden meaning of what this verse is saying is a believer who turns his back on God and His Word. That person chooses not to hold on to wisdom. That person chooses not to retain the Word of God and all of its wisdom in the innermost part of his being, which is his or her heart. God never oversteps our free will. We can believe and act if we so choose. God never wanted people to love Him in a robotic manner, but by their own free will. Everybody can make that choice.
The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
Now here God is making a case for Himself. He is showing you the importance of wisdom by telling you that by His wisdom, He has founded and created the earth. Notice, at this point, that God often uses understanding and wisdom interchangeably. So in the second part of the verse, He says that by His understanding He has established the heavens. Now if someone can create the heavens and the earth by His great wisdom, isn't wisdom that we get from the true God something that we want to imitate in our own lives? Does that question really need an answer? Let's move on to the final verse in this teaching which is verse 20 of Proverbs chapter 3.
By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
Now if some of you think I know everything about the Word of God, I do not. The first part of this verse has been giving me some problems. I am not certain what God means by the ‘depths’ and I am not sure what He means by ‘broken up’. So what's the first thing that you do? You do some research. You should have extra translations in your research library and the one that I turn to the most is The New English Bible. The following is how that Bible translates this verse.
By his knowledge the depths burst forth and the clouds dropped dew. – NEB
I am going to let you research this verse with me and I'm going to share a little secret with you about a website that is extremely helpful as far as time is concerned and as far as learning other translations. This website is called Bible Gateway and of course you're welcome to use it because it is available to anybody. I even wrote to these people and told them what a great help their site was to me when I am preparing teachings. I simply choose the KJV 99.999% of the time, enter in the Scripture reference, and this website brings up the KJV of the Scripture for me. Now let's get back to the verse.
By God's knowledge, everything comes into fruition. By God's knowledge the clouds drop dew. In other words, everything that happens in this world was initially created by the true God. When the other god became the god of this world, he corrupted and tried to pervert and counterfeit everything the true God did. His time is limited and Jesus Christ will be coming back for the second time and the devil and all his devil spirits will be destroyed permanently. Isn't this a great thing to look forward to? We need to remember this when we are under tribulation. It will help you to keep going and to keep depending and relying on God and His Word. If you are in a right standing with the true God, don't think for a minute that God will not send you an angel or angels to help you.
By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew. -- NASB
Here is another translation of this verse. We can see that this translation is also having some problems with the word ‘depths’. So this is an interesting verse and one that can be worked. I can guarantee you that if you work it long enough, God will reveal its true meaning to you. Watch. Let's take a look at another translation.
By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth, and the dew settles beneath the night sky. -- New Living Translation (NLT)
Now isn't that a beautiful translation and I believe it is quite accurate. Whoever wrote this translation was a charismatic writer. The second part of the verse sounds like something so beautiful that only God Almighty can do. I am satisfied to conclude this part three with that translation of that verse, even though it's not from the King James version. You surely remember why we use that version by now. It is because the words that are added by the translators are put in italics and I don't believe you will find that in another Bible. I hope this series of teachings has blessed you and taught you much about the endless promises and wisdom that are written in God's Word, not only in the New Testament and the church epistles, but also in the Old Testament and in every book of the Bible. In part four, we will finish Chapter Three and I am going to share with you how I initially got interested in the book of Proverbs and how that book eventually led me to an accurate knowledge of God's Word.
[ END OF PART THREE ]