Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of the Proverbs which was written by Solomon the son of David and king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twenty-two through twenty-four of this Old Testament book. When you consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will again find the language of a father speaking unto a son—language which was found within the opening chapters of this book. If you read the words which are found in the opening nine chapters you will find countless references which were devoted and dedicated to Solomon speaking unto his son as a father who desired to impart unto him wisdom, discretion, knowledge and understanding. There is absolutely no mistaking the words and language that is found within the book of Proverbs, for the entire book is indeed intended to present the wise sayings of Solomon the son of David and king of Israel, however, it is also a book that was designed to be a father desperately pleading with his son to hear and listen to his voice, and to his words. You cannot read the words which are found within this Old Testament book and not encounter and come face to face with the strong and powerful reality that Solomon sought to speak directly unto his son that he might impart unto him wisdom—wisdom which he himself had received directly from the LORD, and even wisdom which he had gained from the experiences of this life. One of the most intriguing things that surrounds this Old Testament book of Proverbs is that it doesn’t merely contain wisdom which Solomon obtained that night when the LORD invited him to ask of Him anything he would. Upon reading this Old Testament book you will find that there is a great deal of wisdom which clearly appears to have come from the LORD—yea, all wisdom comes from the LORD—yet I would dare say that the LORD taught and instructed Solomon through more than simply an impartation of wisdom on the night he asked the LORD for a wise and discerning heart. I do firmly believe that on that night when the LORD appeared unto Solomon by dream and invited him to ask whatever the desire of his heart was. Solomon would respond to the LORD by asking for a wise and discerning heart, and the LORD would agree to give unto Solomon such wisdom that there would be none like him—either before he was, or after he was gone. With that being said, however, I am convinced that the LORD instructed and taught Solomon throughout his life, and He did so through the things he experienced, as well as the things he observed. We cannot be so quick to think and consider—even for a moment—that the LORD cannot teach us through life’s experiences which we face, or which we observe within the lives of others.
Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the Old Testament book of Proverbs is that while it does indeed carry a vast number of wise sayings which were spoken and written by Solomon, there is this element within the book itself that indicates Solomon sought to instruct his son based on more than simply that wisdom. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Solomon sought to speak directly unto his son—not only did he want to speak to him based on the wisdom which the LORD had given him, but he also wanted to speak unto him based on the experiences he had within and during his life. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous idea and reality, for there would be some who would think that wisdom alone is enough, and that experience itself cannot also be a teacher and tool in the hand of the living and eternal God. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the LORD can, will and oftentimes does use the experiences we face within this life to impart unto us wisdom—perhaps even to take what we have been given directly from Him, and enhance and increase it. I sit here today writing these words and I can’t help but encounter the tremendous reality that wisdom without experience might in and of itself be a vanity, for wisdom needs a place to be practiced and exercised. I firmly believe that the wise sayings which we find within the Old Testament book of Proverbs is essentially the arena in which wisdom is observed and practiced. Oh that we would recognize and understand that wisdom is more than simply that which we possess within the depths of our soul, within the depths of our heart, and within the depths of our spirit. There is not a doubt in my mind that wisdom without an arena to be practiced and exercised in is nothing more than internal knowledge, internal understanding, and internal discretion. I believe that wisdom needs a public and personal space where it can be fleshed out and where it can be lived out in the midst of the real world and in the midst of real life situations and circumstances.
As I sit here this afternoon I find myself coming face to face with the awesome reality that wisdom itself needs an environment in which it can be practiced and fleshed out in the midst our every day lives. I fear that wisdom without any arena to practice it in the real world and in the midst of real life situations and circumstances is nothing more than vanity within our hearts and souls. Wisdom in and of itself is great, and it has its merit, its worth and value, however, wisdom must needs be put to use within our hearts and lives. Wisdom must needs have a space where it can be put to use, for if it does not have this space, I fear it might experienced a slow and steady death and decline. Wisdom in and of itself needs a place where it can be practiced and put to use, for wisdom is not merely that which gives us understanding and knowledge within our hearts and minds. Wisdom is more than simply what we possess within ourselves, but it is also the means to govern how we live in the midst of this world. What’s more is that wisdom is the means whereby we recognize and understand how to act in certain situations and in certain circumstances. Wisdom is the mans to know how we are to respond when we are faced with certain individuals—perhaps individuals who are difficult to handle, or perhaps individuals who are difficult to be around. There is a great deal and a great amount of wisdom that is found within this Old Testament book that is intended on instructing all those who will hear and listen to it, however, beyond just wisdom there is a true and authentic call to allow our entire lives to be governed by that wisdom. Wisdom is that which we possess within the depths and reigns of our heart and soul that truly governs how we act, how we behave, how we speak, how we think, and how we react and respond to others. The more I read the Old Testament book of Proverbs the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and strong reality that it was a book that was designed to instruct and impart wisdom unto those who would hear and listen to it—and not only hear and listen, but also put it into practice. I can’t help but see a great similarly between the Old Testament book of Proverbs and the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus delivered and is recorded in depth in the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew. If and as you read the words which are found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this New Testament gospel you will not only find Jesus teaching and speaking unto those who had gathered unto Him to hear the words He would speak, but you will find Jesus providing a wonderful and powerful sense of instruction on how His hearers ought to live within this life.
I read the words which are found within the Old Testament book of Proverbs and I do in fact find Solomon presenting wise sayings and insights which he would give unto his son, however, I am convinced that what we find within this book is more than simply wise sayings. I firmly believe that what we find within this Old Testament book is a powerful arena and environment whereby Solomon might instruct his son, and even provide his son with the environment whereby he might practice and put to use the wisdom which he had received from his father. The words we find in this Old Testament book beginning to read with and from the tenth chapter is more than simply wise sayings, but are invitations given and spoken unto his son whereby he might put to practice and put to use the wisdom which was being given and imparted unto him. I would dare say that Solomon realized and recognized that wisdom needed to be put to use, and need a safe space whereby it would actually make a difference within the heart and life of his son. The words we find beginning with the tenth chapter of this book are essentially the fruit of wisdom, in that it is a series of wise sayings and words which are presented unto Solomon’s son providing him with the manifestation, the fruit and the evidence of wisdom. The more I think about that particular truth the more I can’t help but think about the evidence of the Holy Spirit within our lives. Before I present you with some of the truth found within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount I feel it absolutely necessary to cal land draw your attention to the reality that when we think and speak about the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit we not only understand that the Spirit’s presence within our lives is evidenced by gifts, but it is also evidenced by fruit. There have been countless men and women throughout the years who have placed a great deal of emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and have sought to highly and underscore the gifts of the Spirit as being of utmost importance, and yet I am absolutely convinced that beyond simply the gifts of the Spirit there is a great and tremendous need for the fruit of the Spirit. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul in the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints wrote about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, while in the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia the apostle Paul wrote about the fruit of the Spirit as in direct contrast to the fruit and works of the flesh. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these epistles written by the hand of the apostle Paul:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing but the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition’s, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like:of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:13-26).
What makes both of these passages so incredibly unique and challenging is that within them we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of the same Spirit, and yet two distinct evidences and manifestations of that Spirit. When writing unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul wrote unto them concerning the Spirit and spiritual gifts which were given by the eternal Spirit of Almighty God. When writing unto the churches which were in Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote of the same Spirit, but wrote concerning the fruit of the Spirit. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul wrote of the fruit of the Spirit as set in direct contrast and comparison with the fruit and works of the flesh. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this awesome reality, for while it might seem and appear that the Spirit is somehow divided, we must realize that it is the same Spirit who is manifested through gifts, as well as fruit. The Spirit does in fact manifest Himself through gifts at certain moments and in certain situations, however, more often than not the Spirit manifests Himself within and through the fruit which is evidenced within the hearts and spirits of the saints of God. In all reality, I am convinced that the gifts of the Spirit aren’t always readily discernible and aren’t readily manifested within and among the hearts and lives of the people of God, however, the fruit of the Spirit is always and must always be on full display and at all times. The fruit of the Spirit is that one element and that one part of the Spirit that is not relegated to specific times when the gifts are necessary, for the fruits of the Spirit must always be put on display and evidenced within and among the hearts and lives of the people of god. The gifts of the Spirit might not always be evidenced and manifested among us—even in the house of the LORD and within the sanctuary—however, the fruit of the Spirit must always be visible and manifested within our hearts and lives. Even Jesus Himself—when speaking unto the disciples on the night in which He was betrayed—spoke of the tremendous importance of fruit within the hearts and lives of His disciples. What’s more, is that even John the Baptist called for the scribes, the Pharisees, the publicans, the sinners, and all those who came unto him to hear him speak to bring forth fruits meet unto repentance. If we are being honest, we must acknowledge the fact that the gifts of the Spirit aren’t always manifested and evidenced within most Christian circles, and aren’t always evidenced and manifested within our churches and houses of worship; however, the fruit of the Spirit must always be put on display, and must always be visible in the sight and presence of others. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for although the gifts of the Spirit might not always be manifested and evidenced among us within our lives, the fruit of the Spirit is that which must also be on full display and characterize our lives. With that in mind, I invite you to consider the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, as well as the various narratives concerning the words which John the Baptist spoke unto those who came unto him to be baptized in the waters of the Jordan:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I I n him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall e done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:1-10).
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and He will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the Gardner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12).
“And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaiaasa the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall e ma de smooth; and all flesh shall we the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say unto you, We have graham to our father; for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is h even down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:3-9).
“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? HE answered and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10-14).
It is quite clear from the words which are found within these passages of Scripture that not only did Jesus the Christ Himself speak of fruit and the need to bear and bring forth much fruit, but so also did John the Baptist speak of the need to bring forth fruit meet unto repentance. We cannot miss and lose sight of the tremendous reality that is found within these passages of Scripture, for they take on a whole different level of meaning when you consider the words which Jesus the Christ spoke in the Sermon on the Mount—once more concerning fruit. What’s more, is that we must also consider these words with the words found in the New Testament epistle written by James the half brother of Jesus concerning faith without works being dead, as well as the words which the apostle John wrote in his first epistle concerning loving our neighbors, and loving not in word and deed only. With that being said, I invite you to further consider additional references found within Scripture that point to the truly wonderful reality of the evidence and manifestation of fruit within our hearts and lives, and how there must needs be the evidence of fruit in our interactions with those we come in contact with on a daily basis. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture, and you will encounter and gain a greater picture of this tremendous need for fruit within our lives as we walk in the midst of the generation, the culture and society in which we are living:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are r avenging wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men g at her grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many will ay to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23).
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstools: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath. Not God chosen the poor of this world which in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgression of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall e judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, by ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needed to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-20, 26).
“For this is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murder: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, ,because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whose hath this world’s ‘good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments d well with in him, and he in him. And whereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:11-24).
We cannot and must not make any mistake about it, for when we think about the person and presence of the Holy Spirit within our lives the single greatest evidence of His presence within our lives is the fruit which we bear and bring forth. There is absolutely no mistaking the absolutely astonishing reality that fruit is the single greatest evidence of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit within our lives, and even Jesus Himself declared that it is by our fruit we are known. What’s more, is that Jesus emphatically declared unto His disciples that He chose them that they might bear and bring forth much fruit, and that their fruit might remain. Oh that we would encounter this absolutely wonderful reality, and would recognize that within our hearts and lives the single greatest evidence and manifestation of the Spirit’s presence within our lives is the fruit which we bear and bring forth. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly wonderful truth, for it has the ability to dramatically altar and transform our entire lives if we get it in the depths of our heart and spirit. We might not be walking in the gifts of the Spirit right now within our lives in the midst of this generation, however, we must always walk in the fruit of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit might not only always be on display within our lives, however, this is not the case with the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, when you finish the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints, and after you find him writing about the unity and diversity in the body, you will find him speaking about the greatest evidence and reality within the heart and life of a Christian and saint of God—namely, love. The entire thirteenth chapter of this New Testament epistle is dedicated and devoted to love, and how even above the gifts of the Spirit there is something that is greater, and there is something that is of greater worth and value—namely, love. Even Jesus Himself declared that men would know that they were His disciples based on how they loved one another. Do you want to know who is truly a disciple Jesus Christ and who is truly walking in the character and nature of the Christ and Son of the living God? You will know those disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ by the love which they have toward their neighbor, the love which they have toward their enemy, and the love which they have toward others. Love is the truest and greatest expression of our relationship with Jesus the Christ, and it is that one thing which distinguishes us from everyone else. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the thirteenth chapter of theorist New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profitethh me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoke, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; heareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall e done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
It is quite obvious from all of these passages that faith without works is dead, that men will know that we are disciples of Jesus by our love one for another, and how the single greatest evidence and manifestation of the Holy Spirit within our hearts and lives is indeed the fruit of the Spirit. With that being said, I would like to turn and direct my attention back to the Old Testament book of Proverbs, for it is not enough simply to possess wisdom, nor is it enough to merely state and declare that we have wisdom. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to have a true and lasting evidence and manifestation of wisdom in the sight of the Lord our God, and in the presence of others. It would be very easy to think that wisdom in and of itself is enough, and yet the truth of the matter is that wisdom alone is not enough if there is no fruit, and if there is not evidence and manifestation of it. The Old Testament book of Proverbs brings us face to face with the awesome reality that wisdom is more than simply that which produces knowledge, understanding, discretion, insight, and the like within the depths of our heart and soul. Wisdom in and of itself is that which produces evidence and fruit within our lives, and completely and utterly transforms every part of our being. I continue to believe and be absolutely convinced that wisdom brings us under the government of heaven and under the government of the living and eternal God, as wisdom not only guards, but also guides our lives. When we pursue wisdom the way Solomon described it within the book of Proverbs we are actually positioning ourself to be brought into the place where the word of God is permitted to guard and guide our lives. What’s more, is that I firmly believe that the words which are found in the one-hundred and nineteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms can be intrinsically and directly linked to the Old Testament book of Proverbs, for the entire chapter deals with the instruction, the knowledge, the wisdom, and the fear of the LORD which is produced within and centered on the divine Word of God. This entire chapter is completely and utterly dedicated to the psalmist’s love for the eternal word of God, and how the word of God is a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path. What’s more, is that the word of God was hidden within their heart that they might not sin against the eternal land living God. This is truly something worth thinking about and considering when you think about the words found in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, for wisdom was that which guarded the heart and soul of that one who possessed it, as well as guided them within and along the path their feet walked within this life. There is a great and powerful truth that is found within the Old Testament book of Proverbs when you think about the fact that wisdom must needs have practical application and manifestation in the real world.
It is possible to have wisdom within the depths of our heart and soul, and yet that wisdom has absolutely no impact, nor does it have any bearing on our every day lives. It is possible to have wisdom present within us, and yet wisdom has no evidence, nor does it have any manifestation in the culture and society in which we live. Beginning with the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs we not only find the wise sayings of Solomon, but we also find powerful statements concerning the visible and tangible evidence of wisdom within our hearts and lives. Through these sayings and statements of Solomon the son of David we find the awesome and wonderful truth that wisdom must indeed have a very personal and practical application within our lives, and it is something which is evidenced by more than simply an intellectual knowledge. True wisdom is more than simply an inward and intellectual knowledge, but is actually an internal reality that governs how we think, how we speak, how we act, and how we behave ourselves in the company and presence of others. Wisdom must needs have an awesome and powerful application within our hearts and lives as it touches how we react and respond to different situations and circumstances we face on a day to day basis. There is a saying that simply refers to individuals being “wise beyond their years,” and most of the time I fear this statement refers to certain words and statements which are spoken by individuals, or even based solely on some type of knowledge and understanding one possesses. The truth of the matter, however, is that I would dare say that this phrase must needs have a root and foundation in how we conduct ourselves in the company and presence of others, and how we react and respond in a variety of difficult and different situations. Wisdom touches more than simply how we speak in the midst of the situations and circumstances we face within our lives, but it also touches how we respond, how we act, and how we behave in the midst of those situations and circumstances. Upon reading the words which are found within this particular section of the book of Proverbs we again find Solomon speaking directly unto his son, and seeking to bring him to the place where he truly understood the words and wisdom of his father. Consider if you will the following words which are found within these three chapters of the Old Testament book of Proverbs beginning within the twenty-second chapter:
“Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee” (Proverbs 22:17-21).
“My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. For surely there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:15-21).
“Hearken unto thy father that began thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. But the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall e glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men” (Proverbs 23:22-28).
“My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: so shall the knowledge if wisdom be u not thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be w reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resenting place: for a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Rejoice n. It when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turne way his wrath from him. Feret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; for there shall be no reward to the evil men; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both” (Proverbs 24:13-22).
It is quite clear from these additional references found within the Old Testament book of Proverbs that Solomon sought to speak directly unto the heart and soul of his son, and sought to teach and instruct his son—not only based on the wisdom the LORD his God had given him, but also based on the experiences he had within and throughout his life. Essentially the book of Proverbs is a message to the next generation intending on imparting that which the previous generation had learned and experienced. In all reality, I would dare say the book of Proverbs is a gook of generations, as it is intended on being passed down unto and among the generations of the earth that they might understand wisdom and possess knowledge and understanding. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is truly a remarkable and astounding book when you think about and consider the fact that it is one generation speaking unto another generation intending on instructing them in the true and proper way, as well as to keep them from walking in the same path they did. Scripture is unclear when Solomon wrote these words—whether he wrote them before his heart was turned away from the LORD by his wives, or whether they were written after his heart was turned away. We don’t know if these wise sayings were written by the hand of Solomon during those years of his life when he walked with the LORD, or if they were written during the latter years of his life—after he had given himself in love to seven-hundred wives and princesses, and three hundred concubines. We know the book of Ecclesiastes was most likely written in the latter years of Solomon’s life, and I can’t help but get the strong sense that these words might very well have been written at the end of his life. What’s more, is that there seems to be a certain personal and intimate tone to the words found within this book as Solomon sought to instruct and advise his son in the way that he should go. Essentially Solomon sought to speak directly unto his son, and to instruct his son in the way that he should go that he might not make some of the same mistakes he himself made. It’s actually quite remarkable when you think about the words which are found within this Old Testament book, for the words which are found within it are a powerful invitation from a father unto the son that his son might walk in the way of the LORD, and might walk in the fear of the LORD. In fact, it is the fear of the LORD that has a solid and firm place within the wise sayings of Solomon, and he would even go so far as to instruct his son to walk in the fear of the LORD all the day long. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this Old Testament book concerning the fear of the LORD, and it’s tremendous need within our hearts and lives:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
“If thou seekeset her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:4-6).
“Be not wise in thine own eyes: Fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Proverbs 10:27).
“In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Proverbs 14:26).
“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life; to depart from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27).
“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and t double therewith” (Proverbs 16).
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility” (Proverbs 15:33).
“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).
“The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil” (Proverbs 19:23).
“By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” Proverbs 22:4).
“Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long” (Proverbs 23:17).
“My son, fear thou the LORD, and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change” (Proverbs 24:21).
Sixteen times. Sixteen times the fear of the LORD is mentioned within this Old Testament book of Proverbs, and it is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand this, for we cannot speak of wisdom without also speaking of the fear of the LORD. Any true discussion of wisdom must also have at the very heart of it the fear of the LORD. What’s more, is that Solomon makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, as well as being the beginning of knowledge. Even more, Solomon would go on to write that to fear the LORD is to depart from evil, and to depart from the wicked way—a reality which is at the very heart of wisdom. If we want to truly understand wisdom we must recognize and understand that at the very heart of wisdom is truly and indeed the knowledge of the holy, and the fear of the LORD, and it is these realities which help shape and govern true wisdom within our hearts and souls. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the quality of wisdom within our lives is directly based on the degree and measure of our fear of the LORD. Solomon—writing under and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—emphatically declared that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, and we must needs recognize and understand this, for it is something that can and will completely transform every area of our heart and every area of our life. Perhaps the single greatest question is whether or not you are one who lives, who dwells and who abides in the fear of the LORD all the day long. Are you on who diligently and earnestly seeks after and pursues the fear of the LORD with everything you have within you? Are you one who truly recognizes and understands the importance of the fear of the LORD within your heart and life and allows it to govern you? We must recognize that the fear of the LORD is at the very heart of wisdom, and we cannot and must not state that we have true and genuine wisdom if we do not also possess the fear of the LORD. It’s something worth noting and pointing that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, which means that not only should our lives be governed by wisdom, but also the fear of the LORD. It is the fear of the LORD which completely and utterly transforms every part of our heart and life, and must be at the very heart and center of how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves in this life. It is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of knowledge, which means that if we desire to possess both wisdom, as well as knowledge we must seek after and pursue the fear of the LORD. How we view the LORD can and will dramatically alter every area and every part of our life, and we must be willing to allow such a manifestation to be present within our lives.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative to speak unto the absolutely awesome reality that what we find and what we have in the Old Testament book of Proverbs is a powerful invitation—not only to seek after and a pursue wisdom, but also to allow wisdom to completely and utterly govern every area of our heart and life. The words which are found in chapters ten onward in this Old Testament book is a powerful picture of what wisdom looks like on the stage of real life and on the stage of relationships, situations and circumstances. If the opening nine chapters of this book were an invitation to pursue and to seek after wisdom than the words which are found in chapters ten onward are words which reveal what wisdom looks like on the stage of real life in the midst of our culture and society. What’s more, is that there is also this stark and strong contrast between what wisdom looks like in the lives of those who are wise, and what foolishness looks like within the lives of those who scorn, despise, ignore and reject wisdom. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly tremendous reality, for when we speak of wisdom we must recognize that wisdom must needs and must indeed have an outward fruit, an outward evidence and an outward manifestation within our lives in the midst of the culture and society in which we live. We must needs recognize and understand that wisdom must in fact have a face, and wisdom must in fact have an expression—that which is seen, that which is witnessed, and that which is beheld in the midst of our culture and society. Wisdom cannot simply be this inward reality and this inward presence without an outward manifestation that touches every area of our lives—from how we work, to how we handle finances, to how we handle relationships, to how we handle strife, contention, bitterness and offense, to who we handle relationships with those in leadership. The wise sayings of Solomon perfectly and accurately give us a powerful stage upon which wisdom can be seen, experienced and beheld by others within our culture and society. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly incredible reality, for if we do we allow ourselves to be deceived and misguided into thinking and believing that wisdom does not have a personal application within our lives that touches absolutely everything we do and who we are as individuals. Oh that we would not only heed and listen to the invitation of wisdom to seek after and pursue it, but also that we would allow wisdom to indeed govern every area of our lives that the living God might indeed have a powerful witness and testimony in the midst of the earth and in the midst of this generation.