Proverbs is not the book for me – I’m a rock-star-rated-R-silver-tongued-servant-of-the-pulpit – and this book takes me to church. Rather, to the cross. One of the challenges of teaching people about the scriptures, is that one tends to be taught – though, not so willingly – along the way. If I’ve learned anything from the deep study and lessons I’ve taught on this book of compiled wisdom sayings (one of few compilations in scripture) it’s that wisdom begins and ends with the fear (meaning reverence) of the Lord.
In order to possess wisdom, one has to have virtue, prudence, reservation, and humility (among other things). Easier said than done, I’m sure. Hence why I said the book of Proverbs takes me to church. But, this isn’t about getting religion, winning metals for moralism, or becoming a better Christian. It’s about gaining practical wisdom. Unfortunately, practical wisdom doesn’t come easy.
However, practical wisdom puts scholars, like me, in our place. Nine times out of ten, the wisest person in the room is the only one not talking or waiting to be heard. Wisdom is the authenticity I promote, but mockery falls through my lips like a thief. Knowledge is the prudence of a good friend; recklessness is its ruin. Reservation is one’s investment; saying all there is to say leads to sorrow. The humble seek wisdom, but the proud are fools. In other words, don’t be a jerk.
One could ask, what do we do when practical wisdom doesn’t follow through, the “bad guys” win, and life goes to excremental proportions? Start over. For, wisdom begins with our reverence (respect, worship, or admiration) for God. In juxtaposition, wisdom is from God.
“The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NRSV).
“The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is the Lord’s alone” (Proverbs 16:33, NRSV).
The Lord’s wisdom can be frustrating at times and we can glean from it other times. On one hand, practical wisdom from the Proverbs can be quite useful in daily life. On the other hand, practical wisdom doesn’t stop life from defecating on us. In turn, it’s God we seek to understand wisdom. By the grace of God, both the wise and the foolish will meet at the foot of the cross with our humble questions.