Wise Guys: The Importance of Biblical Wisdom

*Summarized Sermon Notes

Proposition: Why do we need the wisdom of Proverbs?

  1. Wisdom Changes Our Lives (vv. 2-3)
    1. It Changes Our Mind (v. 2)
    2. It Changes Our Behavior (v. 3)
  2. Wisdom Benefits Everyone (vv. 4-5)
    1. It Benefits the Naïve (v. 4)
    2. It Benefits the Wise (v. 5)
  3. Wisdom Establishes Our Discernment (v. 6)
  4. Wisdom Is About Our Worship (v. 7)

Introduction

On Monday, August 11, 2014, social media grieved over the loss of one of the world’s favorite comedians, Robin Williams. He starred in many movies that some of us probably watched during our childhood. But there was on movie in particular that was meaningful for many people: The Dead Poets Society. Here, Robin played the role of an English teacher and mentor to a classroom of boys, as he taught them wisdom through past poets. This is where the Latin phrase carpe diem was popularized. It means “seize the day,” and his point was to push for all individuals to make use of every moment because no one knows the time of their death.

Society was moved by the Latin phrase (seems like Latin phrases do that to people). You saw carpe diem bumper stickers, t-shirts, and now hashtags. This shows how even the secular world acknowledges its need for wisdom. For believers, we too must see our need for wisdom. But not just any wise quote or catchy phrase. We need the wisdom that comes from God.

Background

The book of Proverbs expresses general truths that are not exhaustive. They show slices of reality (they’re slices of the pizza, not the whole pizza). They aren’t absolute principles, meaning that they happen all the time. But the proverbs are truths that are applicable in specific situations.

Verse 1 says that they are proverbs from Solomon the Son of David. We see him addressing his sons throughout the book and showing them what they need to learn. Mechanics specialize in cars and painters specialize in paint. Likewise, Solomon, as one of the wisest men to have ever lived, specializes in wisdom. Therefore, we are in the right place if we seek wisdom for our lives.

The words “king of Israel” shows his worldview. This is the lens through which he sees life. It is his perspective. This is why he was allowed to adopt sayings from other cultures and apply them to Israel. He saw the universal truth within those statements and saw them from his worldview: a child of God, a king of Israel.

These points go on to answer the question: Why do we need the wisdom of Proverbs?

  1. Wisdom Changes Our Lives (vv. 2-3)
    1. It Changes Our Mind (v. 2)Wisdom and instruction are in an intimate relationship. Wisdom has been defined as living skillfully, but one cannot live in a skilful way if he has not been taught that skilful way. Wisdom begins on the inside. But wisdom doesn’t stay inside. This verse is a focus on the intellectual side that is necessary in a changed life. Knowledge of wisdom is key to the application of wisdom.
    2. It changes our Behavior (v. 3)

Wisdom changes behavior. When wisdom has touched the heart of the individual, it manifests itself outside (which is why none can say that doctrine and theology are irrelevant to the Christian). Righteous knowledge leads to righteous living. The proverbs were meant to teach people in wise behavior. Wise people live in a discerning way. They have disciplined bodies that act wisely as a result of discipline.

Wisdom shows righteousness, meaning the person is expressing what is right. It also shows justice, which is the restoration of righteousness when righteousness is disturbed. It also shows equity. This has the idea of smoothness, or being free from obstruction (cf. Prov 23:31). It is about the smooth pathway as opposed to the rough one. God’s people who apply wisdom to their lives, will, generally speaking, live lives free of obstructions.

Biblical wisdom is important because it changes our life. We can have a lot of facts in our mind, and still not be wise. True biblical wisdom will grab your heart and show itself in how you treat others, how you make decisions, how you live your life.

  1. Wisdom Benefits Everyone (vv. 4-5)

In these next two verses, we see the beneficiaries of wisdom. Who is wisdom meant for?

A. It Benefits the Naïve (v. 4)

The naïve are those who are easily deceived, believe everything. These simple-minded and untutored people were morally brainless due to their inexperience. Their youth was tied to their inexperience, but they did not have to stay that way. Wisdom gives discretion to the naïve so they can make discerning decisions. The naïve can grow up without having to wait for time and experience. Psalm 119:100 says, “I understand more than the aged, because I have observed your precepts.” The Word of God is able to give more insight into life than experience can give.

B. It Benefits the Wise (v. 5)

Verses 4-5 cover all people. They are two opposites that express the totality of humanity: you are either wise or naïve.

Even the wise need more wisdom. A wise man will learn in any context. He will always increase in his learning, knowledge, and wisdom. He sees his need for wise counsel because he wants to increase in learning. The picture has the idea of a helmsmen steering a boat and he is looking for a direction to go. A person’s direction in life is lost without proper wisdom from God either through other people or directly from His Word.

The wise man does not say, “I’ve learned enough. I cannot learn anything from this thing or from this person. I’m smarter than this individual, he can’t teach me anything. There isn’t anything new I can learn.”

It doesn’t matter how many degrees you get, how old you get, or how much life experience you have. You will NEVER outgrow your need for the wisdom of God in your life. It will always be of help to you no matter who you are.

  1. Wisdom Establishes Our Discernment (v. 6)

The Proverbs sharpen our discernment. We are given discernment in understanding the proverbs, understanding difficult sayings in life, and understanding how to apply those proverbs in different situations. The Proverbs helps you understand proverbs.

As stated earlier, proverbs are general truths that give slices of reality. It takes discernment to apply such wisdom. So having this wisdom will help you apply it. Like any trade or skill, living skillfully can be sharpened and improved. The proverbs help us with refining that discernment.

  1. Wisdom Is About Our Worship (v. 7)

This is the theme of the book. This is the heart and the foundation of the book of proverbs. Wisdom here is closely connected to the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the recognition of the character of God and response with rust, worship, obedience, and service. It seems to be a broad term for reverential worship.

One who claims to love and appreciate wisdom cannot accurately do so without a relationship with God. The true wise man is a true worshiper. All things are interpreted in light of who God is and in light of your relationship with Him.

This is the essence of the epistemology of the believer. The fear of the Lord is part of the building block of knowledge and wisdom. One cannot ascend to true wisdom without Him.

This is where it is more than just behavior modification. The Christian is not just looking to act differently. He has been saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. He knows his life is directly tied to the worship of His Lord. That is why he lives wisely.

But the warning is to those who reject wisdom. The fool is the one who rejects wisdom. He despises and hates it. He believes he is sufficient with his own understanding and outlook on life, and he does not need any help at all.

This sounds very much like 1 Corinthians 1. The cross is foolishness to the fool, but to the child of God, the wise one it is the wisdom and power of God. This kind of wisdom matters because it is a wisdom that leads to salvation. Those who despise this specific wisdom only call for God’s judgment upon their lives.

You are one of these two people groups. Either you are the wise man who worships God on His terms and accepts His wisdom, or you are the fool who lives by the wisdom of man which only leads to destruction and ultimate ruin.

What do you cling to in this life? There are many things in this world that we feel we desperately need. One thing that we truly need is the wisdom of God. Don’t neglect it. Don’t be a fool in the eyes of God.


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