These lessons will be looking at the book of Proverbs and focusing on “wisdom”. The wisdom the book of Proverbs speaks of is the wisdom from the LORD. This is contrasted with foolishness by King Solomon, who is considered to be the author of the book, and it is contrasted by the apostle Paul to the wisdom of the world.
Solomon speaks of the great benefits of obtaining the wisdom from the LORD, which ultimately results in eternal life. Solomon, speaks of wisdom in very practical terms and uses examples that are to be employed each day of our lives. This will be the approach we will take through the year – considering and applying wisdom in a practical way in order become the kind of person our heavenly Father wants us to be.
We may think of wisdom as the practical knowledge that only the aged possess, especially because, by its very definition, it is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment” and involves “the application of expereince, knowledge and good judgment”. However, in his opening remarks, Solomon tells us that wisdom applies to youth.
“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.” (Pro. 1:1-4, ESV)
Regarding the possession and application of wisdom by youth, Solomon says, “Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.” (Ecc. 4:13, ESV)
Wisdom is something a person develops and can begin at a very young age. In fact, even Jesus had to develop wisdom. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52, ESV)
Our study will consist of considering the book of Proverbs and drawing out the theme of the section as it relates to wisdom. We will discuss what is being said in the context of how God describes and uses the concept in order to develop our understanding. In addition, we will discuss some examples from the Bible of individuals who demonstrated or did not demonstrate the concept and how it may apply today in our environment, which is quite different than in Bible times. Lastly, you will be asked to confidentially journal your experiences regarding the lesson. You may choose to share this information in the class or not. Your reflective journalling is meant to help you identify opportunities and develop the application of wisdom.
A Cool Spirit
You may be wondering about the title of our studies this year. As a youth, who does not want to be “cool”? Solomon speaks about having a “cool spirit”. He says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Pro. 17:27-28, ESV)
Although a play on words, the point is that in the development of wisdom, the ability of a person to refrain from speaking all the time and expressing an opinion on every topic of discussion, is termed a “cool” or an “excellent spirit” in the Scriptures. As a youth, you can develop and increase in the wisdom of the LORD and have “a cool spirit”.
The First Thing
KEY VERSE: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Pro. 4:7, KJV)
We will begin by considering the first seven verses of Proverbs chapter 1.
Let’s consider the first seven verses:
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Solomon connects wisdom, instruction, understanding, knowledge, insight, righteousness, justice, equity, guidance, and the fear of the LORD. Since this is the introduction to the entire book of Proverbs, these must be very important concepts!
What do these things tell us about “wisdom”?
What do you think “the fear of the LORD” means?
Are we to be scared of the LORD?
What is the connection between “wisdom” and “knowledge”?
From these verses, what are some of the benefits of wisdom?
If we look at some other Scriptures in connection to the importance of wisdom, we see that it is “the first or principal thing”. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Psalms 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”
Solomon states this as well in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
In addition, Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
The King James Version of the Bible translate Proverbs 4:7 this way,
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
Questions to consider
Wisdom is the first or the principal thing in life!
Why do you think wisdom is the principal thing?
What does this tell us about the importance of the wisdom of the LORD in our lives?
What do we know about the wisdom of the LORD?
What are some examples of when we demonstrated wisdom in our lives?
What are some examples of when we witnessed someone else demonstrate the wisdom of God?
What opportunities did we miss when we could have applied the wisdom of God in our lives?
Wisdom involves knowing, understanding, receiving, and giving. We are to know wisdom and understanding; we are to understand words of insight; we are to receive instruction in wise dealing in righteousness, justice and equity; and we are to give: prudence (the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason) to the simple; knowledge and discretion to the youth.
Wisdom is not just about accumulating knowledge and how it applies in life. Wisdom involves thinking and considering the information. This is not a one person activity. One must be meek and able to receive instruction. A person of pride, a “know-it-all”, one who feels “above the crowd”, will not be instructed.
Who would not receive the words & instructions of Jesus?
What was their background?
Why do you think they did not accept Jesus’ instruction?
The instruction we are to receive is in wise dealings in righteousness, justice and equity. Those are very significant things. Acccording the the Bible, what is:
righteousess? (Strong’s # 6664)
justice? (Strong’s # 4941)
equity? (Strong’s # 4339)
What do you think?
Read Genesis 3:1-7.
From the perspective of Adam and Eve, had they ever seen or experienced death?
When the LORD God said they would surely die, what would this mean to them?
When the serpent said, “You will not surely die”, what knowledge and understanding would Adam and Eve apply to this statement?
Explain the wisdom of the LORD in a decision NOT to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Questions to consider
What s the relationship between righteousness, justice, and equity? (see Ps. 9:8; 58:1; 75:2; Pr. 2:9)
As the “principal” or “first” thing, consider the decisions you make each day in terms of the the wisdom of the LORD.
What knowledge do you seek or what is the source of the knowledge you seek?
How willing are you to receive direction, correction, instruction and from whom will you receive it?
How do you know or do you consider if your actions/words are right?
Are your decisions/words just and equitable?
When you give information or provide advice, what is the source of your information?