May 12, 2019 – Wisdom’s Reward
Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: An Invitation to Wisdom: Proverbs 1-9
Proverbs 8:1-36 (ESV)
1 Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O men, I call,
and my cry is to the children of man.
5 O simple ones, learn prudence;
O fools, learn sense.
6 Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right,
7 for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9 They are all straight to him who understands,
and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
14 I have counsel and sound wisdom;
I have insight; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me princes rule,
and nobles, all who govern justly.
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
enduring wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
and my yield than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
in the paths of justice,
21 granting an inheritance to those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.
22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.
32 “And now, O sons, listen to me:
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
34 Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,
36 but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.”
Wisdom calls us (v1), but we need wisdom’s help to experience wisdom’s reward.
1. An outward call
- vv1-7 “to you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones… O fools…”
- vv8-9 “the words of my mouth… are all straight to him who understands”
2. An inward change
- vv20-21 “I walk in the way of righteousness… granting an inheritance”
- v18 “riches and honor are with me”
- vv10-11 “take my instruction instead of silver…”
3. An integrated response
- vv22-26 “at the beginning… before…”
- vv27-31 “when… I was there” “rejoicing in his inhabited world”
- v35 “whoever finds me finds life””
Questions for Reflection
- Where do you have to go to find wisdom? What are your own instincts about that, and what are common answers you imagine others might give?
- If wisdom is everywhere (vv2-3) trying to get our attention, why don’t we see and hear? What kinds of things keep us from learning and truly understanding?
- Do you believe that our moral inclinations and actions shape how we interpret our own experience? Why or why not?
- Are you more likely to look within and rely on your own instincts and intuitions? Are you more likely to seek counsel and advice? Why are both needed?
- Are you motivated by rewards? If so, what kinds of rewards are most motivating? How do those rewards need to function to actually motivate you? If not: what does motivate you? How do rewards fit into your way of thinking and doing?
- Do you believe Wisdom does offer something better than gold, silver, jewels, status, etc.? Is it possible to seek after wisdom and seek after these other things? Are you facing anything today where you have to make a choice to let go of something you know is a source of harm?
- Wisdom is pictured as being with God and rejoicing alongside of God. What are things the wise person rejoices for? How can you better discern and appreciate things in this world that bring true satisfaction?
- How is Jesus’ call to believe in him, follow him, and find life in him, the fullness of the type that is portrayed in this personification of wisdom in Proverbs? What does this show us about the nature of the Christian life?
Prayer of Confession
Our wise and loving Father, you call, but we don’t hear; you explain, and we don’t understand; you show us, but we don’t look because our eyes are already fixed on what our hearts desire. We do what we want and then complain against you when things don’t go as we want. We confess we need you: your forgiveness, your instruction, your work deep within us. Make straight what is crooked, and lead us down your path. Amen.