1My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God.
What is clear in this passage is that there is a responsibility put upon man to choose the fear of God and to seek after wisdom. God doesn’t force us to do His will or to obey, but we must choose this day Whom we will serve. We must receive God’s words and treasure His commandments in our hearts as our delights. We must be listening attentively to Scripture and to discerning wisdom in Christ. Our hearts must be humble enough to be inclined to truth and righteousness rather than biased toward sin and evil. Thus, Christ must indwell our hearts by faith. We should want wisdom and the right path in life so badly that we cry out to God for discernment to know right from wrong and truth from error. We should call out to God with deep urgency and desperation for understanding so that we are wise stewards of our time on earth. Those who have Christ in their hearts will find the Spirit constantly working in their hearts to move them to repentance and to further sanctification. Wisdom thus breeds further wisdom by faith.
God wants people to long for wisdom more than silver, money, and treasures. With the same eagerness that people pursue hidden treasure, we must seek after God because He is the treasure that we all should seek. Then, having this deep driving urgency for wisdom in our hearts, we will come upon the fear of God and discover the knowledge of God. As we come to know the fear of God, we will grow in understanding and wisdom. But even before the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom, the point of salvation, there is a seeking that takes place when God calls a person to Himself. Thus, we learn that those who practice the truth come to faith proving that it was indeed a work of God in their hearts from the beginning (John 3:21). In other words, those who seek the truth will find it, and Christ will manifest Himself to them. Even after salvation, we must never cease longing to grow in truth and understanding, and our urgency and desperation for wisdom must not diminish but grow even stronger.
6For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
There is no alternative route to getting wisdom, for only the Lord gives wisdom. Only those who turn from sin to faith in Christ can access His wisdom. Only from His mouth to the pages of Scripture come knowledge and understanding. He gives wisdom to the upright who are made righteous in Christ, and He protects those who walk in integrity. Wisdom is a protecting force, keeping us from foolish things that could destroy us. It helps us love justice and be just with others, thereby offering protection to the innocent. God preserves the way of His godly ones, finishing the work He started in their hearts so that they can finish strong and be a shining testimony of knowledge and understanding. There is a protection that walking in wisdom brings as God keeps us from falling for evil and from the destructive forces that accompany it (Proverbs 2:11-12). This doesn’t mean that the righteous won’t have trials in this life (John 16:33), but it does mean that God will only allow into our lives what He will cause to work for our good (Romans 8:28) such that a legacy of His goodness and mercy will be clearly seen (Psalm 23:6). He is faithful to sanctify His own (Philippians 2:12-13) and to not allow them to be tempted beyond what they are able to resist by faith (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Lord is a shield to the righteous, preserving their souls, faithfully gracious in times of trial, and constantly working in them transformation of the heart and mind unto His likeness (Romans 12:1-2).
9Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
10For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
12To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;
13From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
14Who delight in doing evil
And rejoice in the perversity of evil;
15Whose paths are crooked,
And who are devious in their ways;
Solomon further explains just how God preserves the way of His godly ones. He enables them to know righteousness, justice, how to be fair, and how to know what to do in a given situation. Wisdom from God means that we will know what course to chart when we need to know. The heart that follows after God is filled with wisdom, and it delights in the understanding that God provides. The sinner finds pleasure in sin, while the saved find pleasure in the pleasantness of wisdom. Discretion and understanding watch over the saved to keep them from the ways of evil and darkness and those who practice such things. Many delight in darkness, perversity, and evil because the perversity of their own hearts enjoys doing perverse things. The righteous hate evil but love what is good. The evil hate what is good and love evil. Only the born again heart can love God and what is good (1 John 4:7-8, John 13:34-35). The unregenerate heart rejects righteousness, walks away from the truth revealed to it, and basks in wickedness. These are devious and crooked in their ways, enjoying destruction and the destruction of others. It makes them happy to see evil harm people.
16To deliver you from the strange woman,
From the adulteress who flatters with her words;
17That leaves the companion of her youth
And forgets the covenant of her God;
18For her house sinks down to death
And her tracks lead to the dead;
19None who go to her return again,
Nor do they reach the paths of life.
One example is the adulteress. She does not seek out the welfare of her prey, but she enjoys the destruction of the life of the fool who chooses her embrace. She enjoys tearing families apart because the passing, empty thrill of sin. She offers flattering speech which is made to manipulate rather than edify. She not only desires to see another leave his companion in marriage, but she herself is unfaithful to her companion. If she even made a covenant before God, she despises it because she despises Him. She has no fear of God when it comes to the marriage bond and covenant, and thus its relevance to her decision-making is not considered. Her life is one leading to death and destruction, and those who choose to follow her path will find only pain and sorrow. Adultery is a severe wrong with devastating results. It is not to say that a Christian who commits adultery will lose his or her salvation, but it is to say that it can quickly disqualify a person from ministry by discrediting their testimony (1 Corinthians 9:27). God’s grace is bigger than any sin, and forgiveness is possible for believers. But wounds go deep, and the destruction is not worth finding out.
20So you will walk in the way of good men
And keep to the paths of the righteous.
21For the upright will live in the land
And the blameless will remain in it;
22But the wicked will be cut off from the land
And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.
The righteous recognize the danger of evil, and they avoid it at all costs. They choose not to desire the ways of the wicked, but they rather keep to the paths of the righteous, choosing good company so that bad company doesn’t corrupt good morals. God had a covenant with Israel that if they obeyed Him, they would be blessed and live long in the land that God had given them (Deuteronomy 11:26-28, 30:19-20). If they worshipped other gods and lived foolishly, then they would be cut off from the land. Sadly, the story ended with them being cut off because of their wickedness. They enjoyed the ways of the wicked nations around them and adopted their practices. They forgot the ways of God and His faithfulness to them because they loved evil more than good. Eternally, the wicked will be cut off from God forever, but the righteous will dwell in the presence of God forever.