A Wise Man Will Hear
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:5-7).
by Todd Alexander
When God created Adam and Eve, He commissioned them to rule the world (Genesis 1:28). God gave them free will to either live obediently in His wisdom or disobey by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). Their decision to disobey and eat the forbidden fruit led to their suffering and death and the same for all of mankind. However, God gave them hope of a savior (Genesis 3:15).
Much later King Solomon prayed to God for wisdom and understanding with which to discern between good and evil and to faithfully fulfill his commission from God to rule the Nation of Israel (1 Kings 3:9).
God blessed Solomon with much more than he asked. The result of his obedience was peace throughout Israel from Dan to Beersheba during King Solomon’s reign, with each man living in peace under his own vine and fig tree. “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:25). However, after the first several years, Solomon strayed from God.
The book of Proverbs is King Solomon’s invitation to learn from his own successes and failures. It begins with trusting in the Lord with all of our heart, and continues with thousands of details of how to live in God’s wisdom instead of our own. On fourteen separate occasions, Solomon names this lifestyle as living in the “fear of the LORD” (Proverbs 1:7,29, 2:5, 8:13, 9:10, 10:27, 14:26-27, 15:16,33, 16:6, 19:23, 22:4, 23:17). Solomon is admonishing us to become what Adam and Eve failed to be; wise human rulers over the dominion given to them by God.
In Chapter 3, King Solomon personifies wisdom as a woman and uses language that is remarkably close to the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her” (Proverbs 3:18). Solomon helps us to understand that we all stand before our own tree with choices to make. In the book of Proverbs, he urges us to choose obedience, to choose life.
Tempted by the adversary, Adam and Eve failed in their commission from God because of their independent search for knowledge. Today, we are equally tempted to turn away from the wisdom and knowledge provided by God and search for our own understanding, wisdom, and knowledge.
The book of Proverbs provides instruction for a lifestyle of wisdom. Today, we have a greater than Solomon as our mentor. Jesus is the promised Savior and the shepherd who gently guides us. But we are the protagonist in our own life story. And similar to Adam, Eve and King Solomon, the quality of the life we fashion is directly proportional to our fear of the LORD and the diligence of our work.
A wise man listens, a wise man increases learning, a wise man becomes a wise mentor, a wise man properly interprets truth. These are very simple truths from God but they are not easy. They begin with obedience.