129 - Solomon’s Wisest Words
May 9 - Nº 129 [Proverbs- see selected Proverbs below]
Soon after Solomon became king, God gave him the opportunity to have anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom and understanding (see #124 - May 4). God granted his request, and he became the wisest man on the planet. Solomon knew that wisdom is very different from (and far greater than) knowledge. The word wisdom literally means “skill for living.” A wise person searches for truth and righteousness, then applies this knowledge to his/her life. Solomon discovered that truth and righteousness can only be found when we acknowledge God’s greatness and obey His commands. Solomon wanted to share the wisdom God had given him with others. So, he chose to pass it on in the form of stories and proverbs. In Proverbs 1 – 9, Solomon shared ten lessons with his son, warning him to avoid folly (his own desires) and pursue wisdom (God’s standards). Both folly and wisdom are represented as women. Folly will lure the young man away from God and into disaster; wisdom will lead him to God’s blessings. Chapters 10 —29 are filled with proverbs that are written for every person, in every generation, and in every walk of life.They are short, clever sayings that can easily be remembered. Many create vivid pictures in our minds. Solomon spoke over 3000 proverbs during his lifetime (see 1 Kings 4:32). Most of them were insights from his own experiences, but others he collected from leaders around the world. Over 800 of the ones he spoke are shared in these chapters. Sometimes Solomon’s sayings are serious, causing us to stop and reconsider our reactions, e.g. “A soft word will calm another’s anger” (15:1). Other times they make us snicker, e.g. “Don’t eat too much honey or you’ll throw up” (25:16). They often contrast a righteous man with a wicked man, e.g. “The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful” (12:5). The last two chapters are proverbs spoken by a man named Agur and a king named Lemuel. The book ends with Lemuel’s poem that praises a godly wife. Proverbs is certainly the most practical book in the Old Testament. It offers advice for handling everyday situations including family relationships, work habits, financial difficulties, needy neighbors, etc. Although they sometimes seem to equate godly living with earthly success, the proverbs are not meant to be promises. They are more like probabilities: if we honor God, we are far less likely to encounter difficult circumstances in our lives, e.g. “The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry” (13:25). Ultimately, the proverbs are meant to develop a desire in us to live by God’s standards rather than the advice of others. They encourage us to commit our way to God regardless of our circumstances. Unfortunately, a time came in Solomon’s life when he stopped pursuing wisdom. He began trusting and relying on his own knowledge and instincts and no longer applied the wisdom God had given him. Sadly, his life fell apart as he ignored his own proverbs.
Solomon’s proverbs remind us that God is concerned with more than just the huge, impressive moments of our lives. He is interested in how we live during the mundane, unnoticeable times. Are you following God even in the small circumstances?