Proverbs 4:1

Chapter 4 teaches the pursuit of wisdom is a lifelong pursuit. There is no time that we can think we are all stocked up on wisdom and we can leave off the pursuit of it. Such thought is the thought of folly and not wisdom. This chapter continues the fatherly exhortations, which method communicates that wisdom is best taught and learned in close relation and handed down from one to another. We can learn from teachers from afar, but wisdom designs we are most benefited from those we know, can observe, and talk with (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17).

The chapter divides into three sections. Verses 1-9 teach the beauty and value of wisdom. Teaching involves both positive and negative. The negative perspective involves warnings and showing negative results or consequences. The positive perspective involves showing the benefits and good results. This first section is primarily from the positive perspective—truth, goodness, and beauty. Verses 10-19 contrast the ways of folly and wisdom. Verses 20-27 reinforce the lessons and repetitively urges hearing, listening, and attending to the words of wisdom taught.

Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
– Proverbs 4:1

Hear means to hear intelligently and attend means to pay attention. It is a double call to the learner’s responsibility to actively listen and think on what he’s being taught. It puts us in mind of a parent instructing a child to do several things and laboring to be sure they have heard and understood what they are supposed to do. Instruction involves teaching and correction or warning. It is the instruction of a father, which speaks to the teacher’s motive of love for the “children” and earnest desire that understanding, or wisdom, be known.

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Proverbs 3:1

Chapter 3 exhorts us in the study of truth. Unquestionably, God gives wisdom and is the source of it, but that is not a shortcut. Study is not excluded because we ask wisdom from God. He has given us means of obtaining wisdom and we are to seek wisdom through those. This chapter teaches us some of the practical means of obtaining wisdom and some of the practical effects of wisdom. We learn here that walking in wisdom is walking with God. The chapter ends with the contrasted destinies of the righteous and the wicked.

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

– Proverbs 3:1

Verses 1-10 urge a full and joyful commitment to wisdom so that we do not lean on our own understanding but trust fully in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). The latter verses of this section illustrate the evidence of such a commitment to wisdom and the fruit produced by it. It gives us the picture of a happy and quiet life.

Verse 1 continues the fatherly directions to his son. He admonishes his son to “forget not” and to “keep”. The word for forget means to mislay something. It has the idea of losing something through lack of attention and care. The word for keep means to guard and to watch so as to preserve. In a sense the words are opposites of one another. Solomon tells his son to commit to this and be deliberate about guarding it so you don’t lose it.

The son is to guard the “law” and “commandments” of his father. The word for law means a teaching or instruction. It commonly refers to the law given to Moses or even the Pentateuch as a whole. Here it is the law of the father, or the wisdom he teaches through inspiration of the Spirit that applies the law to the individual. Commandments are commands and, taken with law, encompasses the whole of divine instruction. This brings us back to the Word of God and that there is no obtaining and keeping of wisdom apart from God’s Word.

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Proverbs 2:1

Chapter 2 provides a contrast between the virtue of wisdom and the wickedness of evil men and strange women. The chapter opens with a different perspective from chapter 1. In the first chapter, wisdom cries out to give instruction, but in this chapter we are exhorted to seek out wisdom as though we were searching for treasure. The first chapter depicts the accessibility of wisdom and the second shows we must seek for it diligently.

The first half of chapter 2 is an important passage of Christian discipleship. It deals with the need to seek wisdom as the foundation for life. That search must begin with the fear of the Lord. Regardless of where we are in maturity or sanctification, this is always a freshly relevant passage for us.

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
– Proverbs 2:1

At first glance, we notice apparent repetition. This verse is similar to verses already read and some that follow after. This isn’t rote for memorization like it’s some limerick, but rather this seeming repetition emphasizes the need for continual seeking and attendance to wisdom. Wisdom can be both gained and lost.

Receive means to accept or to take in. Contrary to popular thought, wisdom is not latent inside of us but is rather outside of us. Most of the wisdom we learn will come in the form of teaching that we must pay heed to. Hide means to hoard up or to treasure up. We must take in and store up the teaching of wisdom. These dual commands have two important implications for us.

  1. We take in and store up in order to meditate on wisdom. The teaching of wisdom is not always immediately practical and applicable. As well, the understanding of wisdom is beyond the face value. We must meditate on them to come to fuller understanding.
  2. True wisdom must be stored up also because it’s not always immediately useful to us. If we have them treasured up, then we can bring them out as it were in the time of need.

Both of those implications reveal the necessity of patience. They also reveal the folly of those who constantly clamor to “just give us something we can use.” We are an impatient generation that doesn’t want to hear what we must meditate on in order to understand.

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Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is not only a remarkable Psalm, it is one of the most remarkable chapters in the entire Bible. Though none of Scripture ought to be neglected, this chapter deserves special attention. In this series, we want to study this chapter; pray and meditate over this chapter. I pray that God will use this to work in us a deeper love and appreciation for His Word and a stronger commitment to live it.

The authorship of this Psalm is not certain. Many authors have been suggested through the years, but it seems most likely to belong to David. In this Psalm are commandments, enemies, and dire circumstances—all answerable to David’s life. Regardless of the human author, it is the inspired Word of God and profitable for us.

The time of the writing of this Psalm is also uncertain. Taken as a whole it seems that it was written in parts over a long period of time. A progression can be observed linearly from beginning to end. The early parts hint of youth and the latter parts evidence a maturing wisdom.

The theme of this Psalm is the Divine Revelation—the Word of God. It is remarkable that almost every verse has a reference to the Word of God. Ten different words are used to refer to Scripture: way, testimonies, precepts, commandments, word, law, judgment, righteousnesses, statute, and words. Each word brings its own nuance and serves a purpose.

Psalm 119 is by far the longest Psalm, and it is also the longest chapter in all Scripture. Its 176 verses are divided into 22 stanzas with 8 verses in each stanza. In the Hebrew text, each stanza begins with a different Hebrew letter. It starts at the first one and progresses sequentially through all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This form is very remarkable and poetic. Various attempts have been made to find some numerical or encoded significance to this form, but none of these to date are truly worthy of serious consideration.

In this entire Psalm there is not a single mention of Israel. There is no reference to the Jews, the tabernacle, the temple, sacrifices, rites, ceremonies, or anything of the Mosaic economy. What are we to make of this? They may well be some significance that escapes me, but it seems this Psalm is intended to applicable to the whole Word of God. Though the entire revelation was not yet given at the time this Psalm was written, it is not unbelievable to think of the Holy Spirit moving the penman with the perfect Word in mind. The theme remains fixed on the transcendent Word that was forever settled in heaven.

Simply put, the writer loves the Word of God. Verse 97 could well serve as a summary verse of the whole: “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” A number of things could have been said to describe the Psalmist’s attitude toward God’s law, but “love” is how it was described. Only love could elevate its worth above silver and gold. He declared, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72).

This Psalm as a whole exalts the Word of God. It is a high prize and treasure of incomparable worth. However, it is not some pretty thing to be set up on a high shelf and gazed at. Neither is it to be buried away out of sight as a miser might do. The Word is to be treasured and hidden away in the heart. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). But, it is there for a purpose and buried in the heart is not the same as buried in the ground. “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: they are the rejoicing of my heart” (Psalm 119:111). What is concealed in the heart will also come out at the mouth. “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).

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