Sometimes as I read Proverbs, my mind turns towards its human author. It is painful to think of Solomon’s history, beginning as a man who asks God for wisdom over wealth, then later amassing women and materials to a destructive end. I read the very first few, beautiful verses and feel a dissonance:
“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth– let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Proverbs 1:1-5
Solomon didn’t leave anyone out. Proverbs are for the “simple” and the “wise” and the “discerning.” There isn’t anyone who suddenly graduates from needing words from God. I wonder if perhaps it was harder for Solomon to put himself in any of these categories as he grew in wisdom, power, and wealth. Can we find ourselves feeling so wise that we no longer think we need to evaluate our lives and our thoughts? Are we always “right”? Do others need to know this? Is it difficult to keep wisdom from becoming pride?
I want to live with the wisdom Solomon describes – the kind that leads to a “disciplined and prudent life,” to do what is “right and just and fair” but I get in my own way. Too often I’m motivated by what someone else thinks, rather than simply speaking and acting in a way I know will please my Father. I think many of us have this problem – though it manifests itself in different ways. For me it’s a laser-focus desire to have it “all together” – or at least be perceived as having it together. I hate when I’m late or forgetful or struggling. Often I’m aware that I’m late or forgetful or struggling for a good reason, that it may even be God-given and doesn’t mean I’m no longer living a discipline and prudent life. But I perseverate and work ten-times harder to regain the appearance of having it “together.” I wear myself out, usually for the sake of my own pride, instead of just focusing on what my Father is thinking and doing.
Whatever it is, whenever our concern turns from what God thinks to what people think, or from what God desires to what we desire, we get off the path of wisdom. So much wisdom comes in relinquishing are own self, going to Him every day, moment by moment, to understand His will for us and to follow Him wholly, without carrying the burdensome encumbrance of our own pride.
Some of the most well-known verses in Proverbs are from the 3rd chapter:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
To which I say, “Amen Lord!” May He straighten our paths as we study His Word together this month. May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts and minds with wisdom to live freely and fully.