The Call of Wisdom–Lesson 1
Sabbath School Lesson for December 27-January 2, 2015
The book of James really encouraged us to making right choices, and Solomon in the book of Proverbs continues the theme of becoming humble, feeling our need, and then asking for wisdom to make those choices.
You’ll recall that James 1:5 admonishes us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” NKJV Solomon was a case study in the fulfillment of that verse.
Proverbs, written mostly by Solomon, has become a popular book of the Bible because it contains verses that are:
- commonly understood by all,
- easy to memorize, and
- that make their points in a brief, well-balanced, poetic, and sometimes humorous way.
Key Text: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” Proverbs 1:7 NKJV
This seems to be the motto or theme of the book of Proverbs. Its purpose is to show us how to be wise, and is centered in understanding what it means to “fear God”.
Solomon repeats this thought and amplifies it in Proverbs 9:10. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” NKJV
Our journey toward wisdom begins with knowing God. It can’t get any simpler than that. Although God is seldom mentioned specifically by Solomon in these writings, we get the feeling that He is always present with us in our search to know Him and to have wisdom.
Sunday: The Beginning of Wisdom
Since King Solomon, son of David, appears to be the principal contributor of these proverbs, it makes sense to discover how he acquired his own famed wisdom. The story is found in I Kings 3:5-14.
Rather than asking God for long life, riches, or victory over his enemies, Solomon chose to ask God for wisdom so he could rule with understanding and justice. And God was generous in supplying him with that wisdom, along with the other things he could have asked for.
Since Solomon’s quest for wisdom began with God, we can see that wisdom in the highest sense is a religious experience. It begins with the fear of the Lord, as our key text points out.
And that knowledge must begin in the beginning–all the way back to Genesis. In other words, we must recognize that God is our Creator, the One who gave us life and breath and is always present in our lives. He is truly a God of:
- love (John 3:16),
- justice (Psalm 89:14), and
- redemption (Hebrews 9:12)
Discussion Questions: Why do we need to know about all three attributes of God (His love, justice, and redemptive powers) in order to love and serve Him?
What does it mean to you personally to “fear God”?
Define wisdom. How does knowing and loving God make us wise? Can someone be wise without fearing or loving God? Explain your answer.
Monday: True Education
“My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;” Proverbs 1:8 NKJV
Parents are our first teachers. Our education begins in the home. They point us in the right direction. The Hebrew word for law is torah, which means “direction”.
Reading on in the next several verses, we find that along with listening to our parents, we must learn not to listen to bad influences, to those who might entice us to sin. And finally in verse 19, a general call for us not to be greedy.
“So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.” Proverbs 1:19 NKJV
There is mention of head and feet in this passage. Verse 9 says, “For they [our parents’ instruction] will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.“ NKJV This might suggest that true education will shape our personality and character.
Then feet are mentioned in verses 15-16: “My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path; For their feet run to evil…” NKJV Since only feet are mentioned, we are given to believe this is speaking to a wayward son, who has lost his way.
Discussion Questions: Education these days seems to be so tied with material gain. We are told we must go to college to learn how to make more money. How can we train our young people to view their education in a different way?
Is a parent’s good example enough to truly educate a child? Are words really necessary?
What is the church’s part in educating children? Can the church ever take the place of deficient parental training?
Tuesday: The Call of Wisdom
In describing how evil influences call to someone to do foolish things, we read, “…’Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;’ “ Proverbs 1:11 NKJV
In sharp contrast, we read how wisdom calls us, “Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words:” Proverbs 1:20-21 NKJV
True wisdom isn’t something that is hidden. The benefits of having this wisdom is not something to be ashamed of. It’s something that can be and should be shared publicly with those around us.
What are the consequences of listening to the call of wisdom versus the call of foolishness? It basically is a call to know God or to reject Him. Verse 29 says, they “did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
So we know the consequences of rejection will be harsh. But they are only the result of being “filled to the full with their own fancies.” v. 31 NKJV
The chapter ends with a promise though. “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33 NKJV Even when problems arise, we are safe in God’s arms, knowing that evil will not prevail.
Discussion Questions: How do you interpret God’s reaction in some of the verses in Proverbs 1? Such as, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes…Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;…” v. 26 and 28 NKJV? This just doesn’t sound like the God we know today. Of course, God can’t answer those who have totally rejected Him, but this makes it sound like He enjoys it. Read Psalms 2:4, 37:13, and 59:8 and Isaiah 1:15 for similar images of God. [One explanation: Many of the ancient Bible writers used human emotions as they knew them to explain God’s actions. They don’t necessarily present accurate portrayals of God.]
Those who reject God’s wisdom often end up with fables, theories, and even lies. Give examples. [evolution, communism, etc.]
How can these replacements actually become idols?
Wednesday: The Benefit of Wisdom
There are some conditions for understanding this “fear of the Lord” we’re talking about. Here are three stages of intensity of our search:
- Stage One: Passive listening
“My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;” Proverbs 2:1, 2 NKJV
- Stage Two: Active response
“Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,” Proverbs 2:3 NKJV
- Stage Three: Passionate involvement
“If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;” Proverbs 2:4 NKJV
Solomon concludes these with saying in verse 5 of chapter 2, “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of the Lord.” NKJV
God is not left without a part in this though. The next few verses sum up God’s responsibility in this process of becoming wise.
- He gives wisdom. “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;” Proverbs 2:6 NKJV
- He stores wisdom. “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;… Proverbs 2:7 NKJV
- He guards and preserves us. “…He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.” Proverbs 2:7-8
Then once again, Solomon concludes with verse 9: “Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.” NKJV
Proverbs 2:10-22 show us what happens when we have finally achieved this wisdom. Here are the results:
- It will be “pleasant to your soul”. (v. 10)
- We will be protected or delivered “from the way of evil”. (vss. 12 and 16)
- We will walk in “the path of goodness.” (v. 20)
Discussion Question: Read Proverbs 2:21, 22. When will “the upright dwell in the land” and “the wicked be cut off from the earth”?
How does keeping our eyes on the final prize impact our life choices?
What do you think are the most important decisions of one’s life? How have you personally benefited from Solomon’s counsel for being wise?
Thursday: Do Not Forget!
Isn’t the last thought on our minds when we say good-bye to our children, no matter what their age, “Don’t forget what I’ve taught you!” We seldom say it, but it’s in our thoughts.
God, through Solomon, doesn’t want us to forget either. He said in Proverbs 3:1, “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.” NKJV
This reminds us of the fifth commandment to honor our father and mother, “that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 NKJV
And what is the law that we are to teach our children? “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe–all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 32:46 NKJV
Wisdom is further described in chapter 3. It means…
- to keep God’s commandments (v. 1)
- to display “mercy and truth” (v. 3)
- to trust God with “all your heart” (v. 5)
Wisdom is associated with life and health, two precious gifts all parents desire for their children. Proverbs 3:18 calls this wisdom “a tree of life to those who take hold of her…” NKJV
This metaphor of a “tree of life” is repeated later in Proverbs:
- Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…”
- Proverbs 13:12 “…when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
- Proverbs 15:4 “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,”
One’s imagination is taken back to the Garden of Eden and the quality of life enjoyed by our first parents there. God seems to be promising a recovery of at least some of that joy and peace, when we live a life that knows and fears God on a personal level.
Following this “tree of life” metaphor, the Creation story is mentioned as a reminder of the vital importance of wisdom in our lives.
“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew.” Proverbs 3:19, 20 NKJV
The scope of wisdom is cosmic, involving the whole universe. It also goes beyond our earthly lives, touching on the eternal life we will one day receive when “The wise shall inherit glory” (Proverbs 3:35).
In understanding better what the “fear of the Lord” and “wisdom” look like, we explore:
- the importance of true wisdom, beginning with this “fear [or knowledge] of God”
- how one is called by God to manifest this wisdom
- the realization that wisdom is more than the ability to distinguish good and evil, but is the ability to actually do right, rather than wrong
To fear God means:
- to fear to grieve Him (hating evil)
- to respect Him and His will (letting Him guide all our decisions)
- to love and obey Him (being totally in love with Him and in total submission)
- to be aware of His presence, and enjoying it
Do all you can to enhance your awareness of God’s presence this week.
Besides engaging in regular prayer, Bible study, and witnessing, think of some creative ways to promote the presence of Jesus in your life. Examples might be:
- put an extra plate on the table when you sit down to eat to remind you that Jesus is there
- place another chair near yours when you are reading, watching TV, or on the computer
- put a picture of Jesus above your TV to remind you that He’s in the room as you watch
- include a picture of Jesus in your wallet or purse, along with your family photos
If possible, look up the words to the hymn “I Would Be Like Jesus”, p. 311 (in the SDA Hymnal), and contemplate how the words describe what true wisdom is. http://www.hymnary.org/text/earthly_pleasures_vainly_call_me
What other songs or hymns speak to you about knowing God?
Next week: From Ears to Feet
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