The Treasure Trove of Wisdom – Part 1
Proverbs 2.1 – 8
Introduction: Proverbs 2 continues to emphasize the value of wisdom in our lives. Peter Steveson notes, “Grammatically, the passage is a single sentence.” He demonstrates how verses 1-4 form a detailed conditional statement which results in the rewards of wisdom listed in verses 5 and 9. Verses 6-8 simply clarify verse 5 while verses 10-22 amplify verse 9. Therefore, we will divide the passage into two messages which will examine the rewards found in verse 5 (tonight) and those found in verse 9 (next time).
Verse 5 states that when the condition of verses 1-4 is met, “then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and the find the knowledge of God.” This is a rare gem in the treasure trove of wisdom. God has provided a way for us to obtain divine knowledge. What are the conditions that we must meet?
1. There must be a great longing to obey the words of God (1-2).
Treasuring God’s commands means acquiring them in order to utilize them. The inclination of the ear and the application of the heart speak of the longing and careful attention to the words of God. These two verses also communicate a longing to obey which leads to a change of behavior and practice.
James speaks of a wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and demonic (James 3.15). It is not heavenly wisdom but rather intellectual wisdom. While people who have the ability to think and reason have an obvious advantage over those who are governed by emotions or what feels right, those who attain to God's wisdom are not limited by their intellect and reasoning power.
Intellectual wisdom rests in the ability and reasoning power of a human being’s mind. Heavenly wisdom rests in the ability and power of our Creator God. One is temporal (earthly) while the other eternal (heavenly). One may change a man's circumstances in this life while the other changes the direction of a man's heart for all eternity.
Knowing God and fearing Him (2.5) are not valued by those with only intellectual wisdom. They actually think it foolish to search so diligently for spiritual wisdom. They may patronize, but they believe any pursuit of God is foolhardy. However, believers know that intellectual wisdom is extremely limited and finite. It leaves men hopeless, uncertain, and flitting about from philosophy to philosophy. God's wisdom instills confidence, suppresses our inclination to rebellion, and prepares us for an eternity with our Creator. This is the great wisdom that Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, had in Himself.
Isaiah 11.2: “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him (Messiah), the Spirit of wisdom and
Understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the
Intellectual, worldly wisdom is gained by studying the thoughts and writings of man. Spiritual wisdom is gained by a great longing to obey the words of God. We must have a willingness to obey God and thereby prepare the way for us to receive spiritual wisdom from His Word. Cornelius obeyed God and sent for Peter. When Peter came, Cornelius said to him, "Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God" (Acts 10.33).
2. There must be a great effort to mine the words of God (2, 4).
Proverbs 2.2 states the conditions this way: you must incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding. Treasuring God's Word takes great effort and due diligence. Inclining the ear and applying the heart denote giving careful attention to and listening carefully with the intent to obey. The application of the heart changes behavior and practice.
Proverbs 2.4 says that we must seek and search as we would for silver and hidden treasures. A great deal of planning, expense, and even a lot of legal battles go into claiming the treasures of a shipwreck; people expend their whole lives for material wealth, prosperity, and security. Wisdom requires the same sense of earnestness and physical exertion. However, we must diligently work for what is truly valuable.
All of the phrases in these verses point up the fact that God's Word is "like a deep, deep mine, and jewels rich and rare are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there" (GH 173, Hodder). The mine is inexhaustible, but if we just kick around the dirt on the surface, it will yield nothing. This is what intellectuals do with the Scriptures. Only the diligent are repaid with the riches of God's Word.
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) — 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Acts 17:11 (NKJV) — 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
3. There must be a great sense of urgency for the words of God (3).
Cry out for discernment/Lift up your voice for understanding - intensity builds here; you cannot have discernment without understanding; that is why the intense desire for wisdom was present in Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. Crying out means to devote one's life to seeking wisdom with a sense of urgency. It means praying in the fear of going forward without it.
Spiritual wisdom does not come from grit and determination. Memorizing verse or intellectual assent to biblical concepts does little for the one who trusts in himself. Prayer communicates to God that we need Him to reveal everything to us.
No one knows the Father except the Son, “and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give rest” (Matt 11.27-28). Cry out for discernment and lift up your voice for understanding. Pray! God alone opens the understanding that we might comprehend the Scriptures just as God the Son did for the two on the road to Emmaus (cp. Luke 24.45).
Pray “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, [and] what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1.17-18). “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119.18).
Transition: Once these conditions are met, then we receive the rewards mentioned in verse 5 – the fear of the LORD and the knowledge of God…
This is knowledge of God that is experiential. You have it because you have cultivated a relationship with Him based on the fear of the LORD. God's faithfulness and power become so evident to the wise man that he truly knows God.
So this knowledge of God comes from and is maintained by the fear of the LORD. The fear of the LORD is awareness in the godly man that the LORD Himself has drawn near. He is watching over us, keeping us from evil and extending His mercy. This we greatly need. It is a rare commodity.
· 6 - These verses provide a foundation for our confidence if we give us ourselves to seeking wisdom. The LORD gives wisdom; knowledge and understanding come from His mouth. God will do what He has promised.
· 7 - God stores up sound wisdom - that is we are secure and will be successful in our search. He is a shield for the righteous (those with integrity); the righteous ones roughly parallel the blameless ones in the NT. As a shield God provides protection as we go through life.
· 8 - God guards the paths of the just ones; He preserves the way of those who are His loyal followers. Loyalty and fidelity to God's sovereignty richly rewards the wise man.
So, three clarifications:
1. The knowledge of God and the fear of the Lord form the basis of our confidence (2.6).
2. The knowledge of God and the fear of the Lord ensure success in our quest (2.7).
3. The knowledge of God and the fear of the Lord preserve the way of those who are faithful (2.8).
Application: The greatest wisdom we have is Christ, the Wisdom of God. I will trade any sophistry found in this world for the blessed wisdom of the Gospel. We must not depart from the commandment of His lips; we must treasure the words of His mouth as more necessary than food (Job 23.12). “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure making wise the simple” (Psalm 19.7).
It is by the words of God and the wisdom of God that we have been "called ...out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2.9). Now “as newborn babes, [we must] desire the pure milk of the word, that [we] may grow thereby, if indeed [we] have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2.2-3).
God speaks through His Word. We must see how privileged we are to be able to pick it up our Bibles and read them at any time. “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things ...but the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him (the Son)” (1 John 2.20, 27). Delight in the Word of God; meditate in it day and night (cf. Psalm 1.2).
Lays aside all filthiness and the overflow of wickedness. Receive the implanted word with meekness. This is able to save your souls (James 1.21). James gives this command to believers. He wants them to allow the word to influence every part of their lives (implanted - Parable of the Sower). It is with meekness that one receives the Word – be good ground and totally dependent. This will save you in the sense of sanctification and glorification.
 Peter A. Steveson, A Commentary on Proverbs, 23.