Wisdom continues her sermon throughout this chapter, which she had begun in the former one. In this part of her discourse, blessings are promised to the faithful; and destruction is shown to be the sad portion of the wicked. Long before Solomon’s time, Job had asked, “Where shall wisdom be found? Whence cometh wisdom?” (Job 28:12, 20) And he had given this general answer (verse 23): “God knoweth the place of it.” But Solomon here goes further, and tells us both where we may find it and how we may get it. The words of the wise father to a child are carried on here in this chapter as well. And this does not at all lessen the idea that it is Christ Who is here personified as Wisdom, for He fills all relationships of life! He is the everlasting Father – as well as the Husband of His Church, and also the Brother born for adversity (Isa. 9:6; 54:5; Prov. 17:17).
The wise man explains the means that we must use, whereby we may obtain wisdom. To begin with, we must closely attend to the Word of God; for that is the Word of wisdom, which is able to make us wise unto salvation. We must be convinced that the words of God are the fountain and standard of wisdom and understanding, and we must be persuaded that we need not desire to be wiser than they will make us. Second, we must receive the Word of God with all readiness of mind – even the commandments as well as the promises – without murmuring or disputing. “Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears,” should be the language of our hearts. Third, we must hide these words of God with us – just as we do with our earthly treasures, which we are afraid of being robbed of. We must not only receive, but also retain, the Word of God; it must be lodged in our hearts, so that it may be always ready for our use. But the mere hearing of the Word is not enough; we must also apply our hearts to it, or else inclining the ear to it will do us no good.
In addition to these things, we must be much in prayer for wisdom. We must cry after knowledge, as one who is ready to perish for hunger begs hard for bread. And we must be willing to take pains to obtain wisdom; we must seek it as we would dig for silver – preferring it far above all the wealth of this world; and laboring in search of it as those who dig in the mines, and undergo great toil and run great hazards, in order to uncover hidden treasures. Thus diligent must we be in the use of the means of knowledge, in order to truly know the Lord. If we depend upon God, and pray to Him for wisdom, He will enable us to keep in every right path.
If we are truly wise, then we shall be careful to avoid all evil company and evil practices. When wisdom has dominion over us, then it not only fills the head, but it also enters into the heart; and it will preserve us against corruptions inside and temptations outside. The ways of sin are ways of darkness, discomfort, and danger. What fools they are who leave the plain, pleasant, lightsome paths of uprightness to walk in such ways! They take pleasure in sin – both in committing it, and in seeing others commit it. Every wise man will shun such company.
True wisdom will also preserve us from those who forsake their covenant-vows and lead others to fleshly lusts, which defile the body – the living temple of the Holy Spirit – and which wage war against the soul. These are evils which arouse the sorrow of every serious mind; they cause every reflecting parent to look upon his children with anxiety, lest they should be entangled in such fatal snares. Our Lord Jesus deters us from sinful pleasures by setting before us the everlasting torments which follow them. But the caution in verses 16-19, besides the literal sense, may also be understood as a caution against idolatry, which is spiritual unfaithfulness to Jesus, the Husband of our souls.
Where there is no regeneration of the heart, and no teaching or influence of the Holy Spirit, then there will be confusion and every evil work. And where there is no awakening of the Holy Spirit, the original death by sin is followed by eternal death in that state from which there is no return. O for a part in that blessed and holy first resurrection, for then the second death has no power over us! (Rev. 20:6) But how beautiful are these verses when they are explained with an eye to Christ as Wisdom Himself! If He is indeed formed in our heart as the hope of glory, then all gracious principles will be the fruit thereof. Jesus then becomes the well of water in our heart, springing up to everlasting life. Well may every heart that is made sensible of these things cry out with the poor Samaritan woman, “Lord, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither seek elsewhere to draw!” (John 4:14-15)
True wisdom will be useful to guide and direct us in the ways of that which is good. We must avoid the ways of the evil man and the wicked woman, in order that we may walk in good ways; we must cease to do evil, in order that we may learn to do well. It is in our best interest to ask for the good old way, to walk therein (Jer. 6:16; Heb. 6:12; 12:1), and to never turn aside from it!
Thank the Lord for blessing us with His Word; for it is the Word of wisdom, which is able to make us wise unto salvation! Thank Him that He has given us a gracious promise that those who seek for Wisdom shall find it – in Himself!
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illustration by John Gilbert, 1858