Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Luke 11:33-36; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Proverbs 2; Nehemiah 5
Proverbs 2 is a single, highly structured sentence in Hebrew. It is divided into two equal halves, with the first addressing the son’s character development, leading to the fear and knowledge of God. The divine dimension of knowing God (v. 5) is interwoven with ethical understanding for human interactions (v. 9). The second half addresses the resulting consequences: deliverance from evil and the experience of true life. Two approaches to life are presented by four Hebrew terms translated as ways or paths. The son has two options before him: one leading to death and one to life (vv. 18-19). Walking in the way of the righteous rather than the wicked is a metaphor that will be developed further in Proverbs.
The search for wisdom grows in intensity as the chapter begins. It begins with accepting the words, and then storing up the commands. It becomes more active as the ears are turned and the heart applied. Then the son is to call for and cry aloud for understanding, finally searching for it as if it was a hidden treasure. As the son becomes more convinced of wisdom’s value, the search becomes more intense. The result is not a list of rules or principles, but a relationship. The Hebrew phrase ‘knowledge of God’ includes, but is more than, intellectual. It refers to intimacy with God through engagement with him in every aspect of our personhood and obedience to his Word. This is not fearful obedience, or reluctant submission, but insight that is pleasant to the soul. God’s wisdom coincides with our deepest longings to understand what is right and good.
The Lord’s wisdom not only provides insight, but also protection. The second half of Proverbs 2 declares that wisdom protects, or saves, us from the path of destruction. Wicked men lure us into doing wrong with them, while the wayward woman seduces us into adultery. In both cases, words are used to draw us from the path of righteousness. The men use perverse words (v. 12), while the woman uses seductive words (v. 16). The battle begins in the mind, and we need the words of the Lord to survive. We need these stored up within us, so that we can recognise the deceptiveness and seductiveness of wrong roads. As we allow the wisdom of God to sink into our hearts, we will be changed. We will come to see that the Lord’s way is better, and our souls will come to find joy in the path that leads to life. While this remains very general here, it will become very specific as we proceed through the book of Proverbs.