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Lesson 4: Divine Wisdom *

Introduction: Does truth vary for each person? Someone recently wrote to me "there are many paths in life," to which I responded, "but only one leads to the right destination." Lawyers understand this intuitively. The "rule of law" means that you have only one law. Rulers cannot do anything they want. Neither can the ruled. Instead, we agree on what should be the rule of law for a country. You might disagree on how to apply it, but there can only be one law if we are going to have any sense of order. Our study in Proverbs this week is on wisdom. God operates based on the rule of law, and wisdom is a rule about how to live. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out more!

  1. Wisdom's Call


    1. Read Proverbs 8:1-3. To what is wisdom compared here? (At least two things: understanding and someone seeking attention.)


      1. Wisdom calls from "the heights," "where the paths meet," and "the gates" and "the entrances" to the city. How should we understand these different geographic references? (These are all places where wisdom will find listeners. These are places people meet.)


        1. Wisdom has hired a good public relations team! What is the theological message? (That humans are without excuse for missing the Biblical message of wisdom.)


    2. Read Proverbs 8:4-5. What other excuse for not heeding the call of wisdom is eliminated here? (The argument that some are too stupid or too foolish to understand wisdom. It is truly available to all.)


  2. Wisdom's Message


    1. Read Proverbs 8:6-8. What kind of message does wisdom bring? (One which is true and just. It is never wicked, crooked or perverse.)


      1. Does this allow for several versions of wisdom, some of which contradict each other?


    2. Read Proverbs 8:9. What does this suggest is the reason why some would take different paths in life which are not wise? (A person who lacks discernment or knowledge could reject the message.)


      1. I thought we just decided that even the foolish and the stupid could grasp wisdom? (The important part is "grasp." You have to want to understand God's wisdom. If you do, it is available to all.)


  3. Wisdom's Payoff


    1. Read Proverbs 8:10-11. Why do most people want silver, gold or rubies? (They represent security, dignity, and happiness.)


      1. What does this teach us about wisdom? (That it brings these things (security, dignity and happiness)and more!)


    2. Read Proverbs 8:18-21. How do you explain the relative poverty of Jesus and His disciples? (If Jesus had come as an earthy king, we might argue that He was not tempted in all the ways that we are tempted. See Hebrews 4:15. Jesus had many disadvantages. I think the general teaching of the Bible is that obedience to God brings prosperity.)


    3. Read Proverbs 8:12. The Bible seems to say that wisdom is a cluster of virtues which include prudence, knowledge and discretion. The foolish lack prudence and discretion. Is it fair to say that the foolish can gain God's wisdom? (I think this is another suggestion that God's wisdom changes us. It takes away our foolishness. It includes "knowledge and discretion" and it is a close companion to prudence.)


      1. Do you know a person who has wisdom: knowledge, discretion, and prudence? How is that person's life turning out?


    4. Let's skip down to the next chapter for a moment. Read Proverbs 9:10-12. What is the connection between wisdom and reading our Bible?


      1. How else will wisdom benefit us? (Not only will we have security, dignity and happiness, but we will live longer! Wisdom has a reward.)


  4. The Source of Wisdom


    1. Read Proverbs 8:13. Let's be honest for a moment. Aren't you attracted to evil (sin)? Why does James tell us "Resist the devil" ( James 4:7)and Hebrews refer to the "pleasures of sin" ( Hebrews 11:25) if sin were not attractive?


      1. If you are attracted to some sins, then how can Solomon talk about "hat[ing] evil?"


      2. Who is the "I" in "I hate pride and arrogance?" (If you look back to Proverbs 8:12 we see the "I" is wisdom. As we progress along the path of wisdom we will come to hate sin. Why? Because we will better understand its consequences.)


      3. Notice that wisdom hates pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. How common are pride and arrogance?


    2. Look again at the beginning of Proverbs 8:13 and Proverbs 9:10. Who is the source of all true wisdom? (God. We need to go to the right source.)


    3. Read Proverbs 8:22-23. What kind of pedigree does wisdom possess? (It was the first of God's works! It existed before God created the world.)


      1. What does that suggest about the importance of having wisdom?


    4. Read Proverbs 8:24-29. What is being described here? (God's Creation.)


      1. What does the creation account have to do with wisdom? (This reveals the clash of world views. Either you believe that the earth and all the creatures came about by chance and violence (natural selection) or you believe that an intelligent God, who has rules for everything, created us. Your choice between these two dramatically opposing claims impacts how you view the world.)


    5. Read Proverbs 8:30-31. Who helped God at creation? (Wisdom! Think about this. You can have some measure of God's wisdom - the kind of thinking that guided in the creation of the universe!)


  5. Wisdom's Way


    1. Read Proverbs 9:1-6. This paints a picture of wisdom as living in a big house, not being on a diet and having domestic help. Why? (To live wisely is to live well. This tells us that wisdom is a way of life. It is not just an isolated decision, it is how we live a good life.)


    2. Read Proverbs 9:7-8. Notice that we now transition to some very specific advice on how to apply wisdom. Who is a mocker? (One who mocks God or mocks God's way.)


      1. Consider this a moment. Are we not called to evangelize sinners? What is this telling us? (I think we need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us discernment on applying this. Rebuking or correcting someone who wants to learn is one thing. Rebuking or correcting one who is hostile is a fool's errand - he will only hate you more. We should be smart, and not waste our effort on those who are determined to oppose us.)


    3. Read Proverbs 9:9. Who is open to learning more wisdom? (The wise and the righteous.)


    4. Consider our last few verses. What does this suggest about how we should evangelize? (We need to focus on those who want to come to God, who are curious to learn. I think churches should focus on those who visit. If someone who lives in the neighborhood visits, the church should have a plan to capture that person's name and contact information, and then follow-up. How about putting in place a way to follow-up on those who visit the web site of your church?)


  6. Acquiring Wisdom


    1. Read Proverbs 8:32-34. We decided earlier that God is the source of all true wisdom, and we find His wisdom in the Bible. What kind of effort should we put in to gain wisdom? (It is a daily and focused effort.)


    2. Read Proverbs 8:35-36. We discussed how wisdom brings material advantages. What is the ultimate payoff for making the effort to acquire wisdom? (You enjoy God's favor. You find life, and avoid harm and death.)


    3. Friend, would you like to improve your life? God's wisdom is the key. Will you decide to make it a daily goal to study your Bible to become more wise in God's ways? Why not make that commitment right now?


  7. Next week: The Blessings of Righteousness.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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