Verses1-53 Wisdom’s Origin and Her Rewards
We have a three part poem with each one starting with “My Son.” Each one starts with a salutation that introduces an admonition concerning wisdom. Each are followed by an exhortation concerning the initial admonition. Verse one admonishes the young student to not forget the teaching of his teacher. The teaching is the essence of life and obedience to them will lead to a prosperous and long life. In Old Testament teaching these are two ways in which we know that the Lord is pleased with us. Does God reward us for obedience, faithfulness, and loyalty? Jesus said to us, “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you in secret.” (Matthew 6:4, 8) The issue is not that long life and abundance are not promised by Jesus. Neither is favor and good repute in the sight of man is promised. Jesus told us that fidelity to God would bring disfavor of men. The question is not, “Are there consequences to our actions? The question is, “What kinds of consequences came from a particular kind of behavior?” Consequences are consistent with our behavior. Whatever we sow we will reap, not something else.
Next we see an admonition which promises the reward of good health for obedience. We see the phrase “With all your heart” and we know what it means to say “I love you with all my heart.” Jeremiah wrote to the exiles in Babylon that God said, “When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14) Many wish to know God’s will for their life and verse 6 tells us how to know. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” If we truly acknowledge God in all our ways He will guide our footsteps. The reward is healing and renewal, verse 8.
If we are faithful in practicing good stewardship we are promised material prosperity. It says “You give to God what is rightfully His, and He will see to it that your labor will prosper.”
Even if we suffer, or are set back it is not to be taken as evidence of God’s displeasure, but of His love. To be able to accept hurt is the greatest reward of wisdom in that we will not become bitter when God leads us through the trials of life. Proverbs say that this is God’s way of teaching us. That is what verses 11-12 says and it introduces the second part of the poem, with the use of the words, “My Son.”
We have seen that wisdom is to be in tune with God and His world and is far better than the achievement of wealth without wisdom. In these verses wisdom is personified as a lady who brings gifts to those who deserve them. In her right hand, which is always the most important hand, she offers long life, and in her left riches and honor. Wisdom is the “tree of life” and this figure takes us back to the Garden of Eden and the beginning of man.
In the next verses we see wisdom identified as a participant in the creation. The wisdom which gives correct guidance to life and rewards all who embrace her is the same wisdom in which God created the heavens and the earth. Is there a connection here between wisdom as a part of God’s being and the concept of The Word in John 1? Many who study the Bible think so.
The last division begins with verse 21. Again we see “My Son.” We see three thoughtful expressions here. The first expresses the importance of incorporating wisdom in one’s life. She is “Life for your soul.” She provides that extra that makes life more than just a bear existence, that is, an “adornment for your neck.” She provides security in the daytime, peace at night, and confidence in the day of calamity.
We have duty to our neighbors and this is the subject of verses 27-30. We are to have scrupulous honesty when dealing with our neighbors. We should not neglect to pay what is owed to our neighbor, or to put off paying what we owe by saying come back tomorrow. We should not take advantage of our neighbors trust, and not live in a state of continual uproar with our neighbor.
In the conclusion of this poem on the rewards of wisdom is a warning against envying the evil person who appears to be getting away with his wickedness. In contrasting picture the condition of the wicked and the righteous are seen side by side. The main idea is that the wicked person is an offense to the Lord. God is offended by sin. on the other hand the upright are His confidence. God takes them on the inside and shares the secrets of His purpose with them. What a wonderful gift to be able to walk with God as one who is accepted as an intimate friend. In Verse 34 for we see the emphasis on the justice of God. God causes the sun the shine on the righteous as well as the unrighteous. We the righteous receive back that which we have given. Words shouted across the canyon come back to us with the same tone of hatred or love.