22 October 2013

Proverbs 2:1-15

“If you seek [wisdom] like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures – then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (vv. 4-5)


In yesterday's passage, Wisdom sought out an audience on street corners. Today, the reader is urged to be the one doing the seeking. In the first five verses, there are eight exhortations: to accept; to treasure up; to make the ear attentive; to incline the heart; to cry out; to raise the voice; to seek; to search! So the search for Wisdom is to involve the heart, the mind, the pocket, the voice, the ear and the whole body. The image of searching for Wisdom "as for hidden treasures" (v. 4) brings to mind several parables of Jesus in which the disciple is seen as one who will energetically search for the kingdom of God and, having discovered it, do anything and sell everything in order to possess it (Matthew 13:44-46). Readers are challenged to consider how highly they value wisdom. Such a determined quest will win the prize, given by God, which is to understand "the fear of the Lord", to discover "the knowledge of God". Wisdom is the goal, but Wisdom is also the guide, the shield and the guard, making the prize attainable.

Along with Wisdom, comes an understanding of righteousness, justice and equity (verse 9) as Wisdom "will come into your heart". So Wisdom is to be an internal characteristic; part of what the disciple is, rather than a description of what the disciple does, yet inevitably forming and shaping action. In this One World Week, righteousness, justice and equity are highlighted on the Christian agenda; those who are wise will not merely have an opinion about such matters, but will be actively engaged in bringing them about. If the book of Proverbs is to be seen as a handbook for wise living, the response of Wisdom is practical.

Traps still abound; Wisdom will be needed to resist the "loose woman" of verses 16-19 and the "way of evil" (vv. 12-15), offered by those who tell lies and are devious, who prefer crooked paths to straight ones and who choose darkness over light. Such warnings are echoed in Psalm 37:12-15 where the sword and arrows of the wicked are seen as constant dangers to those who are travelling on Wisdom's path, but the Lord can protect and make firm the steps of those who trust in him.

To Ponder

  • How much energy do you put into seeking and obtaining Wisdom?
  • Where in your own church or community do you see Wisdom shaping action?
  • The book of Proverbs constantly offers opposing ways through life - Wisdom or folly. Have there been times in your life when you have felt you had a foot on both paths - how does that feel? 

Bible notes author

Jill Baker

Jill Baker lives in Glasgow and is glad to be part of the small but distinctive Methodist Church in Scotland. She is a local preacher and local preachers' tutor in the Strathclyde Circuit, where Andrew is superintendent minister.