What does wisdom and understanding do for us as a packaged set? Solomon gives us the answer in Proverbs 4:7-9. Therefore, this passage shows and reinforces what was presented last week.
In Proverbs 4:7, we find where wisdom and understanding line up. One is over the other. Hence we read that it is the principle thing, or the first thing. The Hebrew word is used fifty-one times in the O.T. It has the very principle that it is the first, the foremost, the beginning, the foundation. For example, in Genesis 1:1, this Hebrew word is translated as Beginning. Therefore, wisdom is before understanding. This is fascinating due to the nature of how we view these two things. Often we look at them as individual concepts, but in reality, understanding comes from and is born out of wisdom.
Solomon is encouraging the gaining of wisdom and in that getting, to also get understanding which helps with the application of that wisdom. That is desperately needed today. But we quickly turn to the blessings this wisdom and understanding give.
Proverbs 4:8 tells us to exalt her. Wisdom is to be elevated, lifted up. Used only twelve times, we find some interesting concepts.
Exodus 9:17, Pharaoh exalted himself against God’s people.
Psalm 68:4, we are commanded to sing praises to God and extol Him.
Proverbs 15:19, the way of the upright is a highway
This is the same word used here to exalt. It has been said to exalt wisdom, and it really would be good to look back on how this word was used before and there are several blog posts on this website to describe this. But what happens when wisdom is exalted? We ourselves will be promoted. Be careful not to miss the double side of this.
Wisdom will promote, but that is because there is understanding being attached to that wisdom. There are many who have wisdom, or wisdom so called. But to understand in practical, natural, and even spiritual ways, they are not very wise. Those who have this wisdom and understanding will be promoted. This word for promoted is used one hundred and ninety one times throughout the Old Testament and is truly worthy of study. The point of this word is those who are promoted are lifted and raised up. It is absolutely amazing how this little truth is so ignored by our culture today simply because it comes from God.
Then we see that wisdom also brings honor when she is embraced. Honor is used one hundred and sixteen times throughout the Old Testament and has both positive and negative connotations (Genesis 13:2 is rich; and Exodus 8:15 is translated as hardened). The number one use of the word at twenty one times is honor. There is honor through this wisdom and understanding. How that honor will look will vary. It would be unwise to just assume that honor will bring riches only. Then, if we do receive riches, it would be unwiser still to assume the riches is money. It could be something intangible. There is a condition, however, to receive this. There has to be an embrace.
Sadly, our culture and nation refuses to embrace wisdom. Instead a pseudo wisdom has been instilled and true wisdom is often left out, unless there is a tiredness of the same rhetoric and worn out philosophy that is often proposed, or there is an issue and an individual decides to actually look beyond what has been taught. Only then will wisdom, true wisdom show itself. The question is will it be embraced?
Embrace is not just a passing glance or a half hearted handshake. Embrace here is deeper. Used only thirteen times in the Old Testament, look at how it is used.
It is used as a physical embrace or hug – Genesis 29:13; 33:4; 48:10; 2 Kings 4:16; Proverbs 5:20; Ecclesiastes 3:5; Song of Solomon 2:6; 8:3; Lamentations 4:5
It is used to describe a close huddle – Job 24:8
It is used as describing a fold of hands – Ecclesiastes 4:5
If we, who are married, embraced our spouses with the same vigor and passion as many do with true Godly wisdom, I fear there would be many homes that are very cold. This is not a passing thing. This is a true embrace. A true grab and hold of wisdom and understanding. The honor received comes because those who have wisdom and understanding are held up in esteem for their wisdom and understanding. When we hold false wisdom and understanding we start to esteem individuals who are horrible! That is because true wisdom is eschewed and what is often thought of as being wise is mere foolishness. What does God say about this? We find our answer in 1 Corinthians 3:19.
Does this mean that all wisdom is foolish? Depends on whether that wisdom leads to God or not. If not, then yes, It is foolish. Foolishness is seen in our culture and it is because God and His wisdom has been cast aside.
But we approach Proverbs 4:9 and for those who embrace wisdom, there is an ornament of grace on the head. This word is translated as grace, favor, graceful, gracious, precious, etc. Those who have this ornament not only show grace but can also receive grace. It is a precious thing they have and it is indeed an ornament. But then there is a crown of glory that is given.
This is a thing of beauty (Psalm 96:6). How many who profess to be wise just have an ugly disposition. Have you met these people? Ask how they are doing and you would have thought they thought you kicked their pet. Say good morning and they want to snap back at you. Where is wisdom? Where is grace? Just because someone goes to church does not mean they are immune from this either. There are many in the church that it is often wondered if they wouldn’t be happier just being at home!
But wisdom and grace helps with this. It helps us to know how we carry ourselves and how to act and interact with others. If we wonder how we appear to others, let us ask ourselves if we are embracing wisdom and understanding.