Proverbs and The Wise Man, An Introduction
Last week I did a short series developing the idea of a fool. That was primarily drawn from the book of Proverbs. This week I want to do some posts on the nature of what a wise man looks like in the book of Proverbs. Obviously this will not be an exhaustive examination of the subject, but it should be one that allows for solid thought, application, and self-examination.
So, what is a wise man? The idea of the wise man occurs 65 times in the book of Proverbs. The word used most frequently has the idea of one with sound judgment, prudence or shrewdness. Basically a wise man is one who is skilled in living his life. He has learned how to allow God’s word to control his life so that there is a godly purpose to life. When I write ‘godly,’ I mean a God-centered perspective. Along with that, if the fool is one who closes his mind to the Word of God, then the wise man is one who opens his mind to the Word of God. As in the case of the fool, the question is not mental ability but rather obedience. It is a heart issue that motivates and drives a person in his life. You can do wise actions out of a foolish heart. And a wise man will do foolish things. But the motivation of both as well as the response when the consequences of those actions come about will help reveal the heart of the person.
Here are some biblical examples of a wise man. The preeminent example is Jesus our Lord. Colossians 2:3 says that the treasure of wisdom and knowledge are wrapped up in Christ. One of those fascinating passages about His humanity is that as man he grew in relation to wisdom and knowledge (Luke 2:40, 52). Aside from our Lord my mind immediately goes to the example of Solomon. It was David, his father, who instructed his son Solomon to obey the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:8, 9). To the early life of Solomon was one of obedience to God, but even then you see it was not total wisdom (1 Kings 3:3, 9, 28; 4:32). Solomon was no longer a wise man when he turned his back on God’s word (1 Kings 11:1-11). And this is an important point that I will develop in a later post. Wisdom one day can become folly the next.
Every Christian needs to learn how to be wise. While much of the book of Proverbs is given over to the subject, I will over the next few posts offer a few principles on what a wise man looks like and how he lives.