Proverbs and The Wise Man Described
So what does a wise man look like according to the book of Proverbs. You attend a church and want to be discipled by someone but you are unsure who you might approach. Though you are not wise in a Proverbs sort of way, you would not fit the mold of a fool either. You are a young man (stick ‘woman’ here anywhere you wish by-the-way) who wants to grow in wisdom. You seek wisdom from God because he tells you to in James 1:5 and you begin to then cast your observing eye around the church over the next few weeks, watching and listening. As you watch and listen you hear a lot more comments than you did before when you were busy talking. And as various comments are made by men you start asking them ‘why’ questions. Questions like, “Why did you decide not to go to that event next weekend, it sounded fun.” Or, “Why do you spend so much time reading those kind of books?” After a bit of time has passed you decide now to sit and carefully read Proverbs in search of how the Spirit of God describes a wise man so that you can compare it to what you have heard and observed in the lives of those with whom you have been.
Here are some things you begin to note:
- A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. (Proverbs 14:16) The wise man respects and fears God. This means he also knows evil and avoids it for God hates evil. The fool thinks his is fine and can handle it. The wise man knows the exact opposite. He is not the mighty man, Jesus is. He is a man prone to fall so his walk is cautious and the first hint of evil is enough for him to back away.
- A wise man knows how to listen and learn from God–Proverbs 8:32-34. The take-away quote is in vs 33, “Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect it” Note that a person is wise when he hears instruction and does not neglect it or let it go (33). Both vs. 32 and 34 speak of the promise of blessing that comes from obedience. This is something that will come up over and over in the book of Proverbs. In 1:5 where it is written that a wise man will acquire wisdom. In other words, a wise man is one who is never too wise to learn more from God’s word. He has not arrived, he is on a journey that ends when he is in presence of the source of all wisdom, his Lord and Savior.
- Closely connected to this is the idea that a wise man will learn from others. He is not one of those spiritual men who only learn from God. He understands that God uses others to teach us many things. Therefore he seeks the advice of others–Proverbs 24:5,6. The wise man is strengthened in his knowledge by seeking the wise counsel of others.
- And connected to both of the above points we can even extend it further. He learns wisdom through creation. In Proverbs 6:6 Solomon says to go to the ant to learn what hard work and diligence looks like. If a fool will see it he will become wise. For the wise man, his eyes are always looking and his mind is always thinking about how God has ordered the universe, why things work the way they do.
- He learns from the mistakes of others–Proverbs 24:30-34. Here he goes by the home of the lazy man and sees the slow destruction of the home. Note that he doesn’t cluck his tongue and walk away, he thinks and considers and concludes. I would do this with my children as I raised them. I would show them those who made foolish choices and the results of those decisions and speak to their heart about it. I would show them wise people and praise those people, showing my children why they were worthy of imitation. The world is full of people from whom those seeking wisdom can learn.
- A wise man will learn from a rebuke. “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:8-10) Notice how a wise man acts when he is shown he is wrong: He shows love to the one who rebukes (9:8). He gains more wisdom (9:9a). And the rebuke teaches him what is really important (9:9b-10). Also, the motto of the book is repeated here–wisdom begins by fearing God.
There are more to see but this should be more than enough to chew on for the rest of the day. I have a sermon to work on, a wedding to prepare to officiate, a lawn out of control, and a basement that needed de-cluttering. Life on the edge.