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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hear, Learn, Understand to Be Wise

Sometimes, reading the Bible, it helps to slow down, think, and rethink. The first chapter of Proverbs gives us some incredible fundamental teaching about wisdom.

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (verses 1-4). What a purpose statement!

The next verse really popped out to me: A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels (verse 5). The wise person actually wants to hear, learn, and understand. Since he listens, he will gain wisdom.

I remember years ago talking to a neighbor about the Bible. He said he’d never read any of it. I asked him why, and his response was that he was afraid of what he might find.

According to Proverbs 1, the wise person wants to know what God wants. Do we?

Are we really and truly eager to learn, to listen, and to understand what God expects of us?

Verse 7 says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

When we see the word fear in conjunction with fearing God, it is talking about respecting and honoring God. Proverbs 1:7 states that this respect for God is the foundation necessary for knowledge. In contrast, it labels persons who despise wisdom and instruction fools. Pretty strong language.

I had my children memorize the next two verses in three languages: My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck (verses 8-9). Good parents want the best for their children. Little children learn gradually how to please their parents. They learn limits and boundaries. They learn what not to touch but also which behaviors are permitted. The wise child learns from his parents.

God’s (and Solomon’s) next advice is as up-to-date as today’s news: My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood (verses 10-16). How many kids join gangs or get together with bad friends who influence them to do violent crimes? My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. What wise teaching for children!

Then comes a section personifying wisdom. It compares wisdom with foolishness (verses 20-33). The wise person seeks wisdom and finds it. The simple person is destroyed. Verse 33 is a summary of this section, and it characterizes the whole introduction to the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is speaking: But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Again, we’re told to listen.

Listening is different from hearing. Listening is concentrating on, paying attention to. Hearing is merely using our ears.

I think maybe we are less wise than we ought to be about God’s will because we let the Bible go in one ear and out the other. We’re not really trying to know God’s Word; we’re just letting it tickle our ears. Going back to the beginning of Proverbs 1, we see some important wording. Let’s read it again: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity (verses 2-3). Know, perceive, receive. This isn’t merely hearing. This is how we become wise.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her (Proverbs 3:13-15).

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

Get wisdom!

Listen and learn. Then, you will understand.

God bless you. 


  1. Hay que estar atento en todo momento , cuando leemos la Biblia, cuando escuchamos los sermones, cuando estamos en clase, realizando un trabajo sobre alguna porción de la Biblia o memorizando algún versículo. En todos esos momentos el Señor te puede hablar, enseñar algo que te hace falta saber o recordar, así poder entender y comprender mejor lo que el Señor quiere de nosotros.


    1. Muy bien, Tere. Gracias por tus pensamientos. ¡Que el Señor te bendiga!


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