Why Bother With Wisdom?

Following on from yesterday’s post, let us now consider some reasons to preach from the wisdom genre.

1.  The value of the Bible

“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Enough said…

2.   The aim of the Bible

Why do we have a bible? One legitimate way to answer that question would be: ‘God has given us the Bible to make us wise.’ In His astounding grace, God has purposed that the Scriptures should make us “wise for salvation.” And that is not all. The Bible is further designed to “thoroughly equip” us for every good work.  In short: the bible is wisdom to be saved by, and wisdom to live by. Therefore to preach wisdom literature is not to preach what is tangential, but central, to the Bible’s stated purpose.

3.  The art of skillful living

Wisdom could be defined as skill in the art of godly living.  Going by that definition, how many of us would dare call ourselves ‘wise’?  Could we not be more adept in our parenting? More skilled in handling our finances? How about our words? Are we always saying the right thing.. at the right time.. in the right manner.. to the right people?

If so, congratulations Solomon! If not, then wisdom opens its arms to embrace us. Wisdom is a goldmine of sagely-counsel; it invites the simple to delve into its plunder!

4.  The perplexities of life

Tim Keller has commented that “Genesis stands behind Proverbs.”  He means that wisdom literature assumes Creation. God made the universe and inbuilt a certain ‘order’ to things. This is not just a predictable material order, but a moral order: human experience has typical patterns. To give but a few instances: righteous people tend to flourish, hard working people tend to make good money, and godless people tend to come to ruin. These are ‘trends’ in God’s ordered world.

But Job, in particular, reminds us that patterns aren’t the same as promises. Job was living a wise life, fearing the Lord, working hard, and raising his children prayerfully. Yet Job loses everything, save his own life. How do we account for this? Surely one thing Job is teaching us is that while the world has order, it also has mystery. While we live our lives in this world there will always be mysteries and perplexities, even for the godliest saint. The trick is to learn to trust God in the dark, as well as in the daylight.

5.  The wisdom of God Personified ​

A striking feature of Proverbs is that wisdom is often personified. Wisdom is frequently personified as a woman (Lady Wisdom), and is famously personified as a Craftsman in the Proverbs 8 account of Creation. The New Testament takes this a step further. There, wisdom is personified in the flesh and blood man, Jesus of Nazareth. The wisdom literature helps prepare us for his final revelation.

Theologians often refer to the three offices which God the Son fulfilled on earth.  Jesus is said to be “prophet”, “priest” and “king.” But we might easily add to that trio: Jesus as the “wise-man.” Our Lord is clearly presented in the gospels as being full of wisdom; one who is greater than Solomon. Much of Jesus’ style of teaching is cast in the wisdom style. Summing it up, Paul could says that “In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”  (Col 2:3). We will better understand our Lord and Savior’s ministry when we’ve first grappled with the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.

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