“My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.” ~ Proverbs 2:1-5
How many stories have you read or watched where someone finds a map to hidden treasure? The entire narrative revolves around the struggle to find and acquire something priceless, usually with the introduction of an antagonist that makes finding the treasure difficult and even harrowing. It frequently makes for a great novel or movie. According to Proverbs, we have been given a treasure map to something of greater value—wisdom.
Although Proverbs is a book of poetry, it isn’t like most poems we know with a rhyme scheme. Instead, ancient biblical poetry uses parallel thoughts. They usually come in pairs. In this passage, each pair makes a comparison, gradually bringing the meaning into focus. One of the themes of Proverbs is how to be a wise son (or daughter) and how essential wisdom is to be a “wise son.”
What is wisdom?
In the first four lines of the passage, it is compared to “words,” “commandments,” “understanding,” and “insight.” It sure sounds like he is describing Scripture—the Word of God and His wisdom for us. It is full of His commands and instructions, which give us understanding and insight into how God wants us to live. Next, notice the pairs of comparisons in these same lines regarding our attitudes or actions:
Receive / Treasure (within you)
Attentive ear / Inclined heart
Raise your voice for / Seek as silver
Are you getting the picture? We should not only receive wisdom but treasure it, acquiring it with an attentive ear and an inclined heart. As someone calls out looking for a lost child or pet, we raise our voices calling for wisdom and seek it as something of great value. Like the hidden treasure in your favorite story, we should search for wisdom with that same intensity.
In the final two lines of the passage, here is the comparison:
Understand the fear of the Lord / Discover the knowledge of God
Have you ever wondered what the “fear of the Lord” or the “knowledge of God” is all about? When we embark on a journey following our biblical treasure map, wisdom is the key that unlocks the ability to understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. Isn’t this the most priceless acquisition we could make in this life?
Job, another one of the “wisdom” books, tells the story of his tremendous distress and loss. It also tells of his struggle to understand the true reason for his suffering, as God does not reveal this to him. As his three friends came to visit, they began to converse about his situation. He thought about wisdom as he grasped for understanding and knowledge about God’s purpose. In chapter 28, he compared gaining wisdom to mining for silver and gold. During that time period, the lack of power tools or machinery made mining a difficult and daunting enterprise. However, Job said finding wisdom is even harder. In verse 28, his conclusion was, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
Proverbs are attributed to Solomon, often called the wisest man in the Bible. There’s a story in 1 Kings 10 where the Queen of Sheba visited him to find out if what she had heard was true. Verse 1 says, “she came to test him with difficult questions.” In the end, Scripture says that when she “saw all the wisdom of Solomon . . . she was breathless” (1 Kings 10:4, NASB). In Luke 11:31, Jesus spoke of her when He said, “She came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
Wow, let that sink in . . .
Jesus is greater than the wisest man who ever lived. Although wisdom is harder to find than silver and gold and rarer than hidden treasure, Jesus knows! If you want true wisdom, you can find it in the person of Jesus Christ Himself!
Questions for Thought
- Do you truly understand the value of Biblical wisdom?
- Have you sought wisdom in the same intensity as the characters in the story sought hidden treasure?
Lord, we are grateful that you have done all the hard work for us. Your Word is true and is the source of wisdom and understanding. Help us to know the One who is “greater than Solomon” and holds the key that unlocks what is missing and broken in our lives. God, I pray the words of Paul from Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” May we be faithful to do our part to help others find the path to you and the abundant life you have for us in Christ. Amen.
Dr. Joe Hardin
Dr. Joe Hardin is the Associate Minister of Instrumental Music at First Baptist Dallas. With a background in college teaching and Music Ministry, Dr. Joe Hardin is very passionate about how instrumental ensembles draw God’s people together in corporate worship and therefore recognizes the opportunity for instrumentalists to use their gifts to glorify God and edify the church. Joe and his wife, Paige, have three sons.