(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, the second of the two big dominant themes of Proverbs, and this just makes perfect sense, is wisdom. What is true wisdom? Wisdom is a very different thing than knowledge. Knowledge may be an acquisition and understanding in my mind of a set of facts, a set of truths, but wisdom is really the ability to apply those truths to the situations, relationships, locations, of everyday life. And that's what's so magnificent about Proverbs!
I want to just point you to how the very first chapter of Proverbs talks about this wisdom. It really wants us to understand that this wisdom is for everyone in every situation. First of all, it's practical. It says, “it's instruction in wise dealing.” I like that; you're always dealing with something, somehow, someway, in some circumstance with someone and you need practical help, and it’s found there in the Proverbs.
Wisdom is moral; it says it's “for righteousness and justice.” Moral living requires God's wisdom. It's for everyone. I like these phrases, “it’s prudence to the simple,” but, “The wise hear and increase in knowledge.” You will never outgrow, no matter how much you mature as a child of God, you will never outgrow your need for fresh planting of God's wisdom in your heart.
This wisdom provides a worldview for us; it says, “The wise understands and obtains guidance;” it gives you a framework for making the decisions in life that all of us have to make. It doesn't make all those decisions for you, but it gives you a framework for doing that.
It says in this passage that it's illuminating, “The words of the wise and their riddles.” In Proverbs, we have great mysteries of the universe that are unpacked for us by a God who loves us and wants us to flourish. God unfolds the mysteries of His counsel so that we would know Him, we would know ourselves, we would know how to live, and we would know how to guard ourselves against danger.
This gift of wisdom is a gift of a long satisfying life toward God and with others. We should all read the Proverbs, and say, “I would love to have the life that is held out for us in Proverbs, I would love to be that wise person, I would love to live this way, I would love to handle my money this way, I'd love to deal sex this way, I'd love to deal with relationships this way, I'd love to be this generous, I‘d love to be this good in my planning and in my work, I would love this.” Well, that's why you’ve been given the Proverbs, because God wants that for you as well, He wants you to live wisely.
But, there's one other thing that I think is so important, wisdom captures the entire gospel story. It says in Proverbs 3:18 that wisdom is a tree of life. Now, think about that. The Biblical story is really captured by three trees. The tree in the Garden of Eden, that's Genesis 3. The tree of life in Revelation 2, and how do you get from the sad moment of that tree in the Garden to the glorious moment in the tree in Revelation 2? Well, it's the tree on the hill of Calvary where Jesus shed His blood so that we would know His grace. Wisdom captures the whole story; it is a tree of life.
It reminds you of the dangers of Genesis 3, it reminds you of the glories of a day when wisdom will reign forever, and it drives you to the cross of Jesus Christ to confess that you're a fool and I'm a fool, and we need the rescue of God's grace. Sadly, sin reduces all of us to foolishness. And so, when God says wisdom is a tree of life, He knows what He is saying, He knows He's wrapping His arms around the whole gospel story, taking us to the cross of His Son so that someday we will be in that place where wisdom reigns forever!