Proverbs 3:13-35 Sermon Wisdom's Blessing: Peace and Life, Now and Forever (Rev. Erik Veerman)
Wisdom’s Blessing: Peace and Life, Now and Forever
Our sermon text is Proverbs 3:13-35. Before we look at these verses, I thought a quick review would be helpful.
So, if you would actually turn to Proverbs 1. You can find that on page 625 in the pew Bible.
One of the difficult things about Proverbs is how every chapter is about some aspect of wisdom. Because of that, some of the passages can appear redundant. It can also be hard to remember the differences. So, let’s briefly review.
Chapter 1 focused on 2 things. The first 7 verses revealed that wisdom has an ethical component. You can see that right there in verse 3 – “righteousness, justice, and equity.” Wisdom is not just knowing God and his law, but wisdom requires a heart and life commitment. Over time that will also yield a discernment between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. That’s why wisdom requires fearing the Lord. You see that’s there in verse 7. To have knowledge and wisdom you need to first fear the Lord - an awe, honor, and worship of God. You can’t start anywhere else.
Then, the second half of chapter 1 was the flashing lights! Warning, danger ahead! If you follow the path of foolishness and evil, it will lead to anguish, distress, terror, and ultimately destruction. Remember that phrase there in the last verse - 33. But whoever listens to wisdom will dwell secure… without the dread of disaster. Heed the warning.
That brought, chapter 2. It answered the question, how do we get wisdom? Well, we need to seek the wisdom of God. That’s the first few verses of chapter 2. It requires diligence, prayer, and study. We can’t just sit back but need to pursue wisdom. And when we pursue wisdom from our heart, God will give us his wisdom in our heart. Look at chapter 2 verse 6 – “for the Lord gives wisdom.” That’s a beautiful promise. And once we have true wisdom, God will use it to protect and deliver us.
Then, last week, we started into chapter 3. The first 12 verses of chapter 3 are probably the most well-known in the book. If you are faithful to God’s covenant conditions – that means keeping his commandments, trusting and fearing him, honoring him in your life, then he will fulfill his amazing covenant promises – an abundant life of peace, healing, and prosperity. Those promises are ultimately spiritual and eternal, nonetheless, there are tangible near term blessings in this life.
In all of it, we’ve considered the person and work of Christ. We’re not shoehorning Jesus in here. No, on the contrary,
1.) it is only through Christ that we can truly fear the Lord in worship.
2.) The cross, though it is foolish to men, is the ultimate fulfillment of wisdom.
3.) Jesus’ life perfectly demonstrates the wisdom of God,
4.) he goes before us to deliver us from evil.
5.) And fifth, he is the covenant keeper on our behalf. Through him we can pursue God and his wisdom. And through him we will receive all the promises of God.
As we continue our Proverbs study, we’ll see more and more of Jesus - his life, his ministry, and salvation in him.
That brings us to the rest of chapter 3 verses 13 to the end of the chapter. It’s a continuation of the blessings of wisdom.
Reading of Proverbs 3:13-35
A few weeks ago, we visited Washington DC. It was the first time we’ve been as a whole family. And if you’ve been there, you’ll know that there’s more to see than there is time. So, at one point we split up. Amy went with the girls to see the museum of Natural History. And of course, the boys and I wanted to see things that fly and go fast… so we went to the Air and Space Museum. However, after hearing about the precious gem collection, we kind of wished we had time for both. At least I did.
They were able to see the largest deep blue diamond in the world. Deep blue diamonds are very rare and very coveted. This one is called the Hope diamond. They say it’s priceless. It’s one of a kind with a weight of 45 carrots. A few years ago, a 13 carrot deep-blue diamond sold for 48 million dollars. So, doing the math, the Hope Diamond is likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
That’s a lot of value, but what I want to tell you today… the Hope Diamond is nothing compared to the value of wisdom. Wisdom is priceless. It’s blessing in our lives goes way beyond what we can think or imagine.
I’ve been thinking about these verses in chapter 3 as the mirror opposite of the second half of chapter 1. They both answer the same question: why we should pursue wisdom? but they come from opposite perspectives. Chapter 1 is the ultimate deterrent – if you don’t pursue wisdom – a downward tragedy. You will succumb to evil and those who propagate evil. But these verses in chapter 3 give us the ultimate prize. Fix your eyes on wisdom! …the beauty and the blessing of wisdom. You see, we need both motivators. We need the warning in chapter 1 and the blessing here in chapter 3.
I was able to get an outline in the bulletin this week. You can see that on the back
We’ll be looking at wisdom in 3 points:
1. Valuing the blessing of wisdom – verses 13 to 20
2. Embracing the blessing of wisdom – verses 21 to 26
3. Giving away the blessing of wisdom – verses 27 to 32
So valuing, embracing, and giving away the blessing of wisdom.
It’s all centered around the blessing of wisdom. If you look at verse 13, you’ll see that it starts with the word “blessed.” “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom.” That word blessed is repeated at the end of verse 18. It gives us a clue that the first few verses are about the blessing of wisdom. But then down in verse 33, the Lord blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Yet, another emphasis on blessing.
1. Valuing the blessing of wisdom (v13-20)
So first, valuing the blessing of wisdom. Maybe the Hope Diamond is not your thing. Maybe the most valuable commodity in the world to you is not gold, silver, or precious jewels as verses 13 and 14 mention. Maybe it’s that rare Bugatti sports car? Or that Leonardo Da Vinci painting? Or in Monaco, that famous palace overlooking the Mediterranean? You name it! But whatever it is… it’s nothing compared to wisdom. Look at how verse 15 describes wisdom: “nothing you desire can compare with her!” It kind of raises the stakes of our study of Proverbs!
Of all the things in the world to desire, wisdom is it. That’s not intuitive for us. We desire many things. Status in a career. Financial independence. Comfort in life. We want those things because we think they will give us peace and stability. But we sell ourselves short in those pursuits. There’s something greater. Wisdom. The wisdom that we’ve been talking about, that is. God’s wisdom.
Now, verse 16 is interesting. In her left hand, it says, are “riches and honor.” We’re tempted to think of earthly riches and honor. But the earlier description placed wisdom above riches, above any desire. So, these riches of wisdom go beyond external riches and honor. We see that in how Solomon describes the other blessings that she carries: “her ways are the ways of pleasantness,” “her path is peace.”
I think that’s particularly relevant today. We live in a world of strife. Polarization breaks families apart, neighbors apart. It splits churches. Can you even imagine the way of pleasantness or peace? Yet, this is the way of wisdom. This is the value of wisdom. Its blessings go way beyond this world.
But you ask, “how is this even possible? Because, you know, I can dream about a wisdom whose value transcends this world. It sounds exciting to think about. But let’s be honest. What hope is there?”
I hear you. And Solmon anticipated your question. Are these transcendent blessings of wisdom even possible? “Yes!” He says. You see, this wisdom is not conjured up by some human invention. It’s not a philosopher waxing eloquent about something unattainable. No, this wisdom comes from the almighty God.
Notice, that is where verses 19 and 20 take us. “The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”
Let’s take a moment and think of the all the amazing interworkings and complexity of creation… of all creation.
· Think of how each atom and cell works and work together. By wisdom, God created it all. Think of life – plant life, and birds, fish, animals and man.
· Think of how we can see and feel.
· Think of how we can even think! and remember! By wisdom, God created it all.
· Think of our planet and the ways in which God waters the land and provides food. How the earth turns on its axis and revolves around the sun. By wisdom, God created it all.
· Think of how the light from stars travels through space, how it enters our atmosphere and illuminates the land. How the light produces food for plants.
· Think of how it all works, just the right balance to sustain life. By wisdom, God created it all.
You see, it’s God’s wisdom! He is the source of all wisdom. He’s the priceless wisdom described earlier. All of its blessings are not some fabricated “pie in the sky” wisdom that is unattainable. No, it’s real. It’s far beyond what we can even imagine… because it’s God’s wisdom. So, all the blessings described here… life and pleasantness and peace, are real because they come from the God of all wisdom.
We can believe in the immeasurable value and blessings of wisdom because it comes from the almighty creator God.
Valuing the blessing of wisdom
Embracing the blessing of wisdom – verses 21 to 26
Point number 2. Embracing the blessing of wisdom. So, we’re going from valuing to embracing.
Now, you may be thinking, “ok, what’s the difference between valuing and embracing?” I’m glad you asked.
You see, studying proverbs requires us to consider nuances… it requires us to consider the slight differences in between verses and chapters. Honestly, one of my fears in tackling proverbs is repetition. Meaning, are all these sermons or points going to feel redundant. That’s why I started this morning with a review. I really do want us to see and understand all the different aspects of wisdom, the different reasons for wisdom, and the different pursuits of wisdom.
So, valuing the blessings of wisdom and embracing the blessings of wisdom. They are different.
Look down at verses 13-18. Notice that the focus is on wisdom out there. She, wisdom, is discussed in terms of her value. Even the blessings are ascribed to her. Her way is pleasantness. Her path is peace. We can value something that is not ours. We can see it for what it is worth. And that’s the nuance of these opening verses. Beholding wisdom and beholding God, the source of wisdom.
Now look down at verses 21-26. It’s still the same blessings of wisdom. But what word is used over and over here? Do you see it? It’s easy to overlook. It’s only used one time in the earlier verses, but it’s used 10 times in these verses. It’s the word “you.” I’m including the word “your” in that list.
You see, the Lord first revealed the amazement of wisdom. It’s worth is incalculable… it’s blessings are innumerable… it’s source is infinite.
But now he’s saying, this wisdom is for you! All the blessings of wisdom are available to you. As the source of wisdom, the Lord is saying, I can give you all the blessings of wisdom.
These are some very overwhelming blessings of wisdom here:
· Life for your soul… verses 22 and adornment for your neck. You can have and you can display the wisdom of God
· Verse 23. You will walk on your way securely… and your foot will not stumble.
· 24 if you lie down, you will not be afraid… Your sleep will be sweet.
I think the three words that really summarize these blessings are confidence, security, and peace. The word confidence is used twice here. “The Lord will be your confidence.” The word security is also used here. And even though the word peace is only used up in the opening verses, isn’t that what this is all about. Peace. Resting secure. Having that inner confidence in the Lord. A peace that passes understanding.
And to be sure, the Lord is not saying that you will be in a bubble in this life. He’s not saying that you will be immune to evil and the impact of sin around you. No, he’s saying that despite it all, you can have confidence in the Lord and his will. That’s captured right there in verse 25. “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes”. Why? “For the Lord will be your confidence.” That’s why we sang Psalm 23 earlier. “Yea thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff will comfort me, all the days of my life.”
Tremendous blessings of peace and confidence. Embrace them! …for God’s wisdom and the blessings of wisdom are for you.
The thing is, you’re never going to own the Hope Diamond. You’ll never have that exotic sports car or that luxurious multi-million dollar ocean view home. But you can have wisdom. Its blessings are of far greater value… and it’s available to you.
Embracing the blessings of wisdom… for you.
Giving away the blessing of wisdom
Ok, third, Giving away the blessing of wisdom.
Once we get to verse 27, there’s yet again, another shift in this text. It’s most clear in all of the “do not” statements. Do you see those there? Do not withhold… Do not plan… Do not contend… Do not envy.
Now, we are still in the opening chapters of proverbs. It has probably felt abstract at times. But pretty soon we’re going to get into some heavy issues. One thing’s for sure, much of Proverbs contains very practical guidance for life. Certainly these verses give a taste of that.
But notice something here. Every single one of the “do nots” focuses on how you interact with other people. I think that’s the point. Verse 27 for example. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due.” Verses 28 and 29 are about relating to your neighbor. Being honest and trustworthy. 30 and 31 are about not stirring up contention with others nor envying a man of violence.
This is about peace and stability. In other words, the very same blessings of wisdom earlier in our text should be worked out in your life to the benefit of others.
We’re to give away the blessing of wisdom. We’ve gone from seeing it, to having it, to now giving it away.
I was thinking back to chapter 1. Remember, in the second half, we were warned about being enticed by the fool and evil. They were the ones on the offensive. They were out there to pray upon our sinful nature to try and pull us down to destruction. But here in chapter 3, we are now the ones on the offensive. The blessings of wisdom are for you to give away. You are to be a agent of God’s wisdom and its blessings.
In fact, this was always God’s plan. God’s covenant blessings were always meant to flow through his people to others. God said to Abraham, I will bless you and in your offspring shall ALL the nations of the earth will be blessed.
Ultimately, that is the blessing of Christ, but there’s also a very tangible blessing.
Let me make this practical. We all deal with drama. Drama at work. Drama in your extended family. Drama with your siblings or in your friend group or neighborhood. I should probably also include … drama at church?
Now, the risk of me bringing up drama, is that you may get distracted thinking about it. So, stay with me.
Isn’t it easy to get pulled into the drama? Right? Being presumptuous, nosey, or easily offended. Stirring up frustrations. Escalating tension with your words. Arguing for the sake of arguing to get back at someone. Spreading discontentment. Over reacting. All those things.
But if God has given you a stability in life and a peace beyond measure, all out of his wisdom… then you can be an agent of peace. Being peaceable and kind and honest is infectious. You can be a calming agent in the middle of the drama. You can be the one to de-escalate and you can be a peacemaker.
And what will that do? Well, besides helping to calm the storm, it will cause those around you to wonder, “why do you have such peace?” Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to open this Word… and to speak of the priceless value of God’s wisdom. They can then see and hear the blessings of wisdom in your life… blessings of wisdom for them.
Giving away the blessing of wisdom.
So, valuing, embracing, and giving away.
In all of it, we’ve talked about the different blessings of God’s wisdom present here: Security and confidence in the Lord and the blessing of peace.
But there’s another blessing mentioned here. We’ve only touched upon it. But this blessing is the source of all the other blessings. Through this blessing we can receive the wisdom of God and through it we can give away the blessing of wisdom.
It is the blessing of life.
Back up in verse 16, we’re told that long life is in wisdom’s right hand. For Solomon’s audience, the right hand symbolized prominence and strength. A king, for example, would hold his scepter and sword in his right hand. His signet ring would be on his right hand. Long life, therefore, is identified as the most prominent blessing of wisdom. Verse 22 is similar. Wisdom and discretion are described as giving “life for your soul.” Life for your very being.
But the clearest reference to life is found in verse 18. Look at it. Wisdom is a “tree of life.” It’s not that wisdom just holds life. No, wisdom IS a tree of life. Solmon’s readers would have picked up immediately on the “tree of life” reference. It would have taken them all the way back to Genesis. To creation. To the garden of Eden. Two important trees were in the garden. The tree of life, which Adam and Eve had full access to. And the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which they were commanded not to eat. When they broke the command, mankind was banned from the Garden. Genesis 3 explicitly states banned from the tree of life – cherubim and flaming swords guarding it.
In fact, the “tree of life” comes back into the picture all the way at the end of the Bible. The last chapter of Revelation. It’s the center of the new heavens and earth, the source of all life.
The only other place in Scripture where the tree of life is mentioned is here in Proverbs – chapter 3 is the first of several references. Solomon is saying, “You know that tree of life? That tree that gave you life? The one that we were banned from? Well, God is giving you access again to the tree of life. The wisdom of God is that tree.”
Think about that. The priceless wisdom of God is even more priceless. A return to the garden. Life forever. Full communion with God again. A return to his presence.
And if we fast forward to Revelation 22 – that tree of life is Christ. From him flows all the blessings of the wisdom of God. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations, it says. Proverbs 3 is pointing us to the one who gives life. Who is the tree of life. Whose life and death and resurrection yields blessings beyond measure.
Through him comes all the blessings of these verses - security forever, confidence in him, peace with God. If you have him, the tree of life, you need not fear the sudden terror or the ruin of the wicked in verse 25 because in him, in Christ, is life forevermore.
May we see wisdom in all of its priceless value because wisdom is THE tree of life.
May we embrace God’s wisdom for us because through Christ are blessings for you: life and peace now and forevermore.
And may we give it away – because the blessings and wisdom of God are to flow in you and through you to others, as you testify to the tree of life, to Christ. Amen