Proverbs 3:13

I. WISDOM COMPARABLE WITH THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS. Silver, gold, precious stones, everything eagerly coveted and warmly prized by the senses and the fancy, may illustrate the worth of the pious intelligence. Every object in the world of sense has its analogy in the world of spirit. The worth of the ruby is due to the aesthetic light in the mind of the observer. But wisdom is the light in the mind itself.

II. WISDOM INCOMPARABLE WITH ALL PRECIOUS THINGS. For by analogy only can we put wisdom and precious minerals side by side, on the principle that mind is reflected in matter. But on the opposite principle, that mind is diverse from matter, rests the incomparableness of wisdom. Mere matter can breed nothing; spiritual force only is generative. When we talk of "money breeding money," we use a figure of speech. It is the mind which is the active power.

III. WISDOM MAY BE VIEWED AS THE BEST LIFE INVESTMENT. All the objects which stimulate human activity to their pursuit are derivable from this capital. Life in health and ample and various enjoyment, riches and honour, pleasure and inward peace; blessings that neither money nor jewels can purchase, are the fruit, direct or indirect, of the cultivation of the spiritual field of enterprise, the whole-hearted venture on this Divine speculation, so to say. For religion's a speculation; faith is a speculation in the sense that everything cannot be made certain; some elements in the calculation must ever remain undefined. (For further, see the early part of the chapter; and on ver. 17, South's 'Sermons,' vol. 1, ser. 1) The summary expression, "a tree of life," seems to symbolize all that is beautiful, all that is desirable, all that gives joy and intensity to living (comp. Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4). - J.

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom.

1. Present happiness.

2. Lasting happiness.

II. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF WISDOM (vers. 14-18). Many figures are employed to set forth the preciousness of wisdom.


1. Its reception (ver. 18). This laying hold implies earnestness and determination. Heavenly wisdom will never be the portion of the man who has "no heart to it" (Proverbs 17:16).

2. Its retention (ver. 21). The crown jewels in the Tower are guarded and closely watched. Iron bars exclude the stranger from a too near approach to them, and jealous eyes watch his movements as he is permitted to look at them. So let us guard the "Pearl of great price." The only hand that can hold fast the pearl of wisdom are those of "faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:13). Compare "The Lord... shall keep" (ver. 26).



(H. Thorne.)

It is a great mistake to suppose that the pious man is only to be blest; he is blest already.

I. PEACE OF CONSCIENCE. The possession of the entire world, with all its honours and pleasures, would be but a mockery to him who feels the lash of an accusing conscience. While on the other hand, to him who is at peace with himself there is a sweet and ample solace under whatever external evils may befall him. This peace, however, is not to be confounded with another state of mind nearly resembling it. There is a sense of security in regard to spiritual and eternal things which springs not from religion, but from the want of it. It results either from infidel or deistical principles; or from the power of sinful appetites and passions which shut out all serious thoughts; or from false ideas of the mercy of God; or, again, from men's most erroneous conceptions of their own character. How different the peace of the children of God! It is intelligent, and well-grounded, and Scriptural. It admits the existence of sin and punishment, of death and of hell. Truly pious men generally have profounder impressions of these realities than any others. But at the same time they look with faith to an all-sufficient Redeemer; and in the merits of His obedience and death they see ample reason for confidence and hope.

II. THE UNION OF INCLINATION AND DUTY. The pious have this characteristic, that they not only pursue the path of rectitude, but delight in it as being not merely their duty, but their choice. They have a new spiritual relish, which makes religious duties as attractive to them as books are to a scholar, as parade-day is to a soldier, or as gay amusements are to the children of fashion.

III. COMMUNION WITH GOD. The pious man withdraws from outward and worldly things; and seeks intercourse with his God. And who shall tell the joy and peace of the communion thus gotten? It is pure, heavenly, Divine.

IV. CONFIDENCE IN PROVIDENCE. One of the chief evils of this world is its uncertainty. Its fashion is continually passing away. Now, amid all these proverbial vicissitudes of this world, there is only one man who can walk with a charmed life, i.e., the wise or pious man. He knows not, nor does he want to know, what may befall him; but he is sure nothing shall happen to him which is not sent by a Divine hand, which is not wisely and kindly intended, and which shall not, in the end, minister to his eternal blessedness. How happy is the man who has found this wisdom; who can and does thus habitually regard God! How free from care and anxiety his bosom!

V. THE HOPE OF HEAVEN. Hope is often spoken of as the one great blessing of man which survived the ruins of the fall. There is, however, an objection sometimes offered to this statement. "If this be so," it is said, "then Christians ought to be distinguished by a uniform sense of contentment and peace; they should be the happiest of mortals: whereas frequently the reverse of this is the case." The objection is fair, and we purpose to answer it fairly. First, then, all professed Christians are not such in reality; and, of course, it is no wonder that nominal believers should have only nominal joy. But, secondly, many real children of God are constitutionally of a gloomy or desponding temperament. But, thirdly, a great many, of whom we may hope that the root of the matter is in them, feel and show but little of the happiness we have spoken of because of their weak faith and careless living. The most beautiful landscape conveys no pleasure to the man who does not see it. The largest promises mean nothing to him who does not know or believe that he has some title to them. And hence the disquietude of many of whom it would be harsh to say they had no interest in Christ.

(T. W. Chambers.)

I. ONE WAY OF LEARNING WISDOM (vers. 11, 12). By means of "the chastening of the Lord"; that is, of instruction through chastisement. There are some who will heed no other voice but this. Many a life that has been frivolous or selfish or indifferent to spiritual things has been led into the path of wisdom by affliction. God would not let chastening come unless we had something yet to learn. When it does come, therefore, it behoves us to listen patiently and reverently.

II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF WISDOM. This is expressed in the way which would mean most to an Oriental. To him things to be desired would be ornamental, like silver, fine gold, rubies (or pearls). And then he is allowed to let his imagination run riot. Let him think of anything in the world which he would like to possess very much, wisdom is still infinitely more to be desired. Why is it blessed to choose Wisdom? In her right hand is length of days. What man wants is life itself. The pursuit of wisdom tends naturally to give a man longer life. The wise man, who serves God in quietude and simplicity, has an even, regular habit of life which tends to longevity. In her left hand are riches and honour. We may not say that riches and honour always go to the good and never to the bad; but taking the world over, it pays to do right even from a worldly point of view. In the long run prosperity and honour go to those who deserve them. Where would you go to find those who truly enjoy life? To the epicure, the man of mental or bodily dissipation, the ungodly rich, the frivolous? Surely not. These lives do not contain the formula of peace.

III. THE SEAT OF WISDOM. It is in God. The man seeking wisdom looks up to Him whose superhuman wisdom is declared in every rain-drop and every grass-blade. Whoever earnestly wants to know how to live will somehow find his way to God.

IV. THE CONSEQUENCES OF RECEIVING WISDOM. They are such as life, grace, safety, peace. The life of wisdom of the Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the life of the soul in Jesus Christ. The value of the Christian life is made clear by taking up such things as are sometimes supposed to be disadvantageous in it and seeing how they are transformed into blessings. Such things as these are supposed to be unpleasant in it: its definite committal, outspoken avowal, sacrifice of pleasure, loss of independence, irksome duties. But the life which turns its own seeming disadvantages into positive enjoyments must be the pleasantest life. Such is the life of the soul in Christ, who is made unto us the wisdom of God.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

of wisdom: — Here notice the writer's insight into the fundamental conception of human life.

I. LIFE AS A SCHOOL. The word "chastening" might be rendered "instruction." It means the dealing of God with the human soul as a teacher deals with his pupil. This idea relieves God of the charge that He is angry with His children when sorrows fall upon them. We are not to "despise" this instruction, not to "weary" at this correction.

II. THE BEST LESSON TO BE LEARNED IN THIS SCHOOL IS WISDOM. Not all in the school succeed in learning this. Wisdom is skill; it is enlightenment of the soul with respect to its relation to God and His world. It includes insight, judgment, and the highest qualities of the soul. With the richness of this inner life there comes true peace.

III. THIS WISDOM IS CREATIVE. "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth." Wisdom is creative in man. He is a generator of moral influence wherever he may be. Some persons are reserve forces of righteousness. Such influence is creative.

IV. THIS WISDOM BEGETS FAITH. It produces confidence in the unknown and untried. Knowledge of God, instead of creating doubt, inspires firmer hope and humble reliance. The further one sees into God's character the more serene and settled he is, because the progress in knowing God is progress in knowing goodness.

(E. S. Tead.)

Here are described the effects of wisdom upon the honour and happiness of human life.

I. IN EVERY PERIOD OF LIFE THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE IS ONE OF THE MOST PLEASING EMPLOYMENTS OF THE HUMAN MIND. In youth there are circumstances which make it productive of higher enjoyment.

II. THE PURSUITS OF KNOWLEDGE LEAD NOT ONLY TO HAPPINESS, BUT ALSO TO HONOUR. To excel in the higher attainments of knowledge, to be distinguished in those greater pursuits which have commanded the attention and exhausted the abilities of the wise in every former age is perhaps of all the distinctions of human understanding the most honourable and grateful.

III. KNOWLEDGE IS AT BEST ONLY A MEANS TO AN END. Knowledge of every kind supposes some use to which it is to be applied.

1. To illustrate the wisdom and goodness of the Father of nature.

2. To secure the welfare of humanity. The benevolence of knowledge is of a kind as extensive as the race of man, and as permanent as the existence of society.

3. To improve our own minds.

(Archibald Alison, D. D.)

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