Proverbs 22:17-21

In Proverbs 22:17-21 Solomon reminds us that we need to be continual learners, and particularly pursuers of wisdom. Unless one’s heart and mind are ready to receive wisdom, it does little good to present it. There should be a conscious readying of mind and heart to receive. “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge.” The value of gaining and keeping wisdom is pleasant. Sometimes we feel the way of wisdom is a difficult path to walk, but it is much more pleasant than the way of the fool. “for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.” We have to use the wisdom and knowledge we accumulate, but if we do, it will certainly make life more pleasant.

What happens when we gain wisdom and knowledge?  True wisdom makes us more dependent on God, not less. We grow in our trust in the LORD, realizing that the pursuit of wisdom begins and continues with a proper view of God. When we are able to explain the things happening around us with wisdom and understanding it puts us deeper into our walk with God. “That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today, even to you.” If we put our trust anywhere else, we’re going to be disappointed.  Every human on the planet will let us down at some point in life. We can only truly put our trust in God and Him alone.

Scholars seem to agree that Proverbs 22:17 begins a new section of the collection. We move from the long section (Proverbs 10:1 through 22:16) containing almost entirely two-phrase wisdom sayings with very little arrangement according to theme or context to a different type of sharing. Starting here, the structure of the wisdom sayings is often longer and they are more arranged according to some theme. It is likely that Solomon patterned this section after the Egyptian wisdom writing Amenemope, finding 30 wisdom sayings in the section. “Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge,” He is now focused on giving us more detailed wisdom from which we can learn!

But underlying it all is the power of wisdom in the life of one who seeks and finds it. The pursuit of wisdom makes us more confident in the truth, not less. Certainly, wisdom discovers that some things are more complicated and doubtful, but in general it sees God and his truth with more clarity and certainty. “to make you know what is right and true, that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?” Even the most brilliant, moral sayings are powerless without personal application. Wisdom is given to help us live life God’s way, but also to be shared with those in our patch.  We’re to learn it and then share it with the world around us.

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