The Benefits of Wisdom
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
1. This statement is repeated four times in the Bible. (here plus Prov. 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10)
2. The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom… and it begins with this expression (1:7)
3. All those who want God’s wisdom should know what the starting point is: fearing God!
a. First of all, the fear of God will lead a person to salvation!
b. Men OUGHT to fear One who can cast their body and soul in Hell forever! (Matt. 10:28)
4. As believers we are to fear the Lord too. We need not fear having Him reject us or cast us into Hell, but we should fear Him in the sense of:
• being terrified of sinning against Him…
• reverence and respect for who He is…
• fear of displeasing Him…
5. Fearing God is all encompassing here. It includes believing that He is; knowing of His power and majesty; knowing that His Word is truth.
a. Even unsaved men who have this superficial kind of fear will be able to demonstrate a certain amount of wisdom.
b. Many unsaved men formed this country. Most of those men feared God… they believed that He existed… they believed His word was true… and they feared displeasing Him. They formed a great nation on that basis!
c. Other unsaved men who fear God in that sense can benefit greatly from the book of proverbs!
• The principles in Proverbs will aid men in being productive workers; good family men and women; give wisdom in the use of money; spare lots of anguish when they apply the principles concerning the tongue…
• In fact, there are times when the unsaved practice the principles in this book such that they put believers to shame! (Luke 16:8 – for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.)
• There have been many unsaved archeologists who have used the Bible in locating ancient cities and have been quite successful in their endeavors—because they believed the Bible was accurate—while some of the liberal and New Evangelical scholars have been doubting the accuracy of the Bible!
6. The knowledge of the Holy is understanding.
a. Those who know God and His Word are those with true understanding…
b. We understand more than
• the ancient philosophers… who have spent their lives trying to discover the meaning and purpose of life…
• the leading scientists at NASA who are trying desperately to discover how the earth got here… how old the moon is…
• the leading psychologists who are trying to discover the true nature of man…
• the leading sociologists who are trying to discover a scheme whereby society can “get along”
• The knowledge of the Holy (God) is understanding.
• The least Christian has this understanding. The greatest and most brilliant unsaved mind in the world does not.
7. v. 10 – a Hebrew poetic form called synonomous parallelism.
a. The same expression is worded in two different phrases to make a slightly different emphasis.
b. If this is a synonymous parallelism, then Solomon is saying that to KNOW God is to FEAR Him!
c. The one who FEARS God has this wisdom… the one who KNOWS God has this wisdom or understanding…
d. If a person genuinely knows God, then he will fear Him!
e. In fact, the better we come to know God, the MORE we will fear Him! Everything about Him is awesome and instills fear in us!
f. God delights in that. He wants us to KNOW Him and to fear Him! They go together.
11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.
1. This principle too is repeated several times. (3:2, 16; 10:27)
2. The young person who follows the way of wisdom will add years to his life.
3. Remember—these are proverbs, not promises! Sometimes wise men die young. The Lord Jesus did! Sometimes very foolish men live long lives.
4. Those who play fast and loose with wisdom may die young! Some fools are executed by the state. Some are murdered by the people they angered. Some overdose on drugs. Others die of diseases they contracted through their folly. Others die in accidents because of the foolish risks they take.
5. It’s always safer to follow the way of wisdom.
12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
1. Here is a kind of summary statement on the benefits of wisdom.
2. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself.
a. In other words, if YOU follow the advice of Lady Wisdom, her wisdom will be for YOUR good! You are the immediate beneficiary of her blessings!
b. It’s for your own good!
c. Young people especially need to hear this.
• Oftentimes young people think that their teachers or their parents are always harping on them for the good of the teacher or the parent. Not so!
• The teacher isn’t the one who will benefit from you doing your homework. YOU will! YOU will benefit from following her wise counsel and working hard at school.
• The pastor preaches through the Bible… making countless exhortations from the Bible.
• Some folks get annoyed by it… and complain.
• Some folks leave and find a church where they are not so challenged… and are made to feel comfortable in a worldly lifestyle.
• But the preacher isn’t the one who benefits from you following the wisdom of God’s word. YOU do!
• If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for THYSELF!
• Young people might think that they are constantly told to clean their room for the benefit of the parent. Not so. It is for YOUR good to learn to develop self-discipline and cleanliness. It will benefit you the rest of your life… not your mother!
• Parents are constantly giving words of wisdom and wise counsel to their children. However, often times the kids think that they are saying those things to make their life miserable… so they won’t have any fun! Not so! If you follow the wise counsel, YOU will benefit! Be wise for yourself!
d. This has been a theme in Proverbs so far: following wise counsel is GOOD for us !
• Job 22:2-3 – God isn’t the one who benefits from you being wise. YOU DO! God is seeking to bless US.
• 3:1-4 – the son who keeps his father’s words of wisdom will discover later on that they will enable you to find favor with God and man! (v. 4)
• 3:13, 16 – happiness; riches; honor;
• 4:1-6 – A father counsels his children to get wisdom… why? It will preserve you… keep you! (v. 6) She will promote you all through your life (v. 8) You won’t stumble through life. (v. 12)
3. But if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
a. In this chapter, the scorner is equal to a fool. He is seen to be the opposite of a wise man. (9:8)
b. The scorner is one who scorns wisdom. He has no use for it.
c. The one who follows wisdom receives the benefit himself. The one who scorns wisdom receives the curse himself!
d. The one who scorns Lady Wisdom will bear the awful consequences the rest of his life.
e. V. 12 is saying, “It is good for you to be wise, and it is harmful to you to be foolish!”
f. In other words, if the son doesn’t listen to his father’s wise counsel, and he runs off into a life of folly, it is the SON who will pay the awful price! The prodigal son was the one who ended up eating pig slop. The father had a fatted calf in the stall!
g. The student who scorns the advice of his teacher will bear the consequences of doing poorly in school the rest of his days. It doesn’t hurt the teacher but the scorning student! He’ll be flipping hamburgs at McDonalds till he’s 65!
4. There is an awful price to pay for scorning Lady Wisdom. This lady doesn’t like to be scorned.
a. But if she IS scorned, she is not the loser. The scorner is!
b. The one who rejects her wise counsel will bear the consequences of his folly. He’s hurting only himself.
c. The consequences of our conduct (good or bad; wise or foolish) will be borne by ourselves…
d. Prov. 8:35-36 – life and favor vs. wronged soul and death.
e. Proverbs 1:30-32 – they shall eat of the fruit of their own ways—either good or bad.
f. There is no getting around this principle: whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal. 6:7-8)
g. Let’s LISTEN when God’s wisdom speaks to our heart. Listen and respond in faith and obedience. The consequences of disobedience are too great. The blessing of wisdom is better than rubies.