The Sweetness of Wisdom
1. Verses 13-14 constitute the 26th of 30 wise sayings in this section of Proverbs.
2. Like most of the other sayings in this section, each individual “saying” or “proverb” consists of two Bible verses—which make this a unique part of the book.
3. In these verses, the author brings us back to an old theme often mentioned in the book: wisdom!
4. Solomon makes a connection here between wisdom and honey. The connection is NOT that honey is good for the brain and makes you wise, but rather that both are (in a sense), SWEET.
Honey Is Sweet on the Tongue (vs.13)
1. Honey was the “candy” of Solomon’s day. It was a real sweet treat that anyone could enjoy… rich or poor, if you dared to mess with a bee hive.
a. Everyone liked honey and all the sweet things made out of honey.
b. Because it was common and popular with the people, it became a good illustration to be applied in various situations.
c. Honey is mentioned 5 times in this section of 30 wise sayings.
d. We use candy in some of our “proverbs” too.
• “It’s like taking candy away from a baby.”
• We say something is “candy-coated” meaning that it has a sweet veneer over something not so sweet.
2. The first part of the proverb is straightforward: eat honey and the honeycomb. They are good.
a. Devour; consume; take it in; partake of it; taste it and swallow it.
b. Eating implies something that is good for you… something beneficial.
c. Eating food is like a machine taking in fuel – it gives energy and causes you to move and get things done.
d. If you don’t eat, you lose strength. It is unhealthy.
4. It is good:
a. Good means: pleasant; agreeable; enriching; excellent; glad; beneficial; prosperous (a broad term like the English word “good”.)
b. Eating honey is beneficial.
c. The “goodness” of the land of Canaan was seen in that it flowed with milk and honey.
d. I Sam. 14:27-30 – In this account, Jonathan, Saul’s son did not hear the foolish order his father gave for the soldiers NOT to eat any food until the evening.
• Jonathan ate some honey and his “eyes were enlightened.”
• This does not imply anything supernatural or mystic.
• It simply means that a man half starving was revived by eating a little honey. His body needed the fuel!
• Eating the honey was beneficial to him physically.
• It could have been beneficial to the whole army were it not for his father’s foolish command.
e. This is basically Solomon’s point in our proverb: eating honey and the honeycomb is GOOD… beneficial… pleasant…
f. But as good and beneficial as honey is, it does you no good unless you EAT it.
5. The honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
a. The term “honeycomb” refers to honey that is still in the comb or honey that is flowing out of the comb… liquid honey.
b. It is not only good and beneficial to the body as fuel, it tastes good too!
c. Not everything that is good for you tastes good. And many things that taste good are not good for you.
d. But honey is different. It is good for you and it tastes sweet.
6. Summary of the first part of the proverb:
a. It is a command to EAT honey and the honeycomb. (Take it in; partake of it; don’t just taste it on the tongue, but swallow it.)
b. Two reasons are given: it is good for you and it tastes good too.
Wisdom Is Sweet to the Soul (vs.14)
1. The application is made in verse 14: what Solomon said about honey is true of the knowledge of wisdom also.
2. The Bible speaks often about how SWEET God’s Words of wisdom are:
a. Prov. 22:17-18a – Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. 18For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee.”
b. Ps. 19:10 – “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”
c. Ps. 119:103 – How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
3. The terms:
a. Knowledge: Understanding; information; that which is learned or experienced.
b. Wisdom: Skill; experience; shrewdness; the capacity to understand and so have skill in living.
c. The difference is between information/data and the ability to put that data to good use.
d. A man may have lots of information in his head, but may NOT have the skill to use it wisely… to put it to best use in everyday living.
4. The expression “the knowledge of wisdom” is best understood in the sense of “So shalt thou know wisdom to be unto thy soul.”
a. Knowledge is translated as a noun, but can also be an imperative here… as some translations have noted.
b. In other words, just as honey is to your pallet, so KNOW that wisdom will be to your soul.
c. The one who knows wisdom in an experiential way knows its value. It is as sweet as honey: pleasant, agreeable, and good.
5. We should EAT up wisdom whenever we find it.
a. We should RELISH every opportunity to learn wisdom and to take it in.
b. The FOOL has no interest in listening to wisdom.
• Prov. 1:7 – fools despise wisdom and instruction.
• Prov. 10:21 – fools despise wisdom and instruction.
• Prov. 17:16 – a fool hath no heart to it (wisdom).
• Prov. 23:9 – the fool will despise the wisdom of thy words.
c. But we SHOULD eat it up every time it is offered. It is like honey: good for you and sweet to the taste… for those who have an appetite for it.
d. We should feed on it… feast on it… learn to enjoy it and to see the value of it.
e. It will become pleasant to us… and we will thus develop an appetite for more… just like the child who takes a little taste of honey. He discovers that it is pleasant and sweet and he wants more!
f. Sometimes kids say “I don’t like it” before they have ever tasted something. They sometimes have an aversion to the unknown.
g. But once you taste honey, you KNOW it is good. No further tests are needed.
h. So too with God’s wisdom. Once you have tasted its goodness, you need no further proof of its value. It is SWEET to your soul!
6. There shall be a reward!
• This term is variously translated either reward or “end.”
• That is because the “end” was associated with a time to receive rewards for what we have done in this life—either good or bad.
• It might be best to think of this word as a reward received in the “end.”
b. Prov. 5:3 – The words of the strange woman are sweet as honey, but in the end ye shall have bitterness.
• Solomon is saying that with respect to TRUE wisdom from the Lord, there is not bitterness in the end, but a reward!
• The servants of sin shall be rewarded for their love of sin, so too there is a reward for those who love God’s wisdom.
c. What a deal! It is sweet and pleasant now, and you are rewarded for it later on… at the Bema Seat.
d. We often think of a reward as something awarded for hard and difficult service. You don’t often receive a reward for eating something that is good and sweet!
e. This is because true wisdom does not waste away in the brain. It is put into action… put to good use… to good works.
f. And there is a great reward for those good works.
g. Ps. 19:11 – “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.”
7. Thy expectation shall not be cut off.
a. Expectation: Hope; a confidence in regard to a good and beneficial future; a cheerful expectation of good.
b. Those who feast on God’s wisdom will be rewarded one day. And that great hope will not be cut off. They will not be disappointed.
c. Honey and other sweet foods whet the appetite, and create an appetite for more. It causes you to anticipate something GOOD when you eat those sweets. Thus, people naturally gravitate towards sweets. (Just watch at the next fellowship time.)
d. So too the promise of reward and expectation of good should create an appetite for and encourage us to SEEK wisdom with all that we have.
e. Those who seek after wisdom will never be disappointed. The happy expectation of good will continue throughout life and into the life to come.
f. Thus, we should relish wisdom just as we relish honey and sweets.