Proverbs 3:21-24

Keep Sound Wisdom

1. Another “my son” section begins in vs.21.

2. Here, Solomon gives his son a new line of advice.

a. It is quite similar in theme to what he has been saying for the last couple of chapters, but there is a significant difference as well.

b. He has been advising his son to obtain wisdom throughout the book.
• 2:2 – incline your heart to obtain wisdom and understanding
• 2:4 – seek after wisdom like silver or a hidden treasure.
• 3:13 – you will be happy if you FIND wisdom or GET understanding.
• Thus far, he has been advising his son to OBTAIN wisdom… at any cost—get it!

c. Now Solomon advises his son to KEEP it—retain it at all costs too!
• It is one thing to acquire something. It is another thing to keep it.
• A man might acquire wealth quickly—[inheritance; lottery; find it]. But he can blow it as soon as he gets it too. I have known people who make lots of money, but they’re always broke. They don’t know how to retain it.
• A man might become a talented musician through years of labor—a master pianist. But he needs to maintain that skill or he will lose it.
• A man might be a talented athlete. But no matter how talented, those skills need to be maintained—or they will begin to dissipate.
• A man might acquire wisdom too. But, he must be diligent to retain it too… or it could be lost through neglect.
• The clear implication here is that wisdom must be maintained or it can be lost… diminished… faded… become dim… darkened…

3. This is a truth found often in the Bible.

a. II Pet. 1:8-9 – it is possible for a true believer to become blind (shortsighted).
• His vision begins to fail him! He can’t see so clearly any more.
• WHY? Because he was not diligent in adding virtue to his life. He wasn’t practicing what he learned!

b. Heb. 5:12 – they should have been teachers, but had to be taught the ABC’s all over again! They had discernment, but through neglect, they lost it!

4. The advice given to the son in Prov. 3:21 is worthy of contemplation, especially in light of the personal history of the one giving the advice: Solomon.

a. Solomon was the son of the one of the godliest men in the Bible: David, a man after God’s own heart.

b. David had discernment. He was a wise man.
• II Sam. 5:2 – David knew how to come in and go out… conduct himself wisely.
• I Sam. 18:16 – all Israel loved David for the wisdom he demonstrated in his comings and goings…wise personal conduct.

c. Solomon did not. I Kings 3:7 – he did not know how to come in and go out.
• Solomon was no David!
• Somehow, when Solomon was a young man, he did not have nearly the wisdom that his father had when he was a youth.
• Vs. 9 – at least Solomon had common sense enough to realize that he lacked wisdom—so he asked God for it.
• Vs.10-12 – God was pleased that Solomon wanted wisdom. God granted wisdom to him. He was given more wisdom than any king on earth!
• Thankfully, the Holy Spirit led him to record much of that wisdom in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
• God GRANTED this wisdom to Solomon.

d. David earned his wisdom by practicing what he learned. He tested it. He walked in it. He made it his own. David grew in wisdom. He learned lessons, and accumulated this truth and wisdom… and then lived it. You could say David got his wisdom the old fashioned way. He earned it!

e. Solomon on the other hand had his wisdom handed to him on a silver platter. He went from an inexperienced child who didn’t know how to come in or go out, to the possessor of more wisdom than anyone on earth—in an instant. (Like winning the lottery).

f. Although David did a few foolish things in his life, over all, he retained his wisdom.

g. Solomon received his wisdom overnight… but did not retain it.
• I Kings 6:38c and 7:1 – Solomon spent more time building his own house than he did building the Temple!
• I Kings 11:4-8 – foreign women turned him away from the Lord. He built places of worship for false gods in Jerusalem!

h.) Solomon reminds me of in a sense, of our young athletes today. Overnight, they are transformed from a 19 year old nobody from nowhere into a multimillion-dollar celebrity with people screaming for their autographs. Many of them are unable to handle it—and make a mess of their lives.

i. It is one thing to obtain wealth and success. It is quite another thing to handle it well and retain it.

j. It is one thing to obtain godly wisdom. It is quite another thing to retain it.

k. A man can absorb many words of wisdom rather quickly.

l. It takes a lifetime of faithfulness to retain it.

5. This is the message Solomon is communicating to his son in 3:21.

a. Unfortunately, Solomon was the kind of father that said, “Do as I say, not as I do,” because he did not retain wisdom in his own life!

b. I have seen quite a few believers start off well and wisely—but then end up like Solomon… making one foolish decision after the next…

c. Keeping wisdom requires practice. It requires practicing the restraint and self discipline of making wise choices which are usually harder… even if it FEELS GOOD to make the easy choices…
• Deut. 6:6-9 – practice means they are part of every day life, not just when you go to church!

6. Keeping (guarding) wisdom and discretion requires constant, diligent effort.

a. 4:20-21 – KEEP them in the midst of thine heart… the center of your thinking.

b. This is more than keeping them in our mind intellectually. It implies that we keep them NEAR to our heart… for out of the heart are all the issues of life. (vs.23)

c. God’s wisdom is to be kept in our heart and applied to all the issues of life.

d. The heart ought to be HOME for God’s wisdom. It should LIVE there… not be buried in a back closet. It should be right in the MIDST of all we think and say and do.
• Col.3:16 – the Word of God should be DWELLING in us… in our heart.
• Col.3:17 – it should affect every area of our life—all the issues of life.

e. Are the principles in God’s Word right in the center of all the choices you make in life? Are they right in the center of your thinking when making a decision?

f. Somewhere along the line, Solomon began to push God’s wisdom into the background of his life.
• These principles didn’t seem to be in the center of his heart during his building projects.
• These principles certainly were not in the midst of his heart when he married all the foreign women.
• He was not putting these principles in the midst of his heart when he had high places built to the pagan gods in Jerusalem!
• He HAD this wisdom, but didn’t keep it in the center of his heart.
• He HAD this wisdom, but did not retain it… He didn’t KEEP it… guard it.

g. Solomon had wisdom. He knew that it needed to be retained and guarded. He admonished his son to guard and keep sound wisdom and discretion. But he failed in this very area himself.

h. It’s not how much you know. It’s not how wise you have been. It’s how faithful you are in the little things right now… practicing the principles of wisdom… keeping them in the front of our mind and heart daily… that is what makes or breaks a believer.