Tag Archive: Instruction



1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young- 5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance- 6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” –Proverbs 1:1-7

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After having a rather difficult night last night, I sought out the Bible for comfort and opened it to Proverbs. Not only was I comforted, but rather convicted as well. We often turn to the scriptures in times of difficulty or trouble, but how much less do we do sometimes during periods of comfort? This was my own personal conviction, I am so willing to open the bible in such times of hardship, either spiritual, emotional, or physical, but I am much less apt to do so in times of peace. I am glad for this conviction because conviction is a form of instruction which leads unto a beneficial end. Though, I must admit, it isn’t always comfortable in and of itself.

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I realized something else as well. I have read Proverbs completely through (and indeed all of the sacred doctrine), but I have never embarked on a deep study of Proverbs, which shocks me somewhat. I am a fan of studying philosophy and philosophies. I find man infinitely interesting including the formulation of belief structures and sciences. This is generally speaking and does not reflect on what my viewpoints are concerning a particular philosophy, but studying them I do enjoy. Even in the study of opposing viewpoints, I feel I have honestly gained some wisdom and this is both to my benefit and my shame, for the Lord has shown me that I can continue to study, do what I enjoy, but focus more on the Holy Writ rather than on the words of ancient dead men. How much more important are the words of He who is still alive and those who live in Him?

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So this is what I embark upon now, to study the words of one of the wisest men who has ever lived. King Solomon. If I love philosophy so much, why is it that I have put this off or it has never occurred to me. Partially its because, although I have always enjoyed the book, and speaking to its credit, it is one of the perfect books for randomly opening and reading. I could say the same about Psalms as well. This was my main method of study in Proverbs, the closing of eyes and pointing of the finger to illuminate verses contained within. This does serve some benefit, but I feel I have missed some of the fullness of the knowledge contained within.

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During Solomon’s time, as it has been said, Israel was as close as it ever has got to being a world, “superpower.” King Solomon reigned during this time and his wealth of spirit, wisdom and material is unequaled. Therefore, he and his writings are great candidates for deep philosophical reflection. They are comforting, sweet, funny at times, insightful, contain deep mysteries, and can be even scary. Yet, all emanates from this man who deeply loved the Lord, as did his father David, and it is seen throughout. His love of the Lord is not only the love directed at the Lord Himself, but extends indeed to the Lord’s ways, means, and the knowledge or wisdom of the Lord.

It is a treasure trove of wisdom and experience. In fact, one could be reminded of the writings of Marcus Aurelius and his “Meditations,” when reading Proverbs, if one were so tempted to make a comparison. Yet, in reality, there is no comparison, for the wisdom of the world and the knowledge of God are two different things altogether. While one may be practical in the ways of the world, the other concerns divine things and thus is all the much greater. Yet, even these divine revelations have practical applications, for the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

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Proverbs starts out giving a “mission statement” about the book as a whole. In this Solomon gives us his desire and intention for the book:

1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: 2for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair.” —Proverbs 1:1-3

Man is a master at self-deception. Despite evidence to the contrary, we often think we have everything under control. That we have provided a safe house against enemies, catastrophe, heartbreak, hardship and temptation. How arrogant and silly we can be! More often then not, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves in great tribulation and challenge. Some of this, at times, is due to our own ignorance and self-pacification. In times of comfort, we let our guard down and are assaulted sometimes as a consequent of those ignorant choices we have made. This is why prudence is so important. To be prudent is to be careful and wary of the future in our choices. Sure, we can never completely stop these hardships, but we can protect ourselves from being our own worst enemy in being prudent. This prudence only comes through instruction, especially that which comes the divine source.

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Solomon never shies away from his mission. Simply, it is Solomon’s conviction to teach. Not only on these principles of wisdom, but also on how to understand the words. Further, he desires to provide instruction on prudent behaviors, of which are included moral choices, justice and fairness.

4For giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young- 5let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.” –Proverbs 1:4-5

There is an interesting juxtaposition which can be made here. This shows the true extent of the wisdom shared in Proverbs. In verse 4, Solomon mentions the simple and the young. Those who lack knowledge and wisdom. Not only is this book for them, but also, in verse 5, Solomon mentions the wise, the learned and the discerning. This is an ingenious way to basically say that these words will never be irrelevant or untrue, nor is there any end to the wisdom contained within. If the wisdom can apply to both the simple and learned then there is no end to the extent of the wisdom and thus can only be divine in nature. King Solomon is not sharing the wisdom of man, practicality, but the wisdom of the Lord.

6For understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” —Proverbs 1:6-7

First off let me say that the fear of the Lord and what it is exactly is a rather large topic and one I hope to visit further, for as soon as I think I understand it, some other element becomes apparent. Yet, it is interesting to note that elsewhere Solomon mentions the fear of the Lord as being a kind of humility. Being the case, we can see humility as well is the beginning of wisdom or knowledge. Yet, fools are haughty and despise wisdom and instruction, for such things strike against their pride. Again, to my shame I can see this lesson evident in my own life. I have forsaken knowledge and wisdom before for the mere purpose of preserving my pride. How interesting that pride can be more false than it already is.

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“Because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” -1 Corinthians 16:9

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The next several verses, because of a vision I had, are going to concern doors. Why this is I cover in my previous entry. The term, “open door,” in the contemporary lexicon, tends to equate to an opportunity. However, after some study of the Scripture, we come to find this metaphor is nothing new, and has been in the popular lexicon since many generations past. In this verse, Paul uses the analogy, in the popular fashion.

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Paul tells us about a door that was opened for him that he may accomplish the “effective work,” the Lord had purposed. Furthermore, Paul tells us that this door is large in scale and thereby, not only was Paul’s purpose great, but in addition, it seems that it took a mighty power to budge the door, due to its enormous size. The Lord is the only one capable of opening these great doors of opportunity. If attempted by our own accord, we find the way either blocked by our inability to open such doors, or we find them completely inaccessible.

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If we do somehow open a door of Godly opportunity of our own accord, we often may find that the door wasn’t as large as we supposed, and our work may be less effective. It’s important to mention that I am not talking about mere worldly doors, as in opportunities in business or human pleasure. Rather, these are Godly opportunities, that culminate in the great works that change lives, instruct, and leads others to the Lord. The greatest commandments as mentioned by Christ say nothing about worldly success or the fulfillment of pride or carnal desires. Instead, we find the two greatest commandments to be the necessary conditions for adding to the population of heaven. To love the Lord with all your being and love others are the main ingredients when embarking on the blessed mission of the great commission.

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The great door of opportunity which was opened unto Paul, was one that truly was great in scope, for He almost single handedly brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Lord is willing and able to open great doors for us concerning this purpose. It may take profound discernment in identifying these doors, but they are there. Pray that the Lord may open these doors for you in order that you might effectively do His work, for if you, again, embark on this because of your your own accord, be warned that the enemy can take even the best intentions and pervert them to do harm.

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Let the Lord lead you to where you have the opportunity to make the biggest impact in the ministry. In addition, pray that the Lord may open up avenues of conversation that you may effectively share the gospel to another, imploring them to see the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that they might be saved from eternal damnation.

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Finally, despite our Lord opening these doors, this doesn’t mean that our mission is easy by any means. In fact, as Paul states, many will oppose us, just for our faith alone. Do not lose heart because of challenges or suppose that you made a wrong turn due to them. You may still be exactly where the Lord wants you to be despite the opposition and challenges that arise. The great door of opportunity does not negate hardships, in fact, it may profoundly increase them. Yet, do not despair, for the Lord has His time and season planned out for you, that He won’t spring the door open until you are ready. Pray that the Lord would make you ready and that the great door may be opened for you to take your special place in accomplishing His will.

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“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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