The Most Priceless Possession
Proverbs 3:13-18 is about something more precious and priceless than anything. Expositional teaching isn’t just verse by verse. This series aims to help you understand how to approach wisdom literature as a corpus. Something we see in ‘lecture four,’ as Dr. Bruce Waltke named it, is the injury of discipline. The Bible tells us you can have a good and painful positive memory.
In Proverbs 3:13, we are introduced to the most priceless possession available. It’s not something we grab out of a burning home, but the wisdom in understanding what wisdom is. The parallel is that when we find wisdom, we gain understanding. How blessed’ is a phrase we often overlook.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew words used for blessing are Barak and Asher. In English, Asher means happiness. This is a good rendering of the word, but our use of it is incorrect. Asher indicates man’s choices in scripture, whereas Barak is due to God’s granting. Asher blessing requires responsibility to do something. This is not a work-based outcome, but a work in which good choices lead to good actions. In 1 Chronicles 29, we see the best example of the Barak blessing. David is blessing God for all He has done.
So, within this passage, Asher blessing simply explains that if we obey, it will be in our favor. My father often told us growing up, “ The reward of work is not the end of work, but the work itself.” We got a hardwired work ethic from a young age. This is a lot like what the Bible is teaching us about wisdom. You have to listen to/obey/follow the father’s teachings. This is how one finds wisdom and gains understanding.
Wisdom is Better Than Precious Materials
Wisdom is better than precious materials, gold, silver, or anything else. To this day, we view these materials as desirable wealth. However, we are fallen creatures in a fallen context, and things in this world will always pull us. Solomon never speaks ill of wealth, but he does make it clear that wisdom is true wealth. It is better than any tangible asset.
We see in films a depiction of the fact that putting all hope in material wealth leads to death. This ties back to Proverbs 3:9. Honor, give recognition and give attribution to the One who gives it to you. Honor the Lord from your wealth. In antiquity, if you had land and were growing a vineyard, you wanted to produce a lot of grapes, so you had a lot of wine to sell. You’re building something, and you want it to prosper.
We give to the Lord and give to Him generously because all wealth belongs to the Lord. If we simply stay at the bare minimum of giving, are we genuinely showing our gratitude to God for all He has done? Why honor the Lord with your wealth first? It is the statement of faith and worship. Even when you have very little, you give it first to the Lord as a statement of faith that you will trust God to provide the rest. It’s an act of worship to give first, not knowing what will happen.
In Proverbs 3:15, Solomon refers to wisdom as ‘she’, saying she is more precious than jewels. Like the ancients, we are all tempted by bigger, better, newer, or more. The truth remains, however, that nothing we desire compares with wisdom. Wisdom is more precious, powerful, and essential. Sin is an illegitimate means to a legitimate end.
There’s a proper biblical way to use power, steward money, and enjoy sexual intimacy; that was the lie when they ate the garden’s fruit. But, unfortunately, acquiring material wealth can put the worshiper in a position where they have excess and take advantage of the money and power that come along with that.
Wisdom is The Tree of Life
Proverbs 3:16-18 explains why wisdom is better than precious materials. The right hand is the place of power for our King, Jesus Christ. The left hand is a place of honor and recognition, where you have riches. The proverb tells us that though riches are a reward and essential, it’s not the aim of life. It’s what we do with these things that God is interested in.
When Solomon was king, he asked God for wisdom to lead these great people. In God’s great kindness and wisdom, He granted both to Solomon. God knows the heart and how we look at things. Proverbs 22:4 flips our perspective by explaining that humility and fear of the Lord lead to reward from God.
Proverbs 3:18 reveals the beautiful conclusion of this: the tree of life. We’re not trying to get back to the garden and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What we’re to do is to take hold of wisdom and hold fast to it. The idea is that if you grasp the wisdom that God offers, He will bless you.
The Main Lesson of The Text
Are you holding fast to Christ Jesus? Are we holding fast to Christ in a world where we are working hard to make things work in our marriage and trying to keep up with everything in the world around us? He is the King of kings. The Lord of Lords, the One true God.
Do you think He is anxious or worried about the things we focus on? He’s the sovereign God. You hold fast to wisdom and make decisions that will benefit you and be blessed. Are you faithful with what God has given you? That is more important than being successful.
The question becomes, does Christ care? Does He love you? The world’s a mess. We’re fallen creatures in a fallen context. Our God is sovereign and secure. So hold fast to Him, not your idea of who He is.
Bruce Waltke- Proverbs: A Shorter Commentary
Tom Constable’s notes on Proverbs