May 17th 2018 – Proverbs 8:14-21

14 I have counsel and sound wisdom;
    I have insight; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign,
    and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me princes rule,
    and nobles, all who govern justly.
17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.
18 Riches and honour are with me,
    enduring wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
    and my yield than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    in the paths of justice,
21 granting an inheritance to those who love me,
    and filling their treasuries.

These verses continue to underline the value of wisdom, setting it in a larger context. When one thinks of it in relation to spiritual life, one sees what an incomparable possession it is - to be an understanding Christian (14), understanding the things of God, understanding men, understanding oneself - all that we sum up on the phrase 'He is a very wise man'. But wisdom is more than a grace to adorn the individual life: it is the principle and power at work in the affairs of men, in the ordering of government, and the foundation of all just rule. This does not of course mean that all kings are just or wise, but rather that all wisdom in rulers comes from God (15). Men in authority need wisdom in order to exercise justice. The implication in 17 is that the search for wisdom can never begin too soon. The question arises in 18ff whether the reference is to material benefits or immaterial. Perhaps the writer has both in mind, but certainly the latter seem to predominate as the thought of the verses develop. The 'way of righteousness' in 20 surely indicates that the 'fruit' referred to in 19 is spiritual, not material. This is a timely word for our own materialistic age, and one that is underlined even in our own experience in the growing realisation in industry that things like 'job-satisfaction' are more important than the size of the pay-packet taken home at the end of the week. It will be a great day for modern society when men in general realise that life does not consist of the abundance of the things one possesses, but in the more intangible, qualitative factors - peace, contentment, fulfilment - and that these have a spiritual, not material basis and origin.