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II. Second, there is the benefit of wisdom.
Proverbs 9:11 reads, “For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.” In a similar fashion we read in Proverbs 10:27, “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.” Dr. Adam Clarke (1760-1832) explains, “Vice shortens human life, by a necessity of consequence: and by the same, righteousness lengthens it.” Proverbs 3:1-2 reads, “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.” Proverbs 4:10 reads, “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many.”
Remember these are proverbs. Proverbs are not promises. An article in The Quest Study Bible explains, “Proverbs are principles of right living and general descriptions of life’s realities, rather than sure-fire promises or guarantees. For example, Proverbs 3:1 appears to promise a long life and prosperity to those who do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart. Yet some godly people live in poverty and die at a young age.
This proverb isn’t offering immunity from illness, accidents or financial troubles. Rather, proverbs such as this point to a general principle, which if applied consistently to our lives, will save us from unnecessary pain and suffering. While we aren’t guaranteed we’ll never contract cancer or go broke, we can avoid the foolish choices that can prematurely cut our lives short or cause financial ruin.”
Proverbs 3:13-18 reads, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.” Psalm 103:2 reads, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
III. Third, there is the beneficiary of wisdom.
Proverbs 9:12 reads, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” Dr. David Allan Hubbard (1928-1996) explains, “Here the words are addressed again to the pupils and the responsibility each bears for his response and the consequences of it. ‘Wise for yourself’ means ‘you personally reap the benefits.’ ‘You alone will bear it alone’ means that ‘the harmful damages will fall squarely on your shoulders.’ The context, sandwiched as the verse is between the two Ladies, suggests that the mark of the wise is to heed wisdom’s call, and the sign of the scoffer is to scorn it and pay court to folly. Verse 12 prevents either party from acting in haste or ignorance. Its contrasting lines spell out the choices and the results more blatantly than the red and green lights that govern our decisions at the crossroads of our towns.” Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) explains, “No one can live my life for me; I cannot live your life for you. We make our own decisions, for better or for worse, and we live with the consequences, good or bad. You cannot be wise for me; I cannot be wise for you. A wise man can give us sound advice and share the benefit of his knowledge, experience, and accumulated wisdom, but he cannot make us take his advice.” Don Fleming writes, “People are responsible individually for their own gain or loss of wisdom. Everything depends on whether they are willing to learn from God (10-12).” Dr. Adam Clarke writes, “It is thy own interest to be religious. Though thy example may be very useful to thy neighbors and friends, yet the chief benefit is to thyself. But if thou scorn—refuse to receive—the doctrines of wisdom, and die in thy sins, thou alone shalt suffer the vengeance of an offended God.”
Proverbs 9:12b reads, “And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” Rev. William Clarkson shares the following comment: “This does not mean that only the sinner bears the consequences of his guilt — that is deplorably untrue; sin is widespreading and far-reaching in its evil consequences — it circulates and it descends. The passage means that the foolish man will have to bear alone the condemnation of his folly; every man that lives and dies impenitent must ‘bear his own burden’ of penalty. The remorse and self-reproach of the future none will be able to divide; it must be borne by the sinner himself. There is One that once bore our transgressions for us, and will bear them away unto the land of forgetfulness now.”
Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) warns, “A man is a fool (which is what this book will say) to live without God in this world. . . . If you want to be smart, then make preparation for your soul for eternity. If you are going to be a scorner and ridicule all of these things, well, you are coming up for judgment. This may sound crude, but somebody ought to say it: you are on your way to hell. . . . The town atheist in a place where I preached said to me, ‘You know, preacher, I don’t buy this stuff about eternal life and trusting Jesus and all that sort of thing. It may be all right for some folk, but I don’t care for that.’ I answered, ‘Let’s suppose you are right and there is no eternal life, then you and I will come out at exactly the same place. But suppose I am right and you are wrong. Then, my friend, you are in a pretty bad spot.’ Another atheist said, ‘I would be content if it weren’t for the awful fact that the Bible may be true.’”
James 3:13-18 reads, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
There are two kinds of wisdom, one with and the other without “the fear of the Lord.” Which one do you follow? Psalm 36:1 reads, “An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.” Romans 3:9-18 reads, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit’; ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’; ‘Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” Jesus teaches the fear of God in Luke 12:4-5, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Our salvation involves justification, sanctification, and glorification. Romans 5:1 reads, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:30b reads, “. . . whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Therefore, we are justified by faith and we will be glorified. It is assured. In a sense every believer is sanctified or made holy, because the Holy Spirit comes in to every believer at the moment of justification. Romans 8:9b reads, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” This is the positional sanctification of eternal life. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul writes about practical sanctification in everyday life.