In an earlier blog I discussed what happens to people when they don’t guard their heart (Proverbs 4:23 “Guard Your Heart“). The example Solomon uses to explain what he means by guarding your heart was someone having an affair (in Chapter 5). The more I think of this, the more I believe that he was using an affair as an example of not guarding our heart and that, in fact, there are many ways to NOT guard your heart. In the first 9 chapters of Proverbs he’s extolling the advantages of wisdom against the curses of evil, trying to make a case that if you want to ruin your life there are many roads, but if you want to have blessing in your life, there is only one. He’s a concerned father speaking to his son, encouraging his son to take his word for it that the road to destruction is strewn with the bodies of those who sought pleasure and sin and selfishness. If only, you, my son, would live wise from the get go, you wouldn’t’ have to learn any of these things the hard way.
Of course, who of us doesn’t want to test the boundaries? Who of us doesn’t want to say, “It won’t hurt me.” Not many, I’m afraid. Most of us have to test the waters and find out that, oh, yeah, I guess that is hurtful and maybe I shouldn’t do that. But by then we’ve left a few broken hearts in our wake. When we don’t heed the warnings and avoid them, our loved ones end up avoiding us! Oh, the stories I’ve heard of “Fathers Gone Wild” and “Mothers Gone Wild” only, thankfully, there’s no video tapes of these escapades, just children tempted to give up on God and faithfulness and love and forgiveness because they’ve never seen it from mom and dad. You chide your teenagers when they don’t obey you and then you don’t obey God or even your own conscience and you wonder why your children are following your example. Why should they obey you when you can’t even keep your own promise to be faithful to your husband or wife (“having thee only”) or the two of you treat each other like scum. If you don’t demonstrate love and faithfulness to the wife or husband of your youth, why should your child be expected to do it?
Sorry. Sometimes I get a little preachy.
So Solomon is trying to spare us the trouble. While Solomon had asked God to be wise and God was so impressed he told him he would make Solomon the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon let all that wisdom go to his head. He lived a low-life life for many years, using himself as a Guinea pig to see the effects of evil. Let’s see. What wukk happen if I have more wives than there are in two reams of paper? Hmm. Wow?!! That didn’t work. No kidding. I think he came to his senses in his later years, because he wrote Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as an old, frail specimen, saying, in summary, given his druthers, he’d prefer to start obeying God when he was young rather than have all this self-inflicted grief from his wonton disregard for all things holy for most of his life. Amen to that. So in Proverbs 1-9 he’s trying to give us a warning. Hey, I’ve tried the selfish, evil, do your own thing route and, ah, it sucks in spades. In fact, I’ve observed if you give God a go instead of filling your heart with pleasure you’ll end up with a bunch of really cool things in your life (and this list is just in a few verses in chapter 3. We could cite other advantages of obeying God from other Proverbs he wrote).
If you follow God’s wisdom you will experience the following:
Will prolong your life many years
Bring you prosperity
Win favor and a good name in sight of God and man
He will make your paths straight
Bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones
Barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom and gains understanding
Riches and honor
Pleasant ways and peace
Will be blessed
Foot will not stumble
Sleep will be sleep without fear
Not fear sudden disaster and ruin of the wicked
Confidence from God
Keep foot from being snared
God blesses the home of the righteous
He gives grace to the humble
Wise inherit honor.
That’s a decent list. This is the laundry list that people bring to therapy of the goals they want in their lives. These items read like the New York Times Best Sellers List: Health, prosperity, no fear, no anxiety, cure depression, sleep soundly, walk tall, and the keys to success. Sadly, most of the books fail to go to the source. Well, you know, if you want to get your act together, and, you know, do better and all, you might want to take up the ideas presented by the dude that made you. He’s got an idea or two up his sleeve.