On Sunday I preached on Wisdom.  My passage was Proverbs 4.  You can listen to it by clicking here (right click and choose save as to save a copy).

Here are my notes:

1. What is wisdom?

What do you think of when you think of wisdom?

One liner statements


  • Man who lives in glass house should change clothes in basement.”

  • When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.”

  • Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”


  • Toni Morrison - “If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.” (American author)

  • Erin Majors - “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

Old men with white beards


Phd = Wise! I'm studying my second degree therefore I'm wiser than those of you who have only done one or none...

(Wisdom can be quantified)

To some people, wisdom seems very hard to define or compare. Perhaps this doesn't need to be the case as thanks to a sociologist called Monika Ardelt, wisdom can be quantified!

You can take a wisdom quiz!! Asks questions about how you would react in certain situations etc.

I did it! I have “relatively moderate wisdom”

Street wise

smart people who seem to have no engagement with the world, people who don't seem that smart, don't seem to know lots of facts, but seem to live their life wisely... wise about their situation.

What does the Bible say about Wisdom?

The bible shows us what real wisdom is, and it shows us how to live a wise life!

Real wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord.

Prov 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...

Pov 1:7 – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

Job 28:28 – Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom”

What does it mean to Fear of the Lord?

Is it a trembling, scared, the way you would be afraid of a robber with a gun if you were in a bank?

Or more like the fear of having some find out a secret you want to keep hidden?

To fear God means to be afraid of running away from him...

afraid of seeking our refuge, joy or fulfilment in anywhere or anyone else but God.

If we fear God then it means we remember how scary it would be to be separated from God... which is what would happen if we put our trust in anything or one but Him!

Our actions are a good measure of whether or not we fear God. Whether or not we chose to be generous, or chose to humbly accept someone's rebuke or praise... Or any other range of actions we take can show us whether or not we have an appropriate fear of God.

So Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 4 also helps us understand what real... Godly wisdom is, and how to live a wise life!


The book of proverbs is an interesting book, and it contains many gems! The first 7 verses in Ch 1 set out the purpose of the book...

v2 “For learning about wisdom”.

v4 – primarily to the young,

v5 -but anyone who is wise will also listen and learn.

v7 – the foundational idea we touched on earlier... fear of the Lord.

Prior to Chapter 4, the book has told the young person who is learning about wisdom:

  • 1:8-19: To avoid evil associations

  • 1:20-33: Not to resist woman wisdom

  • 2:1-22: All about the benefits of the Way of Wisdom

  • 3:1-12: To trust and honour God (v5 - “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight)

  • 3:13-20: Wisdom is praised because of its payoffs and for being a way of life.

  • 3:21-35: And finally the young learner is told of the the integrity and goodness of Wisdom


Then we get to Chapter 4, and in the first 9 verses, our young learner is told to Embrace wisdom!

(4:1-9: Embrace Wisdom!)

4:1-4 – father instructing that he should be listened to in order to gain insight.

–This passing of insight is what his father did for him! Wisdom is something that has is passed on from generation to generation

4:5 – The young person is told to “Get wisdom”! This implies some form of activity. Wisdom is not obtained by separating yourself from the world, or sitting under a tree with your legs crossed meditating until you somehow get wise. Wisdom has to be GOT!

This idea is again hinted at in verse 7:

4:7 – the beginning of wisdom is get wisdom.

4:8 – young person is told to value and embrace wisdom

4:9 – wisdom will make you beautiful and will ultimately result in reward! This will probably not be immediate, but finds its ultimate fulfilment in heaven.

Because of this future aspect to the benefits of wisdom it could be easy for any young person trying to become wise to give up, to walk away, to believe the lie of the world that foolishness and unrighteousness will make you beautiful and bring you success. You can walk away from wisdom and that is why in verse 10-19 the father encourages his child to stay on the right path!

(4:10-19: Stay on the right path)

4:10 – plea to stay on the right path, asking the young person to accept his words in order to live a long life.

4:11-13 – Moves to the benefits of staying on the path of wisdom. He says wisdom will allow you to get on with your life unhindered by things (v12). To run without stumbling! Verse 13 - “wisdom is your life”

In the next verses we move to:

4:14-17 – Warning against wickedness (ASIDE: note that it is wickedness not foolishness that is contrasted with wisdom and later on wisdom is equated with righteousness!)

v15 – Tells the young person to AVOID to path of the wicked. “avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

There seems to be a strong emphasis on AVOID here. This is a timely reminder and rebuke to us!

  • Often we don't avoid the path of the wicked, we flirt with it. We ask questions that sound like:
    “what is the most bad thing I can do that will not make God to angry with me?”

Rather than:

  • How can I please the most Holy of Holy Gods!”

This attitude of flirting rather than fleeing wickedness probably comes because we don't have an appropriate fear of God! All of us should be wise people who ask the question “how can I live my life in a way that most pleases God?” Not wicked and foolish people who say, “how much will God let me get away with?”

v16 – shows us that the wicked are totally and utterly corrupt. More reasons to avoid them! They are intentionally corrupt and they intentionally seek to make others stumble! These are not the kind of people wise people flirt with!

4:18-19 contrast between righteous and wicked...

v18 – path of the righteous is like the light of dawn

Have you ever been to watch a sunrise? They are awesome things! (sunset man)

Sunrise, it looks a bit light but gets lighter as you sit there and look...

That is what a righteous person life can be like. It might not look as good now as it will in the future. You might need faith to believe in the promise that God will eventually reward those who live for him.

This is how wickedness tricks you! By looking a bit brighter and bit more satisfying now, than the wise and righteous option. When you are faced with that choice, will I look at pornography or will I resist?, the wicked payoff of pleasure and satisfaction tricks you to forgetting the truth of God's word. Let me assure that persisting in a path of Godliness will in the end far out way any lonely orgasm!

This wicked deception is the reason why in the next verses the father talks of the need to guard your heart! So that when you are faced with the choices the call of wisdom and righteousness is stronger than the call of the stupid and the wicked.

(4:20-27: Guard your heart)

4:20 – Called to listen again to the words of the father

4:21 – young person is told to guard their heart by letting the words of the father stay in sight and in 'your heart'.

For us, that means keeping the word of God in our heart by reading it regularly and letting it grow and change us!

4:22 – his words of wisdom bring life...

4:23 – be vigilant in keeping their heart on the path of wisdom. As we've already seen, the way of the wicked, is trying to bring people who want to be wise down. It is not just a once off decision to be wise, but a life long commitment, which requires vigilance and constant work.

4:25-27 – the way of wisdom is the straight path. If you keep your eyes fixed straight ahead and keep walking that way you should avoid swerving to the right or left where evil lurks.

That straight path we follow today is Jesus. We fix our eyes on Jesus, and if we don't waver we can avoid stepping off to the right or left into sin.

So what have we learnt about wisdom?

Wisdom comes from God

It comes from fearing God. Not in an unapproachable way. Because of Jesus and his death and resurrection, Hebrews tells us we can approach God confidently. (Heb 4:16) But we need to be humble in our confidence and know it is not anything we have done that means God has chosen to forgive us but it is what Jesus has done. Fearing the Lord will help us have the right attitude in this!

Wisdom is:

Hearing and doing the word of God, and being humble enough to react when that comes.

As Christians we see that wisdom also includes a sensitive judgement or discernment to know what is the will of God (Rom 12:2).

Wisdom is not simply about knowing stuff, nor is it simply a matter of the mind. Rather we have seen that wisdom is relational. It is taught in the context of relationships (eg. parent and child) and the only way to actually be wise is to be in a right relationship with God. Proverbs 4 picks this up when it talks about wisdom and equates it with righteousness and shows that it is wickedness that is set up in opposition to wisdom.

The wisest way anyone can live is to live as a sold out follower of Jesus. Jesus said, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.

Jesus calls us to follow him. Will you be wise and build your life's foundation on him? Or will you be foolish, ignore him, and when the time comes, watch as your life turns to ruin and nothing. Be wise, put your hope and trust in Jesus, and in the end you will be blessed!