in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.
Proverbs 3:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.
"Wisdom is personification—taking an abstract idea like wisdom and casting it as a person or living thing. Since the word for “wisdom” in Hebrew is grammatically feminine (ḥokmah), when this personification occurs “wisdom” is cast as a lady. Hebrew nouns are classified by grammatical gender. This is indicated by the presence or absence of certain consonant endings... 'wisdom' is not an actual woman or feminine entity who assisted God at creation (Prov 8:30). The language simply reflects the grammar." - Dr. Mike Heiser Miqlat.org
We have previously discussed how Jesus was the co-Creator with the Father and the Holy Spirit and He is the ultimate and fulfillment of God's Wisdom.
We will further see the personification of Wisdom as feminine in Proverbs ("Lady Wisdom") and her opposite Lady Folly. A person can choose to live wisely, “Lady Wisdom,” or to live foolishly, “Lady Folly,” (Aka Madame Folly).
In these scriptures we see that godly wisdom comes with "long life," "riches and honor," "pleasant paths," "peace". We also see that if we "take hold of her" she is a "tree of life" and if we "hold fast" we will be "blessed".
Strong's Exhaustive concordance
[are] riches - עֹ֣שֶׁר (osher, ‘ō·šer) - Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 6239: Wealth
and honor - וְכָבֽוֹד׃ (kabowd, wə·ḵā·ḇō·wḏ) - Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3519: Weight, splendor, copiousness (copious=large in quantity, yielding abundantly)
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds: honor and glory from men
are pleasant - נֹ֑עַם (noam, nō·‘am) - Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5278: Agreeableness, delight, suitableness, splendor, grace
[are] peaceful - שָׁלֽוֹם׃ (shalom, šā·lō·wm) - Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7965: Safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare, health, prosperity, peace
of life - חַיִּ֣ים (chay, ḥay·yîm) - Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 2416: Alive, raw, fresh, strong, life
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds: as welfare and happiness in king's presence; as consisting of earthly felicity combined (often) with spiritual blessedness
to those who embrace her - לַמַּחֲזִיקִ֣ים (chazaq, lam·ma·ḥă·zî·qîm) - Preposition-l, Article | Verb - Hifil - Participle - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 2388: To fasten upon, to seize, be strong, obstinate, to bind, restrain, conquer
and those who lay hold of her - וְֽתֹמְכֶ֥יהָ (tamak, wə·ṯō·mə·ḵe·hā) - Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine plural construct | third person feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 8551: To sustain, to obtain, keep fast, to help, follow close
are blessed מְאֻשָּֽׁר׃ (ashar, mə·’uš·šār) - Verb - Pual - Participle - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 833: To be straight, to go forward, be honest, proper
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds: to be happy, blessed
Our action words are "embrace" and "lay hold". Look back over those. We aren't talking about a gentle hug. The definitions are much stronger... seize, fasten upon, bind, restrain, conquer! And sustain that restraint, keep fast and follow closely. It made me think of a football tackle where one tackles the one holding the ball and holds fast until they capitulate.
In my earlier posts on Proverbs, we've seen how godly wisdom can practically help us to have better health and finances so please refer back for those. But in these verses today we see that godly wisdom can also reward us with honor among men, respect, a good reputation.
By using godly wisdom, we can avoid the destructive results of sin that affect our health, our finances and our relationships with others.
Someone who does not use godly wisdom will not have good relationships. The sins of lying affect our relationships. The sins of infidelity and adultery affect our relationships. The sins of addiction affect our relationships. If you've been in some type of relationship with an unbeliever, you learn they can't be trusted, are undependable; and/or are selfish (self-involved, self-promoting, self-centered); or they are serial adulterers; or their addictions completely control them. It can go on and on. An unbeliever has no reason to care about anyone but themselves. Now, not ALL unbelievers are untrustworthy, serial adulterers or drug addicts. And not all BELIEVERS are, unfortunately, trustworthy, truthful and monogamous. But we can say that all believers are forgiven and have the Holy Spirit who is working on them from the inside to try to form them into people of integrity, more like Jesus. We can say that unbelievers do NOT have the Holy Spirit within them to do any training, or empowering, to be more Christlike and they have yet to experience Christ's forgiveness and freedom from the bondage of sin.
If we take hold of godly wisdom and follow it closely, we should be people of high integrity, honest, with good character, trustworthy and dependable, with truth coming from our mouths. People should be able to recognize you are someone who doesn't give trouble and a person who is generous. Not someone who focuses on minors and nitpicks someone to death. We should be people who are honest, truthful, compassionate but strong when we need to be. Our word should mean something and people can depend on us. We should be people who generally make wise decisions and stay out of trouble. The result is a good reputation and respect from others.
One time, in junior high school, I got called into the principal's office. The one and only time I ever got called in. A teacher had mistakenly marked me absent in one of my classes but I was present in the others and it looked like I had skipped a class. He was going to call me on it. I hadn't skipped a class. I was so scared I was almost in tears. He took one look at me, told me what happened but said he had never had trouble with me before, he thought it was just a mistake and let me go. I had a good reputation and stayed out of trouble so he could believe me despite the evidence.
I don't use that example to say I was a perfect kid. I'm sorry to say I made mistakes in high school. But what I'm trying to point out is you can have a good reputation and it help you in life. It will help you on your job, in your business, in your family life, with friends, etc. It's worth working on.
There is a deeper meaning too. We have a deeper purpose. God's goal in creating all of this (mankind, earth, the universe) is revealed in this verse:
Ephesians 3:10-11 (NLT) 10 His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To God be all the glory! We are to show His work of wisdom and power to "the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms". We are on display. Someone is watching us. Are we representative of God's glory? Jesus certainly was! He did all to the glory of God. He showed all of God's wonderful attributes to us and to anyone else watching!
Another word to look at in these verses is "peace". If we use godly wisdom we can generally be peaceable people. God tells us to be peacemakers whenever possible. We shouldn't be the ones that throw gas on a fire. We should be people who pour oil on troubled waters to calm them down. We should be the ones who call the meeting to order when it starts getting out of hand. We should be the people who are tactful and try to bring about sensible resolutions rather than mouthing off and stirring things up. We can be firm about a subject without resorting to yelling, cursing, violence, intimidation, or being personally offensive. If I'm rightly upset about something, look for ways to be firm without it resulting in out-of-control anger or personal attacks.
For instance, you have a question about a bill and you call customer service. You may be totally in the right and they are totally wrong and it's costing you money. But at no point should you break off into berating the person you are talking to on the telephone. More than likely it's not their fault and they are only doing their job. There is no cause to call them names, curse at them or start yelling at them. And when you can't get a resolution, it's better to back off and take the financial hit than turn it into verbal abuse. It's better for you and, for them to let it go. You will have learned never to deal with that company again or never fall into that situation again. There are usually ways to register your complaint about something truly wrong so that others don't face the same problem (like leaving a bad review). Even then, don't make it personal by calling someone names. State the problem how you see it and that it was never resolved and you don't recommend them.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 3:11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
There are times when it's serious enough that keeping the peace is not an option. That's usually pretty rare. But let's say you see someone being assaulted. You could react in various ways to "keep the peace" while someone is being assaulted. Are any of those the right thing to do? No. You need to step in and try to prevent the assault or call the police or scream for help or whatever. Keeping the peace at all costs is not biblical. There are times when we as individuals, and as a nation, need to make a hard decision and step in with both barrels. It should be done reluctantly and with thought, but sometimes it just has to be done. We saw many countries who were so reluctant to go to war with Germany that they let Hitler take one nation after another, giving him the impetus, power, supplies and men to nearly take over all of Europe and Africa. Then he declared war on America! Isolationists and their "peace at any cost", nearly cost us our freedom! So there has to be a balance. We are to be peacemakers but we are also to be strong and make the hard decisions when we need to be. We are at that place now in America. There are those who want open borders and to allow anyone and everyone in to America because it's the "humanitarian thing to do". But there are those of us who are seeing it as an invasion and the problems it will, and are, causing and we feel like we have to say enough is enough. It's a hard decision and one politicians are afraid to make but it has to be made or we will lose America. Losing America is losing freedom for the entire world as we have been the peacekeepers. We are the big country carrying a big stick that keeps many maniacs in other nations from destroying the world. We lose America and chaos will probably ensue.
Matthew 10:34-36c (Jesus speaking) 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’"
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Jesus makes peace between us and God. In our sins, we are separated from God. Jesus provides the way back to a relationship with God. He is our peace.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
"The peace that Jesus came to bring was not the peace of appeasement, or the peace of compromise and conformity. It was a spiritual peace. The world doesn’t give peace, for it doesn’t have any peace to give." - Billy Graham
One last thing to look at in these verses is the Tree of Life. Godly wisdom, in all practicality, brings better health, better finances, a good reputation and respect from others, peace and is a Tree of Life to those who tackle and hold on to it. But there is a deeper meaning as well.
"This expression obviously refers to "the tree of life" (ets-hakayyim), which was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, and conferred immortality on those who ate of its fruit (Genesis 2:9; 3:22). So Wisdom becomes equally life-giving to those who lay hold on her, who taste of her fruit. She communicates life in its manifold fullness and richness (so the plural "lives" indicates) to those who seize her firmly. " - Pulpit Commentary
We also know that Jesus symbolizes the Tree of Life. The tree of life is like the cross of Christ. Wood often symbolizes humanity in the Bible. Jesus gave His life for humanity to be saved. He voluntarily laid on the wooden cross (humanity) to save us! He is the one who confers eternal life through His death and resurrection. Therefore, we see Him as the Tree of Life. If we take of His fruit and eat thereof, we are forgiven and have eternal life!
- Have you ever watched someone lose their reputation due to their sins?
- Have you ever watched someone turn their lives around and gain back a good reputation?
- Do you have a good reputation? If not, what can you do to begin to repair your reputation so as to bring glory to God?
- Have you ever tried to do the right thing but were unfairly accused of something that affected your good reputation? I know it hurts and makes you angry. But how can you react in a Christlike manner to something unfair or downright untrue?
- What does Jesus mean when He said He didn't come to bring peace but a sword? We know Jesus also said, "In Me ye might have peace". Is He contradicting Himself? He came as the Prince of Peace but the result was conflict and hatred. People who refuse Jesus and prefer their sin, will hate those who choose Jesus and are forgiven of their sin. People who love sin, hate Jesus and His people! People are hostile to the good news of salvation in the Word of God. People want to sin and want to "control" their own lives and are afraid of Jesus, therefore they hate Him. Because they are determined to have their sin, they make up all kinds of lies about Jesus, the Bible, the gospel message, God's people, Heaven and Hell, etc. Their hatred can be so virulent that they would kill Him (they crucified Him), and us (persecution and martyrdom), and burn every Bible if they could.
- Have you ever thought about how dangerous peace-at-all-cost is? Have you ever meditated on where the balance is between peace-at-all-cost and doing the right thing even if it's hard and not very peaceful?
- Have you ever struggled between your "rights" and laying down your rights before Jesus? It is very difficult to humble ourselves, submit and to trust God for the outcome versus forcing an outcome because it's our "right"? Write your thoughts down about it.
- Have you eaten of the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ? If you have, you are immortal. Had you ever realized it that way before? Not only your spirit is born and will live forever. But your body will be resurrected, and immortal, to join your spirit one day. Did you realize that? You will one day be an eternal 3 part being: body, mind (soul), spirit just as God is a 3 part being. It's what He meant when He said He would make us in His image! Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and journal your thoughts.
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.