Come and Get It!
Lord, help me to fully appreciate the value attaching to the voice of experience.
Read Proverbs 4:1–9
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
3 For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
4 Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2).
First of all, I think of my family, upwards and downwards. The father in this chapter was his mother’s darling (3b). I thank God for what I received from my parents, my grandparents—wisdom, skills, an heirloom, an inheritance (of various sorts), ways of doing things and facing life’s challenges. What attitude does my culture, my society have towards tradition? “Tradition
extends the vote to the dead, who ‘far outnumber’ the living” (G. K. Chesterton, 1874–1936). Am I discriminating in my attitude towards the past? I pray for many young people growing up without grandparents to tell them their larger story.
Then I read this passage again several times, focusing on its dos and don’ts—eight positive verbs, four negative verbs, eight wisdom nouns, six rewards. What a feast in a small space! Verse 4, the only three-line verse, finishes with an imperative: “Keep my commands and—live!” Verse 7 is a tautology: The
wisest thing I can do is—be wise! Derek Kidner says, “What it takes is not brains or opportunity but decision. Do you want it? Come and get it” (Proverbs, 67). If it is so simple, why is it so hard? Is wisdom the sort of thing which you can cuddle (8a)? The Amplified Bible translates verse 2a: “For I give you good doctrine.” Or is being wise more of an attitude, a
teachability, a bona fide openness, a charitable curiosity, a fascinated respect for the person I am talking with or listening to? “When you encounter another person… it is as if a declaration is being put to you…
this is an emissary from the Lord and some benefit is intended for me” (Marilynne Robinson, Gilead: A Novel, 141). In our response to this situation or that person, we are artistes of our behavior, and God is the
If you want to come across as interesting, then get interested.
Lord, amid all my necessary expenditures, what is it that I have to spend (i.e., to give in proper exchange) in order to become a wise person?