Proverbs 3:17

Proverbs 3:17 “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
Church Buffalo NY
Solomon didn’t know a little about a lot – he knew a lot about a lot.  His wisdom wasn’t confined to theology.  His wisdom and study stretched to the four corners of the Earth.  He understood God and he comprehended man.  He knew Israel and he pondered far-away kingdoms.  He observed the times and the seasons, the animals and the vegetation.  The nations came to him and what he wanted, he imported.  He knew a lot about a lot.  He wrote three thousand proverbs and over one thousand songs.  1 Kings 4 tells us that he wrote of trees, beasts, birds, insects and fish.  Again, his wisdom and pursuit of understanding weren’t confined to theology or politics.

One could argue that Solomon’s greatest interest in life was the complicated field of human relationships.  Over the course of his life, Solomon proposed to one thousand women.  Such a history speaks of an obsessive interest in romance.  Of the three books he authored in Scripture, Song of Solomon is given entirely to the romantic relationship between a man and a woman.  In the other two books he authored, relationships between men and women was something he often addressed.  Of all the things he studied, I think it safe to conclude that he studied romance the most.  Say what you want about his marital track record but Solomon knew well what men want in a romantic relationship and he knew well what women want in a romantic relationship.  He understood men, he understood women and he understood the romance between the two.

Because of his excessive romantic tendencies, he wrote of wisdom in romantic language.  Because he knew the heart of a young man, he appealed to that natural interest in romance when writing about wisdom’s virtue.  Throughout the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman.  Here in chapter three, she is being described in romantic terms meant to attract Rehoboam to her.  Wisdom’s virtue in Proverbs 3:17 is the parallel of the Virtuous Woman’s qualities in Proverbs 31:12 where Solomon writes of her that “she will do her husband good and not evil all the days of her life.”  Here in verse seventeen, Solomon is assuring his son that wisdom “will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”  He is assuring his son that wisdom’s ways are pleasant ways and not contentious.  He is assuring his son that all her paths are peaceful and not combative.

To a man, there are few things that turn him away from romance quicker than contention and conflict.  Initially, a man may be attracted to a woman through his eyes but ultimately, a man will be unattracted to a woman through his ears.  Historically and genetically, men see the world as their battleground.  Generally-speaking, men are willing to fight the entire world to provide and protect for their families.  But what men are typically not willing to do is to come home after fighting the world to find themselves in a fight with their families.  Because he knew men, women and romance so well, Solomon wrote these two bold proverbs in chapter 21:
verse 9 “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”
verse 19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Describing wisdom to his son in such pleasant and peaceful terms was intentional.  Both men and women, but especially men, would find such a description appealing.  Indeed, wisdom is very pleasant to possess and it brings peace to the home of the soul.  Her direction leads to true pleasure.  Her leadership leads to true peace.  If possessed and followed, wisdom in the heart of man will make a person’s life more pleasant and more peaceful.  The absence of wisdom in the heart of man will make that person’s life more unpleasant and rather miserable.
Later in his book, Solomon will describe the way of transgressors as hard (13:15).  He describes it as being froward and strange, or perverted and dark (21:8).  He writes that there are thorns and snares in that way (22:5).  Foolishness leads to regret and guilt, both of which are far from pleasant to entertain.  Without wisdom, life gets confusing and downright perplexing.  Without wisdom, there are no answers to life’s greatest challenges.  Without wisdom, there are only sour consequences and disappointing results.

Wisdom doesn’t guarantee a perfect life but it offers a pleasant life.  It doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free life but it offers a misery-free life.  It doesn’t take the bumps out of the road or the traffic jams off the highway.  It doesn’t take the deer crossings off the path nor does it make your tires resistant to the screw on the street. Solomon declares all the paths of wisdom peaceful and pleasant but he doesn’t declare her paths perfect.  In Ecclesiastes 9:11, he wrote that “time and chance” happens to everyone.   Wisdom doesn’t remove us from the curse of this life or from the unfortunate and uncontrollable bumps in the road.  What it does do however, is make the trip enjoyable.  When wisdom is followed, decisions are made that shelter us from regret and guilt.  When wisdom is followed, decisions are made that protect us from remorse and self-inflicted hardship.  Wisdom brings us peace because it keeps us from welcoming unnecessary pain and by informing us that “time and chance” happens to everyone.  Wisdom takes the argument out of life.  It takes the frustration out of life.  It takes the aggravation out of life.  It provides answers for our struggles and brings contentment when enduring uncontrollable circumstances.  It gives us the answers we need and it gives us the peace when facing questions where there are no answers.

Solomon chose to communicate the value of wisdom to his son through the lens of romance.  The right wife doesn’t make a marriage perfect but she does make the marriage pleasant.  The virtuous wife doesn’t make the path to companionship easy but she makes it peaceful.  Just as there is no such thing as an easy marriage, there is no such thing as an easy life.  Every path has curves, bumps and inclines.  Without wisdom, those curves get harder, those bumps get deeper and those inclines get steeper.  Without wisdom, a difficult life becomes a miserable life.  With wisdom however, those curves get easier, those bumps get more manageable and those inclines get more feasible.  With wisdom, a difficult life becomes a pleasant life. Wisdom doesn’t take the work out of life – it just makes the work more enjoyable.

We all have a path to take a life – wisdom just makes it pleasant.

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