Proverbs 3:22-26

Proverbs 3:22-26 "So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken."
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After urging his son to retain wisdom and her sibling virtues, Solomon painted the picture of a confident life.  He promised his son that these virtues would bring life to his soul, grace to his neck, safety to his step and sweetness to his sleep.  From morning to night, from start to finish, a life with wisdom is a life with confidence.

In verse twenty-two, we learn that wisdom puts LIFE INTO OUR SOUL.  She does this by putting purpose and direction in our life.  The sad souls in this world who have no direction in life are often accurately described by others as having no life at all.  Without wisdom, a person doesn’t know where to go or what to do.  For that person, life is overwhelming and too intimidating to tackle.  Such a soul chooses to avoid the challenges presented by life and instead, does that which is easy and without risk.  Pursuing a skill, trade or career seems to risky and difficult so he settles for video games.  Pursuing a relationship comes with risks and dangers so he settles for a life of television programs and movies.  Without the direction of wisdom, life passes us by.  Without her leadership, opportunities pass us by.  Without her guidance, relationships pass us by.  Wisdom highlights the brevity of life and moves us to make the most out of it.  She also highlights the vanities of life and directs us to pursue those things that will give our lives purpose and meaning.  Regardless of a beating heart and a functioning lung, the absence of wisdom will lead to an absence of life in our being.  Wisdom breathes life into our soul. 

In the same verse, we read that wisdom puts GRACE ON OUR NECK. She does this by putting us in favor with man.  Necklaces are worn primarily because they are attractive to the eye.  Women wear pearls around their neck to feel and be more attractive.  People wear rubies, diamonds and precious stones around their neck to shine and sparkle with beautiful colors.  Necklaces, especially expensive ones made of gold and silver, are given to people so our loved ones can feel and be more appealing.  Wisdom gives her loved ones a necklace of grace, which brings them the favor of their peers.  When we cherish wisdom, she adorns our neck with the grace that will get the attention and affection of others.  When we retain and regard her, our lives will be attractive and our names will be favored.  It is the fool who says those things that people don’t like.  It is the fool who does those things that people don’t find appealing.  Wisdom gives us favor with people by guiding our behavior with people.  Where foolishness puts a chain of bones around its lover’s neck, wisdom puts a string of grace around her lover’s neck.

In verse twenty-three, we’re told that wisdom brings SAFETY TO OUR STEP.  She does this by giving us discretion in our decision.  When we give wisdom our ear, we will hear valuable advice about the decisions we’re contemplating.  If we take the time to consult the wisdom of God, then we will get insight from God.  Wisdom is God’s flashlight on the dark paths of life.  She exposes the moral pitfalls, spiritual potholes, emotional ditches and financial cliffs that riddle life’s paths.  Wisdom is that virtue that posts signs along the path of life warning us to slow down or to be prepared to stop.  When we lean on wisdom’s light, we can be confident that our steps will be safe ones.  The difference between living life with wisdom versus living life without it is the difference between driving your car along California State Route 1 at night with lights and driving your car along that same dangerous stretch of road at night without lights.  Wisdom gives us confidence in where we’re going in life and how we’re getting there.

In verse twenty-four, we learn that wisdom offers SWEETNESS TO OUR SLEEP.  She does this by removing fear from our thoughts.  While insomnia can certainly be the unfortunate result of a medical condition, most people who suffer from sleeplessness do so as a result of anxiety and fear.  People who spend their days worrying spend their nights worrying.  Fear can’t be put on a schedule.  Anxiety can’t be placed on a timer.  What we do all day - how we think all day - what we feel all day does not stop at night.  While this may sound like an over-simplification, Solomon’s solution to sleeplessness is virtue.  His wise solution passes the test of sound reason.  A wise person will not allow the uncertainties of life to dominate life.  A wise person will not allow the fear of the future to steal the joy of the present.  A wise person will not make the unknown more important than the known.  A wise person will not waste time fretting over what they assume is a person’s evil motive since no one can truly know another person’s intent.  A wise person will sleep sweetly because wisdom is the spirit of a sound mind, which is the ultimate remedy for the spirit of fear according to 2 Timothy 1:7.  A wise person will sleep sweetly because wisdom has directed him to spend more time working than worrying.  Ecclesiastes 5:12a, “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet.”  A wise person will sleep sweetly because wisdom preaches contentment in order to avoid the stress that accompanies fortune.  Ecclesiastes 5:12b, “the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”  Wisdom gives us confidence in life by giving us rest in our souls.

From morning to night, from start to finish, a life with wisdom is a life with confidence.
Wisdom offers her friends confidence in life because she gives them direction in life.
She offers confidence in life because she gives favor in life.
She offers confidence in life because she gives insight in life.
She offers confidence in life because she gives rest in life.

That all being said, this passage reveals the true source of confidence in life as something more important than the counsel of wisdom.  Verses twenty-five and twenty-six reveal the true source of confidence and it’s not the voice of wisdom as much as it is the SOURCE of wisdom.  By listening to wisdom, we can avoid so much unnecessary pain and disappointment.  But because we live in a world where the choices of others can impact the lives of everyone else, there will be circumstances that shake our confidence.  For example, a foolish king will make poor decisions that will make the lives of everyone difficult.  An immoral society will provoke the wrath of God that will impact everyone in that society, including the moral.  Natural disasters aimed at punishing the unjust or wars intended to judge a wicked nation will threaten confident living.  While wisdom will still direct a wise soul in such an uncertain time, wisdom will point us to the true source of our confidence – “for the LORD shall be thy confidence.” 

Confident living is the benefit of wisdom, partly because it leads us to make good decisions but primarily because it points us to trust in the Lord and His goodness.  Wisdom can give us confidence in life by giving us sound financial advice but when the economy crumbles, it gives us confidence by reminding us of the goodness of God.  Wisdom can give us confidence in life by giving us sound relationship advice but when a drunk driver takes our loved one, it gives us confidence by pointing us to the faithfulness of God.  Wisdom can give us confidence in life by giving us sound health advice but when we get diagnosed with a genetic cancer, it gives us confidence life by pointing us to the grace of God.

In any circumstance at any time, we can live confidently when governed by the wisdom of God.  With the voice of wisdom in our ears and with the source of wisdom in our hearts, we can walk safely and confidently along the path of life.

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