Proverbs 8:5-9

Proverbs 8:5-9 "O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.  All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.  They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge."
Church Buffalo NY
In this chapter, Solomon is contrasting a familiar woman to the “strange woman” of the last chapter.  This figurative female is the virtuous Wisdom.  While there were many details provided about the deadly “strange woman” in chapter seven, she was known best for her persuasive speech.  Her irresistible influence and power over men came packaged in her words.  Here in chapter eight, Solomon counters the “strange woman’s” words with Wisdom’s words.

Wisdom invites the simple to understand her.  She invites fools to get to know her.  The invitation is summarized in one word, “HEAR.”  She wants the sons of men to hear what she has to say.  In verse six, she will speak “of excellent things” and “right things.”  In verse seven, she will speak “truth” and never wickedness for it “is an abomination” to her lips.  In verse eight, “ALL the words” of her mouth are “in righteousness.”  She goes on to say that there is “nothing froward or perverse” in her speech.  Solomon’s description of Wisdom’s words was intentionally opposite of the description of the “strange woman’s” words.  In these chapters, one woman’s conversation was perverted while the other’s was pure.  One woman’s speech was deceptive while the other’s was truthful.  One woman’s speech was flattering while the other’s was honest.  One woman spoke of evil things while the other spoke of excellent things.  One woman opened her mouth with wrong things while the other opened her mouth with right things.

Wisdom’s invitation teaches us that the way we get to know someone is by listening to their words.  She wants the sons of men to understand her and they do that by listening to her words.  This is true for everyone.  We get to know someone by listening to them.  Certainly, we learn plenty about a person by how they dress, by how they act and by what they look like but “looks can be deceiving.”  We learn about a person best by listening to what they say.  Listen long enough and you’ll know what a person is really like.  What a person says reveals how a person feels.  What comes out of the mouth is what resides in the heart.  Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).  Pure words reveal a pure heart.  Perverse words reveal a perverse heart.  Honest words reveal an honest heart.  Wicked words reveal a wicked heart.

Eyes are easy to trick and when it comes to people, our eyes can play tricks on us.  Ears however, aren’t as easy to trick. Eventually, if you listen carefully and long enough, you’ll learn the truth about someone.  This is why detectives talk to suspects for hours on end and often on multiple occasions.  If a suspect is guilty, he or she will eventually reveal deception, lies or ultimately admit guilt.  This is why dating or courting couples should spend more time talking than “fooling around.”  Talking reveals the character of a prospective spouse whereas playing and entertaining can hide the character of someone you’re considering spending the rest of your life with.  This is also why companies should spend substantial time interviewing candidates for a job.  The more questions that are asked and the more casual conversation that is had reveals a great deal more about the candidate than does a professionally-crafted resume.

Learn to LISTEN because you LISTEN to Learn.  There are an abundance of illustrations in Scripture to support this counsel.  Joshua’s one mistake in Scripture was the result of relying on his eyes instead of on his ears.  When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, they defeated the walled city of Jericho and the city of Ai.  In Joshua 9, the neighboring Gibeonites heard of those military accomplishments and immediately set forth to trick the Israelites into making peace with them so as to avoid destruction.  They put on old shoes, old clothes and took moldy bread and spent wine bottles so as to look like they had traveled a far distance beyond the Promised Land.  They came with a script claiming that they were from a far country and wanted to make peace because they heard about God’s power in the Israeli people.  Joshua didn’t listen long enough.  Joshua didn’t ask more questions.  Joshua didn’t allow for more words to sufficiently determine whether or not they were telling the truth.  As a result, Joshua hastily made a league with them that he would live to regret.  Eyes are a lot easier to trick than the ears.  The Ephraimites learned this truth the hard way in Judges 12. There was a heated dispute between them and Gileadites that resulted in battle.  After that battle, surviving Ephraimite soldiers tried to escape back to their homes.  They could escape the sword if they were seen because they looked a lot like the Gileadites but they could not escape the sword if they spoke because they didn’t sound like the Gileadites.  The Gileadites wisely discerned friend from foe by listening rather than looking.  The Gileadites would ask men to say, “Shibboleth” to verify their identity because Ephraimites said, “Sibboleth.”  Eyes are a lot easier to trick than the ears.      

LEARN to Listen because you Listen to LEARN.  If you’re looking for a spouse, get prospects talking and listen carefully to what they say.  Are his words pure or are they perverted?  Are her words honest or are they flattering?  If you’re looking for a friend, listen carefully to what people say.  If you’re looking for a new employer or a new employee, rely much more on your ears than on your eyes.  If you’re looking for a contractor or a doctor, listen to everything they have to say for their words reveals their character.  This is true for pastors, teachers and spiritual influences.  Churches looking for a pastor need to listen very carefully to the preaching and teaching of candidates and should never make a decision based on a sermon or two.  Believers looking for a pastor should do the same.  Christians participating in ministries or fellowships should do the same with prospective influences in their lives.  People aren’t always as they seem.  People aren’t always as they look but people are always as they eventually sound. 

Wisdom is always honest, pure and trustworthy.  Her words are always Biblically-sound and Biblically-consistent.  Listen to her words for they will reveal her virtuous nature.

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