Proverbs 8:17

Proverbs 8:17 "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me."
Bible Church Buffalo NY
Given his extensive knowledge of both romance and virtue, Solomon knew how many similarities the two shared. These similarities are what birthed the language of Proverbs 7 and 8.  Finding romance and finding virtue are very similar.  The longer you take to seek romance, the harder it is to find.  The longer you take to find a spouse, the harder it is to get married.  The longer you delay in finding love, two things take place that make it harder to eventually find.  First, prospective mates get snatched up and become no longer available, making the pool from which to choose smaller.  Secondly and perhaps more importantly, you become more stuck in your ways and therefore, more selective.  With less prospects available and with more boxes to check, romance becomes harder to find.  In Proverbs 8:17, Solomon is alluding to the same danger when it comes to finding virtue.

By making the statement, “those that seek me early shall find me,” Wisdom was clearly inferring that a delay in seeking her would result in her becoming unavailable or unwanted at a later time.  When wisdom is sought at an early age, she promises to be found.  When she is not sought at an early age, she makes no such promises.  The Bible’s description of finding wisdom is consistent with the facts of history and science.  Our brains are more fertile the younger we are.  There comes a point when we stop yearning to learn.  There comes a point in the human brain when we stop soaking up knowledge like a sponge.  Research suggests that that point is age 25. The interesting thing about the brain at that age is not that it stops learning as much as it stops wanting to learn.  Essentially, our brains get lazy in our mid to late twenties and get stuck in a brain rut.  In 1890, Harvard psychologist, William James is famous for saying, “In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.”  There comes a point in each of us where we stop wanting to learn.  Again, it’s not that we don’t learn – it’s more that we learn less because we feel that we have learned enough.

The older we get, the less likely we are to find true wisdom.  The older we get, the less likely we are to find wisdom from above.  It can still happen but it’s just rare.  If we don’t find wisdom when we are young, we will not want true wisdom when we are older.  We will not want it because we will have become content with our own wisdom or because we will become content with the world’s wisdom.  This is the parallel with finding true love.  The older we get, the less likely we are to find true love.  It can still happen but it’s rare.  If you don’t find true love when you’re young, there is often a hesitancy to engage in the type of work that you’ve learned it takes to have true love.  When you’re young, you’re more relationally pliable.  When you’re young, you’re more relationally flexible.  When you’re young, you’re more optimistic about making a relationship work.  The older you get, the more you see and the more you don’t like what you see.  The older you get, the less pliable you become. The older you get, the less optimistic you become.  The older you get, the more fearful you become regarding relationships and this makes finding true love much harder.
 
Perhaps the greater parallel between finding romance and finding wisdom is seen when comparing chapters 7 and 8 once again.  The young man in chapter 7 who did not seek wisdom early would never find wisdom because someone else found him and morally slew him before he would have the chance to find wisdom.  For many people who don’t seek true love with God’s will in mind, they never find true love because artificial love finds them first.  For many people who don’t seek God at an early age for romance, they end up taking whatever romance finds them.  This is the tragic story of the young man in chapter 7.  Pertaining to virtue, if a young man or young woman doesn’t seek true wisdom early in life, there is a good chance that they will never find it because worldly wisdom will find them first.  Young people who go to liberal universities and godless colleges without true wisdom will be approached by worldly wisdom just as the young man in chapter 7 was approached by the “strange woman.”  Young people who spend a lot of time on the internet without true wisdom will be enticed by worldly wisdom just as the young man in chapter 7 was enticed by the “strange woman.”  A person “void of understanding” who entertains worldly wisdom will heed its invitation and will likely never see the need for true wisdom.  For this tragic reason, a person who doesn’t seek true wisdom early in life will likely never find wisdom.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Old dogs can learn new tricks but most old dogs don’t see the need to learn new tricks.  For that reason, old dogs don’t want to learn new tricks.  Once a mind is full of its own wisdom, it won’t see the need for God’s wisdom.  If it doesn’t see the need for God’s wisdom, it won’t seek God’s wisdom.  If a mind doesn’t seek God’s wisdom, it surely won’t find wisdom.  Wisdom needs to be found early before the mind is filled with worldly wisdom.  

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