Proverbs 8:18-21

Proverbs 8:18-21 "Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:  That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures."
Baptist Church East Aurora NY
We go where our hearts lead us.  If we love food, we go to the restaurant and to the refrigerator.  If we love money, we go to work or to the casinos.  If we love information, we go to the library or to the internet.  If we love to travel, we go to the airport.  This is the picture that Solomon is painting in chapters 7 and 8.  In one half of the picture, Solomon paints a road for the person who loves pleasure.  In the other half of the picture, he paints a road for the person who loves virtue.  In chapter 7, that road is referred to as the “way” of the strange woman (verse 25) while in chapter 8, this road is referred to as the “way of righteousness” (verse 20).  In chapter 7, that road is referred to as the “paths” of the strange woman (verse 25) while in chapter 8, this road is referred to as the “paths of judgment” (verse 20).  These are two very different roads characterized by two very different things that ultimately lead to two very different outcomes.  We go where our hearts lead us and we ultimately end up where our hearts take us.

In chapter seven, an evil woman paves the road with pleasure.  It looks smooth.  It sounds fun.  It’s easy to get on and to stay on.  In chapter eight, Wisdom paves the road with character and integrity.  It doesn’t look easy.  It doesn’t seem that smooth.  It doesn’t necessarily sound fun.  One road is absent of the fear of the Lord while the other road requires the fear of God to get on it.  One road is without speed limits, street lights and lanes while the other has limits, lanes and lights.  What we love will determine which road we choose.  If we love pleasure, we will choose the road without restrictions.  If we love purity, we will choose the road with restrictions.  If we love feeling good, we will choose the road of unrighteousness.  If we love being good, we will choose the road of righteousness.  We go where our hearts lead us.

In verses 18-21, Wisdom is taking a very different approach than the strange woman in the other half of the picture.  The strange woman appealed to the young man by offering short-term pleasure.  She offered him an evening of pleasure.  Wisdom however, is appealing to the “sons of man” by offering long-term success.  She is offering a lifetime of riches and respect.  She is offering something that will last years, not hours. She is offering “durable riches.”  A night of pleasure may be fun but it won’t buy a house, a vehicle, groceries and all of the necessities of having a family.  A night of pleasure may be enjoyable for a season but it doesn’t do anything to produce long-term success.  Pleasure outside of righteousness is always costly.  Pleasure without restriction usually costs a lot because it often becomes addictive.  Eating food in an unrighteous way is gluttony and expensive.  Drunkenness is unrighteous and is also very expensive.  Gambling is expensive.  Sexual pleasure outside of the holy confines of marriage can be both addicting and very expensive.  Proverbs 21:17, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” On the contrary, Wisdom is offering a road that leads to financial prosperity.  Wisdom is offering a way that comes with sound financial choices and ultimately, with God’s financial blessings.  The strange woman offers a road that ends in poverty while Wisdom offers a road that ends in prosperity.

Furthermore, wisdom is offering a road that leads to honor.  This road is not always easy and it’s not always fun but it’s a road that ends up with respect.  Righteousness always results in respect.  Wisdom’s road stands in stark contrast to the strange woman’s road.  At the end of her road is shame and dishonor.  Proverbs 6:32-33, “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.   A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.”  At the end of her road is a reputation that is near impossible to correct.  People never forget sexual sin.  Despite all of us being vulnerable to it, people are rarely understanding and merciful regarding sexual sin.  People are rarely forgiving of this type of sin because sex is not a necessity, it is a luxury in many eyes.  It is seen by many as a pleasure that can and should be forfeited outside of the bounds of marriage.  Wisdom however, brings its travelers honor because it brings its travelers righteousness.  Everyone respects the person who is righteous.  The righteous aren’t always liked nor are they always appreciated but by and large, the righteous are respected.  No matter his reasoning and no matter his religious background, a man who can truly be celibate for a lifetime is respected by most people.  Most people know how hard that is and respects a person for refusing to partake of sexual pleasure if choosing not to marry.  No matter her reasoning and no matter her religious background, an alcoholic who gives up alcohol for the rest of her life is respected by most people.  Most people recognize the effort and discipline required to do right and for that reason, honors such a person.  Righteousness brings respect.  Choosing pleasure at the expense of another person’s marriage doesn’t bring honor.  Choosing to deny pleasure for the sake of righteousness brings honor.

In Wisdom’s appeal, she mentions financial prosperity as a benefit for choosing her but then emphasizes a benefit more valuable than silver and gold.  She isn’t downplaying financial success nor is she minimizing possessions since she speaks of “substance” and “treasure” in verse 21.  The greatest and ultimate benefit for choosing Wisdom’s road over the strange woman’s road is not what is at the end of it – it’s what happens to those who travel it.  In verse 22, she says that she causes those that love her to “inherit substance.”  Inheriting something is very different than earning something.  To EARN something, you must DO something.  To INHERIT something, you must BE something.  To inherit an estate, you must BE someone related to that estate.  An inheritance is not earned, it is given.  Something that is inherited is based on relationship while something that is earned is based on performance.  Wisdom causes her traveling companions to INHERIT substance because she causes her traveling companions to BECOME something special. Wisdom causes those that love her to BE something while the strange woman causes those that love her to DO something.  The person who loves wisdom BECOMES SOMEONE who receives substance and treasure.  The person who loves pleasure DOES SOMETHING that earns them reputation and consequence.

The ROAD WITHOUT VIRTUE is a road of short-term pleasure but long-term consequence.  The ROAD WITH VIRTUE is a road of short-term restriction but long-term benefit.  The road of pleasure is an invitation to DO something in the short-term while the road of wisdom is an invitation to BE something for the long-term.  Through righteousness, wisdom makes you someone God wants to bless.  Through righteousness, wisdom makes you someone people want to bless.  If you love pleasure, you will choose the road that makes you happy for a season but costs you honor for a lifetime.  If you love wisdom, you will choose the road that costs you pleasure for a season but brings you honor for a lifetime.

We go where our hearts lead us.

We end up where our hearts take us.
 
Take careful note of where each road in Proverbs 7 and 8 ends.    

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