Proverbs: the lamps of wisdom

The book of Proverbs is like a set of lamps. The purpose of a lamp is to chase away darkness. Without the light from a lamp, we cannot see well. In particular, without light in an unfamiliar place, we cannot see to avoid obstacles. Many times, we need to turn on more than one lamp in order to do whatever it is we need to do. The lamps of Proverbs illuminate numerous dark corners. If we’re having trouble with anxiety, we need the lamp of trust. If we’re having trouble with frustration, we need the lamp of patience. If we’re having trouble with greed, we need the lamp of prudence. If we’re having trouble with foolishness, we need the lamp of wisdom.

It does no good to have a lamp unless we turn it on. In Solomon’s day, lamps needed oil, a wick, and a spark to light it. Today’s electric lamps have light bulbs that must be turned on with a switch. They will not work unless they are plugged into a source of power. How do we turn on the lamps of Proverbs?

The second chapter starts with a set of conditions. My child, if you do certain things, then you will receive a particular outcome. If we receive revelation from our Father, if we seek the practical guidance of his commandments, if we listen for wisdom, if we work to gain understanding, if we pray diligently to obtain it, if we seek it with a whole heart, as if seeking a treasure, then we have plugged in the lamp. Then we are connected to the power source. Then the light will shine in dark places, and we can see the way through the minefield that is this life.

We will understand the fear of the Lord. In other words, we will come to understand the awesomeness of God, which makes our flesh crawl. We will be driven to worship his magnificent transcendence. But more than that, we will find knowledge of God. We will become intimately acquainted with one who loves us dearly.

Back to the conditions, I find the verbs listen, treasure, tune, concentrate, cry, ask, search, seek. That’s a lot of work. What happens if we don’t do all that? Nothing. There is no power to turn the lamp on. Do we really want what God has to offer? Are we really sure? The double-minded person has no reason to expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Why would we want to understand fear of the Lord? Because that’s the beginning of wisdom, which is insight into the true nature of things. What we find from diligently seeking, he gives out of the compassion and generosity of his Father-heart. While we stop to think about the various blessings we have received from his hand over the past year, let us especially remember that he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. When we seek wisdom with a whole heart, we find it, because it is what he has promised to give. We need only plug in the lamp and turn it on.

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