Once again, Solomon turns to the subjects of wisdom and understanding. Why does he so often instruct us about wisdom? Because, as he tells us throughout this paragraph, there is nothing of greater importance. And he is not speaking from the pedestal of the title “The World’s Wisest Man.” If Solomon is anything at all it is because of the grace of the Almighty. And this wisdom is at the epicenter of that grace.
True wisdom begins with the Word of God – only some of which Solomon possessed in his day. Wisdom begins with the Word of God, but then it passes through the Lord Jesus Christ – “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” And then true wisdom ends in salvation and eternal life. We could look at this paragraph three times and it would make perfect sense each time. We could exchange the word “wisdom” with “the Bible,” and then with the name of Christ. We could talk about salvation throughout these verses, and it could develop into a good gospel message. This wisdom is not intelligence well used; it is the grace of God which produces salvation.
As I was reading these verses yesterday, a couple of things struck me. We have here a paragraph full of feminine pronouns – “Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee.” “Exalt her, and she shall promote thee.” Once I made note of the pronouns, I started to examine the verbs – “get,” “keep,” “love,” “exalt,” “embrace” and so on. As I thought about them, it occurred to me that these are verbs we might employ in a family – particularly in regard to husbands and wives. And that is how I would like to approach Solomon’s common subject of wisdom this evening.
As you know, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD” – Proverbs 18:22. Solomon says, “My son, you need wisdom, just as you need a good wife.” “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” And whoso findeth a great wife findeth a VERY good thing.
Notice the simple, understandable verbs of the text.
My son, “GET wisdom, GET understanding.” There are differences in the lives of every young man and every young woman. Some are driven from the moment the reach puberty to find a spouse, and others are not. Sometimes the Lord supplies life’s companion, when that young person is not really looking. But it is Solomon’s advice, since most people ARE looking, look for the absolute best. Not necessarily the most beautiful, but the most spiritual, the most godly – a redeemed individual. And similarly, “Get wisdom, get understanding” – you don’t need philosophy or religion, you need the best – Christ Jesus.
And when that perfect wife is found “FORGET (her) not; neither DECLINE from (her). FORSAKE her not.” I have seen young people pursue a wife until she is “gotten” and then she becomes almost “forgotten.” The man’s job takes precedent over his bride; or maybe it’s his hobby, or old friends, or sports. “Love her” says the wise man. Make sure she knows she is loved – tell her, give her your time, give her little gifts. Not only show her that she is precious to you, make sure that it is true in your life and heart.
“Embrace her.” What special hidden meaning is there in that Hebrew word in verse 8? None whatsoever. It means fold your arms around her and hug her to your heart as tightly as you both can stand it. Solomon may be talking about the wisdom of the Word, but our illustration is our wife or husband.
In verse 14 he says, “TAKE FAST HOLD … let her not go: KEEP her.” We may not consider it early in our marriages, but at some point the Lord may take our loved one home to Himself, and to that we reluctantly acquiesce. But we must never let anyone else beside the Lord – anything else – take our loved one from us. Not another person; not another faith; not any activity or recreation – anything. And the same must be made true about the wisdom we have been given in Christ.
Solomon suggests, put that wife of yours on the pedestal which she deserves – “exalt her.” As difficult as it might be to explain, this is the same word that David uses in Psalm 68:4 – “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.” Just as paradoxical as my statement last week – “We must make each of our children think they are the most beloved child in the family” – We must exalt our beloved spouse as much as we do God Himself without actually worshiping her.
In speaking about salvation through divine wisdom, Solomon says, get it and retain it; forsake it not. Love, exalt and embrace it. Take hold of it and keep it with all your physical strength and God-given faith.
And in the midst of these exhortations, he mentions the blessings she will give us.
Again, he was talking about wisdom, but the words he uses almost describe a godly Christian couple. If that husband is diligent in keeping his wife and keeping her safe and contented, he will find that she will give it right back. Solomon suggests that almost every point on the godly husband’s part is returned to him in kind. “Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.” From how much sin can a good wife keep her husband? From what kinds of sin can she preserve him? And with many sins come actual, physical dangers – “love her, and she shall keep thee.” With a good wife at your side, “thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.” The path is always wider, and the road is always less rocky, when there is someone who loves us traveling with us. “If two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?” When two, agreeing and united people, walk together they each make the other more stable and secure.
“Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.” It is said, “behind every great man there is a great woman.” That has often been true. In Proverbs 31, Solomon will say, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price if far above rubies.” And then he says, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.” How dependent is Proverbs 31:23 upon the dozen verses preceding it which describe the man’s wife? “She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.” And what does she do with that spindle? “She maketh fine linen,” some of which she sells. But the rest is used to adorn her children and her husband. And here Solomon says, “She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” A good wife lovingly sacrifices herself for her husband and children, just as Christ Jesus, the wisdom of God, sacrificed Himself for His elect.
“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.” What is the likelihood that a good wife will mean a longer life for the husband? Some day ask Bro. Martinson about whether or not a wife would improve his life. A virtuous wife would make any sane man wish for a longer life shared between them.
“Take fast hold of instruction (your wife); let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” When it comes to husbands and wives, “she is thy life” is a poetical statement. That poet husband believes it with all his heart. But then when the Lord takes her, he finds that despite its difficulties, life does go on. But when we return to Solomon’s original intent, it is true – this wisdom of God in Christ – really is life. Without Him there is no life – “He is the way, the truth, and the life.” “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”