My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity
Guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.
Here, the father reinforces the lesson that he gave previously by exhorting his son to earnestly pursue wisdom. In this statement, it is assumed that the natural disposition of our heart is to love our folly and thus to rebel against God’s wisdom. The son is charged to receive the words of the father and to treasure his commandments (v.1). In other words, the son is charged to internalize the father’s commandments for a definite purpose and to love his words. In the process of internalizing the father’s words, the son must be attentive to wisdom. Because wisdom is the full substance of the parent’s teaching and the skill required to live a godly life, the son must not only passively listen to his father, but he must carry out the command. He must be a “doer of the word, and not a hearer only” (cf. James 1:22)
However, in carrying out the father’s command, the son must understand that internalized wisdom is both a gift and a reward. It is a gift that is received by crying out to the Lord (and to his father) and yet it is something that must be diligently pursued (v. 2). In this statement, the father is challenging the son to truly assess what he values. This does not mean that worth and value are completely subjective ideas, but it does mean that the worth and value of an object are determined by the length for which the owner would go to possess it. We know that men have traveled across continents in search for silver, but who would expend this much effort for wisdom? Jesus repeats the same sentiments in discussing the kingdom of God:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and brought. Matthew 13:44-45
After living a long life, the father understands what his son does not – namely that the value of wisdom surpasses any earthly treasure. Moreover, the father also knows that wisdom is indeed a hidden treasure; it cannot be obtained unless one is looking for it and willing to sacrifice for it.
Moreover, no one will find wisdom if they believe wisdom doesn’t have any true value to it. Fools and mockers regard the wisdom of God as foolishness and thus, they love their folly and refuse to turn from it. However, the father clearly states that nothing compares to value of wisdom. When the son internalizing his father’s teaching, he will come to fear and know the LORD (v. 5). According to Jerry Bridges, this fear of the Lord is “that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends Himself humbly and carefully to His Father’s law.” Hence, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the reward of obtaining wisdom. By internalizing the father’s teaching, the naive can truly come to have personal intimacy with God through obedience to His word.
The Lord is the fountainhead of all true wisdom, knowledge, and understanding and therefore, those whose conduct does not deviate from the paths of revealed wisdom, piety, and ethics will come to truly know the Lord. Furthermore, the pursuit of wisdom brings true security (v. 7), rather than the false safety from those who walk along the road of folly. As the son begins to grow in wisdom, then he will properly discern righteousness, justice, and equity.
Through wisdom, the naive begin to learn righteousness intuitively. This is a vitally important point because what characteristics the naive of Solomon’s day (as well as our current day) is a lack of moral discernment and intelligence. Many individuals attempt to use fallen human reason as a means to understand righteousness, whereas others use the ever-shifting standards of modern ethics and morality. The promise given to the son in the passage is that the naive will know and understand true righteousness because it has been revealed to them in the Scriptures. Because the naive will learn true righteousness, they will also understand justice. In other words, without knowing and understanding true righteousness, then it is impossible to restore true righteousness after it has been disturbed. Rather than being outraged at every little fad or issue that arises, the wise will have proper discretion and see beyond the surface.
In summary, obtaining true wisdom is not merely an obligation; rather, it is a blessing that guards, shapes, and protects our life.