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Sabbath School Lesson Begins
The Book of Proverbs
Lesson 4 *January 17–23
Read for This Week’s Study: Prov. 8:1–21, Matt. 16:26, Prov. 8:22–31, Gen. 1:31, Prov. 8:32–36, Prov. 9:1–18.
The LORD possessed me at the beginning of
His way, before His works of old (Proverbs
At this stage in Proverbs, wisdom reappears (see Prov. 1:20-21), and it’s clear from the texts for this week that wisdom is truth — the Truth as it exists in God, the source and foundation of all truth.
This accent on the
absolute character of
truth contrasts with some contemporary thinking, especially in the
West, in which truth is seen as relative, contingent, cultural, with
one person’s truth different from someone else’s.
But this concept is not biblical. My truth should be the same
as yours, simply because
truth is universal. It
does not belong to anyone in particular but to all humanity, whether or
not all humanity recognizes it.
Interestingly enough, Pilate’s famous question to Jesus,
is truth? (John 18:38),
came in response to Jesus’ statement
who is of the truth hears My voice (John
18:37, NKJV). Truth,
absolute truth, exists, and it even speaks to us; what matters for us
is whether or not we will listen to, and obey, what it is saying.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 24.
Read Proverbs 8:1–21 (NKJV). According to these verses, what is the value of wisdom?
Wisdom is so important that it must reach everyone. God created all human life, and Christ died for each one of us. So wisdom, the knowledge of God and the salvation He offers, is for every human being.
Look at the words used to describe wisdom’s vocal presence:
lift up her voice,
. . . lips,
words. However one understands these metaphors, what
is clear is that wisdom is to be communicated; it is to be heard by all
who will listen. After all, as we saw last week, what wisdom says is a
matter of life and death.
Eight times wisdom talks about the truthfulness of her words. The description of wisdom here, interestingly enough, parallels the portrayal of the Lord in Deuteronomy 32:4. This parallel, of course, should not be surprising, because God, as the Creator of all things (see John 1:1–3), is the foundation of all truth.
Read Proverbs 8:10-11. What do these verses say about wisdom?
So many people have lived, and still live, in ignorance, in folly, and in darkness. Many live with no hope at all or with false hopes. What makes this sad state of affairs even sadder is that wisdom and truth are so wonderful, filled with hope and promise for a better life now and the surety of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth, all thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus. All the wealth in the world means nothing (see Eccles. 2:11–13) in contrast to the knowledge of God.
Read Matthew 16:26 and ask yourself how well your life reflects the crucial truth of these words.
Read Proverbs 8:22–31. How is wisdom related to Creation?
In these texts wisdom is mysteriously related to the Lord as the Creator. This poem shares many common words with the Creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, and even reflects its literary structure, organized around the three basic elements of heaven, water, and earth. The intention of this parallel is to emphasize the primary credential of wisdom: if God Himself used wisdom to create, if wisdom is the oldest tool, older than the universe itself and so fundamental to its existence, we should all the more use wisdom in everything we do in life.
There is also a strong emphasis on the divine origin of
wisdom. The first word of the poem is the LORD, Yahweh, who is said to
begotten (second word) wisdom. The Hebrew word
qanah, translated as
by the NKJV, has the connotation of
Deut. 32:6, Gen. 4:1).
The next word is the technical word that is associated with the Genesis
Creation, reshit (
which is found in the first verse of Genesis:
beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Yet the word
beginning in Proverbs 8:22 is
used somewhat differently than it is in Genesis
1. In Genesis 1:1 the
word is related to the Creation itself, while in Proverbs 8:22 the word
is related to God Himself, to His way (derek),
which means His nature. Thus, wisdom is part of the very nature of God
Wisdom, therefore, is situated in time even before the
creation of the universe. The existence of wisdom, at that time when
only God was present, traces the antiquity of wisdom
So, wisdom does not originate in us, but rather is revealed to us; it is something that we learn, something that is taught to us; it is not what we generate out of ourselves. Surely, to walk in our own light is to walk in darkness. We are told that Jesus is the true Light which gives light to every man (John 1:9, NKJV). Every man needs it, too.
1 we see that each step of the Creation concludes
with the same refrain:
God saw that it was good
(see Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).
The last step (Genesis 1:31)
It was very good.
The Hebrew word for
good contains the idea of
enjoyment, and it also implies relationship. At the end of the whole
Creation week God pauses to fully enjoy His creation (Gen. 2:1–3). The
time of this pause, the Sabbath, is blessed. Likewise our poem
concludes with wisdom enjoying the Creation.
Read Proverbs 8:30-31. Why was wisdom rejoicing?
Wisdom’s rejoicing reflects God’s rejoicing at Creation. This
rejoicing not only happens
daily, at each step of
Creation, but also crowns the work of creation, when the Creation (of
life on earth) itself was completed.
8, we find the reason for wisdom’s rejoicing:
delight was with the sons of men (Proverbs
8:31, NKJV). At the end
of the Creation week, on Sabbath, God entered into a relationship with
humans. The immediate application of this divine pause and rejoicing,
after the work of the week, has implications for the human experience
Following the pattern of the Creator, he too may
look back upon his finished work with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.
In this way man may rejoice not only in God’s creation but also in his
responsible rulership, not exploitation, over creation. —
Gerhard F. Hasel, in Kenneth A. Strand, The Sabbath in
Scripture and History (Review and Herald Publishing
Association, 1982), p. 23.
Read Colossians 1:15–17, Colossians 2:3, Revelation 3:14, and John 1:1–14. What do these verses tell us about Jesus’ role in the Creation itself? Why is His role as Creator so important in understanding His role as our Redeemer?
The last few verses of this proverb return to the personal — to the practical application of what it means to have wisdom. By contrast, the intellectual knowledge about wisdom’s preexistence, about wisdom’s presence at Creation, is certainly deep. But in the Bible, truth must always at some point come down to the human level and how we respond to what we have been given in Jesus.
Read Proverbs 8:32-36. What life-and-death message is given here?
The Hebrew word translated as
In this passage the word
blessed is attached to two
propositions. The first one describes an action:
those who keep my ways (Proverbs
8:32, NKJV). The same language is
used in Psalm 119:1-2, in regard to the law:
Blessed are the
undefiled . . . who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who
keep His testimonies (NKJV).
The second one describes an attitude:
Blessed is the
man who listens to me (Proverbs
8:34, NKJV). In both cases the
requirement implies a continuous effort. It is not enough to have
discovered the right way; we have to
keep it. It is
not enough to hear the word of God; we have to
and follow what we know. As Jesus put it:
Blessed are those
who hear the word of God and keep it (Luke
Is this the happiness desirable which is to be found
path of disobedience and transgression of physical and moral law?
Christ’s life points out the true source of happiness and how it is to
be attained. . . . If they would be happy indeed, they should
cheerfully seek to be found at the post of duty, doing the work which
devolves upon them with fidelity, conforming their hearts and lives to
the perfect pattern. — Ellen G. White, My
Life Today, p. 162.
Happiness can be an elusive thing; the more we strive for it, the harder it seems for us to attain it. Why should faithfulness to God, as opposed to the pursuit of happiness, be our first priority? Besides, which is more likely to produce happiness (and why): seeking it, or seeking first the kingdom of God?
Following wisdom’s appeal, the inspired author of Proverbs 9 urges his audience to make a choice now between two lifestyles: wisdom or folly. The first and last six verses (Prov. 9:1–6, 13–18) are symmetrical and bring out the contrast between the opposite camps.
Compare Proverbs 9:1–6 and Proverbs 9:13–18. What is the difference between wisdom and folly?
1. Wisdom is efficient and is
involved in Creation: seven verbs are used to describe her actions
there (Proverbs 9:1-3).
The seven pillars she has hewn (Proverbs
allude to the
seven days of Creation. Folly, in contrast, sits and does nothing, just
pretending to be someone when in fact
she is simple, and
knows nothing (Proverbs
2. Although wisdom and folly call the same audience (note the identical Proverbs 9:4, 16), what they provide is essentially different. Wisdom invites her guests to eat the bread and drink the drink that she has prepared (Proverbs 9:5). Folly offers nothing to eat or drink; she simply boasts about stolen provisions (Proverbs 9:17).
3. Wisdom calls us to forsake foolishness and,
therefore, to live. Folly is more tolerant; she does not demand that we
forsake anything, but the result is death. Those who follow wisdom will
be advancing; they will
go in the way of understanding
(Proverbs 9:6, NKJV).
Those who follow folly
will be static, and they will
know (Proverbs 9:18, NKJV).
Read Proverbs 9:7–9. How do the wise man and the wicked man respond to the instruction of wisdom? What makes the wise man wiser than the wicked man?
The key to wisdom is humility. The wise man is the man who is
teachable and responds to instruction with an open mind. Wisdom comes
only to the one who, like a child, feels the need to grow. This is why,
in the most explicit manner, Jesus taught that
unless you . .
. become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of
heaven (Matt. 18:3, NKJV).
The Sovereign of the universe was not
alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate — a co-worker who
could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving
happiness to created beings. — Ellen G. White, Patriarchs
and Prophets, p. 34.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the
beginning with God. John 1:1-2. Christ, the Word, the only
begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father — one in nature, in
character, in purpose — the only being that could enter into all the
counsels and purposes of God. . . . And the Son of God declares
The Lord possessed me in the beginning
of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . .
. When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as
one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always
before Him. Proverbs 8:22–30.
Travis didn’t know what to do with his camper. At age 12, Logan* was the toughest kid in the cabin and wanted to be in charge of everyone and everything. One night, Logan decided he wasn’t going to bed, so Travis and his co-counselor came up with a plan.
OK, they told the obstinate camper,
can stay up–as long as you read the Bible. Logan agreed,
except he didn’t have a Bible; in fact, he had never read one. So the
co-counselor loaned Logan his Bible, and by the light of the moon and a
flashlight, the boy met the heroes of Genesis for the very first time.
The next morning Logan confided to his counselors,
actually found some cool stories in there. He was especially
interested in the story of Joseph, and asked many questions, wondering
how Joseph was able to do all that he did.
Although Logan still acted tough, you could see the
gears starting to turn as he wondered what we were all about,
It was kind of cool to see the change that
took place over the week.
Most of the kids who come to Camp Polaris don’t know the
Bible. Travis remembers a time when only one camper knew the story of
David and Goliath.
We’re ministering to kids who don’t grow
up in Christian homes, who don’t read the Bible. It takes a lot of
prayer to help reach these kids . . . to know how to reach them.
Travis, a senior mechanical engineering student at Walla Walla University, started working at Camp Polaris in 2011. In addition to being a counselor, he has taught a variety of classes including wakeboarding and model rocketry.
I’ve loved it every summer, that’s why I keep going
back, he says.
It’s been an absolute blast. On top
of that, I’ve learned a lot about trusting in God, because you get
situations where you don’t know how to make it through the week, but
you always do. Then in hindsight, you see that even the tough things
were a positive. It definitely is about learning to trust God.
I’m a little more comfortable now
with just being thrown into a situation. I’ve learned to be flexible
and go with the flow, and to be ready for whatever–because you don’t
know what’s going to happen next.
*Not his real name.
Sabbath School Lesson Copyright 2014
by the General Conference
of Seventh-day Adventists.
All Rights Reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Sabbath School Lesson Ends
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