Be Wise

Title: Be Wise

Bible Book: Proverbs 9 : 10-12

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Wisdom



Be wise! American humorist and author, Sam Levenson (1911-1980) quipped, “It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.”[1]

Be wise! Dr. Max Anders exhorts, “Start with reverence for God; stay on the road of knowledge, wisdom, prudence, and discretion, following them to their ultimate destination; and you will arrive in the land of a pleasing life. That is the message of the Book of Proverbs.”[2]

Be wise! Dr. Duane A. Garrett explains, “The lady wisdom contrasts with the woman folly. Once again we are dealing only with metaphoric personifications. Like vendors calling for customers to come to their shops, wisdom and folly invite the reader to choose which path to take. It is a decision of life and death.”[3]
Proverbs 9:10-12 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”

Note three important points from our passage.

I. First, there is the Benefactor of wisdom.

Proverbs 9:10 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 2:1-6 reads, “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Emphasis mine) “The fear of the Lord” is known as “the cornerstone of Proverbs.” Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 15:33 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.” The fear of the Lord is found throughout the wisdom literature of the Bible. For example, Job ends his discourse on wisdom in the following way: “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding’” (Job 28:28). Solomon shares his findings related to the emptiness of a life under the sun by one who forgets “the fear of the Lord”. You will discover “the fear of the Lord” five times in the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12-13; 12:13). Solomon’s father, David, writes in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 1:1-12 reads, “Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly. And Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ houses. Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness. But David had brought up the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim to the place David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem. Now the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the Lord; Solomon and the assembly sought Him there. And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the Lord, which was at the tabernacle of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it. On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ And Solomon said to God: ‘You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?’ Then God said to Solomon: ‘Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.’” (Emphasis mine) Maybe you wish the Lord would make such an offer to you. Well, James 1:5 reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Emphasis mine)

The following passages provide divine directives for prayer from the mouth of our Lord. John 14:12-14 reads, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 15:7-8 reads, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 16:23-24 reads, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (Emphasis mine) Matthew 7:7 reads, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Emphasis mine) Some tell us it does not matter if we pray in Jesus’ name or not. He clearly instructs us to do so. We pray to God the Father, through the God the Son, by God the Holy Spirit.

II. Second, there is the benefit of wisdom.

Proverbs 9:11 reads, “For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.” In a similar fashion we read in Proverbs 10:27, “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.” Dr. Adam Clarke (1760-1832) explains, “Vice shortens human life, by a necessity of consequence: and by the same, righteousness lengthens it.”[4] Proverbs 3:1-2 reads, “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.” Proverbs 4:10 reads, “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many.”

Remember these are proverbs. Proverbs are not promises. An article in The Quest Study Bible explains, “Proverbs are principles of right living and general descriptions of life’s realities, rather than sure-fire promises or guarantees. For example, Proverbs 3:1 appears to promise a long life and prosperity to those who do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart. Yet some godly people live in poverty and die at a young age.

This proverb isn’t offering immunity from illness, accidents or financial troubles. Rather, proverbs such as this point to a general principle, which if applied consistently to our lives, will save us from unnecessary pain and suffering. While we aren’t guaranteed we’ll never contract cancer or go broke, we can avoid the foolish choices that can prematurely cut our lives short or cause financial ruin.”[5]

Proverbs 3:13-18 reads, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.” Psalm 103:2 reads, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

III. Third, there is the beneficiary of wisdom.

Proverbs 9:12 reads, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” Dr. David Allan Hubbard (1928-1996) explains, “Here the words are addressed again to the pupils and the responsibility each bears for his response and the consequences of it. ‘Wise for yourself’ means ‘you personally reap the benefits.’ ‘You alone will bear it alone’ means that ‘the harmful damages will fall squarely on your shoulders.’ The context, sandwiched as the verse is between the two Ladies, suggests that the mark of the wise is to heed wisdom’s call, and the sign of the scoffer is to scorn it and pay court to folly. Verse 12 prevents either party from acting in haste or ignorance. Its contrasting lines spell out the choices and the results more blatantly than the red and green lights that govern our decisions at the crossroads of our towns.”[6] Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) explains, “No one can live my life for me; I cannot live your life for you. We make our own decisions, for better or for worse, and we live with the consequences, good or bad. You cannot be wise for me; I cannot be wise for you. A wise man can give us sound advice and share the benefit of his knowledge, experience, and accumulated wisdom, but he cannot make us take his advice.”[7] Don Fleming writes, “People are responsible individually for their own gain or loss of wisdom. Everything depends on whether they are willing to learn from God (10-12).”[8] Dr. Adam Clarke writes, “It is thy own interest to be religious. Though thy example may be very useful to thy neighbors and friends, yet the chief benefit is to thyself. But if thou scorn—refuse to receive—the doctrines of wisdom, and die in thy sins, thou alone shalt suffer the vengeance of an offended God.”[9]
Proverbs 9:12b reads, “And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” Rev. William Clarkson shares the following comment: “This does not mean that only the sinner bears the consequences of his guilt — that is deplorably untrue; sin is widespreading and far-reaching in its evil consequences — it circulates and it descends. The passage means that the foolish man will have to bear alone the condemnation of his folly; every man that lives and dies impenitent must ‘bear his own burden’ of penalty. The remorse and self-reproach of the future none will be able to divide; it must be borne by the sinner himself. There is One that once bore our transgressions for us, and will bear them away unto the land of forgetfulness now.”[10]



Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) warns, “A man is a fool (which is what this book will say) to live without God in this world. . . . If you want to be smart, then make preparation for your soul for eternity. If you are going to be a scorner and ridicule all of these things, well, you are coming up for judgment. This may sound crude, but somebody ought to say it: you are on your way to hell. . . . The town atheist in a place where I preached said to me, ‘You know, preacher, I don't buy this stuff about eternal life and trusting Jesus and all that sort of thing. It may be all right for some folk, but I don't care for that.’ I answered, ‘Let's suppose you are right and there is no eternal life, then you and I will come out at exactly the same place. But suppose I am right and you are wrong. Then, my friend, you are in a pretty bad spot.’ Another atheist said, ‘I would be content if it weren't for the awful fact that the Bible may be true.’”[11]
James 3:13-18 reads, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

There are two kinds of wisdom, one with and the other without “the fear of the Lord.” Which one do you follow? Psalm 36:1 reads, “An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.” Romans 3:9-18 reads, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit’; ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’; ‘Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” Jesus teaches the fear of God in Luke 12:4-5, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Our salvation involves justification, sanctification, and glorification. Romans 5:1 reads, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:30b reads, “. . . whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Therefore, we are justified by faith and we will be glorified. It is assured. In a sense every believer is sanctified or made holy, because the Holy Spirit comes in to every believer at the moment of justification. Romans 8:9b reads, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” This is the positional sanctification of eternal life. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul writes about practical sanctification in everyday life.

Be wise!


[1]Sam Levenson Quotes, Accessed: 06/08/15

[2]Holman Old Testament Commentary, ed. Max Anders, Proverbs, Max Anders (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 16. Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

[3]Holman Concise Bible Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery, “The Poetic and Wisdom Books,” Duane A. Garrett (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 239. Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

[4]Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the New Testament Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.

[5]The Quest Study Bible, gen. ed. Marshall Shelley, “Are proverbs iron-clad promises?” Proverbs 3:1-4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 868.

[6]The Preacher's Commentary, ed. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Proverbs, David Allan Hubbard (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1989), 15: 133.

[7]John Phillips, Exploring Proverbs, Volume One: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 221. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[8]Don Fleming, Concise Bible Commentary. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publications, 1994). Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[9]Clarke, Commentary.

[10]The Pulpit Commentary , eds. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, Proverbs (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1891) 194.

[11]J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Database © 2013 WORDsearch.



Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© June 14, 2015 All Rights Reserved


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