This Week's Focus Passage

Seek Out the Man of Wisdom

Focus Passage: Proverbs 13:20

‘Walk with wise men and thou shalt be wise.’

On this passage in Proverbs, John Gill commented in his own inimitable, as well as helpful, manner, ‘Who is a companion of them that fear the Lord; converses frequently with them in private about spiritual and experimental things, and walks with them in public in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord; he by those means grows wiser and wiser, gains a large stock of spiritual knowledge and experience; for this holds good both in natural and spiritual wisdom; a man of any capacity at all will improve by keeping wise company.’ Attend unto this last statement, ‘a man of any capacity at all will improve by keeping wise company.’ Is this not the principle behind Paul sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, and is this not equally the same principle behind all internships and apprenticeships? Spend time with one who has himself undergone the teaching and experience of that which you wish to learn if you would become accomplished in it yourself. In correspondence with this Proverb is the book of Sirach, and 6:36, ‘If you see a man of prudence (wisdom), seek him out; let your feet wear away his doorstep.’ It is a simple yet frequently overlooked principle.

Proverbs 13:20 may be thought of as akin to another Proverb, namely 27:17, ‘Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.’ Yet while it seems conspicuous that there is a symbiotic relationship powerfully suggested in 27:17 since it may be presumed that both subjects are benefitting from the sharpening of the other, it is left open in the case of 13:20 as suggested in the analogies of apprentice and intern. Symbiosis is the habitual living together of organisms of different species; i.e. the rhinoceros and the tick bird. In this form of mutualism, both the bird and the rhino benefit—the rhino stays clean of ticks, and the bird gets food. In a similar fashion, when wise men walk with wise men, they are each very likely to be beneficiaries of the relationship. This may, or may not, be the case with apprentices and interns. Yet it is not hard to imagine that the mentors in these cases would themselves often benefit from the student/tutor sort of relationship.

So that we may well have, in the matter of wise men walking with wise men, both of these possibilities in view. Nevertheless, the point to keep in our purview is that it is a great privilege to be able to walk with men of knowledge and wisdom. This blessed reality is set before us many times in the book of Proverbs and this is no less than we should expect from a book that begins:

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction; To discern the words of understanding; To receive instruction in wise dealing, In righteousness and justice and equity; To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion: That the wise man may hear and increase in learning.

What then are the opportunities that we have before us whereby we may ‘walk with wise men’? First and foremost is the privileged opportunity that we have to ‘search the Scriptures.’ Do we not realize that when we search the Scriptures that we are walking with the wisest Man that ever walked upon the face of the earth? ‘Unto you, O men, I call; And my voice is to the sons of men. O ye simple, understand prudence; And, ye fools, be of an understanding heart,’ Wisdom cried as it has been personified in Christ who is our Wisdom— Proverbs 8:4-5. Would we not have our hearts to burn within us while He speaks to us along the way and our eyes to be opened while He explains to us the Scriptures? We should note that these two on the road to Emmaus were communing with one another when Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. Communing with one another is yet a further means of walking with wise men. Can we not easily imagine that while we are so communing about the things of Christ that He Himself, by His Spirit whom He has given ‘to teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you,’ would draw near us?

And we may also walk with Him in prayer, communing with Wisdom Himself through the means that He has made for us, ‘the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.’ So that we may walk with wise men by going to the Word, in reading the Scriptures as well as communing with Him in prayer, and communing with one another about the things of Christ. We have yet at least one more avenue or path to tread upon with wise men. We may walk with wise men in our library, or the library of the church. The great apostle to the Gentiles has made it eminently clear that Christ has given gifts to His church.

And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints..............building up the body of Christ. —Ephesians 4:11-12

By God’s wonderful grace, the usefulness of the works of these men that have been given to the church ceases not at their removal from the scene of this life. Oh no, their works follow them so that even while they are dead they yet speak. And even after they have lain for many days and years—even centuries—in their tombs, we are blessed with the tombs of their theological writings, the many manuscripts of their sermons, their biographies, and we may walk with them, as it were, simply by taking them down from a shelf, perhaps on some occasions dusting them off, dusting our brains and our hearts off at the same time, and sitting with them at the feet of Jesus.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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