The Second Result of Listening

If we passively receive and actively seek wisdom, then two things will happen: We’ll start being wise, and we’ll keep becoming wiser.  Last week, we examined the first result.  This week, we’ll address the second one.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
And equity, every good path;
For wisdom will come into your heart,
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul (Prov 2:9-10, ESV).

You’ll keep becoming wiser.  Proverbs 2:9 states that “you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.”  Does that list – righteousness, justice, and equity – ring any bells?  You may recall the same phrase from 1:3 where Solomon listed his second purpose for the book of Proverbs: that we would not just know the right thing to do, but also do it.

Here in chapter 2, he promises that, if we listen to wisdom, we will understand every good path.  In other words, we won’t just become wise; we’ll keep on living wisely.  We begin the journey of wisdom (Prov 2:5) and continue walking along it every moment of every day in every little decision we make (Prov 2:9).

Why is this the case?  Because “wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” (Prov 2:10).  You’ve survived a “hostile takeover.”  Your heart is now filled with and mastered by wisdom, rather than by your own simplicity that leads to folly.  Your desires have changed, becoming more like God’s own desires.  You now find knowledge to be pleasant and not something to be despised.  (See Pro 1:7.)  You are now a different person, free to make different choices.

"Marathon Medalists" by Mostly Dans (2012), shared under a Creative Commons Attribution License

“Marathon Medalists” by Mostly Dans (2012), shared under a Creative Commons Attribution License

The type of listening that produces such constant change is not something that can be completed after a few tries.

It’s a persevering discipline.  As we live a life of wisdom, our need for listening grows more, not less.  Remember how Solomon stopped listening and became a fool?  Don’t follow his example!  Keep receiving and keep seeking.  Then you won’t be like the marathon runner who was disqualified because he hopped on a bus for part of the race.  Be a finisher, not just a starter.  The end of your life is far more important than its beginning (Ecc 7:8).

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The Second Result of Listening
The Result of Listening, Part 2
  • Alison Amaismeier

    Thanks, Peter. I think I agree with you that as we live a life of wisdom, our need for listening grows more, but I was wondering why exactly you think that is the case. I was thinking that, as a person gains wisdom, pride, complacency, and self-righteousness can creep in because a person can be tempted to rely on his/her wisdom instead of on the Lord. I don’t have a specific scriptural at the moment, but I know that these are the things that often hinder my willingness to listen well and to receive wisdom. In Solomon’s case, it sounds like his heart turned away from God (even though he had much wisdom) and he worshipped the idols of his wives, but I’m not sure if it is clear what was going on in his heart.

    • Peter Krol

      As the old hymn puts it, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Hebrews 3:12-14 would agree with the sentiment. Speaking to committed Christians, the author warns against sin’s deceitfulness, which can produce a hard heart, which leads to an evil, unbeleiving heart, which leads to falling away from the living God.

      I think the longer we serve the Lord, we become more aware of our need for him. Consider the progression of Paul’s self-perception in 1 Cor 15:9 (early in his ministry), Eph 3:8 (later), 1 Tim 1:15 (near the end of his ministry). He seems to go downhill from least of the apostles to least of the saints to chief of sinners!

      It’s so easy to grow content with our level of maturity in Christ, which, as you mentioned, can foster pride, complacency, and self-righteousness. Then we stop looking to Christ for our hope. Then we’re in big trouble. But Paul’s example shows us a better way: the more we grow, the better we understand the depth of our sin, and the more we cling to Christ. Such, I think, is the path of wisdom.