The Rarest Commodity
We live in a world of rare commodities. Men and women spend the better part of their lives seeking after valuable artifacts. Every summer, we would take our boys to ruby mining attractions in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When our youngest son was five or six, he was obsessed with gems. Over the years, Judah amassed a collection of gems that he had either discovered on his own, or someone had given him. At such a young age, he already had an innate sense of the value of rubies. God has built into the fabric of our being an understanding about the desirability of finding and possessing rare commodities in life.
The Bible places significant emphasis on rare commodities. For instance, in the Psalms, David compares the value of God’s words to that of gold when he writes, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold” (Ps. 19:10). Again, in Psalm 119:72, he contrasts Scripture with gold and silver, when he writes, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” What makes God’s word more valuable than the most valuable earthly possessions? The answers is, of course, discovered in the Proverbs. The value of Scripture is that it imparts to believers the rarest commodity on earth––namely, wisdom. If anything is lacking in the world around us, on our televisions, in our social media feeds, and in our conversations, it is wisdom, understanding, and discernment. Yet, God has promised to freely give it to His people as they come to Him in faith and search the Scriptures diligently in order to find it (James 1:5–6).
At the outset of the Proverbs, Solomon sets our a series of descriptions about the nature of wisdom, discretion, and understanding. At the climax of his introduction to wisdom, he writes,
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Prov. 3:13–15).
These statement start off ten father-to-son talks in the book. Twenty three times the author of the Proverbs prefaces his wisdom statements with the words, “My son…” The father charges his son to “seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” (2:4). It is the duty of the father to teach his son what is of most significance in life. Among the many sides of wisdom laid out throughout the Proverbs are the following:
- Divine wisdom must be sought and discovered (1:1–19; 2:1–22; 3:1–35; 4:1–27).
- Divine wisdom never ceases giving perfect instruction (1:2–8; 4:13; 8:10; 15:33; 24:32)
- Divine wisdom is bound up in personal relationship with God (1:20–33; 3:13–20; 4:5–9; 8:1–36; 9:1–18).
- Divine wisdom leads to the fear the Lord––which, in turn, leads to life (1:7; 3:7, 8; 9:10–11; 10:27; 15:16; 19:23; 22:4; 28:14; 31:30).
- Divine wisdom leads to humility––and, ultimately, to honor (3:34; 11:2; 15:33; 18:12; 22:4).
- Divine wisdom results in righteousness and life (3:18–22; 4:4; 7:2; 8:35; 9:6; 10:11; 11:19; 12:28; 14:30; 15:4; 16:15; 18:21; 21:21; 22:4).
- Divine wisdom warns that foolishness leads to wickedness and death (1:19; 2:18–19; 5:22–23; 6:32; 7:26–27; 8:35–36; 9:18; 10:21; 11:7; 12:28; 13:14; 14:32; 15:10; 16:25; 18:21; 19:16; 21:6; 29:1, 18).
- Divine wisdom teaches us not to trust in “human wisdom” (3:5–7; 16:25; 19:3; 20:24; 21:8; 28:26).
- Divine wisdom listens to the counsel of godly parents (2:1–5; 3:1, 2; 4:20; 5:1, 2; 6:20; 13:1; 15:5; 19:26: 20:20; 23:19–22; 28:24; 30:11).
- Divine wisdom choses discerning and upright leaders (8:14–16; 14:28; 16:12; 17:7; 18: 5; 19:6, 10; 20:8, 28; 28:2–16, 28: 29:2–26; 30:21; 31:3).
- Divine wisdom seeks out godly friends (1:15–17; 4:14, 15; 12:26; 16:29; 22:24).
- Divine wisdom teaches us to avoid sexual immorality (5:1–23; 6:20–35; 7:1–27).
- Divine wisdom teaches the value of generosity (11:24, 25; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 21:26; 22:9; 28:27; 31:20).
- Divine wisdom makes us good stewards of the gifts, talents, and possessions God has given us (3:9, 10; 12:27; 13:22; 19:14; 21:20; 27:23–27).
- Divine wisdom leads to upright and truthful speech, while vigorously avoiding wicked and deceitful talk (2:16–18; 4:24; 6:16–24; 7:21; 8:13; 10:31–32; 12:6, 17, 19, 22; 13:3, 5; 15:1–28; 17:27–28).
- Divine wisdom is praiseworthy (27:2, 21; 31:10–31).
Ultimately, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are only found in Jesus Christ. He is the very “wisdom of God” (Prov. 8:22–31; 1 Cor. 1:24). Concerning the personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8, Richard Muller––following John Owen––writes,
“Solomon clearly intended to refer to the wisdom of God—although the text does not specify the phrase, the meaning ought to be obvious. This wisdom, moreover, was with God “in the beginning of his way, before his works of old” (Prov. 8:22), which is affirmed in much the same way of Christ as divine Word in John 1:1. What is said of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, moreover, cannot be said of anyone other than the second person of the Trinity—and Christ is called the wisdom of God “in Scripture, not only in the expression of ὁ Λόγος, but ῥητῶς [specifically], 1 Cor. 1:30,” and is so called “absolutely and simply” in Matthew 11:19. The whole chapter in Proverbs, moreover, clearly speaks of wisdom as a “person.”59 As for the Hebrew word olam, the Reformed argument is precisely the same as presented with reference to Micah 5:2: the word can and should be rendered as “eternal” or “from everlasting”—particularly so in Proverbs 8:23, where “everlasting, from the beginning” is explained by the phrase in the preceding verse “the Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old” and by the entire remaining passage (vv. 24–29), where clearly this wisdom is said to exist before the creation itself.”1
The Apostle Paul wrote the Colossians (who were being led astray by false “mystery religions”) and reminded them that in Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (Col. 2:3). Matthew Henry’s Commentary famously states,
“There is a fulness of wisdom in him, as he has perfectly revealed the will of God to mankind. Observe, The treasures of wisdom are hidden not from us, but for us, in Christ. Those who would be wise and knowing must make application to Christ. We must spend upon the stock which is laid up for us in him, and draw from the treasures which are hidden in him. He is the wisdom of God, and is of God made unto us wisdom, etc., 1 Co. 1:24, 30.”
Jesus is Himself the Son of the Father. He listened to the instruction of His Father (Isaiah 50:4) and treasured the words of His mouth more than rubies and gold (Luke 2:46). Jesus is not only the very eternal and divine wisdom of God, He is the one who grew in wisdom and knowledge as a man (Luke 2:52). He applied Himself to the word of God and perfectly obeyed the commandments of God––right down to the Mediatorial command the Father gave Him to lay down His life willingly and to take it again (Matt. 3:15; John 8:29; 10:17–18). He did so in order to merit righteousness and life for all who trust in Him. When we come to Christ, we learn to live in a way that is pleasing to God. We seek after His instruction and walk in His ways. Jesus is the rarest commodity–the eternal wisdom of God and sole source of righteousness and life. It is Him we must seek, find, and acquire more than any other commodities we may come to possess in life.
1. Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy; Volume 4: The Triunity of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 286–287. See also John Owen, Vindiciae evangelicae, in Works, XII, pp. 243–244.