Wisdom for life – Proverbs 3:13-35

Heading image for the book of Proverbs

Wisdom for life can be picked up from many sources. If you pick up books on self-helps, time management, or general wellbeing today you’ll actually find lots of good and helpful things (plus plenty that’s less than helpful). We’ve previously also quoted 1 Corinthians 1:24 a few times, where Paul says that Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God.

So on the one hand wisdom seems fairly commonplace (lots of people have some wisdom) and yet wisdom is also a facet of God in his highest expression – his Son, Jesus. Proverbs 3 helps us bring those two things together.

These notes accompany a sermon on YouTube. You can find links to others in this series on our Sermon Index page.

Wisdom invites you to live!

Remembering that Proverbs is written as from a father to a son, the book has two women who will try to seduce a young man: Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly. We’re focussing on Woman Wisdom here.

What is she like? Read v13.

  • The “joyful” word there is the same as in Psalm 1:1. “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.” (NLT)
  • Sometimes translated “happy,” usually translated “blessed,” it’s an enviable state of happiness that others see and wish they had!

V14-17 go on to speak of her great preciousness, and how she brings you delight and satisfaction. V18 is remarkable! Read Proverbs 3:18.

No wonder wisdom is such a prize – she is the tree of life itself!

No wonder wisdom is such a prize – she is the tree of life itself! Obviously referring back to the Tree of Life in Eden. If you ate of that tree, you would live forever – so it’s amazing to refer to wisdom in such terms! And whereas Adam (and us) were cut off from Eden’s tree of life, this tree of life actually invites you: Chapters 8 and 9 continue with Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, and each invites you: Read Proverbs 9:1-6.

Remember “simple” means “teachable”. And in v6, wisdom invites you to live – the tree of life invites you!

Foundation of Creation

Then we go back to read Proverbs 3:19-20. Wisdom is foundational to Creation itself. It was never created, because God is eternally wise – it’s not something he acquired at some point, because he can’t change.

Again, Chapters 8 and 9 have more from Woman Wisdom, with chapter 8 having beautiful language about her involvement in Creation: Read Proverbs 8:30-35.

This partly explains why so many people and cultures do have a great deal of wisdom in them: Wisdom is in the very fabric of Creation – in science, nature, music, society, love. So wisdom is a great prize – the tree of life itself, inviting you. And wisdom is the rhythm of Creation. But wisdom will also give you a precious security.

Precious security

This past year has been tough for us. Some of us have lost jobs; some have suffered Covid; we’ve all suffered from the Pandemic in some way (isolation, restrictions); some are working through cancer treatments; we’ve all known grief. But wisdom, says Proverbs 3, can get you through each day. Through each night.

Read Proverbs 3:21-26. Since the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, growth in wisdom is growth in a knowledge of him. A life lived in wisdom is in harmony with God because he is wisdom. Wisdom calls you to live, because wisdom is God’s own tree of life. A life lived in wisdom is joyful and blessed because it is a life in the rhythm of Creation itself.

But you might think this all sounds a bit vague. Woman Wisdom invites you to live, but how? 

To live is Christ

Back in Eden, Adam’s actions cut us all off from the Tree of Life – the fruit of which would enable you to live forever, enjoying God’s presence always. His disobedience brought curse and death.

  • Death is always about separation. And that day humanity was separated from God.
  • And we are all cursed by physical death. “The wages of sin is death” says the New Testament.

The Tree of Life makes a reappearance at the opposite end of the Bible: Read Revelation 22:1-5.

Who may eat of the tree of life then? In Revelation 2:7, Jesus himself says, “To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” And by “victorious” he means to everyone who has come to him, received life from him through the forgiveness of sin. And he has done that by an altogether different tree:

  • In 1 Peter 2:24, we’re told “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
  • The cross, that “tree,” was the place where the curse of death was taken by Jesus for us.
  • The healing of the nations comes through his wounds.

The tree of death to Jesus has become a tree of life to you.

The tree of death to him has become a tree of life to you – and the right to eat of the tree of life and be with him forever. And he invites you to live – because to live is Christ. Turn from your sin today; turn and be forgiven. And you can do that because he lives. He lives because he is life itself – he is God, the author and creator of life.

Author of Creation

Just as wisdom was with God in Creation, so too everything was created by Christ and for him.

Read Colossians 1:15-17. Nothing exists without the wisdom that made it, and that wisdom was Christ himself. And as we perceive wisdom in science, nature, culture, music, and humanity – that shouldn’t surprise us when we know that Christ himself sustains it all every minute of the day.

The warmth of the sun on your face – the product of an astonishing array of thermonuclear explosions in the Sun, travelling vast distances as electromagnetic radiation, filtered through the earth’s atmosphere, felt in the delicate texture of your skin. Christ made it all and sustains it all.

So Christ what we said of Woman Wisdom we say of Christ too:

  • He is the great prize – the tree of life itself, inviting you.
  • And Christ is the author and sustainer of Creation.
  • But Christ will also give you a precious security:

Precious security

Only Jesus can offer you a promise to eat of the Tree of Life. And he does so willingly, freely to all who come. And what of those who do? What if you slip up or fall back?

  • Your security is precious because it is held in Christ.
  • Even more, your security is bound up in a promise held between God the Father and God the Son!
  • Read John 6:35-40.

Growth in wisdom is growth in Christ. Growth in Christ is growth in wisdom.

Everything that may be said of Woman Wisdom in Proverbs is expanded on and multiplied in Christ! And so a life lived in wisdom is in harmony with Christ and Creation. Growth in wisdom is growth in Christ. Growth in Christ is growth in wisdom. True wisdom. Godly wisdom. Which is why the fear of the LORD is the beginning of true knowledge and wisdom. But so what? This stuff might be interesting and might warm our hearts, but how should it affect us?

Wisdom is seen and felt

The very first place to begin must be Christ himself. He is the author and sustainer of Creation. You are naturally separated from God, banned from the Tree of Life by your sin. But Jesus, Son of God, invites you to live! He calls you to repent of your sin, and enjoy him forever in bliss.

Then, as a Christian, your life should be characterised by wisdom – living in rhythm with Creation and its Creator. But that’s not about sitting in a library looking clever.

In Matthew 11, some people were complaining that John the Baptist was a bit austere, while others complained that Jesus happily ate and drank with sinners. In Matthew 11:19, Jesus condemned those people and said, “Wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Notice he refers to Wisdom as “her” – Woman Wisdom. And you will see her by her deeds, by actions.

The whole church displays God’s wisdom

What actions? Everything the church does, for starters! The whole church (us) is to display God’s wisdom! Read Ephesians 3:10.

  • How will the church display God’s wisdom if it looks like everyone else?
  • You are to be holy, united, forgiving, generous. You are to be like God.
  • And as you grow in wisdom, you grow in Christ. As you grow in Christ, you grow in wisdom.
  • In being like him, your life will be transformed – all our lives will. And that is the display of God’s wisdom to the universe!
  • Do not dabble with sin. Cut it out. Put it to death.

This is why the beautiful verses we’ve seen about Woman Wisdom in Proverbs 3 immediately continue with verses about practical wisdom in Proverbs 3:27-35.

  • Don’t think evil of others or do evil to others.
  • Never envy violent people – rather, nurture and cherish your friendship with the Lord!
  • Don’t mock others but be humble. 
    • That means don’t mock the church where they do things differently. Don’t mock people with a different view on Brexit. Don’t mock the poor, or the rich.
    • We’re all nothing before the Lord; be humble.


And use these verses to do a self-check. Verse 13 described those who find Woman Wisdom as “joyful” (happy, blessed). Woman Wisdom is found in Christ, the wisdom of God.

Do others then see you as “joyful”? Or do they look at you and think “I’m glad I’m not a miserable Christian”? This isn’t some manufactured, paint-on smile. It’s a life rich in contentment in Christ, even in the face of pandemic, isolation, hospital treatments, grief.

We’ve seen (v19-20) how wisdom is intrinsic to Creation – of course it is, because Christ created everything and sustains everything (Col 1), and he is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1). You ought to treasure Creation then. Christians should be at the forefront of environmental issues, leading the way to be good stewards of God’s earth. Don’t mock the “leftie tree-huggers” – rather, champion the cause and lead.

And v24-26 spoke of a profound peace – by day or by night. No matter what tomorrow brings, the Lord will be with you and he will bring you through. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” The path might not be easy, but wisdom is proved right by her actions and his way is always right.

So, since God has revealed his wisdom to you in Christ, then demonstrate his wisdom to all by

  • living in harmony with Christ
  • living in harmony with his Creation
  • even though that may put you at odds with ungodly society, trusting the Lord to keep you to the end.