The Treasure Trifecta

August 21st, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 2: 1-7 (NLT)

1 My child, listen to what I say,
      and treasure my commands.
 2 Tune your ears to wisdom,
      and concentrate on understanding.
 3 Cry out for insight,
      and ask for understanding.
 4 Search for them as you would for silver;
      seek them like hidden treasures.
 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
      and you will gain knowledge of God.
 6 For the Lord grants wisdom!
      From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
      He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Moving Ahead

Well, we’ve now hit chapter two of Proverbs and it doesn’t disappoint.  This particular passage spawns dozens of ideas in my mind.  In fact, I look forward to hearing what many of you will get from it in your comments (hint, hint.)  Reading through it, though, I feel that a few things jump out at me above the rest.

As a writer, I’m a student of our vernacular.  Language and word choice are essential to the communication of an idea.  Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”  Well said, Twainy. That’s why I search for multiple words when I’m trying to convey an idea.  For the most part, I try not to repeat the same word over and over again in one thought.  For example, in this paragraph I deliberately used the word “vernacular” and “language” instead of saying “language” twice.  

When a writer does repeat a word, it probably means that there are no other words that will suffice to portray what he or she is trying to say.  All that being said, I couldn’t help but notice that Solomon used the word “treasure” three times in this passage.  (NOTE: I understand that we’re reading a modern translation and that the original Hebrew might reveal some differences, but just go with me.)  Apparently, he must of thought that “treasure” was exactly what he wanted to say.  Some other terms he could have used instead of treasure would have been “plunder” or “booty” (keep your giggling to a minimum).  And he did use other descriptive examples in this passage such as “silver,” but treasure was definitely his focus.

When I think of treasure, I think of adventure or piracy.  I think of Indiana Jones or Captain Jack Sparrow. Treasure produces very vivid imagery in my mind, as I’m sure it does in yours.  So if this passage were our treasure map, what is the hidden treasure that the writer is leading us to search for?  I’m glad you asked.

The first of these three treasures is “my commands” (verse 1).  Commands, eh?  Yeah, sounds like a great treasure to me.  Ah, Matey, don’t throw away your peg legs or parrots just yet!  This treasure, you see, is progressional– it comes in stages.  This is just the first level.  Now, again it’s important that we consider who’s writing this passage.  It’s Solomon and he’s writing to his son.  That means that he’s trying to convey a message to the one who is dearest to his heart.  And for Solomon to use the term “treasure” really means something.  Why?  Well, his physical wealth outdid all monarchs before him and after.  Literally, he was so rich that everything he owned– his dining utensils, his throne– his house– his dog Goldie– everything– was overlaid with gold.  In fact, he had so much gold that silver was considered worthless in his kingdom (I Kings 10:21). Yeah, that’s pretty stinking rich.

So, as unpopular as it may have sounded, Solomon didn’t mind speaking the truth: “Son, listen to my commands.”  In other words, no treasure comes to those who are unwilling to learn or to take correction. Wisdom begins with the acknowledgement that we need more wisdom.  To be a “Know-It-All” automatically makes you a “Know-It-None.”  Nice.

The first treasure of Solomon’s commands would lead his son (and us) to the second treasure: “insight and understanding” (verse 3-4.)  Dude, come on!  All that gold and Solomon called “insight” a treasure?  Captain Jack Sparrow would be very disappointed.  But again, to understand Solomon, you must understand where his real wealth lay.  His unbelievable earthly riches were a secondary byproduct of his heart’s primary desire: to have wisdom.  When God offered anything in the world, Solomon asked for understanding.  So, God made him the wisest human ever to live– and just for good measure, also made him the wealthiest. Yeah, that’s a pretty generous bonus.

That’s the second treasure that Solomon wanted his son (and us) to seek: “insight and understanding.” Remember, he only gained the physical treasures when he sought first the spiritual treasures.  And in the end, the physical treasures didn’t even make the “treasure” list for his son.  Now that tells us something about the value of earthly fortune.  Oh, and if you think that by asking for understanding that God will make you the richest person on earth . . . it’s doubtful.  Sure, we’ve all tried it, but all that reveals is that our hearts really wants the loot.  Yeah, God’s not easily bamboozled.

What’s the nature of this understanding?  Is it just pure intelligence or know-how?  Solomon answers the question: “Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Wow, what a sweet verse and what a huge statement: “the Lord grants wisdom!”  What kind of wisdom?  The understanding of what it means to fear the Lord (or to know Him intimately and reverently.)  That is the starting and ending point of understanding.  So, we don’t have to wander about aimlessly, unsure of our direction or insecure in our endeavors.  Why?  Because the Lord grants wisdom . . . but it’s a treasure that we must seek.

Yeah, that all sounds great in theory, but what about the everyday stuff.  I need to know what to do in my Chemistry class tomorrow, not just how to love God and become a wisdom-seeker!  I need help now!

Calm yourself my spastic friend!  The third treasure is yours for the taking!  “He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.”  Common sense and integrity, the everyday stuff.  Now that’s what I’m talking about!  The trifecta is complete!

God’s treasure is high and practical.  Spiritual and physical.  Philosophical and realistic.  Inanimate and tangible.  It’s value extends from the palace to the prison.  So let’s take Solomon’s advice and become treasure-seekers.  Who knows what we might find!

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~ by johndriver on August 21, 2008.

7 Responses to “The Treasure Trifecta”

  1. WOW!!! Every day I am amazed as I read your ‘daily thread’. Keep em coming! we love you all!

  2. i like this! it helps me understand what i ask for in prayer. there are times when i pray for wisdom, but am i really seeking it? thats got me thinking recently. all of these verses about wisdom have really helped me have a better take on the meaning of the word. its great! all these different kind of treasures are neat. who ever knew there would be so many other kinds of treasure other than the original, gold & silver.

  3. Allright,that was amazing!This is my first time being on the daily thread,and I can’t believe what I’ve missed!it definetly reassures me to know what treasures I really should seek after!This will surely help me at school ministering to kids.(At least trying to.)Ican’t wait to share with kids at school, the things I learn each day from this!

  4. Also,I wanted to tell you last night……..
    Tuesday night was amazing!!!!!
    I’m so glad you had that open for us, to have a chance to get closer with God.At the moment I’m not so sure what exactly He did for me,but I do know right now I am just wacked up inside!!!
    I had the idea that it might be He was preparing me for what ever He will tell me here coming soon!!!!
    I can’t wait to see what will be instore for my life!!!!!!

  5. Wow pj. I espicially love this daily thread. i loved how you said “booty.” And using treasure 39827 times was pretty funny too. poking fun. (=
    “Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
    What I got from this was, the Lord grants us wisdom, and teaches us and gives us knowledge and understannding.

    And also pj, lately I’ve been feeling like, maybe, just maybe, god is trying to tell me something. I’m not sure though. I’ve beeen praying but I feel lkie i’m slipping farther and farther away from God since school started. I’m not sure what to do. Help me pj.
    much love.
    jessica (:

  6. Well once again God caught me! I didn’t realize how many times I ask for wisdom, and don’t care about the “understanding it” part. I think that God wants me to really seek the deeper thought of the proverb for today. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.This verse reminds me to be extremely sensitive to God’s granted wisdom. I need to have such a close relationship with God so I am not misled by another person’s voice. When you are sensitive enough to God’s voice, you will easily recognize what it is you are supposed to understand.

  7. I was that “Spastic Friend” this morning as I walked to my English class. I REALLY needed to read this. Chelsey’s comment got me thinking about the fact that so many times I ask God for wisdom and understanding but either don’t take the time to really listen or I don’t TRULY believe he will grant it. Both hinder my relationship with Him. This whole college thing is a big adjustment and each day I just ask God to get me through the day and for me to just give Him all my worries and burdens. We sang a song last night about leaning up against God. This really just comforted me because when I feel like I don’t have that understanding or when I don’t think I can do something I know he’s right behind me to catch me. Now if He could only keep me from tripping up the stairs EVERY time I got to class. I got a bit off topic, but thanks Pj!

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