Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 8:34
"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord."
Solomon shares a simple process for making sure that we don’t make as many foolish decisions. Find a way to listen to wisdom every day instead of just barreling forward with your first reaction. Have a wisdom place. Have wisdom resources. Have wisdom people. Solomon reminds us that life exists where there is wisdom. If wisdom is not allowed then really enjoyable life will not be there either.
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates
We tend to think in our culture that being blessed is a state of existence instead of a series of process that consistently deliver a blessed life. But scripturally it is more accurate to see being blessed as having built a series of process into your life that consistently deliver a wonderful life. In this particular case the process that Solomon is asking us to build into our life is listening to counsel on the issues, problems and dilemmas that face us. The danger is that when we graduate from some level of schooling we will stop listening and believe we have all the answers. This is never the orientation of a blessed man or woman.
The blessed man or woman is always learning. The blessed man or woman is willing to hear a contrary point of view. The blessed man or woman has people, resources and conduits of information that bring practical knowledge. The blessed man or woman has built into their life every day to think, evaluate, listen and mentally explore alternative decisions than the ones they are drawn to initially.
What is interesting about this phrase is that it tells us that wisdom speaks everyday it is just that we are not listening. The triple win choice speaks every day. Here is how God can win, you can win and others can win. The blessed man or woman listens as wisdom speak. Solomon goes back to the statements that he makes at the beginning of this chapter, wisdom calls out at the gate of the city. The dilemmas and problems of your day have a wisdom solution, you just have to be willing to listen and not launch into the self-focused solution that immediately presents itself to your mind.
Watching daily at my gates
Each of the choices that you make requires wisdom and could jeopardize the decisions you have already made. We cannot rest on our laurels. Each attainment on the path of wisdom is to be cherished and protected by the next choice. This phrase suggests that we should take time every day to make sure that we are being wise before sending out a bunch of decisions. I like to have a time with the Lord the night before and work through the decisions of the next day. Some people get up early and spend time with God praying and searching the Scripture for the wisdom they need for the decisions of that day. However you do it, it is important that you establish a routine that has you wait at wisdom’s gates before you make decisions.
In the ancient cities of Israel the wisest people of the city would sit in the gate of the city making decisions for the city and helping people with the decisions that they faced. They would also listen to the complaints that people had against one another and render decisions about how those situations should be solved. So when the original readers of these proverbs saw Solomon refer to the gates of the city to receive wisdom they saw the physical gates of the city and the line of people who were waiting to receive the wisdom from the elders and wise people of the city.
This process of looking for wisdom every day to handle the issues of your day, week, month and year is a sound one. Keep bringing your issues to God every day and allow Him to show you wisdom and to build wisdom over a number of days and weeks as He guides you. I have found that sometimes in God’s guidance of me, I am only able to receive a part of the wisdom I need for a particular issue and I need to come back day after day, and week after week letting His wisdom for that decision unfold over time, fact upon fact, insight laid upon insight.
One of the things that Solomon is trying to help us see is that we have never arrived. You never are at a place where you don’t have to have wisdom for the situations and issues of your life. The next day will bring new pressures and new problems. Build a habit of getting alone with God every day. Make it a regular part of your life to call wise people to get counsel. Take walks to think before you make decisions.
It is somewhat disconcerting to realize that every day I face decisions that could put in jeopardy everything that previous wise choices have accumulated. This calls for a level of vigilance and alertness beyond what I was expecting. Let me say again what I think Solomon is saying, build a process that will give you time to pursue wisdom every day.
It also though means that every day I have the opportunity to begin to climb out of the foolishness that I may be in by my actions and choices of the day before. Wisdom is a continual opportunity. One cannot rest on one's laurels and coast after a certain attainment. Today is the day, and I must praise the Lord and listen for the spirit of wisdom to speak.
He who finds me finds life
Wisdom is the goal. It is there for everyone but few find it. It takes diligent searching. It is worth the searching. It is life, but it takes daily maintenance and alertness. It is interesting that you could have wisdom and then lose it because you are not watching constantly, vigilantly for the next choice that requires wisdom. When you make the wise choice life springs up around that choice. People feel validated. Relationships are strengthened. Righteous businesses flourish. Good works are performed. Wisdom is like water, where wisdom flows life springs forth.
I just talked to a man who has been selfishly directing his family to do what he wanted and they resent his dictatorial style. I challenged him to become wise. What is the way to have your wife and children have a win in accomplishing your righteous goal? He admitted that it was just easier to bark out orders and demand obedience than sit down with his children and walk them through the why and the how of what he was saying. He had alienated his whole family by selfishly pursuing his goals. I asked him to think through how to accomplish the same thing in a wise manner. A manner in which God won, his family won and he won. It will take more time, it will require more listening, but it will allow everyone to feel listened to and have time together as the same chores are done, the same goals are accomplished.
And obtains favor from the Lord
This phrase is often seen as a throwaway line which one expects in the Bible, but Solomon did not put it here for that reason. Solomon is saying that if you build a process that allows you to pursue wisdom every day and you pay attention to the wisdom that you receive then two things will follow. First, life will follow. This means that your relationships will improve and your life’s joy will increase significantly. The second result of building this process for the pursuit of wisdom and then doing what you discover is that God’s favor will come to you.
Solomon is saying what he has observed and that is that the people who regularly pursue and listen to wisdom seem to be the luckiest people around. They have things “happen” to them that are beyond just the wisdom they learn. They have the favor of God on their life. God makes sure that things go well for them. God works out some of the details that would derail some of the joy, love and peace they are enjoying.
Just to be clear, we don’t get the favor of God unless we are pursuing wisdom daily and doing what we discover is the wise thing. But if we do those things an extra measure of God’s favor accompanies those kinds of people.