"Listen, for I will speak noble things; and the opening of my lips will reveal right things"
Solomon is trying to get the reader to pay attention and not just read. “Listen!” he shouts, “I am about to give you pearls of truth that few have heard.” The danger is that you won't know what to do with this information and will not treat it with the dignity and value it deserves.
I will speak of noble things
The word noble is the Hebrew word nagad which means to place a previously unknown matter or unknowable matter right in front of a person. It can mean telling the solution or proof to bring something to light; to make it visible. The idea here seems to be that wisdom is hidden from the naive and the fool and the average person. God, through Solomon, is going to begin sharing this hidden knowledge with us. We just need to be prepared for the information. Too often we miss the profundity of wisdom, mistaking it for a solution that is too hard or too remote or too simple for us.
One of the key ideas is that wisdom – when it is revealed – is that wisdom was hidden and not initially obvious or a contemplated solution. It is high, hidden. The translators of the NASB used the word noble to infer that it is different and higher and more sublime than the information and solutions that are regularly suggested in the marketplace of ideas.
When a problem or a difficulty is brought up, the typical solutions are bantered about and can be collected rather easily and often. But then there is wisdom: it is the solution that is stunningly helpful; it is unusual; it is right in a much higher way. It does not promote self as the justification for its actions. It promotes God and the common good as well as the individual’s well-being. It is high and noble and hidden from most people as they pursue the self-first solution.
When you are looking for the way out of your troubles, do you take the selfish solutions and its many variants or do you wait until wisdom speaks? Wisdom will speak if you listen. It will speak of a noble solution that honors God, promotes the value and worth of others – especially others directly affected by this problem – and it will over the long haul build your reputation and value.
the opening of my lips will reveal right things
Meyshar, the Hebrew word at its root, means to go straight and direct rather than the crooked or twisting way. In the moral and ethical realm it, therefore, means to go straight according to God's law and not to twist or pervert the rules of conduct that God has handed down; to not use myself or my actions in ways that God clearly did not intend. We do not talk about this "natural" or obvious rightness to what one should do, but it used to be called the natural law because morality obviously fit within that which nature allowed. Going against nature was a perversion of it.
One could rightly talk about the unnaturalness of premarital or extramarital sexual relations because it gave rise to sexually-transmitted diseases. Our physical bodies were not designed to handle more than one partner. The spread of disease was the result of the twisting or perverting of God's natural or right order. The same and even more could be said about the homosexual sins as these were a further twisting of obvious natural order.
Murder was an obvious violation of the natural order because it produced death – an argument gone horribly too far. A discussion is supposed to produce cooperation, not death.
Stealing is another twisting of the natural order – the goods of one person being abrogated to another without work and at great loss to the owner.
To gain money or goods in the right way requires that all parties be pleased with the transaction. If one is displeased or feels defrauded, then the transaction has been perverted.
Each of the Ten Commandments had a clear understanding in this natural law. It was natural to stay within its boundaries. Each violation was a form of selfishness and twisting what was clearly right in this natural order. We have abandoned this form of simple and profound wisdom because we as a culture want to do what we want to do. We see God's laws as too restrictive. Our culture has basically said: What Jesus says in the parable; we don't want this king to rule over us. We push the limits of what is acceptable and then wonder why we have the diseases and heartbreak and depression and crime that are throughout our culture. Until we get back to a basic understanding of what is right, it will be difficult – if not impossible – to dwell together in peace and safety.
I was on an airplane the other day talking with a 22-year old computer whiz kid who had never talked with someone who advocated abstaining from premarital sex until marriage. He was fascinated by my logic and morals and said repeatedly that he had never heard this line of reasoning before. "You mean to say that you think that I should abstain from going to bed with a woman until I get married to her?" he exclaimed! I had a fascinating discussion with him about the naturalness of godly morals and the selfishness that is in every heart. It was stunning to me that here was a college-educated and brilliant young man who had never encountered a cogent person make the case for premarital abstinence.
Until we are willing to listen to wisdom, our culture will continue on this twisted and broken path and our way of life will collapse. It cannot be sustained if it is not righteous. It is undoubtedly true that our culture will collapse if it does not repent of its immoral ways, but it is also true that each of us as individuals do not have to be a part of that collapse. We can choose to listen to wisdom and follow the right things that wisdom speaks, even if it is against the common wisdom of the office or the streets.
Follow God. It is worth it. Listen to His wisdom. I have read the last chapter... HE WINS.