"She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast"
Wisdom is an orientation to life. Looking for that which honors God brings a win for others as well as a win for yourself. It is this triple-win embrace that reorients life as God intended it to be. It is hard in our increasing selfish and broken world to think and live this way. It seems off and needlessly delaying your own gratification. But this verse tells us that it will bring a level of fulfillment and happiness to those who evaluate all their decisions by this measure.
Wisdom was normal thinking before the fall of Adam. Adam and Eve sought God's glory and pleasure first and the other’s benefit, assuming that they would be profited personally with those other two.
tree of life
It is mentioned in a number of places throughout the Scripture. In Genesis 3 it is the life-giving substance that Adam and Eve must be kept from in their sinful state lest they eat and permanently confirm their state of rebellion. Throughout the book of Proverbs it is a symbol of that which brings joy, meaning, and fullness to life. There are times when it initially seems like one is moving away from life when you take the path that wisdom marks out, but this is not the case. Wisdom results in the better life, but sin has a better advertising budget. Sin looks more satisfying and more alluring and as though it will be more fulfilling, but it won't. It leaves people empty and alienated from each other and many times from yourself.
Solomon is saying that if you want to plant a tree of fulfillment and satisfaction in your life, then go after wisdom and a full crop of blessing, meaning, joy, life, and significance will continually be available to you.
On the other hand, if you choose the fool’s road, then a tree of death will be planted in your life – a life filled with broken relationships, a life filled with missed opportunities, a life of unfulfilled potential, a life filled with regret. The road of selfishness is a highly promoted fun house that turns into a house of horrors.
This is the Hebrew word eser, which means happiness or bliss. It is also a synonym of the word blessedwith a slight difference. God is never said to esera person but He does bless people barak. When a person is blessed in the eseror happy form, he has had to do something. When Jesus issues the beatitudes, he uses the word makarioswhich is the Septuagint version of eseras he begins each beatitude. In other words, if you want to know how to lead a fulfilled life and how to be a blessed life, then strive after these qualities. Happiness is the result of living a life of wisdom.
Selfishness and sin – while it looks like it will produce the happier life – ends up producing a life filled with brokenness and sadness. Remember, this when you make your choices. You will not want to give up what you want to pursue, what God wants, or what will cause others to win; but if you look down those paths for your choices and personal victories, you will end up with a much better life than if you go after only what you want.