by Peeter Lukas
“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3
I can read this proverb with “one eye”, merely as an instructional directive, for a savvy technique to live my wonderful plan for my life. In the same way, with “one eye” I can read commentaries that extol the prudence and value of foresight. In fact, I can even get down on my hands and knees and use my “one eye” to look at an ant colony to teach me: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” (Prov 6:6-8)
I can study these wise ants who display the difference between being prudent and being foolish and then commend myself: “Aha, now I’m a wise person! I’m not like the rich fool in Luke 12 who said to himself, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ I’ve thought things through for many, many years. Buy low, sell high. Diversify. Back-up the back-up plans. A self-made man, I am, and oh so savvy.”
But all of Proverbs must be couched within the introductory words of chapter 1:7a – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”
But what is this fear of the Lord? One Proverbs commentator, Charles Bridges, writes, “It is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law.” It‘s a love and reverence of God that hasn’t the fear of this world in it because “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
So now we can read Proverbs 22:3 with “both eyes.” (We often need more than one scripture to produce a full biblical view.) According to commentator Eric Lane, “The gospel principle is: people can be warned to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ but a work of grace is needed to cause them to change their lifestyle to escape and find refuge.”
To know God, and more importantly, to be known by God, this mutual relationship of “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19) is the beginning of wisdom. Tremper Longman III writes, “The bottom line is that there is no wisdom apart from a relationship with Yahweh.”
So we can listen to the “experts” during these COVID-19 days. They have their place. But we can also read the words of the prophet Habakkuk, who wrestled mightily and finally resolved his questions with God: “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation“ (Hab. 3:18).
We can live —and we should live— with both eyes open, not with the savvy wisdom of the world, but the wisdom that fears and loves and listens reverently to God.