Chastening And Wisdom
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs. We have discovered that after the initial portion dealing with the preface in the book of Ecclesiastes and the introduction in chapter 1 of the book of Proverbs, the first division of the book of Proverbs consists of thirteen lessons on wisdom with a summary of what you find in those thirteen lessons. We suggested that the lessons could all be introduced by the phrase, “My son.” Now, be careful. Every time you see the phrase, “My son,” you are not looking at a new lecture on wisdom, but the lectures are introduced by the phrase, “My son.”

We have selected certain words within the individual lectures themselves to give title to those that are under discussion. We found that lecture number one in chapter 1, verses 8-33, had for its theme the need for shunning evil companions. Lecture number two, which you will find in chapter 2, verses 1-22, is entitled The Search for Wisdom . Lecture number three, found in chapter 3, verses 1-10, we gave the title Trust and Obey . The fourth lecture on wisdom is found in chapter 3, beginning with verse 11 and continuing through verse 20. It is entitled, Chastening and Wisdom . It is this lecture that we are going to study together in this lesson.

What relationship is there between the chastening of the Lord and the wisdom of the Lord? Let me say at the very outset that we are interpreting the word wisdom in the way that it is interpreted in the book of Proverbs. In an abstract, practical way, it represents the teaching of the Word of God or doctrine, if you will. In a personal way, it represents the Lord Jesus Christ. What relationship is there between chastening and what you can learn from God's Word? What relationship is there between chastening and your deepening experience with the Savior? That is what is presented in the paragraph that we have before us. We will begin our reading with Proverbs, chapter 3, verse 11. Notice:

Proverbs 3:

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

We will stop our reading there because that is the end of this lecture on chastening and wisdom. Many people, in reading the book of Proverbs, have formed the habit of assuming that it is nothing more than a book of short, pithy sayings without any real connection. I think many people have formed the habit of reading the book of Proverbs with that in mind, and they do not realize that there is a connecting link. For that reason, they read verses 11-12 and talk about chastening. Then without realizing the relationship at all, they read verses 13-18 and talk about wisdom and dismiss what is here very largely on the basis that what is said has been said before in some fashion or other. Then they read verses 19-20 and their minds go back to the creative work of God. They scratch their heads, figuratively speaking, and say, “It is impossible to follow any continuity in the book of Proverbs.”

Practical Value of Chastening

We suggest that you forget what you have been following as a habit in your reading of the book and recognize that here in the fourth lecture on wisdom, you have presented to you the relationship between chastening and wisdom. I am going to suggest that we think first about chastening and so we need to reread the verses. Notice:

Proverbs 3:

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

If I were to ask you what is the oldest book in the Bible, I wonder what your answer would be. Most of you are well taught, so you would recognize that the oldest book in the Bible is the book of Job. I call that to your attention because the first mention that we have of the practical value of chastening in the believer's life is in the oldest book of the Bible.

Turn to the book of Job, chapter 5, and let us notice what Eliphaz had to say to his friend, Job. Of course, you will realize that Eliphaz was one of Job's comforters, and though these men were out of the direct will of God in relation to their opinion of Job's problem, God did use them to speak forth truth, and in certain instances, it was truth that Job needed. Notice verse 17:

Job 5:

17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:

Here in the oldest book in the Bible is established the principle that God is going to deal with his children on the basis of correction and chastening. The child of God who is corrected by God is blessed indeed. Since this is true, the child of God should be particularly careful to have the right attitude toward chastening, and the suggestion toward the right attitude is found not only in the words of our text in the book of Proverbs, but in words which antedated those in the phrase, “despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.”

We could stop right there as far as our lesson is concerned, but I don't want to because the other verses are precious. If you are going through some kind of chastening and you are finding it very difficult to bear, I want to remind you, in verse 18, that though God maketh sore, He also binds up. When He wounds, it is His hands that make whole.

You and I have a way of making sore and never binding up. You and I have a way of wounding and standing helplessly by as we see the horrible thing we have done and realize there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it, but our God isn't that way. Idiomatically speaking, in verse 19, God never leaves you stranded. He never leaves you adrift. Notice the words:

Job 5:

19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.

This does not mean that if you get into trouble six times, God will get you out of it; He will even get you out of it seven. It is the same idiomatic expression that the Savior had in mind when Peter said to Him, “How many times shall I forgive my brother? Seventy times?” The Savior said, “Seventy times seven.”

He did not mean, as you well know, that the individual should keep books, and when he had been offended the four hundred and ninetieth time, he was at liberty to cut off the fellow's head. He simply meant that forgiveness has no time limit on it, and God's ability to deliver likewise has no time limit on it.

Spurn Not God's Chastening

Go back with me to the book of Proverbs, chapter 3, and notice the same advice is given by Solomon that was given by Job. Notice verse 11:

Proverbs 3:

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

I wonder what he meant by that advice: “despise not.” You know, we use our English words so carelessly that we don't always know the mind of God unless we examine the word in relation to the original text. So let me suggest to you that the word despise in this particular verse comes from the Hebrew word maac, which is translated by the word spurn . “Don't spurn the chastening of the Lord.”

What does that mean? When something occurs in your life that is out of the ordinary, some unforeseen thing, some unfortunate thing, as men may put it, some difficult thing, don't shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh well, win a few; lose a few.” That is spurning the correction of the Lord. Rather than doing that, you should pause, as the Apostle Paul always said he did, and endeavor to know why you are apprehended by the Lord. It could very well be that the correction, the chastening (keep in mind the word chastenin g does not not involve solely the idea of punishment; it involves the idea of training—a lesson to be learned), the lesson is a very small one, easily learned. It could be that the lesson is a very difficult one that is going to take more than a mere passing glance, but don't spurn the chastening of the Lord.

This word maac is also translated in the Scripture by the word disappear. “Don't disappear when the chastening hand of the Lord falls upon you.” Sometimes people do, literally. They think moving to another locality will solve their problem, literally speaking, but they take their problem with them. Some folk in our day have adopted the method of disappearing through drugs—anything to get away from the reality of the situation. You may have your own little method of disappearing when the hand of God rests heavily upon you, but the advice is, “don't disappear.” The same word is translated by the word refuse , and the Spirit of God, through the wise man here in the book of Proverbs, would suggest that you not refuse the chastening of the Lord.

Samuel was very much distressed one day because Israel demanded a king. Samuel pleaded with them and said, “God has been your King. He has done well by you. Haven't I done the best that I could?” Human like, he was disappointed, thinking that he had failed somewhere. God slipped up close beside him and said, “Samuel, don't worry about what they are saying about a king. They haven't refused you. They have refused Me.” The word refused there in I Samuel, chapter 8, verse 7, is this very same word, so don't refuse the chastening of the Lord. Don't reject the chastening of the Lord. Don't say, “I refuse to have anything to do with this thing that is occurring in my life.” Don't reject it in the sense that you say, “God, if this is the way that You are going to treat me after all that I have done for You, then I am through.”

Turn with me to the New Testament, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, because our study of chastening, as it is presented in the Word of God, would not be complete without this reference to the application of chastening in the New Testament. In Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 5, you hear the Spirit of God saying:

Hebrews 12:

5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord [this is a quotation from Proverbs, chapter 3, in the Septuagint version, so there is a slight difference added], nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 [Notice closely] Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

I want us to pause for a moment and give very careful attention to verse 11. Will you tell me why it is that well taught, Bible-believing Christians think that their testimony is going to be hindered if they act as if chastening is a difficult thing for them, if they act as if they don't enjoy being chastened by the Lord? There are some Christians who feel that if they act perfectly normal and say, “Ouch,” when God chastens them, they will be hurting their testimony.

The Word of God says, “No chastening is joyous while it is going on.” If you act like it is, you are just not acting naturally. But you don't spurn it. You don't reject it because you know that there is an afterwards. Job said the afterward consisted of God healing the sore and binding up the wound. The Apostle in the letter to the Hebrews suggests that the afterward is related to the peaceable fruits of righteousness. If you are called upon to endure chastening, then you can be sure that God is going to produce some fruit in your life.

Go back to the book of Proverbs, chapter 3, and let me suggest to you that God chastens us as believers in order that He might teach us that we might receive the benefits of wisdom, for believe me, all wisdom is not learned in theological seminaries. The wisdom of the Lord is quite often learned through the chastening hand of God, and some of God's dear children will never learn the deep things of God no matter how many books they read and no matter how much they study, unless they go through God's school of experience, God's school of chastening. Therefore, I would like for us to think together about the benefits of wisdom.

Benefits of Wisdom

Remember, Job talked about the hurts that were healed. Paul talked about the fruits that were produced. Solomon talked about the benefits of wisdom. We are not going to take the time to read the passage again, because I don't think anything would be accomplished by our doing that, but it would be wise for us to keep in mind that Solomon compares benefits of wisdom to merchandise—things that you buy, things for which you work, things which you seek. He speaks of wisdom as a very valuable merchandise, reminding us of what we have already learned in our study of the book of Proverbs—that it is better than silver.

To what lengths we go for this silver? We work long hours and ruin our health in order to get this silver. We invest money in questionable objects in order to get this silver. Far better than silver is the wisdom, the knowledge of God, the knowledge of the Word of God that He will give in this particular instance in His school of experience if you willingly enter it.

He goes on to say that it is better than gold; it is better than rubies. All of these things in the days of Solomon represented the most valuable merchandise possible. Lest there be any question at all in anybody's mind, He said: “It is better than all things.” This reminds us of what the Spirit of God has to say in the letter to the Romans, when He is talking about the love of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, and He mentions possibilities, and then He said, “Nothing that has ever been created or ever will be created can separate us from the love of God.” The Spirit of God reminds us here in relation to the wisdom that comes to us in the school of experience that it is better than silver; it is better than gold; it is better than rubies; it is better than all things.”

Why do you want silver? Why do you want gold? Why do you want money? I am always interested in this at this season of the year. We usually ask our children what they would like to have for Christmas, and when you first ask, you don't expect to get the right answer. Usually, it is just, “Oh, anything, anything,” but then you press a little bit and more times than not, the answer is, “Money.” Of course, you could go buy a dress or a coat or what have you, but why is it they want money? Well, our girls, as a rule, want money because there are better prices after Christmas than there are before. They want money for what money can get.

Now, why do you want wisdom? Why do you need it? You want it; you need it; you have got to have it because of the contribution that wisdom can make to your life. No other source can be found for these things.

Contributions Related to Wisdom

I would like for you to think about some of the specific contributions which are mentioned in this paragraph as being related to wisdom, not just any kind of wisdom, but wisdom that comes through the school of experience, the wisdom that comes through the school of chastening.

The first thing that I noticed in the paragraph that I read was “length of days.” This means exactly what it says, but it does not infer that everybody that dies young has displeased the Lord in some fashion. It does teach that when you learn how to live according to God's rules and regulations in obedience to Him, your chances for long life are a whole lot better. Once you learn the lesson of submission, you have learned a tremendous lesson.

Another thing that this wisdom will bring to you, and this is interesting to me, is riches and honor. You see some individuals spend all of their time searching for riches and honor and they may die disappointed; but the individual who yields himself to the Lord and sits in God's classes, willing to learn whatever lesson God marks out for him to learn, never shrugging his shoulders and saying, “Oh, I am not going to take that course. It is too hard, God,” but saying rather to God, “If this is the course in which You wish me to enroll, I will gladly do it.” Riches and honor represent the specific contribution.

Then there is pleasantness. This word pleasantness is a word that describes tranquillity. As a matter of fact, one translator has used the word or the phrase, tranquil ease , to describe it. Another is peace, and you may think that there is a repetition because tranquillity and peace, in the minds of some people, are quite alike. But one is speaking of outer, and the other is speaking of inner.

Another thing brought to your attention, I have described by the word help , but if you are familiar with what we read, you do not find the word help there, so I think it would be wise for us to look at verse 18, and realize that I have used the word help merely to sum up a very interesting statement in verse 18: Notice, please:

Proverbs 3:

18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

“She is a tree of life.” What is wisdom? The wisdom that you learn in God's school of experience is a tree of life. That is a rather strange designation for wisdom, isn't it? What does the Spirit of God mean? Remember the first time that you see any reference to the tree of life is in Genesis, chapter 2, verse 9. We will not turn there because you are not told anything about it. You are told that it is there in the Garden of Eden, and you are told that when Adam and Eve sinned, they were put out of the garden and cherubim were placed at the gate of the garden, lest they would come back in and in their fallen state, eat of the tree of life and live forever in that sad state.

The last time you hear of the tree of life is in Revelation, chapter 22, and I think it might be profitable for us to turn there because in Revelation, chapter 22, you have described for you the real purpose of the tree of life. Speaking of the Eternal City of which John was being given a preview by an angel, He said:

Revelation 22:

1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing [a better word would be for the health] of the nations.

If you are not familiar with the book of Revelation, some of this will be confusing to you. We do not have time to go into it in detail. Let me say that it is speaking of the eternal earth where new nations will have the opportunity of living, and they will be kept in perfect health by virtue of the tree of life. The tree of life is for the health of those nations. It won't be for you or for me. We will have already received our glorified bodies, and we will not need anything to keep us in health; but the tree of life, according to how it is used in the Bible, is representative of health, of vital strength, of vigor, and of renewed energy.

I want you to realize that because I want you to look at one or two other passages of Scripture to show you how wisdom is related to the tree of life. Go back to the book of Proverbs and turn over a few pages to chapter 11, and notice down in verse 30:

Proverbs 11:

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

The fruit of the righteous is health. It is the result of a healthy spiritual state. We are told in the New Testament that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are told that all indwelt believers should be filled with the Spirit. Nothing ever happens to change the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but, as I suppose most of us could testify, quite often many things happen to change the filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives because all of us are not filled with the Holy Spirit as much as we ought to be. When the Holy Spirit is not filling our lives, there can be no fruit. The same truth is emphasized here in Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 30. Notice:

Proverbs 11:

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…

Now, notice in Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 12:

Proverbs 13:

12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

If you are hoping for something and you are disappointed that it is deferred, it is put off, you are heartsick over it; but when the thing you wish comes, you are full of life and energy and strength, so you see:

Proverbs 13:

12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

One other passage in Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 4:

Proverbs 15:

4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

A wholesome tongue. My, how we need it! Is there anyone who doesn't need a wholesome tongue? A wholesome tongue is a tree of life in that it provides health, strength and energy, but a perverse tongue causes a breach in the spirit. It lets the sap run out and the tree soon dies.

The Value of Chastening in Relation to Wisdom

Go back with me to chapter 3 for the last thought that I want to leave with you that we gleaned from this fourth lecture on wisdom—the value of chastening in relation to wisdom. It comes to my mind from what I read in verses 19-20. Notice the words, please:

Proverbs 3:

19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Isn't it a very interesting thing to notice in the study of the Word of God how God endeavors to encourage our confidence in whatever He is talking about by emphasis upon the order of Creation? He is endeavoring to establish our confidence in what the kind of wisdom we get in God's school of experience will do for us. How does He encourage us to believe that it will do something? By making a reference to the order of Creation. I challenge you, for an interesting study, to notice how many of the promises of God in His Word are backed up by some reference to God's order of Creation.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 40. A visitor from out of town, said to me after one of our services, “It seems to me that you people have had more to bear than anybody else has had to endure in the last two years. Why is God treating you this way?” I smiled and said, “This is our school of experience and God is teaching us much through it,” and to encourage our hearts for added ordeals, which I am confident are before us, He has given the verse:

Isaiah 40:

31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

God encourages us to claim this verse by reminding us that the God who promises that we shall mount up as eagles, the God who promises that we shall run and not be weary, the God who promises that we shall walk and not faint is the same God who set the Creation in order and sees to it that it operates accordingly.

Notice the paragraph which opens with verse 12 in chapter 40:

Isaiah 40:

12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

I hope you are thinking because if you are not, you are missing a tremendous blessing. God said, “I want you to answer a few questions for Me because I want to gain your confidence. Will you tell Me who is able to hold the waters of the world in the hollow of His hand?” How much water do you think you could hold in the hollow of your hand? God holds all the waters of the world in the hollow of His hand.

Do you think it would be possible for you to span the Heavens? We all have different sized hands. A span is from the thumb to the tip of the little finger. Some of you have a great big hand and my, what a distance you can span. Some of us have smaller hands, and we don't span very much, but God said, “I want to remind you who I am. I am the One who meted out the Heaven with a span. I measured out the Heaven with My hand. That's how big I am.”

Then He said, “I wonder how many of you know how much dust there is on the earth?” If you are afflicted with dust as I am and your nose gets stuffed up, you begin to think everything is dust. But you don't know how much dust there is, do you? God has already measured it. He knows how much dust there is on the earth. Have you every climbed a mountain? Do you know how much a mountain weighs? God knows the weight of every mountain. Do you have any idea what a hill weighs? God knows. He has weighed every one of them in a balance.

Conclusion

God said, “I am the One who gives you the promises in this chapter, and I am the One who [get this] dispenses this kind of wisdom in the school of experience.” My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, but freely enroll in every course that He has to offer, because thereby you will obtain wisdom that is more precious and more beneficial than gold, rubies, silver or anything that you can name.


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