Look: “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” (Proverbs 17:24)
God’s wisdom imparted through Solomon seems here to say, “Keep your focus on wisdom.”
The reason for this seems straightforward to me: Wisdom comes from God. Proverbs 2:6 says, “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
To be wise is to keep focused on the God revealed to all the world in Jesus, to see nothing and nobody as important as God Himself and to, consequently, follow Him. This gives deeper meaning to Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
To follow some other path or to try following multiple paths to gain “wisdom” is foolishness, foolish because all other paths lead to separation, not only from wisdom, but also from the only One Who can supply life. “There is a way that appears to be right,” Proverbs 14:12 says, “but in the end it leads to death.”
I must narrow my focus onto the God Who shows Himself to us in Jesus. Jesus says: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
And He says that He is the single entry point by which we live wisely and eternally: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
Listen: It’s so easy for me to be distracted, God, by the noise and the self-congratulatory and false wisdom of the world...and of my own broken soul.
It’s so easy to convince myself that I don’t have time for quiet time with You, time spent hearing what You tell me in Your Word and in the silence as I pray in Jesus’ name.
Little “successes” in which I rely on my own resources delude me into thinking that I don’t need you.
Day after day without casting a look toward Jesus can develop into a daily habit that leaves me wandering far from you, like a lost sheep.
Relying on my own “wisdom,” my own thoughts, my own feelings, leads me away from You.
I’m sure that focusing on You doesn’t mean that I should choose stupidity. I still should read and gain knowledge. It was a man who disdained knowledge who told the apostle Paul as Paul proclaimed the good news of Jesus, “You are out of your mind, Paul!" Your great learning is driving you insane." (Acts 26:24)
Great learning won’t make a person crazy. And we need to pay heed to people with great learning, even those who may not follow the Savior in Whom I believe. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)
I loathe anti-intellectualism, the chosen ignorance of those who resent the learning of people who have spent their lives gaining useful knowledge and expertise in specific areas, whose knowledge and expertise could benefit us all. I am sure that You would not have given us brains if it was Your intention for us not to use them!
[This graphic contains a wise saying my father imparted to me more than once as I was growing up.]
It seems to me that what You are saying in Proverbs 17:24, Lord, is, “So cultivate your relationship with Me that, no matter how many voices you hear in a single day, You always will discern My wisdom. You’ll always know that the wisdom imparted to you by someone else is actually from Me. You will always hear My voice and so, know the right path.”
Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Respond: As You know, Lord, I’ve been ill the past several days. I thank You that You’ve given me the medical help I needed and the time to recover and heal. But I’ve also been lax about my quiet time. It’s unwise to ever “take a vacation” from You, too easy to cast my eyes on other things and be led down a sinkhole far from You.
Forgive my recent inattentiveness to You. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus.
In His name I pray.
[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]