20th August 2012

A Companion For Life

 “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”
Proverbs 3:13-14 (NIV)

In a series of TV programmes, Michael Portillo is travelling the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland’s railway tracks, accompanied by a book that he calls his “trusty Bradshaw’s guide”.  In the 19th century, George Bradshaw produced railway guides that inspired Victorians to take to the tracks and which gave practical advice for the railway traveller. Recognising that the ‘trusty guide’ is now largely outdated, Michael Portillo is keen to see how much of Bradshaw’s world still exists.

The book of Proverbs was written to inspire and provide a trusty guide to wisdom for all those travelling along life’s track. Unlike Bradshaw’s guide, however, the principles found in Proverbs are timeless. Its language and phraseology can, at times, seem archaic and outdated, but the principles of wisdom don’t vary from generation to generation. What varies are the buzz words, or sound bites, used to label those principles.

For example, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22), today would be termed ‘networking’. The principal, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17), today would be called ‘brainstorming’. No doubt, at some future date, these labels will be superseded, but the principles will always be valid.

Many of the principles are interrelated and should be applied as a package.  Networking is a good principal, only if the group is capable of giving sound advice. The Bible records how King Rehoboam chose many counsellors but still lost most of his kingdom because they were inexperienced and gave bad advice (1Kings 12:6-14). He failed to take note of a further Proverb, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm,” (Proverbs 13:20).

The wisdom taught in Proverbs is God-centred but practical and down to earth. It warns of the pitfalls in life and encourages the shrewd and sound handling of one’s affairs in this world,. which will allow us to more fully develop our physical and spiritual potential. After all, who does not want wisdom as a companion for life?

Father in heaven, we thank you for the practical wisdom given in Proverbs. Help us to understand and apply these principles so that we may become more profitable as citizens and Christians in your service.

Study by Eddie Marsh

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