Search Eternally Blessed Archive

Search by passage (e.g., John 3:16), keyword (e.g., Jesus, prophet, etc.) or topic (e.g., salvation)

Proverbs Background -Corps- October 7 -1981 

Format: mp3,pdf
Publication Date: October 7, 1981 

Walter J. Cummins graduated from the Power for Abundant Class in 1962. 

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1968 and his Master of Education degree in Secondary School Administration in 1978 from Wright State University.

He was ordained to the Christian by The Way International in 1968. He has studied at The Way International under Victor Paul Wierwille and K.C.Pillai. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was director of the Research department of the Way International  and served as assistant to the president. 

October 7, 1981 
Proverbs Background
Rev. Cummins
We’re going to the Book of Proverbs tonight but I want you to turn first of all to the Book of Deuteronomy. I want to cover some background information. And the way we’re going to handle this over the next few weeks...we’re going to...you know Dr. Wierwille is going to be back here teaching Ephesians in approximately three weeks and then he’ll be gone again for a time and be back. And on those times that he’s gone, I’ll be covering different things from the Book of Eph…of Proverbs.1
And I want to begin tonight with a background for the Book of Proverbs so we can see how the Book of Proverbs sits in the scope of the rest of the Old Testament and the whole Word and exactly what the purpose of Proverbs was as far as the background. Then, next week, I‘d like to get into an introduction to the Book of Proverbs itself, going into the opening verses in order to understand exactly what the purpose and function of Proverbs is, how it was used in Old Testament times. And once we get through this background and the introduction, then we‘re going to cover difficult verses. We’re not going to take Proverbs and go all the way through it like we’ve done in the Book of Ephesians or like we are doing in Ephesians; we’re going to select those verses that are difficult to understand or there’s problems in translation.
And, of course, if something doesn’t fit, you know it has to be in one of those two categories. And a lot of the problems result from a lack of understanding the culture. And in the Old Testament you have a lot more Eastern culture than you do even in the New Testament ’cause there was a...somewhat of a Greek and Roman influence in the New Testament like you see...you saw last night in the Book of Ephesians in verse 5 of chapter 1.2 But culture is a big thing. Figures of speech play a very important part in the Book of Proverbs. Language presents some difficulty as far as understanding different Hebrew words. There are six different Hebrew words that are translated “wisdom” in the Book of Proverbs and they can’t all mean the same thing. So we’re going to look at each of those things and evaluate it and…and we may be moving around week after week (or session after session, I should say, because they come here and there) to try to unlock some of those difficult verses.
1 These teachings on the Book of Proverbs were done on Corps Nights in the ministry year that ran from September 1981 to August 1982. The Way Corps that were in-residence and heard these teachings live were the 10th and 12th Corps and the Family 6 and Family 8 Corps. In this year leading up to the 40th anniversary of the ministry and the transfer of the presidency from Dr. Wierwille to Rev. Martindale, Dr. Wierwille was traveling a great deal. At the time of the first two teachings on Proverbs, he was on his Latin American Presidential Itinerary which lasted from October 7-21. On the occasions when Dr. Wierwille was not present on Corps Night to continue with Ephesians, Rev. Cummins would teach these sessions on Proverbs.
2 In his teaching the night before this one to the Way Corps on Ephesians 1:5, Dr. Wierwille spent a good bit of time explaining the phrase “having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself”, explaining the Roman society’s customs around adoption and why God chose to use that comparison.
I might recommend at least four different research papers3 that I’ve found on the Book of Proverbs. One by Cookie Lofstedt which does a tremendous and very comprehensive work on chapter 1 of the Book of Proverbs. It’s an extensive paper but it…and it centers on chapter 1, just covering the figures and customs and everything involved in that chapter. Another one by Rick Galbraith of the Sixth Corps, (he’s Sixth Corps I believe, right?) he did a background, a concise background on Proverbs. Peter Qualtieri’s work on “prudence” in the Book of Proverbs and how it ties into Ephesians and a number of other things, but it dwells primarily on prudence. And then there’s one by Joe Wise which I’ve ordered but haven’t received yet and so I’m not sure what that’s on but I hear it’s on the book…some facet of the Book of Proverbs.4 So those are four you might want to look at if you have access to them in the library, and especially if your research project this year is dealing with anything on the Book of Proverbs.
Think I mentioned last night that it’s a book of wisdom. The Book of Proverbs is wisdom. And so we need to know and understand what wisdom is. And it’s addressed to whom? To youth, to young people; to young people. It was like their retemories.5 The manner in which it teaches young people is through proverbs, and proverbs are wise sayings which they memorized or retemorized and they were designed as rules of faith and practice. To teach the student, first of all he would memorize that particular proverb. But it’s one thing to know the words, it’s another thing to know what it means. I thought back on the Martin Luther film where he was drilling his student…students and he asked them what such and such was and the student rattled off a definition he had learned in catechism but he couldn’t tell what it meant and that’s what Luther was after.6 And that’s what a person who was teaching the youth did. They not only had to know what it said, but what it meant; what the point was being covered as far as what they were saying.
Now, the Book of Proverbs appears in the Old Testament and the Old Testament was begun by Moses, the first writer who wrote the five books of the law as we know them.7 And you know the Old Testament is divided into the law, the prophets and the psalms.8 Just like the New Testament, any part of the Bible, it’s God’s Word. Holy men of God spake…moved by the
3 One of the requirements for graduation into The Way Corps was for each student, in his or her last year of in-residence training, to complete a research paper on a topic chosen from among a variety that Rev. Cummins and the Research Department outlined. It was to be of the quality and scope of a Master’s thesis.
4 Many of the Way Corps research papers were stored at the library at The Way College of Emporia in Emporia, Kansas. Rev. Cummins worked out of the Research Department at The Way International Headquarters in New Knoxville, Ohio, so he would have to “order” or request that a copy be sent to him from Emporia.
5 “Retemories” is a word coined by the Way Ministry that combines the two words “retain” and “memory”. Retemories are Scriptures that you memorize and “retain in your memory”.
6 Rev. Cummins is referring to a scene in the 1953 Louis de Rochemont movie titled “Martin Luther”. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and he would frequently show the film to The Way Corps and to the students in the advanced classes on Power for Abundant Living to teach people about the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation and what it takes to take a stand on God’s Word.
7 The five books of The Law (the Torah, in Hebrew) are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
8 In Luke 24:44, Jesus Christ divided the Scriptures available up until that time as follows: “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
Holy Spirit.9 All scripture is what? God-breathed.10 All scripture is God-breathed. It’s God’s Word, although the theories today try to show how the Book of Genesis was produced at different times by different individuals. And then Leviticus and Numbers, Exodus, were produced at another time by the priests. And then the Book of Deuteronomy, another addition. This is commonly known as the JEPD theory,11 but we don’t buy that. We believe it was God-breathed, that Moses wrote the books.
They were known as “the book of the law”. And in Deuteronomy chapter 17 we have an early indication of the…the existence of this law because it’s one of the commandments of Moses in regards to a king (if they were ever to have a king). Remember it wasn’t God’s will for them to have a king12, but in chapter 17, you get down to verse 15, God made provision that if they ever did have a king, that here’s how you are going to have him. It says in verse 15:
Deuteronomy 17:15: Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt [shalt…] thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
So he’s given provision in here. And one of the provisions for a king is in verse 18 where it says:
Deuteronomy 17:18: And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write…a copy of this [what?] {law} in a book [or a scroll] out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
The Levites (or priests who were out of the Levites) were those who were the guardians of the scroll, the law. They were the ones that kept it. And if there was ever a king, that king, one of his responsibilities was to write him his own personal copy of the law. So there had to be a law in existence if there was a commandment here to write it. See? Now that’s one thing.
In Deuteronomy chapter 31, in verse 9, it says:
Deuteronomy 31:9–12: 9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi,
9 2 Peter 1:20-21
10 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” The words “given by inspiration of God” in the Greek text are just one word, theopneustos, which literally means “God-breathed”.
11 The JEPD theory (sometimes referred to as the “documentary hypothesis” or the “Wellhausen hypothesis”) was a theory developed among Bible scholars in the 18th and 19th century that proposes that Moses was not the writer of the Torah, the five books of the law, but that there were at least four different sources for the material in those books that were combined to form what we have in the Bible. The sources were referred to as the Yahwist or “J” (because J is the German equivalent of the letter Y and the theologians who came up with this were Germans); the Elohist or “E”; the Deuteronomist or “D”; and the Priestly or “P”. Together, they are referred to as JEPD.
12 1 Samuel 5:4-9, 19-20.
which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel. 10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men,…women,…children,…thy stranger…within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
That was a commandment to read the law year after year. And again it had to be in existence if they were to read it, if it’s a commandment of God. In verse 25 of the same chapter:
Deuteronomy 31:25–26: 25 …Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant…saying, 26 Take this book of the law [this book of the law], and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.
They were to keep this book of the law in the ark of the covenant. The priests were the custodians of it, the careteepers…careteep…care…what do you call them? The keepers of it. OK.
In Joshua chapter one, when God is instructing Joshua, it says:
Joshua 1:8a: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,…
If the book of the law wasn’t to depart from Joshua’s mouth, it must have been there. You know one of the difficult things they have with Moses [is his] writing about his own death and their mourning for him afterwards.13 Well, God told Peter and Paul they were…before they were going to put off the tabernacle and so on, before they were going to die.14 He could have told Moses as well, and some of the details. So, anyway, this is…that’s no argument. But they must have had the book of the law, because there it talks about it again.
And then you get to Joshua chapter 8 and in verse 30:
Joshua 8:30–34: 30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,
13 The death of Moses and the children of Israel’s mourning for him are recorded in Numbers 34:1-8, one of the books written by Moses.
14 Peter talks about his impending death in 1 Peter 1:14-15. You can see that Paul knew that the end of his earthly life was approaching in 2 Timothy 4:6-7.
31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the [what? the] book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy [Joshua wrote a copy] of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. 33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as…as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over…mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings…cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
He read every single word. He wrote a copy and then he read it.
Then you get to Joshua chapter 24 and you have a very interesting verse of scripture. In verse…chapter 24, verse 26. Well, look at verse 25.
Joshua 24:25–26: 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the [what? the] book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, [and the oak represented the presence of God] that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
So Joshua not only wrote him a copy of the law of Moses, the book of the law, but now he added to that book of the law. And there were others that added to it as time went by, because we know that the Old Testament was more than just the law, the five books that Moses wrote, because there are also prophets and then there are psalms, or writings. So there were other men, Joshua being the first to add to it.
In 1 Samuel we’ll see that Samuel added to the book of the law. Chapter 10, verse 25.
1 Samuel 10:25: Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book [or in the book], and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
So Moses began it (the book of the law), and then the prophets added to it - Joshua, Samuel, others. And it doesn’t tell us who wrote every book of the Old Testament; it’s not laid out so nice like the New Testament is. If you want to know who wrote it was, you know, you can look and at least there is a name on the book. But God’s still the author so it doesn’t matter who wrote it. It’s a matter that some men of God wrote it.
It’s God-breathed and it fits all the way through. It’s not like other writings where you find contradictions in their work, but God’s Word will fit. In God’s Word, God’s the author of the whole thing. It’s just that there’s different writers using their vocabularies but it’s still God’s Word. And so, throughout the…the Old Testament, you have even books like the Book of Kings that was probably written by different people, different portions of it. Somebody would keep a record, somebody else would come along and add more to it, but they were men of God, prophets, and others that kept these things going.
Again, there are three divisions: the law, the prophets and the psalms. And I’d like you to look at the Book of Jeremiah chapter 18. You know that the priests were responsible for the law like we read in some of those verses. The prophets wrote some of the books of the Old Testament, but who wrote the psalms? Who wrote the “writings,” the other writings?15 There’s the law, the prophets and the psalms. That’s the question.
In Jeremiah 18:18 you have a very interesting verse because here were some people, they knew the situation at the time, but they were fighting against Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 18:18a: Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet….
The law from the priests, the counsel from the wise and the word from the what? Prophet. There’s three groups of people. The priests were responsible for the law. The prophet was responsible for the word that he spoke. You have the law, the prophets, and then the wise men. The wise were responsible for counsels, for wisdom, giving counsel in situations, practical situations. See? When I think of wisdom and I think of practical situations, I think of Uncle Harry and Ermal.16 Two of the greatest examples I know. Men that put into practice the Word of God in their lives. They were men that lived it. They believed it and practiced what the Word said.
So you have the law that the priests were responsible for. You have the word of the prophets, and the word of the prophets was, “Get back on the Word.” And then you have the counsels of the wise. And of course the Book of Proverbs is a book on wisdom, written by the wise. As a matter of fact it starts out the proverbs of whom? Solomon, the son of David, who is supposed to be the wisest man in the world.17 So the priests teach the law; the prophets spoke
15 In Luke 24:44 where Jesus Christ divided the Old Testament Scriptures between “the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms”, the word “psalms” is the Greek word kethubim, simply meaning “other writings”.
16 Rev. Cummins is referring to Harry Ernst Wierwille, Dr. Wierwille’s older brother, and Ermal L. Owens, who were , respectively, The Way Ministry’s first Secretary-Treasurer and Vice-President on the Board of Trustees. Mr. Owens had fallen asleep awaiting the return of our lord less than three months before this teaching, on July 24, 1981. Uncle Harry was Rev. Cummins’ stepfather, married to his mother, known as Aunt Naomi.
17 Proverbs 1:1
the word (and that word was to get back on the Word and…like reproof); and then the wise were there for counsel: to give wisdom, to correct individuals, for training, that type of thing. Again you have the doctrine, reproof and correction that it talks about in 2 Timothy.18
But now when we’re talking about the writings or the psalms, we’re not talking about what you think of as the poetry book that you may have learned in catechism class. We’re talking about the psalms of the Hebrew canon or the writings of the Hebrew canon.19 And to know that…have you ever…have you gotten a paper on the Hebrew canon? Well, there might be one forthcoming. If not, if you can get a hold of the first appendix in Bullinger’s…or in the Companion Bible, it has these, the breakdown.20 The law, of course, was the first five books. And then the prophets were not everything we call a prophet or it in…it included some other things. It’s a little bit different order.21 And then the “writings” included book like…books like Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah (was treated as one book). And then Chronicles was also a “writing”, which it would explain why Chronicles is written from God’s viewpoint, whereas Kings, when you see complementary information in the Book of Kings, it’s from man’s viewpoint, see?22 It’s still God’s Word, but one’s man’s viewpoint and one’s God viewpoint, and that’s how you have to look at those things. But Chronicles was part of the writings in the Hebrew canon. Now, we’re not concerned with all of these, we’re concerned with the Book of Proverbs. But…but I wanted you to see how it fit in the scope of the Hebrew canon.
Of these writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job and all these others), there are three major types of writing. The first is songs or poems. Poems really fall under the category of songs, okay? The Book of Psalms, of course, is made up of songs (s-o-n-g-s) or poems. If you put a poem to music then you have a song, don’t you? Alright. And proverbs is the second category of writings, which are sayings, wise sayings, used as rules for faith and practice. And the third type of writing are didactic narratives; didactic narratives. The Book of Job is a great example of a didactic narrative where it tells a story that has a teaching point to it. Now it’s a true story of Job, okay? But there’s a point to it. Same way in Chronicles. There are a number of true stories, records of things, but it’s to teach a certain principle. See? They’re didactic narratives rather than proverbs or poems.
Nehemiah, chapter 8. These writings were written by wise men. Men who had wisdom.
18 2 Timothy 3:16
19 The word “canon” comes from the Greek word kanon which means 1) A cane, straight rod; 2) a measuring rod; and 3) a norm, a law. The canon of the Scriptures is the body of books that constitutes the Word of God and “canonical” indicates that a book is inspired of God. “The Canon of the Bible”, Daniel L. McConaughy,The Way Magazine, March-April 1986, pp. 17-20.
20 “Appendix 1: The Structure of the Books of the Old Testament According to the Hebrew Canon”, E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1995), p.5.
21 According to Dr. Bullinger in How to Enjoy the Bible, “the prophets” would include such books as Joshua, Samuel and Kings, books that most theologians do not list as being among the prophets. How to Enjoy the Bible. E.W. Bullinger, (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1980) pp. 30-31.
22 For further information on the relationship between and different perspectives of the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, see: Chapter 7 - “Viewpoints: God’s — Man’s”, Victor Paul Wierwille, The Word’s Way (New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1971), pp. 109-130.
Among the men who had wisdom in the Old Testament, I think you know the elders of the gate.23 I think you’ve heard of men called scribes.24 I think you’ve heard of those called teachers, or masters even in the gospel period.25 See? These were wise men, men who had wisdom. And wisdom is more than knowledge, it’s knowledge applied, Okay? Knowledge applied. In Nehemiah 8, verse 1.
Nehemiah 8:1: And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses [there you have that book again], which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
Ezra was a scribe. A scribe couldn’t be somebody without knowledge. He had to be a wise person, because a scribe was somebody that was responsible for the care of the Hebrew texts and the Aramaic texts until the establishment of the Massorah, the Massoretic text.26 I think mu…most of you have heard of the Massorah. The Massorah is…(M-A-S-S-O-R-E-H…A-H, I guess.)…the Massorah was the Hebrew scriptures that has the “fence” around it that tells how many words, how many letters there are in this passage of scripture, so that when somebody is copying the scripture they can check all these statistics and make sure they haven’t skipped a letter or a word or a yod; you know, a little letter, smallest letter, or a jot or a tittle, those little marks over the letters.27 But that Massorah was not established until...the earliest we have, I think, is from around the tenth century and it was established sometime between the first century and the tenth century. Exactly when is not known.
Before that, you have…before the Massorites you have the Sopherim (spelled S-O-P-H-E-R-I-M). A Sopher…the Sopherim were scribes. The Hebrew word that’s used for scribe here is s-a-p-h-a-r and Sopherim comes from that. That’s this Hebrew word for scribe in Ez…in Nehemiah, used of Ezra here. Saphar is a verb that means to count, to number or to tell. To count, number or tell. And the participle form is used here. That’s why it’s translated “scribe” as a noun. In others words, he is Ezra—the one who counts, numbers or tells. That’s what a scribe is—a person who counts, numbers or tells.
23 Among the places that elders of the gate are mentioned are Deuteronomy 21:19; 22:15; and 25:7; Joshua 20:4; Ruth 4:11; Proverbs 31:23; and Lamentations 5:14.
24 Scribes appear 122 times in the King James Version. A search of the word “scribe” in a concordance will show you many who are mentioned by name in the Bible.
25 The Greek word didaskalos is used 73 times in the Gospels, of which 69 are in reference to Jesus Christ. It is translated “master” 72 times and “teacher” one time. The word “Rabbi”, a title of respect applied by the Judeans to their teachers appears eight times, seven of which are in reference to Jesus Christ.
26 “Appendix 30 — The Massorah” of the Companion Bible explains that “the oldest and best manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible contain on every page, beside the Text…a varying number of lines of smaller writing, distributed between the upper and lower margins.” “The Massorah is called “A Fence to the Scriptures” because it locked all words and letters in their place.” For a more detailed explanation, see this appendix. E.W. Bullinger. The Companion Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1995), p. 31.
27 In Matthew 5:18, Jesus Christ said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The “jot” refers to the yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. A “tittle” or keraia were small adornments to the letters in the Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts or small lines and projections that differentiated between similar letters.
Now think about that. If you have a…a fence around the Scripture which was established later, they could easily count up the letters and…and…and words in a passage and see if it comes out. They could count; they could number them; and then they could also tell what it was saying. Before the Massorites, you have this group or these people known as these Sopherims, okay? They were the scribes and their job was to protect that text without a fence. They didn’t have a fence, they worked more or less like I guess we do today with…where you have different texts and you compare to try to get back to the original. Of course Ezra was a man of God, and he worked the Word to try to get back to the original because maybe the law of Moses…that people had added things, subtracted things, just like they’ve done to texts today. And so it was his responsibility to count, to number and to tell exactly what that was saying. I, when I think of count and number, I think of that 2 Timothy 2:15: rightly divide.28 See? He had to know his mathematics spiritually when it came to the texts, the Word. That was a scribe. So he couldn’t be stupid, he had to be a wise person, he had to know wisdom.
Now down in verse 5.
Nehemiah 8:5a: …Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people;…
And then, between him and these different priests, they explained it. And you get down to verse 8.
Nehemiah 8:8a: So they [Ezra and all the priests that were helping him] read in the book in the law of God [haphazardly? No! They read how?] distinctly…
They didn’t skip words. They didn’t read “thoroughly” instead of “throughly”.29 They read distinctly!What does the Word say, exactly?
Nehemiah 8:8b:
…and [they] gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
They taught the Word. They read it distinctly, exactly what does the text say, and then they would teach it, explain it that everybody could understand. That was the job of a man of wisdom, one of these wise people, a scribe.
This word for “understand”— “caused them to understand the reading”— is also found
28 2 Timothy 2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
29 In Session 2, Segment 9, of the foundational class on Power for Abundant Living, Dr. Wierwille uses 2 Timothy 3:17 which says “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” as an example of how people do not read exactly what is written in the Bible. They will read it as “thoroughly” rather than what it says which is “throughly”.
in Proverbs chapter 1. It’s a related word, same root. In verse 2, which gives the purpose of Proverbs.
Proverbs 1:2: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
And that word “understanding” (and we’ll get into this more next week, but) basically it means discernment, discernment or discrimination in the sense of being able to separate truth from error, again rightly dividing.
They not only read the Word distinctly, but they caused the people to understand exactly what was written, to separate truth from error. Not just read the Word and understand the words as far as, “Oh ‘the’ means it’s a definite article and ‘wisdom’ means knowledge applied”. Well what does that mean? Let’s put it into application. But they could utilize that…those scriptures, the book of the law, separate truth from error. They’d understand when it says in the book of the law “thou shalt not kill”, what that meant. You know you could…when the enemy attacked you, what do you do? Oh! “Don’t kill”. Let them kill you. See? No! 30 They could understand it. They could rightly divide it. They knew that if you’re in a war, somebody is running, breathing down your neck with a javelin or something, that you’d better fight back. Right? Sure, see? They were able to separate, understand; separate truth from error; rightly divide; discernment. That’s what Nehemiah did and that’s the…one of the functions of wisdom, as it says here in Proverbs. They weren’t… One of the things that the application of knowledge is, as far as wisdom, it is discernment – to be able to separate truth from error. That’s a very important part of wisdom. Now there’s other things related to wisdom and we’ll see these later on.
Now while you’re in chapter 1 of Proverbs, I want you to look at verse 6. The introduction of Proverbs is verses 1 to 6, the first part of 6.
Proverbs 1:6a: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation;…
Then “the words of the wise and their dark sayings” begin the first section of the Book of Proverbs. Again, somebody wrongly divided the verses here, okay?31 It should begin:
Proverbs 1:6b: ...the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
30 Although the King James Version translates the commandment against killing that appears in the ten commandments in Exodus 20 as “thou shalt not kill”, the Hebrew reads “thou shalt not murder” or, perhaps more broadly rendered “you shall not commit an unjust killing.” God did provide in the Mosaic law for accidental killings, capital punishment or judicial killing, and the killing of someone breaking into your home (personal self-defense) as well as for national self-defense, none of which would fall under the category of “unjust” killing. This can be seen, among other places, in Nehemiah 4:8-23 and Esther 8:11-12 and 9:1-5.
31 The first versions of the Bible to divide the text into verses were produced in the 15th and 16th centuries. At times the editors and translators split the text into two verses at places that further investigation show should have been divided elsewhere or left together. According to Rev. Cummins, this verse division is one of those.
And their “dark sayings”, simply means their morals or the point of what those words are saying. That they not only…not only are these just the words, but it also includes the point of what these words are saying. Okay? It’s the words of the wise and the point of what is being said.
The question is, again, who are the wise? Like Ezra was a scribe, he had to be a man of wisdom. In Jeremiah 18:18, we saw that distinction between the priest, the wise and the prophet. In Jeremiah chapter 8, I would like you to look at that. Jeremiah 8, verse 5.
Jeremiah 8:5: Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
That’s to pick up the context here, the…what he’s talking about — Israel had “slidden back”. Then you get down to verse 8, this is why he says this here:
Jeremiah 8:8a: How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us?...
Yet they were what? Backslidden. But they said, “we are wise.”
Jeremiah 8:8b-9a: 8 …Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. 9 The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the [what? the] word of the LORD…
Those who were supposed to be wise, who were supposed to be scribes, instead of being able like Ezra to rightly divide the Word, to make people to understand it, to read it distinctly, they had…had rejected the Word of God and consequently these wise guys were ashamed. And these scui…scribes, their work was all in vain, their pens using invisible ink.
Jeremiah 8:9b: ...and what wisdom is in them?
So they had a problem because they forsook the Word. Now, in every culture, basically, there has been the study of wisdom, okay? We have it in our culture: philosophy. Philosophy is a combination of two Greek words: phileō, which means what? Love. And sophos, which means wisdom. So the “love of wisdom”, that’s philosophy. See?
And in Greek culture you had the sophists who were the wise ones. In Egyptian culture you had people who were supposed to be wise people, wisdom people. They wrote what they called “wisdom literature” in all the cultures of the East; the Greeks had it, the Romans. Every culture…civilized culture, basically, has had the study of wisdom and they had people that were
known as wise people: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates.32 But the thing is, if they reject the Word, what wisdom is really in them? World wisdom. That’s why you get the…the word for “wisdom” in German is wissenshaft. You all ought to know that, W-I-S-S-E-N-S-H-A-F-T, I believe. Sound good? Wissenshaft. But the word for philosophy is weltwissenshaft. Spelled…just add W-E-L-T? It means “world wisdom”. World wisdom is philosophy in German, and in English its philosophy which is the love of wisdom. So wisdom, in basically every civilized culture, has stood at the top. As a matter of fact, the top degree you can earn in college is a doctor of what? Philosophy. The love of wisdom. A doctor of the love of wisdom, see?
Now “doctor”, if you ever look it up in the Bible in the New Testament, it’s a translation of the Greek word didaskalos, which means “teacher”. So all a doctor of philosophy is is a teacher of wisdom, basically. And again in every culture, you’ve had those who were supposed to be teachers of wisdom, doctors of philosophy, who were supposed to be the smart ones in the culture. But without the wisdom of God, without going to God’s Word, you’ll never have real wisdom. The wise are ashamed, the scribe’s pen is in vain, like it said here in Jeremiah.
In Job chapter 29 you have another group that falls in this category as wise, and that’s the elder of the gate. The elder of the gate. He’s the one that was supposed to be one of the wisest in the community that sat at the city gate in order to judge things that came up, problems that they encountered. And, matter of fact, you might want to jot down Deuteronomy 22:15 and Ruth 4:1 and 2, where it talks about elders of the gates. But here is a good description, I thought, of an elder, because Job says (talking about his previous status):
Job 29:7: When I went…
Verse 7…verse 7 of chapter 29:
Job 29:7: When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
And that’s where the elders sat — the city gate — in the street going out. By the way, this was right inside the gate, they have benches they’ve found in ruins in some of these different sites. They were not…they didn’t sit outside the city. It was right inside the gate. And you don’t have a gate like you think of — here is a doorway, you just walk through and you’re inside the city. But the…the gate ran parallel, generally, ran parallel with the wall for a ways. That way, if the enemy was ever coming, they had to travel a little ways right under the wall through the gate in order to get into the city and people could be pouring oil on them and stones and things like that. So this gate was a…like a passageway running parallel with the wall in
32 Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are perhaps the most famous of the ancient Greek philosophers. Many scholars consider them the basis of all Western philosophy. Plato was Socrates’ prize pupil, as Aristotle was later for Plato.
many of the cities. And it was always…the gate always came (if you were facing it) from the right side running parallel, because there weren’t too many left-handed archers or spear throwers. Think that through. They were smart. Okay, you have to ask John Schoenheit about this because he’s been over and seen some of this in the tells where he dug over in that area.33 But this, I thought that was interesting. That’s the gate. They were inside that walkway there.
Well…
Job 29:7b–8a: 7…I prepared my seat in the street! 8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves:…
It just means they were respectful; they didn’t go around the corner and hide.
Job 29:8b-12 8…the aged [elders] arose, and stood up [in respect]. 9 The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. 10 The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth [out of respect for the elder]. 11 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: 12 Because I delivered the poor [the wretched] that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
See, he was the wise one so he was the one capable of helping those that came in for help.
Job 29:13–16: 13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. 14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. 15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
33 John Schoenheit, of the Sixth Way Corps, participated as a volunteer in the archaeological dig at Tel Dan in northern Israel. One of the main finds at Dan were gates from both the Middle Bronze and Iron ages.
The Bronze Age gate at the Biblical city of Megiddo is an example of the type Rev. Cummins is talking about.
16 I was a father to the poor [or helpless]: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
You know, if he didn’t know the cause, he was wise enough to go search it out, find out. “Well, what’s the cause of the matter? Let’s solve this problem here.”
Job 29:17–23: 17 And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
18 Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. 19 My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch. 20 My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand. 21 Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel [see he gave counsel, wisdom]. 22 After my words they spake not again [in other words, he had the final word]; and my speech dropped upon them [just like pearls]. 23 And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain [just waiting to receive].
Remind you of anybody we know? Where you just sit and wait for the words of wisdom.34
Job 29:24–25: 24 If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down. 25 I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.
That was the elder of the gate, Job, who had that great respect. He was a wise person.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 8. But yet, if you’d reject the Word, the Word of God, you don’t have too much wisdom left. You might have weltwissenshaft, you might have a doctor of philosophy degree, but you don’t have wisdom. In Ecclesiastes chapter 8, verse 1.
Ecclesiastes 8:1a: Who is as the wise…? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing?
See, the wise man, like the scribe, not only read distinctly but he also could cause people to understand, show the interpretation of a thing.
Ecclesiastes 8:1b:
…a man’s wisdom [makes] his face to [what?] shine, [and especially when that wisdom is the wisdom of the Word] and the boldness of his face shall be
34 Rev. Cummins is making reference to The Way Corps and others wanting to receive the wisdom of God’s Word from Dr. Wierwille.
changed.
In verse 5 it says:
Ecclesiastes 8:5: Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
He’s able to discern in categories of time as well as judgment. A wise man wouldn’t waste his time. A wise man knows how to redeem the time. A wise man knows how to judge matters because he has discernment, he’s able to separate truth from error. And if he doesn’t know, it says he searches out a matter. He goes; he gets the facts; then he can make a wise decision. That’s the wise man.
In Daniel chapter…well wait a minute. Yeah, Daniel chapter 2. Remember…ever read that verse in Proverbs 24:6? It says something about a multitude of counselors.35 You know, if you want advice, you go to a multitude of counselors. Proverbs 24:6 that was. You don’t just want one, but especially if you’re going to make a decision that’ll affect a nation like some of the kings did, see? Or the Presidents, things like that.
In Daniel chapter 2, here was a king who consulted his counselors, his wise men. In chapter 2, in verse 12, he consulted all these counselors.
Daniel 2:12: [And] For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men [all of his top brains, his PhD’s] of Babylon.
Because they couldn’t interpret a dream.Well, he asked for more than the interpretation; he asked them to tell him what the dream was and then give the interpretation! [Laughter.] Nobody could do that.
Daniel 2:13–14: 13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. 14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and [what?] wisdom [two great things] to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
And Daniel kept them from killing those wise men because among them was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel was another one. But Daniel, because his wisdom was not the wisdom of the world but it was the wisdom of God and he received revelation, he could tell the king the dream and the interpretation, the point of the dream, his vision. And so you get down to verse 46, says:
35 Proverbs 24:6: For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Daniel 2:46–48: 46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. 47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of [lords], and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. 48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him…great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the [what?] wise men of Babylon.
Over all the wise men. That means Daniel had to be wiser than the wise men, wiser than the PhD’s of Babylon. And he was, because he had the wisdom of whom? God. See? Wisdom of God.
Chapter 4.Who were these wise men? I’ll tell you who they were, verse 6.
Daniel 4:6: Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
Somebody else had a dream. Now he wants another interpretation. Well they couldn’t do it either.
Daniel 4:7a: Then came in…
Here he called in the wise men. Who are they?
Daniel 4:7b: …the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, …the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
Who were the wise men? The soothsayers, the astrologers, the hooky-pooks, remember?36 Verse 18.
Daniel 4:18: 18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
Well, he missed it a little bit [laughter]. In chapter 6…no, chapter 5, verse 7.
36 “Hooky-pook” is derived from “hocus pocus”, a phrase used by magicians when bringing about some kind of transformation by magic. From there it became a more general term for practitioners of magic and sorcery.
Daniel 5:7–8: 7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans,…the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. 8 Then came in all the king’s wise men [there you go, see?]: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
So, the king was troubled. So who did he call for? Daniel. You get down to verse 15.
Daniel 5:15: And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:
This was the handwriting on the wall when he had the big feast. Remember that? “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.”37 Okay? Daniel had greater wisdom that all the wise men of Babylon.
In…well, you know Joseph, in Genesis 41, more discreet and wise than anybody in the kingdom, so what did Pharaoh do with Joseph? He put him second in command, gave him his signet ring.38 Joseph was second in command over all of Egypt because of his wisdom. Where did he get his wisdom from? God. Not from astrology school, not from soothsaying school, see? Not from world wisdom but from God, the wisdom of God.
You’re acquainted with the men in the Old Testament that were chosen to build the things of the tabernacle. They had to be men of wisdom.39 See? Same thing. When (what’s his name?) Moses couldn’t rule over the people anymore; he chose a…chose judges to help him to watch over all the people - judges over so many and so many and so many, on down the line. 40 And these men, in order to be judges, had to be wise. They had to be wise men. See?
In Matthew chapter 2, verse 1 and 2, who came to see Jesus after he was born, sometime after? The wise men, the Magi.41 They were men probably from the Persian culture who had rubbed…you know, their ancestors had rubbed shoulders with Daniel who was over there and others of the wise men and so they knew a little bit about what made this universe tick from God’s perspective. Not just astrologers, but astronomers, studying the stars in their courses because of the way God put them there.42
37 Daniel 5:24-28
38 Genesis 41:39-44
39 Genesis 31:1-6
40 Exodus 13:18-27
41 Matthew 2:1-12
42 For more information on how God revealed His truths in the stars, see “Chapter 1: The Bible and
Matthew, Matthew 23. I’d like you to look at that. Jesus is talking here to the scribes and Pharisees, and he calls them hypocrites. And in verse 34, now he’s talking to scribes and he says:
Matthew 23:34: Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
That’s what they did with prophets, wise men and scribes, and they were supposed to be the scribes, the wise men. But they forgot one thing: the Word. They rejected the Word of God, see?
Romans 16. There are so many scriptures on wisdom. We could spend four different sessions just doing that, but we’re not going to look at all of them. But these were some of the ones I thought were fascinating to help you see how the scribes and elders and how all these guys had to be wise men. And yet, sometimes, they were wise men, scribes, as far as the world was concerned, but they rejected the Word and so they really didn’t have number one wisdom. Okay? They had number two wisdom, sometimes number ten wisdom [laughter]. In Romans 16 is a great key. Verse 27. It says:
Romans 16:27a: To God only [what?] wise…
That’s right! When you get right down to it, God is only wise; He’s the only real wise one. So if you really want wisdom (and every culture, I said, has been after wisdom, wissenshaft, sophism, the wisdom literature of all the Eastern cultures) then, if you really want it, you got to go to the Word. But they’ve all had their own brand of wisdom which is watered down, diluted wisdom. It’s not Word of God wisdom, it’s not God only wise, because only God is wise.
In 1 Corinthians chapter1, you have this great record here starting in verse 19.
1 Corinthians 1:19: For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will [bear…] bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Those who seem to understand, I will bring all that to nothing.
1 Corinthians 1:20:
Astronomy,” Victor Paul Wierwille, Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed, (New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1982), pp. 3-11. For more on the Magi, see “Chapter 2: Who were the wise men?” in the same work, pp. 13-21.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer…
You know, the scribe is the one who is supposed to protect the text.
1 Corinthians 1:20–24: 20…where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 [And] after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom [by their wisdom didn’t even know God], it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, …unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them [that] are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and [what?] {the wisdom of God}.
So it’s not just preaching, it’s wisdom. But it’s the wisdom of God, as opposed to the wisdom of the Greeks, the wisdom of the world, which is stupidity.
1 Corinthians 1:25–27: 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than [what?] {men}; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men [those that are supposed to be wise] after the flesh [doesn’t say none, it says not many], [and] not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…
‘Cause when you’ve got the wisdom of God, you’re just way above, and that’s what we want, that’s what Proverbs is all about: the wisdom thing. The wisdom, Okay?
1 Corinthians 1:27b: …God hath chosen the weak…
Verse 28:
1 Corinthians 1:28-30: 28 [the] base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us [number one] wisdom,…
He “is made unto us”. Now that verse really means something to me. Solomon was the wisest one in the world.What does it say?
1 Corinthians 1:30b:
…in Christ Jesus, who of God [has] made unto us wisdom...
We have that wisdom in us. And, as we walk, as we study the Word, put it on, then we’re going to manifest that wisdom. Wiser than Solomon, wiser than what’s in Proverbs, but Proverbs is a great foundation. Proverbs is where we need to start, because most of us haven’t even mastered the little diddly things, let alone going on to real wisdom sometimes.
And Ephesians is the apex of all revelation to the Christian Church.43 It’s the tops. So to really understand wisdom, we ought to make sure that when we’re reading Proverbs we really understand what’s going on there so that we can understand the real wisdom when we get to Ephesians. Huh-huh-huh. How’s that? I knew I could tie this in to Ephesians somehow! [Laughter.]
Chapter 10. He’s made unto us wisdom. Verse…chapter 10, verse 15. It says:
1 Corinthians 10:15: I speak as to wise men; judge [you] what I say.
I’m speaking to you as to wise men. Well, why shouldn’t he speak to us as wise men if God’s made unto us wisdom? Why shouldn’t he speak to us as to Daniels, to the scribes, Ezra, as to the men of the Old Testament that really believed God’s Word and had that wisdom. Solomon. See?
Ephesians chapter 1. Here we are back in Ephesians. Verse 8.
Ephesians 1:8–9a: 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence [and prudence is “good sense”]; 9 Having made known unto us the [what? the] mystery of his will…
He’s abounded to us in wisdom, knowledge applied. Think of the wisdom of Solomon; think of the wisdom of Ezra; think of the wisdom of other men who really believed God in the Old Testament. They were wise men, the elders of the gates, the scribes that really walked, the daysmen44, the men who had wisdom. And yet God has abounded to us in all wisdom and good sense ’cause one of the facets of wisdom is that it has to be good sense. It’s not just wisdom. You know if it says in the law that when the enemy comes after you, what do you do? Shoot him! Kill him!45 What happened when…when Saul let Agag, the king of the enemy, live?46 He
43 For more on the divinely-inspired structure and order of the Church Epistles, including the special place Ephesians holds among them, see “Chapter 10: The Church: The Great Mystery Revealed”, Victor Paul Wierwille, God’s Magnified Word, (New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1977), pp. 171-211.
44 The “daysman” was a wise man in a village to whom people went to resolve disputes. He would help resolve the problems in a way that the parties would be reconciled. For more on the daysman, see K.C. Pillai, Light Through an Eastern Window (New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1986), pp. 76-83.
45 For further on this, see footnote 29 previous.
46 1 Samuel 15:1-35
lost it.47 And the prophet had to hew Agag up into little pieces because the king, Saul, did not carry out the Word of God. That’s the law. That’s the Word of the Lord. So it’s good wisdom when you’re attacked by the enemy, you don’t make any exceptions. Chop their heads off according to the Old Testament law, right?
And yet Elisha...when Elisha…the king of Syria sent his soldiers out to find Elisha and God blinded their eyes and Elisha came up and says: “Well, who are you looking for?” They said, “Elisha.” And they said…he said, “Well, let me take you and I’ll show you where he is.” So he leads them to the city of Samaria.48 Samaria is the capital of Israel! That’s their enemy! And when they’re inside the city, the king says. “Shall I kill them? Shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” And Elisha says, “No.” He says, “You wouldn’t kill somebody unless you took them with the sword” or something like that. He said, “Feed them, give them food and water and send them back home.” And by doing that—by feeding them, warming them and then sending them back—they…the king of Assyria…king of Syria never attacked Israel again at that time. That is good sense. [Laughter.] Where did he get this good sense from? God. Even though the law would have been [makes a chopping sound] chop heads. Right? See? But there’s more to wisdom than just exactly what it says, the letter of the law. There’s the spirit of the law or whatever you want to call it. It’s the spirit of God working within your heart. It’s spiritual perception and awareness.49 That’s wisdom; wisdom.
And God has abounded to us in all wisdom and good sense because he’s made known to us the what? {The Mystery.} That’s the key to our wis…our wisdom because you know the Mystery and the greatness of what you have: Christ in you; Jew and Gentile, fellowheirs; there’s no discrimination, no respect of persons. You can read in the Old Testament (I just read it today) that there is no respect of persons but nobody really believed it because it was Judeans and Gentiles.50 Today this is not Judeans and Gentiles, it is the Church of God. There is absolutely no respect of persons. That’s the greatness of the Mystery! It’s one Body.51 One Body. We’re all in one. All you have to do is believe and you’re in, see? Grace; totally by grace. Mercy. See? Christ in you. Power. He’s made unto us wisdom. Man alive! We have got it! Wisdom beyond what the Old Testament guys ever thought of!
In…go back to Proverbs chapter 1, verse 2.
Proverbs 1:2–3a:
47 By “lost it”, Rev. Cummins is referring to the fact that God rejected Saul from being king over His people going forward. He lost his kingship.
48 2 Kings 6:8-23
49 Rev. Cummins is teaching the Way Corps here and this makes reference to Corps Principle #1 — Acquire and in-depth spiritual perception and awareness.
50 God’s teaching in the Old Testament on not being respecters of persons can be found in Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 1:17 and 16:19, 2 Samuel 14:4, 2 Chronicles 19:7, Proverbs 24:23 and 28:21. It mainly appears in the context of not being influenced by people’s wealth or position (or lack of it) in rendering judgment. Gentiles, nevertheless, we’re still considered unclean and no Judean would enter the house of a Gentile or have other dealings with him.
51 Ephesians 2:16, 4:4; Colossians 3:15
2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding [which I said was “discernment”]; 3 To receive the instruction of…
And that word “wisdom” is “good sense, prudence”. It’s a different word than wisdom up in verse 2.
Proverbs 1:3: 3 To receive the instruction of [good sense, which involves] justice, …judgment, and equity;
Equity is fairness, it’s equality. Talk about equal rights. Equal rights — no Judean, no Gentile, but Church of God—no respect of persons. That’s equal rights. Okay? That’s equality; that’s good sense! What they call equal rights today isn’t always equal rights, see? But equal rights, no respect of persons, put it in light of the Word, see? That’s good sense, and good sense is another very important part of wisdom. Understanding or discernment, being able to separate between truth and error, is another very important part of wisdom. And there’s others that we’re going to be getting into next week.
Now this is wisdom. And in all cultures, I said that there was wisdom literature. As a matter of fact, there’s a writing I think you ought to be acquainted with called “The Wisdom of Amenemope”. Spelled A-M-E-N-E-M-O-P-E. It’s an Egyptian writing.52 Chronologers aren’t sure when it came from, they date it as early as 1300 B.C. and as late as 700 B.C. I’ve…some…read that some say that 23 of the 30 proverbs in Proverbs 22:17 to 23:14 come from this work. I don’t believe that. I believe, if anything, the wisdom of Amenemope came from the proverbs. Okay? But, regardless, it’s still the Word of God.
And what the…you know, the critics and so on are always trying to do is tear down the Word of God, make it look like a word of man, that somebody just pieced this thing together, it doesn’t make much sense. “Do what you like as long as you like what you do.” That’s not the Word, see? But like I say, there was other writings in other cultures, in other cultures of the time. But I think they don’t give credit to where credit’s due. I think if it hadn’t been for God working with the children of Israel, there never would have been much knowledge and wisdom throughout the East. Couldn’t have been, see?
Solomon was the wisest man in the East of his time. I want you to look at 1 Kings, because he’s the one that it says, “the proverbs of Solomon, the son of David”53, that’s how it starts out. In 1 Kings chapter 2, when David was charging Solomon as to what to do as king, you get down to verse 9.
52 More discussion of the parallels between the Wisdom of Amenemope and the Book of Proverbs can be found in Proverbs 10-31 — The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, Michael V. Fox (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).
53 Proverbs 1:1: The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
1 Kings 2:9: Now therefore [talking about one of their enemies] hold him not guiltless: for thou [Solomon (this is what David is telling his son Solomon), thou] art a [what?] wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him;…
In chapter 3, in verse 5, this is where God appeared to Solomon and asked, God asked or said, “ask what you want to receive”.54
In verse 6:
1 Kings 3:6–9: 6 …Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may [be…] discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
To discern between good and bad, that’s what Solomon asked for. And remember I said discernment was a phase of wisdom: to be able to separate truth from error; to be able to discern between good and bad. As a matter of fact, keep your finger here but look at Chronicles. 2 Chronicles, chapter 1 and in verse 10. Solomon this is the same incident…Solomon says:
2 Chronicles 1:10: Give me now [what?] wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people,…
See? So he was asking for knowledge and wisdom which was to be able to discern between good and bad, that he was able to judge the people, that he knew how to go out and come in. All these things center on wisdom, see?
In…back to Kings. Chapter 10. I want you to look at chapter 10, verse 4.
1 Kings 10:4: And when the queen of Sheba had seen all [of] Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,
54 1 Kings 3:5: In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
We’re in 10:4. 1 Kings.
1 Kings 10:5-8: 5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he [came] up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and [my eye…] mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I [had] heard. 8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and…hear thy wisdom.
So Solomon habit…had it. As a matter of fact, it says down in verse 23:
1 Kings 10:23–24a: 23 So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. 24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his [what?] {wisdom},…
Which he thought up himself. No!
1 Kings 10:24b
…which God had put in his [what?] heart.
Look at chapter 4. Pretty smart guy, wise guy [laughter], wise person. Chapter 4, verse 29.
1 Kings 4:29a: And God gave Solomon wisdom…
1 Kings 4:29.
1 Kings 4:29-30a:
29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country,…
Would that include the wisdom of Amenomope? It certainly would!
1 Kings 4:30b …and all the wisdom of Egypt.
Well, that’s got to include Amenomope, ‘cause he was Egyptian.
1 Kings 4:31-32 31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan [and all these other guys]: and his fame was in all nations round about. 32 And he spake three thousand proverbs:…
That’s a lot of things to say. You know, in the Book of Proverbs there’s only 915 verses. And, according to Dake’s Annotated Bible55, in those 915 verses there’s only 560 proverbs. And yet it says “he spake 3,000 proverbs”. Not only that, he was a songwriter like Cliff Adelman.56
1 Kings 4:32b:
…his songs were a thousand and five.
He wrote 1,005 songs. Remember songs and proverbs are two of the teaching techniques that you find in the writings. The other was didactic narratives. Thirty-four. Verse 34.
1 Kings 4:34: And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
That’s the wisdom of Solomon.
Back to Proverbs chapter 1. That’s why it starts out:
Proverbs 1:1–3: 1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom [that’s the first thing] and instruction; to perceive the words of [discernment]; 3 To receive the instruction of [good sense, prudence], justice, …judgment, and equity;
Then verse 4.
Proverbs 1:4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
The “subtilty to the simple” means not “simple” ‘cause he’s stupid, just that it’s a young
55 Dake’s Annotated Bible is a Bible consisting of the text of the King James Bible with some 35,000 notes by Finis Jennings Dake, a pastor with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God denomination and later the Church of God. One notable thing about his approach is that he believed in the dividing of the Bible into spiritual administrations.
56 Cliff Adelman, of the Fourth Corps, was a long-time member of Way Productions, writing many of the songs that ministry groups performed throughout the years.
person does not have the skill and dexterity that an adult has or should have. But it’s still the young people or those who are growing up, maturing, to learn wisdom, discernment and all these other things. Written “to the young man”. See that? It shows you exactly who it’s addressed to: to the young man (which includes wis…women, okay? Not just male “man”, but man, mankind.) Alright.
In the Eastern culture, the mother was a child’s first teacher. She taught the child. The father was the child’s second teacher. The wise men, the scribes, the teachers, were the child’s third teacher, which ultimately lead (if they walked on the Word) to God as their teacher. The father is the father. The teacher was called a “father”. Remember the sons of the prophets and they called their head prophet “father”?57 God is also called what? Father. See?
So this instruction here in the Book of Proverbs is to young people from a father to a son, from the teacher to the pupil. The teacher was the father, the pupil was the son. That’s why in this book the phrase…while the word “son”, “child” and “children” occur 63 times; the phrase “my son” occurs 23 times; the phrase “ye children” occurs four times. And a proverb was like the retemory that helped the youth to remember the things that he was taught.
I’d like you to look at Ecclesiastes chapter 12. Remember they had to know it and the point of what was said, their dark sayings. It’s one thing to memorize something, it’s another thing to understand it. Ecclesiaster…Ecclesiastes chapter 12, and in verse 9 it says:
Ecclesiastes 12:9: And moreover, because the preacher was wise [he was one of the wise men, one of the teachers], he still [did what?] taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out [he would work it through], and set in order many [what?] proverbs.
That was the teaching technique. He would use proverbs to teach the people the knowledge and wisdom that they needed, see? Because he was a wise man.
Ecclesiastes 12:10: The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.
They couldn’t just be any old words, they had to be the Word of God, the words of truth.
Ecclesiastes 12:11a: The words of the wise…
There you have that phrase again. It’s the words of the wise. And the words of the wise…
57 Some examples of people referring to God’s prophet at the time as “father” can be seen in 2 Kings 2:12; 6:21; and 13:14.
Ecclesiastes 12:11 …are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
You know the Eastern culture...doesn’t mean they used those things to jab people with. Those were…the “goads” were what the farmer held behind the ox as he was plowing and he just held it there. And if the ox turned out of the way, he’d run right into that goad. ou know, the farmer didn’t sit there and jab him, but the ox would run into the goad so he knew he’d better get back over. If he’d go over to the other side, then he’d run into that goad. See? That’s what God does, you know: just goads. The words of the wise are as goads, to help you keep going down the straight path according to the Word, see? If you like to get jabbed, go ahead, but that’s the Word. And that one “shepherd”, “the LORD is our shepherd”, remember that.58
Ecclesiastes 12:12–14: 12 And further, by these [words of the wise, by these], my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and [of] much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the…matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good…whether it be evil.
So with all the words of the wise. There’s no real words of the wise without a fear or respect of God. As a matter of fact, it says in Proverbs chapter 10, or chapter 9 and in verse 10, that…Better just read it so I can get it verbatim. It says in chapter 9, verse 10:
Proverbs 9:10a: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:…
So if you don’t respect God, is there really any wisdom? “God only wise.” He made the fooli…the wisdom of the world look foolish, and yet He’s put into us what? Wisdom, wisd…. He’s made unto us wisdom.59 He’s made unto us…He’s caused us…caused us to abound in wisdom and good sense having made known to us the mystery of His will.60 God’s given us the wisdom today, the wisdom of Solomon, even bigger than that.
Look at Matthew chapter 12; Matthew chapter 12. These are your temori…retemories for next week that I’m giving you tonight. There is just so many things in this and I wanted to give you an overview of the thing, and I suggest you just work some of these verses ’cause they are absolutely great. In Matthew chapter 12, verse 42, it says:
Matthew 12:42:
58 Psalms 23:1-6
59 1 Corinthians 1:30
60 Ephesians 1:9
The queen of the south shall rise up [talking about the Queen of Sheba, remember her? 61 the judgment, up in judgment] in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear [what?] the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Jesus Christ was smarter than Solomon, had more wisdom. “A greater than Solomon is here.” Solomon was the greatest man, wisest man, at his time, but Jesus Christ was wiser than Solomon. “A greater than Solomon is here.”62 Isn’t that something! And we have Christ in us! God has made unto us what? Wisdom. So we’ve got it, spiritually, but for some reason we still haven’t mastered even the Old Testament principles in the Book of Proverbs. Sometimes I even wonder if we’ve mastered that one about the door turning upon the hinges that I mentioned, you know.63 See, there’s so many things written in there. If there are 560 as Dake’s says, there’s a lot of different things that we can learn from in God’s Word and I think it’s a great opportunity to study it.
Well, that’s the background of the Proverbs. It’s a book of wisdom. You ought to know:
[1].what a wise person is; who a wise person is;
[2]. and it’s addressed to the youth.
[3].and know these different characteristics, how they used the Proverbs.
And then next week, we’re going to go into exactly what a proverb is and then the introduction of this thing.
I also wrote down some other proverbs ’cause, like I said, there were other cultures that used wisdom literature or techniques. And they had different proverbs and I wrote a few of these down that I thought might bless you:
• If anyone offers you a buffalo, do not ask if she gives milk64 [laughter]; or
• If you send an ass on its travels, it will not come back a horse65 [laughter];
• A donkey may groan but he will never be an elephant; or
• What is the use of reading the Vedas to a wild buffalo?66; or
• When an old dog barks then see what the matter is67 [laughter];
• If you knew where you would fall, you would put down straw68 [laughter];
• Pray to God, but row towards shore [much laughter];
• We cannot go to church for the mud, but we may get to the tavern [laughter].
And, finally:
• Fleas do not bite each other.
61 The Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon is recorded in 1 Kings 10:1-13.
62 See also Luke 11.31.
63 Proverbs 28:18
64 A proverb from the Tamil-speaking Badaga people of southern India.
65 Attributed to English churchman and historian Thomas Fuller in the 17th century.
66 The Vedas, together with the Upanishads, were the sacred writings of the Hindus, so this appears to be a another proverb from India although we were unable to find the origin of the quote.
67 Traceable back to the mid-1600s in various European countries.
68 A Russian proverb, as are the next three.
Proverbs Background
29
Now you have to know the interpretation of all those things. We won’t go into that; we’ll stick to the ones in the Book of Proverbs, and we’ll get into some of that next week, okay?