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image via wikiart.org

image via wikiart.org

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” ~Proverbs 1:8-9

I noticed here that by bidding his son to hear him, Solomon is employing verbal teaching; but the specific connotation in this case is not only a command for his son to hear his voice, but also for him to pay heed to what he is saying, for “hear” is put together with “forsake not.” This is definitely heart instruction and an appeal, as well as a command, with a long-term goal that the young one will cling fast to it and retain it forever. This instruction and teaching is a gift that the parents are giving and they want their children to keep it and not let it go.

Hence, see how they make it attractive and desirable by comparing it with ornaments of rejoicing and beautification — wreaths and necklaces. Now, I stopped to ponder on this once I realized that these things are mere outward ornaments and quite disposable, not at all bound up in the essential nature of a person, but this is what Solomon first compares wisdom with in commending it to his son. Why these things, so easily laid aside and so easily parted from one’s self? Doesn’t he want this instruction and wisdom to, as it were, become a very part of his child? Now, I do suppose that some would say that the wisest man who ever lived used this comparison simply because youth is more easily attracted by outward beauties — but perhaps, as well as this, it is that that these things are for beautification of the person, even as wisdom, the desired result of the teaching, is an ornament to the possessor, while not essential to his nature as a human being. A person may be beautiful in natural figure, but when ornamented tastefully, that beauty increases significantly. Even so, wisdom is an adornment for the beautification of a person, making a person of a lovely appearance and personality even more lovely.

So, I think that we see here that it is deemed both natural and good to seek further beauty of person, both in body and spirit. It seems that in making the comparison to wreaths and necklaces, Solomon is also commending their use for beautification, simply by assuming their value. Why would he compare his precious instruction for his child with something worthless? And this is by far not the only time that he does this. The comparison of wisdom and insight, righteousness and discernment, with physically attractive and beautiful things is common throughout Proverbs. Solomon remains pretty consistent in this use of the figure of ornaments for beautification of the body for wisdom, while he notably does not so much compare it with comeliness of figure or anything native to one’s self or body; instead, it is to lovely things which can be put on or taken off, outside of the essential being of a person — treasure, length of days, jewelry, friends, perfumes. By these figures, this father always is showing his son that it is something outside of one’s own self and that wisdom is not innate. Who can question that true wisdom and the fear of the Lord is not native to the sinful heart? Surely, though, it may be learned, by the grace of God, with diligent application to one’s own heart by heeding the voice of the wise one speaking the things of God. Even as these good and lovely things with which wisdom is compared require use and application if one is to have any benefit at all from them, even so is wisdom only acquired through diligent heeding of the word of God.

“Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” ~Proverbs 2:3-6

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” ~James 1:5-8