“…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…so you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.” ~Proverbs 2:5-6, 20
Today, I’m summarizing a general overview of the five “then’s”that follow from the “if’s” in verses 1-4 of the second chapter of Proverbs. If the addressee applies his ear, mind, will, and action, then he will find, it will be given to him, he will learn, he will be delivered, he will inherit.
The first “then” is in 2:5: “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” This brief passage explicitly states that he will find the fear of the Lord, which has already been declared to be the beginning of wisdom (1:7).
Secondly, in verses 9-10, then he will understand what is good, he will learn what is righteousness, and it will be pleasant to him. This hearkens back to the opening lines of the book, fulfilling the purpose set forth in 1:2-4: “To know wisdom, and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity…”
In the third place, Solomon tells his son that this knowledge and wisdom will deliver him as it is applied in his life (2:7-11). It will guard him from the ways of evil men and wicked women and will save him from walking in the paths of the transgressor (2:11, 12, 16). Not only shall wisdom be an ornament to him (1:8-9), it will keep him from sinning.
Fourth, by this he shall also be kept from the death of the fool because he has learned to walk in the good ways of righteousness (2:20; contrast 1:32-33).
Finally, there is a again a warning, coupled with a promise — the righteous shall inherit, but the wicked shall be rooted out of the land (2:21-22). It is the Lord who owns the land; and it is he who shall work directly into history and in men’s lives in his ruling as he enforces his own law in his own land.
Throughout this passage recounting these “then’s” that follow from the “if’s” of the first few verses, I particularly noticed that there is both a learning of righteousness and a being kept from sin that are being emphasized here. There is no neutrality being presented — a man (or a woman, for that matter) is contemplated as either righteous or wicked. It seems to me that this implies the covenant of grace, God’s covenantal people, and the justification that was to be completed once for all by the Christ. For this righteousness of the righteous person is evidently not measured by some innate “goodness” of sorts, even as wisdom is as something beautiful which is put on one’s self, not as a limb or a native quality of a human being. Yet, in no other way than in perfect goodness can anyone stand before God — only in a full legal righteousness can a man be categorically declared “righteous” over against the “wicked.” The Lord is holy and no flesh is clean in his sight (please see the entirety of Romans 3). And there is no works-righteousness being taught here in Proverbs 2 — it is clearly said that if you will call, if you will seek, God will give, God will guard. There is no self-generation of wisdom, nor of righteousness, being taught in this book for instruction, but all wisdom and righteousness is, over and over again, declared to be from God. The seeker, the finder, has something done to him or for him, in order to actually come into possession of wisdom and to walk in the good paths. His duty is to obey, to love, to seek — and God himself will act (compare 1:22-23).
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” ~Romans 13:14