The book of Proverbs is a wealth of wisdom imparted from a father to his son. It’s not just any father, but it’s from the wisest man in the world, Solomon. It is sometimes suggested that it was written specifically to his son Rehoboam who would take the throne after him. Ralph Drollinger, who leads a bible ministry to our congressional leadership in Washington, D.C., says, “When one analyzes the Old Testament wisdom literature of the Book of Proverbs, which is mainly about a father preparing his son to serve in public office, you will discover that the book contains a total of 915 passages pertaining mostly to pithy sayings that are intended to prepare Rehoboam, the author’s son, to effectively serve as the future King.”[1] I find it interesting that a book 3000 years old is speaking to us about how to live today. The world’s economy used to be based on agriculture. During the industrial revolution, the economy shifted to an economy of production. The age of the machine took over as the basis of the economy. Now we’re in what is called the “information age.” Since the advent of the computer, knowledge has increased exponentially and there is now at your fingertips more information about absolutely everything in the world than has ever been available before. Although there is more information and more knowledge available at any time in history there seems to be an increasing lack of wisdom. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” asked the late British poet, T.S. Eliot.

No time in the history of man is the need for wisdom more acute than it is today. I especially appreciate Dollinger’s ministry with our leadership in Washington. If there was ever a place for the need for wisdom instead of just knowledge, it’s there. As Solomon attempted to prepare his son for such duties, he gave advice that should serve not only those in public office but everyone who needs to work with others. Of course, that’s all of us! Warren Wiersbe said it well, “What’s needed today is wisdom. The Book of Proverbs is about godly wisdom, how to get it and how to use it. It’s about priorities and principles, not get-rich-quick schemes, or success formulas. It tells you, not how to make a living, but how to be skillful in the lost art of making a life.”

With the increase of knowledge everywhere, we all think we know it all! This has crippled good relationships with others. Solomon wants his son who is to become King after him to always maintain a teachable spirit. He explains why he’s putting all this in writing for his son and says in Provers 1:3-6, “to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.” James writes, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (1:19). The Greek word for hearing includes not simple sound recognition but also responding to what is heard by understanding and heeding, or obeying. The Hebrew word for it which is used here means the same thing: comprehend, give earnest heed, and obey.  What does it mean to be teachable? Merriam-Webster says, “teach is a general term for causing one to acquire knowledge or skill, usually with the imparting of necessary incidental information and the giving of incidental help and encouragement.” William Barclay comments on the above-quoted verse from James’ Epistle and says, “No one can ever find one English word to translate what is a one-word summary of the truly teachable spirit. The teachable spirit is docile and tractable, and therefore humble enough to learn. The teachable spirit is without resentment and without anger and is, therefore, able to face the truth, even when it hurts and condemns. The teachable spirit is not blinded by its own overmastering prejudices but is clear-eyed to the truth. The teachable spirit is not seduced by laziness but is so self-controlled that it can willingly and faithfully accept the discipline of learning.”[2]


[2] Barclay, William, ed. 1976. The Letters of James and Peter. The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press.