This May will be 25 years since I was elected executive director of Jews for Jesus, following in the footsteps of our larger-than-life founder, Moishe Rosen. It was daunting, to say the least! I remembered Solomon and how God invited him to request whatever he wished when he became king. Solomon responded, “Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10).
The Proverbs Offer Wisdom
I’m not the king of Jews for Jesus, but believe me, I was keenly aware of how very much I needed God’s wisdom! That became my number one prayer request, and some of you might recall me asking you to pray for God to grant me wisdom. The truth is, whatever God puts on our plate, we all desperately need His wisdom. Well, guess what? He has given us an entire book of the Bible that is a treasure house of wisdom! So, I committed to reading through the book of Proverbs, a chapter a day to correspond with each day of the month—and beginning again the following month. So far, I’ve read through the book of Proverbs approximately 300 times, and also through some fine commentaries—most recently Proverbs Pathways of Wisdom by Dominick Hernandez (who serves on our US board of directors).
Proverbs offers essential wisdom and applicable advice for anyone who wants to live a godly life in Messiah Jesus. The difficulties and conflicts we believers struggle with in today’s toxic environment would be much more manageable if we would live out the wisdom of Proverbs every day.
Solomon’s advice can prevent a world of hurt and broken relationships such as we’ve seen in recent conflicts among believers. Likewise, unbelievers who are seeking truth will be attracted to Jesus as they see us living out godly wisdom.
The Proverbs Offer Practical Advice
The basis of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, but to sum up Solomon’s advice on what that looks like, I’d say, “Do the right thing and don’t do stupid stuff.” It really isn’t complicated—and Solomon’s words can help us stay on track.
Stop and think about it. What if, every time we got frustrated by something on social media, this verse popped up on our screen: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)?
Or imagine someone cut you off in traffic and your car stereo suddenly announced, “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he who keeps his way preserves his soul” (Proverbs 16:17).
And what about the more private temptations? Every year, some well-respected Christian leaders shatter their lives and the lives of countless others through sexual misconduct. None of us are immune to temptation, but having God’s Word in our hearts makes all the difference. Over the years, familiar warnings have turned me from temptation: “For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman?” “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men” (Proverbs 5:20; 7:25-26; see also 2:16; 6:28-29).
That’s pretty sobering stuff.
Wouldn’t it be cool if those warnings from Solomon were “pop-ups” to alert every person who starts going to websites they should not be visiting? Well, repeated readings of God’s Word will keep His wisdom “popping up” in our hearts and minds.
The Proverbs Offer Perspective
Reflecting back on these 25 years, I am so grateful for the godly advice I’ve received through the book of Proverbs, including advice to seek wisdom from godly people.
Early in my tenure as executive director, I was interviewed on the Larry King Live show. Proverbs had so shaped my thinking that the words, “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king” (Proverbs 25:6), popped into my mind as I prepared. And then the words I’ll never forget from my mentor, Moishe Rosen: “David, you can go on Larry King and talk about David Brickner, or about Jews for Jesus, or about Jesus. You better figure out which one you want to talk about before you go on the air.” Between Moishe and Solomon, I think I got it right.
National television aside, every day we each have to decide who or what we will draw attention to. May God grant us all the wisdom to keep Jesus at the center of all we do!