From Gordon Curry
The Way of Wisdom
I’m lucky to get to cover Proverbs 3. My go to verse has been, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” This is a great and precious promise God offers us if we heed to trusting Him. Truth be told He fulfills His end of the bargain to direct us even when we don’t fully trust Him. Through this verse, I have found much comfort and correction.
Take a look at Proverbs 3:21-23. “My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety and your foot will not stumble.” We can see the functions of following and the dysfunction of not following both these verses—Proverbs 3:5-6 and Proverbs 3:21-23—in the lives of both Peter in Acts 11 and Saul in 1 Sam 14.
Before we dive a bit into the stories of both of those men of God , let’s clarify a few things. According to the Zondervan commentary on Proverbs 3:21, “discernment is the ability God gives to people to make the correct choices, and sound judgment is what God gives to those who follow it.” According to the commentary, “it also includes knowledge that comes from instruction, training, and discipline, and the insight that results from knowing and applying God’s truths.”
We see a stark difference between Peter’s knowledge of God and that of Saul. It’s clear that both have a mission. Saul’s was to seek salvation for the Israelites in defeating the Philistines, and Peter’s mission, to some degree, was to extend salvation to the Gentiles—betteryet, admonish the Jews that God had a plan for the Gentiles. Both had a connection to advancing God’s Kingdom and prospering God’s people. The difference was that one operated out of intimate communication and clear instruction from the Lord, and the other trusted in his own devices and sought the Lord after the fact.
We see Peter recalling clear instruction based on God’s work. We see Saul inquiring of the Lord after sending men out to battle. We see God command Peter to kill and eat (Acts 11:7), foreshadowing the blessing that would extend salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 11:17-18). We also see Saul forbid his men to eat, which brought harm on his own son and limited the possible success of his men (1 Sam 14:24). We see Saul build his first altar in all his time as king, chosen by God (1 Sam 14:35). Then we see Peter, who by that point in this story, laid his life down as an altar for God’s purposes. I see the different postures of each of these men when it comes to carrying out God’s mission. Peter goes the way of sound judgment by heeding to the truth that comes from knowing God and applying His word. Saul went the way of his own path. Peter did not trust his own understanding alone, but instead left room for God to give him understanding. Saul did not acknowledge God from the start of his pursuits and made a rash decision that his own people had to undermine.
In conclusion, what type of posture will we take? Will we take a do-it-yourself posture that may cause harm to those in our care? Or will we take a stance that is pliable to the will of the Father? Will we seek God, motivated by the trouble we are facing or because things did not go our way? Or will we seek His face long before we even enter the battle? The way of wisdom is to acknowledge Him in all our ways and He shall direct our paths. The way of wisdom will allow sound judgment and discernment, which are only found through knowing God deeply, to protect us and keep us safe.
I’m a Communication Professor at Middlesex Community College. I live in Roslindale with my wife Charmie and I’m excited about the summer rhythms.