Chapter 12 – The Holy Spirit in the Book of Proverbs

“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets; “She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. ” Prov. 1: 20, 21, 22, 23.

There is a beautiful incident in the early history of Solomon which reveals the secret of his extraordinary life. Just after his accession to the throne of his father, David, the Lord appeared to him in Gibeon, and gave him the right to choose any blessing he desired. Instead of choosing wealth, power, long life, and the lives of his enemies, he simply asked for wisdom; and God was so pleased with him for his simple single choice that He gave him not only wisdom, but all these other blessings also. Solomon became renowned for superhuman wisdom, and, in this book of Proverbs, we have some of the utterances of that wisdom, crystalized in the form of these short,
sententious words, which have been well called “pearls at random strung.”

It, is said that the people of Scotland are accustomed to carry in their vest pockets a small copy of the book of Proverbs, as a sort of “vade mecum,” a kind of manual of practical wisdom, for the guidance of their everyday life.

This book reveals to us a phase of life that is extremely practical and important, and shows us the teachings and workings of the Holy Ghost as they affect our everyday life. The keyword to this whole book is the word Wisdom. It occurs scores of times.

It is a peculiar Hebrew word, and in these pages it becomes personified until it is really a proper name. It is very much like another term applied to our Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament; namely, the Word, or Logos, introduced to us in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Indeed, the Word in John and Wisdom in Proverbs are really the same Person, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, revealed in these ancient pages in His primeval glory. But the Lord Jesus Christ always stands connected with the Holy Spirit, who reveals Him, and who filled Him, and spake and wrought through Him during His earthly ministry; so that Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is not only the personification of Jesus Christ but also of the blessed Holy Ghost.

Let us look at some of the pictures of this blessed Person in these ancient pages.

I. First, we see Him in His personal and primeval glory. This is unfolded in the sublime vision of the eighth chapter of Proverbs. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” This blessed Person is older than the creation. “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.”

Next, we see Him taking part in the work of creation. “When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.”

Oh, what depths of light these strange illuminated verses pour upon the fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the remote eternal ages! And, oh, what love to our poor human race these words reveal, “Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men”!

This blessed Christ, this blessed Comforter, who seeks your love, is no less than the second and third Persons of the Eternal Godhead. By them these heavens were made and this earth was formed. All the majesty of nature is their handiwork. All the wisdom of the ages has come from their eternal mind. Not only do they represent the wisdom and power of God, but they represent a love that has thought of us from the very beginning, and will love us to the end.

When this world was made, when the mountains were settled and the fountains and the rivers were opened, God was thinking of us, the Holy Ghost was planning for our happiness and welfare.

The whole material universe, the whole structure of nature, the whole economy of the ages was planned with a view to our creation, our redemption, our eternal glory. Redemption is no afterthought of God; but when He made this earth, and settled the stars in their orbits, He did it with a view to man’s creation and future destiny. Oh, surely we can trust Him with our future when we think of His eternal past ! Oh, surely we need not hesitate to commit our destiny to those Almighty hands, that have spanned these heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and to that heart of eternal love that loved us from the first of time, and loves us to the last!

But not only do we see His part in creation, but also in providence. “By me,” he says, “kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” His is the wisdom that has inspired every high and mighty thought of man; His is the fire that has kindled every touch of human genius. He is the foundation of all life, and truth, and wisdom, and power; and He offers to be at once our wisdom, our guide, our power, and our all-sufficiency.

Surely we may well heed His gentle voice, as He calls to us in the light of all this record of glory: “Now, therefore, hearken unto me, ye children; for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not; for whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain the favor of the Lord, but he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.”

II. The next chapter reveals to us this divine Wisdom building her house, hewing out her seven pillars, killing her sacrifices, spreading her table, inviting her guests, and calling her friends to the banquet of her bounty and grace. This, also, is a picture of the Holy Ghost. The house that she is building is the Church of Christ. The seven pillars that stand in the front are truth, righteousness, life, faith, love, power, and hope. The sacrifice is that of Christ, our great atonement; and the banquet prepared is the feast of His love, the Living Bread which He Himself provides, and the wine of joy and blessing that comes from the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Into this blessed house of mercy and unto this table of every heavenly blessing, the Holy Spirit is inviting a starving world.

In contrast with this blessed woman, who stands in the front of the picture, there is another woman revealed in the closing verses. It is the woman that so often appears in the pictures of Proverbs, that evil woman who sits in the highway of life calling to the passers-by to
partake of her unhallowed joy, inviting the foolish and the simple to partake of her forbidden pleasures, saying to them, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But, alas! there is an awful skeleton behind that door, and a fearful cry that comes from that house of folly and sin, for the prophet tells us “that the dead are there; and her guests are in the depths of hell.”

So the two houses stand face to face on the highway of life; the heavenly house, with the Holy Ghost standing at its door and inviting in the children of sin and sorrow, and saying, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, .. . come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?” And right across the way, with the multitude surging by and pressing in the house of pleasure, the house of shame, the house of sin, whose steps are hard by the gates of hell.

III. We turn back to the first chapter of Proverbs, and we have another picture of Wisdom as an impersonation of the Holy Ghost. She is standing now in the streets of the great city, in the entering in of the gates, in the places of public concourse, and calling to the passing crowd as they go heedlessly by, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. “This is the Holy Ghost pleading with a lost, perishing world. This is the Spirit of God, in the messengers of the Gospel, inviting men to turn to God. This is the vision of divine mercy trying to save men through the message of the Gospel.

Notice that she does not stand behind a pulpit railing and inside upon the marble steps of a splendid cathedral. This was the way that Isaiah prophesied, that Jonah preached, that Jesus preached, and that Paul often proclaimed the Gospel.

We cannot wait for a sinful world to come to our doors. We must go out quickly, and constrain them to come in; and if we are filled with the Holy Ghost, our cry, like Wisdom’s, will still be heard in the streets, and amid the concourse of crowds, and at the entering in of the gates. It is the same old cry, “Repent”; “Turn you at my reproof.” It is the call to men to turn from sin and turn to God; and the promise comes with it that God will give His Spirit to the returning sinner, and enable him to repent, believe, and obey.

Oh, is there any sinful soul listening to this message or reading these lines? He calls to thee, “Turn you at my reproof,” and He will pour out His Spirit upon you as you put yourself in the place of blessing, and He will make known His words unto you, and lead you into all truth as you follow on and obey the light that He has already given you. But there is the same solemn warning to those that refuse to repent and believe. Oh, how sad and solemn is this warning cry, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.” Oh, how dark the angry cloud!

And then there comes a strange and awful change in the structure of the sentence; from the second person it changes to the third person. It is no longer you, but they; for God has now gotten so far away that He is speaking to the poor lost soul no more, but only speaking about it. “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof: therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” This is still the Holy Spirit’s solemn voice to all who reject His message and refuse the Gospel of His grace.

But as the storm cloud sweeps away, the rainbow rises upon its last dark shadow, a rainbow of promise to those who have heeded His warning and have hearkened to His voice. God grant, brother, that it may be His word to you, and thou even yet shall turn at His reproof. “Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from the fear of evil.” Blessed promise; saved from all evil, saved even from its shadow and from its touch.

IV. How shall we find the truth? How shall we receive this heavenly wisdom? The answer is given in the second chapter of Proverbs and the first nine verses. “If thou will receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” Here is the secret of divine teaching, deep earnestness and singleness of purpose, and perseverance of pursuit; the ears, the heart, the whole being must be yielded up. We must desire God above everything, and seek Him as men search for treasures and mines, for silver and for gold.

God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is a reward to the diligent, a prize to the earnest, and a disappointment to the slothful soul. All nature is arrayed against the lounger and the idler. The nut is hidden in its thorny case; the pearl is buried beneath the ocean wave; the gold is imprisoned in the rocky bosom of the mountain; the gem is found only after you crush the rock that encloses it; the very soil gives its harvests as the reward of industry to the laboring husbandman. So truth and God must be earnestly sought. “They that seek shall find; to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

The Holy Ghost is given in His fullest measure to deep earnestness and singleness of purpose and desire. You cannot have the higher things of God without the sacrifice of everything else. “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung,” “for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” This is the true Spirit of divine attainment. The prize is not for all. All run, but one receiveth the prize. God give us the diligence, the singleness, the self-sacrifice, the concentration of desire, purpose, and every power upon the one thing which really means all things, and we, too, shall find that God is waiting to reward the true heart with Himself. It is as true as ever, “ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

V. The message of wisdom to the seeker and searcher after treasure is found in Proverb 3: 13-18, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding: for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her.”

Then again, in chapter 8: 10, 11 we find: “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”

And in verses 18-21 we read: “Riches and honor are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, . . . and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause them that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.”

These are some of the treasures which this heavenly wisdom has to bestow upon those who truly seek her.

The keynote of the whole lesson was given in Solomon’s own life. He had the wisdom to choose wisdom and wisdom only, and God added to him all the things he did not choose. It is still true for us that, if we will choose the Holy Ghost, He will become to us the sum and substance of all good things.

He will be to us peace and happiness, joy and rest, health and strength, providence and protection, guidanceand provision, freedom from fear and care, and all the gifts and blessings which God can bestow upon a trusting heart.

Like the widow’s pot of oil, the Holy Spirit in us will be the equivalent of everything that heart can desire or life can need. God help us to make the wise and happy choice, and have all in Him and Him in all; and, as we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all things shall be added unto us.

This was where Solomon began his illustrious career. Happy would it have been for him if he had ended where he began. Alas! God’s very blessing became a snare. His heart turned away from the source of all his blessings to the blessing themselves. His affections were set on the things that surrounded him, his wives, his friends, his treasures, perhaps his own wisdom; and he sank from the Creator to the creature, from the height of wisdom to the depths of folly, shame, and sorrow.

Alas! Moses had to fail to show that the law made nothing perfect, and Solomon had to fail to show that the highest wisdom of man is insufficient for the child of God. Thank God, “a greater than Solomon is here,” the Lord Jesus Christ; not wisdom but Himself, the wise One; not holiness but Himself the Holy One, not our best but Himself within us to be His best.

Let us receive Christ, the wisdom of God, and let it be true of us, that “of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

The blessed Holy Ghost is waiting to bring Him into our hearts, and to reveal Him and unfold Him in our life, the Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World; and “He that followeth him shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”