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Heed Wisdom's Call

Posted by James Carroll on

The way of wisdom is a path to life. I’ve enjoyed studying Proverbs 1 the past few weeks and I look forward to continuing this study in the months ahead. I’ve been encouraged and convicted by the reminders to hear and heed wisdom’s call. By God’s gracious providence, these messages have been reinforced by my personal Bible reading this week. I’m working my way through the Old Testament narratives and I’m in 2 Samuel. A few well-known stories have served as historical illustrations of the value of wise words.

You will likely recall the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba and subsequent deceit and murder regarding her husband, Uriah. Following those events as recorded in 2 Samuel 11, God sends his prophet Nathan to confront David over his sin. The dramatic moment of courage on Nathan’s part and humble repentance on David’s provide one of the Bible’s most beautiful stories of redemption. We can read David’s prayer in Psalm 51 and rejoice in the reconciliation he found in crying out to God.

This powerful reminder that God is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” showing grace to forgive the contrite calls us to repent and comforts us when we do. We could go on to recount the means for our redemption – beyond what even David knew – that has been secured by the work of Jesus.

But I read the story with the Proverbs in the back of my mind and had different thoughts. Wisdom’s warning is that to forsake her teaching will lead to destruction. While we can find grace for forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and the promise of eternal life despite egregious sin when we repent, the immediate consequences of our sin are not completely eliminated. In fact, even when the eternal consequence of judgment is averted by God’s deliverance, the temporal ones can last the rest of our lives.

David’s life beyond the Bathsheba incident illustrates this second truth as much as it does the first. Through Nathan, God promised lasting and painful consequences as a result of his adulteress and murderous actions. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house’” (2 Sam 12:11 ESV). The remainder of David’s story in 2 Samuel is filled with family strife and crises.

This devastating promise was fulfilled. Perhaps the most striking example is in David’s son, Absalom. He murdered his half-brother Amnon out of revenge for the rape of his sister, Tamar. While guilt begins with Amnon and his despicable action, Absalom’s act leads to his banishment from Jerusalem. The trouble in David’s house related to Absalom is only beginning. Upon his return, he organizes a coup to overthrow his father and seize the throne. Though successful for a while, he’s is eventually killed, and David is reinstated. There’s much more to the story as I hope you’ll read in 2 Samuel. Yet, the whole episode, including his son’s death, is deeply painful for Israel’s King.

In total, the story reiterates the truth of wisdom’s warning. If you come to the fork in the road – in David’s case the temptation to sexual sin – and choose the foolish path, you will pay the price. Believer, you may escape with eternal salvation, but you will not walk away unpunished. Israel’s King could not avoid them and neither can we. Through the Bible’s admonitions and lustrations, wisdom is preaching loudly and clearly. Who will hear and heed her message?