Put your hand up if you like lists! I love a good list. Here in Proverbs 31 we have a list of things a King should and shouldn’t do, and a list of what an excellent wife looks like (arranged into a handy acrostic in the original Hebrew, so you could easily remember what an excellent wife looks like!). In fact, lots of Proverbs reads like a list- of instructions, advice, great ways to live your life, how to be wise.
However, the problem with lists, as many of us know, is that they lead to inevitable failure if used incorrectly. If we only strive to meet standards and follow rules, however good they are, not only are we very likely to fail at something (most likely ‘rising while it is yet night’!); but even if we tick every box, we can become proud. I have never been perfect, unfortunately I find myself wanting to be far too often; but if I was I think I would be pretty pleased with myself and think I was kind of super-duper. And so I would have gained nothing, I would not really be wise at all.
The beginning of Proverbs, ch 1 v7, says that the ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ Here again at the end of the book we see that the ultimate godly woman is one who fears the Lord (v 30). At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon concludes, ‘The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.’ (ch 12 v 13). If we know who God is and honour him, give him the place in our hearts that he is worthy of, this will ultimately lead to wanting to live in the way that he has showed us is best, to study these truths he has given us in his word and to delight in living them out. So listen to the advice and wisdom set out in these verses; teach them, encourage them and enjoy them in your children, friends, family, spouse… and know that God’s ways are so much better than worldly wisdom and all the temptations that the world offers. But ultimately, know, love and fear God. ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness’ (Matt 6v33).