“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her.” – Proverbs 4:7-8 (NASB)
Our verse today is included by Solomon as a lesson he was taught by his father David. In the larger context of verses 3-9 we find an urgency in the lesson he is teaching. Of utmost importance, this lesson stresses the acquisition of wisdom. We hear much of the value and importance of getting and clinging to wisdom in these Proverbs and especially in the first nine chapters. After the importance of acquiring wisdom, we are instruction to acquire understanding. In the last chapter Proverbs 3:5-6 we have the lesson to trust in the Lord with all our being and to not lean on our own understanding. But here we are to lean on the understanding that comes with the wisdom of God. We are warned to not turn away from what we learn here and to not forsake wisdom for guarding the wisdom from God provides us with a guard and a watch over our ways of thinking and acting. The more highly one esteems wisdom, the more highly wisdom lifts that person. If we place the importance of God’s Wisdom that comes from His Word as a treasure in our heart we will receive honor from wisdom.
“Brothers, I do not count myself yet to have laid hold. But one thing (I do) forgetting what lies behind (me) and eagerly straining forward to what lies ahead I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14*
Mentioned before, the Apostle Paul was very good at loading much into long complex sentences. This larger passage is another example. Paul continues sharing how deeply moved he was because he knows the pressures on the fellowship of Christians in the church at Philippi. There were those in the congregation who professed perfection. So Paul describes his thoughts. “As a believer in Christ alone, I for one am still far removed from the goal of spiritual perfection. Whatever anyone else may claim, I have not yet laid hold on it.” Paul, not despairing, instead is running in a race, while pushing himself to the limit to reach the goal. To be successful in this he has to do one thing; focus his concentration on completing the race to reaching the goal. Forget the past, strain forward for the future promises. What promises? The prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The Christian running the race stays the course with full commitment forgetting all past failures and past successes to reach the goal and the prize. The goal is heaven. The prize is awarded only where it is truly a prize, with Christ in heaven.
*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5: 174.)