“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom…Long life is in her right hand…She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her.” (Proverbs 3:13-18)
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalms 1:3)
Wisdom is the woman calling out to fools. Wisdom is the house, built by the Lord, with a meal of bread and wine, promising life to those who feast. Wisdom is also a tree of long, blessed life. In Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life might represent the covenant promise of eternal life through grace, while the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil may represent the covenant of works—the Law—demanding obedience.1 In Proverbs, wisdom is compared to a tree of life, but it may not be the same tree as that in the garden. In Solomon’s time, a bountiful, productive tree represented the godly life, characterized by a close relationship with the Lord. Those who possess God’s wisdom are compared, in Psalm 1, to a tree drawing nutrients from a stream, as if drawing prudence and discretion from the stream of God’s wisdom, and bearing the fruit of wisdom.2
The stream provides the tree with nourishment for its leaves, that don’t wither. There were many days in Africa when I felt I might wither physically, or dry up and be crushed, like a leaf. But it never happened! I give God all the credit, praise, and glory for the endurance He worked in me. Not only does Christ impute His righteousness to us when we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but He also sustains us in all kinds of work, trials, and difficulties. Of course, if either you or I think we should be stronger and less fearful, ready to do anything at any time, we are trying to make ourselves into a tree that is root-less and unable to sustain the challenges of life. We can only more forward with God’s stream of strength and wisdom.
What makes us so timid, and sometimes fearful about stepping out in faith, into the unknown? Might it be from unbiblical, legalistic thinking—that “we can do it”—as if we can live by faith without the help of Christ? What might you be avoiding as a result of trying to live independently of God, in spite of knowing that this is utterly impossible for a spiritually blessed life?
- Beeke, Joel R. and Jones, Mark, “A Puritan Theology,” Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2012, pp. 223-224.
- Sproul, R. C., General Editor, “The Reformation Study Bible,” Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Florida, 2015