Happiness Is ...
Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)
*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.
Proverbs 3:13-15: “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 the all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.”
People want to be happy. The possibility of being happy is a major determining factor in decision making. Young people consider whether or not to continue their education on their future happiness. Advertisements promote products by presenting the happiness they will bring to one’s life. The market of self-help books is popular because of the happiness they bring to the readers’ lives. We marry or seek employment based on the happiness we hope to find. We often do what we can to make those around us happy.
Solomon tells us that a man is happy in finding wisdom. Solomon was a man who lived in splendour. He was King of Israel during a time of peace and great prosperity. When we read the biblical account of the money he made through trade and business, and see the luxury in which he lived, we are amazed. What must it have been like to enjoy such a lifestyle? Solomon was a man who should know something about happiness! To many, riches and honour are key components in being happy. Who wouldn’t be happy, if he could live in the manner of Solomon?
The way to find wisdom is surprising. The preceding verses tell us about the finding of wisdom. There are times when the book of Proverbs seems to be a collection of thoughts which are somewhat haphazardly put together. Here, however, the context speaks of the Father’s chastening and correction. God’s chastening comes in the affliction of our souls when we walk in ways of sin. At times, God causes His people to suffer the consequences of their sins. God’s correction is given in His ten commandments.
The psalmist in Psalm 119:67 and 71 speaks of affliction being for his profit. Through affliction, he learned to walk according to his Father’s precepts. King Manasseh led Judah into some of the worst idolatry recorded in Scripture, even setting up an idol in God’s temple. Yet, when he was taken as a chained prisoner to Babylon and afflicted, suffering the results of his sin, he made his prayer to God. God heard him and Manasseh knew Jehovah was his God. In his affliction, Manasseh had found wisdom.
The gain, the profit, of wisdom is great. Businessmen are happy when their companies show a profit. A good profit is the reward of many hours of work and the application of ability. Yet, God says the profit of wisdom is better than the gains one could register through silver and gold. Silver and gold are very precious and valuable. Some people are able to make attractive sums of money in gold and silver markets. Yet, we are told wisdom is more profitable? We are tempted to question this and claim it’s easy for Solomon to say wisdom is better than silver and gold because he was fantastically rich! Give me such riches and I could extol the virtues of wisdom too! However, who would be in a better position to understand the relative values of wisdom and gold than Solomon? He knew the fleeting value of gold and the lasting value of the wisdom of God.
The happiness of the man who finds wisdom is great because he has something which is more precious than rubies. Rubies are precious because they are rare. The harder something is to find, the greater the cost of it will be. A merchant who possessed a ruby knew he had something of great value. He could keep possession of the ruby, waiting for its value to increase, or he could convert the ruby into a good amount of cash. Is wisdom really more precious than rubies? Wisdom’s value is that it draws us to God and makes us fear Him. Walking with God and experiencing covenant fellowship with Him are of greater value than rubies. Such an ornament of God’s favour is far greater than a precious stone which glitters upon a crown, necklace or ring.
Solomon, the man who had everything his heart could desire, states whatever we could possibly want cannot be compared to wisdom. Did he learn from experience that getting things did not really bring him happiness? Perhaps it takes an incredibly wealthy man to tell us that God’s wisdom is better than anything this earth has to offer.
Among all the things which we can desire, nothing compares with wisdom. That is easier to see with some of our desires than with others. Some desires are glorified toys which might help our recreation. We can just as easily live without them as with them. Some of the things we desire are basic needs. We desire food, clothing, shelter, health and work. These things do not merely make our lives easier. Still, we are to desire wisdom more.
May God grant us the happiness of finding His wisdom in Jesus Christ and His cross, so we are aware of His goodness to us and members of His church.