The Wise Shall Inherit Glory (1)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
Proverbs 3:35: “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”
First in this article, we will learn about the meaning of what Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” Then we will look at two examples which will show us the difference between what happens to the wise and what happens to fools. Our first example will be Cain and Abel, the well-known story from Genesis 4. The second example will be of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican which we read in Luke 18.
We start with what Solomon wrote, “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” In this verse, Solomon presents us with contrast, two things which are very different one from another. The contrast is great. In this verse, we do not face a wide range of possibilities. We face an either/or situation. There is one thing or there is the other. There cannot be anything else. Glory and shame are the only possibilities and there is no going from one to the other. The wise inherit glory. Fools ascend no higher than shame.
Who are the wise who will inherit glory? They are not the famous men and women in the world. Although God has given some of His people great talent and ability, and although some have even risen to positions of prominence and wealth, such is not the general condition of God’s people. Being wise has nothing to do with one’s standardized test scores, such as the Iowa Basic Tests, which we take every other year, or IQ. Wisdom is not the intellect so valued in the world of how to ascend to the higher rungs of the social ladder through the dedicated use of one’s wits and cunning. Wisdom is the fear of God which leads to faithful, diligent study of His Word which the wise recognize as the standard of all truth.
The glory that the wise inherit is not the kind of glory the world has in mind. It’s not the glory of a lifestyle where a person has a large beautiful house which only a few people could afford. It’s not the glory of driving the best and most expensive sports car or SUV. It’s not the glory of a lot of money, great looking, stylish clothes, and glittering diamond and gold jewellery.
The wise inherit glory. This glory is not a perishable good, something that wears out as you use it. This glory is not subject to the ravages of time. Moths cannot damage it and make it useless. Rust cannot take away its shine. This is the glory of being with God and experiencing His fellowship without the fear of it ever being lost again because of sin. This is the glory of being a living member of the church of Christ. This is the glory of being perfectly suited for the work which God will give to each of His redeemed children in His everlasting heavenly kingdom. It is the glory of knowing that we will see the beauty of God’s kingdom in heaven with all of His other people.
Now we need to take a closer look at who these wise people are. Solomon tells us about who these wise people are in the earlier verses in Proverbs 3, where he has given us instruction by means of other contrasts. The wise are the righteous. When God’s people confidently affirm their righteousness, there are spiritual confessions to make. Our righteousness is not ours. It’s Christ’s. Just as our sins have all been laid upon Him, His perfect obedience is laid upon us through faith. Because of Christ, we can stand before our heavenly Father as those who have kept His law perfectly. God does not see one sin in His people because Christ has taken away all of our sins from us, and our Lord now imputes to us the perfect obedience of Christ.
The wise are also just. Being just isn’t about being fair. Those who are just do what is right in God’s eyes. The just strive to deal with their neighbours as Christ instructs them. The just try to keep God’s law throughout all the interactions of their day to day personal relationships. They will not take advantage of people and figure that, as long as their behaviour is legal in the eyes of men, everything is fair game. The just live by the higher standard of God’s perfect law and work hard to treat people the way God tells us.
The wise are also lowly. People who are lowly know what they are of themselves. They cannot be proud of themselves when they examine their innermost hearts in the light of God’s perfect law. There is no boasting from those who know what it means to be the corrupt fruit of a fallen Adam. When we hear God’s law read to us each Sunday morning, we know that we are sinners. We are not good of ourselves. We are low.
The wise know to live according to the great reality which is denied, often very strongly, by the wicked. The great reality is that there is a God in heaven who is just and who will not be mocked. The wise know they cannot get away with sin. There is a God who, when He speaks of the consequences of sin, He means it. The wise also confess the reality about themselves, their need of a Saviour and their obligation to live thankfully before their merciful heavenly Father. That is wisdom.
Solomon tells us the wise inherit glory. When you inherit something, you are given it. Nobody inherits the fruit of their own labour. Someone else has done the work and, in their love for those dear to them, give others the benefits of what they have earned. That is true regarding the glory we inherit as the children of God. We do not earn glory. God gives glory to us as our inheritance because Christ died for us. ... to be continued