Mrs. Laning is a wife and mother in Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Walker, Michigan.
We seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures. More precious than gold is she, and better than rubies. All things that may be desired are not to be compared to her. She is wisdom, and she is the principal thing.
How do we teach our children to seek wisdom? Although all of the Scriptures speak of it, the Proverbs of Solomon place a special emphasis on the principles of wisdom. In fact, the Proverbs not only instruct us on what wisdom is, but also on how to teach it.
One way we are shown how to teach wisdom is by pointing out illustrations in the creation. This is something wise Solomon did as spoken of in I Kings 4:33:
And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
This is something I would like to learn how to do. I would like to know what I should see in God’s world, and how I can take advantage of the illustrations to teach His wisdom to my children.
God has given us a myriad of pictures in creation. These earthly pictures help to teach us heavenly truths. As the second article of the Belgic Confession says, creation is “a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God….” How awesome to contemplate the invisible things of God. When we stop to listen, watch, smell, taste, and feel, we have teachable moments all around us to share with our children.
One of the reasons why God made the creatures was that they might illustrate for us the behavior of human beings. This is something we know from Scripture, but we often do not think about it. How often do we consider the ostrich, to which God has not given understanding (Job 39:13-17), or the ant that is especially industrious (Prov. 6:6-8)? On a long rainy day, do we ever think of a contentious woman (Prov. 27:15)?
In Proverbs 30:18-19 is one such illustration I have found to be surprising:
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.1
This is an intriguing passage. What does an eagle, a snake, a ship, and a man with a maid have in common? How can I teach this to my children, so that we together can grow in wisdom?
I remember when my children came running into the house after spotting a bald eagle flying overhead. We were so thrilled because eagles just started nesting again in West Michigan. My husband and I rushed out, but were disappointed to miss the bird. We searched overhead, but saw no trace of it.
Snakes are not the kind of creature I go looking for, but my children find them fascinating. I recall a time when one of my sons told me to go look at a snake outside. By the time I arrived, the snake had already slithered away. Though we searched, we could not see which way it had gone.
Last summer our congregation enjoyed camping together. Our children especially delighted in swimming in Muskegon Lake. How happy they were when the passenger ferry went by. This large vessel routinely travels from Michigan to Wisconsin, making some rather large waves. The children rode the waves with gusto. We watched the ship go through a channel into Lake Michigan for as long as we could. After awhile, we could not see it at all. The water became still again, and we could not so much as tell it had ever been there.
There are similarities in these pictures that God has given us. In observing the eagle, snake, and ship we can see that they leave without a trace. In other words, they leave no tracks behind. Being left with no evidence, we can only wonder where they went.
Then there is this fourth example. What does a man with a maid have to do with the eagle, snake, and ship? The man with the maid is what these three examples are pointing to. I think the next verse explains why:
Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness,
By considering and bringing up this truth pictured in the creation, we can get into a discussion with our children about the sin against the seventh commandment. Many men and women, young and old, have deceived themselves into thinking that they can violate the seventh commandment and get away with it. They are like the adulterous woman who eats and wipes her mouth, exclaiming that she has done no wickedness.
Thus we have another illustration to consider. Adulterers eat wickedness. They “eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence” (Prov. 4:17). After doing so, they wipe their mouth and deny that they have sinned. Since the way of a man with a maid leaves no evidence, they fool themselves into thinking that their sin will never be known.
Yet God knows what they have done, and His judgment has already begun to be executed. They hear His judgment in the testimony of their own conscience. A man or woman may be able to hide the sin from his or her spouse, and a young person may be able to hide the sin from his or her vigilant parents. But our God sees everything.
We want our children to keep this constantly in mind. A child who walks in the light of God’s Word will not desire to hide in the darkness of sin. The creation provides us with an illustration that helps impress this upon us. It reminds all of us how foolish it is to think that we can hide from our omnipresent God. As if the omniscient One will not know what we are doing! Whether or not man finds out, we can be assured that our Righteous Judge who is everywhere and knows everything will most certainly deal with us.
Our desire is that our children find comfort in the truth that the Good Shepherd is keeping His eye on us. He ponders all our goings (Prov. 5:21), and in our new man we truly desire His watchful care. As we spend time having devotions with our children, it is important that we bring out how comforting it is to know that our Father in heaven knows our works. We are thankful that He chastens us in love to keep us on the right way.
To instruct our children, we must first take heed to ourselves. We need to make sure we are seeking wisdom from above. An aspect of seeking wisdom is meditating on the illustrations found in the creation.
However, the most elegant book, His Word, comes first. For when we look at God’s creation without the Scriptures that explain it, there is no way for us to understand what we are seeing. Yet when we read and believe the Creator’s own explanation of the behavior of His creatures, we are surprised and delighted as we begin to grow more in wisdom. This is one way in which we can make progress in our effort to apply the principles of heavenly wisdom to the children God has graciously given us.