One time, for a family vacation, we rented a big Ford SUV. It was nice. Because it was a newer model it had many of the latest bells and whistles, including an audible warning to let you know you were down to the last five gallons of gas. As part of that family vacation, we were going to visit my wife’s sister and her family, “Aunt Mary.” On the way, and after the audible alarm had warned me of our fuel situation, we passed a Sheetz gas station. We don’t have any of those where we live, so to see one meant we were getting closer to Aunt Mary’s because there are plenty along the way to her place. I even pointed the gas station out to everyone: “I remember the first Sheetz I went to. It was the first time I used a debit card at a self-serve place.” (For a while I was a cash-only gas-purchaser because I preferred to deal with humans over machines. Silly me.) I drove right by the gas station after noting it. What happened just a few miles afterward (and many miles from Aunt Mary’s)? The car died. Why? Because we ran out of gas. Why’d we run out of gas? Because the driver, me, saw a gas station and didn’t stop.
I was reminded of this story after reading Proverbs one:
(1) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
(2) To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
(3) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
(4) To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
(5) A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
(6) To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
(7) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
That first paragraph talks a lot about the benefits of wisdom. It’s also careful to note who actually benefits from the wisdom of the Proverbs. God dishes out His wisdom in generous portions throughout this book, but it’s up to the reader to receive it. A fool can know about God’s wisdom. He can even point it out to others. The problem is he doesn’t stop to partake of it himself. Instead, he blunders right past it even though it’s plain to see and then he ends up stranded on the roadside of life with only himself to blame.
My failure to stop for gas when it was obvious I needed it has become one of the many family stories about me. Until the kids grew up an moved out to be on their own, every time we got ready to take a trip, I was reminded by the entire family, both immediate and extended, about the time I forgot to get gas. Wisdom says that because fools reject her, she will “laugh at [their] calamity” (1:26a). When I got us stuck on the roadside, we had to pay fifty bucks for a gallon of gas to get us to the nearest gas station. That was a hard lesson. But ever since then I have not failed to stop at a gas station when I needed to.
God’s Word is full of wisdom for us. Proverbs is like a highway with lots of places to stop and tank up on wisdom. It would do us well not to miss the gas stations.