“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.” — Proverbs 3:13-20
God wants you to be happy! If you think that sounds shallow or like a platitude, you are misinformed. These seven verses actually put your happiness at the forefront of why Proverbs was written. God wants you to find wisdom and live a happy life by his word. (The Hebrew word “blessed” in these verses is closer in meaning to “happy” in English.1)
True Happiness Is Found in God’s Word
The reason it might be hard for you to believe that God wants you to be happy is that somewhere along the line you mixed up happiness with temporary satisfaction or a spike in positive emotion. Even though both of those things can be good, if they are pursued as the goal of life, they become an idol of happiness. When that happens, happiness takes a wicked turn and becomes about doing what makes you feel good now at whatever cost.
What God is saying here in Proverbs is that the person who finds wisdom is the truly happy person. By definition, a happy person is someone “enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment” (Merriam-Webster). Well-being and contentment are not circumstantial matters. They are matters of the heart.
Satan’s lie from the beginning has been that “God is holding back the good stuff from you.” This is how Satan deceived Adam and Eve. He told them to not trust God’s word. He told them that if they did what God told them not to do that they would have what they want: in essence, they would be happy. This ended disastrously, and it ends poorly every single time it plays out in your life now.
Nothing Else Compares
Verses 13-15 are calling you back to God’s wisdom. “Hey, Listen! You will be happy if you find the wisdom of God. It’s better than money, it’s better than stuff, it’s better than anything you desire!” It’s true, nothing in this world will ever compare to the worth of knowing Jesus Christ, the very wisdom of God (Philippians 3:7-8).
Verses 16-18 then offers the promises of those who find this wisdom: long life, riches, honor, pleasantness, and peace. Wisdom is a “tree of life.” This image harkens back to the Garden of Eden, where the tree of life represented eternal life if Adam kept his side of the covenant. Finding wisdom means living in the fear of the Lord in covenant with the one who created you. It is only in this relationship with your Creator that you can find true happiness. If you find this wisdom, you will be called happy. “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” (Psalm 144:15, NKJV).
A Wise Creator and Gracious Savior
But why should you take God’s word for it? Why should you believe that he really desires your happiness and your good? Verses 19-20 give the same answer that God gave to Job: He is the one who made everything! He made the earth, he made the universe, he made the oceans, and he made the weather. God is the wise designer who created everything you see and don’t see. This includes you and the rest of the human race.
In Jesus Christ, who is called the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:25), salvation is revealed. He not only created you and desires what is best for you, but he has made a way for you to enter back into this life-giving covenant with him by the blood of Jesus Christ.
You could never live a wise enough life to earn the full promises of wisdom: Christ had to do that for you. Christ lived the perfectly wise life, completely submitted to his Father’s will. He also took the punishment you deserved for your sins. In his resurrection, he broke the power of sin and death. Now, at the right had of the Father, he is the judge of the living and the dead, and he has poured out his Spirit on his people, giving them the tree of life.
The promises of finding wisdom are yours in Christ by grace through faith. In Him, you have eternal life, immeasurable riches of grace, honor as his son or daughter, pleasant fellowship with God, and a peace the surpasses all understanding. Even when this sin-marred world doesn’t live up to its promises, you have a hope that never fades in Christ. Your eternal destiny is secure.
Find this wisdom! Your Creator wants you to be happy forever.
1Tremper Longman III, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 136.