Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” — Proverbs 4:1-9
The Earthly Crown
A new king was just crowned in England. When a person receives the crown, it is a sign of honor, authority, and sovereignty over the kingdom they rule, and it is a symbol that requires respect from those within and without their kingdom. Even though I’m not under King Charles’ authority, his position would compel me to honor him we were in the same room.
Very few people will ever receive a crown of a kingdom in this life. In truth, I’d say there’s basically no chance that you or I will. (I’m just guessing there are no kings or queens reading this!) Yet, there is a way for you to receive a crown, and it’s a crown that lasts eternally. Eventually, King Charles’ crown will no longer be on his head, and he will stand before God as a man, just like you and me. His only hope as he stands before the throne of God will be the righteousness of Jesus. He has no authority except that which has been given him by God (John 19:11).
The Crown of Wisdom
The crown God is offering you is the beautiful crown of wisdom that comes from a life submitted to his word and Spirit. Notice again in these verses the path to this crown is listening to the commandments of the father and grandfather (Proverbs 4:1-5). These commandments, now in Proverbs, are no less than the commandments of God.
Then follows a very simple instruction, which he gives twice: “Get Wisdom!” (Proverbs 4:5;7). This means to “acquire or buy” wisdom (HALOT). Of course, you cannot buy wisdom at the store and put it on your shelf. What I think he means is that you need to make acquiring wisdom the top priority in your life! Pursue it, love it, and do not leave it behind! Just like a young man commits himself to the pursuit of the woman he marries, he needs to commit himself to getting wisdom: it’s a lifelong commitment of love and fellowship with the word of God.
There is a reward if you get wisdom: exaltation and honor. If you live a life according to the wisdom of God, others will notice. Wisdom is not just a private matter, but it has a public effect. When others see the fruit of wisdom in your life, they will respect you publicly. It is right and good to be motivated this way!
The Heavenly Crown
Ultimately, however, I believe this is all pointing to a heavenly crown in Christ. If you listen to God’s word, walk faithfully with him, and place your faith in the Word (Jesus Christ), you will receive the crown of righteousness. Paul wrote this to Timothy near the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
It’s hard to miss the verbal connections here. Solomon says, “love” wisdom, “prize her highly,” and she will put the garland on your head, crowning you. Likewise, Paul says that there is a crown of righteousness (the word Paul uses for crown here actually means a garland, or wreath, worn by someone of high status) that will be awarded to all who have loved Christ’s appearing. This will be given by the Lord himself. (You can find similar language in James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 3:11, and 1 Peter 5:4.)
Whatever you do in this life, it is worth nothing compared to knowing Jesus Christ. Whatever you get, get Jesus Christ! He is the revelation and wisdom of God to us. He is worth the loss of everything else (Philippians 3:8-10). Live for the heavenly crown of unfading glory in Jesus Christ!