Semi-Retired Pastor Jeremy Stopford

Blessed is the man who listens to me,“BLESSED IS THE MAN…WHO”

Watching daily at my gates,

Waiting at the posts of my doors.”

Proverbs 8:34

“Today’s Special” is from former Youth Minister Mike Atkinson, now of “Mikey’s Funnies” fame:

“A dentist was about to leave his office with his golf bag on his shoulder, when the phone rang.

“Doctor,” the caller said, “I have a terrible toothache. Can I stop by your office in a few minutes?”

“Sorry,” replied the dentist, “but I have a previous appointment to fill eighteen cavities this afternoon.”

For those of us here in WAY upstate New York who have endured this week’s snow storm followed by wind storm followed by descending temperatures – all in less than 4 days – playing golf is just the cure. Can’t wait!

Until then, the above verse is found in Proverbs Chapter 8. This chapter is an unique one, and without reading the first couple of verses of the chapter, verse 34 makes no sense. I was in a Bible study shortly after I was saved. I remember now even 50 years later the many disfigurations, as it were, that the teacher was doing with this passage. But the introductory verses set the tone of the passage.

“Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?

She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.” Verses 1,2

I love this kind of language! We learn much from these verses, teachings that will help us tremendously in both our understanding and application of verse 34.

First, the topic of this chapter is the wisdom of God! She is presented very personally, as someone to whom we should listen. Notice the “her” and the “She” of these two verses. The author (perhaps Solomon, who wrote most of Proverbs) has personalized “wisdom” as a feminine persona. And did you notice the location of “Wisdom”? She is on the top of a high hill, besides the way where the paths meet!

Where is she? Why, she is at a CROSSROADS! She is at the point where every man, woman, boy and girl who is living or who has ever lived has stopped. She is at the place where a choice of direction must be made!

We’ve all been there – perhaps many years ago when most of us were making a career choice. Or perhaps recently when many of us have to make decisions concerning living quarters.

Or like us, when I retired from the pastorate. We sought the Lord’s leading for at least two special things: first, a place to worship; and second, a place to live. We were amazed how the Lord provided both! The first is in a small town much like the places I served as pastor for over 30 years, and it is not that far from where we live. And the second? In the providence, amazement, and perhaps even humor of the Lord – we live in the SAME apartment in which we lived when I retired after 20 years from my first pastorate, an apartment from which we had moved 10 years earlier to move to our second pastorate! Funny – in the room which was to become once more my den, there were the EXACT screw holes in the wall for the brackets for my book shelves. Isn’t God good!

And look with me at verses 22 and 23:

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old.

I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”

What is the author saying? That wisdom not only is more than likely found at the crossroads of life; SHE was at the foundation of the world! She was there since EVERLASTING! From the BEGINNING! Before there was an EARTH!

What does that mean for us? It means that even before the beginning of time, before the creation of the world, wisdom was there to meet the greatest need that each of God’s human beings hunger for. AND WHAT CAN THAT BE?

Turn with me to Ecclesiastes 3:11, in the NKJV please:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

What does that mean, “He has put eternity in their hearts”?

I am dependent upon Bible scholars way more smart than I! This is the fruit of their scholarship: God has placed within each of our hearts an hunger…an hunger for substance, for truth. Why, an hunger for God Himself! The entire book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s tale of seeking satisfaction in STUFF. And he finds at the end of each of his searches the same thing: emptiness {“vanity and vexation of spirit” – literally, a “blowing in the wind”). And then Chapter 12 comes, when he proclaims the end of his search is but the new beginning of his life:

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them:”

The writer is nearing death. He describes what it is like to die in that emptiness, a reality facing all of us…UNLESS we obey Solomon’s final warning:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

So…what does that have to do with Proverbs 8:34? That verse is a kind of testimony to the hunger of our heart. Our heart is searching for substance, for truth, in reality yes, in the big picture it is searching for God Himself. The amazing thing is that at that same crossroads, GOD IS THERE, TOO! For He is hungry for us, for our fellowship, for our communion, and for fresh glory being brought to Him from our trust in His work at Calvary through the Son!

And then? Verse 34 tells me how to live! I am blessed – happy, NOT by circumstances but by the Lord Himself!

And then I do what?

I “listen to me”. I listen to the one who is at the crossroads of my heart. I listen to the one who wants to create substance in my life. I listen to the one who has prepared a way for me to live, to really LIVE, for God and for the glory of His Son! I listen to His Word and allow it to make changes – the changes of God through His Spirit – in my heart and life. I listen to the operation of that “still small voice”, like Elijah of old heard, to direct me to the path that He wants for this day, this hour.

I “listen to me”.

Then I “Watch[ing] daily at my gates”.

I am “watching” – the idea of being alert, having my gaze fixed upon. And I am having my gaze fixed upon DAILY. What does that mean? It means that this is a JOURNEY! It is not simply a “once for all time” experience! It is a sojourn, a walking with God, a being alert to the operation of the Spirit in my life. And how often am I watching? Why, DAILY! This sojourn has to be a continuous watch, a continuous fixing upon, a continuous routine in my joy of the Lord! And did you notice the where? “

AT MY GATES”. The “gates” was the place where in Old Testament times at least 3 main things happened. First, as in Job of old, the elders of the land would meet there to listen and to dispense their wisdom. Second, it was the place where decisions for the day were made. And finally, as in Ruth with her Boaz, it was the place where transactions for life were made. The gates were a very important – if not THE most important – place where city life occurred. It was at the gates of wisdom where this sojourner’s heart was to be watching DAILY.

Finally, while I am LISTEN-ing to wisdom, while I am WATCH-ing daily at her gates, I am to be “WAIT[-ing] at the posts of her [“my”] doors”. Now this is where this stewardship gets to be fun! The key to this is to discern where “my doors” are! For it is there that I am to be waiting at the posts! What does this mean?

“My doors” is an intimate term for one’s HOME! While I am listening, while I am watching daily, I am to be waiting at wisdom’s doors! I am to be as close to wisdom as I can be! I am to be listening, watching, and waiting at her home, at the very posts that hold up the front door of her house! And where for the Christian will that be? Why, that is two-fold, of course, It will be IN the written Word of God where I find wisdom. Daily! AND second, it will be BY the operation of the Holy Spirit whereby I apply wisdom to my life.

Ok, let’s wrap this up! Tell me then, IF I am obedient to this passage, what will happen? What’s in it for me?

What happens when I

* LISTEN to wisdom…

* WATCH daily at her gates…, and

* WAIT at the posts of her doors?

Tell me again what the verse says?


Tell me again…is that what your heart is hungry for…SUBSTANCE?

And when you find her, you will be…BLESSED!