Proverbs 3:18 "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her."
In this passage, Solomon likens wisdom to being a tree of life. While as Christians, we won’t physically get to taste of the tree of life till we are in heaven, we can experience a some of the blessings of this tree by laying hold on her now. The Hebrew for "lay hold" means to be courageous, valiant, firm, to be bound fast (as in fastened) . This Hebrew word is used twelve times in Exodus to describe Pharaoh hardening his heart. It is used in terms of a battle and construction. It is also used in God’s charge to Joshua, "’Be strong’, and of a good courage." Then those that retain her, wisdom, are happy (blessed). The Hebrew word for "retaineth" means to "maintain, sustain, stay." Thus, we nurture a relationship and closeness with wisdom and are happy because of it.
Wisdom is the principal thing, the foundation (Proverbs 4:7). When we build our lives upon the foundation of wisdom, it will be life and blessing to us (that does not guarantee a life of ease, look at Christ’s and his apostles lives; all but one suffered a martyr’s death). When we are strong in wisdom, when we fight the good fight of faith according to the principles of wisdom, we will more fully know the priceless value of wisdom, her life, rich blessings, honor, pleasantness, and peace as our own. To follow wisdom is to follow Christ who is made unto us wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" is Christ’s invitation (Mat. 11:28-30). Christ echoes the call of wisdom. He is her source. She is the principle thing and He is the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:1-7).
As I read Proverbs 3, it is really neat to note a three step progression. First a good relationship is begun between the father and the son establishing the son’s respect and obedience to his dad’s rules (3:1-3). This drives the son to the second step, a good, healthy relationship with God the Father and its blessings. This relationship is characterized by trusting the Lord with all his heart, not leaning to his own understanding, acknowledging God in all his ways, not being wise in his own eyes, fearing the Lord, departing from evil, honoring God with his substance, not despising chastening from the Lord, and not being weary of God’s correction (3:4-12, John 14:21, 23). From this relationship comes the third step in the progression, commitment to wisdom, and her blessing to those heeding her (3:13-18). We see God’s wisdom in creating the universe (3:19-20). Then more practical ways are given to follow wisdom and its results (3:21-35).
Fathers play a vital role in helping their children build a relationship with God. By teaching them to honor and obey them, fathers condition their children to have a right relationship with their heavenly Father. A Godly dad teaches his children that through obedience to him, they are obeying God. He models to them the commands He gives them from Proverbs 3:5-12. They will see the wisdom of embracing wisdom modeled to them, and then embrace it themselves. I am not downplaying a mother’s role in raising a child, but the responsibility is put squarely on the father’s shoulders (Ephesians 6:4). Moms tend to automatically take part in training kids, but dads a lot of times, tend to slough off on their responsibilities to do it.
Now let’s apply this verse. Do you honor your heavenly Father, by obeying the command to honor your father? How has obeying this command caused wisdom to be a tree of life to you? Would people look at your life and say you follow the wisdom of God, or the philosophies and thinking of the world? How will you be strong in wisdom and maintain a closeness with wisdom today?