A Garland of Grace
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty.” Proverbs 4:7-9
With the exception of the name of Jesus, the word “grace” has been referred to as one of the most beautiful words in all of the human language. Grace is God’s act of favor upon His children as He gives us that which we do not deserve; namely salvation. The apostle Paul made it clear to the early church at Ephesus that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). I have heard an acrostic used for the word grace; God’s riches at Christ’s expense; and how true that is. By unmerited favor and of no accomplishment of our own, we receive the wonderful riches that were made available to us at Christ’s expense. The flock I shepherd is named Grace Baptist Church, and I believe many of the people involved in the initial establishment and inception of our church in the early days felt an especially overwhelming sense of God’s grace.
But when we bump into the phrase “garland of grace” what does it mean, and where does it originate? Our passage above is taken from the book of Proverbs, a book of the Bible that is marked with great wisdom, and is labeled as wisdom literature in the Old Testament canon. In this particular verse, wisdom is portrayed with a feminine personification. The pronoun “she” used in this verse is a reference to wisdom. You might have heard the phrase “mother wisdom.” So what will “she” do? For those that pursue wisdom, she will place on them a garland of grace. That raises another question. What is a garland? Webster’s defines a garland as “a wreath or chaplet made of branches, flowers, feathers and sometimes of precious stones to be worn on the head like a crown.” Simply put, a garland is a wreath worn on the head. It is very similar to how athletes in ancient times would compete to obtain the winner’s wreath (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). So when Solomon in our passage above says that wisdom will adorn us with a garland of grace, he means that if you make it a priority to seek out wisdom, and you desire to be wise in your approach to life, it will be evident by the way that you live. It will be so obvious to others that your life will be evidently laced with the wisdom and grace of God Dr. John Macarthur puts it this way; He says, “The wisdom of God will adorn one’s life for all to see its beauty.”
The Word of God ought to serve as a “garland of grace” around our heads. Our lives should bear God’s Word in such a way that people know that we have laced our life with the wisdom found within its pages. The Bible is to serve as our instruction manual for life, and should be treasured more than vaults of gold, handfuls of diamonds, seafloors of pearls, or islands of rare spices. But studying God’s Word alone does not necessarily make someone wise. Application of scripture and heartfelt faith must enter the picture as well. And it is only when God’s Word is collectively studied, digested, and applied together that wisdom is obtained (Ezra 7:10). It must not simply brush the surface of a person’s life. It must be embedded into the crevices of the soul. It cannot be fabricated by head knowledge. Wisdom must go deeper and mark the life of the believer in a very real and deep way. This truth is echoed in the New Testament when James says that Christians are to be a doers of the word, and not simply just hearers (James 1:22). One last thought; it is also not a bad idea to pray for wisdom as King Solomon did (1 Kings 3:9-11).
My prayer for you is that wisdom would adorn your life like a garland of grace just as King Solomon poetically described in our text. And you pray as well; ask God to lace your life with a garland of grace.
– Pastor Eric