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A Basket of Summer Fruit

Wisdom's harvest of righteousness 

Proverbs 8:17-19

17 I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.

18 Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.

19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.


There is a tree that grows in the wilds of the southeastern United States that bears a fruit that can be either delicious–or nearly impossible to eat. The American persimmon resembles a small peach or plum, and when ripe it can have the sweet taste similar to an apricot. If tasted when unripe–it can have an effect on the palate that is almost unbearable to experience. 

It is often said that the persimmon can only be eaten after the first cold snap or frost of the season, but this is merely coincidental with the normal arrival of deep fall. It is then when the persimmon ripens into one of the sweetest of fruits–but if tasted too early, the persimmon can seemingly numb the mouth with its astringent taste. 

Native Americans loved the persimmon and the earliest European settlers quickly noted its peculiarities, even in colonial Jamestown:

If a persimmon is not ripe it will draw a man’s mouth awrie with much torment… When it is ripe, it is as delicious as an apricot.–Journal of Captain John Smith

Many a prank has been pulled against a gullible or unsuspecting mark who was unfamiliar with this renegade fruit. Even unripe, the persimmon is a beautiful, deep golden color and looks so succulently delicious that it is almost impossible to resist. Thus, it is easy to hand an unripe persimmon to a trusting friend to watch the effect of them feeling as if their face is turning inside out with one bite of the deceptively delicious-looking fruit.

Once, while dating my beautiful bride-to-be, I took her home to rural Georgia to meet my folks down on the farm. After dinner we walked and talked in the evening, and I showed her around the many acres of woods and pasture where I had grown up. At last we came to a persimmon tree, and it was covered with its finicky, wicked fruit. 

You really MUST try one of these, I said, as I plucked one of the small juicy globes from a branch and gave it to her. With one bite, her pretty, smiling face went from loving bliss to absolute shock–and then to pure rage as I doubled over in evil laughter at my joke. When she finally recovered from the bite, she punched me and vowed revenge. I am happy to say she still married me–but I am certain we have had trust issues ever since.

Have you ever taken a bite of rotten fruit? Do you know the deliciousness of fresh-picked blackberries or a ripe, sweet apple in the fall? Fruit is one of the blessings of life–and it is a powerful symbol found throughout scripture. Here, in chapter 8 of Proverbs, Solomon speaks of fruit as he reminds his young pupils of the call of Lady Wisdom–and the fruit that she offers to all who pursue her:

17 I love those who love me,
And those who seek me diligently will find me.–Proverbs 8:17

As you have learned in your study of Proverbs, wisdom calls for you to listen and hear her message–but she must also be sought throughout your life. Do not be content to simply wait around for wisdom to come upon you, locked in patterns of sin and foolishness. Instead she must be pursued as someone you dearly love. 

When you are young you can be infatuated with a celebrity or have a crush on someone in your class. A poster of a pop star on your bedroom wall proclaims your devotion, or writing both your names together over and over on the inside of your notebook betrays your heart.

That was puppy love. How much more should wisdom–the pursuit of righteousness–be a fixation on your heart today? You are older, wiser, and have experienced the joys and sorrows of life. It is time to cultivate a spiritual crush.

Solomon also has implied here that those who have not pursued wisdom, or did not love her previously, should repent and turn from the way of foolishness that leads to death. 

R.C Sproul says that, “pursuing Lady Wisdom is the only way to be sure of receiving an inheritance.” She offers an inheritance that is as great as the wealth of kings: 

18 Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.–Proverbs 8:18 

Remember that when Lady Wisdom makes promises of wealth, she is not making some unconditional guaranty. Being a believer often means the opposite–a life of poverty and even pain. But this is another kind of riches. Sproul again explains:

Living according to the wisdom that God has revealed in Scripture will lead to material prosperity. This is not a crass "name it and claim it" theology that is designed to manipulate the Lord into giving us exactly what we want every time we pray. Instead, it is a recognition that the Creator of the universe is in the best position to reward created human beings.–R.C. Sproul 

And this reward can be both earthly and heavenly, the most precious of which is to possess wisdom itself. As you learned earlier in the chapter:

The gift that Lady Wisdom promises to the child of any ordinary family in ancient Israel is the same wisdom by which kings rule (Proverbs 8:15-16).

The same wisdom that Solomon asked of God, when worshiping on the mountain (I Kings 3:1-15), is the same wisdom granted to you as a son or daughter of your heavenly Father. Is this not a remarkable thought? 

There is, however, a blessing of earthly wealth that comes from being wise. It is, in fact, inseparable, from wisdom–for foolishness and sin bring waste. Bruce Waltke reveals that:

In Hebrew, prosperity is commonly rendered “righteousness;” it entails the inviolable and inevitable success that comes from ethical behavior.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

But there is a catch, a paradox: 

…when one pursues wealth it corrupts, when one pursues wisdom it comes with edifying wealth.–Bruce Waltke

Do you see? To eat of the fruit of foolishness is to invite destruction and death through selfishness. To eat of the fruit of wisdom is to bring prosperity. Solomon continues:

19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.–Proverbs 8:19

Here is fruit used as an “agricultural metaphor” that is similar to others used throughout scripture. It is, as Waltke states, a “connection between the inward, spiritual cause, and the external, material effect.” Ironically, to be wise is not to seek out riches–but wealth can be a reward for those who pursue wisdom: 

The lover of wisdom will not choose silver and gold, but wisdom’s rewards do not exclude them.–Bruce Waltke

Think of other ways fruit is used in the Bible. Usually it is in a sense of being fruitful, or bearing fruit. More specially, it is about bearing good fruit, instead of bad. Jesus illustrates that: 

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.–Luke 6:43 

And Jesus continues, as he describes the “divine pruning” that must occur when no fruit is produced:

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.–John 15:2

Then, of course, there is the fruit of the Spirit, as Paul writes to the foolish Galatians to remember: 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.–Galatians 5:22-23

The fruitfulness that comes from Christ is no bitter persimmon: 

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.–James 3:17-18 

The “fruit of righteousness sown in peace” will eventually reap what the NIV calls, “a harvest of righteousness.” 

What about metaphors of actual fruit? Right off the bat, in Genesis there is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. One bite of this one brought the fun of Eden to a halt, and rained down the Curse on mankind and the universe. 

The prophet Amos receives a special message from God 

1 Thus the Lord God showed me: Behold, a basket of summer fruit. And He said, “Amos, what do you see?” So I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”Then the Lord said to me: “The end has come upon My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore.–Amos 8:1-2 

This is no happy fruit basket, but the judgement of God. As our own Mike Slay writes in a recent Deep: 

The Hebrew literally says, “A basket of summer.” This means a basket of summer’s yield, thus the translation, “summer fruit.” The point is that they’re about to harvest a basket of what their actions have yielded. They “produced” what’s coming.–Mike Slay

At this point, I am sure that Amos and Israel would have preferred a mouth-numbing persimmon to what God had in store.

Instead of curses and judgment, the fruit that Lady Wisdom offers in Proverbs, is a fruit that nourishes and blesses–and its sweetness leads to prosperity. The key is, will you partake of it? Her “basket of summer fruit” brings a golden harvest of righteousness to you. Will you taste of its sweetness?

This is the wisdom that comes from a disciplined life, where you seek to repent of sinful habits, addictions, and selfish ambitions–and seek your Savior’s love.

This is a wisdom that comes from pursuing God in His Word daily, plumbing the depths of knowledge in Him and scaling the heights of joys found within its verses.

This is a wisdom that comes from dying to self–that death can live in you, so that life can live in others.

This is the wisdom found in praying to your heavenly Father and seeking His will in all things.

Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles Spurgeon, was an invalid most of her life. She devoted herself to assisting her husband, and after his death, carried on his legacy of writing. Recalling a sermon of his about Jesus feeding the five thousand, she calls to mind what it would have meant to refuse the basket, to encounter Jesus but not to be fed:

Dear hearts, do not be angry with me—for I write for myself as well as for you—when I tell you that, if you are not fed, it must be because you will not eat!–Susannah Spurgeon 

Will you eat of wisdom’s fruit? Of the basket that Jesus passes to you? He does not wish you to go hungry. Susannah continues:

My dear husband once happily said, "He may make us wait to awaken appetite, but He will not in the end dismiss us unfed." So, let nothing discourage you. Sit on the ground before Him, as He bids you, until the basket comes round; or, if the disciples pass you by, venture to His side, and take the blessing straight from His loving hand. He will never chide you for trusting Him too much!–Susannah Spurgeon 

Take, and eat–and trust in Christ, the very wisdom of God. There is an old hymn that I recently heard: Christ Hath a Garden. Jesus, the eternal gardener, is the cultivator of your soul. Walk with him along its quiet paths, for He does not wish you to go away hungry:

Christ hath a garden walled around,
A Paradise of fruitful ground,
Chosen by love and fenced by grace
From out the world's wide wilderness.

That he may come, and linger yet
Among the trees that he hath set;
That he may evermore be seen
To walk amid the springing green.



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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