A STUDY OF WISE LIVING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
The Necessity of wisdom to live a productive life
Proverbs 1 SCC 5/31/15
1. Wisdom is a skill for living life with an understanding of how things usually are. Wisdom is having a firm grasp of the obvious. It’s a skill for recognizing life’s regular things. Wisdom is thinking about life’s regular events. Wisdom is what is usually going to happen most of the time.
2. Proverbs is about becoming a man, not becoming a patriarch. Proverbs is about wisdom, not maturity. Understand, you cannot have maturity without having wisdom first. Wisdom is the foundation of maturity. But the path to wisdom is different than the path to maturity. Maturity is always built upon order. And that takes wisdom. And that’s Proverbs.
3. Wisdom is about bringing our chaos to order, our randomness to regularity, our confusion to understanding. That’s Proverbs. There is no maturity without wisdom. But the two are not the same. Maturity requires creativity. Wisdom requires regularity. Wisdom is moving from chaos to order, from random, disorder, and confusion, to living in light of the way things usually are most of the time.
4. Solomon does not want us to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. We are to see people for what they are and sin for what it is. Living in proverbial wisdom is the way we are to grow up, avoid life’s chaotic pitfalls, and become men and women. But it is not sufficient. It will not get you to God. It will not by itself secure a relationship with God, establish a love for God, or give you an eternal future with God. Worldly wisdom ignores God. So how do we pursue wise living?
NURTURE MORAL SKILLFULNESS AND MENTAL DISCERNMENT 1-6
Verse 1: Proverbs is a general call to pursue wisdom. A proverb is an object lesson, which makes comparisons to communicate a general truth. Solomon is the author.
Verse 2: The first step is to acquire wisdom and instruction. The skill for living comes from instruction through discipline and correction. The second step for wise living is to acquire discernment. This means the ability to distinguish between things to develop understanding. This is the end product of wisdom and instruction—understanding. Proverbs will train people to discern lessons about life, such as distinguishing permanent values from immediate gratifications—the eternal and the temporal.
Verse 3: What a student gains from this process is prudent living, or wise behavior and good sense. And how do prudent acts manifest themselves? In three ways each together preventing wisdom and understanding from being misused: (1) Righteousness is what is right according to the standard of God’s law. (2) Justice. So Proverbs will develop a life that has a sense of propriety in making decisions. (3) Equity, a lifestyle that incorporates the most pleasing aspects.
Verse 4: Here is a major concern of Solomon. The naïve or simple person must become shrewd, more astute and perceptive. The youth to devise plans for the best course of action. With a perceptive ability to make workable plans he becomes less gullible, more critical and judgmental, not only more knowledgeable.
NB: Today’s philosophy of education is contrary to Proverbs because it is based upon an open exchange of new ideas, opinions and behavior without the need for discerning if those ideas are moral and true. Liberal education keeps students naïve while giving them more information without discernment to live with that knowledge in a righteous way. The information is not taught in the context of any moral, theological or ethical foundation. Therefore, the student is not equipped to distinguish the value of what he is learning or if it is true. It is the wisdom of the world without the fear of God.
Verse 5: The wise hear in such a way that they add to their learning. Each new hearing of wisdom should increase understanding not merely confirm wisdom already achieved. An increase in learning is only possible in the context of having the wisdom to discern truth from nonsense—wise counsel.
Verse 6: The disciple must understand the sayings of the wise. Those sayings come in the form of proverbs, figures, words, and riddles. These can seem obscure and irrelevant on the surface. But these expressions of teaching force us to understand not just memorize and imitate. Figuring out riddles teaches us to think and bridge the gap from knowledge to wisdom; from information by rote to understanding by application. This requires ingenuity, imagination and creative solution that produce change and growth. Jesus used parables to force the Pharisees to change their concepts of truth.
1. The call is to pursue wisdom, the skill for living life with the understanding of how life usually works.
2. Understanding and not just knowledge is essential for wisdom to operate in one’s life
3. Wisdom and understanding must be acquired through critical thinking that creates discernment.
THE FEAR OF GOD IS FOUNDATIONAL TO WISDOM 7
Verse 7: Here is the theological foundation for the entire book. The thing separating biblical proverbs from all others in the ancient world is that all we do begins in the fear of God. With the Lord as the object of this fear, it captures both the concept of shrinking back in fear and drawing close in awe. God is like a campfire—close enough to get warm but too close and you get burned. It includes awe and respect but the basic idea is being in terror or fearful.
NB: The point is what we think of when we think about God will determine the foundation of our knowledge, morality, wisdom, personal and physical life, confidence and what we consider trouble. No fear of God is the basis of liberal education and its societal impact. If only awe and no fear keeps us from the wisdom of God and leaves me with only a wisdom of my own on my terms. A fear of God develops wisdom on God’s terms that is foundational for understanding, discernment, and truth.
DON’T IGNORE WISE INSTRUCTION FOR ORDERING YOUR LIFE 8-9
Verse 8: The disciple is exhorted to heed parental guidance—the voices of those who impart wisdom so that your life id ordered and not chaotic or out of control. That kind of instruction is often associated with one’s parents. It is the young son or daughter in the greatest need for this ‘hands on’ instruction. It is the ‘youth’ whose passions are strong, self-confidence is growing, and group acceptance is important—but the experience of real life has not yet tempered them. So the parental instruction is designed to keep the youth’s life from destruction.
Verse 9: As a result of heeding this instruction the disciple receives a special promise—his life and qualities and character will be agreeable. The metaphor compares these qualities to an attractive wreath worn around the head. The neck pendant speaks of adoring one’s life with qualities that take off the rough edges through disciplined training. Not ignoring sound instruction rooted in the experience of the real world will produce a life that is a pleasing presence in the family and world.
AVOID PEER PRESSURE THAT ENTANGLES YOU IN SINFUL ACTIVITY 10-19
Verse 10: Here is a summary statement warning not to succumb to the enticement of moral misfits. This enticement is to do evil since it comes from sinners.
Verse 11: Here the enticement is the offer to join professional criminals in a life of crime. They waylay innocents by ambush that is vicious and hostile. Their aim is bloodshed. The attack is evil. Unruly gangs and vigilantism mark this activity.
Verse 12-14: These criminals are sure of swift success. They will subjugate those with vitality of life and are confident that sharing the stolen wealth will make their own houses full of spoil. So the offer to the youth is to pursue with these roustabouts a life of easy but ill-gotten gain.
Verse 15-16: The parental advice to avoid such evil is based on what appears prosperous eventually leads to destruction. Their bloodthirsty purpose will bring retribution for sure v 18.
Verse 17-19: It is futile to spread out a baited net to catch birds that are watching but these criminals are so blinded by evil that they fail to recognize the trap leading to their own doom v 18-19. Their blind folly for greed will end up taking away their own lives—they do not connect the consequences to their own acts of violence.
NB: So how is it that criminals of all ages still attempt to vandalize? Just like these criminals, they never connect the consequences of their actions to the actions themselves. No matter their age they have no wisdom. There is no foundation for understanding. There is no distinguishing of good and evil. They destroy and in the process are destroyed themselves.
DO NOT DESPISE WISDOM—PURSUE IT 20-33
Verses 20-21: It is important to be street smart. Wisdom observes what usually happens most of the time in the marketplace, the business world, and the inner dealings of city life from the perspective of the ‘fear of God.’ Business eventually takes you into the city. Even farmers and hunters and fishermen have to take their wares there for sale. So wisdom understands what usually happens there.
Verses 23-28: Wisdom complains in v 22 that each is satisfied with his ways and does not listen to reason. An invitation to respond in v 23 can be dangerous if ignored v 24-28. One cannot wait until disaster strikes and then look for wisdom. It is unavailable. It is too late. The fear of God needs to be developed over time so one is equipped when calamity arrives.
Verse 29-33: So the typical scenario of a fool is living without pursuing knowledge. He refuses reproof. Then he gets into trouble having no wisdom to stay out of it in the first place, he has no wisdom to deal with the trouble now. So he tries to find it somewhere. He may go to a counselor. He may go to a Bible study. He may join AA. He may start asking friends for advice. But it is difficult for him or her to change course. Habit patterns and thought patterns without underlying knowledge, reproof or the fear of God means they shall eat the fruit of their own way v 31, ruin and retribution. Their way—their life and what it produces—stands in contrast to the way of wisdom they have spurned long ago. But those who heed wisdom v 33 will live securely and safely—free from perpetual and destructive chaos.
First, morality and discernment must be deliberately cultivated. The sexual revolution is determined to uproot any notion of morality. Discernment requires training in the knowledge of good and evil.
Second, the trend is to forget, ignore, and spurn a fear of God. The theory of evolution is a tool of the devil assisting in deicide—the killing of god.
Third, without wisdom your life will self-destruct.