A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Wisdom is the Foundation to a Prosperous Life
Proverbs 14:1-15 SCC 9/27/15
This past week I met my mother and brother near Detroit and one of the things we did was visit places where my mother lived there back in the 40’s. We visited E. Lafayette in East Detroit and Lovett and Vancouver streets in West Detroit. She saw those places and we also saw dereliction on many of those streets. Neglected houses, burnt, vandalized side by side with houses still livable. God wants you to avoid a life like that. Wisdom applied to your life can make it prosperous.
PROSPEROUS LIVING IS BASED IN A FEAR OF GOD
The fear of God makes me better v 2. Solomon told his son that the fear of God would make him a better person. It would cause him to walk in uprightness, keep him away from evil, and avoid having to fear other people. If one despises the Lord it produces perversion of life and thinking.
The fear of God makes this life better v 26-27. Solomon tells his son that the fear of God also has some definite advantages for this life. It will prolong life, give you confidence, establish a refuge for your children, help you avoid the snares which can kill you, allow you to sleep better, and aid you in obtaining riches and honor. Children will reap the benefits of righteous parents if they also love the Lord.
NB: So if we are fearful of God it motivates us to not violate His commandments. If our goal is to learn to fear God then the first step is to hear His Words by studying the Bible.
PROSPEROUS LIVING AVOIDS THE PATH OF FOOLS
Get away from fools v 7. Foolishness is always presented in Proverbs as a close association with wickedness or evil. Here we have the general principle that we tend to model those we hang around with. Specifically, we learn that being in the presence of a fool destroys discernment. The point is: if we fellowship with fools, pretty soon we will begin to think like they do, and even when we hear words of knowledge, we will not be able to understand. This is why education is not salvation. You can educate a fool, but his foolishness will not allow him to glean wisdom from his knowledge. So his education does not enhance his discernment.
Fools refuse to admit their folly v 8-9. While the wise give careful consideration to their conduct, the way of the fool is ‘deception’. What they do is mock or scoffs at sin. Evil fools do not have a concept of sin. What makes today’s liberals stupid is they do not believe in sin. They believe only in malevolent actions, which are caused by ignorance and poor socialization. So they believe the need is for education and rehabilitation. They mock sin.
NB: So while fools ridicule making amends, resolving or rectifying, the upright show goodwill.
PROSPEROUS LIVING HAS A REALISTIC VIEW OF PAIN AND GRIEF
There are joys and sorrows that cannot be shared v 10. Happiness and grief are ultimately internal and personal. Repeatedly, Solomon tells his son that happiness is a matter of the heart or the spirit. So although happiness is the result of fulfilled desires, it is not to be found in any external accomplishment. Happiness is ultimately an internal factor, a condition of our psychological and spiritual makeup. Bitterness and joy are personal and not manufactured.
No joy is completely free of grief v 13-14. Even external laughter has nothing to do with happiness. The heart here is, of course, not the physical organ that pumps blood, but neither is it just our personality. Solomon’s use of the heart is a metaphor, which seems to connect personality (intellect, emotion, and will) to spirituality (our concepts of morality, purpose, and destiny). So when we are happy or sad, it is not just a function of our personality but also our spirituality. Sickness and handicaps can be endured, unless they give us a broken spirit, that is, impact our concepts of morality, purpose and destiny v 14. So it is crucial to see our sickness or handicaps in such a way that they do not destroy our sense of morality, purpose, and destiny. Serious diseases, handicaps, and the problems connected with aging, take away our earthly future.
NB: So pain and grief force us to more realistically evaluate what makes us happy. Ultimately, there is no happiness on earth at all. Solomon concludes in the book of Ecclesiastes—all is vanity.
PROSPEROUS LIVING KNOWS ONE CANNOT GET AWAY WITH SIN 12
1. We cannot always make the best decision using our own wisdom. The counsel of several other wise people keeps us from making bad decisions which seem right.
2. Multiple counselors will not necessarily give you the right decision, but they can keep one from making an obviously bad decision, which seems right.
This is true, no matter how much education we have had, and no mater how capable or intelligent we are. There is a built-in flaw in our reasoning powers that will make certain bad decisions seem right. We know our spiritual nature has been perverted by sin, which cannot be cured with education. A similar perversion warps our reasoning power. Exactly what that is Solomon doesn’t say, but the cure is in having available and abundance of wise counsel.
NB: So the issue is how deceptive evil is. One should be careful that any evil activity that seems successful and safe could take any number of turns toward destruction.
PROSPEROUS LIVING IS NOT CHARACTERIZED BY RECKLESS EVIL
Wise people are cautious and not reckless v 16 A wise person fears and shuns evil. Fools are driven by impetuous nature, self-assured, over-confident, when this one of all should be cautious.
Quick tempered and crafty people are disliked v 17 An uncontrolled temper will only produce regret losing respect of others while a malicious plotter is hated for his schemes.
Ultimately evil is conquered v 19 This seems to focus on the ultimate reality of the wicked who all will one day bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Until then they plot evil only to condemn selves.
Choose evil plans or good v 22 We learn that the foundational virtues come to and belong to those who devise good. The foundational virtues are love and truth. Godly people do not speak truth without love, nor do they exhibit love without truth. Moses, David, or Solomon would not agree with the Beetles, “All you really need is love.”
NB: So devising evil is never a means of getting ahead. Contained in its devices are the seeds that blossom into self-destruction.
PROSPEROUS LIVING IS EVIDENCED BY PURPOSEFUL DECISION MAKING
Here we have a series of contrasts ‘but’ to display the appeal of a prosperous life:
A pompous title with no meaningful responsibilities gains no respect v 28. For instance, people are a king’s greatest resource and validate his right to rule.
Anger is connected to a lack of understanding and therefore a lack of wisdom v 29. Solomon sees the quick-tempered person as a fool who cannot rule his own spirit.
It’s healthy to find contentment for envy brings constant turmoil v 30. The point is our inner spiritual condition directly affects our physical condition.
How one treats the poor displays their attitude toward God v 31. Anyone oppressing the poor shows contempt for their maker. Showing favor to the poor honors God since he said do this.
Trusting and obeying the Lord is the difference when catastrophe strikes v 32. For the wicked it will be disastrous while for the righteous even facing death there is a refuge in God.
Wisdom may be available to all but is not applied by all v 33. For the wise it provides them understanding but for the fool wisdom is ignored or overlooked and makes no difference in life.
People either benefit by righteousness or be shamed by sin v 34. Whether nations or people groups, elevation is the result of righteousness. Widespread sin (like before flood) is disgraceful.
Subordinates competence affects a superior’s attitude toward him v 35. Prudence pays off and a lack of it jeopardizes one’s job security because of indiscretions and bungling.
NB: So a prosperous life is the result of conscientious choices in a variety of setting over long period of time, which determine how one’s life may thrive and grow.