Comments on Proverbs 1-9

Outline of Proverbs: Chapters 1-9
13 times the author addresses his son(s) and pleads for attention and adherence to his words of wisdom. An additional plea to the son(s) from Wisdom herself makes the point very clear: the wise listen while the foolish are deaf.

Introduction 1:1-7

Introduction to the book (key verse: 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.)

Warning: Against Bad Company and Unjust Gain 1:8-19 1:8 “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” (warning about associating with those who are greedy for unjust gain) Wisdom 1:20-33

Wisdom: her first call

Exhortation: To Seek Wisdom, Understanding, and Insight 2:1-22 2:1 “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you” (exhortation to seek wisdom, understanding, and insight) 3:1-10 3:1 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments” (exhortation to follow the Lord only) 3:11-12 3:11 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline” (explanation of the God’s loving reproof) Wisdom 3:13-20

Wisdom: a description

Exhortation: To Righteous Living 3:21-35 3:21 “My son, do not lose sight of these- keep sound wisdom and discretion” (exhortation to righteous living) 4:1-9 4:1 “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight” (exhortation to seek wisdom and insight) 4:10-27 4:10 “Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life be many.” (exhortation to keep the words of the father) 4:20 “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.” (exhortation to righteous living) Warning: Consequences of Immoral Women 5:1-23 5:1 “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding that you may guard knowledge.” (warning about immoral women) 5:7 “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.” (warning about the consequences of immoral living and exhortation to keep marriage undefiled) Exhortation: To Ethical Living 6:1-19 6:1 “My son, if you put up security for your neighbor” (exhortation to conduct oneself ethically and with integrity) Warning: Consequences of Adultery 6:20-35 6:20 “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” (warning about the consequences of adultery) 7:1-27 7:1 “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you” (warning about adultery)

Wisdom 8:1-31

Wisdom: her second call 8:32 “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.” (Wisdom exhorts us to favor her over death) Wisdom: her teaching

9:1-12 Folly 9:13-18

Folly: her call ___________________________________________________________

Comments on Proverbs 1-9
Introduction: Proverbs 1:1-7
Proverbs 1:1-7 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The auspicious beginning to this book of wisdom carries the name of the most prominent of men in the history of the bible. To Solomon was given not only the throne of the great people of Israel but also great wisdom. In response to a question from God where Solomon conceivably could have asked for anything he wanted, the young king asked humbly for the wisdom to lead his people in the way of right (2 Chronicles 1:7-12). Because of this God granted him not only the greatest wisdom of all but wealth and earthly success beyond compare. His kingdom and its riches were legendary and his wisdom drew visitors from all of the surrounding nations. This book is a collection of Solomon’s wisdom and that of the people of Israel. It is a collection of truisms that apply as readily today as they did in the day of this king. In these first verses Solomon gives us the goal of this book and the overarching purpose for every man: to obtain wisdom for oneself and that by the cultivation of the ‘fear of the Lord’ through applying these proverbs. Solomon lists four (five?) sub-purposes for this collection of Proverbs: To know wisdom and instruction To understand words of insight To receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity To give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth The proverbs are meant to help one to know, to understand and to receive basic wisdom, instruction, and insight. This conveyance and reception of wisdom assumes that the receiver is young and relatively simple (Proverbs 1:4). The book opens with the father beckoning to his son to listen to his words, to receive them aright, and to heed them in order to avoid falling into the entrapment of the sinner’s lifestyle (Proverbs 1:8-10). The proverbs are given to ones that while yet young and simple are hoped to be wise enough to take hold of these words and grow in stature and learning. Lastly the proverbs are meant to guide one into the ‘fear of the Lord’ which is itself wisdom. Solomon addresses his son (or sons, as in verse 4:1) repeatedly throughout these initial chapters. This overwhelming stress on addressing the attention of his son illustrates the love and concern this father had for the future well-being of his children. A father wants the best for his children; he wants to be able to keep them safe from harm, to keep them healthy and well-nourished, and to keep them properly clothed and sheltered. But a man of God wants something even more than all of that for his children. A man of God wants for his children to become men and women of God. He wants his children to follow after the Lord as he himself has done. He

wants for them to walk upright and pure in the midst of a world of evil. He wants for them to work to remain clean of the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). This father carefully set before his children the way of life and the way of death and exhorted them to be wise and to choose life. I imagine this kind of a man following the advice of Deuteronomy 6 and speaking of the things of God continually in the house and on the way. I imagine this kind of a man sacrificing on behalf of his children lest they should have done anything wrong (Job 1:5). I imagine that this kind of a man carried a great burden for the souls of his children and that this collection of proverbs was one more way that he was trying to gain the hearts and minds of his kids for the Lord. Carrying such a burden for one’s children is a good thing for it means that one has prioritized correctly the important things of life. This father has decided that character and standing before God weigh more heavily than possessions and pleasure. He has seen the truth himself and has tried to set it before his children. A note of caution should be sounded against carrying too much of the burden and not letting the Lord carry His share of its weight. A father carries the burden to teach, to correct, and to rebuke his children in the way of the Lord. But the one thing that he cannot do is to save his children from their own wickedness. Their sin will remain their own and they will pay the penalty for their own foolishness. The overarching message of this book of proverbs is that there is a choice between good and evil and between wisdom in life and foolishness. Solomon lays out that difference very clearly and in the end he has to leave the decision as to which will be sought to his children. As much as we want the best for them and as much as we know exactly how they can achieve the blessings of God it ultimately rests with them whether they will heed the words of their wise counselors and order their steps correctly. There is an understanding here that the young are ‘simple.’ They stand in need of instruction and of the awareness of their own ignorance. There is an assumed position of arrogance in these simple ones that the father seeks to address and to help the child to overcome. For some reason our young assume that they know more than those who have walked before them and too often they suffer the consequences of that rebellion. Our job is to teach them of their relative ignorance and to help them to overcome it through humility and submission to the wisdom of their fathers. There are two main areas of concern that the father of the Proverbs has for his sons. In the battle between wisdom and folly the stakes are high and the father gives warnings against the keeping of bad company and seeking unjust gain (Proverbs 1:8-19), and against association with immoral women and the consequences of adultery (Proverbs: 5:1-23, 6:20-7:27). Attention to those two broad warnings can provide the basis for building a lifestyle of honor and integrity. Opposing those warnings are lengthy sections of exhortation where the father tries to draw his children toward virtues such as seeking wisdom, understanding, and insight. He also directs them to live righteous lives and be ethical in their dealings with others. These are the virtues of a man of God: he is a seeker of wisdom, righteous, prudent, discreet, ethical, honest, and hardworking (Proverbs 6:4-11).
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I suppose another way to look at this is as if it were an equation. If we follow the advice of the writers of scripture, of Jesus and His Father than we will gain something that Solomon here calls wisdom. It is simple arithmetic: Attention to advice + obedience to principles = Fear of the Lord and wisdom. This fear of the Lord I take to be a reverence for Him that guides us into choosing His precepts over the ones of the world. We look to Him for truth and we follow His words instead of looking to ourselves or those who forge their own paths in life. Our fear of God is reverence and a desire to stand in righteousness before Him. Our fear is a very certain knowledge of the pain that will come if we call ourselves His and then choose to follow another.

The other equation presented here is the opposite but equal one. Ignoring advice + disobedience = foolishness and death. To hear the words of the Lord and to ignore them, or to dismiss them as irrelevant, is to choose the consequences of those actions. The weight of sin is certain, that is made very clear in this book. The writer has seen the results of choosing to walk with sinners, to live in immorality, and to seek after what is not just. The father knows from personal experience what happens when one’s life is not guided by the principles of right and wrong. He calls the man who chooses to live in wrong a fool. He calls him simple. Such a man is doomed to suffer the result of his own stupidity. The principle: Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This is the theme of the entire nine chapters we are about to look at. There is one way to blessing in this life and that is to look to the Lord for wisdom and understanding. Then and only then will our feet find the path to life. The ones who refuse this path are the fools and the simple. Their feet always find the path to death.

Warning: Against Bad Company and Unjust Gain: Proverbs 1:8-19
Proverbs 1:8-19 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

I appreciate the objectification of wisdom that the writer uses throughout this book. Solomon pictures his words, along with those of his son’s mother as a “graceful garland” and a “pendant.” His words to his children are real to him and he gives them them as he would a present. Making of them head pieces and necklaces calls to mind the bestowing of symbols of honor in the court of a king or at a special dinner where the guest of honor is bedecked with gifts before the celebratory meal. Here, the son is being given such treasured gifts, to wear not just at a state dinner but throughout his entire life. The sad part of this is that the father is unsure whether or not his children will pick up those gifts and put them on. The wisdom of the mother is included in this plea as well. A father and a mother both bring their unique experiences and insight to their marriage. They have worked through many of the difficulties of life and are uniquely positioned to offer the fruit of that experience to their children. A child would indeed be foolish if he were to forsake the wisdom of two of his greatest counselors. The temptation to ‘run with the wrong crowd’ is as prevalent today as it apparently was in the day of Solomon. Because of sin we have in our society those who will not conform to the rule of law or the norms of behavior. There are those who seek to circumvent those laws and who intentionally crash against the norms attempting to establish new norms for themselves and others. The attraction of the young toward people of this sort is strong, especially for those who struggle with their sense of self, and their security in family and among their peers. A parent can help their children by providing a home where they are ultimately secure, safe from rejection and loved completely. Home can be a place where the child returns and feels safe to relax and to shrug off the hurts of the world and the slights from others that so often come. Without this strong base of support a child may turn to others who accept him more readily and who offer something that he cannot get anywhere else. In addition to this is the fact that a man’s heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and needs very little encouragement to do sinful things. Even with the support of a loving family and strong teaching a child may listen to the words of others and be deceived into following for the mere fact that he is a sinner as the rest of them are and the sinful attracts his flesh as well. In this passage, the lure is the seeking of what we call ‘easy money.’ These ‘sinners’ will call a young man to join them as they plot ways to waylay the unsuspecting, take their money, and live a carefree life. Their underlying motive is to find a

way to live without working, to take whatever they need from whomever they can get it and to spend it without thought for tomorrow. In addition to this is the lure of living together with such people and sharing all that you have in a brotherhood of sorts. Again, without the strength of a loving family at home this replacement ‘family’ of sinners could be very enticing. The principle: Proverbs 1:17-19, “vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird…they set an ambush for their own lives… it (seeking unjust gain) takes away the lives of its possessors.” Solomon teaches his son that this sort of living is doomed to failure. The analogy to the trap set for a bird is perfect. You cannot trap a bird if the bird sees the snare you have set. It will simply fly away, for no creature will willingly step into what it knows is its own destruction. But Solomon knows that men will do such a thing and he has seen it time and again. Man has the uncanny ability to lay himself to waste and to intentionally sabotage his own life. Solomon offers a better way, the way of life. He warns his son that the snare is set before him and cautions him to avoid it. ‘Do not step into the trap laid by these sorts of men, my son, although it looks enticing and pleasurable it is nonetheless a trap. Beware; fly away!’
Deuteronomy 30:11-18 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it a nd do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

Solomon is not warning against something new, and neither are we when we caution our children to stay on the path we have laid before them. God, Himself, has set us an example when he cautioned the children of Israel to remember all that had been done for them when He entered into a covenant with them, bringing them into the Promised Land. He set before them the words of the Law and encouraged them to take them to heart. They were to be their guideposts to a life of blessing and reward. They were to be their garland and pendants. Solomon offers nothing less to his son. He offers him a way to live a life that can (and will) be blessed by God. As verse 11 says above, this is nothing new and it needs no special revelation in order to be received. It is before us all and the choice is clear: if we choose to live by the words of the Father then we will live, but if we choose to forsake His ways we will most certainly perish.

The Call of Wisdom: Proverbs 1:20-33
Proverbs 1:20-22 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delig ht in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Solomon personifies wisdom for his son. Just as Moses spoke of God’s commands as an object that could be brought out of heaven and presented to men so here Solomon makes use of artistic license and gives life to the words that he speaks. Wisdom cries out to the people in the streets where Solomon simply made a plea to his son to heed his words. She calls them to attention and asks them a very simple question, ‘Why do you insist on

going the wrong way?’ The way of right is before all men and yet they continue to go the wrong way. Her question is as pertinent today as it was then. It lays at the root of mankind’s fundamental problem: sin. Our sinful hearts want the wrong thing. We seek the “desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” (1 John 2:16) and this is not from God, from Wisdom, it is from this world. Wisdom could stand on any street corner in the world this very day and shout the same question, ‘How long will you continue in this way?’ And she would receive the same for an answer, the scoffing of fools. The ridiculous thing is that we do not know that we scoff and we do not know that we are fools. By ourselves we can believe that we are good men and women, or at least we can call ourselves relatively good, depending on which standard we have set up for ourselves to follow. Our foolishness comes into play because we do not recognize that our standard is not the one that is being used to judge us for eternity. Wisdom calls to us to let us know that God is our judge and He alone has set a standard for us by which we are to be judged. But because we think ourselves our own judges we set for ourselves a standard we deem appropriate and we scoff at the wisdom from above. This is the foolishness of the world that Paul wrote about a thousand years later (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). We, however live at a very different time than did Solomon, for we have the cross between us and him. The cross of Christ is our reminder of the foolishness of men and the wisdom of God. It symbolizes the reality of sin in the world and the great penalty that it demands. But it also represents for us the great mercy that that wrathful God displayed for us. He placed himself on that cross when He sacrificed His own Son, Jesus as the perfect atonement for the folly of the world. Some of us see that folly in ourselves and we lament its existence. We see the sin in our own hearts and our continual struggle to resist it and we call out to God for salvation. He has responded in the form of that cross which stands as a forever reminder of the sinfulness of man and the wisdom and mercy of God. There are those who continue to scoff today but their end will be the same as it was for the scoffer in the streets of Jerusalem: death. The principle: Wisdom makes her judgment in verses 32-33: “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” For the Christian I believe this means that the cross is ever before us and we must face it in our stand to do the right thing. We must face the cross and our temptation to sin. We must face the cross and fight our desires and lust. We must face the cross and remember the very great price that God paid for us. We must face the cross. Turning away is what the unbeliever does and God will either catch hold of that man or let him go his way. For the believer however there is no more turning away; we are now called by His name and we must remember what He has done for us. There is no further sacrifice for sin; there is only the coming judgment (Hebrews 10:26-31). What shall we do, scoff in the face of certain judgment? That is foolishness.

Exhortation: To Wisdom, Understanding, and Insight: Proverbs 2:1-3:12
Proverbs 2:1-5 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

These verses carry the promise of the father to his son. They are organized in a classic if-then construction. If the son will simply receive the words of the father and obey them, then knowledge of the Lord will be attainable. If the son will seek the things of the father, then understanding of the fear of the Lord will be granted. The father pleads with the son to listen, to be the kind of man who does not scoff in the street but who is humble enough to recognize the wisdom that is coming from those who have gone before him. The plea is for us as well; we are to seek these things for ourselves so that we too may enjoy the benefits of an understanding and knowledge of God. We are to seek them “like silver and search for [them] as for hidden treasure. We saw from chapter one that the desire for money is strong in youth. It is strong in

most men, I imagine, for it can attain for us the material things of the world that bring status and luxury. The amount of effort that men put into their quest for wealth is to be put into a higher quest for the things of God. We are to turn our ear to these words, to the words of our counselors and “incline” our hearts to understand them. We have these words of wisdom, even those of us without earthly counselors have the benefit of the recorded history of the children of Israel and of the great saving plan of our Father in heaven; we have the bible. I spent thirty years ‘scoffing’ at this history and this plan. I relegated it to the position of fanaticism and foolishness. I thought that the ‘born-again’ followers of Christianity were extreme and brain-washed somehow and so I left them calling to me from the door of their church and I laughed them off from the street. But they did not change their tune, because the truth of God’s word does not change over time; I changed my tune. My scoffing turned to desire to have what they had, to have something bigger than myself that could help me to navigate the mess I had made of my life. So I turned to the God of the bible and asked Him to help me. If only I had done that as a young man when I still had the beginnings of my life ahead of me. How different my marriage would have been, how different my relationship with my parents and extended family; how alone I feel now because of my own foolishness. I should have turned myself into the door of that church and opened my heart to receive the wisdom they were giving me. Do not miss this point- not hearing the word of God is not an excuse. The word is spoken; it is up to the man to will to hear it and receive it or to turn and reject it. The choice is ever before us and we act on that choice daily. The benefit we receive from turning our ear to God is the understanding of Him that He imparts to us. At the start it is being born-again and the knowledge that you have just been saved. You recognize the great price of your salvation and you bask in the hope that you now have that you are not alone and do not have to save yourself any longer. The believer in God gains an understanding of who God is through continued reading and study of His word. His character becomes clear to us when we learn of how He time and again saved His chosen people and then worked Himself into history to save an entire creation of chosen people. We begin to understand that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that that means He must love each and every one of us, including ourselves. We hold onto that knowledge in times of duress and depression because it is our greatest treasure; we are safe in His heart, forever. The other benefit promised is that we will gain a “fear of the Lord’ when we seek him and His way. Above, I took the ‘fear of the Lord’ to mean reverence for Him. The word appears to mean both reverence (when associated with the Lord) and fear, as in being afraid of coming pain. The writer(s) of Proverbs use this phrase repeatedly in this book and it is associated primarily with an understanding of God. To fear the Lord is to understand Him. To fear the Lord is the path to greater wisdom. To fear the Lord brings life to the foolish. To fear the Lord will bring the blessings of wealth and honor. It seems to stand in opposition to the converse which must be no fear of the Lord. To not fear God would be to walk His streets without acknowledging His presence. It would be to behave as if the master of the house does not own the food and clothes that you freely use. It would be to assume that you have the rights of ownership over your life and possessions. From this perspective, what will happen to the one who conducts themselves in such an unruly manner in the house of one greater than themselves? Will that person receive benefit? Will that person receive honor and glory? Will that person be allowed to continue living in that manner? The answer of course is no, not by any means will that person be able to survive for long continuing to assume rights where none exist. However, should that person turn and acknowledge their wrong doing and realize the great imposition they were to their Master, then they would begin to know the fear of Him; that is His due. Then they will realize that they have overstepped and have wronged the one Person who can allow or disallow their existence. And when they realize that their Master is a gracious King who forgives them of their arrogance and assumption then they will begin to worship that King. They will revere His Person and bow to His Name. This is the beginning of wisdom, the acknowledgment of the One who is greater than all.

Proverbs 2:6-19 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.

There is a change of direction when one aligns himself with the way of the Lord. Deuteronomy 6 teaches us to set before our children the God of heaven and teach them His ways. Proverbs 22:6 teaches that if we do this ‘training’ then our children will begin life on the right path and what is more, when they are older they will not depart from it. Solomon is doing that very thing here and is reminding his son that if he would listen to these words and keep his heart inclined toward the Lord then his path in life will be assured. For the foolish the promise is the same; if they would change their hearts toward God then they too could join the sons of God on the pathway to Life. The two primary concerns of the father of Proverbs are addressed again here: the association with men of ill repute and with immoral women. The father is warning his son to beware of those who do not walk the way of the Lord. There are those, both men and women, who follow their own way in their quest for money, power, or pleasure. They desire the things of the world over the things of God and as such they walk an evil and sinful path. The father warns his son to steer clear of such people and to stay on the path that leads to life. The father promises that if the son keeps his course God will protect him from the evils these ‘sinners’ represent. And in their place the son is promised the protection of God who will continually watch over him. He is promised that an understanding of righteousness will replace the wicked’s understanding of evil. He is promised that an understanding of justice will replace the wicked’s understanding of lawlessness. He is promised that an understanding of equity will replace the wicked’s understanding of instability. The promise is of a life on solid ground with a true path set before you that is even and free of hidden snares. The converse of this is a life of upheaval and a path that is dangerous. Knowledge, discretion, and understanding will grow in the heart of the man who keeps his heart and mind inclined toward God.
Proverbs 2:20-22 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

The principle: Proverbs 2:20-22 The writer sums up his argument thus far with another equation; a simple either-or construction. Those who are upright in the world will be granted life; those who choose to remain wicked will be thrust out. Either you choose life or death will be chosen for you. The writer uses language from agriculture in his description of the wicked’s end. The unrighteous will make room for the righteous by the destruction of the wicked. They will be torn out of the ground as easily as a weed is removed from among the other crops.
Proverbs 3:1-12 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

This is yet another call to the son to heed the words of his father. It contains teaching for the son regarding the importance of the son’s relationship with God. The son is exhorted to remember to love as he works his way through life. It is a simple command here, written figuratively, to love as if your love were visible for all to see, hanging around your neck just as the garland and pendant of the father’s instruction were hung in celebration of the son’s place at the table of God (see above- Proverbs 1:8-9). If one were to do love in this manner, acting out that love for the benefit of others the author promises “favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” It is too easy to forget this most simple of commands, and yet it is repeated throughout the scriptures. Most notably, it is repeated by Jesus Himself who said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) In His conversation with the Pharisees who were trying to test Him Jesus also affirmed that of all the commands of God, two alone are primary: they are to love God and to love each other (Matthew 22:34-40). In 1 John we read that God himself is love (1 John 4:8). How accursed we must be in ourselves if we need continual reminding to do the very thing that we were created to do? We were made to be vessels to receive the love of God and to pour out His overflow onto our neighbors. But instead we allow ourselves to get mired down by our own sin, by the sin of the world that infects us, and we ‘forget’ our very reason for existence. The father of Proverbs reminds us of our true calling and of the blessing that is certain to come to us if we overcome our sinful inclinations to run with the wrong people and instead run with God, and let His love flow through us into the world.
Proverbs 3:5-10 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

This is another of my favorite verses, and for many of the reasons I wrote about above. They remind us to do the very thing that we were created to do. We must remember, even in our prideful selves, that we are but creatures, of a glorious and magnificent Creator. We are children in the House of the Great King. In and of ourselves we have limited power to effect real and lasting change for good in ourselves or in our world. However, we have an incredible power to bring evil into the world if we allow our sinfulness to reign in us rather than the Spirit of God. Since He is our God it makes perfect sense to rely on Him for everything. He is our strength (Psalm 28:7). He is our shelter from the storms of life (Proverbs 18:10). He is our Savior from our own damnable wickedness (Romans 6:23). He is our confidant to whom we can bring our deepest hurts, longings, and dreams (Psalm 34:17). He is our ever present father who loves us and promises to do so for eternity. It is this God, this Abba-Father (Galatians 4:6) that we are reminded to trust and to acknowledge. Thought of in this way how can we do anything but? How can we live as if He were not present and part of every word and deed that we commit to life? The father gives us another promise riding on the back of his advice- if we do this, if we build our lives around God as our center then we can count on our own healing and times of refreshment. God will not leave us out in the cold when He has a warm, safe place for us to lie down in. God will remember us when we remember Him and when our time of difficulty has run its course God will provide for us respite. He will do so because He is our God and He loves us. Lastly the writer reminds us that all that we possess and produce should be offered to God in thanksgiving. We are to give God the first of our produce- the beginning of our wealth, the best of our possessions, the best piece of the pie, so to speak. God has done so much for us, it is right to give back to Him the token that represents our gratitude. And there is another promise: God, who does not need our gifts any more than the ocean needs another drop of water, will actually pay us back for our remembrance of Him. The writer says that if we remember to tithe our income to God then He will make it difficult to hold back the doors of our storage rooms for the amount of goods that He will pile up in

there. This is not the only place in scripture that tells us this. In Malachi 3:10 it says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and poor down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” I have not been faithful in my offerings to God in this regard. I have tried (and tried again) to give God His ten percent- and I have always thought that one day I would even pass that mark and give God twenty, thirty, fifty percent. But I have not done so; and yet, I still have no need. I do not give to God as He so deserves. I do not take care of His house as I ought and I do not share what He has so graciously given me with those I know and who I see need it so desperately. And yet, I still have no need. I believe this promise for I have seen even the little that I manage to discipline myself to offer come back to me tenfold. I have no want, my family wants for nothing, and we live in relative luxury compared to the majority of the world. Imagine testing God with all! What would He do? What is God capable of doing with that kind of devotion and faith?
Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

This I have written about before and it seems to me to be the crux of the dilemma that both believers and non-believers face. ‘Being wise in our own eyes’ is when we take the path that seems best to us, whether we consciously plan to do so or it just comes naturally. It is making decisions without considering the will of God but rather our own will or maybe the will of our spouses, family, or friends. It is acting to serve oneself rather than others. It is believing that one’s own mind is capable of seeing all that may come to pass and making decisions as if oneself were the god and God just another. For me to write this of the non-believer is great condemnation of that man because he does not know the Lord Jesus and has never believed on Him and called Him Lord. That man acts as he always has; he struggles to make sense of his own actions and with the idea of right and wrong. He eventually fails because he cannot fashion a life for himself that consistently follows his rules and therefore he changes them to suit his own needs. That man is forced to either reject the idea of good and evil altogether or rationalize his failures away with intellectualism or mysticism. But our writer is giving instruction to his son, who presumably has been raised to know God and who we hope believes in Him as his own savior. To this believer the writer gives instruction to turn away from evil and to consider the wisdom of Someone other than himself. The believer can all too often fall back into the habit of neglecting the word of God and the Spirit of God and instead reigning as his own king while living in the Kingdom of the Almighty. We are sinners by nature and we resist God mightily because the sin in us rejects the Spirit who is also in us (Galatians 5:16-17). We face this battle continually and to be victorious we must discipline ourselves to do the very thing advised here. We must continually turn to God for guidance, seek His wisdom, pray away our own sinful intentions and make sure we walk the path that He set out for us. It is not easy for we always seek to return to what we were- but with God all things are indeed possible (Romans 8:28) and we can be more holy today than we were yesterday.
Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

The writer includes this along with the teaching to trust, acknowledge, and honor God as if it were part and parcel with the others. Those familiar with the bible are also familiar with other verses that teach the very same thing but it is good to remember and to draw out the conclusion that on this walk with God through life we will be ‘guided’ by His hand if we stray off the path He has set us on. I have come to think of scripture as my guidebook and the principles that I find therein as my guide rails along the Way. If I am diligent to read and reflect on God’s word, and if I mind what I read, then I am promised that my life will consist of blessing rather than cursing. It must be noted that that promise in no way means that my life will be without difficulty but it does mean that I will know the pleasure of the Lord and be safe in the knowledge of his salvation. I will know that all things that happen to me are ultimately for my

good and I will know that in the end I will be victorious. I will learn to look for the lesson to be learned in the difficulties that I face and I will eventually learn to thank God for the teaching. In addition to these things Scripture teaches me that my sin will at times trip me up if I am not careful to remain master over it (Genesis 4:7). It does indeed seek to devour me, as does the sin in the world (1 Peter 5:8). And when I do sin scripture teaches me to expect the hand of rebuke from God. Chastisement and correction are seldom pleasant and most times we resist the correction because of our own pride. It is hard to admit wrongdoing. It is hard to admit failure partly because of our pride but also because we fear disappointing our God. But scripture does not teach us that the rebuke of God is a rejection of us by Him. Scripture teaches us that God is like a Father who disciplines us because He loves us. His hand is gentle and the burden of obedience that He places on us is light. Just as I am willing and able to correct my own children’s behavior when they stray into sin my God will correct mine. But where I am imperfect and lash out at times in anger toward my children, my God will deal with me with omniscience and omnipotent patience. His hand is always stretched out to me in love, whether He holds a rod or an olive branch.
Hebrews 12: 5:11And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Deuteronomy 8:1-6 “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. Job 5:17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal.

The principle: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ” This first half of chapter three seems to expound the two basic commands of God: to love him with all one’s heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love others as well as we do ourselves (Luke 10:27). We are to LOVE as God loves and that means taking care of others as He has taken care of us and it means that we are to honor the one from whom we have been given all that we have. It would seem that the more that we do these things the more it is that God will work in our lives to bless us, teach us, and provide for us. He is the ultimate Father whose love for His children is unending- there is nothing that He wouldn’t do for us and hasn’t already done for us. Amen?

Wisdom: Proverbs 3:13-20
Proverbs 3:13-20 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.

The word ‘blessed’ here basically means happy. In my study of the Gospel of Matthew I was amazed to discover that the ‘blessed be’s’ of chapter five refer to the happiness of the believer. I wrote at the time how our

understanding of blessedness oftentimes deals primarily with our relationship to God and that happiness as our culture defines it has little to do with Him. I was thinking at the time that we might do well to change our definition of what happiness is when we convert to the Way. Once we fed our flesh with the things of the world and tried to gain our pleasure (i.e. happiness) from them; but now we can feed our spirits on the things of God. When we do I believe we will feel the happiness that is blessedness fill our spirits. We can change our viewpoint as we change our lives of sin into lives of holiness. Here, the father tells the son that wisdom, once attained, will bring blessedness. The son will be happy with the pursuit of and gradual acquisition of wisdom. He has made the case against the choice to seek after worldliness, be it in the form of the woman or of ill-gotten gain. He points now to wisdom as the pursuit above all others that alone will bring a man what he truly desires. Wisdom is personified here in order to describe her characteristics. She is a beautiful woman, pleasant, and bears gifts of riches to the one who can find her. She is described as a tree of life which we might assume refers to the Garden and the immortality that Adam and Eve shared before their fall. Wisdom can bring that life back into the race of men, if they seek for her and find her. It might be said that the end goal of life is to find this woman, embrace her and enjoy the gifts she brings. But where can she be found? Job extolls the beauty of wisdom as well, comparing her to precious stones and metals by which she shines even more brightly. He laments that it is hard to find wisdom for she is elusive and then he says, “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding’ ” (Job 28:28). The writer of Proverbs affirms what Job already knew. That God is in heaven and men are on the earth and due to that relationship man ought always to be looking to Him for understanding. The writer of Proverbs fears that his son will one day turn away from God and look to the world for his satisfaction and pleasure. The father is trying to point the son to God as the only way to build a successful life upon the earth. James writes that the way to attain wisdom is simply by asking God for it. She is there, and she has been there since the beginning, for she is the mind of God. And we can access that mind, simply by looking to Him and asking Him for it.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

The principle: Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom.” Wisdom is the Lord Himself. If we are diligent to seek Him we will find the peace that only He can bring. We will find rest for the trouble of our souls. We will find the hope of a life eternal. This is to be our treasure on the earth and we must seek it as the world seeks after theirs.

Exhortation: To Righteous Living: Proverbs 3:21-4:27
Proverbs 3:21-24 My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

At least four other times in Proverbs does the writer promise that adherence to virtues of wisdom, discretion, good sense, righteousness, and kindness will bring life to the soul. A fountain of life is how he describes it in Proverbs 16:22, which seem to echo the words in Deuteronomy 32:47, “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Seeking after these things rather than their opposite will place a man on a path leading toward blessedness. Doing so while yet young will grant a man a life free of the hardships that the consequences of folly are sure to bring. These words also seem to foreshadow the words of Jesus in John 4:14, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of

water welling up to eternal life.” From the beginning of the bible to its very end we are reminded that there is only one God in heaven who wants only one thing for us: His best. He loves us and has given us the record of His working for our salvation in the scripture. His grace, like Wisdom herself, is calling out to each and every man. The wise will seek after it by cultivating in themselves the virtues the writer of Proverbs describes. The foolish man will forge his own way and bear the consequences they will ultimately produce.
Proverbs 3:25-35 Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence. The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.

Here is a series of practical measures for the man of God to take to guide his feet on the path of life. They primarily have to do with how a man ought to treat his brother. The father instructs his son to value honesty over deceit telling his son to pay what is owed, to give to those who need it when able, to treat others so they may trust his goodwill toward them, and to live at peace with men. These are the same sorts of principles that we find all through the scriptures that point us toward doing good to others instead of evil.
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Leviticus 19:13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

What is the greatest commandment? the Pharisee asked Jesus. Jesus gave him two: to love God completely and to love others as oneself (Matthew 22:34-40). The writer of Proverbs affirms this very thing in these practical applications of the virtues he has upheld. To Love is the highest form of obedience to God. It is the fulfillment of our calling as creatures of the Most High God. To love is what we were made to do, and to live in harmony with God and His children is our ultimate resting place. Here also are reminders about those who are wicked that live in our midst. They are an abomination the writer tells us, their end is destruction. We are not to fear the ‘storm’ caused by the wicked, by their machinations and their schemes. We are not to be concerned about our own safety when the schemes of the wicked come to fruition, for the Lord has promised to keep us safe from them. To extend this I think that we might also take comfort in knowing that when the Day of Judgment comes we have no cause for worry because our God will protect us from their end. Lastly, we are left with the encouragement of knowing that our end will lie in honor with God. We will get the prize- if we are careful to keep our feet to the path God has laid out for us.
Proverbs 4:1-9 Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

This admonition to seek after wisdom and understanding has been passed down from father to son and is being passed down again. ‘Fear of the Lord’ is to be taught to our young, while they are yet young, so that when they grow old they will order their lives by it and be safe (Proverbs 22:6). This is our number one job as parents, to raise up our children so that they know the Lord and His ways. We must teach them who God is and what He has done for them. They must know that He loves them and has done everything for them. And they must know

that they have a choice in following Him or not- one choice leads to heaven and glory, the other leads to death and shame. We are to teach our children to love the wisdom and understanding of God; to seek after it as if it were gold or silver. We are to guard it as we would our most prized possessions. But how difficult it is to instill the love for the word of God in our children! There is so much to interfere with their attention to it, so much to drain the importance of the words of God before they bear fruit. We do good to read the bible to our children and to pray for them. We do good to take them to church and to teach them the principles of living a godly life. We do good to correct and rebuke them when they step away from right. We do good to praise them when they show fruit of a life in Christ. Is this how we teach them to love God? Is this how it will happen that they give themselves over to Him and spend their waking moments aware of His presence and their own desire to please Him?
Proverbs 4:10-19 Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

This is another exhortation to the son to keep his mind on the things of God and his feet on the path laid out for him. The writer’s repetition of the same reminder to accept his words and to keep his instruction draws attention to the importance of his message. Here the message reminds us of the commandment given to Israel to honor one’s father and mother. This is the first commandment that comes with a promise- the promise being long life in the land that God had given them. Transferring that promise to ourselves we are be able to know that long life in the land could equate to a life of peace and blessing on the earth. We who know Christ also know that long life in the land is the ultimate promise of an eternity with God in heaven. This also is a simple equation: doing good by seeking God = peace.
Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

There is a striking comparison here between the one who does right and the one who is wicked. The wicked act as if they cannot help themselves. They are described as having their wickedness flow out of them. They eat and drink it and then sleep it. The writer says they cannot rest unless they have done something wicked. Contrasting that is the image of the righteous man. He consciously avoids sin. He is firmly planted on the path to life and he steps aside to let sin pass. He does not engage it, he does not show interest. He does not stop to ponder or to question it. The righteous man is mature and knows evil for evil and turns from it. His path is straight, narrow, and very well marked and he is sure of it; he is surer each and every day he trods upon it.
Proverbs 4:20-27 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from our sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

The principle: Proverbs 4:26 “Ponder the path of your feet; and all your ways will be sure.” The importance of the follower of God to carefully guard his heart and watch his steps is paramount in this section. The writer exhorts his son again and again to do what is right, to turn away from what is wrong, and to continually seek God’s wisdom and understanding in all things. This is the way to peace and blessing; all other paths lead to

chaos and destruction. The writer creates this list of virtues: Love, Faithfulness, Trustworthiness, Discretion, Wisdom, and Vigilance. The writer warns against these vices: Fear, Greed, Embracing of evil, and Dishonesty.

Warning: Consequences of Immoral Women Proverbs 5:1-23
Proverbs 5:1-6 My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.

Thus begins the next section of the father of Proverb’s plea to his son. This section begins a lengthy warning against the evil of associating with immoral women. Chapter five begins with this basic declaration that women of this sort are forbidden because they only lead one to misery. They are a lie unto themselves, ignorant of that very fact, and relationship to them will always lead to the same place, Sheol, which is the embodiment here of a life without life, a life of misery. This woman is described as sweet of speech. She is seductive and pleasing to the ears, and presumably, the eyes. She looks and sounds good to the incautious man but without warning she turns bitter and sour. She is a lie, a forbidden fruit that tempts only to reveal her true nature once bitten.
Proverbs 5:7-14 And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers o r incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.”

Oh, the warning from one who knows. It is not clear whether the writer of Proverbs speaks as if from experience, but all too often partaking in sin is the only way that some men learn the truths of righteousness and the pitfalls of sin. Aside from the effective literary device that it is, maybe that is the reason for this father’s repeated reminders to seek wisdom and understanding and to guard them in one’s heart. Maybe he knows from his own experience with sin that it is empty, that it draws life out of a man, and that it occupies the place in his heart where beauty might have grown. The writer speaks of strength lost, years wasted, and a physical decay of health. He seems to concentrate on the risk in committing adultery of losing everything you have worked for. We all know the truth of this- we know of the man who played around the edges of his marriage, finally committed the act of adultery and then lost it all. He loses his wife, his children, his respect in the community, and a large portion of his possessions. The writer also focuses on the physical risk involved. I can’t be sure he is talking of disease when he writes of the flesh of the body being consumed but that is a very real concern. To engage in relations outside of your own bed is to risk exposure to a myriad of painful and deadly diseases. We could add even more risks to the list that is begun here. And by using the word risk I do not mean to imply that it is a risk only, as if there might be some who could beat the odds and survive unscathed with this behavior. I mean to use risk as a certainty. The outcome of this behavior is certain; it is a lie, the forbidden woman with her appeal and allure, and it will destroy. The risk you run is the certainty of this outcome. In addition to the above our culture faces an even more deadly temptation. We live in a society where sex has been commercialized and is broadcast through every media format available. From the earliest programming the lowest form of sexuality is portrayed. Through the media we grow up with a picture of femininity and sex that is hyper real, perfectly satisfying, and easily attained. The restrictions that the writer of Proverbs sought so fervently to instill in his son are lost in our day. We as a culture no longer adhere to a common moral code. It is quite literally as it was in the days of Noah with each man doing exactly as he desires (Genesis 6:5). As such we have access to as much of the forbidden woman as we desire. What is more we have the added ‘benefit’ of being able to access her without risking public exposure, we can find her in the privacy of our homes, through our computer screens. She waits there, she is a click away, and she calls to us much like the woman of Folly in Proverbs. But she is as much a lie as the immoral woman in this section. She calls to us with her eyes, makes us

think that she wants us, promises satisfaction, and then we are lost. Pornography has become perhaps the number one pitfall for men of our time, churchmen included. And to know this is to know that what the writer in chapter five says is truth. Partake with it and you risk losing everything- you risk your marriage, your respect, and a piece of yourself. For our youth we must carefully proclaim this a danger. We must make them aware of the evil that it is and the certainty of the road that lies beyond that simple ‘click’. And the biggest evil of all for our young men is the lie that will grow in their minds as to what woman is and what she is meant for. She can be their greatest friend. She can satisfy their need for relationship. And together they can learn to enjoy each other and fill each other. But if they join with immorality all of that changes: the view of woman, the relationship and what is more the expectation of what fulfillment is and who can grant it. The question remains however, will our children attend to this any better than we have? We must cover this in prayer.
Proverbs 5:15-23 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

And then the reminder that the wife you have is many times sweeter than that which is forbidden. Never will a man die for loving his own wife. Never will he want for companionship because he loved his wife. Never will he wish that he had another if he simply loves his own wife. Again, the reminder is to watch out for falling into the trap of the sinful, of looking elsewhere because of the lie that it is sweeter than what you already possess. God has gifted us with a wonderful opportunity when we marry, we ought to preserve it, guard it, and value it above all other relationships. To neglect it or to shame it by going elsewhere is to lack discipline, to let lust rule your heart, and to walk in shame rather than honor. Doing so will not go unnoticed by God and will not escape the very real consequences that your actions have created. The principle: Proverbs 5:18 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.” Look after what you possess and create in yourself a love for her. Avoid the allure of the world’s passion and the temptation it stirs in you. With your wife create a lasting bond that will outlive anything the world can provide. Keep yourself disciplined and on the Path of Life.

Exhortation: To Ethical Living: Proverbs 6:1-19
Sandwiched between warnings against the sin of immorality and adultery are these warnings to be careful to live an upright life in order to avoid destruction; being indebted to a neighbor or at his mercy because of the foolishness of your speech is warned against. Laziness and justifying laziness as rest is cautioned as destructive. To become shiftless and of questionable character is advised against as well. The section finishes with a literary construction used in scripture that introduces a topical list the author wishes to stress by declaring them the number of things the Lord hates (in this case) and then upping the condemnation by adding one more thing and increasing the adjective used for the Lord’s hatred. Another example of this device is found in Job 5:19.
Proverbs 6:1-5 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Matthew Henry questioned whether it was not just in some circumstances to offer aid when it is seen to be needed. Isn’t it a good and charitable thing to come to the aid of one who is in trouble? If we see our neighbor in financial crisis isn’t it a good thing to help him out by carrying his burden for him? This proverb seems to say no, it is not. In fact, this proverb says very clearly that on principle it is a mistake to do so, and this proverb is

repeated at least three other times in this book (Proverbs 11:15; 17:18; 22:26). Maybe it is often our impetuousness that causes us to jump to making promises for others when we have not truly considered the consequences of our ‘generosity’. When we learn of the need of others our hearts may be pricked and we may want to be of help, to show our Christian love, to care for someone and demonstrate the Christ that is in us. We look for ways to exhibit the faith that God has given us and we run the risk of acting too rashly if we are not cautious. This proverb reminds us to be cautious. Our tongues are a restless evil (James 3:8) and we often speak from that which we do not know. The writer warns his son to watch this tendency and avoid it. And if we find ourselves in such a bind, having given more than we really ought to then we must make haste to clear up that obligation. The writer tells us to go to that neighbor to whom we have pledged and do everything in our power to disentangle ourselves from our promise. A lot of proverbs deal with the use of money and the attending vices that accompany it, the writer is cautioning here against yet another pitfall of it. Money becomes a stumbling block in many ways, one of which is debt. Whether we owe the debt personally or have offered to carry the debt of another, it is advisable to get out from under it as quickly as on can. The amount of stress the writer places on this principle clearly shows the importance of this proverb. An aside, it is better to give outright than to give in pledge. If we have it with us, in hand, and we can give it completely then it is good to do so. If we have to pledge to carry another’s debt, and we are assuming that our help will ultimately be unnecessary, then we err. It is a matter of acting from a position of power or acting from weakness. Words in themselves will not carry debt, but they will lead a man to ruin if that debt should come due and it falls on you and your family to pay it.
Proverbs 6: 6-11 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

The advice here is sound and it echoes the admonition of parents to their children for generations upon generations. Parents who have not read a word of scripture know this and they scream it up the stairs regularly at their teenage sons and daughters when the chores have not been done, homework completed, or when a mess is found waiting. This is a timeless proverb that teaches a man to work, and to work hard. The ant herself does not stop; she is seen continuously moving to and fro carrying her stores for the future day. Man too ought to have this ethic of work. He ought to work each day as his hand finds it to do and to do it the best that he is able (Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:23). In this way he can be assured that when that future day comes he will be found prepared. Preparation is key also to life as a Christian. We are told by Jesus to watch and to be ready. He used the parable of the virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) to remind us that sleeping instead of waiting will prepare one only to be left outside when the day comes. Our faith is to be worked at, to be disciplined, and to be strengthened. We do this by being vigilant over our sin, by working to love others, by honoring God above all else. We prepare for His coming or our meeting of Him by keeping Him forefront in our minds and waiting at the door for His call. The ant does not seem to cease her striving, nor should we. Justification of our lack of effort, as the writer of the proverbs says, will lead us only to failure. There is a truth that I have found concerning the graciousness of God. He will let a little bit slide without consequence but there is always a tipping point. Whether it is a recurring sin or something as simple as a neglected chore- there will be a day when His favor slips and the full price of one’s neglect becomes due. Your sins will find you, your laziness will catch up with you and you will end up paying the price (Numbers 32:23). The solution is to consider the work before you and remain diligent at it. Consider the ant.

Proverbs 6:12-15 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

The contrast is yet again presented for us to consider. Again, the writer has described the downfall of the wicked. The wicked’s behavior will find him and it will always be a surprise to him. It will come quickly and without warning and he will be ruined. But we have a warning, a repeated warning; the writer warns his son over and over again to watch his ways and to heed his caution. The writer has seen the way the world works and the outcomes of both good and bad men and he offers to his son, and to us, a better way. If you sow the wind you will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). Why the need to repeat this advice? Why the need to plead with the young to heed what amounts to common sense? Because the young are filled with pride and often cannot hear. It takes a life of discipline at the hands of the Lord to finally understand. I pray that my son and daughter will avoid that discipline and will heed the words of those who know and will reap fruit a hundredfold.
Proverbs 6:15-19 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Add these to the list of vices previous and you begin to see the heart of God. He wants for His children to love others as He loves them. He wants for us to show our love for Him by showing that love to others. Wickedness is basically a preoccupation with self and a disregard for the needs and desires of others. We want to train in ourselves and in our children the ability to love others and to think of others as God does and to work to help others before we help ourselves. This list is a list of wickedness springing from a desire only to serve one’s own passions and greed. That however is not Christ- and the Christian must run the opposite direction toward love and generosity. From Matthew Henry: “A catalogue of those things which are in a special manner odious to God, all which are generally to be found in those men of Belial whom he had described in the foregoing verses; and the last of them (which, being the seventh, seems especially to be intended, because he says they are six, yea, seven) is part of his character, that he sows discord. God hates sin; he hates every sin; he can never be reconciled to it; he hates nothing but sin. But there are some sins which he does in a special manner hate; and all those here mentioned are such as are injurious to our neighbour.” The principle: Proverbs 6:16 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him” The righteous man, the good man will watch the speech that comes out of his mouth and test it against the standards of truthfulness and love for others, he will work hard in order to do what he is able to prepare for the future day, and he will guard himself against the wickedness of his own pride and selfishness.

Warning: Consequences of Adultery: Proverbs 6:20-7:27
Proverbs 6:20-24 My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.

One last plea to the son to heed his words regarding the pitfalls of toying with adultery and immorality. This lengthy section of scripture lays out the case against this type of lifestyle and behavior and details the very real risk one takes in choosing it. The father’s words are described as commandment and are to be worn as the very words of God were and still are worn by the Jews in the tefillin worn on the forehead and arm. The binding of the scrolls to the mind and the muscle symbolize the importance of ingraining them into one’s person, to keep them ever before oneself and to think and act on them daily. The promise is that if this is done, if one disciplines himself enough and regularly

then he has protection when the day of temptation comes. The obvious reverse of this is that for the one who is not careful to heed these words and treat them as the command of God ought to be treated there is no such promise, hence the following description of the consequences of such an undisciplined life. The father calls this sort of life and its instruction as ‘the reproofs of discipline’. A life lived under control and mindful of the way of right and the commands of God does come with difficulty for we are men with an inclination to sin. Our flesh does indeed war against us and does not cooperate with the Spirit who guides us (Galatians 5:17). We must live with this battle and learn to choose on a daily basis the way of right. We must accept the discipline of correction and learn to appreciate its barbs and jabs. The alternative is to forego it and suffer instead the barbs of a life lived outside of the will of God, and that kind of a life does not end well. There is no loving reproof in store for us if we turn from wisdom but only the dire expectation of the consequences we have reaped. The smooth tongue is the allure of sexual sin. It sounds good, it looks good, and it feels good. It is all too easy to taste and all too easy to conceal. And yet it is an entirely empty gratification. The truth is that it does not lead to a life of blessing and joy with a partner who will cherish you and care for you and upon whom you can bestow your own love and care. Sexual sin is simply a personal, selfish, and lonely sin that you must hide from the world. It is ultimately a lie, offering to fulfill when it merely takes and leaves one empty. Choose instead a life that is productive and constructive, that builds upon itself and promises blessing. Choose instead to love that which is yours to love, without limit, and without reproof.
Proverbs 6:25-35 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.

There is a basic principle at play here. The first is that if you play with fire you are going to get burned. This may be where we get that proverb from- the basic truth that Solomon is teaching his son is that if he chooses to go down this path the end result is assured. It is true that sooner or later the sexually immoral will be found out and when that happens he will have to pay the price of his indiscretion. Here Solomon compares the ‘going in’ to a prostitute and the ‘going in’ to a neighbor’s wife, to committing adultery. The sin of adultery sin is the greater sin, or at least the penalty for it is much higher, judging by the price affixed to each. Solomon tells us that the former is a cheap sin, it only costs a loaf of bread. Meaning it will not require much of your life should you be found out, but adultery on the other hand may require the payment of your life. Playing with another man’s wife is like playing with fire and when that man’s wife finds out his vengeance on you will be complete. A man who toys with the sin of immorality truly destroys himself as verse 32 says. The writer declares that this sin will find one out and the consequences will be one’s own destruction. I should add that outside of the vengeance aspect of this and the community disgrace of being found an adulterer the physical consequences of sexual immorality, especially the use of prostitutes or of having multiple sexual partners, is equally dire. This sin will find you, one way or another, either in person or in the form of a painful and life ending sexually transmitted disease and that price that you pay will be more than that of the act itself. The beautiful woman is an allure to men. Especially if she turns her attention to you and makes you feel as if she wants you. It is this trap that men fall into. We enjoy the feeling that we are desired and the newness of the physical act or in the case of our culture’s new sin, the fantasy of that act. Entertaining these kinds of thoughts though will only lead one to cross the line from safety to the known dangers of committing an act that cannot be taken away. The allure is the lie, her beauty is a fabrication of one’s own making, it is a fantasy, whether in the flesh or on the screen. The truth is that the ‘wife of our youth’ is our Godsend. It is she whom we have been

given and to whom we have been joined. Solomon tells us in chapter 5 that it is her breasts that we can delight in. The lie tells us that what we have does not satisfy and that it is ‘greener’ elsewhere. The lie tells us that we are misunderstood at home and have no recourse but to seek love from other quarters. But it is a twisting of reality to let these kinds of thoughts evolve into action. The truth is that our lives with our wives are of our own making for the most part. Our God wishes to bless our unions and to grow our marriages and love for each other. He desires for our families to be beautiful and strong and places for love. That will never change and so the sexual satisfaction that can come from such a union will satisfy if allowed to flourish. But if we allow the seeds of dissatisfaction to grow, for whatever reason, we are killing the blessing that could have been ours. The smart path, the path that Solomon advises his own son to take, is that we focus on our own gardens, on our own wives, and discipline our eyes and mind to look only to home. When we do this we prevent the lie of the world from entering and we keep the knowledge of it from our hearts.
Proverbs 7:1-27 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; how in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, ‘I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

We may have here yet another personification hidden away in this parable of sorts of the young man and the foreign woman, the adulterer. Much better than I have described it, Solomon illustrates the path a young man takes from safety in the right way of living toward the sin of adultery. It begins with the ordering of his steps along the road that leads past the house of the woman. A smart man will know where his areas of difficulty are and will avoid them. The bible teaches us to flee immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), to resist the devil (James 4:7); we must discipline ourselves to stay on the path God has set us on. In order to do this we must first know where our ‘strange’ woman resides and decide to steer clear of her. Where the man in the illustration failed is that he walked right past the woman’s house. In doing so he placed himself at risk of falling to her temptations. Once near her house he was open to her charms. She was ready for him, waiting in her most alluring clothes and prepared with an array of tempting offers. She offered him a variety of pleasures that when combined with her touch and her dress were hard for the young man to resist. When we step off the path we are in a sense opening ourselves up to the temptation to sin. We are stepping into its path and are placing ourselves in the position to have to resist. In doing this we are asking to be tested, with a test that we know we will fail, because we have done so many times before. The final nail in this man’s coffin was that the woman’s husband was away. The risk was lessened, the guard was let down, and the chances of being found out were greatly diminished. Sin loves to work in the dark and have its deeds unseen by the watchful eyes of righteousness. Man has the ability to equate the hiding of his sin with righteousness. He thinks that if his sin remains private then he is still, on the whole, a righteous man. This is a lie as well. The truth of course is that sin is sin, whether this woman’s husband were home or not. The man, should he fall into this sin will be an adulterer and the risk remains, not only for his physical well-being, but for his spiritual well-being as well.

Solomon describes what I call the tipping point for the man’s sin. The man caves “all at once.” He follows her into her home as an “ox to the slaughter.” As a dumb animal is led to be butchered and as a deer caught in a trap lives only until the arrow finds her, so is this man. He is dead before he even leaves the sidewalk. He has fallen and will commit the act. He will indulge in the pleasure, he will enjoy the fantasy, he will drink his fill of the forbidden wine and then he will wake in the morning knowing that he has disgraced himself and his God. The end is always the same for the child of God. The believer knows the path that he has taken, the one given by Christ. He knows that his feet are to stay true to it and away from his previous life. Each step the believer takes must be carefully watched over. Each thought must be controlled. Each action must be weighed against the standard of holiness set by God. And we do this not to please a God who will zap us when we fail, but so that we can live the life that God desires us to live, one that far exceeds anything that the fantasy of the flesh could offer. The final verses of this chapter describe the field of the fallen. We know the warnings of Solomon to be true because we know from experience the results of engaging in this sort of sin. Men have been falling prey to the allure of sexual gratification since there have been men walking the earth. The roll call of the fallen is enormous and even within the pages of our bibles we have accounts of men of God doing this very thing. Please, my son, listen to my voice and keep your name from that list of dead. Keep yourself on the Way of Truth and the Path of Life. The principle: Proverbs 7:22-23 “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.” The end result of succumbing to temptation will always be the same: failure. If you do not discipline yourself to know your weaknesses and avoid them you will fall into sin. Once in sin you will fall farther and farther until you have destroyed your life. Conversely if you stay on the path, with diligence and perseverance you will rise and rise into the blessings of God. One road leads to nothing and the other to everything.

Wisdom: Her second call: Proverbs 8:1-9:12
Proverbs 8:1-11 Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries loud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

Once again the writer personifies the wisdom of God, as a woman calling in the streets. Here she is, standing at the gates of the city with her treasure before her and offering it to the men of the city. After illustrating the temptation and fall into sin of the young man, Wisdom is presented once again as the answer. As in chapter one, she is described as more precious than anything that man can desire. The allure of the forbidden woman attracts for a moment but then leaves one dead in transgressions and the consequences of those sins. But the allure of Wisdom is in the understanding that she offers of the ways of God and the boundless blessing that He gives. The choice is a simple one: choose to remain simple and foolish and die or choose to live and embrace the life that only God can give. Wisdom makes her appeal to the men of the city by reiterating that her words are true and in them will be found no deceit. The words of the forbidden woman are a lie; they entice and encourage but they are empty of any power to sustain. They will falter and fold in the light of day- physically when her sin is found out and spiritually in the last days when she faces the Lord. But in Wisdom there is nothing to fear. She tells no lies and in her words lays only truth, a truth that is better than riches and honor. Choose these words, O son, and live!

Proverbs 8:12-21 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.

A study in opposites: Wisdom contrasts herself with the ways of evil. In evil are pride and arrogance and perverted speech. The forbidden woman is evil, the young man is evil for succumbing to her, the thieves of chapter two are evil, and any who seek to gain at the expense of others are evil. In contrast to this stands Wisdom, in robes of white with her scales of justice in one hand and the Word of God in the other. In her scales she measures our actions according to the Word of God that she has embraced. Good and evil do not balance on those scales as some idolatrous religions believe. Good is all in all, for the Lord God is good and in Him there is no evil (James 1:17). Evil is simply a byproduct that exists only for a short time, in order to bring all men to God- in the end it will be abolished and those in the Lord will live forever in peace. Wisdom describes herself as insightful; she knows the things of God, for she trains herself in His word. She is strong, because she disciplines herself in the ways of right and avoids evil at all cost. It is this sort of strength that makes leaders successful, not the strength of dominance and physical power. She describes herself as loving toward any who seek her; she will be a friend, she will be loyal, she will not leave one as the forbidden woman will. She is incredibly wealthy- our only comparison is the riches of the earth that men seek in their foolishness. The writer uses jewels and precious metals to describe wealth but the wealth of Wisdom lies in knowledge and understanding. Her wealth is not tangible in this world, but it is hyper-real in the next. Her voice calls us to choose her wealth in the here and now and begin to live forever, today. Lastly, Wisdom tells us that she walks in righteousness. Her way leads to life, an inheritance she calls it, while all others will most assuredly lead the simple to death.
Proverbs 8:22-31 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

You can’t help but wonder as you read these verses, and the following ones in chapter nine, whether Wisdom here is not some sort of prefiguration to Jesus Christ. Jesus was at the creation with the Father. It was by the mouth of Jesus that the heavens and the earth were called into being (Colossians 1:16). John’s gospel tells us that Jesus was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-3) and through Him everything that is, was made. To follow that thought, then, it is Jesus calling all men to leave the way of the simple and turn in to Him where they will find life and understanding and true riches. It is in Jesus that we will find the strength to turn from our sin and to learn the discipline that we will need in order to guard our steps from the paths of the wicked. Wisdom looks out among the men of her city and sees those who will listen and those who will not. She sees the wise and the foolish. She sees those who will accept reproof and those who will only scoff. Jesus too looked out over His city and saw that it was filled with both kinds of men and He lamented over Jerusalem because He so desired to save them but they would not turn to Him (Matthew 23:37). Because the will of the scoffer is such there is no hope for him- he will be doomed to destruction. But for those who are wise and wish to get wiser still there is an abundance of hope because the offer stands as it has since the beginning of time: turn to the Lord and learn his way and He will save you from your otherwise certain end (John 3:18). This simple act requires a simple admission of guilt. The scoffer must admit the error of his ways. In order to gain the wisdom God offers you must first realize that you do not have it. You must confess this lack of wisdom and ask God for it. You must confess your sinfulness and seek out the Lord who will change your rags into robes and your life of death into life (Romans 10:9).

Wisdom stands in the gate and calls to you, ‘come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
Proverbs 8:32-36 And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.

Yet another plea to the son(s) to be vigilant in their search for wisdom: To be wise is a daily activity; one must not rest on the achievements of yesterday but continually seek the wisdom of God to face the trouble of the new day. To do this will bring one a life of blessing and an everlasting life in the kingdom. To forego this is to invite woe into your daily life and to ensure an eternity without the Lord.
Proverbs 9:1-6 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary the number seven in scripture expresses completeness if not wholeness. In scripture the number seven is used many times, most notably in Revelation where we find descriptions of seven spirits and seven stars, seven horns and seven eyes, seven lamps and seven angels with seven trumpets. In the tabernacle God ordered a lampstand to be built with seven lamps (Exodus 25:37). Wisdom has built her house on the solid foundation of seven pillars which symbolize the strength of her way and the sureness of protection for those who choose to come under her support. In Isaiah 11:1-2 we read of the coming shoot of Jesse who will carry the Spirits of wisdom and understanding, might and counsel, and knowledge and the fear of the Lord. These are the very things that the writer of Proverbs has been advocating for his sons in these nine chapters. His personification of Wisdom not only stands in the square of the town but sends out into its farthest corners her messengers to invite the simple and foolish into her protection. This is a picture of God calling to the lost children of His creation. He is sure and firmly rooted in the midst of our chaotic lives and He offers peace and stability to any who will come to Him in repentance of their own foolishness. The references to the slaughtered beasts and the mixing of wine and setting of the table can only refer to the feast of joy that will occur when the sinner repents. It is a reference also to the sacrificial system that demands a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Our spotless Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, became that sacrifice on our behalf (Ephesians 5:2) and now stands beside the Father in heaven as our very own advocate (1 john 2:1-2). Our sins have been forgiven, we have only to acknowledge His Lordship over our lives and we will be ushered into His kingdom with great joy and celebration. He is planning a feast for us and He invites us inside to celebrate the creation of His church and His own Lordship over it. Wisdom says to us, “Come and eat.” Jesus said something similar in John 7:35-39 when He cried out inviting all who were thirsty to come to Him. Jesus promised to all who did so “streams of living water” by which He meant the Spirit of God Himself, which all who believe in Him will receive. This offer of life is astounding; one would truly have to be foolish to turn it down!
Proverbs 9:7-12 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

This is an explanation of the astounding reality that there are going to be some, many, who will refuse the offer of God to life. There is a basic tendency of the human heart toward sin and at the root of that tendency is pride. Pride is basically selfishness; it is a preoccupation with one’s own desires and the gratification of them. Our

own time is marked with this very same sin that causes some to feel entitled to do the things they desire no matter the cultural bias against them simply because they themselves desire it. And this sort of behavior is increasingly acceptable as we allow sinful and wicked behavior to flourish in the light of the sun as if it were moral and healthy behavior. To correct this sort of behavior using the moral guide of scripture is to step on the perceived rights of these individuals and therefore doing so is condemned. The only thing that seems okay to rebuke is the act of rebuking itself. The writer describes this very same tendency. To the one who desires to remain in sin giving reproof will only invite scoffing. He will turn on you and will rebuke you for daring to correct that which he finds morally acceptable. The only ones who will accept reproof will be those who heed the call of Wisdom, of Jesus, and who willingly seek the Lord to enter His house and live by His dictates. To these God promises long life, wisdom and insight.
Proverbs 9:13-18 The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

The first sentence of this last part of the introduction to the book of Proverbs says it all. There is a besetting sin in mankind. It is the sin of pride and pride rears its ugly head and bellows to the world, “Hear ME!” Folly is loud, she is this sin embodied, and she screams her call to mankind at large and she knows that for the most part mankind will listen because at heart they want what she offers. She offers a life lived without consequences, a life of ease and self-gratification. What she offers is desirous and very, very tempting. But we always have to remember, it is a lie. Folly sits right next to Wisdom and counters her, word for word. She too sits in the highest places of the town and in the town square and calls to the same men as Wisdom does. She mocks Wisdom and those who follow her. She scoffs along with the wicked and refuses to heed the words of God. She ultimately lacks sense, as do any who listen to her voice. She knows nothing as do the men who heed her and enter into her house. Her way leads only to death. The principle: Proverbs 9:10-12 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” This is a dire summation of the entire nine chapters we’ve looked at: Heed God and live. Heed Self and die. ___________________________________________________________

The Principles of Proverbs 1-9
The principle: Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This is the theme of the entire nine chapters we are about to look at. There is one way to blessing in this life and that is to look to the Lord for wisdom and understanding. Then and only then will your feet find the path to life. The ones who refuse this path are the fools and the simple. Their feet always find the path to death. The principle: Proverbs 1:17-19, “For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.” Solomon teaches his son that this sort of living is doomed to failure. The analogy to the trap set for a bird is perfect. You cannot trap a bird if the bird sees the snare you have set. It will simply fly away, for no creature will willingly step into what it knows is its own destruction. But Solomon knows that men will do such a thing and he has seen it time and again. Man has the uncanny ability to lay himself to waste and to intentionally sabotage his own life. Solomon offers a better way, the way

of life. He warns his son that the snare is set before him and cautions him to avoid it. ‘Do not step into the trap laid by these sorts of men, my son, although it looks enticing and pleasurable it is nonetheless a trap. Beware, fly away!’ The principle: Wisdom makes her judgment in Proverbs 1:32-33: “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” For the Christian I believe this means that the cross is ever before us and we must face it in our stand to do the right thing. We must face the cross and our temptation to sin. We must face the cross and fight our desires and lust. We must face the cross and remember the very great price that God paid for us. We must face the cross. Turning away is what the unbeliever does and God will either catch hold of that man or let him go his way. For the believer however there is no more turning away; we are now called by His name and we must remember what He has done for us. There is no further sacrifice for sin; there is only the coming judgment (Hebrews 10:26-31). What shall we do, scoff in the face of certain judgment? That is foolishness. The principle: Proverbs 2:20-22 “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.” The writer sums up his argument thus far with another equation; a simple either- or construction. Those who are upright in the world be granted life, those who choose to remain wicked will be thrust out. Either you choose life or death will be chosen for you. The writer uses language from agriculture in his description of the wicked’s end. The unrighteous will make room for the righteous by the destruction of the wicked. They will be torn out of the ground as easily as a weed is removed from among the other plants. The principle: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” This first half of chapter three seems to expound the two basic commands of God: to love him with all one’s heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love others as well as we do ourselves (Luke 10:27). We are to LOVE as God loves and that means taking care of others as He has taken care of us and it means that we are to honor the one from whom we have been given all that we have. It would seem that the more that we do these things the more it is that God will work in our lives to bless us, teach us, and provide for us. He is the ultimate Father whose love for His children is unending- there is nothing that He wouldn’t do for us and hasn’t already done for us. Amen? The principle: Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom.” Wisdom is the Lord Himself. If we are diligent to seek him we will find the peace that only He can bring. We will find rest for the trouble of our souls. We will find the hope of a life eternal. This is to be our treasure on the earth and we must seek it as the world seeks after theirs. The principle: Proverbs 4:26 “Ponder the path of your feet; and all your ways will be sure.” The importance of the follower of God to carefully guard his heart and watch his steps is paramount in this section. The writer exhorts his son again and again to do what is right, to turn away from what is wrong, and to continually seek God’s wisdom and understanding in all things. This is the way to peace and blessing; all other paths lead to chaos and destruction. The writer creates this list of virtues: Love, Faithfulness, Trustfulness, Discretion, Wisdom, and Vigilance. The writer warns against these vices: Fear, Greed, Embracing evil, and Dishonesty. The principle: Proverbs 5:18 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.” Look after what you possess and create in yourself a love for her. Avoid the allure of the world’s passion and the temptation it stirs in you. With your wife create a lasting bond that will outlive anything the world can provide. Keep yourself disciplined and on the Path of Life. The principle: Proverbs 6:16 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him” The righteous man, the good man will watch the speech that comes out of his mouth and test it against the

standards of truthfulness and love for others, he will work hard in order to do what he is able to prepare for the future day, and he will guard himself against the wickedness of his own pride and selfishness. The principle: Proverbs 7:22-23 “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.” The end result of succumbing to temptation will always be the same: failure. If you do not discipline yourself to know your weaknesses and avoid them you will fall into sin. Once in sin you will fall farther and farther until you have destroyed your life. Conversely if you stay on the path, with diligence and perseverance you will rise and rise into the blessings of God. One road leads to nothing and the other to everything. The principle: Proverbs 9:10-12 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” This is a dire summation of the entire nine chapters we’ve looked at: Heed God, and live. Heed Self, and die.

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