A. Wisdom and Folly contrasted
(The boy at home starting out in life)
The value of Proverbs
1: The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3: To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 4: To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. 5: A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 6: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
Advice to young men
7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8: My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 9: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. 10: My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 11: If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: 12: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 13: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 14: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: 15: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 17: Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. 18: And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. 19: So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof. 20: Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22: How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23: Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24: Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25: But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27: When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28: Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31: Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32: For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33: But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
(The boy goes beyond his home)
The rewards of wisdom
1: My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2: So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3: Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4: If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5: Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6: For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7: He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8: He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9: Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. 10: When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; 11: Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: 12: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; 13: Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14: Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15: Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: 16: To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; 17: Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. 18: For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. 19: None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. 20: That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. 21: For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. 22: But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
(The boy listens - Law at the Temple)
More advice to young men
1: My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. 5: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7: Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8: It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. 9: Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. 11: My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. 13: Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 14: For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. 15: She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. 16: Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. 17: Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18: She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. 19: The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. 20: By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. 21: My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: 22: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. 23: Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. 24: When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. 25: Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. 26: For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. 27: Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. 28: Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. 29: Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. 30: Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. 31: Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. 32: For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous. 33: The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. 34: Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. 35: The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.
Today we are beginning our Daily Devotional Bible readings in the Book of Proverbs. This book is generally described as belonging to a section of the Hebrew scriptures called wisdom, meaning human philosophy. This is only partly true and we will find that the book itself is a collection of sayings from a number of authors. It is written not to all sorts of men but gives specific instruction to varies people at different times in their lives and according to different responsibilities in life. The ‘proverbs’ are often presented in a ‘distich’ which is a verse of two sentences in the form of complementary ideas. As the authors are very diverse so the motive and intent of the proverbs is hard to discern. Most people assume that these proverbs are intended for all and sundry, but the section ‘words for the wise’ are intended as advice for a king or the king – Solomon. They are words of advice for matters of state and policy, but the chief issue is how can the king remain holy before the Lord? They deal with the inevitable dangers and temptations of a man at the high of national responsibility. So in the first part of the book we differentiate between those proverbs FOR Solomon and those BY Solomon. Those FOR Solomon are the best advice of the kings advisors for a young prince. But those BY Solomon represent the wisdom that was generally taught Solomon by the LORD. There is therefore a great difference between the two types of proverbs. It goes without saying that all these proverbs were uttered under law and therefore they reflect OT Theology or the theology of the Old Covenant and therefore they will not have a direct application to the Christian who lives under Grace.
A. Proverbs FOR Solomon. The words of the wise 1v1-9v18 (Second person)
B. Proverbs BY Solomon for all 10v1-19v19 (Third person)
A. Proverbs FOR Solomon. 19v20-24v34 (Second person)
B. Proverbs BY Solomon for all – copied by the men of Hezekiah 25v1-26v28 (Third person)
A. Proverbs FOR Solomon. 27v1-29v27 (Second person)
A. Proverbs FOR Solomon. The words of the Agur & Lemuel 30v1-31v31 EWB
The Proverbs then are not a collection of Solomon’s saying put together in random, nor are they just human wisdom or philosophy, rather they are a collection of sayings from the Lord conveyed through wise men who were the teachers of Israel to enable the readers to rule and administer the nation of Israel. The first section of this book is a collection of Proverbs FOR Solomon. They are the words of the wise (or his teachers) and it takes us from chapter 1 to chapter 9. All of this section is written in the second person. Now this section is a series of five couplets. Let me outline them
A. Wisdoms call 1v6-2v15
B. The Foreign women 2v16-22
A. Wisdoms call 3v1-4v27
B. The Foreign women 5v1- 23
A. Wisdoms call 6v1-23
B. The Foreign women 6v24-35
A. Wisdoms call 7v1-4
B. The Foreign women 7v5-27
A. Wisdoms call 8v1-9v12
B. The Foreign (Foolish) women 9v13-18
So right from the beginning we see that Solomon is called by his religious mentors to seek after wisdom and be wary of foreign women. Under law there was no provision to resist temptation like this, but there was the Spirit of God that came upon a man who was anointed of the Lord. Prophets, Priests and kings were anointed as with others, to give them the divine enablement to perform an ordination that was completely beyond the ability of any man under law, in the flesh. The anointing with oil was a sign of the Spirits enabling. Verses 1-6 is the title and an outline of the whole book. It is to be a means of understanding life and living it to the very best under the law. In particular it will be for Solomon a means of acting in wisdom in affairs of state, of exercising justice on the cases brought before him and judgment on the wicked and all in perfect equity. It is to be a manual for school to enable young princes to learn statehood. Those who listen and take note will increase in learning and those of understanding with attain wise decisions in council. It is dedicated to the purpose of understanding of proverbs, interpretations, the advice of the teachers and their difficult thinking. Then the First section begins with the famous proverb, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Under law the main instrument of the Lord to command obedience was his mighty acts which brought about a fear of the LORD and thus brought restraint to sin because of fear of judgment. This pretty much sums up OT theology. Israel as a nation were not saved as christians are. They were not saved by Grace through Faith and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and members of the body of Christ. They were in covenant, in the flesh. They were under law and the fear of the LORD in ending their mortal life was the key factor in bringing righteousness to Israel. And righteousness meant keeping the Mosaic law. And when they broke it they came to the priest who made a sin offering to cover the sin. Then the writer contrasts the wise with the foolish saying, fools despise wisdom and instruction. And so this section begins with the plea of the father and mother of Solomon to hear instruction and not to forsake the law that he has learnt from his mother. Because if he keeps the law then his law keeping will be like a decoration of Gods kindness on his head and a chain of gold around his neck. We see from the start that righteousness before the law was the first criteria for statehood. Then his parents give him a warning not to allow himself to be enticed by sinners. If they entice you to rob and murder the innocent, don’t follow after them, they say, and then they go on to describe their evil ways. Then the writer speaks of Wisdom crying in the streets. He calls for repentance and promises the blessing of the Spirit poured out, but he also warns of swift judgment and then they will learn to fear the LORD. They will call then but the LORD will not answer because judgment has come. Then the writers encourage Solomon to seek after knowledge and understanding more than silver and gold. It’s no wonder that Solomon asked for wisdom from the Lord. They explain that wisdom will furnish him with everything that he needs for high office. Then in verse 16 of chapter two the writer hones in on the one thing that could bring him down – the love of foreign women. Wisdom will deliver him from strange women. (Gentile women) She might come with flattery but her heart is not right with God. She is wayward and has forsaken the LORD. He house is heading for judgment. She is like a black hole - those who enter her house never return. Those who follow her forsake the path of life (The life of law-keeping) and are destroyed with her. In Chapter 3 the appeal of wisdom goes out again to Solomon. And the appeal is to never forget the Law of Moses. Because the promise of the law was long life and protection from enemies invading the land. The father appeals that he would put his trust in the LORD Jehovah of Israel, with all his mind and not to trust in his own understanding but that in all his living he would acknowledge the LORD and the LORD will direct his ways. He says don’t be clever in your own eyes. But fear the LORD and stop sinning. Because if you do they you will be healthy, from the centre of your body, even in centre of your bones. You will find that the LORD will increase your wealth and your barns will be full and you will have plenty of new wine. All these things will come on you if you keep the Law of Moses. Of course this does no apply in any way to Christians. The blessings and curses of the Mosaic Law have no relation to the Christian, he is not under law he is under grace. He goes on to say when the LORD corrects you don’t despise it because the LORD corrects those he loves. This also is not a part of the christians experience. Then he says you will be truly blessed. Wisdom is worth more than anything in this world - better than fine gold or rubies. Wisdom promises a long life and wisdom is the tree of life to those who take hold of her. Then he goes on to explain the blessings of God that come to those who are righteous and the curses of the law to those who are wicked.