"But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil." Proverbs 1:33
Although the past eleven verses have been ones that have had a message of warning and correction, the last verse in this admonition gives us an encouraging lift. That is the blessing of listening to God's warnings. They may be tough, but in the end He also offers us a positive look at what it means if we live a life that obeys and honors Him. That is what we will examine today as we look at the last verse of Proverbs chapter one.
We immediately see the transition that is made here. But . . . is such a wonderful word when seen in transitions where God has been trying to make a point. Foolishness has been shown for how unwise and destructive that it truly is throughout these verses. But now God is going to turn things around with one verse. There is proise of punishment and consequence for those who reject God's wisdom and Word - but for those who will listen - there is blessing.
The word used here to call us to listen is a wonderful word. It is the Hebrew word "shama" and it means not just to listen with ones ears - it means to have what we listen to affect us so that we obey and regard what it is that God has said to us. Two famous biblical passages use this word. The first is in Deuteronomy 6:4
where God introduces the Shema. "Hear O, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" After this God calls Israel to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. This passage became so famous among Israel that the word listen was codified - and the basic confession of Israel was named, the Shema. It is a reminder for all time for her people to place love for God above all other things in life! The second place where this word is used in a famous way is in Isaiah 1:2
, "Listen O heaven, and hear O earth; for the LORD speaks, Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me." This is a passage where Isreal has rejected God - and God calls all of creation to listen to the warning that is offered - a warning that calls men to never abandon and turn away from the Lord. In both of these passages "shema" is used to call us not just to listen to anything - but to listen to something and Someone of absolute importance.
We are called to listen to God - and here, of course, we are called to listen to His wisdom. The ones who listen in this way are ones who will "live securely." This phrase meant that a person could live with a calm assurance that God would protect and keep them. Wisdom has a way of setting our hearts at ease, knowing that God's wisdom will always yield what is best for us. The promise is also given that we will be "at ease from the dread of evil." This ease again describes for us a state of security, peace, and rest. It speaks oddly enough for this state to overcome someone even at the moment of death. It is a peace that cannot be disturbed because it is given by God Himself.
The Lord gives warnings - and they can involve somewhat extensive cautions against wisdom and against walking in rebellion to His Word and ways. But know that such warnings are given to us because of God's great love and mercy toward us. Yet in the midst of such warnings - and in the midst of what some might call, "negative messages" we can know that God's desire is for us to walk in His ways and thus to experience all His blessings. To act like sin does not exist if we do not name it is the height of foolishness. The wise man knows that such warnings are welcome to us for they remind us that we must cling to and love the LORD our God with all that we have and all that we are. Such warnings are blessings in disguise for they keep us from walking in foolish and unprofitable ways. Embrace the negative messages that warn of our propensity to walk in the flesh and in our own strength. When we keep such wisdom close to our hearts, we will find that these messages are close friends with God's favor - and those are friends that are worth keeping indeed!
"For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. Proverbs 1:32
Never will you understand the necessity of a negative message, a message of warning - than you will when you see the latter end of someone who ignores then when they are given. That is the case here as we look at this next to last verse of chapter one of Proverbs. This verse lets us know that the unwise moral and spiritual choices of the fool cost him dearly at the end of his life. Actually, here we learn that these choices may be what ends his life.
The first thing of which we are warned here is imitating the "waywardness" of the naive. To be wayward is to be one who turns away from God and His Word. The Hebrew word here is "mesubah" and it means to turn away, to be apostate, or to backslide. What it refers to is someone who is constantly fluctuating or vacillating in their views. This describes the ones who turn away from the Word. Their "open-mindedness" that describes their naive thinking will constantly change and morph as society itself does. In time, they will have one view - but change to another. This accurately describes the reason that the morals of society seem to constantly be in flux. But the part of this that is frighening is that we read here that it is these very tendencies that will kill them. Their naivete is that they can order their own lives and have no real consequences from such choices. The truth though is that by turning away from the Lord, they will face judgments and severe consequences, the most severe of them being what will happen to them after they die and face the final judgment before God.
The second thing we see here is that the complacency of fools will destroy them. Complacency here is the Hebrew word, 'salway" and it speaks of a sense of security and quietness in one's prosperity. There is no anxiety or concern. There is only an excessive easy and prosperity. They take the lack of trouble as a sign that everything is fine and there is no need to even be concerned about eternal matters. The problem for them is that there is very real trouble in their future - but their attitude toward God's Word keeps the from knowing the danger.
There is a need for messages that warn and correct us. If we could guarantee that we would life perfect lives that never need correction, we could blow off these kind of things. But the fact of the Biblical worldview is that we are fallen, sinful people who are prone to rebellion and disobedience. This necessitates that we have to be warned of the consequences of unbiblical choices. We need to be reminded that there are very real, very negative results that come with walking apart from God's revealed will in His Word. Hopefully, such warnings will turn us away from ungodly choices and lifestyles. Hopefully we will hear such things and not trust in ourselves - but in God who guides us into paths of righteousness and blessing.
So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. Proverbs 1:31
We come to the close of this passage in Proverbs with two very sobering verses of warning. These verses are not being used to issue innocuous threats, but to warn of very real consequences for rejecting the wisdom and the Word of God. They were put here to help us see that a lifestyle that values its own wisdom and rejects God's is one that is filled with regret and destruction.
We are warned that if we choose to spurn God's Word - and this is in regard to the negative aspects of it - we will eat the fruit of our own ways. Let me once again take just a moment to define what I mean by the negative messages of God's Word. There are those who want nothing but positive, happy, you're OK - I'm OK messages from God's Word. The problem with this view is that it completely ignores the fall of man and our inherent sinfulness and selfishness. There is no way to gloss over these things - and unless they are confronted from time to time - we will sink into the mire that they create in us individually and corporately in our lives.
What we are warned of is the danger of learning too late the fruit that will come from this way. In Galatians chapter five we are told of fruit. But before this fruit is introduced to us we are also introduced to the works or workings of the flesh.
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. "
We see here that when we live in the flesh, which should be seen as embracing our natural state - rejecting God's Word and wisdom and instead choosing our own way, that the consequences of our choice are pretty disgusting. These are the kind of things we see as the problems in our world. They are also the natural consequences of rejecting the fear of God and living for ourselves instead. What is described for us in verses 22-23 of Galatians chatper five is the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the consequences of embracing the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. By the way, the Spirit is the One who teaches us God's Word - and will urge us to embrace God's wisdom and way.
What I hope you see here is that there is fruit either way we go. When we embrace the Spirit of God, the Word He teaches us, and the wisdom that comes with it - we experience wonderful fruit. But if we embrace a rejection of God's wisdom - which also means we are rejecting His Word and His Spirit - there will be fruit corresponding to these choices. That fruit is not good.
The other warning given to us here is that we will also be "satiated" with our own "devices." The word "devices" here is "moesah" which means counsel and intrigue. It refers to godless advice and counsel that will result in a wicked type of intrigue - one where we are seeking to escape the bad effects of following our own bad counsel. Reality though, is that the judgments of God are inescapable. When we choose moral paths there are moral consequences. These cannot be outrun or negated. What we are warned of in Proverbs is that we will be "satiated" with these consequences. The word here means to be filled to the full - to be sated. To help you grasp what this means - it refers to the feeling you get when you've had way too much to eat. It is that sick feeling that you've eaten way too much and now you just sit their miserable. The godless man has the unfortunate future of one day being sated with the moral conseqeunces of his own moral intrigue. Having decided to test God to see if rejecting Him has consequences - he learns the hard way that every consequence God says will happen - just like He said it would happen.
A wise man knows that his choices have consequences. He knows that as he does things, says things, and lives a certain way - it is like he is planting a crop for his future. If he plants properly (honoring God's wisdom) the harvest he will gather will be a pleasant one. But if he chooses the reject the wisdom of God - he is only making sure that he will be satiated with the consequences of his foolish choices.
"Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof." Proverbs 1:28-30
There is a time when prayer will not reach God - not will it do a person any good at all. That may sound like a strange thing to say - but it is true biblically. God warns those who reject His counsel and who turn away from His reproof that there will be a time when they pray and find that no one is listening.
Proverbs tells us that when our lifestyle is one that rejects God's Word and wisdom that there will be a time when due to the lack of it we will call on God and even seek Him diligently. The problem is that the reason they do this is because they want to be rescued from their bad decisions and from the consequences of their actions. Their call to God is not made out of any desire to repent and change how they are living. This kind of prayer will not receive God's answer - although it will receive His rejection.
The reason God rejects these kinds of prayers is because of the state of their hearts. These are the one who hated knowledge. They are not ignorant in human terms. In fact often those who hate knowledge are brilliant in the world's eyes. They just hate the knowledge that God has to offer to them. They hate the Word of God - and they hate the things that God has to say about the true state of humanity and the true state of this world. What I refer to is the worldview that sees mankind as fallen and sinful. There are scholars who absolutely reject that worldview. They see man as basically good. In their estimation what mankind needs is not salvation from sin - but to be resuced from those who make us feel bad about ourselves and tell us that we are sinful. They believe that if mankind was just educated properly and kept from the negativity of the Biblical view of mankind. If mankind were not told that anything was sin - but that man could claim their basic god-ness once again - then mankind would prosper and climb to a whole new level of evolution.
This was the view at the turn of the century as mankind pretty much rejected the biblical view of sin. The world thought it would rise to a whole new existance without war and without anything to hinder it. What we received from this new enlightened man was a century like no other in its ability to kill one another, make war, commit genocide, and perpetrate horrors upon one another in ways that seemed previously impossible.
When men reject God's knowledge - they also choose against the fear of God. They do not honor or respect Him - and they also do not tremble at His Word. When men do not believe God's Word - they are destined in every negative way to fulfill it. They truly will show the work of the fall of man in ways that will astound future generations. Actually future generations, just as blind as their fathers, will say that these things happened because they didn't quite do it right - or because they need an even more God-rejecting philosophy. In so doing they fulfill what verse 30 says. They would not accept God's counsel and they spurn all His reproof. Even as they watch the truth of God come to pass and His worldview upheld again and again, they reject it. Blind guides of the blind, they reject the existance of the very pit into which they lead one another as they continue in their rebellion.
Please understand that I know that such writing as this is very depressing. But it is only depressing if we continue to reject God's Word and the counsel, knowledge, understanding, and truth that comes from it. For those who accept God's counsel there is an answer to the futility of mankind and the stupidity of his ways. There is the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a savlation that God grants us and offers to us through His Son. There is a hope that when we embrace God's ultimate worldview - we not only see our sinfulness - but we are also allowed to see our Savior as well. God graces us with forgiveness, regeneration, and His ongoing work of sanctification. We are redeemed, literally bought from the slave market of sin and given the glorious hope of heaven and fellowship with God for all eternity.
There have been and will continue to be those who scorn the negative message that MUST come to mankind for there to be hope. They will say that it is the negative message itself that is the problem - and that if we would just rid ourselves of it - all would be well. But they do not understand that the so-called negative-ness of that message is absolutely necessary in order for us to get the most glorious message of the ages - God's salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! You cannot have one without the other. If you reject the message that we are sinners - and choose instead to spurn God's truth and counsel - all that awaits you is deception, destruction, and ultimately death.
I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Proverbs 1:26-27
As we look at the wisdom of including negative messages in teaching - and not just trying to accentuate the positive at all times - these verses almost slap us in the face. That is because what they say to us about God seem to contradict much of what is taught about Him. They definitely do not fit the normal way that people want to think of God. Yet, these verses are part of God's revelation of Himself to us in Scripture. We would do well to read such verses - and allow ourselves to be instructed by them.
God says to those who reject His counsel and His reproof that He will laugh at their calamity and mock them when their dread comes upon them. As I said at the outset of these verses, they do not seem to fit very well with the average person's view of God. Yet, these are accurate verses that describe the God that we serve. God is not a pushover, and He is not One who sits in a corner crying and grieving when He is rejected or ignored. He remains the Lord of the universe Whose power and majesty cause men to cower in fear and terror. He is also a God Who, according to the book of Psalms, is angry every day with the wicked. So it should not shock us to learn that when He is ignored and mocked by the wicked - that He too mocks at their calamity when their wicked behavior comes upon their own head. This is not the only place such language is used of God. In Psalm 2:4
we read, "He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them." We read in Psalm 37:13
that, "The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming."
There will be a day when God's vengeance will fall upon the wicked in humanity. There will be a day when His perfect justice and righteousness will be dealt out with absolute purity. That is a day about which the wicked should tremble - for there will no longer be any mercy - but judgment will fall and it will be passed out with shocking accuracy. Those who think God will never act with vengeance should only have to look to the cross of Christ to know that God will judge those who are guilty of sin. The joy for those of us who know His grace is that what Jesus paid upon the cross pays for our judgment in full.
God also knows that the longer one remains in rebellion - the more judgment will be coming like a storm. God warns in these verses of a dread that will come like a storm - of calamity that will come like a whirlwind. Mankind will be promising peace and good fortune to each other - yet they canont stop the hand of God that is gong to fully act in justice and judgment.
Four words are used to describe what it will be like when God's judgment falls upon those who persist in their rebellion. The first word dread. This meant a terror or trembling that would come upon men as they were being prepared to come in to the very presence of the Lord. Next is calamityshich speaks of a time of disaster or trouble. Then there is distress and anguish. These two are put together. Distress speaks of a specific episode of trouble and anguish. This trouble is a kind that man cannot rescue someone from though the power of mankind. One needs God in this incident - and without Him, there will be no deliverance. How poignently this speaks of our spiritual situation before God. How perfectly represented is our sinful state before a Holy God and the corresponding reality that we need a Savior Who is far more than just a man.
Man may mock now - but there will be a day when the tables are turned upon the mockers and those who now laugh at the Lord. This is not a day that I look forward to or treasure in any way. It is a day that should seriously sober every one of us and make us realize the absolute necessity of knowing that our sins are taken away because of what Jesus Christ has done for us at the cross. May God give us the wisdom to tremble before a holy God - rather than to take the position of fools who mock at Someone Whose power they cannot even begin to grasp.
"Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; Proverbs 1:24
We are examining the first chapter of Proverbs and seeing why it is not always the best thing to only have positive messages in the church and in our Christian lives. Here we see the reality that some do not receive what God is saying to them. They refuse to turn to God as He issues a call to them through His Word and His wisdom.
Too many get bent out of shape when they hear that God has to call us for us to be saved. They pretty much freak out when they are told that on their own they would never come to God because they are dead in their sins. They do not realize that God in His mercy does call men to Himself. But the truth is that even when God calls - men reject Him. Even when He allows them to hear His counsel, His reproof, His encouragment to turn from their sin to follow Him - they reject it. That is what is made clear here in this section of Scripture. God tells us that he called - but the fool refuses that call. The idea of refusal here involves a rejection not just of the message - but also of the Messenger.
God is showing great mercy and grace to men in stretching out His hand to them. Their sin should receive a stretched out hand - to discipline and bring them under God's judgment. But that is not what the Lord is trying to do here. He is wanting to instruct - to make His words known to those He calls (vs. 23). As He stretches out His hand in mercy, what does He receive? Nothing . . . no one pays any attention to what He is saying. This coincides with the truth in the New Testsament that, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23
). It also is a testament to Romans 3:10-12
which says, ". . . as it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Men, by their very nature reject God. Due to their deadness in sin, they will refuse Him and reject Him. But there is an even more amazing truth that this.
It is an amazing thing to read here that men reject and refuse God. It is astounding that they do not even pay attention to what He is saying. But what is more amazing is that immediately after He is rejected God does not let judgment fall in that very moment. But God is merciful in that He responds with further mercy. But this passage is not a reminder of that mercy. It is meant to be a stark reminder of how foolish it is to reject God when He does stretch out His hand and offer counsel, reproof, and instruction.
What should we learn from today's Proverb of the day? We learn that to receive God's wisdom and offer of instruction is the greatest of mercies. We learn that Jehovah God does this over and over again - offering mercy and grace that is rejected by sinful men. But the real question for us today is what are WE going to do when we are aware that God is wanting to give us His Words - and correct us from a way that is not in accordance with His will? Are we going to refuse and reject Him? Are we going to see His outstretched arms - and not even pay attention?
It might benefit us greatly to read a passage from Hebrews 2
that offers a warning to us - a warning that we should pay "much closer attention" to the times where God is speaking to us. Hebrews 2:1-3
offers us this godly counsel on this matter, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" May we learn to listen with great passion and intensity when the Lord speaks to us - and may we not be guilty of neglecting so great a salvation when God offers not just His grace in Christ initially - but when He continues to save us from sin as He sanctifies us daily by His Word and His Spirit.
"Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Proverbs 1:23
Can a person truly walk in wisdom if all they ever want in life are positive, uplifting messages from God? There are those today who say that the church should not be negative - should not issue rebukes, corrections, and most of all should not dwell on the whole issue of sin. "Let's be positive," is their cry - and when we are, people will come back to the church!
There is a fundamental problem with this view of things. It completely ignores that whole, "fall of mankind" thing. The reason Christianity cannot be "all positive, all the time" is because man is a fallen creature given to rebellion and walking in ways that are destructive and damning. At some point the honest among us are going to have to address the fundamental flaw in human nature. If men were naturally disposed to honoring and glorifying God, this would not be necessary. But the facts are that the heart is deceitful and desperately sick - that there is none who have done good, not even one - and that unless we repent we will all likewise perish. Man is not a naturally wise creature - unless you count being wise in his own eyes.
Wisdom is personified in Proverbs quite often. Wisdom shouts in the streets, calls out in the square seeking to get our attention. What does she say? Her first words are not exactly positive. She calls mankind "naive ones" as well as "simple-minded." She refers to the inhabitants of this globe as "scoffers" and "fools." The reason this does not sound positive is because it isn't. The Bible is not into any kind of a positive confession type of tripe - instead it is honest about the condition of man. As a result, her first command is issued here in verse 23.
Turn to my repoof. That is her first command to mankind. If we are going to be wise, it will require us to turn from our present selfish and self-centered ways and turn to the reproof of true wisdom. Wisdom will require reproof - correction - rebuke. We need to grasp that our current fleshly thinking is foolish and stupid. Wisdom will not enter our hearts unless we first unseat the poser who sits there presently. That is us. We need to lay aside human wisdom and that which parades as understanding - and choose to conform our thinking to God's ways and paths.
Here is a truth that will help you gain wisdom every day. Say it to yourself several times before you leave your home for the day. "If I disagree with God's Word, I am wrong!" Wisdom calls to us and tells us that something wonderful awaits those who accept reproof. But the person who in pride refuses to admit that he is wrong - that person will remain mired in the foolishness of his own ways.
What happens when we turn to God's reproof? Here is something wonderful! He pours out His Spirit upon us. Did you know that the Holy Spirit is the personification of wisdom! He wants us to turn from foolishness - so He can be poured out upon us - and so that He can teach us. Each time we turn from self and the wisdom of this world, the Holy Spirit is waiting to make known God's words to us. Here is a shocker - wisdom is found when the God's Spirit is poured out on us and we come to know the Word of God. In that moment we know wisdom.
The way of wisdom is the way of correction and reproof. We cannot become wise until we embrace humility. We cannot become wise until we respect and honor God's Word above all other sources of truth. We cannot become wise unless God in His mercy pours out His Spirit and opens our minds to the truth of His words. When this happens, we'll know the truth - and see that truth corrects us and turns us to the right thinking and the right path. The path to wisdom may not start positive - but when the Spirit of God begins to reveal truth and wisdom to us - it surely ends positive. Be open to God's reproof - to His correction - knowing that when we turn to Him - an abundance of truth and righteousness will be our reward.
"How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1:22
If they only knew . . . this is the way that a lot of statements begin about those who reject Biblical truth and the Biblical world view. But this statement assumes that the only problem that is present is a lack of information - a lack of education. Yet today's proverb seems to present a different picture. There are those who even if educated would persist in their worldview and ignorance. Could it actually be that there is a deeper problem in the human race than a lack of education?
Three descriptions are given here about how people view their world. The first is the person who is naive. According to what is written in this proverb, the naive ones actually love their naivete. They enjoy their simple-mindedness. The word used here is "pethi" which means to be naive. The picture that this paints for us though is of someone who is very open minded. In fact to them the greatest character trait that you can have is to be as open-minded as possible. The root for this word means to be wide open and spacious. It refers to someone whose mind is as wide open as can be - to everything - to every view that is out there. The only thing this person cannot tolerate is a view that is considered narrow in its focus. The naive person thinks that everyone would be able to get along - if we would all just accept each others views as equally valid. This is the case even when the views in question are diametrically opposed to each other. This is the post-modernist whose most valued idea is tolerance. They love their open-mindedness so much that they will pretty much gut the real truth of any position so that everyone can have their opinion, be right for themselves, and never a threat to each other.
The writer asks, "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?" The fact is that all views can't get along with each other. There has to eventually be a right and a wrong. There are some worldviews that are just flat out wrong. Look at Mao in China. To say that his view of communism, which was responsible for the murder of over 50 million people is ludicris! To say that Hitler's position is equally valid with that of Mother Theresa is insane. Yet the naive want everyone's view to be equally valid. They love their naivete so much that they will frontal lobotomize themselves when it comes to thinking to have every view just as valid. Europe took this view as Hitler rose to power - and each and every step along the way, Hitler took advantage of it to Blitzkrieg his way accross most of northern Europe. He wouldn't have been stopped except that at some point the naive ones realized that their open-mindedness could not fit him and his views of the world.
The second group are the scoffers. These are the ones who scoff and mock at the things of God. They belittle them as subpar thinking and subpar reasoning. They don't know how to build up - just tear down. They love their own scoffing, delighting in it every step of the way. They see it as a great thing when someone denigrates Christ, the Bible, or the church in some way. But their scoffing becomes such a lifestyle that they can offer nothing positive in reply. They only become bitter, self-centered critics who have nothing to offer anyone - except a constant cry to destroy and level anything related to God.
The third group are the fools. These are the spiritual dullards and dupes who don't want to be bothered by the facts. According to this passage they hate knowledge. This word speaks of knowledge, knwoing, learning, discernment, and insight. They do not want God's wisdom in their lives and will reject it when it is offered.
Now here is the amazing thing about this passage. None of these three types can have their lack of wisdom repaired by education alone. Their problem is not a lack of information. It is that they don't want the information. They enjoy their simple-mindedness, their scoffing, and their foolish worldview. They need something more than just information and knowledge. They need a change in their heart as a result of a work of God's Spirit in their minds. How do I know this? Because of the very next verse in chapter 1. These three groups are encouraged to "turn to God's reproof. They will have to see their views as wrong, and be willing to turn from them to God's correction. They need the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them where they will then be able to receive the words that are spoken to them. Their problem is a heart level problem - not just an education level one. They delight in their views - and reject anything that would threaten them. Until there is a heart change - there will be no embracing of any kind of educational outreach to them.
This is actually the view of classic Christianity. The problem with mankind is not just one of proper education. We can educate someone for decades and unless there is a heart change wrought by the grace of God, they will continue to reject the truth. As Romans chapter one puts it, God's wrath is revealed against the unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. They want their sin. They want their foolishness. They want their unrighteous ways. No amount of education that leaves their hearts unregenerated will do them any good whatsoever. There must be repentance and a change initiated and completed by the work of God's Holy Spirit. If that does not happen - they will simply continue to reject the truth and embrace their unrighteousness - whether it is dressed up as naivete, scoffing, or foolishness. What we see here is that only the grace of God can take a man and change him from a fool into a wise man. Oh, that we would pray that God's grace would touch the hearts of men to convert them from darkness to light - and from the foolishness of this world to the wisdom of God.
Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; At the head of the noisy streets
she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: Proverbs 1:20-21
If you go to most wise men - you will find that they say that you have to get away from everything to gain wisdom. Some sit on mountain tops - where you have to come and sit in silence so that you can gain their wisdom and perspective. Others require you to come to a school - and there you receive your wisdom. What is truly interesting to me is that the Bible does not have this view of where you can receive wisdom. What is delightful about the biblical view is that it makes wisdom available where it is needed most - in the throes of everyday life.
Where do we find wisdom in this passage? According to Solomon, wisdom is shouting to us in the streets and in the square. Wisdom calls to us at the head of the noisy streets and at the entrance gate of the city. These are not places isolated from everyone - but rather are places where you can find the greatest number of people - and they refer to the places where there is abundant activity taking place.
The first place we see wisdom calling to us is in the street. The street could be any street - but no matter which street is being referred to - it is still out where we live our lives each and every day. God's wisdom is not made for ivory towers of high learning and inquiry - but for everyone. It is accessible to the average every man - who walks the streets. The way wisdom calls to us is with a ringing cry or shout. There is no mere whispering of wisdom - we will find a ringing shout when God desires to give us His wisdom. If we ignore it - that is our own doing - for wisdom's call is not a quiet thing that can be missed easily. It is a loud, attention-getting shout.
The next place is more populated. It is the square. This was the public square or plaza. This would be a very high density place to be - and was where most of the people met in the city. Wisdom calls out to us here - for the public square is a place where most public conversation takes place. If we will listen to the Spirit of God as He is seeking to teach us wisdom - we will know how to speak in the public place - as well as how to discern what is said there. This word in the Hebew not only referred to one square - but also to a network of streets that would lead to it. When you move from streets to the open square in a city - you are coming to a place of greater importance and influence. It is imperative that when we come to greater and greater places of influence, that we have wisdom guiding us every step of the way.
The next place wisdom meets us is at the head of the noisy streets. This is the place where a fork in the road was usually found. Once you came to the head of a street, you had a decision to make as to which way you were going to go. What a great place to have wisdom from God guide us. It is here that we see once again wisdom calling out to us. Even more fascinating is that this word means to summon or to invite. At the place where we have a decision to make as to what way we are going to take - it is there that wisdom offers an invitation to us to listen and learn. Since this word was also used in places like Exodus 34:6
to introduce a section of Scripture that dealt with moral and ethical issues - we see that wisdom's invitation is to know our way both morally and ethically at the crossroads of our life. How often have we faced a crossroad wondering which way to take. If we will turn to God, we will find that His wisdom is freely offered to us so that we can know the way that we should go.
The last place where wisdom is offered to us in at the gates of the city. This was the political arena - or the place where the elders of the city would sit to discuss not just political ideas - but also economic ones as well. The gate was the place where they sat to make business decisions. What a wonderful place to have wisdom available to us. As we face decisions about morals and direction for not just our individual lives - but for our city, state, and nation - we can know that wisdom is there uttering her sayings. As we walk in the business world and face a situation where wisdom would keep us from making a bad decision, we can know that wisdom sits wanting to utter to us the very things we will need to avoid a foolish decision.
God's wisdom is not locked away in come castle or on some mountain top where the practical issues of every day life seem far far away. God is waiting in all the places where we walk - waiting to give us wisdom to walk in the manner pleasing to Him. He is also waiting to impart wisdom to us that will bless us and guide us in His way. You will not have to become a monk or a seeker who has to walk to the ends of the earth to get an hour or two with a guru who gives you some obtuse saying you will have to parse to grasp any meaning from it. God is in all the places you walk. God is there wanting to shout out, call out, or simply utter His sayings. These will guide us into His way - which is the way of blessing. What a joy to know that our God is omnipresent and waiting with His glorious wisdom to lead us in every situation. Turn to Him then in the streets, in the square, at every crossroad, and in all the affairs of life, business, and even politics. What you will find is wisdom that will direct you in the way of His blessing and favor. There is no better place to be!
Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited
net In the sight of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors. Proverbs 1:17-19
Why is it unwise to use violence to get what you want in life? It is because although you may gain in the short term, you will lose bit time in the end. Too many people live for the short term good - even if it results in harm over time. This is why the godly father takes time to warn his son against using violence to get what he wants in life.
This dad uses a great picture to explain to his son why violence is not a good alternative to get ahead in life. He speaks of how it is useless to set a net with bait right in front of the bird that you are wanting to catch. The bird sees not just the bait, but more importantly the net. As a result he will have nothing to do with the set up because he knows it is a trap. This is a lesson from hunting 101 - and one that even those who know nothing about hunting can understand. But then the father uses this very simple illustration to prove a very important point to his boys.
When someone uses violence to get what he wants, he is not lying in wait for the other person as much as he is lying in wait for his own life. Sure in the short term he may attack a few people, spill some blood getting what he wants, and get a little gain. But in the long term he is only setting a trap for himself. Worse that this he is setting his own trap right in front of his own face - and not realizing it. He is setting a trap for his own demise and destruction. It sounds pretty silly that someone can set a trap for themselves and ambush their own lives - but that is exactly what this young man is doing.
The father then ties this lesson up for his son by telling him that this is what is happening when someone wants to gain by violence. It may get him something immediately, but it will take away his life when it is all over. This father is teaching his son something that is absolutely essential to living a life of wisdom. It is the lesson that the quick way to something is most often the unwise way to it. This is especially true when this quick way causes us to disregard Scripture - and walk in a way that is contrary to godliness.