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!