Scriptures

Proverbs 1

Introduction

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of articles about wisdom, they teach us that we must respect God. Proverbs is not merely an anthology but a ‘collection of collections’ relating to a pattern of life which lasted for more than a millennium. It is an example of the Biblical wisdom, and raises questions of values, moral behaviour, the meaning of human life, and right conduct.

Outline Of The Book Of Proverbs

Proverbs 1:1-9:18 Deals with wisdom for young people.
Proverbs 10:1-23:34 Deals with wisdom for all people.
Proverbs 25:1-31:31 Deals with wisdom for leaders.

Authors

There are three authors attributed to the Book of Proverbs, they are Agur, Lemuel and Solomon. We know nothing about Agur except what is recorded in his prayer, where he asked for deliverance from economic extremes, Proverbs 30:1 / Proverbs 30:8-9.

We know nothing about Lemuel except he was an unknown king who wrote the words his mother taught him, Proverbs 31:1. Some of the early Jewish rabbis identified Lemuel with Solomon. Other scholars believe he was Hezekiah, or even an anonymous Arabian prince.

We know a lot about Solomon, he was the 3rd king of Israel, around 20 years old, 1 Kings 1:28-36, he built God’s temple in Jerusalem, 1 Kings 6-7. His mother was Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 12:24, his father was David, 1 Kings 3:4-15, his brothers were Absalom, Adonijah, his sister was Tamar. His son was Rehoboam.

He wrote Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, most of the Proverbs and a couple of Psalms and we know he was wise, 1 King 3:15-28. Solomon is said to have written three thousand proverbs, and those contained in this book may be a selection from these, 1 Kings 4:32.

In the New Testament there are thirty-five direct quotations from this book or allusions to it. He got his wisdom from God after asking for it, 1 Kings 3:9, but he wasn’t the first person in the Bible who desired to have wisdom, that would be Eve, Genesis 3:6.

What Are Proverbs?

Proverbs are sayings, poems, parables, questions and sonnets. Even today there are many which people use, for example, too many cooks spoil the broth, two eyes on one human is one eye too many, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Why Were They Written?

Solomon tells us why the proverbs were written; they were written to teach wisdom and discipline and how to live a prudent and sensible life. They were also written to teach the difference between how to do right from wrong, Proverbs 1:2-3.

What Is Wisdom?

Wisdom may be defined as a realistic approach to the problems of life. Wisdom is insight into the underlying causes and significance or consequences of things, which insight enables one to apply to the best end the knowledge which one has.

Knowledge is ‘knowing what to do’.
Understanding is ‘knowing how to do something.’
Wisdom is ‘doing correctly what you need to do.’

Wisdom is a discipline of applying truth to your life in the light of experience or someone else’s experience, James 3:13. The point is that wisdom is more than knowing and doing the right thing, it’s a lifestyle which effects the way we walk and talk and even the way we think in our minds.

As Christians today we should study the Book of Proverbs because it helps us not to become foolish, Ephesians 5:15-17. And so, if we get wisdom from God by asking him, James 1:5, that means that we first need to have a knowledge of God to get to know His will, Romans 12:2.

How Can We Get Wisdom?

We usually get wisdom from our experience, from arguments, from sermons, from our mistakes, but if we want true wisdom we need to ask God, James 1:5.

When God was making preparations for the tabernacle he have wisdom to those who were going to build it, Exodus 28:3, when God is speaking about His decrees and commandments, he tells his people He will show that what wisdom is. God wanted His people to be wise so that the nations around could see in God’s people just how wise He was, Deuteronomy 4:6.

Nothing has changed today because God still wants us, His church, to show the people around us His wisdom, Ephesians 3:8-11.

‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline’. Proverbs 1:7

There are many people who fear things in life, whether it’s snakes, hospitals, ghosts or spiders. Most people have a fear of something because they know or think that what they fear is real.

Sadly, a lot of people don’t fear God because they don’t believe or want to acknowledge that He exists. If you don’t believe in something, it can’t frighten you. If you can’t see it, you don’t believe in it and so it doesn’t frighten you.

To fear the Lord isn’t about being scared or frightened of God, it’s about being respectful of God. A fool is the person who is an unbeliever who lives for self, they don’t consider God’s ways. The fool is not interested in the truth, they are only interested in themselves, Proverbs 14:7.

The Wisdom Test

What kind of person do your friends generally think you to be?

What do you consider yourself to be?

What’s the wisest thing you have ever done?

What’s the one area you think you are extremely wise?

What’s the one area that you think you are not wise?

‘The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:1-7

The Purpose Of The Book Of Proverbs

The introduction is very much self-explanatory. What is the first reason Solomon tells us why we should study the Proverbs?

‘For gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight.’ Proverbs 1:2

The proverbs help us in our understanding of God’s way of life for us. Solomon mentions three things here.

1. Wisdom.

This is not human wisdom but God’s wisdom, but can we understand God’s wisdom? To a degree but the world certainly doesn’t understand, Job 28:20-28.

How does the world get its wisdom? The world gets its wisdom from the television, radio newspapers, etc. Advertisements constantly tells us that we can’t really live or really be happy until we have or buy this or that product.

2. Discipline.

Discipline is the practical things we can do, or the sensible things we can do to help us live a godly life, but discipline is never easy but it’s for our own good. Do you love discipline?

‘Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.’ Proverbs 12:1

Why are people who hate discipline stupid? They are stupid because they are fools, and they don’t see the goodness in discipline.

‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ Proverbs 1:7

3. Understanding.

Understanding is the power of distinguishing right from wrong, but also so that we can tell the difference between the genuine truth and something that appears to be the truth but is really a fake.

What does understanding words of insight mean?

What is another reason Solomon tells why we should study the Proverbs?

‘For receiving instruction in prudent (sensible) behaviour, doing what is right and just and fair.’ Proverbs 1:3

The proverbs will help us to live disciplined and sensible lives.

‘For giving prudence (cautiousness) to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young (helping the young make good judgements).’ Proverbs 1:4

Why does everyone need discipline, especially the young? Discipline help to prevent chaos, they help us live by the rules of society, etc. our young people need to learn this quickly otherwise they will end up in trouble.

So, Solomon says that there are three things that these proverbs are good for.

1. For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight.

2. For acquiring a disciplined and sensible life, doing what is right and just and fair.

3. For giving cautiousness to the simple, knowledge and helping the young make good judgements.

But Solomon tells us that the proverbs are not just for the young, he tells us that they are also for the wise and the discerning or those who are careful and want to think things through properly.

‘Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance’ Proverbs 1:5

Who might these wise and discerning people be? It appears they would be leaders, people who are in high places of authority. etc. This would also apply to everyone in their everyday lives.

Has someone ever told you something and you haven’t got a clue what they are trying to tell you or what they are saying? If we listen to the proverbs and gain wisdom and think carefully about every step of our life, we begin to understand the proverbs we are reading and know what they mean.

‘For understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.’ Proverbs 1:6

After Jesus had been teaching the people some parables, they really struggled to understand what He was teaching and what the parables meant, Mark 4:10-13. Jesus is telling the disciples exactly what Solomon is telling us hear.

When we begin to understand the meaning of some of the simple proverbs or parables, sayings and riddles, we will be able to deepen our understanding when it comes to the tougher ones, which are more difficult to understand.

As Christians we must grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. A new-born baby starts life by feeding on milk, but as that baby grows and develops, there comes a time when it needs to move on to solid food to help with its physical development. The same applies to baby Christians, they start off by feeding on the milk of the Scriptures but eventually they must move on to some good meat to further develop their spiritual development, 1 Corinthians 3:2 / Hebrews 5:12-14.

Remember what Proverbs 1:3 says?

‘For receiving instruction in prudent behaviour, doing what is right and just and fair.’

We never stop learning because we can never know enough. No one can stand and tell us they understand every single thing in the Bible because we are always striving towards spiritual maturity. And why can’t anyone do that?

‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ Proverbs 1:7

It starts with God and finishes by taking a good look at ourselves, Job 42:5-6 / Psalm 111:10. When we follow God’s way and understand God’s ways, we understand just how small we really are. All too often people who think they know better than God, try to take God’s place.

Do you know of any people not necessarily Biblical who think they are or were bigger than God? I can think of a few, the devil, Adam, Hitler, Churchill, etc.

In what ways do people think they are smarter than God today? Some think they are smarter because of their insight to the Bible; they think they have it all worked out and never change their minds on any matter.

When do you think the world will finally understand just how small humans really are? The answer to this question is simple, Judgement Day. That’ll be the Day when everyone will truly understand and see just how unwise they really are, 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Parental Guidance For Our Children

‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, ‘Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot’—my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.’ Proverbs 1:8-19

Solomon has just finished giving instructions about how to live a wise and disciplined life and he said in Proverbs 1:7 ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ And then he sets out two rules, which will help children become good, God fearing people.

‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.’ Proverbs 1:8

How important is it for parents to teach their kids God’s ways? It’s very important. What is one of the most powerful ways of showing our kids that God is number one in our lives? Spending time together in prayer and study and showing our kids an example of what a follower of Christ looks like.

A young child came home from church one day and she was just following her mother everywhere, almost to the extent that she was tripping her mother up. Her mother finally lost her temper and said, ‘why are you following me everywhere?’ And the little girl said, ‘my Sunday school teacher said I should follow in Jesus’ footsteps, but I can’t see Jesus so I will just follow yours.’

It’s the parents who have the responsibility to teach and give their children an example to follow. Too many parents think that school is the place for teaching and so the parents don’t have to do anything to help them in their teaching.

Their kids fail at school and the first thing they do is blame the school, instead of asking themselves, ‘what did I do to help my child with their schooling?’ This would apply to the parents whose kids go to Sunday school too.

But our children need to know just how important God is in our lives and it’s the parents who have the role and responsibility of teaching their kids about God, Ephesians 6:1-4 / Colossians 3:20-21. In other words, how are children ever going to obey God if they don’t obey their parents?

‘They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.’ Proverbs 1:9

What does Solomon mean here? He simply means that the advice and teaching we give our kids are going to help our kids be better people. People will listen to them when they are older, they will get respect, Genesis 41:41-42 / Daniel 5:29.

Have you ever warned your children not to hang around with certain people? Why do people warn their kids about these things? Simply because they don’t want their kids to end up on drugs or alcohol or end up in some kind of trouble. Telling them not to hang around with certain kids is a way of keeping them safe and out of trouble.

We’ll that’s what Solomon is saying here in Proverbs 1:10-19. One  he dangers as a Christian is to end up hanging around with people who aren’t Christians. As an older Christian we could probably be able to stand our ground and not be tempted to join in with the crowd but as a young child or a young Christian, that’s one of the toughest challenges they face today, fitting in. And it’s so easy to give in to them. But Solomon says,

‘My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.’ Proverbs 1:10

Why is prevention better than cure? If children don’t give in, in the first place, Ephesians 4:27, they won’t be tempted or enticed to do the rest of what Solomon goes on to say.

‘If they say, ‘Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot.’ Proverbs 1:11-14

That’s exactly what Jephthah did, he ended up in the wrong crowd doing all sorts of evil things, Judges 11:3. Solomon says,

‘Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit.’ Proverbs 1:12

What does he mean here? He simply means the destruction of those that these sinners attack will be as sudden as those who die quickly. And then Solomon tells us the second form of temptation that children will have to face. False risks and false hopes.

‘We will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot’. Proverbs 1:13-14

Thieves and robbers all take risks in life, a bank robber will take the risk of getting caught only for one reason and that’s to get the reward, the money. But they don’t usually work alone, they usually have company, and the way they get company is by offering them a share in the reward. So, in fact what they are doing is sharing the risks too.

But these people that Solomon is describing to his son here are not your common house burglars, they are coldblooded murderers. And then Solomon goes on to describe what is going to happen to them and to any child who will follow their ways.

‘My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.’ Proverbs 1:15-19

Have you ever been in a hurry to go somewhere and while you’re running you forget to look where you’re going? Solomon says, ‘for their feet rush into evil’. In other words, they know they are doing wrong but they go ahead and do it anyway because they don’t care about the consequences, they don’t care about who they hurt or take with them, Isaiah 59:7.

What does Solomon mean when he says, ‘how useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds!’ Well there are a few options and you can decide for yourselves.

1. Some people take the words as pointing to the failure of the plans of the evildoers against the innocent, which would be the bird.

2. Other people interpret the proverb of the young man who thinks that he at least shall not fall into the snares laid for him, and so goes blindly into them.

3. Some other people believe, its talking about what they are doing as in the net being spread out in the open is in vain or to no purpose. In other words, what they are doing is in vain. The birds still fly in.

4. Others believe it’s talking about the great net of God’s judgments is spread out, open to the eyes of all, and yet the doers of evil, wilfully blind, still rush into it.

‘These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!’ Proverbs 1:18

Solomon says there’s a time coming when they are going to reap what they sow, their own blood, Psalm 7:14-16 / Revelation 16:6. And then Solomon says,

‘Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.’ Proverbs 1:19

In other words, your greed for gain will end up killing you. Everyone who is greedy for gain will end up the same way, Job 8:13.

Have you ever listened to those people who wear billboards around their necks? They always preach about something, but because of the hustle and bustle in the street you can’t quite make out what they are saying. But they are saying something that is important to them and we need to listen to what they are saying.

Do we know any Bible character that was like that? John the baptiser was a man like that, he constantly preached, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’. Matthew 3:2. Well, something like that is happening here in Proverbs 1:20-33.

‘Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: ‘How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?’ Proverbs 1:20-22

Now why is wisdom called ‘She’ here? Simply to make the words come alive, make it more personal. The city gates were the place where all the business of everyday life was taken care of. Everybody had to come into the city through the gates and go out of the city through the gates. It was a very busy area; it was the place with a massive wooden door in a city wall which traffic passed through.

They were open during the day and closed at night for safety reasons. Goods were often bought and sold and important legal matters were discussed just inside the city gate. In Ruth 4 we find the elders who met at the city gates being witnesses to the fact that Boaz bought the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.

Socrates said that the fields and the trees taught him nothing, but that he found the wisdom he was seeking in his converse with the men whom he met as he walked in the streets and agora of Athens. But all sorts of people passed through here where wisdom was being preached, lawgivers, teachers, etc.

The point is that she preaches to all of mankind and then wisdom asks three questions to three different types of people.

She address the simple, what kind of people might they be? They are those who are easily accessible to seduction, or those who are very vulnerable to evil.

In other words, she is asking, how long, will you simple ones love simplicity? Or we can say that those simple ones and some Christians today need to wake up, Romans 13:10-11 / Ephesians 5:13-14.

Then wisdom addresses the mockers, what kind of people might they be? They would be the freethinkers, those who just make fun of people because of the fun of it. And in the Bible, we find a few contrasts between those who are mockers and those who are wise, Psalm 1:1 / Proverbs 29:8 / Isaiah 28:14-15.

Then finally she addresses the fools, what kind of people might they be? They are the stupid, the crooked or depraved, Proverbs 17:10 / Proverbs 26:4. In other words it’s a waste of time trying to talk to these people because wisdom doesn’t make any sense to them.

Then wisdom goes on to say what would have happened if they listened to her and what is going to happen now that they didn’t listen to her.

‘Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. ‘Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.’ Proverbs 1:23-33

Wisdom is going to tell us today that if we listen her and do what wisdom says, then we will live, but if we don’t then disaster will come. It’s a case of you reap what you sow.

Have you ever exposed your deepest feelings to someone? Maybe your wife, husband, brother, sister, etc. Have you ever exposed your deepest thoughts and feelings to anyone else? Maybe your friend or work colleague, etc. Why don’t we open up just to anyone we meet? Probably because were afraid, we’re afraid that people will be judgemental, etc.

Why should we open up our deepest fears, ambitions weaknesses and strengths to God? Simply because He already knows everything about us. In Proverbs 1:22-33 we are going to see that wisdom is willing to pour out her heart and thoughts to all of mankind, if they would just listen.

God’s up front with us from the Book of Genesis right through to the Book of Revelation. He has told us what He wants from us and what He has done for us and what He is willing to do for us. He has opened up His heart and left Himself exposed to abuse.

‘Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.’ Proverbs 1:23

Even today God opens His heart up for people who want to follow Him. When the Pharisees were looking for an excuse to arrest Jesus, He still asked the crowd to follow Him, John 7:37-38. Why don’t people listen to words of wisdom? Simply because of pride and wisdom goes against their plans.

‘But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke.’ Proverbs 1:24-25

People don’t like wisdom because wisdom involves discipline and punishment, Proverbs 15:32 / Isaiah 65:12. Have you ever told someone not to do something because you know better? For example, you can tell someone not to buy a certain brand of car because it will give them nothing but problems, but they go ahead and buy it anyway and after a little while the problems start.

Have you ever done something like that and then had the satisfaction of saying, ‘I told you so?’ Have you ever laughed at someone when their plans go wrong?

All the pleasure these simple ones, mockers and fools, Proverbs 1:22, get from their way of life is now turned against them. We could say, ‘what goes around comes around’.

‘I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.’ Proverbs 1:26-27

Solomon is speaking about the judgement that will come upon them, Proverbs 10:24 / Matthew 24:29. When do most people turn to God? Usually people turn to God in times of despair, etc.

‘Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.’ Proverbs 1:28

God isn’t going to deliver them from their pain, much like He wouldn’t deliver Samaria and Judah from the hands of their enemies, Micah 3:4. Is God stubborn? No, His people are. Why has God stopped listening to these people?

‘Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke.’ Proverbs 1:29-30

They wouldn’t listen to God; they had no respect for God and the despised God’s rebukes. And what will their punishment be?

‘They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.’ Proverbs 1:31-32

This is what wisdom has been saying all along, they will reap what they so, if you live by the sword you will die by the sword, Matthew 26:52 / Deuteronomy 32:15 / Jeremiah 6:19 / Galatians 6:8.

What’s going to happen to those who do listen to wisdom and practice what wisdom says?

‘But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.’ Proverbs 1:33

Why will they live in peace and at ease? God is in control.

‘Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them. Isaiah 33:15-16

Go To Proverbs 2

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

Proverbs 3:5

MENU