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Proverbs 1-3 Listen
A few words about Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs was written, at least mostly so, by King Solomon. Proverbs are short statements of conventional wisdom, often based upon the Mosaic Law. The Hebrew word ("mashal") for proverb(s) is translated as such 22 times, but it is translated parable(s) 18 times. So, these proverbs/parables are pithy sentences of ethical wisdom. Some proverbs come in handy for complimenting the actions or words of others, while others serve well as rebukes. When armed with an adequate arsenal of memorized proverbs, one can succinctly speak one's mind...and all your doin' is quotin' scripture.
Solomon is uniquely qualified to author such a book inasmuch as God had granted his request for wisdom to "judge my people." For more information about Solomon's special wisdom, click here to see the summary on I Kings 3:5-15 and II Chronicles 1:7-17. Please allow me to state the obvious about Solomon: He would have done well to have adhered closely to his own wisdom sayings in the entire course of his life. It is obvious from scripture that Solomon violated his own proverbial principles. By the way, that makes them no less true statements of applications based upon the Mosaic Law, and the fact that Solomon writes them down perhaps attests to lessons learned the hard way. The actual proverbs do not begin until chapter 10. The first 9 chapters of Proverbs are dedicated to explaining and promoting wisdom and discouraging foolishness, although many of those verses sound proverbial as well.
The reason for the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 1:1-7)
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.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Solomon states simply the purpose for writing down these wise sayings in verse 2, "To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding." Many of these wise sayings may be intuitive, but there's nothing like writing down the obvious for driving a point home. I memorized 1:7 back in the early part of my ministry, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Heed these instructions (Proverbs 1:8-9)
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.
Verse 8 paraphrased: "Father knows best...and so does mom!" We are encouraged to take the wise counsel of our parents.
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.
Wicked peers - stay away from them! These verses rebuke those who value gain over life itself. Paul quotes from verse 16 in Romans 3:15 (see notes).
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.
In these verses, Solomon contrasts the foolish man (who rejects God's wisdom) with the man who embraces God's wisdom. I particularly liked and memorized 1:24-33 one day as I walked the streets of Iwakuni, Japan back in 1971. In those particular verses wisdom takes on a persona, and it is as though wisdom is talking to those who have rejected wisdom; they're thought-provoking verses. If you are not careful, you might jump to the incorrect conclusion that God is the one talking in those verses rather than a personified wisdom.
Wisdom will provide deliverance (Proverbs 2)
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.
God's wisdom will keep you in favor with God and protect you from the enticements of evil, especially seductive wicked women. Notice verse 16, "To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;" Solomon commits a significant number of verses in Proverbs to warning against seductive women. When you review the life of Solomon, you realize that Solomon himself fell prey to the enticements of women. These warnings reflect a good bit of personal experience with wicked, seductive women. This is not conjecture; it is stated clearly in I Kings 11 (see notes).
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.
Solomon begins here by emphasizing the importance of the Law of Moses when he says in verse 1, "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments." As previously stated, these proverbs are based upon the principles of Mosaic Law. As a matter of fact, a promise is given in verse 2, "For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee." Solomon's counsel here is that keeping the Law of Moses lengthens one's life. That's a Jewish concept, but one might justifiably extrapolate that obedience to God's Word increases one's quality of life - even to those of us who are Gentiles saved by the grace of God.
Verses 5-6 are very familiar to us regarding the Lord's direction. When we trust God for direction, he provides it. That process is explained by Paul in Philippians 4:4-8 (see notes). Then we see a couple of verses on giving in 9-10, "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." God blesses those who give to the Lord of their financial resources. Paul specifies that giving should be done "not grudgingly" in II Corinthians 9:6-15 (see notes), and that it should be done regularly and proportionally in I Corinthians 16:1-4 (see notes).
A principle of God's discipline for those whom he loves is found in verses 11-12. Paul refers to these verses in Hebrews 12:6-8 (see notes) concerning chastisement of the disobedient Believer. We see several verses in this chapter which seem like proverbs, but they're really still part of the introduction to the actual proverbs which begin in chapter 10. Many of these verses emphasize a positive relationship with others. Solomon again recommends wisdom. What about those who heed his advice? Verse 33 says, "The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just."
And finally, to the husbands reading this, I admonish you to memorize verse 30, "Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm." Quote that...see how that works out for you.