It is essential that we have the correct lenses in order to understand Proverbs. With the correct lenses we with see with no distortion, we will see clearly.
For gaining wisdom- skillful at living life well…vs 1-2
Wisdom is not merely knowing about something (IQ), but being productive and applying knowledge.
We can find highly skilled athletes, musicians, etc, but they make foolish decisions, say unwise things – like all of us in different ways.
Wisdom in Proverbs is skill in living life well- particularly relationships- with God and with one another. Our neighbour, parent and children, husband wife, rich and poor, enemy, emotions, money.
In verse 3 this is expanded to not just head knowledge- “receive instruction for prudent behaviour- doing what is right, just and fair-“ - it includes how we deal with other people - social skills.
Wisdom is about gaining instruction, living a disciplined life. Not sloppy living, a she’ll by right attitude. When it comes to character, integrity and honesty no one’s perfect. A skilled sportsperson listens to the coach’s correction - desires to make improve.
Wisdom is not natural to us, is not self-deduced. We need to gain it from God through Proverbs.
How familiar are we with proverbs?
Proverbs provides us with the means to gain, receive and get, social skills and a disciplined manner to live life well before God and others.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 4:7
IS WISDOM ON OUR RADAR?
For the simple and the wise- all need for wisdom of proverbs. Vs4-5
A recurring theme in Proverbs is people’s blindness to their own status- they think are wise. Therefore as fools (as in v7b), they despise the wisdom of God. They think they have it spades and know it all for life.
Like auditions for singing competitions, a person has been told they can sing, believes they have a beautiful voice, but as soon as they start they’re not a singer.
Do not be wise in your own eyes ( 3:7 )
The way of fools seems right to them, right in their own eyes, but the wise listen to advice. (12:15).
A fool says I don’t need people speaking in to my life. I’ll have, or will, work it out myself.
People may think all their ways are pure, but motives are weighed by the LORD. (Pr 16:2).
When you go to a job interview, it doesn’t matter if you think you are the best candidate for the job but rather it matters what the person hiring you thinks.
It doesn’t matter if you think you are wise and pure, it is what God thinks.
Fools despise wisdom they don’t need it they have it sufficient for them to make life work
The simple need to gain wisdom. The simple are, the young, about to enter the world. Without wisdom and instruction they are gullible and vulnerable.
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. 14:15
The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. 14:18
Proverbs presents a world where wickedness entices and seduces the naive and ignorant, and those lacking skills of life and leads them to destruction.
It is a battle for the heart of the simple.
We find wisdom personified as a woman calling:
“Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says,
“Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.” (Pr 9:4–6).
But the battle is on because Folly is also spoken of as a woman calling:
Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead. (Pr 9:13–18).
There is a tension and battle for the heart of the simple. A choice to turn to the way of God, the way of wisdom, the way of life. Or a choice to turn in your ignorance and lack of God’s wisdom to the way of folly, our natural inclination, to turn to the way of damage, destruction and death.
Note vs 5b not only the simple- let the wise listen and ADD to their learning!
We all need proverbs. The wise increases in wisdom-. It does not say I have arrived, but that there is more to learn.
How ready & willing are we to receive instruction, to learn, humbly accept reproof and correction?
How well read is Proverbs in your life? Too confronting? unnecessary?
To appreciate our vulnerability to being enticed and seduced to a wicked way of living.
Through practical principles not promises
We can read proverbs as if they were promises; guarantees. If I follow this proverb, it will definitely happen.
Vs 6, understanding proverbs and parables
They are practical principles from observing what generally happens when we live a certain way.
Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Pr 3:9–10).
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. 22:6
Not a promise or a formula that if you do the first part, the positive outcome will always occur. Not always the case.
They are comprehensive general principles, practical advice, not promises. They are not formula’s.
When we think of proverbs, what other source of wise saying come to mind? We can use them like other wise saying or proverbs. Pick and choose what sounds helpful. We could argue that they are just another source of wisdom.
Enter vs 7- the foundation to wisdom.
FEAR OF THE LORD IS FOUNDATIONAL
This is what makes them distinct from other ‘wise sayings’ out there.
The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction
Foundation is the starting point in constructing a house, but it must always remain intact. A crumbling foundation leads to collapse. So we must approach wisdom and proverbs with lens that fear of the Lord is the foundation, a foundation that we must have and must hold on to.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Skillful living can not be achieved apart from God. Wisdom is not self-deduced, self reflection at retreats or in discussion groups. It comes from God and relies on a right understanding of God. This distinguishes Proverbs from wiki-wisdom or fortune cookies.
Gaining wisdom, skill for well-ordered life, is not about picking and choosing individual proverbs wise sayings, but rather knowing God and rightly fearing the God you know.
Fear of the Lord is so crucial that Bill McRae says “You have not begun to learn until you have begun to fear the Lord.”
Fear of the lord is threaded throughout this book:
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech. 8:13
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided. 16:6
Hatred and avoiding or turning away from evil- speech, thoughts, actions. At home, work, neighbour, enemy.
Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honour Pr 15:33).
Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honour and life (Pr 22:4).
Hate what God hates, evil, and turn from it. Humble submission to God, humble and obedient.
If we do not fear the Lord we seriously lack wisdom. It doesn’t matter what our IQ is , or how wise people say we are. It makes sense, because to ignore God, to not listen to Him, not accept what he says is truth, is stupid and foolish as well as sinful.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” We are made in his image, but we are disconnected and have become foolish.
Through love and faithfulness, sin is atoned for. Through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided. 16:6
Jesus is wisdom, greater than Solomon. His life on earth as one of us, lived out the fear of the Lord, avoided evil, though tempted way beyond we are. He never had an evil thought, never did an evil deed, no perverse speech. He loved and obeyed His Father.
His humility as we saw in Philippians 2. He humbled himself in doing the will of the Father. Through his love and faithfulness our sin, in not having the fear of God, can be atoned.
There is a Way that seems right to a person but in the end it leads to death. There is only one way to life and it is Jesus Christ, all other ways lead to death. Only he can atone for our sin and put us in the right with God. No effort, charity, or attempts at wise living from wiki-wisdom can atone for our sin.
How do you view life?
When you look out upon each day and what lies ahead, how do you live?
Are wise in your own eyes, satisfied with your acquired knowledge, past down, learnt from books?
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Do you believe that?
The fruit of wisdom is life. The fruit of folly is death.