Proverbs 1:1–19 comment (0)
February 27, 2014
By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: Proverbs 1:1–19
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Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
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Guide to Wisdom (1–6)
The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings compiled mainly by Solomon but by several other figures as well. Wisdom is the knowledge and ability to make the right choices at the opportune time.
In the first six verses of the book, Solomon establishes the purpose for the Proverbs. The wise man will listen to the teachings and grow in godly wisdom. In today’s society where the wisdom of the world is increasingly ungodly, it is important for Christians to obey the teachings of the Bible. Even some wisdom of the world that sounds good is not biblical. For example, the saying “God helps those who help themselves” occurs nowhere in the Bible and is actually quite the opposite of the gospel that declares that God helps those who cannot help themselves. Christians need to know what the Bible teaches so that we can stand against the teachings of the culture that are not biblical.
Key to Knowledge (7)
Proverbs 1:7 is well known because it is so important. Learning and practicing wisdom is what it means to fear the Lord, which leads to revering Him and obeying Him. The converse is that those who despise wisdom and discipline are fools. This does not indicate an intellectual deficiency. A fool in the Bible is not one who lacks intelligence. In fact someone who is a “fool” by the world’s standards might in fact be wise by biblical standards. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:19 that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. A wise man according to the world’s standard might say that it is foolishness to give money to the church, and that it is wise to try to look after yourself instead of others, but according to the Bible, these things are foolishness. Jim Elliot, the missionary to the Huaorani people of Ecuador who was killed by the tribe he was trying to evangelize, portrays true godly wisdom when he said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” While his actions are seen as foolishness by many people, he understood true godly wisdom. If we understand who God is, we ought to embrace His wisdom and turn from our own ideas of what wisdom is.
Admonition to Learn (8–9)
This portion shows how wisdom is to be understood as an instruction manual for fathers to sons, but the truths represented apply to all people. Solomon points out that obedience to the instruction results in the well-being of those who heed its admonition to learn. The Proverbs give timeless truths and general principles that lead to better living.
The world often sees the teaching of God as a hindrance or a burden, but to those who know Him, we realize that His teachings are really loving guidance that is for our spiritual prosperity and safety. Many people in our culture have a longing to be free, but the freedom they seek is a freedom from God’s rules. In reality, this doesn’t lead to true freedom but rather to slavery to sin. If God is not your master, then you make yourself master, which is idolatry and will ultimately lead to ruin — if not in this world, then when God administers final judgment. We need to remember that God’s rules are not a burden (see what Jesus says in Matt. 11:28–30).
Warning Against Folly (10–19)
Solomon shows that many in the world will seek to lead us astray and try to get us to be involved in actions that are clearly not biblical. In today’s society, people might not try to get you to help them murder someone to get their wealth, but there are many other ways that people try to lead us astray. People may want us to help them cheat at school or get involved in a financial form of deceit to scam others or the government. But these ways are not of God and will lead to our ruin and misery. If we stand firm in the fear of the Lord and His wisdom, it will enable us not to be swept away into sin and folly. We need to be grounded in the Word of God, to know what it says and to live it consistently so that we can live in the wisdom that God provides.