THE BOOK OF PROVERBS: Chapter 1 The Beginning of Knowledge

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

In ancient times when books were scarce, it was only natural that views on life and manners should be reduced into the fewest words possible, which could then be more easily committed to memory. In those days, people carried wise sayings about and quoted them from time to time as they served as a protection.

A proverb is a short well-known pithy saying that expresses an obvious truth and often offers advice in a forceful way and is to the point, and often with an element of wit. Generally, they will describe somebody or something with a word or phrase that is not meant to be taken literally. By means of a vivid comparison, proverbs express something about a person or thing. While we do have a whole book on proverbs, they are found all throughout the Bible.

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The Source of Wisdom

Proverbs 1:1-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and discipline,[1]
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and uprightness;
to give shrewdness to the inexperienced,
to the young man knowledge and discretion.[*]

[*] Or thinking ability; the ability to give wise and careful attention (study) of a matter, based on accurate or full knowledge

We indeed are very fortunate to have the “Proverbs of Solomon,” as they help us to “know wisdom and discipline.”

The Holy Spirit inspired sayings collected in the book of Proverbs possesses a twofold purpose: “for one to know wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:2) These sayings assist us in acquiring wisdom, which is the ability for one to be able to see things clearly to apply knowledge to solve difficulties and obstacles. Employing them, we also receive discipline, that is, moral training. If we pay attention to and heed the book of Proverbs, their advice can influence and transform our heart, contribute toward our happiness, and lead to success even in this age of Satanic rule. – Hebrews 4:12.

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Any man, woman, or child walking with God certainly desires the lofty goal of acquiring Godly wisdom, discipline, and understanding. We seek the skill or expertise in how we can truly live a wise life, as we are disciplined (corrected) by the only person who can give us this, our heavenly Father. If we heed and apply his timely counsel, we will remain on course as we walk through these last days. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) If we have wisdom, which means we will have good judgment along with high moral standards, as well as a high sense of justice and uprightness.

Wisdom is personified in the book of Proverbs, described there as a woman beckoning persons to receive what she has to offer. These descriptions and relevant texts show that wisdom is indeed a blend of many things: knowledge, understanding (which includes discernment), thinking ability, experience, diligence, shrewdness (or prudence), and having right judgment. However, since true wisdom begins with the fear of Jehovah God (Ps 111:10; Prov. 9:10), this preferred superior wisdom goes beyond common wisdom and involves holding to high standards, exhibiting righteousness and uprightness, as well as submitting to and following to the truth. (Prov. 1:2, 3, 20-22; 2:2-11; 6:6; 8:1, 5-12) Human wisdom is a product of Godly wisdom in that we are made in the image of God, and even in our human imperfection we reflect a measure of that image still yet, but human wisdom does not measure up to that superior wisdom.

Solomon is seeking to give shrewdness to the inexperienced person and to the young man knowledge and thinking ability. An inexperienced person refers to someone who is unlearned and lacking experience, wisdom, or good judgment. This does not mean that this inexperienced one has a limited intellect or is a person who acts unwisely or imprudently. Rather, this inexperienced one is so because he lacks life experience, knowledge, or skill, as he has not enough years, as well as not having been taught wisdom. The young man is just now entering the adult world and he too lacks life experience, knowledge, or skill. He has not had the opportunity to develop mentally, so he lacks maturity and wisdom.

Knowledge (Heb. daath) is possession of information learned by personal experience, observation, or study. The Bible strongly urges us to seek and treasure accurate knowledge, as it is far superior to gold. (Prov. 8:10; 20:15)

Wisdom (Heb. ḥāḵ·mā(h)) is sound judgment, based on knowledge and understanding. It is the balanced application of that knowledge to answer difficulties, achieve objectives, sidestep or ward off dangers, not to mention helping others to accomplish the same. The wise person is often contrasted with the foolishness or stupid person. – Deut. 32:6; Prov. 11:29; Eccles. 6:8.

Discipline (Heb. mû·sār) is repeatedly mentioned throughout the book of Proverbs. In the Scriptures, discipline often carries the sense of correction, admonition, or chastisement. It is the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior: correction, admonition, or modification, whether it is self-discipline or the discipline of another. According to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, it “denotes the training of the moral nature, involving the correcting of waywardness toward folly.” (Garland and Longman 2008, 48) Do we need this training? Whether we are disciplining ourselves, or are being disciplined by another, by grasping the counsel within the Scriptures, and then applying it in our lives, it moves us to become a better servant of God. If we are to move over from inherited death to life, we need discipline.

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Understanding (Heb. teû·nā(h)) is the ability to see how the parts or aspects of something are connected to one another. One who possesses understanding can see the big picture (the entire matter) and not just the isolated facts. – Prov. 2:5; 9:10; 18:15.

Insight (Heb. bî·nā(h)) is the ability to see into a situation. One who possesses insight acts with wisdom, caution, and discretion. Insight is closely related to understanding, but there is a fine distinction between the two terms. Says the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: “While bin [understanding] indicates ‘distinguishing between,’ [sa·khal] relates to an intelligent knowledge of the reason. There is the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in a wise dealing and use of good practical common sense. Another end result is the emphasis upon being successful.”—Edited by R. L. Harris, 1980, Vol. 2, p. 877

Discretion (thinking ability): (Heb. mezimmah) In the evil sense, this can mean wicked plans, evil ideas, schemes, and devices. In the favorable sense, it can mean shrewdness, perceptiveness, discretion, and prudence. In the favorable sense, it is the ability to judge wisely and objectively. Mezimmah, therefore, the human mind and thoughts can be used for an admirable and upright end, or for evil purposes. – Ps 10:2; Pro. 1:4; 2:10-12; 5:1-2.

How can discretion “thinking ability” prove to be a protection? When we consider that our human imperfection has left us mentally bent toward evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21), possessing a heart that is deceitful and desperately sick, which we can scarcely understand (Jer. 17:9), thinking ability can alert us to spiritual dangers and move us to plan a wise course, such as avoiding sexual temptations on the job. It helps us to appreciate that we are walking with God as imperfect humans, which can move us to sidestep hurried reactions when we are provoked. Discretion (thinking ability) can also help us avoid the materialistic pressures of the world that might push us off track spiritually.

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Receive Guidance and Understand Deep Thoughts

Proverbs 1:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Let the wise man hear and increase in learning,
and a man of understanding will acquire wise guidance,[2]
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

It is the overly self-confident person who speaks arrogantly, who considers himself superior and in no need of learning. Readiness to learn is ever characteristic of the truly wise. That which is worthy of our meditation is not always simply expressed, and so it is true of the book of Proverbs. It is filled with idiomatic, metaphorical, figurative, and poetical language, which is 3,000 years removed from the way we would commonly express thing. However, the fact that we must take the time to understand what the writer meant by the words that he used is most certainly a blessing. What this does is weed out those that honestly do not want to know God, from those that want to know him.

Proverbs 1:4 was concerned with the inexperienced and the young, now we include the wise ones who possess understanding. Only God is beyond the need to learn. Even the wise man needs to continue to grow in knowledge, discernment, and wisdom. The wise man needs to continue to grow in learning, and although he possesses understanding, he needs to continue to acquire wise guidance, if he is to understand the wise sayings, the parables, and the riddles of the parables. The proverbs contain far more than these short and forcefully expressive sayings. Solomon is here challenging the wise man to continue in his journey of increasing their knowledge, discernment, and wisdom.

In looking at Proverbs 1:5, consider the metaphor of life being like a voyage, reflect on this biblical truth: “Let the wise man hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise guidance.” The Hebrew term (tǎḥ·bǔ·lô) rendered “wise guidance” or “skillful direction” can describe the actions of one who commanded an ancient ship. It suggests the experience and knowledge to guide and direct with skill and wisdom. The Hebrew term (šā·mǎʿ) for “hear” means more than simply taking in information through our ears; it also involves listening, wherein we take notice of and act on (ready to obey) the teaching and thoughts of proverbs; responding to the advice and guidance that the proverbs contain. None one should ever feel as though they have learned all that there is to learn or all that is necessary.

Likewise, the Hebrew term (lě·qǎḥ) for “learning” means more than simply taking in isolated facts as it is to gain continued understanding by way of these proverbs, increasing their knowledge, discernment, and wisdom. “A man of understanding” (bîn) is one who is perceptive and possesses insight. This is one who has the ability to see into a situation. One who possesses acts with wisdom, caution, and discretion. The sense of the man who acquires “wise guidance” or “skillful direction” (Heb. tǎḥ·bǔ·lô) can describe the actions of one who commanded an ancient ship. It suggests the experience and knowledge to guide and direct with skill and wisdom. It is one who will be guided in their judgments, decisions, and conduct by the wise sayings that they learned from the proverbs. The wise man should not spurn or reject these proverbs as though they are unworthy of his time.

Understanding a saying;” (Heb. melî·ṣā(h)) that is a difficult or perplexing or puzzling saying is to discover a profound truth in very few words. Many biblical proverbs are difficult to understand upon the first reading, as they are perplexing and puzzling at times. Some proverbs are riddles, which are perplexing and extremely difficult statements that require investigating if they are to be solved or explained. Understanding the book of Proverbs will take time and meditation.

A riddle (Heb. î·ḏā(h)) is a puzzle in the form of a question or rhyme that contains clues to its answer, which is puzzling or confusing. The Hebrew word, chidah, means “riddle” or “ambiguous saying.”

Framing a riddle, which frequently comprises an ambiguous but accurate analogy, involves a powerful and deep mind and cracking such riddle calls for the facility to see how things relate to one another; accordingly, the Bible speaks of riddles as belonging to wise persons and as something, a man of understanding comprehends. This same Hebrew word, which is rendered as “riddles” many times throughout the Hebrew Old Testament, is also rendered “difficult questions,” in a different context. – 2 Chronicles 9:1.

God himself inspired writers to use riddles or ambiguous sayings or words when speaking of his will and purposes. These are statements, which at first seem quite perplexing (because the answer is obscured), but after the listener or reader discovers the hidden meaning, they are easily understood, making perfect sense. It is like a complex magic trick that perplexes us until we discover how to is done; then, it does not seem so perplexing after all.

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The Beginning of Knowledge

Proverbs 1:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

“The fear of Jehovah” is the repeated theme of wisdom found in the book of Proverbs.[3] One who fears Jehovah, he has the qualities of humility (15:33; 22:4), wisdom (1:7), possessing faithfulness and Godly love (16:6), and a concern for his relationship with God (2:5; 9:10). In the book of Proverbs, fear of Jehovah is related to faith in God that is constantly seeking understanding.[4]  In what way is “the fear of Jehovah” “the beginning of knowledge” and ‘the beginning of wisdom’? (9:10) If we did not have a fear of Jehovah (i.e., not a morbid dread of him but rather a profound reverence and awe in the presence of such an all-powerful person), we would have no knowledge, for the Father is the Creator of all things and the Author of the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. Therefore, we need to give Jehovah the proper place in our life. Life is from the Father, and life is, of course, indispensable for our having any knowledge.

Thus, on the threshold of this treasure house of wisdom, we are presented with one of the sharp contrasts with which the book abounds. There is no true knowledge apart from the fear of Jehovah. Again, the fear of Jehovah is not some morbid fear, but a reverence and fear of displeasing him because of the love one has for him. All those making insincere claims to the name, and ignores him, is but foolish. It is well for all of to bear this in mind when meeting the difficulties of Satan’s world. Many of the higher educated have cast to the winds the fear of Jehovah and ruled him out of his own creation. Thinking that they are all wise, they have become the fool.

The gift of life comes from Jehovah, the loss of perfect life was at the hands of rebellious man, and the restoration to everlasting life is an underserved kindness shown to man, from his Creator. Without life, there would be no knowledge. (Ps. 36:9; Ac 17:25, 28) The fact that God is the Creator of every living thing means that we need to have a better understanding of him, not the other way around. (Ps. 19:1-2; Rev. 4:11) Aside from the opportunity at everlasting life, God has given us his Word, the Bible, which “is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, in order that the person of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Therefore, the knowledge that is to be desired most is to be found with our heavenly Father, and if it is our desire to find the very knowledge of God, we must have a reverential fear of him.

The apostle Paul tells us, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor. 1:20) Anyone who lacks the fear of Jehovah, even the wisest man who has ever lived, he will end up drawing wrong conclusions from what he believes to be known facts and end up being ‘a fool.’ The fear of Jehovah means that we dedicate our entire life of Godly devotion to the Father. The unbeliever may come to some basic truths about life, as he too is the product of being in the image of God (meaning his intellect comes from the Creator); however, he will never come to have the true or ultimate knowledge until he has a profound reverence and awe in the presence of such an all-powerful person, as Jehovah God.

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The Father’s Instruction and the Mother’s Teaching

Proverbs 1:8-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and do not forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

The Hebrew term (šā·mǎʿ) for “hear” means more than simply taking in information through our ears; it also involves listening, wherein we take notice of and act on (ready to obey) the teaching and thoughts of proverbs; responding to the advice and guidance that the proverbs contain. Those translations (CEV, GNT, NRSV) that render (bēn) “son” as “child”, so as to be progressive and inclusive are obscuring the intended meaning because “child” conveys the idea of dependence and inability to make decisions, as opposed to the author’s intended meaning. Dave Bland offers us the following insights into daughters and whether they too receive instruction. “The women in Proverbs are mature in wisdom and morally educated. Woman Wisdom is involved in instruction (chapters 1–9). King Lemuel’s mother instructs him (31:1–9). The capable woman of Proverbs 31 is a teacher (31:26). These are educated women.”[5] Yes, within the structure of her husband’s authority, the Hebrew wife could make and enforce the family law. She was to be honored by her sons and daughters even after she had grown old. – Proverbs 23:22.

The importance of the discipline and the authority of one’s parents (and, by inference, the important value of God’s commandments and laws) is highlighted by the admonition to ‘wear them upon the neck,’ where beautiful and precious ornaments were worn. – Proverbs 1:8-9; 3:1-3; 6:20-21.

The place of both sons and daughters was also explicitly defined by God’s Law. Said Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as Jehovah your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Under the Mosaic Law, it was a very serious offense for a child to disrespect the mother or the father.  (Exodus 21:15, 17) “If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother,” stated the Law, “he shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:9) Rebellion against one’s parents was equivalent to rebellion against God himself.

Throughout the Bible, obedience to parents is coupled with subjection to God. The parents of the ancient Israelites were obligated by the Law to teach their children. Moses encouraged fathers, “these words that I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. And you shall recite them to your children, and you shall talk about them at the time of your living in your house and at the time of your going on the road and at the time of your lying down and at the time of your rising up.” (Deut. 6:6-7) The mother had an impact on her children as well. While she contributed to their guidance and direction, it was under the headship of the Father, she would enforce the family law. In fact, the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, the reader will discover that the main educational influence is the family.

Nor does responsibility as to this become less in the case of such as “are not under law, but under grace.” In Ephesians 6:1 we read, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Moreover, immediately attention is drawn to the preeminent character of this precept in the law. It is “the first commandment with promise.” Colossians 3:20 is similar: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord.”

Believing children should be patterns of loving obedience, that thus they may adorn the doctrine of Christ. Young people professing allegiance to Jehovah, who is disrespectful and not subject to those over them in the home are a sad reproach to the name of him whom they are supposed to serve. To hear and obey a father’s instruction and to listen to a mother’s law; this is what is attractive and honorable in the young one.

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The Enticement of Sinners

Proverbs 1:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.

While the Hebrew word for “sinners” (ḥǎṭ·ṭā(ʾ)) generally refers to one who is not in harmony with God’s standards or his will and purposes, which can be in word (Job 2:10; Ps 39:1), in deed Lev. 20:20; 2 Cor. 12:21] or failing to do what should be done Num. 9:13; Jam 4:17), or in mind or heart attitude Pro. 21:4; See Rom. 3:9-18; 2Pe 2:12-15), here it is referring to wicked ones who have very bad moral character. The Hebrew verb (pā·ṯā(h)) for “entice” is referring to one who easily deceives others through temptation that is alluring, which eventually leads the other(s) astray. “Do not consent” is saying, do not do it.

The enticement clearly is a selfish pursuit. The “sinner” never has his mind on working for his gain. Rather, he is looking for the easiest and quickest way to make a profit, even if it involves violence, to which he seeks to seduce the young mind of others to join his scheming ways. Just as Sheol ‘will swallow the innocent alive’ (1:12), so to the sinner will bring the inexperienced ones ‘down into the pit,’ robbing him of his innocence, and the life he could have had in service to Jehovah. These sinners are looking, not at a career as a construction worker, a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, but as a career criminal, to which they hope to ‘fill their houses with money or valuables seized or stolen.’ (1:13) The older criminal preys on the younger one, seeking to get him to ‘throw in his lot’ (1:14) making this life of crime look like a romantic adventure. This is certainly a wakeup call for all of us, who have children in this gang-ridden world of crime, drugs, and alcohol. These young ones see gang leaders driving around in hundred-thousand-dollar cars, wearing expensive jewelry, and living life to its fullest, or so it appears. These thugs recruit young ones to do their dirty work of selling drugs on street corners or kill rivalry gangs in drive-by-shootings. It is this showy display of quick wealth, which recruits these young minds into the den of this underworld. Science has shown that the part of a person’s brain that evaluates the differences between right and wrong, is not fully developed until the age of twenty-five.

Everyone “who are greedy for unjust gain” (15:27) may succeed for a moment but will end in disaster. It may be a life of being paralyzed from a drive-by-shooting, assassinated in an alley, life behind bars, drug overdose, or even sitting on death row awaiting an execution. Yes, these ones that prey on others will receive their just rewards in the end, even if that end is the loss of the chance they could have had, everlasting life. Truly wicked ones will not change their ways, as they are beyond repentance, and are blinded by the god of this wicked system of things. (2 Cor. 4:3-4) However, we can rescue the young one, who may fall prey to their seductive ways.

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Street Gangs and Radical Islam

Proverbs 1:11-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse,”

Proverbs 1:11-14 contain a description of the gang lifestyle that we spoke of in 1:10 above. Solomon warns us of a hypothetical situation wherein a young one is enticed to join a gang. The father’s reflection of the exchange of the gang recreates a picturesque truth of this kind of temptation. This is the gang’s presentation, which suggests an appealing characteristic spirit of a gang culture, or community as manifested in its beliefs, values, and aspirations. The greatest temptation from the gang comes from their enticing words, not their actions. They claim to offer an unusual and exciting lifestyle, typically very hazardous and dangerous, experience (v. 11), easy money (vs. 13), and brotherhood (vs. 14). What gang or close-knit community do, they do for the wild and reckless adventure (vs. 11).

For monetary gain, these wicked ones do not even hesitate for a moment to shed innocent blood. Like Sheol [they] swallow [the innocent victims] alive, even whole,’ robbing them of everything they have. (vs. 11) Just as the grave takes the whole body, the gang consumes the lives of their victims. Their invitation is to a life of crime, they want to “fill [their] houses with spoil,” and they want the young ones (i.e., inexperienced ones) to “throw in [their] lot among [them].” What a timely warning this is for us today with such street gangs as MS13 and even radical Islam, who prey on the young ones, who possess no real-life experience! Both youth gangs and radical Islam use similar recruiting methods.

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The Foolish Follow the Sinner’s Course

Proverbs 1:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 my son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird.

“Do not walk in the way of them” [that is, wicked ones] is similar in context to Psalm 1:1, “Happy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” Walk in this context means “to go about,” “to follow,” “to behave,” or “to live” in a similar way as another does. In this case, it is to do, live, behave, or share in the conduct of the wicked ones. Genuine servants of God (Christians), on the other hand, should be walking with God. We can recall from the book of Genesis the faithful men Enoch and Noah, who are described as walking with God. (Genesis 5:24; 6:9) In the Scriptures, the term “to walk” conveys the idea of a certain course of action. Both Enoch and Noah chose a course of action that was in harmony with the will of the Father. Unlike those who chose to walk in the way of the wicked ones, Enoch and Noah looked to God for direction and obeyed the direction that they were given. These men of God and many since have trusted in the Father and the Son. This does not mean that they had no free will, as it was God who gave them free will, as well as their own “reasonable service.”[6] (Romans 12:1) However, as servants of God, make decisions, they humbly accept the superior wisdom of God to guide them. (Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 55:8-9) Indeed, as true followers walk through life, they are taking a journey with God, staying in close company with him. The Bible often likens life to a journey or a walk.

The wicked ones “feet run to evil,” a figure of speech, which refers to the sinners of verse 10. They [sinners/wicked ones] “make haste to shed blood” is in the same sense as verse 11, “let us lie in wait for blood.” These wicked ones with their enticing words are in a hurry to run to wicked deeds, always seeking trouble.

How are we to understand, “For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird”? On this verse, Duane A. Garrett writes, “The line is best rendered, ‘In the eyes of a bird, the net is strewn [with grain] for no reason.’[7] In other words, the bird does not see any connection between the net and what is scattered on it; he just sees food that is free for the taking. In the process he is trapped and killed. In the same way, the gang cannot see the connection between their acts of robbery and the fate that entraps them.”[8] There are legitimate alternative renderings.[9] Deliberate evildoers seldom change their course. A net may be in full view and the eye’s placement, the senses of the bird should make everything obvious but the seductive power of the food within the net is too much. Yes, the birds, fly right into it anyway. In a similar way, the wicked ones should be able to the see the consequences of their actions, but they are blinded by their greed. Thus, they go ahead with their criminal acts, even though they know they have been caught many times before and all criminals are caught sooner or later.

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Avoid Bad Associations

Proverbs 1:18-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 But these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the soul[10] of its possessors.

In Verses 10-19, we have a father appealing to his son to pay attention to his wise words. He offers his son practical advice so that he is not enticed by the deceptive words of the sinner, so that he may avoid the life course of the sinner (the wicked one). Closing out this section, the father offers the son reasons as to why he should not engage in the lifestyle of this gang. However, the parent does not force the son to heed his wise counsel but rather, he leaves it up to the youth to decide for himself. He has given his son free will to make the choice for himself.

But these men, the sinners of verse 10, are really setting a trap for themselves, as they lie in wait for their own blood. Here in verse 18, we have the reverse of verse 11, “Come with us, let us [the sinners and you] lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason.” Their stupidity, foolishness, their greed has created the reverse wherein the real trap will “set an ambush for their own lives.”

“Such are the ways” renders the Hebrew term (ʾō·rǎḥ), which is referring to the overall conditions or circumstances the road, way, or path, life course that one freely chooses for themselves.

It takes away the soul” is referring to greedy unjust gains by violent acts. Possessors is referring to the sinners, wicked ones doing these violent acts. The end result for these wicked ones is the loss of their soul (i.e., their life) in that those who rob others and commit violent crimes is a loss of life now (robbing them of peace, joy, and true happiness) and destruction upon Jesus return. These violent acts by these sinners is a road to death.

The Call of Wisdom

Proverbs 1:20-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the public squares she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she utters her sayings:

In ancient Israel, you can hear ‘wisdom calling out urgently in the streets, raising her voice in the squares.’ Then, the older men of Israel were the ones looked to for their wise counsel, as well as the just decision-making skills, and these were passed on at the city gates. wisdom confronts learners by moving into the most public areas of the city, the city gates, and noisy streets, addressing those who pass by. Personified wisdom is figuratively referred to by a feminine personal pronoun, “she.” wisdom, in this context, “calls out to,” to get the attention of people, takes on the role of a teacher instructing in such public places as the city gate, the streets, and the public square, which establishes the importance of what she has to say. She cries aloud, raises her voice (“gives her voice” and “makes her voice heard”) so that everyone can hear her. Unlike the scholars of her day, she does not stay in the quiet halls to utter her sayings. When one fails in life for lack of wisdom, they cannot ever claim that wisdom is inaccessible. She does not wait for students to come to her, she takes the initiative to offer her message to all.

“The entrance of the city gates” was where legal and other important public matters were handled; this “is [also where] she utters her sayings.” The message that wisdom has to offer is a matter of life and death, which is why it is taken publicly so that all have an opportunity to hear whether they heed it or not. She is trying to make those who pass by wake up to the times, in this judgment message, so that any who hear her will hopefully realize the seriousness of what they are up against. However, in the end, she focuses her attention on those who are receptive to the message; those who are willing to listen. (1:33) Today, we have 66 smaller books that had been written by forty plus men over a 1,600-year period, becoming one book once they were all brought together, which has been handed down to us as the Word of God. Today, we are obligated to be the wise ones to the world of humankind, who is alienated from God. Jesus to commands us to ‘go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe everything Jesus commanded us.’ – Matthew 28:19-20.

APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person

Those Who Refuse to Learn from Experience

Proverbs 1:22-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And how long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn back at my reproof
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Wisdom is personified again, trying to help those who are the least likely to be receptive. She asks two rhetorical questions to the simple-minded and the scoffers. The simple-minded (Heb. pě·ṯî) is one who lacks intelligence and common sense (easily swayed), namely, one who has or shows extraordinarily little intelligence or good judgment, but rather evidence ignorance and possesses a difficulty in understanding. The simple ones are naive and gullible, and foolishness the moment they reject this counsel. (1:4). The scoffers (Heb. lēṣ) refer to those who mock, jeer, or treats others with contempt, or calls out to them in disdain, ridicule, and contempt. They reject truth and are those who treat others with contempt as they jeer, ridicule, deride, make fun of, laugh at, scoff at, tease, taunt them. These scoffers are conceited and haughty individuals who think they know everything. The fools (Heb. kesîl) hate knowledge as they lack good judgment. Their character is stupidity, rudeness, that is, one who completely lacks understanding, who is rebellious in his ways. The fool is further alienated from God that the simple-minded buy they are not as unruly as the mockers. All three of these ones love their inexperience and are heading down the path of spiritual shipwreck. Moreover, they are quite happy to remain in this state of inexperience.

If any of these ones would away from their self-destructive ways and place himself under wisdom’s guidance, wisdom would pour out her spirit (heart), making her words known to them. This would move these ones over to being wise ones, as they would have a teachable spirit. The fear of Jehovah is the foundation of being teachable. (1:29) “The fear [reverential awe] of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7), as well as the application of that knowledge, i.e., wisdom. Just as the promise to the fools that they will receive instruction if they listen to her message (1:23), the promise of the consequences that they will suffer is also a promised reality.

Wisdom’s Rebuke

Proverbs 1:24-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 Because I called and you have refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
and did not want my reproof,

One may wonder how God can love those who ignore his counsel by arguing against it or refusing it, rebellion and defiant to his authority. He finds no delight in those who refuse his direction and his patience will not last forever. However, he does take delight in the ones who endeavor to do what he instructs them. They are the ones he blesses, but the proud, arrogant, stubborn persons who pay no attention when he stretches out his hand;[11] these ones he cuts off from his help when they need it.

Both verses 24 and 25 use the phrase because (or since) you. The rebellious, defiant ones have chosen to ignore the counsel of wisdom; they will not receive the benefits that would have come from heeding her counsel. wisdom has called (the sense of “invited” or “advised”) and stretched out her hand, but these stiff-necked ones have refused to pay attention (listen) to her advice. Instead, they have ignored all [her] counsel, rejecting it as unnecessary, and they resisted any of wisdom’s timely corrections. Those who neglect God’s counsel, who refuse to search for him while he may be found and who put off their drawing close until they see the signs of the time that evidence Jesus second coming will discover that they have waited too long. Such a course would suggest a lack of faith and wisdom and would be disrespectful and disdainful of God’s grace.  – 2 Corinthians 6:1-2.

WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE WAITING ON GOD WORKING FOR GOD

Search for God Before It Is Too Late

Proverbs 1:26-28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.

Calamity (Heb. ʾê) is an event or act that results in a great loss or misfortune, which causes ruin, harm, and violence to those who have ignored wisdom. Terror (Heb. pǎ·ḥǎḏ) is a severe fear, dread, distress over the impending trouble that the rebellious, defiant, stiff-necked ones will experience for having chosen to ignore the counsel of wisdom, resulting in their day of judgment. wisdom will respond to their mental agony with disdain.

1:26-28 is the final stage of the passage in a succession of warnings that will now come true. Just as wisdom had repeatedly warned, these foolish ones are now suddenly hit by the consequences of their headstrong, unreasonable, obstinate rebellion and defiance. Terror will come on them like a storm; calamity comes over them like a whirlwind; distress and anguish come upon them. Once they are in the midst of their judgment day, it will be too late to turn back to wisdom for help. The stiff-necked ones have laughed and mocked at her, and now there is a reverse in their positions as wisdom now mocks and laughs at these foolish ones. These once rebellious, defiant ones are now calling on wisdom, but there will be no answer. With great diligence, they will seek out wisdom, but she will not be found, for there is no escape now.

Some might think that wisdom is stooping to the level of these foolish ones by mocking and laughing at them, it might seem petty and heartless. Remember, “wisdom” is being personified and refers to God himself.  God deals in the natural cause-and-effect consequences. Therefore, this laughter and mocking are merely showing that these foolish ones cannot escape the consequences of rejecting the corrective counsel that wisdom lovingly offered. You may recall in verse 24 wisdom called, and these rebellious, defiant ones refused to answer; now the tables have been turned, and they are calling out to wisdom, and she refuses. The primary focus of wisdom is an act of love in that she is trying to help all of us to avoid the troubles of Satan’s world as we make our way to the second coming of Christ. She has gone to great lengths to reach out a helping hand to the foolish ones of this world, and they have, in essence, slapped her hand away. Her hand will not remain outstretched forever, and her helping hand does not keep us from suffering pain, nor does it make it easy to get out of trouble that we may find ourselves on, but if we heed wisdom’s counsel, life is easier than if we had not.

We must accept that there is a cutoff point when wisdom will no longer offer her hand and the foolish will suffer the consequences of their rebellious, defiant attitude. At this point in time, she will not step in to rescue them from their own foolishness but rather, she will in scornful observation reject them. Timing is everything. Her laughter is merely an expression of her superiority over others. (Ps 2:4) We must not presume that our current spiritual walk with God is what is expected of us. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Christians at Corinth to “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Cor. 13:5) Why should Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians be of interest to us? We can do the same today. It will protect us from being uncertain as to whether we are walking in the truth. What standard do we have for testing whether we are in the faith, and why is that the perfect standard? If we are going to take a test to see whether we are truly in the faith, namely, truly walking with God, we must measure our conduct in light of the Word of God. “Wisdom is not abstract, secular, or academic but personal and theological. To reject wisdom is to reject God.[12]

Remember, wisdom is being personified and that she is not some goddess. When Solomon writes, “they [the fools] will call upon me, but I will not answer,” he is not speaking of a literal prayer to some goddess wisdom but rather, he is building a word picture for the fool who, after rejecting wisdom [Jehovah] is now trying to find his way out of the trouble that he now finds himself in. The phrase “call on” merely refers to the fool is only ready to turn to and accept Jehovah and his advice, but as he was warned of many times, it is too late.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Let God Use You to Solve Your PROBLEMS THE POWER OF GOD

They Could Have Found the Knowledge of God

Proverbs 1:29-30 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

29 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of Jehovah,
30 they would not accept my counsel
and despised all my reproof,

Verses 29 and 30 are similar to verses 24-25 and they give us the reason for verse 28, explaining why wisdom will not answer when the foolish ones finally decide to accept the message and even though the foolish diligently search, wisdom will not be found. Yes, Verses 29 and 30 explain why the foolish, rebellious, defiant ones are going to now suffer the consequences for their decision to reject the help that Jehovah has continuously offered them. As we learned early on “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7), and these fools “did not choose the fear of Jehovah.” If they had wisely chosen ‘understand the fear of Jehovah, they would have found the knowledge of God.’ (2:5) It is this rebellious defiant attitude that moves these ones to ‘despise God’s reproof.’ If a fool refuses wisdom, it is, in essence, refusing the fear of Jehovah. (1:29) Thus, he or she must suffer the consequences of their decisions.

Since true wisdom begins with the fear of Jehovah God (Ps 111:10; Prov. 9:10), this preferred superior wisdom goes beyond common wisdom and involves holding to high standards, exhibiting righteousness and uprightness, as well as submitting to and following to the truth. (Prov. 1:2, 3, 20-22; 2:2-11; 6:6; 8:1, 5-12) Human wisdom is a product of Godly wisdom in that we are made in the image of God, and even in our human imperfection we reflect a measure of that image still yet, but human wisdom does not measure up to that superior wisdom.

They Shall Reap What They Sow

Proverbs 1:31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and be glutted with their own schemes.

The Bible guarantees us that God because of his great love for those who appreciate and respect his authority and values, he will not endlessly permit badness and the suffering that it causes from the fools of the earth. The foolish, wicked ones shall eat the fruit of their way [i.e., shall reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7)]. The judgment day for the foolish that is fast approaching in the final stretch of the last days is simply the result of their own choosing. They chose to abuse their free will, being glutted with their own schemes, by rejecting the God that created them and gave them that free will. God is giving up these foolish ones as a result of their pleasure being that of what Satan’s world (2 Cor. 4:3-4) has to offer over what the new heavens and the new earth have to offer. (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1) The wicked, foolish ones are beyond repentance and refuse to be corrected by wisdom; therefore, they shall eat the fruit of their way, namely, suffer the consequences of their conduct.

And be glutted with their own schemes is saying that these fools are more than satisfied, glutted, with their wicked way of life. They are gratified in making their evil schemes, plans, with every intention of carrying them out, even if the opportunity to turn them into an actionable plan does not come to fruition. The New Jerusalem Bible reads, ““So they will have to eat the fruits of their own ways of life, and choke themselves with their own scheming,” while the Contemporary Version has “Now you will eat the fruit of what you have done, until you are stuffed full with your own schemes.” Dynamic equivalent translations, such as these, can serve as mini-commentaries, not Bible translation.

LEARN TO DISCERN Deception In the Church FLEECING THE FLOCK_03 THE CHURCH CURE

Devoting Ourselves to the Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs 1:32-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

32 For the waywardness of the simple ones will kill them,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 “But he who listens to me shall dwell securely
and he will live, without the dread of disaster.”

Solomon concludes this chapter, the final passage, where we see the end result of rejecting wisdom or heeding her correction. The simple ones are wayward in the doing of their own will. They are headstrong, stubborn, obstinate, turning away from the advice that would save them from destruction. Waywardness (Heb. mešû·ḇā(h)) has the sense of apostasy, backsliding, faithlessness, that is, turning away from or rejecting the sovereignty of God. They are willfully and purposely breaking off their relationship with Jehovah.

And the fools are complacent, walking down the path to death, ignorant of their danger. The complacency (Heb. šǎl·wā(h)) of these fools is that they are overly satisfied with their circumstances in life, even to the point where they have become idle and lazy. These foolish ones have become smug and satisfied with their achievements in life. They feel entirely secure and have no concern for danger or peril.

However, the wise man who listens to wisdom will dwell in real security, having no fear, dreading nothing. He will lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. The foolish are at ease out of a false sense of security based on their limited human achievements, while the wise are at ease because they have genuine security. Solomon intends that all of us devote ourselves to the pursuit of wisdom, heeding the advice and correction of our mothers and fathers, as well as our wise teachers.

Certainly, one day, those who have rejected Jehovah God, will look to fall back on the, “I did not know.” However, this will not be acceptable, because here you have wisdom roaming the streets, from house to house, calling out in a loud voice, looking to dispense the very knowledge of God. The earth will have been saturated with these truths from God’s Word. Therefore, those who chose to follow their fleshly desires, ignoring the voice of wisdom, will be held accountable. If only they had listened to the voice of God, life could have been much more satisfying.

Metaphorically speaking, wisdom personified will get the last laugh at those that have rejected Jehovah; she will mock their sad life choices. These fools will call out in calamity, but it will be too late. Just imagine the panic in the fool’s voice as the calamity overtakes him, he will be distressed, and anxiety-ridden to no end.

Hundreds of millions are walking the streets today, believing that the servant of God is the fool, completely indifferent to their message, just as the Israelites were to the prophets of old. Nevertheless, just as destruction befell God’s chosen people and Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon and then Rome, the wicked of this world is heading down the very same street, ignoring wisdom as they head toward destruction.

Even so, there are hundreds of millions of others walking the same streets, who will listen to wisdom, having a receptive heart. They will listen and dwell in security, not needing to dread the coming day of Jehovah. (Joel 2:30-32) Will the reader be one of those who listens to wisdom and receives discipline with a subtle heart, to be molded by paying attention to the Book of Proverbs?

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES Proverbs Chapters 1

PROVERBS 1:1 How can we accept the majority of Proverbs by Solomon when 1 Kings 11:6 says, “So Solomon did what was evil in the eyes of Jehovah and did not fully follow Jehovah, as David his father had done”?

Certainly, Solomon began his reign far better than most kings of Israel or Judah, “Solomon loved Jehovah, walking in the statutes of David his father.” (1 Kings 3:3) However, Solomon began to disregard God’s law and do what was evil in the eyes of God. Solomon would marry hundreds of pagan women and even built high places of false worship to these false gods. How can God use a wicked person’s sayings or writings as Scripture?

1 Kings 11:4 says, “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully true to Jehovah his God, as was the heart of David his father.” Obviously, his proverbs were spoken and penned, and the books of Ecclesiastes and The Song of Solomon, as well as at least one of the Psalms (Psa. 127), during his period of faithful service to God.

Solomon was very young when he took the throne and his reign only lasted forty years, so we need not try and blame senility for his falling away from true worship. (1 Chron. 29:1; 2 Chron. 9:30) Certainly, Solomon’s actions were very bad indeed. However, nothing in the account says that he completely abandoned the worship at the temple and the offering of sacrifices there. It seems that Solomon attempted to practice some sort of interfaith in order to please his many foreign wives.

1 Kings 11:9-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And Jehovah was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from Jehovah, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what Jehovah commanded. 11 So Jehovah said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 However, I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”

Again, his portion of Proverbs was uttered and penned during his period of faithful service to God. Once Solomon fell away, Jehovah warned him of the consequences. The kingdom was going to be ripped from his hands. However, out of respect for his father, King David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, it would be taken in the days of his sons.

PROVERBS 1:7 In what way is the fear of Jehovah “the beginning of knowledge” and “the beginning of wisdom”?

If there is no fear of Jehovah, there cannot be any knowledge, for the Father is the Creator of all things and the Author of the inspired, fully inerrant Scriptures. (Rom. 1:20; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) He is the actual Source of all true knowledge. Therefore, knowledge begins with the reverential (respectful) fear of the Father. Fear or reverential fear of God is also the beginning of wisdom because you cannot have wisdom without knowledge. Furthermore, a person who does not possess the appropriate fear of Jehovah, he will not use whatever knowledge he has come by, so as to honor the Creator.

“The fear of Jehovah” is the repeated theme of wisdom found in the book of Proverbs.[1] One who fears Jehovah, he has the qualities of humility (15:33; 22:4), wisdom (1:7), possessing faithfulness and Godly love (16:6), and a concern for his relationship with God (2:5; 9:10). In the book of Proverbs, fear of Jehovah is related to faith in God that is constantly seeking understanding.[2]  In what way is “the fear of Jehovah” “the beginning of knowledge” and ‘the beginning of wisdom’? (9:10) If we did not have a fear of Jehovah (i.e., not a morbid dread of him but rather a profound reverence and awe in the presence of such an all-powerful person), we would have no knowledge, for the Father is the Creator of all things and the Author of the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. Therefore, we need to give Jehovah the proper place in our life. Life is from the Father, and life is, of course, indispensable for our having any knowledge.

HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR BAD HABITS-1 GOD WILL GET YOU THROUGH THIS A Dangerous Journey

Review Questions/Assignments:

  • (1:1-4) How can “thinking ability” prove to be a protection?
  • (1:5-6) “A man of understanding will acquire wise guidance” implies what?
  • (1:7) In what way is the fear of Jehovah “the beginning of knowledge” and “the start of wisdom”?
  • (1:8-9) What role do parents play in the family?
  • (1:10) What advice can a father offer his son?
  • (1:11-14) What timely warning is here for our youths?
  • (1:15-17) How is the wicked, blinded by their greed similar “a net spread in the sight of any bird”?
  • (1:18-19) ‘How does the greediness for unjust gain take away the soul of its possessors’?
  • (1:20-21) How are we to understand ‘wisdom crying aloud in the street, in the public squares’?
  • (1:22-23) What do the Scriptures say about those who refuse to learn from experience?
  • (1:24-25) How can God have love for persons who resist his counsel by arguing against it or by refusing to act upon it?
  • (1:26-28) Why has Jehovah’s mercy run out?
  • (1:29-30) Who does not accept God’s counsel and despised his reproof?
  • (1:31) What are the consequences of refusing God’s advice?
  • (1:32-33) Who would and would not survive under God’s judgment?
  • [1] (cf. 1:29; 2:5; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17)
  • [2] Leo G. Perdue, Wisdom & Creation: The Theology of Wisdom Literature (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994), p. 79.

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[1] Or instruction

[2] Or skillful direction

[3] (cf. 1:29; 2:5; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17)

[4] Leo G. Perdue, Wisdom & Creation: The Theology of Wisdom Literature (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994), p. 79.

[5] Dave Bland, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & Song of Songs, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2002).

[6] Lit the reasonable (or rational, logical) service of you; i.e. true, genuine, or worship

[7] זרה means to “spread,” but not in the sense “to stretch out a net.” G. R. Driver (“Problems in the Hebrew Text of Proverbs,” Bib 32 [1951]: 173–74) argues that this is from a root מזר, “to compress or draw tight,” cognate with zwr or zrr from other Semitic languages. He emends the form here to מִזְטוּרָה and translates, “In vain is the net drawn tight in the sight of any winged fowl.” More plausibly, D. W. Thomas (“Textual and Philological Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs,” in Wisdom in Israel and the Ancient Near East, VTSup III [1969]: 281–82) argues the זרה here means “winnow,” “scatter,” or “sow.”

[8] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 70.

[9] Why is it in vain that a net is spread in the sight of any birds? This is because a bird’s eyes are on each side of the head, which gives them a wider range of vision than what humans have. In addition, some birds have vision far superior to humans in that they can see objects at a distance so far it would require us to use binoculars. Then, there is the fact that birds are naturally cautious. All of this combined, it is futile to spread a net in the sight of any birds.

[10] I.e. life

[11] Stretched out my hand refers to the gesture of inviting or requesting someone to come toward the one calling.

[12] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 72.

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