A study and commentary on the book of Proverbs chapter one.
Every week I study one chapter of proverbs. This is the beginning of what I’m learning. I hope it brings much wisdom to you as it does to me. A lot of this information is already known, but it’s always good to meditate on the things of God (Psalms 1:2).
Verses 1-6 The Introduction
The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon, the son of King David of Israel, to give wisdom and help us understand wise sayings and deep meanings. If you’re wise, you’ll be wiser. If you’re smart, you’re begin to understand and gain wisdom. Proverbs will help anyone who follows its instructions. Proverbs is for the young and old, and every social class. Proverbs ultimately helps us understand the rest of God’s word.
Wise or Smart
The Proverbs (CEV) uses both the words “wise” and “smart” because there are differences between the two. A definition of being wise is: full of applied knowledge and understanding, sound judgment and common sense. A definition of smart is: mentally quick and resourceful; intelligent. A smart person can remember and quickly recall things; they can learn faster, and they possess skills that come from mental discipline and practice. Being smart has to do more with your mental ability and capacity of the physical brain. Being wise has more to do with the knowledge of morality, justice and common sense, and the application of that knowledge in our daily life. Being wise has to do more with godliness (Proverbs 2:6).
Example: Tiger Woods is a smart golfer. It takes skill and intelligence to choose the correct club, to account for the changing wind variations, to calculate the distance from the hole, and to hit that ball with just the right amount of force to land it near its target. But he wasn’t wise when he committed adultery with all those women. During his apology to his family, friends and fans (which was the humblest I’ve seen of late), he said he’d be going back to his religious roots: Buddhism. Unfortunately, that is another unwise move. Only Jesus restores, only Jesus can change a man. Come to Jesus Christ, Tiger!
Knowledge is simply data: information about someone or something. Some knowledge, by itself, isn’t good enough because if you don’t understand it, or have no way of applying it, it’s useless.
Understanding is knowing what the information means (in a correct and practical sense) but not necessarily doing anything about it. But understanding is not just the sum total of knowledge, but it also refers to physical senses. Understanding has to also do with our perception, awareness and discernment in the spiritual. With a good understanding (or good sense), we can detect people’s motive and intentions by how they act and what they say.
If a person is blind, they can’t understand what’s going on around them. If a foreigner doesn’t speak the language of the natives, then they can’t understand what those natives are saying. I know that this may be simple and a no-brainer to you, but I just want to be correct with my own understanding of these words and I thank God for his correction (as I mentioned in Proverbs chapter 4 – I originally had these definitions partly wrong).
Wisdom and knowledge are the same thing. But wisdom is a different kind of knowledge. Wisdom is a knowledge that is true, moral and lasting. Knowledge alone is data that can be applied to life, but has no lasting moral effect.
Example: I know how to build websites, but knowing that it is best to abstain from fornication and whores is wisdom. The profession of web development hasn’t always been around, but whores and fornication have. To abstain from fornication is knowledge that is moral, true and lasting because it will keep me from unwanted children, drama, broken relationships, shame, hurt and possible death in hell.
Wisdom isn’t better than knowledge, it’s just a different kind of knowledge that serves the purpose of bringing about a long and prosperous life. Finally, wisdom is applying and practicing what you know and understand to achieve some desired effect. As learned in Proverbs 4, wisdom and understanding must go together, without understanding you don’t have full wisdom. Therefore knowledge is the beginning and application of it (wisdom) is the end product.
Example: Knowledge says, “Sin is wrong.” Knowledge later says, “Sin is destroying your life.” I mention knowledge twice because knowledge has a tendency to grow. The more you know, the closer you are to an understanding. Understanding says, “Sin is leading your soul to hell. You should stop sinning and you need God’s help to do so.” Wisdom says, “I will do as the bible instructs: I will confess and repent of my sins and obey God through the power of his Spirit.”
The fool says, “I’m eternally secure. I can practice sin and the damnable consequences won’t apply to me because I’m a ‘Christian’.”
4 From these, an ordinary person can learn to be smart, and young people can gain knowledge and good sense. 5 If you are already wise, you will become even wiser. And if you are smart, you will learn to understand (verses 4-5 CEV).
In verse 4-5, Proverbs doesn’t continue to say, “If you’re a fool you will become smart, or wise.” This is because fools reject knowledge. They wouldn’t even be studying Proverbs or the Bible to begin with. So if you are, or have studied Proverbs, count yourself among those on the right track, for all those who study Proverbs and apply what they read will gain much wisdom. But what kind of wisdom? Godly wisdom. The wisdom that will lead to an abundant life and the salvation of our souls.
Verse 7 Respect and Obedience
Respect and obey the LORD! This is the beginning of knowledge. Only a fool rejects wisdom and good advice (verse 7 CEV).
This wisdom doesn’t come by simply reading Proverbs but by two things: 1) Respect for God which is: reverence, awe, high regard, esteem and honor for him. And 2) obedience to God: doing what he tells you to do. These two things are the beginning to knowledge. You cannot begin to know anything of real value until you begin to respect God and obey him.
Verses 8-9 Listen to Your Parents
How is it that a 15 year old thinks he knows more about life than a 45 year old? Children ought to listen and obey their parents because they have wisdom: knowledge that came from years of experience which led to understanding that they now apply in their daily lives. Wisdom protects and wisdom blesses. To disobey parents who give godly wisdom is plain foolish.
Verses 10-19 Enticed to Destruction
“My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent (vs 10).”
Entice means: to attract by arousing hope or desire; to lure. We mustn’t consent or even listen (CEV) to sinners. Notice that a sinner has to lure us in. If what they were offering or inviting us to partake in something that was righteous, they wouldn’t have to“lure or tempt us. Everyone knows right from wrong because God gave us a conscience. Therefore when something which goes against our conscience it presented to us, this is a clear sign that a sinner is in our midst (whether they call themselves a Christian or not) and this sinner seeks to lead us to disobey God as they do. We mustn’t consent. We shouldn’t even listen to them.
The Crips and the Bloods
10 Don’t be tempted by sinners or listen 11 when they say, “Come on! Let’s gang up and kill somebody, just for the fun of it! 12 They’re well and healthy now, but we’ll finish them off once and for all. 13 We’ll take their valuables and fill our homes with stolen goods. 14 If you join our gang, you’ll get your share.” (vs 10-14 CEV).
But how many black males are apart of violent gangs? These verses can easily be applied to them. To become initiated into a gang often requires the committing of some sin. Perhaps they have to beat up some innocent person walking down the street, vandalize a building, steal a car, or stick up a local corner store. Proverbs is also alluding to the fact that robbery will often lead to murder. In other words: small sins will turn into bigger sins, so don’t even think that you can involved with people like this and believe that you won’t find yourself in worse sin.
So why would anyone want to join a gang of thugs who steal, mistreat and murder others? Answer: the sinner aroused some hope and desire in that person to join them. After watching a documentary on Crips and Bloods (the largest two gangs in America), I understood this proverb. Gangs offer protection, family, belonging, and identity – four things that are absent from most inner city black males. Therefore the gang seemingly fulfills these hopes and desires. But of course, this all leads to the destruction of those who believe that anything positive will come out of the affiliation with a gang (1 Cor 6:10). The proverb concludes that even though they victimize others, they are ultimately the victims (vs 18 CEV).
Verse 20-30 She shouts but they don’t listen
Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city (vs 20-21).
Wisdom is called a woman because wisdom is as beautiful as a woman. In verse 9, we can wear wisdom like an ornament on our heads or a chain around our necks. Wisdom makes anyone spiritually beautiful.
When I think on wisdom shouting in the streets, I think of a street preacher of the gospel. One who frequents city fairs, plazas and malls proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. But people often respond with mockery and contempt. Wisdom has this response:
How much longer will you enjoy being stupid fools? Won’t you ever stop sneering and laughing at knowledge? (vs 22 CEV)
In essence, anyone who doesn’t believe and obey the gospel is a fool. A person is stupid to turn away the wisdom that is able to safeguard their lives today and secure it in Christ Jesus for all eternity. A person has be a fool to continue in conscious, known sin and think that they have a place with God in heaven. But they not only reject wisdom, they have contempt for it and laugh at it.
Verses 23-26. Therefore, disaster and calamity is bound to come in the lives of fools. But because of their mockery, Wisdom’s response is to now laugh at them and mock them in their disastrous state. This is a fitting.
Verses 26-30. As destruction comes upon the fools, they “wise up” and look for those who once warned them, but they won’t find them. If they do find that gospel preacher, that wise parent or leader, and the God who created wisdom, they won’t help them. It’s too late. Fools will begin to pray diligently but God won’t even listen. And why does all this happen? Because they didn’t obey God and respect him when they had the chance, and on top of that, they mocked God and his servants. Now they get to eat the fruit of their foolishness. A sad ending for fools.
Conclusion: Don’t be foolish.
Let’s respect and obey God now, when we have the chance. Many (including professing Christians) have scorned and mocked the message of repentance and holiness, but a day will come (if they don’t repent) that all that smiling, laughter and contempt will be turned into sadness.
Jesus said, before the end of the world comes, it will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17:26-30). Both times, the people laughed at the coming destruction. In Noah’s day, as he preached to the whole world (2 Peter 2:5), they didn’t believe God would wash them all away with water from heaven. In Lot’s day, the husbands of his daughters didn’t believe that God was going to destroy everyone in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:14). But God did. They aren’t laughing now.
Compare Noah’s and Lot’s days to our own: there’s eating, drinking, people getting married and business as usual, but sin abounds in our land (Gen 6:5). No one seems to understand how immoral a supposedly civilized society like America has become. Example: violent gang crime; corrupted government and business officials; increased teen pregnancy, child molestation, perverted and promiscuous people, pornography, abortion, teachers having sex with their students, and the acceptance of people who sodomize one another and call it love.
Homosexuality is becoming the norm and is even taught in schools. Soon everyone (apart from the righteous) will be “going both ways”. Sodomy has penetrated churches, leadership and entertainment. Our land is in the last days. This is what Jesus said was going to happen before ‘all hell breaks loose’. We need to obey God and repent while there’s still time. Religion doesn’t save us, works don’t save us, simply mental acknowledgment of Jesus won’t save us – only faith in Jesus Christ which leads to obedience saves us. Let’s respect and obey God through the power of his Spirit.