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Last week we learned that wisdom does come from God, but there’s no magic wand to zap us with wisdom. We need to be willing to labor to find wisdom; there are no shortcuts. Wisdom gives us the ability to know right and wrong without having every single scenario possible spelled out for us. This morning, Solomon gives us the conclusion to that giant conditional clause as he warned his son about the dangers encountered from people that don’t walk with God.
Take the time to read Proverbs 2:12-22.
The first thing we see is that wisdom is a protector. We live in a real world with real issues. There are threats all around us. Threats that seek to derail us, discourage us, and even destroy us. In the second part of Chapter 2, Solomon warns his son about dangerous men and women. In the two verses before today’s passage, we saw the qualities of wisdom, knowledge, discretion, and understanding. All of these are designed to, “Deliver you from the way of evil.” Think of , “The way of evil” as a path of destruction so let’s see where it leads.
Those four qualities are designed to help us recognize and deliver us from people that are not walking with God. Throughout this study, you’re going to hear 1 Cor. 15:33 over and over again because we see the effects of peer pressure: “Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals.” When a kid gets into trouble, you’ll often hear them say, “I was hanging out with the wrong crowd.” We saw in Chapter 1 how gangs recruit by giving kids a sense of belonging; a sense of family. You’ve got to learn to stay away from those evil people. But wait, doesn’t God love everyone? Of course, but that doesn’t mean you’re best friends with them. There’s a delicate balance between influencing them with the Gospel and them influencing you with evil.
These kinds of people should be fairly easy to recognize. The first clue is their perverse speech. This could mean sexual type perverse speech. It can also mean deliberate and unacceptable speech. The second is their behavior. They, “Leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness.” This is really interesting. They leave the paths of uprightness. This gives us the idea that they were on the right path, but they chose to leave. Leave means go away from or depart permanently. They left right and chose wrong. The third is their desires. They delight in doing evil and rejoice in its perversity. These people are bad to the core. The paths they choose are crooked. They are devious in their ways. Devious means they use underhanded tactics to get what they want. They are dishonest and cannot be trusted.
Wisdom is a protector and wisdom will deliver you. Wisdom does many good things and what it does in v. 16 is a very good thing. Solomon shifts gears a bit and brings up sexual temptation. This is a particularly troubling thing. It seems our society revolves around sex. Sex is brought into everything from advertising to sports, social media and the internet to TV and movies. What God designed to be enjoyed in the privacy of the home between a husband and his wife has been defiled, distorted, and devalued. These temptations have been around since humanity began and we have no reason to think it will ever be eliminated. Sexual sin is as prevalent inside the church as it is outside of the church. But society has redefined it. We’ve seen professing Christians fall into lust, fornication, and adultery and use whatever means necessary to make excuses or justify their actions. Solomon sets this up to deliver us from ourselves and tells us that wisdom delivers you from a strange woman. Strange can mean weird or unusual, but here it really means strange as in stranger.
Be mindful of her ways. Look at her. She flatters: she tells you what you want to hear. She is smooth, deceptive, and tricky. Don’t let her outward appearance and mannerisms fool you into ignoring her inward character. That strange woman is not sent by God, she is not your soul mate; she is not the answer for you. She threatens your family, your livelihood, your life. If she’ll do it with you, she’ll do it to you. She left the companion of her youth and she will leave you. She forgot her covenant with God. Forget in v. 17 means a deliberate choice. Ironically, Solomon doesn’t heed his own advice and his desire for strange women would lead to his own demise. 1 Kings 11 talks about him loving foreign women as well as the daughter of Pharaoh. God told him not to even associate with these foreign women, but that’s later in Solomon’s life. Look where she will lead you in vs. 18-19. If you take her bait, you will die. Ez. 23:35, “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, bear now the punishment of your lewdness and your harlotries.’ ” Infidelity between a husband and wife is particularly bad because marriage is a covenant that reflects God’s covenant with us.
Wisdom will protect you, wisdom will deliver you, and finally, wisdom provides the safety net. Wisdom will enable you to recognize the folly of engaging with strange women. Verses 20-21 tells us that the wise man will, “Walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of righteousness. For the upright will live in the land and the blameless will live in it.” We’re talking biblical wisdom. Wisdom from God that results from a relationship with Christ. Ps. 37:29, “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” Just to keep us aware, Solomon provides the contrast to the wise ways he speaks about. Verse 22 closes by saying, “But the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous will be uprooted from it.” The wicked and the treacherous are evicted from the land. You can’t violate the principles of God and expect the promises of God to be guaranteed to you.
Biblical wisdom is a great friend to have. She will protect you, deliver you, and provide you a safety net. You just have to pursue and follow her.
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Last week we learned that there will come a time when enough is enough. We saw wisdom laughing and mocking the naïve, the scoffers, and the foolish because they ignored wisdom’s counsel. We found out that the voice of wisdom is the voice of God. This morning, Solomon gives us a giant conditional clause followed by a conclusion in order to set us up for next week.
Take the time to read Pro. 2:1-11 for yourself.
We’re encouraged to be a seeker. In part 1 of this series I quoted Ja. 1:5 that tells us, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” I don’t want you to think that we’re supposed to repeat this verse like some magic incantation and then God spiritually transmits wisdom to us. There is no magic wand. Wisdom is more like a process. In our learning process, when a child is born, the parents smile at the little baby and make noises in hopes that the child will respond by imitating what the grown up does. As the child grows, the parents continue to teach the little one how to roll over, and sit up, and wave, and all those things we like our kids to do. We teach them colors and shapes. We teach them the names of the animals. When they reach a certain age, we turn over a majority of those learning skills to professionals we call teachers and they continue to work with the kids and teach them how to read and write, and use proper grammar and all those things that a child needs to contribute to society. It’s a process. Back in 1:7 Solomon declared, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Wisdom begins when you recognize the awesomeness of God
Here’s the big if. Wisdom is not magically zapped to us by God; we must put forth the effort to attain it. I always find it so curious to talk to people in the church that labor so intensively in certain areas. They’ll work long and hard at their jobs. They’ll read all they can about their favorite sports. They’ll clean their house so not a speck of dust is found. When it comes to knowledge and wisdom of God, somehow a different, less labor intensive or effortless process is supposed to occur. Look at the qualities Solomon is encouraging in his son. Be receptive to his words and treasure his commandments in v. 1. Be attentive to wisdom, incline your heart in v. 2. Are you a good listener? When you’re in church, do you actively listen to what is said? Do you day dream in church? Often our students are required to take notes in class, but the art of note taking seems to be lost in the church. Do you really think you need to pay attention? I wonder how God feels when you nod off during a message.
Solomon says be receptive to God’s Word in vs. 1-2 and now he tells his son to pursue wisdom in vs. 3-4. Cry out to God for discernment and lift your voice for understanding in v. 3. We’re to be, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Pe. 2:2) We should be just that like that hungry baby that cries until they’re fed. Only God can satisfy that longing. We’re to labor in seeking wisdom. The Discovery Channel’s series Gold Rush chronicles the efforts of several gold miners seeking to make it big in the Yukon, in Alaska, and in South America. They left everything behind: their jobs, their homes, and their families in pursuit of treasure. They have to move mountains of earth in order to find that buried treasure. We should be willing to dig, to move mountains in order to gain wisdom from God.
Here’s the result of the conditions. Look at vs. 5-8. When you search for wisdom, you will find it. Wisdom will enable you to see God for who He is. You’ll have an intimate relationship with Him and you’ll be able to understand what He says. There is a plethora of wisdom that cannot be exhausted. Godly wisdom is not just something that is attained, not just nuggets of truth. Wisdom from God provides protection and preservation. Did you notice those two qualities in v. 7? Upright or honesty, and integrity. These two should be foundational in our lives.
But wait, that’s not all. Look at vs. 9-11. You will be able to determine right from wrong. Wisdom gets in your heart; becomes part of who you are. You can have confidence in your decisions because they’re based on the unchanging truth of God and His Word. You will develop a taste for what is best according to God. “Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” It will be like the best cup of coffee or the best piece of chocolate. Verse 11 really provides a great description of what wisdom does. You don’t need things spelled out; you don’t need a bunch of laws or policies to determine what’s right or wrong. It’s good to memorize Scripture, but we’ve got to do more than that. That’s why we see many kids that are brought up in Christian homes walk away from the Way. The Word needs to be in our hearts, not just on our brain. We need it to watch over and cover us. That’s when transformation begins.
Be willing to labor and to work hard to find wisdom while she can be found. Listen to her cries. Let her protect and guide you.
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Last week Solomon concluded his introductory warning by telling his son to be careful who is friends are. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. This morning, a concept speaks to us for the first time in this book as Solomon utilizes personification.
Grab your Bible and read Proverbs 1:20-33.
We begin with wisdom’s appeal to listeners. The easiest and most utilized excuse for wrong doing is ignorance. We see it all over. Someone commits some form of wrong or evil behavior and the conclusion is they just didn’t know any better. That may be true for some people, but you cannot make a blanket statement that ignorance is justification. Wisdom is in the noisy streets and at the entrance to the cities. Wisdom is not something elusive. She’s not like some wise old sage that you have to climb a mountain in order to get her insight. She is out there trying to make her voice heard. She roams the streets shouting for all to hear. She’s looking for someone to teach, someone that will take her up on her incredible insight. All we have to do is open up God’s Word and we find wisdom.
In v. 22, wisdom speaks about three types of people. Remember the naïve one are simple minded. This verse gives us an indication that they don’t have to stay that way. They love being the way they are. They’re sort of like the kid that doesn’t want to go to school because they know everything they need to know. The scoffers just love to scoff. They ridicule the things of God, the ways of God and any who will choose to follow God. Scoffers come in many forms and look like ordinary people. Sometimes they’re subtle like when they lovingly say, “God wouldn’t want you to live like this.” Sometimes they’re more overt by denying the authority of God’s Word. And of course, the list would not be complete without the fool. The word used here is not quite as strong as the word used in v. 7. This guy rejects wisdom and has become morally insensitive. He is so occupied with the things of the world that the things of God are of no concern to him. We’ll see in later chapters that this type of person is a source of grief to his parents. According to chapter 26, you can’t talk sense to a fool because he’s a fool. Talking to a fool is a waste of time. Ps. 1:1 “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” It’s difficult to determine when to let go of a person like this. If your face is blue, it’s probably time.
Look at wisdom’s guidance. Wisdom issues a pretty clear directive to the people she’s screaming to. It’s never too late to, “Turn to my reproof” she says in v. 23. The ignorant can learn, the scoffers can cease their scoffing, the fool can gain knowledge. She says, “Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” She’ll do this in any way she can. Ignorance is not bliss and is no excuse or rationale to act in a manner that is inconsistent with God. God is extraordinarily patient with us and with those that rebel against Him, but there will come a day when He has had all he can take. Wisdom called, and you refused. Wisdom stretched out her hand, but you refused to grab hold of her. You neglected all of her counsel, instruction, and correction. You have passed the point of no return. As a result of this, wisdom takes on some very realistic qualities that would be deemed judgmental, hurtful, and just plain offensive. Look at vs. 26-27. These are hard words. Laugh and mock at your calamity? What kind of loving God does that? The kind of loving God that declares there is judgment for sin. The kind of loving God that has standards and holds people accountable for those standards. The kind of loving God that has preserved His Word so we can learn, grow, and be transformed by its power. The kind of loving God that puts wonderful, godly, passionate, and authentic people in our paths to instruct, train, and guide us. Don’t blame God when you’re falling without a parachute. Don’t blame God when you’re sinking in an ocean without a life ring. This sounds incredibly harsh, doesn’t it?
Don’t be shocked, they know their folly. There will come a time when a person realizes all of the truth that has been thrown at them. There is the saying better late than never, but that doesn’t apply here. If you reject wisdom’s cries, judgment comes. It seems too often people only want help when they’re experiencing the consequences for their actions. That’s what is happening here. It’s like people are told over and over, “Don’t do that.” “That’s not a wise decision.” “Be careful.” “You can’t afford that.” “He (or she) is no good for you.” All of those warnings are dismissed and low and behold the consequences arrive and the naïve ones, the scoffers, and the fool cries out, “Help! Help!”
Wisdom responds in vs. 28-30. They’ll call, but there is no answer. They’ll go looking, but wisdom will not be found. Why? Because when there was plenty of time to be proactive, these people chose to be carefree, chose to be complacent, chose to be clueless. They chose to ignore God. And so their consequence is found in vs. 31-32.
The voice of wisdom is the voice of God. 1 Cor. 1:30 says, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” There is a but at the end and it represents a vivid contrast. Verse 33 says, “But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.” As we eagerly and patiently wait for Christ to return, we are the voice of Christ as we share His power and His redemption. We become the voice of wisdom, because we have the power of Christ in our lives. We don’t hide our light under a basket; we lift it high for all to see.
You can listen to the podcast here.
Last week we looked at Solomon’s premise. He set up the whole book by saying fools reject sound wisdom and instruction and they are too foolish to know it. This can be overturned by the life changing power of Christ. This morning we’ll find out who Solomon is really writing to and look at his first instruction.
I encourage you to take the time to read Pro. 1:8-19.
Here’s Solomon’s introductory conclusion. Solomon closes his introduction by reminding his son of something every kid should remember. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction.” Remember in the Hebrew language, hearing is the same as obeying. You’ll hear that phrase, “my son” repeated numerous times so keep looking for it. Solomon is really telling his son to be obedient! Eph. 6:4 reminds, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is the pattern that should set for all Christians. Instruction begins in the home. Parents, don’t rely on other people to teach your kids about God! We all have a responsibility to help, but the primary responsibility rests with the parents of kids. I can’t tell you how many people have crossed the path here that began attending church because they felt it was good for the kids. I always say, well if it’s good for them, don’t you think it might be good for you? Then the look crosses their face like they never thought of that. It’s not just the father’s teaching that’s important, Solomon tells his son, “And do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Both parents have a responsibility to teach the kids and must make it a priority of the home. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:6-7) Kids need to listen to their instructions. When kids listen to these instructions there is reward. They’re found in v. 9. You get a wreath for your head and a necklace. The idea is that when we follow wisdom, there are benefits.
Here’s the first instruction. V. 10 contains something that looks very obvious. In essence, Solomon is telling his son to stay on the right path. Remember the instructions that Solomon gave and obey them. If some gang of sinners entices you, don’t do it, just say no. Solomon doesn’t leave it at that. He explains that a sinner that is intent on recruiting you will use whatever tactic necessary to get you off the course. In this case, Solomon warns that sinners will say or do anything to get you to follow them. The wicked sinner will make sin look attractive. The Bible never paints the picture that sin is not fun. Heb. 11:25 talks about the passing pleasures of sin. The pleasure will pass and the consequences remain. There are always consequences – even if they are unseen. They ambush the innocent. They conceal themselves and wait for people to pass by. They look for the easy score. They attack the innocent without cause and seek to destroy them.
What’s the draw? They say, “We will find all kinds of precious wealth, and fill our houses with spoil.” They circumvent the principle of hard work; they want it fast and easy. What’s easier than killing someone in an ambush and taking their possessions? Crime does pay; getting caught does not. They offer easy money and v. 14 even offers a family of sorts. You can see what Solomon is talking about when you think of real life gangs. Join us and we’ll be one they say. There is a twisted sense of brotherhood among criminals. They have a code. The people they recruit are offered a sense of belonging, a chance to be a part of something. Those recruits are willing to do whatever is necessary to be accepted. Did you notice the pronouns used in the verse? Don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure. Tell your kids it’s okay to go against what everyone else is doing. Given what we know about Solomon, the principles that are contained in Proverbs are designed for those people passionate about following God. The principles are tried and true because they come from God so they can be applied to any person, but in context, we’re talking about kids raised with godly values and morals by godly parents. Kids, be wary of anyone that lures you to violate the principles that are taught by your parents. This can come from within the church as well. Don’t think that everyone has grown and matured to a level that demonstrates a consistent, passionate, and authentic desire to walk with Christ.
The first instruction’s ending. Solomon is very clear about the outcome if his warning is not heeded. If you follow evil and wickedness, you will find it. Solomon tells his son, “Do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path.” This is a very clear command. When teaching your kids, don’t mince words. Don’t be vague, ask probing questions, ask for details. Don’t be under the false assumption that your kids have rights. The only rights they have are what you give them. The intent of the sinners is clear. “Their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood.” They’re in a hurry to do wrong; in a hurry to hurt people. Solomon explains the senselessness of what these people are doing. V. 17 says, “Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net in the sight of any bird.” That’s kind of a strange translation. A better translation would be, “In the eyes of a bird, the net is strewn [with grain] for no reason.” In other words, the bird sees the trap, but doesn’t associate the net with a trap. All he sees is the bait and that’s why he can be trapped.
In essence, Solomon is saying birds are smarter than these evil sinners. The sinners do not see the danger in what they’re doing, they only see the bait. They see short term gain and ignore long term judgment. While they run to evil and devise evil plans to destroy innocent people, they cannot see the correlation between their evil deeds and the judgment that will come as a result of those deeds. V. 18 says, “But they lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush their own lives.” The very opposite of what they promised in v. 11 happens to them. They fall into their own trap. Solomon closes this instruction by painting with a very broad brush. “So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; it takes away the life of its possessors.”
Kids, students: be careful of who your friends are. Parents: know who the friends of your kids are. 1 Cor. 15:33, “Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals.”