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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.”