Proverbs 1

Proverbs 1

Proverbs 1 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

A blunt tagline to the book of Proverbs could very easily be “Proverbs: Don’t live in stupidity.”

When we encounter Jesus, we discover two very profound realities. We discover the truth of who God is and we discover the truth of who we really are. Some people are content with only knowing who they are. They don’t care about God. Some people know all kinds of things about God, but they never dig into their own character defects. This is why the book of Proverbs introduces us to a simple reality that will guide our exploration of wisdom and knowledge.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Proverbs 1:7 HCSB 

Fear does not mean we live in a continual state of anxiety, terrified of God’s presence. It means we live in awe of God’s magnificent beauty and incredible mercy. We marvel at the intricate details of His creation and His unchanging, unfailing love. In this state, it is natural to adore God and follow His ways.

A lack of reverence for God is what caused Pharoah to double down on his resistance to Israel’s freedom. It’s what caused the Israelites to build a golden calf while God was trying to make a covenant with them. In Exodus 18, when Moses was choosing his leaders, his qualifications centered squarely upon God-fearing, trustworthy individuals.

Jesus puts a new spin on the fear of God in Matthew 10. Speaking paradoxically, (shocking, right?) Jesus states that fearing God actually means we are fearless.

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:28 HCSB 

All of us fear something. We all adore and worship something or someone. Jesus reminds us that by fearing God we will place ourselves in the crosshairs of the world. We cannot love both. Either we honor and adore God and live fearlessly among men, or we honor and adore men over God and set ourselves up for the most disappointing and tragic ending that a human life can experience.

So what does this have to do with Proverbs?

Proverbs 1 unashamedly states that wisdom is not about intellectual superiority. It’s not a shortcut or hack to a hidden path in life. Wisdom, as defined by Solomon, is much more than a simple moral quality. Fearing God and opening our lives to His discipline is a lifestyle overhaul. Just look at how the book of Leviticus frames fearing God.

“You must not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning.  14  You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am Yahweh.”

Leviticus 19:13-14 HCSB 

What is the opposite of fearing God? What is the opposite of true wisdom and knowledge? It is living a life full of yourself. It is despising God and His ways. It is the stubborn determination to stay ignorant to who you really are, and even worse, who God really is. And that, by definition, is absolute foolishness.

“A man driving down the highway had a flat tire, so he pulled over to the side of the road. It happened he was parked by an insane asylum, and one of the men from the asylum was on the other side of the fence. He was watching the man as he changed the tire. He didn’t say anything but just stood there and watched.

As the man took off the wheel of the car, he placed all the nuts that he had taken off into the hubcap. Then he accidentally tilted the hubcap so all the nuts fell out and went down into a sewer, and he couldn’t retrieve them. He stood there scratching his head wondering what in the world he was to do. The man behind the fence who had been watching him said, “Why don’t you take a nut off each of the other wheels and put them on this wheel? You could drive safely down to the filling station, and there you can buy nuts so that you can fix your wheel.”

The man looked at him in amazement. “Why didn’t I think of that?” he asked. “You are in the institution and I am out, and yet you are the one who thought of it.” The onlooker answered. “I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid!” Well, this Book of Proverbs is attempting to get you and me out of a position of being stupid in life today. I think we shall find it to be a great help to us. This book has quite a bit to say about stupidity, as we shall see.”

J. Vernon McGee

Proverbs: Don’t live in stupidity.

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