Proverbs 1

Proverbs 1

The Beginning of Knowledge

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

  To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
  to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
  to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
  Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
  to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.
  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

  Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
    and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
  for they are a graceful garland for your head
    and pendants for your neck.
  My son, if sinners entice you,
    do not consent.
  If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
    let us ambush the innocent without reason;
  like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
  we shall find all precious goods,
    we shall fill our houses with plunder;
  throw in your lot among us;
    we will all have one purse”—
  my son, do not walk in the way with them;
    hold back your foot from their paths,
  for their feet run to evil,
    and they make haste to shed blood.
  For in vain is a net spread
    in the sight of any bird,
  but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they set an ambush for their own lives.
  Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
    it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

  Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
    in the markets she raises her voice;
  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
  How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
  If you turn at my reproof,
  behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
  Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
  because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
  I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
  when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
  Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
  Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
  would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
  therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
  For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
  but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”


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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