You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

Proverbs 1



Prologue: Purpose and Theme (1:1–7)

1 Solomon was famous for his wisdom, and he is said to have spoken three thousand proverbs (1 Kings 4:32). It’s best to understand verse 1 as an overall introduction to the book of Proverbs; it doesn’t necessarily mean that Solomon wrote every proverb in the book. Indeed, he may not have written the first nine chapters.

2 The proverbs were written for attaining wisdom. Wisdom, in one sense, is a gift from God (James 1:5); in another sense, it must be “attained”—appropriated, absorbed, put into practice. Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge, but that implies the ability to apply knowledge correctly—according to God’swill. There is such a thing as“worldly wisdom”—men’s wisdom, the wisdom of this age (1 Corinthians 2:4–6). That is not the kind of wisdom the writer is talking about here. He is talking about God’s wisdom, the wisdom that comes from heaven (James 3:13–17). And God’s wisdom has been fully embodied in the person of His Son Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:24,30; Colossians 2:2–3). This, then, is the wisdom we need to “attain”—the wisdom that God has made available to us in Christ.

The proverbs were also written so that we might attain discipline. DISCIPLINE is a necessary “companion” of wisdom: wisdom does not come automatically,painlessly!We attain wisdom not only through FAITH but also through God’s “discipline.” These proverbs are a form of discipline: they expose our own folly, our flaws, our sins. We must let these proverbs do their work in our lives, painful though it may be.

3–6 The proverbs were written so that we might lead a disciplined and prudent life (verse 3). The proverbs give prudence (good judgment) to the simple (those who lack judgment, who are gullible and undiscerning); the proverbs also give knowledge and discretion to the young, who—in spite of what they sometimes think—need all the knowledge and discretion they can get (verse 4).

But just so the older folks—the wise and discerning—don’t get proud and self-confident, the writer says in verse 5 that they, too, should get learning and guidance from these proverbs!

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. It is also the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). The word “beginning” here means “foundation.” The word “beginning” might imply to some that once we “begin” we no longer need to fear the Lord! But that, of course, is untrue; the moment we cease fearing the Lord, our knowledge and wisdom will count for nothing.

To fear the Lord means, above all, to submit to Him and to His commands. It means to revere the Lord, to stand in awe of Him—and to fear His punishment if we disobey Him.2

But fools, on the other hand, do not fear the Lord; they despise wisdom and discipline. They say in their heart: “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). They trust only in themselves.3

Warning Against Enticement (1:8–19)

8–9 Here the writer urges children to heed the instruction of their father and mother. Such teaching will be like a garland for the children; it will gain them acceptance and respect. These verses remind us that parents have the primary responsibility for giving their children moral instruction (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).

10–19 In these verses, the writer gives an example of the kind of enticement that attracts young men in particular: the chance for quick and easy gain, together with excitement, violence, and comradeship. The writer tells his son (or his disciple) not to go along with sinners, with thieves and murderers (verses 10,15). The same sins they commit will come back on them; those who commit murder will likely end up being murdered (Matthew 26:52). God always repays evildoers for the evil they have done—either in this life or the next4 (Romans 2:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:6).

Warning Against Rejecting Wisdom (1:20–33)

20–27 In this section, wisdom is personified5 as a woman filled with divine wisdom. She appeals to the people in the street and in the public squares (verses 20–21); the writer is suggesting that wisdom is available to all—if they will but heed it.

In verse 22, “Lady Wisdom” appeals to the three kinds of people who need her wisdom the most: the simple ones—those who are inexperienced and gullible (verse 4); the mockers—those who are arrogant, who talk more than they listen; and the fools—those who are self-confident and think they have no need of wisdom (verse 7). But these three groups reject her appeal6 (verses 24–25), and in so doing they bring disaster down upon their heads (verses 26–27). Therefore, Lady Wisdom will laugh at their disaster—not in a mean-spirited way, but in response to the folly of those who laugh at wisdom and bring disaster on themselves.

28–33 For those who reject wisdom, the day will come when they will no longer be able to find it (verse 28); it will be too late (see Matthew 25:1–13). Those who reject wisdom do so deliberately: they choose not to fear the Lord7 (verse 29); they refuse to accept wisdom’s advice (verse 30). Therefore, they have no one but themselves to blame when disaster comes upon them. They will eat the fruit of their own evil schemes (verse 31); they will reap what they have sown (Galatians 6:7).

People become fools and mockers by their own choice; people are responsible for their own decisions. Lady Wisdom stretches out her hand to all of us; whether we listen or not is our choice. The essence of folly and evil is the refusal to listen to the wisdom of God.

In verses 32–33, the writer summarizes the two choices facing every man and woman: one, to take the way of the simple and of fools8 and be destroyed; or two, to listen to wisdom and live in safety (see Psalm 1:1–6; Matthew 7:13–14). These two choices still confront each man and woman today.

We cannot make choices for others; parents, for example, cannot make choices for their grown children. It is up to each individual to choose which way he or she will follow: the path of wisdom or the path of folly. Wisdom leads us to God and to life; folly leads us to sin and to death. God’s word says to us: Now choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19–20).