“If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, Let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; And whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, We shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; Let us all have one purse” (Proverbs 1:11-14).
The mob spirit is dangerous. People often do things as part of a larger group they would never do individually. The underlying humanistic philosophy is that the majority determines what is right and wrong. But this is determined only by God. Whether one person or all people oppose Him, God is still true and the opposition is lying.
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2).
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar (Romans 3:4).
“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Proverbs 1:10).
It is a mistake to wait until temptation presents itself to decide whether or not to yield. Temptation will be resisted successfully only by those who have, in advance, without the intense pressure of enticing temptation, made up their minds they will not consent under any circumstance.
A powerful antidote to sin is found in Psalm 1:1-2: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
Last evening as I played a few songs, Susan captured a portion of His Eye is on the Sparrow. We should always keep in mind our heavenly Father’s intimate care for all His creation. To do this is especially comforting at this time.
“For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Proverbs 1:9).
Youth who listen to the instruction of godly parents develop the genuine attractiveness of grace, symbolized here as ornaments.
Similarly, Proverbs 4:9 refers to wisdom as “an ornament of grace” and “a crown of glory.”
In a section of the Book of Proverbs “copied out” by “the men of Hezekiah king of Judah” (Proverbs 25:1), it is said that a wise person who reproves one who is obedient is like “an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold” (Proverbs 25:12).
Obedience to wise instruction produces authentic and enduring beauty that cannot be matched by artificial externals.
“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8).
The phrase “my son” appears at least twenty-two times in the Book of Proverbs. The book was written by a wise father, Solomon, to his son, offering the wisdom necessary for genuine success in many areas of life. It is to be regretted that Solomon’s son Rehoboam did not follow his father’s counsel. As a result of his refusal to listen to wisdom, his kingdom was torn apart and he was left with only a small portion.
The first appeal to the son is an appeal to recognize the value of the counsel and direction given by a father and mother. This admonition demonstrates that the things most valuable are often found at home rather than in some distant, exotic place. The invitation is not to find a “holy man” or guru to follow, but to hear a father’s instruction and a mother’s law. Those who turn away from the counsel offered by godly parents reject one of the most valuable sources of wisdom and direction they will ever find.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
The beginning of true knowledge is “the fear of the LORD,” which means reverence, respect, and awe for God and His Word. A person who does not fear God may know certain facts, but his knowledge is corrupted by his lack of regard for the Lord. For example, both the unbeliever and the believer may say, “The world is round.” But a closer examination will reveal that each means different things by this statement. The believer is speaking of a world created by God to be inhabited by humans. Even when he says “round” he is testifying to the existence of a definite standard by which measurement can be made. The unbeliever, on the other hand, is speaking of a world that is the chance result of an accident in the cosmos, a world that came into being without purpose or design and that is inhabited by animals of various levels that are also the product of random evolution. He does not believe in absolute standards; everything is relative.
Similarly, both the believer and the unbeliever may say, “It is raining.” But to the unbeliever the rain is simply condensation. It is the chance result of unpredictable weather patterns. If anyone is thanked or accused, it is the mythical “Mother Nature.” The believer, however, recognizes rain as the blessing of God, given by Him as a witness of His goodness. A person who does not fear God has, at best, limited and corrupted knowledge.
The close relationship between wisdom and knowledge is shown also in Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” There is no true wisdom outside the fear of the Lord.
Later in the Book of Proverbs Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). A person does not have genuine understanding without a knowledge of the holy.
The Book of Proverbs lists several characteristics of a fool. One of them is seen in Proverbs 1:7: a fool will despise wisdom and instruction. He has no heart for the discipline learning and attaining wisdom. He is comfortable with the way he is; he does not want to be changed.
“To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings” (Proverbs 1:6).
A further purpose of the proverbs is to provide a vehicle whereby the student can learn to understand the meaning of proverbs and the words spoken by wise men, including their “dark sayings.” The Hebrew word translated “dark sayings” has reference to something that has been tied in knots, as when we say we have a “knotty problem.” This phrase does not speak of mere mental gymnastics but of the ability to grasp the real issue.
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Proverbs 1:5).
Willingness to listen is a sign of wisdom. Learning is a lifelong process. One of the first indications of a person’s wisdom is his willingness to listen.
Ignorance is not bliss; it can be deadly. God declared to ancient Israel, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (Hosea 4:5). “Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good,” Solomon said (Proverb 19:2). As a young boy, Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially (Luke 2:52). James offer this counsel: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
The result of a wise person’s hearing is an increase in learning. This “hearing” goes beyond the perfunctory politeness of waiting until another person is finished speaking before one starts talking. It describes intense listening — listening so attentive that it results in grasping not only the words but also the underlying principles and even the spirit of the speaker.
We must make a genuine effort to break through the inertia of an undisciplined and inattentive mind.
Three times the Book of Proverbs indicates that wisdom is found in a “multitude of counsellers” (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6).
“To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:4).
The proverbs of Solomon are designed to give subtilty to the simple. Subtilty is a combination of prudence and knowledge, resulting in a discernment that enables a person to judge critically what is correct and proper, united with caution.
The word discretion speaks of sagacity, which is “quickness or acuteness of discernment or penetration; readiness of apprehension; the faculty of readily discerning and distinguishing ideas, and of separating truth from falsehood” (Webster’s Dictionary).
The Book of Proverbs, then, will help a young person to grasp a situation quickly, to evaluate accurately what is really happening, and to be able to see past the fog of surface problems to root causes.