Today we begin a four part series on the Book of Proverbs. Here in chapter one we find the author, a cast of characters and a promise: you can “dwell safely” and “be secure without fear of evil.” There’s a great series of lessons in Proverbs One!
Every successful team has a plan. How crazy would it be to go out there and wing it, especially for something important?
When I was a teenager, I had a very ambitious friend, Tom. As we hung out together one year, we hatched an idea. How about we take our bikes and travel from Albany to Sacketts Harbor near Watertown? We had to sit down and plan. We planned what we would take. We planned our route. We planned how much money to take with us. We tried to think of everything. The first year we did it we took 4 days to make the trip and found that
we thought it could be done in two days the next year. So, we headed out. And it rained like crazy the whole time. Hurricane Agnes passed overhead. And we ran out of inner tubes about 10 miles short of our goal. As I look back on it, it was kinda crazy, kinda not. But it was an adventure, for sure, one I wouldn’t recommend to any of our kids, that’s also for sure. We had the State Troopers stop us, thinking we were runaways….
So, what’s your life plan?
When you plan, you plan according to principle. If you have any. Not having principles means that you are adrift, naive. Which brings us to
the first chapter in Proverbs and the four main categories of people listed there…
There is the wise, the naive or simple, the fool and the sinner or the wicked. There’s instructions here for wherever you are at. You may find that you are one of these and you don’t want to be that any longer. It’s God’s will that every one of you become the wise. But you won’t start out there. You become wise and you stay wise by hearing what God has to say in this book.
Let’s start with the first section of these 33 verses.
Where do we get this book?
Humanly speaking, we get Proverbs from King Solomon. Like it says in verse one. He didn’t write them down, necessarily, but they’re mostly his, again, humanly. It’s really the Word of God, as in, these chapters were inspired by Him.
Verses 2-6 are the goal of the whole book.
That you could know, be intimately acquainted with, wisdom and instruction. So that you can understand, or perceive what’s going on. How would
you like to understand what’s going on inside you or in the world around you?
Verses 4-6 tell us who this is for, especially.
For one, it’s for the simple, or better yet, naive.
Secondly, it’s for the young, the inexperienced in life.
Thirdly, it’s for the wise. But wait a minute. If you’re already wise, how can this be for you? Because, the chief characteristic of wise people is that they keep growing in wisdom. They don’t let pride or neglect slow them down. They hang with wise people and keep on learning.
And, as verse 6 says, overall, the goal is for everyone to grow to the highest levels of thinking and living.
But how does it happen?
First, the foundation has to be laid. There’s a primary or principle part of this. It’s in verse 7.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning (or principle part) of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
So what is the fear of the Lord, exactly? It’s the very real terror of what He could be like, with a deep, overriding love for Him as you would for
a very respectable father. It has to be real, not just a concept, for this to work.
But as for fools? They don’t fear the Lord, so they despise wisdom and instruction. So they come up with their own ideas and teach others the same.
The wise, the naive, the young, and then the fool.
Now we’re introduced to the wicked, or the sinner.
But first, understand this: you get to choose who influences you, to the great extent.
Verse 8, God instructs us like a parent should. It’s like Dad’s lessons and Mom’s rules. If you hang on to what is being taught, it ends up a public display of goodness; hence the ornament and the gold chains.
Choose well. Because you can also be influenced by the sinner.
Here’s the warning:
Verse 10 if sinners entice you, don’t consent, Son. Because it starts with consent. Oh, they’re not so bad. You know, what they say actually
makes sense. I may not do what they do, but I think they might be onto something.
vs. 11 Then it leads to actually going along. “Come with us” as in you don’t have to do anything, just come along and watch.
And then it’s Participating. verse 12. Cast your lot among us.
Vs. 15 Don’t walk their path, stay away. Run.
Because, vs.17-19, their lifestyle will be their undoing.
Used to try our hand, as kids, at catching animals. We would set up a box, lean it up against a stick with a string attached, and we put some
bait under the box to see if we could catch a rabbit or a bird. The animals took one look at this suspicious setup and never even tried to eat the bait.
So even birds or bunnies won’t get themselves caught because they see the trap for what it is. The sinner, the wicked, aren’t even that bright. Because the very thing they set out to do to take advantage of people, ends up ruining their own lives. Don’t go there. Have you ever seen anyone rich with their life ruined because they got their riches wrongly?
Ever hear of Bernie Madoff? And the Ponzi scheme? Where is Bernie now?
But wisdom is available! You don’t have to live that way.
verse 20, Wisdom calls aloud outside, raises her voice and cries out in the main squares. That means it’s available to everyone, it’s public.
There’s no excuse, really. verse 22, How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? Make a decision.
verse 23 Turn at my rebuke! That takes humility. But you will get what it takes because the Spirit of the Lord will give you what you need. He gives grace to the humble.
But do it now, start responding to God’s call now. Because there is a day when it’s too late to avoid consequences. Verses 24-32. There’s just no excuse, because wisdom is so available from God.
And hey, don’t you really want what verse 33 promises?
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.
So what’s the takeaway here?
No matter what category of person you are, the naive, the inexperienced or the wise, God has what you need to develop you into a wise person. It
doesn’t matter who you are, it’s available to all.
There is a pretty clear line here. Choose God and His instruction. There are only two prerequisites. One, fear the Lord. Two, humble yourself. You’ll need to be able to hear rebuke and be a lifelong learner by associating with the wise.
Stay away from the wicked. Run away. They get caught in their own traps, their own ways.
And don’t be a fool. That’s someone who rejects God, is proud and invents his own wisdom. And think about this: if you have been wise and now you
feel like you have enough wisdom, thank you very much, then your inner fool factor takes over. Oh, I’ve heard that teaching before, I’ve been in church enough.
Are you taking advantage of every opportunity? Personal Bible study and prayer. Small groups. Sunday services. Growth Track.
If you’ve fallen you can get up.