Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
Chapter 9 places two contrasting invitations before the reader. Proverbs 9:1-6 calls the passerby to turn in and feast on the banquet of understanding. Proverbs 9:13-18 portrays folly seeking to seduce bystanders to turn in.
WISDOM’S INVITATION (Prov. 9:1-6)
- Wisdom builds her house with strength—seven pillars (9:1). This is similar to the Lord’s call, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:” (Matt. 7:24). The sayings of Jesus are the pillars of a strong and healthy life! In Proverbs, the woman of wisdom is contrasted with the foolish woman. “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Prov. 14:1).
- Wisdom prepares her table with the best food to fill those who are hungry for knowledge (9:2). Similarly, Jesus called out to others saying, “Blessed [are] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
- Wisdom sends out her maidens (9:3). They cry out from the highest places of the city to enlighten others. The invitation is for everyone! This should remind us of the Lord’s teaching of the wedding feast that a king prepared for his son in Matthew 22:1ff. He sent out his message but sadly, it was ignored and made light of by some (Matt. 22:3-5). Some even became violent against the heralds of the feast (Matt. 22:6)!
- Wisdom calls the naive (9:4-6). This call is not to take advantage of the simple, but to educate them and communicate to them the way of understanding. Her bread and wine satisfy. In the New Testament, we can reflect on how Jesus is the bread from heaven (Jn. 6:32-35). He provides nourishment for the soul. We can think of how in Cana of Galilee, He took water and turned it to sweet unfermented wine at a wedding (Jn. 2:1-12). Jesus took what was good and made it better. The world takes what is good and makes it evil. Their intoxicating drink mocks man, and dulls his senses, and turn gentlemen into brawlers (Prov. 20:1).
Similarly, God’s design of marriage makes a man and a woman better (Heb. 13:4). Yet the world takes it and defines it as a ball and chain relationship. The world establishes their own views of marriage and relishes in forbidden pleasures and uncommitted love: “Stolen water is sweet, And bread [eaten] in secret is pleasant” (Prov. 9:14).
TWO KINDS OF INVITEES (9:7-9)
The scoffer, when corrected, only makes a bad situation worse. He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself; he harms himself. The scoffer hates the corrector (9:8). He counts him as his personal enemy. Remember Ahab’s view of Elijah?
“So Ahab said to Elijah, ‘Have you found me, O my enemy?’ And he answered, ‘I have found [you], because you have sold yourself to do evil…” (1 Kin. 21:20).
Question: “How do I respond when I am corrected?” Is my pathway self-justification? Is it in a direction that attacks the messenger and shifts the focus to a perceived flaw? Is it in hatred? The wise respond in humility and sober thinking?
Jesus commanded His disciples to not throw the pearls of the gospel toward the dogs and hogs or unreasonable men (Matt. 7:6). The reason, they will trample the pearls under their feet and they will turn against the bearer of these pearls, tearing him to pieces. Because of their attitude, they prove themselves unworthy of heaven’s riches. This is seen in the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:8 and in the lives of the apostles. “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles’” (Acts 13:46). “Attitude,” not “intellect,” is what makes men worthy/unworthy of heaven’s message.
Unlike the scoffer, the wise man loves the one who corrects his misunderstanding (Prov. 9:8, 9). He loves; he becomes wiser; he increases in learning.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY (Prov. 9:10-12)
The knowledge of God results in gaining a good understanding and length of life. The place for learning can be well prepared, well researched with a message that is true but it requires an individual's will to take advantage of it. Gospel preaching will not benefit anyone where it falls on deaf ears. Proverbs 9:12:
“If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”
FOLLY’S INVITATION (Prov. 9:13-18)
- Where wisdom calls out to the simple ones to come in and gain understanding (9:4-6), folly cries out to those who are going straight on their way to detour (9:16). Folly doesn’t want to improve, but rather it seeks to exploit and destroy. Rather than providing “my bread” (9:5) folly takes delight in stolen water and bread eaten in secret (9:17). Such a course of life is observed by the multitudes. Adam Clarke observed, “illicit pleasures are sweeter than those which are legal.”
- The contrast is real!
- The woman of folly is clamorous, simple, and knows nothing (cf. Prov. 7:11a). The wise woman imparts understanding.
- The woman of folly seeks to be noticed by sitting on the highest places of the city. Even her feet do not stay home (7:11b). The woman of folly seeks to distract those who “go straight on their way.” Impudently she hunts and catches the passersby with kisses (7:13).
- The woman of wisdom offers legal pleasures of her bread and wine where the woman of folly delights in stolen water—come let us take our love until morning…for my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey (Prov. 7:19).
- The woman of wisdom cries out to impart knowledge in the fear of God that adds life and length of days. However, the woman of folly has an enticing message built up with flattery that is, at last, a place for the dead to gather (7:21-23, 26, 27; 9:18).
Life is filled with decisions and differing invitations. The invitations we accept or refuse will have an impact on our eternal dwelling place. What will your answer be when folly or wisdom calls out for your name?
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He [is] your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.
—Steven J. Wallace
Our title stems from Proverbs 8:30:
“Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him.”
Juxtaposed to the path of folly and its verge of total ruin (Prov. 5-7), chapter 8 turns our attention to the value of wisdom and its positive benefits in building up our lives. Rather than the woman of folly, wisdom is personified as a woman of understanding who cries out to all.
WHERE, TO WHOM, AND WITH WHAT DOES WISDOM CALL (Prov. 8:1-11)?
- Where (8:1-3)? As a herald, wisdom stands everywhere beckoning everyone to come and hear (Prov. 8:1-5). She is on the hills, at the crossroads, at the city gates, and before the doors (cf. Prov. 1:20, 21). In like fashion, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3, 4; Rom. 16:26; Mk. 16:15, 16). Yet He never overrides man’s free will. He calls, but man must listen. He gives, but man must reach out and take. He saves, but man must obey.
- To whom (8:4, 5)? Wisdom calls out to everyone, including the simple ones (the naïve and gullible) as well as fools (those with little restraint and are stubborn). God is longsuffering toward us (2 Pet. 3:9).
- With what (8:6-11)? Wisdom calls out “excellent things,” “right things,” and “truth.” It calls out with the message of righteousness. There is nothing crooked or perverse in the call of wisdom. There is nothing deceitful in her. There are no cunning ploys, no bait and switch schemes, only plain instruction that is better than the rare and expensive materials found in this life such as silver, choice gold, and rubies.
THE BENEFITS OF WISDOM AS A MASTER CRAFTSMAN (Prov. 8:12-21).
Where sin breaks down and destroys, wisdom builds up and preserves. This section shows us some benefits that wisdom builds in us.
- Wisdom builds up the power of discernment (8:12-16). God desires that we have the ability to discern between evil and good (cf. Heb. 5:12-14).
“The ____________ of the LORD [is] to hate ____________; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate” (Prov. 8:13).
Being able to correctly judge something as right or wrong is not a sign of weakness, but strength. It is not from ignorance but from sound wisdom. Wisdom gives each person the ability to rule and decree correctly the justice of kings! Wisdom enables us to see evil for what it really is.
- “Pride” and “arrogance” are not the kind of confidence we are to aspire to have. “
- “The evil way” is not the road that we are to travel on.
- “The perverse mouth” expresses the kind of words we are not to utter (cf. Eph. 4:29; Jas. 1:26; 3:2). These things work against the wisdom that is from above. They are enemies of the truth (Jas. 3:13-18).
- Wisdom builds up enduring riches (8:17-21). Enduring riches are not riches of silver and gold. Those things can be with us today and gone tomorrow.
“Will you set your ____________ on that which is ____________? For ____________ certainly make themselves ____________; They ____________ away like an ____________ [toward] heaven” (Prov. 23:5).
Those who live for the main purpose of finding “fine gold” will not live in follow the “fine” way. Rather, they will pierce themselves through with many sorrows and regrets (1 Tim. 6:9-10). Righteousness is the key element in which to strike it rich. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we will not only have the things we physically need in this life but also possess the enduring riches of eternal life when this life ends (see Matt. 6:19, 20).
THE COMPANION OF THE CREATOR (Prov. 8:22-31)
Wisdom is personified as the master craftsman who worked as God’s companion in the creation. This text boldly affirms that the universe-project, including the earth and everything in it, is not a product of time, chance, and random processes, but rather of conscientious thought, carefully planned design, and purposed will. “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things [is] God” (Heb. 3:4). This should underscore the following considerations in our minds.
- If God possesses wisdom, who is the man to disregard it (8:22)?
- If wisdom existed before the earth was created, who is the man to live on earth ignoring it (8:23-29)?
- If God works with wisdom, who is the man to work without it (8:30)?
- If wisdom rejoices in the sons of men, how can any man find lasting joy without it (8:31)?
WISDOM’S EXHORTATION—WATCH AND WAIT (Prov. 8:32-36).
Here describes the blessed man of Scripture. As wisdom calls men to listen, so it promises them blessings when they keep her ways. The blessed listener watches daily at her gates and waits for her doors to be opened (8:34). Watching and waiting could characterize a wife/mother who is waiting and looking for her husband or son to return home from war. Or perhaps it is the way a shipwrecked person watches and waits to be rescued from a barren island.
It is in that spirit one looks to be with and serve the Lord. We are to anticipate His return every day. The heavenly-minded scholar is earnest for heaven’s schoolroom to open! He stands at the post of her doors. His ear hinges on every word that falls from her lips (cf. 8:6, 7).
Watching and waiting is to characterize the disciples of Christ. Jesus taught this principle by a culmination of parables.
- The Faithful/evil servant (Matt. 24:45-51), are you watching for the Lord?
- Ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), are you waiting for their Lord?
- The Talents (Matt. 25:14-30), are you working for the Lord?
- The Sheep/goats (Matt. 25:31-46), are you watching over those who are the Lord’s?
Let us view the Lord the way the blessed student views wisdom in Proverbs 8:32-36. Let us search for Him with our whole being, “For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death” (Prov. 8:35-36).
—Steven J. Wallace
Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
Solomon is writing these words as a father instructing his son. “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father…” (Prov. 4:1). “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding” (Prov. 5:1). “Therefore hear me now, my children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 5:7).
We may not always know “why” God expressly forbids certain choices, behaviors, or patterns in life, but as His children, we must learn to heed rather than question His commands. We should have enough faith in God that as our Father what He commands is for our good.
The good advice of any father or teacher is only as effective as it is received and obeyed. Proverbs 5:13, “I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!” While some children will heed the warnings, others are not inclined to hear, turning a deaf ear or perhaps think the advice is exaggerated and so pass it by to experience the temporary thrills of sin.
Proverbs 5-7 outlines a formula for failure, a recipe for ruin. Our title stems from Proverbs 5:14:
“I was on the verge of total ruin, In the midst of the assembly and congregation."
WHAT CAN LEAD TO THE VERGE OF TOTAL RUIN?
- Ruined with adultery (5:1-23). Any good marriage will be brought to the verge of total ruin with adultery. Flirting with and chasing someone other than your spouse is a proven poison to kill your marriage. Looking leads to lusting which so often leads to pursuing what is off limits (2 Sam. 11:1-4). In studying the latter life of David, we see a man who was on the verge of total ruin. His honor was given to others, aliens were filled with his strength, his days were marked with mourning, and his bodily strength zapped (Psa. 32:1-4). Sin brings with it cords that continue to weave a noose around us (Prov. 5:22). The solution against ruining a good marriage is profoundly simple in this chapter but sadly often ignored.
“____________ your way far from her, And do not go ____________ the ____________ of her house” (5:8). The advice is not: “flirt responsibly.” Rather, wisdom commands to stay out of her way—do not even go “near” the door of her house! The naïve might ponder, “but where is the harm? Why can I not go close to the house as long I do not enter in?” Everyone who sins has first approached the door to sin before entering!
Rather than approaching an immoral woman, Solomon stresses to be satisfied and rejoice in your own woman (5:15-20). Water is an essential need for a man. Solomon is saying that your marital needs must be met at home even as one would want to drink pure and fresh water from a good source. Rather than drink polluted water, let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth. Again, the advice is simple and straightforward to avoid the verge of total ruin.
- Ruined with bad financial promises (6:1-5). Solomon warns against entering into debt by being a guarantee for a friend. He warns to find escape even as a gazelle would run from a hunter or a bird from the fowler. This does not mean, however, that we should run away from acts of charity for the poor or be willing to help a friend who is in need (Prov. 14:21; 27:10). However, to avoid the verge of total ruin, act wisely financially.
- Ruined with idleness (6:6-10). He tells the sluggard to observe a rather insignificant creature to learn a substantial lesson. The ant, though small has a giant-sized motivated work-ethic! The Bible in Basic English translates, “Go to the ant, you hater of work; give thought to her ways and be wise:” (Prov. 6:6). Without an overseer, the ant is self-motivated to harness and guide her drive to put in a full day’s work preparing even for the bad days. Solomon warns that being lazy and hating work will strip you of your prosperity as fast as a thief which breaks in and plunders your possessions. Being slothful will take you to the verge of total ruin.
- Ruined with perversity (6:10-15). “A worthless person” is described here. The word for “worthless” was often transliterated by the King James translators as “Belial” (see Deut. 13:13; Jud. 19:22; 20:13; 1 Sam. 1:16; 2:12; 10:27; 25:25; etc.). It essentially means profits nothing. Though he is showy by winking with his eyes and shuffling his feet, he has a perverse mouth and devises wickedness in his heart. I think the warning is that of a dishonest man where there is a lack of good in character and a very real contradiction in what he says versus what he actually accomplishes. This one will be broken beyond repair and is on the verge of total ruin.
- Ruined by engaging in the things God hates (6:16-19). Seven abominations are listed here:
- A proud look. The look of pride reflects a heart full of pride. A heart full of pride is a heart that has no room for God. “The wicked in his ____________ ____________ does not seek [God]; God [is] in ____________ of his ____________” (Psa. 10:4).
- A lying tongue. “Lying lips [are] an ____________ to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully [are] His delight” (Prov. 12:22). Lying lips are weaponized words of hatred, “A lying tongue hates [those who are] crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin” (Prov. 26:28). The gossip, slanderer, etc. work only from hatred no matter how loving they may try to come across.
- Hands that shed innocent blood. Murder is the unmerciful and unjust killing of the innocent. It completely defies the righteous character of our God who in mercy extends life to those who will heed (Deut. 27:25; 2 Kin. 24:4; Jn. 3:16; 5:26; 1 Tim. 6:13; Jude 1:21). Liars and murders will be grouped together in hell (Rev. 21:8). Human history is littered with countless and senseless killings. It appears to be an ever-constant plague of human godlessness. "Their feet [are] swift to shed blood” (Rom. 3:15).
- A heart that devises wicked plans. God calls for a cleansing of the heart, “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, That you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?” (Jer. 4:14).
- Feet that run to evil. They have a zeal to accomplish what they have designed by their hearts. They run to evil! Christ calls us to cling to and pursue what is good (1 Thess. 5:21; Titus 1:8; Rom. 12:9).
- A false witness (cf. Zech. 8:17). “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor [Is like] a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow” (Prov. 25:18). Again, weaponized words are in view! He has become an instrument for that person’s death and is, therefore, an equal participant in the outcome. "You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand __________ the wicked to be an unrighteous ____________” (Exod. 23:1).
- One who sows discord. Such is tightly connected to the perversity within the heart and the construction of evil (Prov. 6:14). “Best friends” have separated from each other due to the whispering of a slanderer (Prov. 16:28)!
Solomon returns to the destructive element of adultery in 6:20-7:27 and the warning is against putting yourself on a pathway to such a temptation. There cannot be a stronger case made against infidelity and the temptations of it than what is found in this study. The wise will take it to heart. The foolish will dismiss these warnings and pass on to their own destruction. Their lives will end like a dried-up crust of bread (Prov. 6:26).
Sexual infidelity can be enticing; yet it is dangerous, damaging, and destructive not only to the present, but in eternity (Heb. 13:4). However, Jesus died to take away all our sins. Rahab left harlotry and married one from Judah becoming one of our Lord’s ancestors (Matt. 1:5). Harlots found favor with Christ when they turned to Him (Matt. 21:31, 32; Jn. 8:1-11). With the Lord we can leave “the verge of total ruin” by escaping a house that descends to the chambers of death and be transformed with a new hope and destination in heaven (1 Pet. 3:21; 1:3, 4)!
—Steven J. Wallace
Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
“Wisdom is the principal thing” (Prov. 4:7). Every man’s life is defined by what they prioritize. The wise man makes wisdom the principal or first thing in his quest to see things from God’s viewpoint.
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord [is]” (Eph. 5:17).
Wisdom, therefore, preserves us from making bad and foolish choices without having to experience them. “Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you” (Prov. 4:6). It also works to our promotion, “Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring honor, when you embrace her” (Prov. 4:8). To forsake wisdom is to not love wisdom.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER IN THIS CHAPTER:
- The definition of a Bible “hearer” (4:1). The wise man hears in giving attention to know and understand.
- The definition of being “taught” (4:4). Solomon was “taught” by David when his heart retained David’s words and he kept his father’s commandments. The forgetful hearer cannot be taught well by wisdom (4:5). This is not because of any flaw of the teacher, necessarily, but because of the listener’s failure to retain.
- James 1:25, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues [in it], and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
- To retain teaching is to actively reproduce it in our lives (see also Jas. 1:22ff).
- The commission to utterly abandon the pathway of evil (4:14-19). Notice the energies in avoiding this pathway parallel the same level of intensity of getting wisdom and understanding (see 4:5, 6).
- 1 Timothy 6: 11, 12: “But you, O man of God, __________ these things and __________ righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. __________ the good __________ of faith, __________ _________ on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
- 2 Timothy 2:22, 23: “__________ also youthful lusts; but __________ righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But __________ foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”
- The source for all of life’s endeavors—the heart (4: 23). Since the issues of life spring from the heart, the heart must be trained and well protected.
The question, “What is good for me?” See 1 Corinthians 10:31. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
The question of, “How often must I assemble with the Saints?” See Hebrews 10:25. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
My participation with drugs, dancing, smoking, viewing pornographic material, profanity, sexual immorality, etc. (1 Thess. 5:21-23; 1 Cor. 6:20; Matt. 5:28)?
The mouth (4:24; cf. Matt. 12:34-37; Jas. 1:26)?
The eyes (Prov. 4:25; cf. Matt. 6:22, 23; 2 Pet. 2:14)? _________________________________________________________________________________________________
The feet (Prov. 4:26; cf. Psa. 119:59; Heb. 12:13)? __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Proverbs chapter four works with very active language in describing a man’s direction or walk in life. By wisdom his walk is not hindered and when he runs he will not stumble (4:12). The chapter could be divided up as:
- The preservation and promotion of wisdom (4:1-13).
- The destructive path of sinners (4:14-19).
- The wellspring of life (4:20-27).
—Steven J. Wallace
Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
Proverbs chapter three demonstrates the fear of the Lord is connected with practical trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). As an outline for a sermon, Solomon defines trust in the Lord as:
- Regarding the law (3:1, 2).
- Wearing mercy and truth (3:3, 4).
- Not devising your own ways but learning His ways (3:5, 6).
- Possessing Humility and departing from evil (3:7, 8).
- Honoring the Lord with your prosperity (3:9, 10).
- Never despising God’s fatherly correction (3:11, 12).
In the last article, we saw how Proverbs teaches by consequences as well as synonymous parallelism. Chapter three is filled with “consequential teaching” where doing action “a” results in reaping “b.” For example, not forgetting and keeping my law proverbially results in the length of days and peace (3:1, 2). Again, wearing mercy and truth around your neck and inscribing these qualities on the tablet of your heart results in finding favor with God and man (3:3, 4).
How important is it to love and be courteous to the Lord and to people in general?
- Notice how Paul employed the wisdom of this proverb in Romans 14:15-19.
- “And be ____________ to one another, ____________, ____________ one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
Practical Self Applications:
- What do I do to acknowledge God in all my ways so that He will direct my steps (Prov. 3:6)? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- How would pride and an over inflated view of self-worth hamper the relationship we are to have with God and men (Prov. 3:7)? First look in Proverbs 3 for answers. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- How can I honor the Lord with my prosperity (Prov. 3:9)? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What are some ways I could despise the correction of the Lord today (Prov. 3:11, 12)? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- How might I withhold good from those to whom it is due (Prov. 3:27, 28; cf. Rom. 13:7; Gal. 6:10)? Who makes it my “due” to give good anyway? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Proverbs chapter three has many practical applications for godly living. Read it carefully and frequently this month.
You could divide the chapter up into two main sections:
- Do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:1-12).
- Wisdom is better than earthly riches to find and promote peace and happiness (Prov. 3:13-35).
—Steven J. Wallace