Proverbs, Chapter 1
Name of the Book:
The title of this book in the Hebrew Bible is what we have as Chapter 1, Vs. 1, “The Proverbs of Solomon, the Son of David, King in Israel.” The Greek Septuagint called this book “Proverbs of Solomon.” The Latin Vulgate named it “The Book of Proverbs”, which is what we have in our English Bibles today.
Translators of English Bibles place Proverbs among the poetic books with Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon), whereas in the Jewish/Hebrew Bible, (our Old Testament only), it is found among the “Writings,” its third and final major section, including; Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (Solomon), Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.
The word “proverb” comes from the Hebrew noun מָשָׁל MĀSHĀL, which can be defined as “a saying, a proverb, a wisdom saying or even a mocking song.” The word is derived from the verb MĀSHAL that means a proverb and has a second major definition which is “to rule, to govern, or to have dominion.” In its few Hiphil uses, MĀSHAL means “to make someone ruler over” something, (e.g., Psa 8:6; Dan 11:39).
The purpose of a proverb was to warn against hazardous behavior and to promote wisdom resulting in social harmony among individuals and the community. Therefore, these proverbs are intended by God for you to be able to take possession of and rule over your own soul.
The entire book of Proverbs is the collection of Solomon but not necessarily his own personal writings. According to 1 Kings 4:32, Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. Solomon wrote most of the collection of proverbs in this book but not all of them. He is ascribed to writing Chapters 1:1 – 9:18; 10:1 – 22:16 and 25:1 – 29:27. Unnamed wise men (sages) wrote other parts 22:17 – 24:34.
The proverbs in the latter section (25:1 – 29:27) are called the “Second Collection of Solomonic Proverbs” and they were selected from Solomon’s collection of writings by King Hezekiah’s committee, 25:1.
As for Chapters 30 and 31 they are ascribed to an Agur and Lemuel respectfully who we know nothing about. Jewish tradition says they were pen names for Solomon and his mother Bathsheba. Some believe Lemuel to have been a non-Israelite monarch whom Solomon received wisdom from.
The Hebrew term for proverb, MĀSHAL, also means “a comparison,” and it came to be used for any sage or moralistic pronouncement, (cf. Ezek 18:2; Psa 49:4).
Many of the proverbs are condensed into parables. As noted above, the sayings in this book form a library of instruction on how to live a godly life here on earth. In addition, it tells us how to be assured of reward in the life to come.
These proverbs are not so much popular sayings as they are a distillation of wisdom from those who knew the law of God as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write them and be collected in this book.
This type of literature goes back in written form to about 2700 B.C. in Egypt. The section 22:17-24:34 is similar to the proverbs of an Egyptian writer, Amenemop, who apparently antedated Solomon.
Bruce K. Waltke notes, “No longer can wisdom be defined simplistically “as the practical application of knowledge.” Instead wisdom must be thought of as a broad, theological concept denoting a fixed, righteous order to which the wise man submits his life.” (The Book of Proverbs and Ancient Wisdom Literature.)
Most scholars outline the book as the 7 Collections. The first four being known as Solomon I, the fifth as Solomon II, followed by the sixth “The Sayings of Agur Son of Jakeh” and seventh “The Sayings of Lemuel.”
Collection I, chapters 1-9;
Collection II, chapters 10-22:16,
Collection III, chapters 22:17-24:22
Collection IV chapters 24:23-24:35
Collection V, chapters 25-29
Collection VI, chapter 30, The Sayings of Agur Son of Jakeh
Collection VII, chapter 31, The Sayings of Lemuel
The headings also name five authors: Solomon, (Collections I – IV). The “Men of Hezekiah” who collected and edited some of Solomon’s proverbs, (Collection V). Agur, (Collection VI). Lemuel, (Collection VII).
The headings or (superscripts) in Proverbs divide the book into these seven collections, Prov 1:1; 10:1; 22:17; 24:23; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1. Though Prov 22:17 lacks a distinct editorial heading, its reference to “the sayings of the wise,” gives it a distinction as a new section.
Collection I, the Prologue, has set the context for all the collections that follow, Prov 10:1-31:31, not just Collection II and its two appendixes, the “Thirty Sayings of the Wise” (Collection III; Prov 22:17-24:22) and “Further Sayings of the Wise” (Collection IV; Prov 24:23-24:35).
There are actually two collections of Solomonic proverbs which comprise the Book of Proverbs.
- The First collection is chapters 1-22:16, known as the Older Book of Proverbs, followed by two appendices, chapters 22:17-24
- The Second collection is chapters 25-29, which the men of Hezekiah collected followed by its three appendices chapters 30-31.
Though the theme running throughout the book is wisdom for living, the specific teachings include instruction on folly, sin, goodness, wealth, poverty, the tongue, pride, humility, justice, vengeance, strife, gluttony, love, lust, laziness, friends, the family, life, and death. Almost every facet of human relationships is mentioned, and the teaching of the book is applicable to all people everywhere.
In addition, the proverbs found within are general principles for living the spiritual life and wise observations based on experience, but they must not to be considered unconditional promises from God, as many other portions of scripture are dogmatic conditional and unconditional promises, but as pragmatic principles or procedures to follow. Neither are the proverbs “legal guarantees from God” but rather “poetic guidelines for good behavior.” As such, the proverbs tell what generally takes place without making an irreversible rule that fits all circumstances.
For example: Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This is a general principle. There have been many children raised on the Word of God who later in life have rejected it with their own free will volition.
Furthermore, certain proverbs that make amoral observations (e.g., 14:20; 17:8) must not be seen as condoning or encouraging evil. A distinction must be made between what is described and what is prescribed as proper.
The recognition that the proverbs have limitations does not nullify the fact that some proverbs may always be true. Frequently these are connected to an attribute or action of God, 11:1; 12:22; 15:3; 16:2, 33; 22:2.
Psa 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.”
The way to decide whether a proverb is always true or limited to certain circumstances is not by means of a subjective “vote”, but by comparison and correlation with the rest of the Biblical canon, beginning with the context of the Book of Proverbs and of wisdom literature as a whole and concluding with the New Testament evidence.
Date of the Book:
Solomon reigned from 971 to 931 B.C. and Hezekiah from 715 to 686 B.C.
The earliest the Book of Proverbs could have been in its final form was in Hezekiah’s day, but it may have reached this stage later than that. We have no way to tell. The contents of the book could have been in existence in Solomon’s lifetime, though not assembled into the collection we know as the Book of Proverbs.
We begin with Proverbs 1:1-7.
1 “The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, the king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and discipline;
To discern the words of understanding;
3 To receive discipline of insight,
Righteousness and judgment and uprightness;
4 To give to the simple prudence,
To the youth knowledge and purpose—
5 Let a wise man hear and add instruction,
And let the understanding acquire wise counsel—
6 To understand a proverb and a satire,
Words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Vs. 1 – Introduces the entire Book of Proverbs and is its title. In these opening words, the basic authorship, the character of the material, and the kind of literature are established.
Proverbs 1:1, “The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, the king of Israel:”
The opening verse assigns the authorship of the Book of Proverbs to Solomon much like the authorship of the Book of Psalms is popularly assigned to David.
The title reveals that the book is set apart as royal literature, written in the context of the court, to be enjoyed by its patrons and practiced by those close to the king.
Vs. 2 – Then informs the reader about the kind of literature encountered in the book. It is material set in proverbial form to encourage the mind to slow down and compare, each couplet serving as a kind of thesis for discussion among the sages, (i.e., you and I).
Proverbs 1:2, “To know wisdom and discipline; To discern the words of understanding;”
To read Proverbs rapidly leads to frustration. Therefore, from the very beginning the readers are made aware of the manner in which they must read the book.
Delitzsch says, “Vs. 2–6 are the “statement of its object,” annexed to Vs. 1.” Therefore, Vs. 2 serves as the main object of Proverbs. Vs. 3–5 expand Vs. 2a, while Vs. 6 gives a fuller explanation of Vs. 2b.
Beyond the opening verse, much of the first nine chapters contain exhortation or instruction. Much of the rest of the book appears to make neutral assertions, “definitive observations on a particular topic” without any direct appeal to the listener, because imperfect verbs are utilized.
“Wisdom” is the Hebrew word חָכְמָה– CHOKHMĀH, that means, “wisdom, skill, skillful, prudent, good sense, experienced living, general or Godly wisdom.”
The First Objective of Proverbs is to show a person how to become clever and skillful at the greatest skill of all, the skill of living.
Proverbs pictures a world designed with order, from the tiniest speck to the largest ocean, Prov 8:26-29. Man in his foolishness has blurred this design, and so the first principle of wisdom is to discover the skill to lead a life of moral order in an ordered universe. A life lived in the fear of God can have “order” and “meaning.”
The Second Objective is to impart understanding of wisdom, Vs. 2b, 6. It is to help the student recognize and understand “the sayings of understanding,” sayings that reflect discernment about life.
The term “understanding” בִּיָנה – BINAH, more accurately refers to discernment. The person who is truly wise is able to separate, to discriminate, and to read between the lines. To be wise, he must pierce the meaning of proverbs, satire, and riddles; thoughts that deal with the mysteries of life experiences, cf. Prov 16:1-3, 9; 25:2-3. So this verse specifies what a person desiring wisdom must come to understand.
Wisdom is the ability to understand a situation so as to know how to respond in a way that pleases God. Discernment is an aspect of wisdom, the ability to see to the heart of something or to understand its true nature. Thus, many proverbs contrast two things so that we can better understand the real or underlying, issue.
Prov18:9, for example, says that “laziness is destructive, not merely a lack of productivity”. Proverbs 1:2 confirms what God had said to Solomon, that he would be wise so that he might discern good from evil, and so judge equitably, 1 Kings 3:11f. And so, Proverbs will give to those who study its maxims, greater understanding and insight, Vs. 2b, 6. And with discipline they will have internal strength to act on that understanding.
The Third Objective is to impart moral insight, Vs. 3.
Proverbs 1:3, “To receive discipline of insight, Righteousness and judgment and uprightness;”
The proverbs of Solomon have been collected so that a person might receive moral insight. Like חָכְמָה – CHOKHMAH, (wisdom), שָׂכַל – SAKHAL, (insight), refers to skill, especially the ability to understand history and foresee future consequences.
The second line of Vs. 3 distinguishes this third objective, the ability to have insight into what is moral, just, and upright.
“Righteousness” is the Hebrew word צֶדֶק – TSEDHEQ and here means the idea of “what is right.” It refers to God’s standard of right conduct.
“Justice” is the Hebrew word מִשְׁפָּט – MISHPAT that involves dispensing justice.
“Uprightness” is the Hebrew word מֵישָׁרִ – MESHAR and its primary meaning is “straightness,” or “evenness.” Therefore, judgment which is “straight” means that which is correct, just, right, and proper. “The way of the just is straight,” which means level and smooth, bringing happiness and peace to the person, Isa 26:7.
Isa 26:7, “The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.”
True wisdom is never exhibited apart from a moral framework of right standards. The Book of Proverbs is a storehouse of moral instruction. Proverbs was not written to sharpen an individual’s ability to be crafty or cunning. There must be a moral component which transforms a person of evil devices into a person of discretion, from craftiness into prudence.
The basic moral issues of justice and uprightness should be behind all of one’s endeavors. From doing acts of love, to disciplining your children, the motivation is justice.
The proverbs themselves are teachers, pointing their students, (those who study them), to whatever is righteous, just and honest, or (upright). In other words, this wisdom is not merely cleverness or the ability to understand something. Biblical wisdom yields fruit in the wise, because it transforms their lives so that they live according to the standards of God himself.
As king, Solomon was responsible to see that justice was upheld by rulers who were righteous and honest, so too is the responsibility of each believer to uphold rulership over his own soul with honesty and righteousness.
The Fourth Objective, identify the intended recipients of wisdom, Vs. 4.
Proverbs 1:4, “To give to the simple prudence, To the youth knowledge and purpose—”
This objective defines the intended student of wisdom literature: “the naïve and youth” with the backdrop of wise men and men of understanding.
The naive are gullible, and do not understand situations because they have not had enough experience. One reason for studying history and literature is to learn from the experiences of others. According to this verse, studying Proverbs has the same benefit.
The Hebrew word for “naive” is PETHI and suggests an openness to influence and instruction, whether good or bad, an attitude common among the immature.
These pithy sayings are designed to stick in the heart of the naïve and will come back to their minds as they face situations. Thus, if they obey what they know, even if they do not yet understand, they will act wisely.
It is challenging to impart wisdom to the young or immature, but it is especially difficult to give prudence to the naive. For both the young and naive, the book is given not simply to impart knowledge but to give them greater skill as they grow in that knowledge. This wisdom gives advice to a wide range of interests. It will follow you into all the details of your daily occupation, and into all the relations of your common life. Wisdom is the friend and counselor alike of the king on the throne, of the trade worker in the workshop, and of the farmer in the field.
Vs. 4-5 also state that wisdom is off limits to the fool. He is not invited into the sage’s classroom because he will only despise the wisdom of the sage’s words, Prov 14:9; 18:2; 23:9.
Prov 14:9, “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor.”
Prov 18:2, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.”
Prov 23:9, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”
Proverbs gives all the benefit of Solomon’s wisdom so that we learn how to live lives which are pleasing to God.
Every proverb sets forth a situation, comparison, or command based on someone’s experience, often compressing many experiences into a few words.
If the student is going to receive the maximum understanding of the wisdom found in Proverbs he must:
- Be willing to submit to the rigors of wisdom.
- Become proficient at interpreting the vehicle through which wisdom is conveyed.
- Subscribe to the moral code of righteousness.
- Qualify by being interested in moving from immaturity to maturity.
Having stated the four objectives of this Book in Vs. 2-4, which show a person how to become clever and skillful for living; impart understanding of wisdom; impart moral insight; identify the intended recipients of wisdom, the sage moves on to the means for becoming wise.
In Vs. 5 the teacher gives his initial exhortation to his students:
Proverbs 1:5, “Let a wise man hear and add instruction, And let the understanding acquire wise counsel—”
“Hear, increase in, and acquire (purchase) guidance / direction,” (i.e., As in the ancient days of pulling ropes in order to steer a ship, and thus too selecting wise directions in life’s situations.)
Growth in wisdom and understanding is not limited to the young and naive. Whoever is wise will read this book and accept its counsel. When the wise do so, they will strengthen their ability to understand and use proverbs and find that they have gained counselors, (i.e., the individual proverbs), who will guide their decisions.
Wisdom is therefore not static. We do not become wise and then remain wise. We must continue to grow. This verse implies that if we do not continually exercise our minds by studying the proverbs, so that we increase our learning, we will lose whatever wisdom we may possess, cf. Prov 19:27.
Prov 19:27, “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
Proverbs 1:5 gives the key to reaching the stated objectives.
- To be intimately acquainted with wisdom, 2.
- To discern wisdom’s language, 2b.
- To develop moral insight, 3.
- To move from immaturity to maturity, 4.
The key to wisdom is that you must be willing to “hear,” to be receptive. Though it sounds simple, it is difficult to achieve. The ability to hear is not acquired easily. Yet no student can be wise who has not first mastered the art of listening, an attitude of receptivity.
That is why when in Mark 12:28 our Lord was asked, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” He replied in Vs. 29, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL’!”
“Hearing” the proverb means, “perception and metabolization of Bible Doctrine through both the ear and eye gate.”
This truth is reinforced at strategic points throughout the book. In Prov 2:1–10, a number of conditions are established if one is to be wise, and central to all is; 1) a trained ear, 2) a heart inclined toward instruction, Vs. 2. These two motions are unnatural, evidenced by a parent’s continual need to instruct a child to listen, cf. Deut 6:4–9.
In the “other introduction” in this book, Prov 22:17–21, (the first Appendix to the First Collection Solomonic Proverbs), the admonition to “incline your ear” is given in the opening verse. The wise willingly acquire counsel from others by listening to what they have to say; counsel that will help navigate them through life compared to the fool who only listens to himself.
Then in Vs. 6 we have the expounding reinforcement of the beneficial result of being receptive which was first told in Vs. 2b.
Proverbs 1:6, “To understand a proverb and a figure (satire), words of the wise and their riddles.”
“Figure” is the Hebrew word MELITSAH, מְלִיצָה, and means, “a figure of speech,” that comes from the root word LITS that means, “to scorn, or to scoff.” The Septuagint translators chose the Greek Adjective SKOTEINON, “dark saying” for MELITSAH here. So it comes to mean, “a satire, or mocking poem, dark sayings.”
It is used here and Hab 2:6 only. In Hab. 2:6, it retains more of the root sense of “mocking.” There it is combined with “riddle”, with the resultant meaning “mocking riddle” or “taunting riddle.”
Hab 2:6, “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song (Proverb) against him, even mockery (MELITSAH) and insinuations against him…”
The one who listens to instruction and acquires good counsel will then be able to have insight into the various literary forms of wisdom and their meanings, cf. Vs. 2b.
1 Cor 2:9-10, “But just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 10For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
So not only do we have form but we have content. Therefore, a humble subjection to the faithful teachings of the “mysteries of God” will benefit us greatly, that is, coming to learn and not to teach; and not to have our curiosity fed, but our conscience satisfied. This is reverence of God’s ordinances that will bear Divine fruit in our lives.
Not all proverbs are created equal. Some are fairly easy to understand, Prov 10:1, others are more difficult Prov 18:1, and some are intentionally enigmatic, Prov 30:18f.
Prov 10:1, “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”
Prov 18:1, “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.”
To understand a proverb’s meaning is not necessarily to know all of its implications. Solomon encourages students to persevere in studying, since he wrote this book so they would grow in their ability to understand even proverbs that are dark sayings and riddles.
Then in Vs. 7, we have the Conclusion of the Introduction of Proverbs, which gives the guiding principle for the pursuit of wisdom.
Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
This verse is the cornerstone of the whole building called the book of Proverbs. Some call it its motto or theme. The introduction ends with a strong declarative statement, serving as the motto in which the distinctive feature of Hebrew wisdom is declared; “the fear of the Lord.”
The three main characters of this verse parallel the three in the first objective of Vs. 2a, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Instruction. In Vs. 2 we are exhorted to gain them, in Vs. 7 we are told how!
This verse contains both warning and promise. It warns against approaching or using this book with an improper attitude.
- The “fear of the Lord” is not terror, but an attitude of obedience. It is affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law.
- In contrast, “fools despise wisdom and discipline”, vs 2a, preferring to go their own way, cf. Prov 15:33; 29:1.
Prov 15:33, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”
Prov 29:1, “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”
- This attitude underlies the warning that although “a man’s ways are right in his own eyes,” he may cause his own destruction, cf. Prov 16:2, 25.
Prov 16:25, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Bruce Waltke states, “What the alphabet is to reading, notes to reading music, and numerals to mathematics, the fear of the LORD is to attaining the revealed knowledge of this book.” (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15.)
The Promise is for those who do apply humble obedience to these Proverbs; they will gain much knowledge.
- Fear once again means “respect” for the Lord and is the first-fruit of wisdom.
- In order to benefit from this book as God intends, we must approach it with the conviction that it will be obeyed, Prov 3.5f.
- Many profound moral systems collapse, not from lack of substance, but from lack of foundation or authority.
- As always, if we respect the authority of God found in His Word, we will have blessings.
Therefore, the fear of God is the “beginning” of knowledge.
“Beginning” is the Hebrew noun, רֵאשִׁית, RESHITH, that means, “beginning, or the first.” It is used in two ways: to refer to something that has priority in time or origin (e.g., Gen 1:1), or to a principal part. This fear (respect) is the initial point to real knowledge.
As God said in Job 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
David said in Psa 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”
Solomon also stated in Eccl 12:13, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”
Having tried every road that life has to offer, Solomon concluded that all eventually end in dead end streets. Only as man fears God, does his life have meaning. Once a person understands the truth of this principle, he is ready for the instruction in the remainder of the book.
The second line of Prov 1:7, which antithetically states that “fools despise wisdom and instruction”, also fits with the sense of priority. Those who lack the fear of God are ignorant of the very ABC’s of wisdom.
The multitudes despise God’s wisdom and instruction because “the beginning of wisdom”, is “the fear of God”, which is not before them, and they do not know its value; therefore, scorning its obligations.
Yet having this childlike fear is wisdom, security, and happiness! Thus fearing God is the very heart, the germ, the choice ingredient of wisdom. One cannot be wise and fail to fear God. It is the filter through which true wisdom flows, sifting out all that is ungodly.
Bruce Waltke describes its all-encompassing nature this way: “It is at one and the same time both the source and the substance, the cause and the effect.”
He also notes, “The responsibility to respond to instruction lies squarely on the child’s shoulders; he must listen to it (1:8), accept it (1:3; 19:20; 23:23), love it (12:1), prize it more highly than money (4:7; 23:23), and not let go of it (4:13). Once accepted, discipline springs from the power of internalized wisdom, not from sporadic “New Year’s resolutions.” It is a matter of inward spirit, not of a coerced will and servile compliance.” (IBID)
In the first seven verses of Proverbs, the author first identified the material; second, he declared the objectives; third, he called the hopeful to receptivity; and fourth, he pointed out the motto of wisdom that aspiring sages must never forget.
About the Author of the Book, Solomon
The record of Solomon can be found in the Bible in both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, specifically 1 Kings 1-11; 1 Chron 29:22-28; 2 Chron 1:1-9:31, as well as the Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes.
His Birth and Name
Solomon’s personal name, (Hebrew המלשְׁ – SHELOMOH), is variously interpreted as “his peace, (God) is peace, Salem (a god), intact, or his replacement.” Mainly his name means “peaceful.” He was named by his mother Bathsheba, 2 Sam 12:23-24. He was David’s second son by Bathsheba, (i.e., the first after their legal marriage, 2 Sam 12), and he was the tenth son of David.
He was probably born about B.C. 1035, 1 Chron 22:5; 29:1. He succeeded his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen, maybe as old as 20 years of age.
Nathan, to whom his education was entrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., “beloved of the Lord”, 2 Sam 12:24-25. He was the first king of Israel “born in the purple, (royalty).”
His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons: 1 King 1:13, “Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign after me.”
His ascent to the throne took place before his father’s death, and was hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah, who tried to grab the throne seeing his father’s weakened condition and imminent death, 1 Kings 1:5-40.
Solomon became the third king of Israel and reigned forty years.
He began his reign gloriously by asking not for wealth, riches, and personal success, but for the wisdom to lead God’s people, 1 Kings 3:5-14. As a result, the Lord was pleased with him and blessed him not only intellectually but materialistically as well.
During his long reign of forty years, the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendor. The first half of his reign was by far the brighter and more prosperous. The latter half of his reign was clouded by the idolatries that he fell into, mainly from his heathen intermarriages, 1 Kings 11:1-8; 14:21, 31.
As soon as Solomon settled himself into his new kingdom and arranged the affairs of his extensive empire, he entered into an alliance with Egypt by the marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh, 1 Kings 3:1, of whom, however, nothing further is recorded.
During his reign, Israel enjoyed great commercial prosperity. Extensive traffic was carried on by land with Tyre and Egypt and Arabia, and by sea with Spain and India and the coasts of Africa, by which Solomon accumulated vast amounts of wealth and of the produce of all nations, 1 Kings 9:26-28; 10:11-12; 2 Chron 8:17-18; 9:21.
This was the “golden age” of Israel. The royal magnificence and splendor of Solomon’s court were unrivalled, cf. Mat 6:29. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, 1 Kings 11:3.
He surrounded himself with all the luxuries and the external grandeur of an Eastern monarch, and his government prospered.
He entered into an alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, (following in the footsteps of his father David), who in many ways greatly assisted him in his numerous undertakings, 1 Kings, Chapters 5, 7, 9, 10.
Solomon’s fame was spread abroad through all lands, and many kings and men came from far and near “to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” Among those attracted to his wisdom was “the queen of the south”, Mat 12:42, the queen of Sheba, a country in Arabia Felix (Ethiopia today), 1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chron 9:1-12; cf. Mat 12:42; Luke 11:31. She was filled with amazement by all she saw and heard: “there was no more spirit in her.” After an interchange of presents, she returned to her native land.
So not only was this a period of great material prosperity, but it was equally remarkable for its intellectual activity. Solomon was the leader of his people in the uprising of a new intellectual life, as it says in 1 Kings 4:32, “He spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs.”
In his reign he was an authority on literature and psychology, botany (study of plants) and zoology (study of animals), ornithology (study of birds) and herpetology (study of reptiles), entomology (study of insects) and ichthyology (study of fish), and many other things.
Under Solomon alone was the kingdom of Israel a great world-power, fit almost to rank beside Assyria and Egypt.
Never again were the boundaries of Israel so wide, and never again were the north and south united in one great nation.
There is no doubt that the credit of this result is due to God’s grace plan for Solomon giving him all these blessings and the wisdom to rule.
Solomon Builds the First Permanent Temple
For some years before his death Solomon’s father David was engaged in the active work of planning and collecting materials for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent abode for the Ark of the Covenant, 1 Chron 29:6-9; 2 Chron 2:3-7.
David was not permitted to build the house of God because he had, “shed much blood and waged great wars”, 1 Chron 22:8. Instead that honor was reserved to his son of peace and rest, Solomon.
Before his death David gave parting instructions to Solomon for the building of the first permanent Temple, 1 Kings 2:1-9; 1 Chron 22:7-16; 28:1-21.
The Temple was begun in the 4th year of Solomon’s reign, (480 years after the children of Israel left Egypt), and finished in the 11th (7 years later), 1 Kings 6:1, 38; 7:13 ff.
To do the work Solomon employed 15,000 foreigners supervised by 3,300 – 3,600 Israelites. In addition, 30,000 Israelites worked in Lebanon in three month shifts, 1 Kings 5:13-16; 2 Chron 2:17-18.
It seems that due to his prosperity and intellectual superiority it eventually became more than he could handle spiritually, which is a warning to us all, Jer 9:23-24.
Jer 9:23, “Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD”.”
Yet in addition, by intermarriage with many foreign women, Solomon courted spiritual declension and gross idolatry. He built for all of his foreign wives’ temples to their foreign and pagan gods, 1 Kings 11. At first he may have simply been showing tolerance to religious freedom, but eventually participating in such pagan religions.
Of the numerous deities to which his foreign wives turned his heart, perhaps the best known in the ancient world was Ashtoreth, called “the goddess of the Sidonians”, 1 Kings 11:5, 33, since her cult was early established among the Phoenicians. This fertility goddess, known as Astarte among the Greeks, Ishtar in Babylonia, and Venus among the Romans was the protagonist of sexual love and war in Babylonia and Assyria. She is where our holiday name “Easter” comes from, the goddess of fertility.
Due to God’s promise to Solomon’s father David, God did not take the kingdom from Solomon, but broke it into two parts, (Northern and Southern Kingdoms), during the reign of Solomon’s successor, his son Rehoboam, 1 Kings 11:29-12:24.
New Testament writings regarding Solomon.
- Solomon was an ancestor of Jesus via adoption through his step father Joseph, Mat 1:6-7. (Mary’s line goes through Nathan, Solomon’s brother, Luke 3, due to the Coniah curse, Jer 22:24-30.)
- His splendor is mentioned in Jesus’ teaching about anxiety and faith rest, Mat 6:29; Luke 12:27.
- Jesus noted that the queen of Sheba came a long way to see Solomon and that “something greater than Solomon is here”, Mat 12:42; Luke 11:31.
- Jesus walked in “Solomon’s porch,” a part of the Temple area, John 10:23; compare Acts 3:11; 5:12.
- Stephen noted that though David sought to find a place for God, it was Solomon who “built a house for him”, Acts 7:47.
As we have noted previously, the proverbs are limited by the characteristics of brevity and catchiness. On the surface some proverbs read almost like an algebraic equation or mechanical law (A+B=C), 22:4.
Prov 22:4, “The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD, Are riches, honor and life.”
( A ) + ( B ) = ( C )
However, Fee and Stuart rightly state that proverbs are “worded to be memorable” rather than “technically precise.” The very literary form necessitates that they overstate the case and oversimplify without including “fine print” or “footnotes” with “lists of exceptions.”
So these proverbs are a barometer for right living unto Christ that warn, rebuke, correct and admonish while providing the goal and prize for living the spiritual life unto God. Proverbs assumes that the physical and moral universe operates by cause and effect. Therefore, good behavior is rewarded and bad deeds are punished (e.g., Prov 10:30, “The righteous will never be shaken, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.”).
In addition, Bullock correctly observes that the Book of Proverbs as wisdom literature assumes “a fundamental relationship between the natural and social/moral order.” Proverbs 3:19–20, states that Jesus Christ created the universe through wisdom, and the many references to His acts of creation (8:22–31) demonstrate that creation is viewed as the basis for order in the universe. The implication is that God through wisdom placed “order” in the very fabric of the cosmos.
Therefore, these verses set the stage for the whole book, which is designed to exhibit the order that holds together all of life. Within this context there is a “solidarity” between all parts of God’s creation, over which He is Ruler, from the universe itself down to a colony of ants, Prov 6:6. What you observe in the natural world has implications for understanding the social and moral order.
So as we begin the second part of chapter one. Verse 8-19 are a warning to stay away from the wrong crowd. Read Proverbs 1:8-19.
Vs. 8 is the first of 17 sermons we will note from here to Proverbs 9:18. They each begin with either “my son”, or “sons”, or “O’ sons.” BENI or BANIM. Therefore, after the author has indicated the object which his Book of Proverbs is designed to inculcate, and the fundamental principle on which it is based, he shows for whom he has intended it; he has the rising generation in mind.
Proverbs 1:8, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;”
Here we see the link between “fear of the Lord”, (which is Occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ through respect, reverence and obedience to His word), and the “authority vested in parents.”
This is honoring Divine Institution # 3, of the four Divine Institutions.
D. I. #1 = Freedom of Volition, where you have authority over your soul;
D. I. #2 = Marriage, where the husband has authority over his wife;
D. I. #3 = Family, where parents have authority over their children;
D. I. #4 = Nationalism, where the government has authority over the people.
The first mention of authority here is given to the Father as the head of the family. He has first responsibility for teaching Doctrine to his children; he is to inculcate discipline (MUSAR) in the learning of Bible Doctrine.
The mother is second mentioned who also plays an important role because she is the one who has the most contact with them on a day to day basis. She has more contact with them and more opportunity to teach (TORAH) them the Word.
Timothy is a great example of an individual who learned from His mother the ways of God, 2 Tim 1:5; 3:14-15; See also 1 Thes 2:7-8.
This gives honor to the first commandment with promise, Ex 20:12; Duet 5:16; Eph 6:2-3.
If the authority of the parent is based upon Bible doctrine, then the child will avoid the wrong crowd.
The issue here is “instruction” not blind submission. Therefore, Bible Doctrine must be inculcated to our souls and then applied in faith rest.
Additionally, God puts his stamp of authority behind the teaching of the parents by saying, “hear it” and “do not forsake it.”
This command is repeated in Prov 6:20.
“My son,” also speaks of the teacher of wisdom in regard to his students. He is addressing them as a fatherly friend. The teacher feels himself as a father by virtue of his benevolent, guardian, tender love.
In Vs. 9 we see the benefit of reverence towards receiving the Word of God in humility.
Proverbs 1:9, “Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, And ornaments about your neck.”
The child of God who listens to Bible doctrine, the child who receives doctrine from his parents, is going to grow up to be a wonderful adult.
“A graceful wreath” is a crown and “ornaments about your neck” (ANAQ) is a beautiful necklace of gems.
The “crown” signifies power and life while the “necklace” signifies guidance and protection. That is what the Word of God is to the believer.
The wise student is repeatedly promised guidance and protection in this book, cf., e.g., Prov 2:8, 10-11; 3:3; 4:6, 11.
Some also say that in royalty the man wore the crown and the women the necklace gems. Interestingly, one of Solomon’s daughters is mentioned in scripture, 1 Kings 4:11, Taphath’s name means, “ornament.”
Even though this Proverb is address to “my son”, we have a reference to the boy and girl who receive Bible Doctrine.
“They” refers to Bible Doctrine in the soul which becomes adornment in your soul.
These are idioms for a successful adult. The child who learns Bible doctrine in the home is going to be a great adult, and it has nothing to do with genes, talent, academic education, or advantages, as parents think of these things from the human viewpoint. It depends entirely upon Bible doctrine in the soul.
Here these represent Doctrine in the soul, but “crown” and “gems” are also symbols of your eternal rewards that are a result of applying God’s Word to your life in faith, daily, 1 Cor 3:10-15; 1 Thes 2:19 (crown of exultation); 2 Tim 4:8 (crown of righteousness); James 1:12; Rev 2:10 (crown of life); 1 Peter 5:4 (crown of glory); Rev 3:11.
Then in Verse 10-14 we have the second sermon. The general counsel of Vs. 9 is followed by a special warning: Stay away from the enticement of the world; it’s the wrong crowd to be hanging out with.
Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.”
“My son” is emphatically repeated.
The “if” statement, “אִם–‘IM”, is like a first class if, “if and when it does.”
“Sinners” is the Hebrew word חַ֝טָּאִ֗ים – CHATTA, and its accompanying verb PATHAH, “to persuade, seduce, or deceive”, is in the PIEL stem which is an intensive form, and it actually indicates people who make sin some form of habit. So the intensive signifies men to whom sin has become a habit, thus vicious, and wicked.
“Do not consent”, AL AVAH, the Hebrew says, “do not be willing, do not agree, do not go along with it.” This is our one rule against all manifold enticement, Deut 13:6-8; 1 Kings 13:15-19; cf. Prov 7:5-23.
Consent constitutes sin! Remember, Satan can only tempt us. When we consent to the temptation it becomes sin, James 1:13-15, cf. Rom 7:14-25.
In Vs. 11 this enticement always begins subtly, “come with us”, but then soon the demand rises, in Vs. 14 “Throw in your lot with us.”
Proverbs 1:11, “If they say, “come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause;”
These individuals have a common enterprise of seeking immediate wealth outside the limits of law rather than the deferred wealth that comes through the development of character within law, cf. Prov 16:29. In keeping with the adage, “sinners love company,” they tempt the believer to detract him from the paths of righteousness and justice and so to sin.
In Vs. 12 we have the promise of not being discovered, the covering up of the acts of sin, which is further enticement to participate; “no one will see.”
Proverbs 1:12, “Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;”
In Vs. 13, “Precious wealth”, this enticement is as rich as the world can offer in counterfeit to that coming from our Lord. It is the counterfeit to real life. This life is not earned or rewarded but stolen as the word “spoil” indicates.
Proverbs 1:13, “We shall find all kinds of precious wealth, We shall fill our houses with spoil;”
Unfortunately, many have been deluded by the influence of the wrong crowd into sin that they never imagined they would enter into.
Satan takes advantage of us in these ways due to our ignorance of his devices and Bible Doctrine, 2 Cor 2:11.
1 Cor 15:33-34, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”
The tender conscience becomes less sensitive by every act of compliance to sin. Every step we take on Satan’s ground deprives us of the security of the promises of God.
Only when we run from this evil will we have safety, 1 Cor 6:18; 10:14; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22.
Psa 119:114-115, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word. 115Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.”
Vs. 14 is the communist manifesto. Notice that the wrong crowd always operates on the basis of socialism. Keil and Delitzsch comment, “The meaning is perfectly simple. The oneness of the purse consists in this, that the booty which each of them gets, belongs not wholly or chiefly to him, but to the whole together, and is disposed of by lot; so that, as far as possible, he who participated not at all in the affair in obtaining it, may yet draw the greatest prize.”
Proverbs 1:14, “Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse,”
In Vs. 15-19 we have the third sermon, an exhortation to not associate with the sinner. The warning is emphatically repeated, and is confirmed by a threefold reason below.
Vs. 15, to “set foot on their paths”, cf. 4:14, is to be involved in an almost irreversible course of action that quickly involves them in sin and bloodshed.
Proverbs 1:15, “My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,”
This horrible plot is not propounded at first, but step-by-step unless we are graciously restrained by Occupation with Christ, it may come to this end.
There is not a sin that the greatest believer would not commit if trusting only in himself. Just look at the life of David or Solomon himself!
Vs. 16 is the first argument to enforce the warning. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. It includes two of the seven abominations of God, Prov 6:17-18; cf. Isa 59:7.
Proverbs 1:16, “For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood.”
In Vs. 17 we have the second argument in support of the warning. The analogy of a trap set for a bird.
Proverbs 1:17, “Indeed, it is useless to spread the net
In the eyes of any bird;”
This shows how sin lays in wait for the unsuspecting believer, the one without Bible Doctrine and discernment.
The stress in this verse is “before the eyes.” If you have your eyes on the bait (temptations) you will get trapped, but if your eyes are looking up (Occupation with Christ) you will escape the snare.
This verse tells us that if we have doctrine in our souls we will see the trap before we fall into it. We will understand the temptations of Satan’s cosmic system for what they are and will avoid them. But without Doctrine in your soul, you will be caught by the temptation. That is the reason of Heb 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus……”
Vs. 18 gives us a third reason for the warning, especially Vs. 18.
Proverbs 1:18, “But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives.”
The warning of Vs. 16 is founded on the immorality of the conduct of the enticer; that of Vs. 17 on the audaciousness of the seduction as such, and now in Vs. 18 the self-destruction which the sinner brings upon themselves. They wish to murder others, but, as the result shows, they only murder themselves. In other words, crime does not pay!
It tells us that those who are part of Satan’s comic system, though they seek to gain from the misfortune of others, actually bring destruction to themselves.
So was the case of Ahab and his partner, 1 Kings 21:4-24; Haman who wanted to murder Mordecai, Esther 7:9; or Judas who betrayed our Lord, Mat 26:14-16; 27:3-5.
Vs. 19, these and those like them are digging a pit for themselves, Psa 7:14-16; 9:15-16, they are digging their own graves, and we will too, if we go along with them.
Proverbs 1:19, “So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.”
Job 8:13, “So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the godless will perish.”
Now in Vs. 20-33 we have the solution for not getting involved with the wrong crowd.
Read Vs. 20-33
As we see in Vs. 20, Wisdom (CHOKMAH) is personified as a woman and stands for the application of Bible Doctrine which is Occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ, Prov 1:7.
Proverbs 1:20, “Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;”
Yet this is no ordinary woman. It is a woman who is shouting at the top of her lungs. “In the square”, is the Hebrew word RECHOB that means “an open place or plaza.” And where else would you expect to find a woman but at the plaza, at the market place, shopping to her heart’s desire.
All kidding aside, what this is saying is that Bible Doctrine is made available to everyone. It is preached boldly out in the open. It’s not found hiding in the dark places. It is not in the open field where no one is. It is in the crowded everyday places of life.
Even the word for “street” CHUTS [khoots], not only means “street” but also can mean simply, “outside.”
So God not only spoke to His people in the Temple, but also in the places of their everyday life. Like the prophets who would preach in public places of old, cf. Jer 26:2, “wisdom” delivers her discourse in the streets, squares, and gates of the city.
The emphasis of God’s Word preached openly and boldly continues with the word for “shouts” which is RANAN in the Qal Imperfect, which means, “it keeps on shouting, or crying out loudly”, as is NATHAN for “lifts” in 20b, which better means “to give.”
Aitken stated “Lady Wisdom, is no gentle persuader. She shouts, pleads, scolds, reasons, threatens, warns, and even laughs (see vv. 24-33). Pulpit bashing and hell-fire preaching if ever there were! All quite unladylike; and nowadays also quite unfashionable, even frowned upon.” (Aitken, Proverbs, p. 22.)
So Bible Doctrine, (God’s Word) is made available to all. It is preached loud and bold in the open places for all to hear. Therefore, everyone will be without excuse as to why they did not appropriate for themselves the wisdom of God.
Vs. 21 tells us that in the ancient world news was broadcast from these open places and gates. So in places where news was disseminated these people could come and hear God’s Word; a far cry from what we have on our news today.
Proverbs 1:21, “At the head of the noisy street she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city, she utters her sayings:”
This theme is doubly emphasized in Vs. 21 and expanded to include the crowd that is always whining and complaining. “Noisy” is the Hebrew verb HAMAH that means, “to murmur, growl, roar, or be boisterous.”
So for the whiners and complainers…. this doctrine is for you!
Proverbs also anticipates the coming of the fifth cycle of discipline to the Jews of the southern kingdom in 586 BC. Up until 586 BC the Jews had many warnings, for example, by Jeremiah.
Proverbs chapter one has Jeremiah in mind. He stood up before the people in Jerusalem and gave many messages. Before Jeremiah there was Isaiah, and between Isaiah and Jeremiah spanning three generations these men warned the people, “Come back to God; come back to the things that count; get back to Bible doctrine.”
Then in Vs. 22 we have the pleading of “Wisdom” to be given entrance into the souls of those who most need it.
Proverbs 1:22, “How long, O naïve ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?”
Here we have the pleading idiom AD-MATAY for “how long”. This is the pleading of God to the following three groups.
The first group are the “naïve ones”, PETHI, which means, “simple ones or inexperienced ones”, some translate it a bit rougher as “stupid ones.” We would call this crowd, “The immature believer who continues to reject the intake and application of God’s Word.”
These are the ones that do not fear the Lord, that is, they are not Occupied with Christ. They do not think about what they say before they say it. They live as if there is neither God nor eternity by indulging in sin and Satan’s Cosmic System on a regular basis.
And as it says, “the simple love being simple”, that is the “immature love being immature”, or “the stupid love stupidity.”
“Love” – AHEB, has the connotation of emotional overload of the soul. Instead of having a disposition to acquire the Lord’s revealed wisdom, they yearn with passionate desire to remain uncommitted to God and are instead open to alluring sin. They are drawn into it and they love it.
Why? I do not know. Maybe it is because they do not like to be challenged, or even more so, they love the Cosmos more than they know, they love it more than God and His Word.
But we should never be afraid of being challenged. It is the only way we are going to grow! If you are never challenged, you will never progress. So embrace the challenges that life throws at you and embrace them by first being prepared for them by having God’s Word in your soul.
The second group is “scoffers”, LUTS in the Hebrew that means, “Scoffers, mockers, scorners, arrogant talkers.” It is someone who ridicules, downgrades, criticizes, or takes a dim view of something else.
The scorner is the believer who takes a dim view of Bible doctrine. When he delights in scorning he simply downgrades doctrine. Here we see that this type is enamored with themselves rather than God’s Word, “the arrogant takes pleasure in [CHAMAD] their own arrogance.”
So just as Vs. 8-19 are a warning to stay away from these types, we are again warned not to associate with them, Psa 1:1-2.
Psa 1:1, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”
These mockers are unable to learn from the warnings, reproof, or punishment of those who are wiser than they, Prov. 9:7f; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12; 19:25.
The third group is “fools”, KESIL, that means, “fool, stupid fellow, dullard, simpleton, or arrogant one.” It is almost a combination of the first and second groups, and in fact is its culmination. And what do they do? They hate “knowledge”, DAATH, which stands for God’s Word, Bible Doctrine, cf. Prov 1:4, 7.
This could be a believer or an unbeliever but in principle, this is the way that the prophets later approached the unbeliever. This type despises doctrinal information. They hate those things connected with the presentation of Jesus Christ as the only solution to man’s problems.
They are in fact the type that Jesus addressed in Luke 19:4, “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.”
So we have here the three categories of those who reject Bible doctrine, (the immature, arrogant and haters of God’s Word); the three categories that Bible doctrine cries out to.
Vs. 23 continues the plea, “turn to my reproof.”
Proverbs 1:23, “Turn to my reproof, Behold I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.”
“Reproof” is a play on words, as CHOKMAH means “wisdom”, TOKAKAH [to-kay-khaw] means “correction, argument, etc.” So to receive CHOKMAH we must TOKAKAH.
Ultimately this is the Old Testament formula for “rebound and recover.”
This is the first answer to the problem of indifference or apathy toward the Word of God, which is “rebound.” So we see that “wisdom” first rebukes, vs 22, and then graciously offers forgiveness and blessing to those who will repent, vs 23.
“Pour out my Spirit” is NABA RUACH. NABA has the connotation of an uncontrollable or uncontrolled gushing forth, as water released from a dam. RUACH is the Hebrew equivalent to PNEUMA of the Greek and stands for God the Holy Spirit.
Prov 18:4, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”
Solomon, could not do such a thing, or any woman. Only God can forgive. So once again we understand “wisdom” to be the very mind of Christ.
As noted in the 23b, when the sinner repents, they receive the Filling of God the Holy Spirit. Even though Old Testament saints did not receive the permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, as do Church Age believers (Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), they could receive what is called the enduement of the Holy Spirit (Ex 28:3; 31:3; 35:31; Num 11:17-25; Deut 34:9; 1 Sam 10:6; Psa 51:11, etc.), which is like the filling of the Holy Spirit. They also had GAP, the grace apparatus for perception which is the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit as noted here (Psa 143:10).
The point is, Doctrine must become the believer’s life. If an individual is going to recover, it starts with rebound and then taking in the word on a consistent basis. Likewise, if a nation is going to recover, the recovery starts with the believers of that nation. The believers of that nation must have interest in Bible doctrine. It only takes a handful of believers to have impact for Christ, but this handful of believers cannot offer something phony to the world.
You have nothing to offer the unbeliever until you get doctrine in your soul. The principles of Bible doctrine can never be disseminated in a national entity where there is indifference to the Word of God.
But when the believer is filled with the Spirit, he produces Divine good which glorifies Christ. His perceptive abilities have been sharpened so that he can take in Bible doctrine.
“I will make my words known to you” is the sharpening of the perceptive abilities due to the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in you. This is the ultimate: learning God’s word, 1 Cor 2:9-16.
Beginning in Vs. 24 and continuing to Vs. 32 we see the warning against and consequences of rejecting God’s Word in your life. It is the folly of ignoring Bible doctrine.
Vs. 23 & 33 are the bookends of this section exhorting us to heed God’s Word and the promise of blessing if we do. But in between are some very harsh and stern warnings if we do not.
In Vs. 24 both lines begin with the continued pleading of God to the believer to receive His Word. We also see in both of these lines that His pleading is rejected. Then what follows in Vs. 25-32 are consequences of what happens when God’s Word is rejected.
These Proverbs speak to individual believers, but as R.B. Thieme Jr. has noted in his commentary on this chapter, it is also an appeal to nations as a whole and is a warning regarding the 5th Cycle of Discipline, which we have noted previously is looming over the nation of Israel at the time of Solomon’s writing Proverbs and especially towards the end of his monarchy, which will come to fruition under his successor, his son Rehoboam.
Proverbs 1:24, “Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention:”
Therefore, as we note the consequences of the individual, keep in mind the consequences on a national basis too.
In Vs. 24, their “refusal” to listen implies that they heard Wisdom’s call, but chose deliberately to reject it. This is the willful rejection of Bible Doctrine by the believer, where they do not pay attention to any of her counsel, whether positive advice or a negative rebuke.
This verse is what is called a synonymous distich, and in fact combined with Vs. 25 is a Tetrastich. “Distich” comes from two German words, “di”, meaning two, and “stichos”, meaning two lines. There are many types of distiches.
Synonymous – This means the line which contains the doctrine is given, and the next line repeats the doctrine in different words. The second line simply repeats the thought of the first line, but in different words, e.g., Prov 11:25
Antithetical – The doctrine of the first line is given, usually the positive perspective though it can be negative, and then in the second line you get the negative perspective; the doctrine is restated but it is restated from the negative side or the other side of the picture is given, e.g., Prov 14:30.
Synthetic – This means the first line expresses a truth of doctrine, and the second line expresses a truth of doctrine. The two lines have something in common. They both express a doctrine, and they both have something in common which is neither antithetical nor synonymous. They are simply developing a subject; the only thing the two lines have in common, e.g., Prov 10:18; 29:18.
Integral – In this, the second line completes the thought of the first line. The first line gives the thought and the second line completes it, e.g., Prov 13:14; 19:20-21; 22:6, 10, etc.
Parabolic – In which the first line illustrates the second line or vice versa. It usually has the word “as” in it. In the second line you get the doctrine or the point, e.g., Prov 11:22; 25:25; 27:15.
Comparative – The first line expresses something better than what is expressed in the second, e.g., Prov 15:17; 21:19, etc.
In addition, there are also four-line proverbs called a “Tetrastich” where the first two lines can be synonymous with the second two lines. The second two lines are synonymous but stated in different words, e.g., Prov 24:3-4.
There is a Synthetic Tetrastich, a four-line Proverb, e.g., Prov 35:6.
There is an Integral Tetrastich, e.g., Prov 30:17.
In Proverbs 1:26-27 & 25:6-7, we have a Pentastich, two lines and then three to amplify, instead of four.
There is a six-line Proverb, Hexastich. The first two lines actually form the subject and then the next four lines give the amplification of the subject, e.g., Prov 23:12-14
Then we have the Heptastich, a seven-line proverb. The first two lines are expanded by five lines, e.g., Prov 23:6-8.
And finally, the Octastich is found only in Prov 6:16, two lines and then it is expanded.
Now back to Prov 1:24, where we see the calling of God to the believer by means of His Word.
“Called” is the Qal Perfect of QARA which means it is a completed action.
In 24a, we see the “calling of wisdom” which is first to the unbeliever for salvation through the Gospel, Rom 8:28, 1 Thes 2:12; 5:24, and secondly, to the believer through the teaching of God’s Word.
The first line is magnified in 24b with a picture of the Cross of Jesus Christ, “I stretched out my hand” as in Isa 65:2.
Isa 65:2, “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts.”
So the second is like Paul in Acts 21:40 motioning to the crowd to draw near and hear the teaching of Scripture. As God has called us and stretched out His hand for us, we too must do the same toward Him to receive His grace, compare Job 11:13; Psa 68:31; 88:9.
Yet, Vs. 25 amplifies what is in view here, the believer’s rejection of God’s Word.
Proverbs 1:25, “And you neglected all my counsel, And did not want my reproof;”
Vs. 26, “I will laugh at your calamity, etc.” These words may be harsh and unbelievable, but it is the harsh reality for those who reject God’s Word, Will, and Plan for their lives.
Proverbs 1:26, “I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,”
There are very few times in scripture when God “laughs.” This Divine laughter is never exercised in joy or merriment, but only in derision. For example, Psa 2:2-4; 37:12-13; 59:8.
“Derision” means the pettiness of one looked upon poorly or utterly disregarded by another. As man mocks God and even challenges Him, He can only look upon their mental attitude sins as worthless, useless, and with disdain. Therefore, in the “reap what you sow” scenario, God uses the old adage, “I told you so.”
Hose 8:7a, “For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind.”
This is amplified in Vs. 27, “dread, storm, calamity, whirlwind, distress, and anguish” are analogies of utter despair
Proverbs 1:27, “When your dread comes like a storm, And your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come on you.”
Job 15:24, “Distress and anguish terrify him, they overpower him like a king ready for the attack, 25Because he has stretched out his hand against God and conducts himself arrogantly against the Almighty.”
Prov 10:25, “When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”
As these believers have mocked and rejected Wisdom’s counsel, so she will laugh at and deride them when they face disaster. This may seem petty, but it simply means that they will reap what they have sown; that is, by rejecting Wisdom’s teaching they cut themselves off from her help.
Even if they were to hear her words at that point, they would sound like mockery, like most good advice given too late does.
Similarly, God’s mockery of the mutinous nations in Psa 2:4ff, does not indicate personal spite or malice, but His judgment upon their sin of rebellion.
Keep in mind that disaster is inevitable. It is not that the foolish face more troubles than the wise. It is not just for the immature, or spiritually mature, or even the unbeliever versus the believer, it comes to all in some shape or form.
The point is that the unbeliever and immature believer will not have the resources of Wisdom to help them in time of need. The opportunity to learn is not open-ended. They cannot reap what they have not sown. They will, however, reap what they have sown, Vs. 31. They have preferred their own wisdom, which often appears successful as long as life goes well. Yet, disaster reveals the inadequacy of their own resources, and unfortunately that will be all that they have.
In Vs. 28 is the frustration of being without Bible doctrine in your life.
Proverbs 1:28, “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me,”
Born-again believers who had opportunity to learn Bible doctrine are suddenly overtaken by disaster and catastrophe. They did not go to Bible class; they were not interested in it. They were not interested in the doctrine as such and did not take it in categorically; so they did not expose themselves to God’s Power. Instead, they went about their own way, the details of life being more valuable to them.
“Then they will call upon Me.” Here are believers in the throes of disaster, people who had every opportunity to know better and to have either avoided it, or have enough doctrine to overcome it, but they do not.
Hosea 7:14, “And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn away from Me.”
“But I will not answer”, this means that they have no knowledge of prayer, they do not understand the principles of prayer, and they have absolutely no faith-rest technique leading to occupation with Christ.
This means they have their eyes on self and on people and on things. They have their eyes on a human viewpoint situation called disaster, and therefore they are not able to cope with the situation.
When a maximum number of people are not able to cope with a situation, you have national disintegration.
“They shall seek me diligently but they will not find Me.” They could have, during a period of relative peace, absorbed Bible doctrine, but they refused to do so. Now when they need it most there is nothing for them to rely on.
In a way, this is the example of the Noah generation. He preached for 120 years, and they all rejected his gospel, but when the flood came, the door was closed even though they cried out to be rescued from the flood. Their crying out was to save their lives, but not for their souls, just as Judas repented of his betrayal but still did not accept Jesus as His Savior.
Even more so this is the picture of the people of Israel who in Hosea’s day for the Northern Kingdom and Jeremiah’s day for the Southern Kingdom rejected their warnings and teachings. Then when the 5th cycle of disciple was administered to the nation, they cried out to God but it was too late.
Ezek 5:11, “‘So as I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominations, therefore I will also withdraw, and My eye will have no pity and I will not spare.”
Ezek 8:18, “Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them.”
Vs. 29 & 30, tells us again of their rejection and the reason for their calamity and subsequent distress.
Proverbs 1:29, “Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD.”
Bible doctrine is the key to the individual believer’s personal happiness, +H. The believer cannot live without Bible doctrine, but neither can a national entity survive without the principles of Bible doctrine. Therefore, as goes the believer in a national entity, so goes that national entity.
“And did not choose the fear of the Lord”, as noted previously, especially in Vs. 7, this is fear in the sense of awe and respect, or Occupation with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Vs. 30 this is simply the Hebrew for, “they did not desire”, which is negative volition toward Bible Doctrine.
Proverbs 1:30, “They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof.”
My counsel refers to Bible doctrine presented categorically, so that it could be understood, retained in the right lobe of the soul, and through this system of perception applied to any situation in life.
“They despised my reproof”, “Reproof” is TOKAKAH as in Vs. 23 and is the exhortation which comes from Bible doctrine.
What is the result of no doctrine: a) to the individual; b) to the national entity? We find it in the next two verses.
Vs. 31 is the reap what you sow analogy of Hosea 8:7a, “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind.”
Proverbs 1:31, “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, And be satiated with their own devices.”
They did not choose Occupation with the Lord, and as a result, they found themselves in a very desperate situation. Negative volition over a period of time on the part of believers leads individually to calamity, and collectively to national disaster.
For the individual it is self-induced misery. “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way.” This verse is dealing with the believer who is not interested in doctrine, the person who is saved but does not learn any doctrine.
If Bible doctrine is not first in the believer’s life then he is not occupied with Christ, and therefore any disaster situation is going to bring total misery.
“And be satiated with their own devices”, is referring to the various mental attitude sins: fear, worry, hatred, envy, jealousy, pride, vindictiveness, etc. that have overwhelmed their soul. These are the devices of the believer who rejects Bible doctrine. These mental attitude sins result in a terrible falling apart in any type of pressure. Such a believer succumbs to his own devices, the mental attitude sins of the Old Sin Nature.
Proverbs 1:32, “For the waywardness of the naïve shall kill them, And the complacency of fools shall destroy them,”
Vs. 32, the word for “waywardness” is the Hebrew word for apostasy, MESHUBAH, מְשֻׁבָה. It refers to these apostate believers. When you have believers turning to apostasy or turning away, they are called naïve or simple, PETHI, see Vs. 22. As we noted, it means one who is ignorant and has the wrong scale of values; that is the immature believer.
The things that are important to the PETHI one are his pleasures, his health, his money, his success, his friends. He has in his life with no room or no time for Bible doctrine. He is actually trapped by his own devices and is miserable as such. No believer can ever put these things first and have happiness. He may have a few moments of exhilaration, but exhilaration does not sustain anyone in life.
The thing that carries a person through all circumstances of life is Bible doctrine. God has so designed the plan for the believer that the believer must live by doctrine, Mat 4:4.
“And the complacency of fools.” – “Complacency” is the Hebrew word SHALVAH, that means, “quietness, ease, or prosperity.” This is literally, “the security of fools,” the false security of fools is their cosmic prosperity, and it refers to a system which is anti-biblical.
It is Satanic in its concept. It is Satan’s concept to solve man’s problems by worldly prosperity or perfect environment. There is no system of government designed to create perfect environment. There can be no perfect environment in the devil’s world, the only perfect environment that can occur on this earth will occur at the Second Advent of Christ.
The “prosperity of fools” is literally the security of fools and with such they “will destroy themselves.”
In the meantime, the believer can have a personal, perfect environment in his soul. It begins with the individual believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. It starts at the point of the Cross, salvation; and that personal, perfect environment is built by accumulating God’s Word within your soul; there is no other way.
This is Noah in the ark while the world around him is perishing Gen 7:11-16, for the believer who is Occupied with Christ, there is no fear of evil in the coming day of distress and anguish.
Mal 4:1, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” 2“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (That is the +H of God, Sharing the Happiness of God.)
Proverbs 1:33, “But he who listens to me shall live securely, And shall be at ease from the dread of evil.”
Vs. 33a – We “listen” to the Lord through the intake and application of Bible doctrine. And Vs. 33b is the +H of God, inner peace and inner happiness, inner blessing; “from the disaster of evil”.
In other words, the solution to our problems personally and the solution to our problems nationally, lie in one person. And it begins with a decision, Acts 16:31.
Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”