Proverbs 1-3

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 23, 2004

Introduction

We have a great need for wisdom.

Illustration

This imbecile decides one day that he is sick and tired of people calling him stupid, so he decides to show his wife that he is really smart. While his wife is off at work, he decides that he is going to paint a couple of rooms in the house. The next day, right after his wife leaves for work, he gets down to the task at hand. His wife arrives home at 5:30 and smells the distinctive smell of paint. She walks into the living room and finds her husband lying on the floor in a pool of sweat. She notices that he is wearing a ski jacket and a fur coat at the same time. She rushes over and says, “Honey, are you all right?” He slowly nods his head yes. “What are you doing?” she asks incredulously. “I wanted to prove that I’m not so dumb,” he started, “and I wanted to do it by painting the house.” “Well why do you have both a ski jacket and a fur coat on?” she asks dumbfounded. “Well,” he says, “I was reading the directions on the paint can and it said: For best results, put on two coats.”

The older I get, the more I find I’m learning about the need for wisdom.

So many times I go blundering into certain situations and seem to cause more harm than good.

Wisdom is knowing how and then doing the right thing in a situation. It’s learning to fix something right the first time and not having to experiment and try over and over to get something right.

Proverbs 1

:1-6 Introduction – What the book is for

:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

proverbsmashal – proverb, parable; poem; sentences of ethical wisdom, ethical maxims. The Hebrew term means “a comparison”.

The word “proverb” refers to various forms of wise, insightful pronouncements.[1]

Another definition: Proverbs are sayings taken from everyday life intended to serve as practical guidelines for successful living.

When Solomon became king, God appeared to him in a dream and asked him to ask for whatever he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom (1Ki. 3:9). God gave Solomon his request.

One of the byproducts of the wisdom God gave Solomon was the proverbs that he wrote.  1Ki. 4:32 tells us that he spoke 3,000 proverbs.

Though most of the book contains things written by Solomon, not all of the book was written by Solomon. 

The sayings in this book form a library of instruction on how to live a godly life here on earth and how to be assured of reward in the life to come.

:4 To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

(Pr 1:4 NLT) {4} These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people.

Illustration

Linda Barbour of Reader's Digest writes,

During a friendly argument, my husband asked me why I married him in the first place. “I was just stupid,” I teased. When he said he was happy to hear that, I requested an explanation. “People get divorced all the time because they fall out of love,” he said. “But I’ve never heard of anybody falling out of stupid.”

In a way, one of the purposes of the book of Proverbs is to help us “fall out of stupid”.

:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning

Young and naďve people aren’t the only ones that benefit from this book. Wise men and men who are smart in God’s eyes will also pay attention to the things in this book as well.

:7 Wisdom and fearing God

:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

Lesson

The fear of the Lord

This is the first step of learning wisdom.
Learning principles and proverbs by themselves are not going to benefit you unless you also have a fear of the Lord.
If you have a fear of the Lord, then you will not only learn these things, but DO them as well.

:8-9 to the son

This might be addressed to Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. This could also simply be a way of addressing any reader, one who wants to learn.

:10-19 Don’t follow sinners

:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Lesson

Peer pressure

Yet teenagers aren’t the only ones affected by peer pressure.
Herod liked John the Baptist, but because of peer pressure, he had John put to death. (Mark 9:26)
There were Jewish leaders (John 12) who didn’t follow Jesus openly because they were more concerned about what people thought.
We often are looking around us to see what other people are doing.
Why is it so important for politicians to be aware of their “poll numbers”? Because our nation moves with a “herd mentality”. Many people don’t think for themselves, they just go with the crowd.
(1 Cor 15:33 NASB) Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

:17-18 …they lay wait for their own blood

(Prov 1:17-18 NLT) When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away. {18} But not these people! They set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives!

This is an example of a proverb (vs. 17-18) – something to think about and ponder.

Birds aren’t all that smart, yet they’re smart enough to avoid a net spread out in front of them.

Foolish people will go along with peer pressure, even though it’s obvious they’re getting themselves into trouble.

They think they’re going to get some victim, but they are their own victims.

:20-23 Wisdom calls to pay attention

:20 Wisdom crieth without

Wisdom is personified as a woman.

:24-33 Consequences of rejecting wisdom

:28-29 …For that they hated knowledge…

You can’t honestly be seeking God if you don’t want to learn what He wants for you (knowledge) and you don’t have any intention of doing what He wants of you (fear of the Lord).

People who say they’ve “tried” Christianity and left it fall into this category.

Following Jesus is not a “smorgasbord” – you can’t pick and choose which things you’re going to follow and which things you aren’t. It’s all or nothing.

:33 …shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Lesson

Dealing with fear

It seems to me that so much of our lives are motivated by fear.
We are fearful of financial disaster.
We are fearful of being hurt by someone close to us.
We are fearful of being attacked at night.
We are fearful of illness.
You can choose to be motivated by fear of things, or by fear of God.
When you choose the fear of God, you find peace and safety.

(Isa 12:2 KJV) Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

This was D.L. Moody’s favorite verse. He used to say, “You can travel to Heaven first-class or second-class. First-class is, ‘I will trust and not be afraid.’ Second-class is, ‘when I am afraid, I will trust in thee.’”

Illustration
I recall a story about a man who had to cross a wide river on the ice. He was afraid it might be too thin, so he began to crawl on his hand and knees in great terror. He thought he might fall through at any moment. Just as he neared the opposite shore, all exhausted, another man glided past him nonchalantly sitting on a sled loaded with pig iron. How like some Christians! Headed for Heaven, they tremble at every step lest the divine promises break under their feet.

Proverbs 2

:1-9 Wisdom gets you closer to God

:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Lesson

Buried treasure

How do you seek after the right things?
Think of how some people go after buried treasure.

The other night my boys and I watched the Indiana Jones move, “The Last Crusade” – the search for precious treasures, traveling across the world, risking danger, etc.

I understand that some folks shop for bargains that way – working to get the best deal on things.
If we only would handle God’s Word the same way.
Illustration
A man was out walking in the desert when a voice said to him, “Pick up some pebbles and put them in your pocket, and tomorrow you will be both sorry and glad.”
The man obeyed. He stooped down and picked up a handful of pebbles and put them in his pocket. The next morning he reached into his pocket and found diamonds and rubies and emeralds. And he was both glad and sorry. Glad that he had taken some—sorry that he hadn’t taken more.
And so it is with God’s word.

:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD …

If you’re truly searching after true knowledge, what you’ll find is God.

:10-22 What wisdom protects you from

:16 To deliver thee from the strange woman

strangezuwr – to be strange, strange woman, prostitute, harlot, adulteress

We’ll see more of this as we go on through proverbs, the warnings against immorality.

Proverbs 3

:1-4 Pay attention

:5-10 Putting God first

:5-6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

(Prov 3:5-6 NLT) Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. {6} Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

(Pr 3:5-6 The Message) {5} Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. {6} Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Lesson

God’s guidance

1. Trust God.
Be counting on Him.
Illustration

When John Paton was translating the Bible for a South Seas island tribe, he discovered that they had no word for trust or faith. One day a native who had been running hard came into the missionary’s house, flopped himself in a large chair and said, “It’s good to rest my whole weight on this chair.”

“That’s it,” said Paton. “I’ll translate faith as ‘resting one’s whole weight on God.’”

Illustration

When descending the Grand Canyon, often times a person has to travel on narrow ledges that have only enough room for a mule to get a foothold.  The ribbons of rock that run along the edges of these towering cliffs overlook vertical precipices that descend hundreds of feet to the valley below.  When one must make use of these stony paths, the safest course is to let the mule find his own way; for the slightest touch on the bridle may easily throw both the animal and his rider over the cliff to sudden death.  So it is in the believer’s life.  In some circumstances, if he would keep himself from having sinful doubts and falling into despair, he must lay the ‘bridle’ on the neck of Faith, and commit his way to God.  No matter how things look, he may take comfort in these words, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”  In such trying experiences the only thing to do is to trust in God and walk by faith, not by sight.

Illustration

reminds me of a story …

A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquility had long been the talk of the town. A local newspaper reporter was inquiring as to the secret of their long and happy marriage. “Well, it dates back to our honeymoon,” Explained the man. “We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom of the canyon by pack mule. We hadn’t gone too far when my wife’s mule stumbled. My wife quietly said, “That’s once.” We proceeded a little farther when the mule stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly said, “That’s twice.” We hadn’t gone a half mile when the mule stumbled a third time. My wife promptly removed a revolver from her pocket and shot him. I started to protest over her treatment of the mule when she looked at me and quietly said, ‘That’s once.’”

We need to trust God – don’t shoot Him.
2. Don’t count on your own brain
I have a hard time understanding everything. I can’t see all that’s going on.
(2 Cor 5:7 KJV) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
When Joshua and the Israelites came across the messengers from Gibeon, they looked like they had traveled from a distant country. Their proposal for a treaty sounded like a good thing.

(Josh 9:14 KJV) And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.

So they made a treaty with these people, though they were not a people they were supposed to make treaties with. They would eventually cause a bit of trouble to Israel, all because they were counting on their own brain and not asking God for directions.
3. Look for God’s direction
Look for where God is in the situation.
Look to know God in each circumstance.
Illustration

The snow covered the ground where three lads were playing. A man came along and said to them, “Would you like to try a race and the winner receive a prize?”

The boys agreed and the man told them that his race was to be different. “I will go to the other side of the field,” he said, “and when I give you the signal, you will start to run. The one whose footsteps are the straightest in the snow will be the winner.”

The race commenced and the first boy kept looking at his feet to see if his steps were straight. The second lad kept looking at his companions to see what they were doing; but the third boy just ran on with his eyes steadfastly fixed on the man on the other side of the field.

The third lad was the winner, for his footsteps were straight in the snow. He had kept his eyes on the goal ahead of him.

Keep your eyes on Him.  Don’t look at your own feet or at others.
4. He will direct you.
God knows how to guide you.

:9-10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Lesson

Loving God with your wallet.

Putting God first involves how you handle your money.
Don’t be giving God “leftovers” but give him the “firstfruits”. Be careful about the idea of saying, “I’ll give to God if there’s anything left at the end of the month”.
God wants to have first place in your heart. God wants to have first place in your wallet.
If you honor God, He will honor you.
(Mat 6:33 KJV) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

:11-12 God’s chastening

:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth

Sometimes we have the idea that if we’re going through a difficult time that God must not love us anymore. Think again.

God wants His children to grow up, and growing up involves learning to deal with difficult things.

:13-20 The Value of Wisdom

:15 She is more precious than rubies

For most of us, the reality of this doesn’t come naturally.

We have a hard time seeing why it isn’t a good thing to just be incredibly wealthy. Wouldn’t that solve all of our problems?

Yet the more you go through life, especially the rough times, you will find the value of wisdom.

:21-26 Safety in wisdom

:27-30 Doing good to others

:31-35 Stay away from evil

:32 For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.

froward – perverse

Lesson

Obedience brings intimacy with God

God speaks intimately with those who are walking with Him.
(John 14:21-24 KJV) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. {22} Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? {23} Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. {24} He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

:34 but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

Both James (James 4:6) and Peter (1Peter 5:5) quote this.



[1]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.