Wisdom Shouts Out (Proverbs 1:20-33)

We have been studying Proverbs 1 over the last few days, and today I hope to close out the chapter. There is a fair few verses left, but I will try to group them and talk through the sections.

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets.

    She cries out in the public square.

23 Come and listen to my counsel.

I’ll share my heart with you

    and make you wise.

Proverbs 1:20, 23 (NLT)

Wisdom Cries Out

Wisdom, the thing we have been seeking and the overall purpose of Proverbs, takes on a female persona now and begins to talk to us – the reader.

Wisdom cries out, shouting in the streets and urging us to come and find her. This firstly implies that wisdom will not simply fall in our lap, but rather we must seek after it ourselves. I reflected in an earlier post that it takes effort on our part, and we must engage with the Bible as a whole, and Proverbs in particular, if we want to become wise.

Why does she shout in the street and cry out in the public square? Simply because that is where the people are gathered. Wisdom is on offer to all of us, not just a select few. In fact, and in some of the verses we skipped over, wisdom calls out to “simpletons!” Not so politically correct of course, but again, the point is that no one is excluded. Proverbs aims to help the unwise become wise.

Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. Prov 1:23 #Bible #Wisdom

Don’t Ignore

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.

    I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.

25 You ignored my advice

    and rejected the correction I offered.

27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,

    when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,

    and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

Proverbs 1:24-25, 27 (NLT)

The message of this section is clear – do not ignore the call to wisdom!

Wisdom is trying to get our attention, and so often we choose the foolish path. We make our choices based on our feelings, our gut or what others want us to do, and yet those are worldly ways. Our choices must be Bible-based and Spirit-led, for that is the only way to ensure success.

Look at what befalls those who ignore wisdom. They end up in calamity and disaster, with anguish overtaking them. When we go our own way, or follow the world, we will end up in a place we do not want to be. The world offers us no satisfaction, and we will only ever be truly fulfilled by our relationship with God. Remember that the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and nothing works without that.

Avoid calamity. Avoid distress. Stay well away from the path that leads to disaster. Embrace the wisdom of God, and submerge yourself in His teachings. The bible is the manual for life, and nothing works quite right if we do not follow the user’s guide!

Harsh Words

Wisdom becomes rather harsh in the latter part of our passage. Having offered her help time and time again, and being snubbed by those who think they know better, Wisdom now refuses to answer. The foolish begin to search for her, but it is too late and they can no longer find her.

28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.

    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

29 For they hated knowledge

    and chose not to fear the Lord.

30 They rejected my advice

    and paid no attention when I corrected them.

31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,

   choking on their own schemes.

32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.

    Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

Proverbs 1:28-32 (NLT)

They have hated knowledge and wisdom’s free gift. They have refused her guiding hand and the correction she offers. Verse 29 tells us that they have refused to fear the Lord.

Harsh as it may seem, we only have so many chances to reject God and His ways. A time will come when it will be too late to turn to Him. I do not want that for you! If you have not turned to God, then now is the time. None of us know how long we have, or when it will be too late, so take that critical step right this second!

Fall on your knees before the Lord and cry out to Him for His forgiveness. Ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, and to save you from your sin. He will not refuse you. While you are at it, ask Him to fill you with wisdom, so that you might live a successful life in service to God.

Live in Peace

33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,

    untroubled by fear of harm.”

Proverbs 1:33 (NLT)

The chapter closes with these words – those who listen will live in peace.

Peace is something we all crave. Like wisdom, peace will not just happen to you, but must be sought. We have the fruit of peace in our hearts (see Galatians 5:22-23), and Jesus left us His peace as part of our inheritance (see John 14:27). Yet, this fruit must be cultivated so that it grows in our lives.

If you seek wisdom, you will find peace also #Bible #Peace #Wisdom

There are many benefits to living wisely, but for me at least, finding peace is enough to convince me.

Wisdom is calling you today, so do not ignore her plea. God, likewise, is knocking at your door, and hoping you will answer. Set your mind and heart towards Him today, and learn of His wisdom. This first chapter of Proverbs is there to convince us of our need for wisdom, and it certainly has me! How about you?

Listen to your Parents’ Wisdom (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Yesterday, I wrote a brief Introduction to Proverbs, and so today continue on with chapter one. The author turns their attention to the wisdom offered by parents, but is really an exhortation to gain wisdom. This continues the theme of chapter one, pointing out the numerous benefits of living wisely.

My child, listen when your father corrects you.

    Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace

    and be a chain of honor around your neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9 (NLT)

Verse 8 tells us to listen to our father’s correction, and not to neglect our mother’s instructions. This is fairly plain on the face of it, and good advice for the young (and not so young).

Correction

In my post last week – An Open Rebuke – we examined a particular proverb pointing out that being rebuked openly was preferable to hidden love. A rebuke is related to a correction, and put simply is a way for a superior to point out where we have gone wrong and set us straight.

We all need correction at times, and although it rarely feels like a blessing in that moment, it will do us good in the long run.

Emotions make correction hard to accept, but ultimately we must trust that one bringing correction to us has our best interest at heart. In this verse, the correction is being brought by a father, and it urges us to listen to what he is telling us.

Is it your experience that the father brings correction, while the mother instructs? I guess it is a bit of both. A turn of phrase from a few decades ago was the well-known – “Wait ‘til your father gets home!” So perhaps historically the father figure has brought the discipline.

How do we accept correction? Firstly, we must trust that the person wants what is best for us. Secondly, we should prayerfully consider what they say. Not all correction is trustworthy, and not all of it is accurate, so we should be a little discerning. Right or wrong however, if the person feels we need to address something in our lives, then we would be wise to reflect on that.

If the correction is justified, then we need to take steps to put it right. That may require an apology, or some other restitution depending on what has happened. It may simply mean adapting our behaviour going forwards. My view of correction is not to bash someone about what happened in the past, but rather to steer them towards better choices in the future.

My view of correction is not to bash someone about what happened in the past, but rather to steer them towards better choices in the future.

Instruction

Verse 8 tells us not to neglect our mother’s instruction. Instruction is simply to tell someone else what to do. This might be helping them do something new for the first time, or it might be to show them a better way to do things.

If we choose to ignore instructions, then chances are we will make mistakes.

Take a recipe. If you do not follow the steps or the method, you likely will not get the results promised. If you do not weigh out your ingredients, but instead just throw random amounts into the pan, it will not turn out as expected.

We tend to think of parental instruction as only applying to the young. While this is primarily the case, our parents help and advice can be invaluable throughout our lives. Many older people whose parents are no longer with them admit to missing their parents’ support in times of need.

I am acutely aware, when writing of parents, that not everyone reading this will have had a good relationship with theirs. Perhaps you never knew your parents, or perhaps they did not treat you all that well. Whatever the case, there are still lessons for us here.

Firstly, if you did not get on with your parents, or worse if they mistreated you, then there are still lessons you can learn. Try not to repeat their mistakes, and do not pass on what they gave to you. This can be hard to do, especially if you picked up on their bad habits when young. As an adult though, you can examine their lives and their interactions with you, and hopefully you can see some things you do not wish to repeat on your own children.

Secondly, not every parent has to be a blood relative. While this verse says “father” and “mother,” I do not think it a stretch to apply it to other older people who may hold a pseudo-parental role in our lives.

When I think back over my years in church, I can recall a number of elders who looked out for me, instructed me at times, and corrected me too. They were not “parents” but they were spiritual foster-parents of a sort. I am eternally grateful for those who have spoken into my life.

A Crown of Grace

To conclude this post, I just want to reflect for a moment on verse 9. It points out that for those who accept the instruction and correction of our parents (actual or otherwise), wisdom will become a crown of grace or a chain of honour.

In my mind’s eye, I picture a mayor wearing gold chains, or royalty with a golden crown atop their head.

When we accept the teaching of those who have gone before us, we can learn great wisdom, and such wisdom will be evident for all to see.

If there are people in your life right now who love you enough to instruct or correct you, tell them how much you appreciate them. It only takes a second to reach out today and share your gratitude.

He Never Fails

I really enjoyed reading this post, and the part about keeping our promises is very important.

I hope you enjoy reading it too.

What God says, He does. He is trustworthy. He does not act according to what we think or what we say to Him. God acts according to what He thinks and…

He Never Fails

Introduction to Proverbs

The wonderful book of Proverbs begins with its own introduction. The text sets out the purpose and goal of the book, and gives us a flavour of the benefits of reading and studying it.

Proverbs begins as follows:

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,

    to help them understand the insights of the wise.

3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,

    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,

    knowledge and discernment to the young.

5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.

    Let those with understanding receive guidance

6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,

    the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:1-7 (NLT)

The Author

Verse one tells us that the proverbs are primarily written by King Solomon, son of David. King David is the most famous king of Israel’s history, and his son Solomon is not far behind.

King Solomon was known for his great wisdom, and he acquired it from no worldly source.

Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.

1 Kings 3:9-10 (NLT)

Rather than ask for gold or silver, or fame and power, Solomon asks for understanding. He does this so that he might rule over God’s people well. God was pleased with this request, and granted it to him.

So the source of Solomon’s wisdom is from God, and therefore we would do well to heed the words we find in the book of Proverbs. Some of it may seem repetitive at times, but that is usually a way of helping us remember the truths contained there.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Proverbs is clearly set out in verse 2. The point of them is to teach wisdom, to help give understanding, and also to improve discipline.

Wisdom and knowledge differ. Knowing something can be helpful, but knowing how to apply it is called wisdom.

Wisdom and knowledge differ. Knowing something can be helpful, but knowing how to apply it is called wisdom.

Do you find yourself making many mistakes in life, or regretting choices you have made? Then there is a chance you lacked wisdom. I once heard it said that wisdom is making choices now, that you will be satisfied with later on.

Verse 3 is interesting to me, and begins by saying a further purpose of the proverbs is to help people live disciplined and successful lives. It then goes on to say that they aim to help one live a just, right and fair life. In the world’s eyes, these two parts of this one verse may seem contradictory. To the world, success means getting what you want, no matter the cost. The world’s way gives little care to what is right or fair, only the goal is important, and not how you get there.

Not so in God’s kingdom. In God’s eyes, success means we do indeed live a just, fair and right life. Even if the results are not fame or fortune, or whatever else the world deems successful, to God, living righteously is the way of wisdom.

Verse 4 gives two categories of people who might benefit from studying the proverbs. These are the “simple” and the “young.” Describing someone as “simple” is not exactly politically correct these days, but the point here is that you do not need to be a genius to succeed. Likewise, you do not need years of experience and be full of years to gain wisdom. If you are young, or have little academic prowess, then you are welcome here!

Verse 5 expands the potential audience from not just the young or simple, but to the wise and the understanding also. Let the wise become even wiser, and those who possess understanding add to it. Whether you consider yourself wise, or not so much, there is great benefit in studying these words.

This is done, as verse 6 tells us, by exploring the meaning of the proverbs. This suggests some effort on our part. We cannot just read the words and expect wisdom to just grow inside of us. Rather, we must apply our minds and stretch our mental muscles.

Many of the proverbs are short, bite-sized chunks which you can mull over throughout the day. Take one or two of these, write them out and ponder them whenever you have the chance. They cover a multitude of subjects, ranging from anger, to finances, to temptation and much more. Verse 6 uses the word riddle, and although it does not mean quite the same as what we might think of as a riddle, there is certainly much to test our brains with.

The final verse in our passage today is perhaps the perfect summation of all you hope to find in the book of Proverbs. Learning this one truth is perhaps the first step in acquiring true wisdom.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,

    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. This does not mean to be afraid of Him in the sense of terror, but rather to revere and respect Him. To not do so will only ever lead you away from wisdom, and not just because He is the source of all wisdom, but because without the Lord, you are on a path to destruction.

The first step for all of us in gaining wisdom is to give God His rightful place in our lives. He is the Master and Creator of the Universe, and we are mere created beings. The universe works and holds together because of God’s power and insight, and we cannot hope to tap that wisdom without first making sure God is first and foremost in our lives.

Can you say right now that He has that rightful place in your life and heart? If not, now is the time to act. Surrender to the Lord, give Him your life and ask Him to be in charge. He will not only direct your steps, but will save you from all of your sin. God does this through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. By placing your trust in Him and what He did at that cross all those years ago, you are setting yourself on the path to wisdom.

Verse 7 also gives us a glimpse of what will become a familiar format in the Proverbs. The writer contrasts one with another. Here, we see the comparison of the wise and the fool One seeks and fears the Lord, while the other despises understanding. Which will you choose to be?

If you wish to grow in wisdom, then you can ask of the giving God, as James instructs us to:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

As we dig into the depths of the wisdom in these pages, pray this prayer along with me.

Dear Lord and Father,

We thank You for the wisdom of Your Word. We pray that as we study the Scriptures, You will grant us wisdom, and help us to grow in understanding. May we use that newly gained insight to live fully for You, and to serve You and Your Kingdom on this  Earth.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

Preparing for Proverbs – Andy Brown

Just a reminder that from tomorrow we will start to look at the book of Proverbs. I look forward to studying it with you!

This coming Monday, I will be starting a new series on the book of Proverbs. it is an amazing book, with much to wrestle with. Throughout next week I will be sharing my thoughts on the first chapter, and felt I should give you a bit of a heads up in advance! If you have…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/01/06/preparing-for-proverbs/

Parable Surprises – Parable – Two Sons

Some helpful thoughts on this passage here. Hope you enjoy reading it this Sunday afternoon.

I got kids. This parable rings true. None of my kids were consistently like the second one, but occasionally… Let’s read the passage and think on …

Parable Surprises – Parable – Two Sons

Preparing for Proverbs

This coming Monday, I will be starting a new series on the book of Proverbs. it is an amazing book, with much to wrestle with.

Throughout next week I will be sharing my thoughts on the first chapter, and felt I should give you a bit of a heads up in advance!

If you have the time, do take a read through chapter 1 and note down any thoughts that you have about it. One of the points I will be making is that wisdom is not automatic.

#Wisdom is not automatic! It takes effort on our part. #Bible #Christianity

Pray about what you read, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Pray also for me as I write about this challenging set of Scriptures.

I do hope you enjoy reading the new series, and that it challenges you to seek after wisdom.

If the worlds way has not been working for you, try gods way of doing things… That is true wisdom!

God bless you!

The Berean Approach – Andy Brown (repost)

I don’t want you to just take my word for it… We take a little break from our current series on Psalm 103 to discuss something important. It is an immense privilege to share God’s Word with you through this blog, and I take that responsibility very seriously. But you, the reader, have a responsibility…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/04/12/the-berean-approach/

An Open Rebuke

An open rebuke

    is better than hidden love!

Proverbs 27:5

Generally speaking, and not wanting to assume, you probably are not all that keen on being rebuked… let alone having it done openly where others may overhear it!

At work, if we need to correct a member of staff about something, it is thought bad practice to do so in the open office where others may listen in. It does happen from time to time, and it is surprising how quiet an office can get when it does!

So, all in all, an open rebuke doesn’t sound all that fun. And yet, this proverb tells us it is preferable to hidden love. How so?

Firstly, what is a rebuke (open or otherwise)?

A rebuke is a stern reprimand. It is essentially to pull someone up on something in a not always so gentle manner. For me, what makes a rebuke tolerable or not is the heart behind it. If someone is trying to show me up, catch me out or just downright embarrass me, then I have little time for it. If, however, they are generally trying to help me, turn me away from some destructive behaviour or to improve my performance in some way, then I gladly accept it.

The “open” part might be harder to handle than the rebuke itself. We might be able to take a rebuke conducted privately where no one else can see. We certainly do not want others to see the mistakes we have made or to be aware of our faults and failings. Something about a public correction seems far worse than a private one… and could that simply be pride? We tend to portray a certain persona to the world around us, and rarely let our guard down except with close friends or loved ones. An open rebuke may allow others a glimpse beyond the veil of our external personality.

Given this, in what way is “hidden love” worse?

I am reminded of these verses from James’ letter.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17 (NLT)

This situation is similar to hidden love. While the character here may bestow good wishes on this individual in need, they do nothing to actually help them. Hidden love, likewise, may make one feel warm and fuzzy, but does no good to the one being loved.

I may love my wife and children, but if I do not show that love at any point, then it is hidden.

Hidden love appears identical to “no love”.

Hidden love appears identical to “no love”.

At least if someone rebukes me, I know that they care. Someone who cares nothing for me will simply let me continue in error. But a friend will point out my fault, and help me get back on to the right road.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.

Hebrews 12:5-6

These verses from Hebrews remind us that God’s love is not hidden, and that He rebukes and disciplines those He loves. Discipline is a sign of love, believe it or not. When I discipline my children, it is not because I am some mean ogre, but rather because I do not want them to engage with sin, danger or behaviour which will not set them up for a good life. While I take no pleasure in rebuking, it is more loving to point out the danger than to ignore it.

Imagine a person walking towards an open pit and not realising it is there. It is not loving for me to avoid telling them about it, for fear of rejection or how they might react. No, I tell them, “Look out!”

There are a number of ways we can apply this verse in our lives.

Firstly, do not be offended when someone tries to set you straight. For the most part, we must trust that people have our best intentions at heart. Take their rebuke to the Lord and see how He directs you. If it is a true rebuke, it will lead you to repentance and change. If it is not, you can move on and not waste your energy on offense.

Secondly, do not hide your love. If you care about someone, then show them! This is not about rebuking them left, right and centre, but love them in every way you can. Don’t just wish them well, as James points out, actually do something they can see or feel.

Lastly, is there anyone in your life whom you need to challenge? Make sure it is your place to do so. If some random stranger started rebuking me in a coffee shop, I probably won’t respond all that well! Why? Because they have no place or right to speak into my life. If my wife comes and points something out, then that is very different. She has more than earned the right to correct me, and I trust her to do so. We err when we think we have the right to tell anyone we like what we think.

Pray about it before you decide to confront. Let the Lord guide you carefully. He will show you if it is you who should do it, and the timing and the words you need. Humbly ask Him if you need the same message yourself first.

Thanks for reading!

It’s a new year, so let it go!

I really enjoyed this post from another Andy B. lots of wisdom in these words… Do check it out if you have the time.

It’s been lovely seeing both the personal, and generic messages, from friends and family, wishing everyone a Happy New Year. So, Happy New Year from …

It’s a new year, so let it go!

Success – (Best of 2021 sort of…)

I have just received a notification from WordPress to say that today I have had a new record – most views in a day! For this, I can only say a massive thank you to all of my readers.

 I am not certain why the site has attracted so many visitors today, but I am humbled by every single page view. Thank you!

And thanks go to Jesus for all of this. I could not write one word about him where it not for his wonderful grace. May he continue to take these imperfect words of mine and use them for his kingdom and glory.

I have been re-running a series of “best of “posts from this past year. Although not the most viewed, this one entitled “success “is particularly apt on the back of what I’ve just said.

I hope you enjoy reading it, whether it’s the first time you have seen it or not.

—

This week, WordPress notified me of two particular milestones my site has reached. It does not matter exactly what they are, and you will understand later why I choose not to share the specifics. In addition to that, my site also managed to exceed total views for 2020, also something of an achievement. Are these…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/06/26/success/

Don’t Speak Out of Your Pain (Best of 2021)

You have probably heard it said that people don’t always mean what they say when they are angry. Perhaps, you’ve even said things you didn’t mean when emotions were running high? Among other things, I’m quite certain the Apostle Paul had such things in mind when he wrote these words from Ephesians: Be angry, and…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/05/07/dont-speak-out-of-your-pain/