Our last study we looked at Proverbs 1:1-7 where Solomon sets up the purpose for the entire book and provides the foundation and/or the starting point to obtain wisdom. In the next set of verses, Solomon leads us to a timeless choice. Though we have ‘advanced’ in so many ways, what he was instructing his son on then we have before us even today which are two paths:
Wisdom – grounded in the fear of the Lord and honoring your parents
Folly – foolishness that despises wisdom and instruction.
We are faced with countless choices every day most being very innocuous: Here or there; Left or Right; Sweet or Unsweet; Ranch or blue cheese… BUT there are ones that have major consequences and apart from the wisdom of the knowledge of God in our lives, we’ll wind up in trouble every time. Verse 7 tells us the fear of the Lord is where we start and honoring our parents is where he jumps to next.
I want to take a quick look and point out the difference he makes between the dad and mom and their role in training up their children. These aren’t mutually exclusive to the role as most moms and dads will attest to overlapping quite a bit, but it does point out the tendencies of each parent which is interesting. A father’s Instruction – the word for instruction here means – discipline/correction. This focuses more on the right and wrong way to live, do, say, or life application. But also goes beyond that to bring loving yet stern course correction when veering from the path. A mother’s teaching – the word for teaching here means – direction/law. This focuses more on the nurturing and development for the child to learn, know, deduce from an educating, growing, guiding perspective. Both are so important.
To have godly parents who work together in accordance to the Word of God is a blessing that equips us to tackle those difficult choices bombarding us every day. But when you’re just starting out as a young man or young woman and mom and dad aren’t always right there with you, you need to know that the Holy Spirit of God is there, and He is the BEST Instructor and Teacher. Jesus tells us in John 14:26
As we move on to verse 9, He gives us a brief look at what it’s like to follow the wisdom from godly parents and the benefits of doing so: “A graceful garland for the head” … “Pendants for your neck”.
Both of these are special, commemorative, precious, valuable items that are worn to be seen prominently. They are like awards. Two of my best friends growing up had perfect attendance in Sunday School their whole life all the way through high school. Each year they would be presented with the next pen that attached to the previous one. Eventually, it created this super long chain signifying years of accomplishment. Once a year, when they were awarded the next one, they would wear that pendant to church. It really was amazing to see. It was a great accomplishment that depended on a faithful mom and/or dad to get them there… both of these friends serve in ministry capacities within their respective churches today.
Another observation with these two analogies of garland and pendants talk about the fact that if you walk in wisdom, it shows. I think it interesting as well that the two areas of adornment are the head and chest. This represents the mind and heart, the two places wisdom must reign which brings to mind Philippians 4:7
That’s how important it is to listen to your parents. But also, as parents, how awesome the privilege and serious the responsibility we have to ensure we are raising our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
As important as that is, Solomon spends 2 verses on what to do and why, but 10 verses on what not to do and why so let’s walk through verses 10–19 now. In verse 10, Solomon lays out the bottom line up front.
IF sinners entice, DON’T consent. Interesting choice of words for today where nothing bad is our fault and the blame game is at a fevered pitch. Shame on the tempter, even woe to the tempter… Jesus says in Matthew 18:6
But it’s ultimately not the tempter’s fault when we sin. We are accountable for every action we take.
After the directive of verse 10, Solomon takes verses 11-14 to unpack how ‘they’ will entice you:
- Come with us
- Lie in wait for blood
- Ambush the innocent without reason
- Let us be like Sheol
- Swallow them alive
- Swallow them whole
- Like those that go down to the pit
All of these examples are bundled in verses 13 and 14 in a way that uses others for personal gain, power, and pride. They think they will:
- Find precious goods
- Fill their houses with plunder
- Have strength in numbers
In verse 15 he comes back around to charge his son again NOT to walk that way with people like that. But he also acknowledges that it will be tempting because he must HOLD BACK his foot from their paths. You see, you may think you can just flirt with it. That you can keep one foot on the path of righteousness and one foot on the path of sin. However, James tells us that it doesn’t work.
However, I love how Solomon does not leave anything to guess and doesn’t just tell his son NOT to walk that way, but WHY:
- Their feet run to evil
- They make haste to shed blood
He wants the best for his son and warns him of the ultimate consequences, the end result of following such passions. Verse 17 speaks to the blindness and lack of discernment then verses 18 and 19 expose the ultimate reality for those that choose to walk this selfish path.
If you are abiding in Jesus and He abides in you, you will have the discernment needed. You won’t be fooled because nothing is hidden from God. You see that’s the big lie the devil holds out to sinners is that they can get away with it. That they can live selfishly without care or concern for who they have to use or hurt to get there, not realizing that the Lord says in Psalm 139:11,12 that:
In the late 80’s/early 90’s there was a musical group called Truth that did a song called “Living Life Upside Down”. The chorus is below:
What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of a well,
Thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain.
What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell,
Thinking we’re heaven bound.
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves,
When we should have been thinking of each other.
What if we reach up and touch the ground,
To find we’re living life upside down.
And apart from the kindness of the Father drawing us to repentance through the power of the Holy Spirit removing the veil from our heart and believing in the saving power of Jesus in our lives, we would likewise perish.
I close with the words of Paul in Romans 7:24 through the first part of 25: