“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” – Proverbs 9:8-9 (ESV)
A worthy saying is, “Be carful to pick your battles.” This applies to us in so many ways. Whom do we know that needs some help or instruction in how to cope with the many challenges of life? We all make mistakes due to our ignorance or lack of understanding. Thus we all need help to learn better ways to manage. Certainly there are many that might come to mind. When they do, it is a smart thing to consider who we might reprimand for their own good as well as others. Will they receive the correction or reproof or will their reply be only to scoff and jeer? There is a danger in trying to reprove a wicked person and we might be better forgoing the effort. Yet, for those who are wise our effort to help might be appreciated and they thank us. Plus when we’re receiving such instruction from a brother or sister we can know that it will improve our life⸺if we take it to heart. Don’t we desire to be wise and righteous even when receiving correction? Such correction will only lead to our better understanding and from it we gain more wisdom.
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” – Proverbs 8:12-13 (ESV)
Wisdom herself is the focus in these verses and not its rewards. It’s the simple ones that need her and need to exercise prudence. If a person has wisdom, they also have prudence. In the same way as Proverbs 1:3-5, we have explained which qualities of life must be acquired if one desires to live a wise life. A disciplined and prudent life is one with high moral standards and with such one does what is right and just. This reminds us that sensible, discreet living is not associated in any way with the vices mentioned in verse 13. Wisdom delivers understanding and knowledge. Wisdom rejects pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse talk which are not the fruit of living in Wisdom. Rather, these are what Wisdom hates and has no cohabitation with evil. For, Wisdom is moral and one who fears the Lord is wise and will hate evil. The holiness of Godly Wisdom is found in the company of good sense for Wisdom cannot dwell with evil. Therefore to fear the Lord, is to hate evil.
“My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” – Proverbs 7:1-3 (ESV)
It would be perhaps helpful to understand the phrase “apple of your eye” in its most basic form. This expression refers to the pupil of the eye which, because it is the source of sight, is carefully protected. Deuteronomy 32:10, a portion of the Song of Moses regarding God’s care of His people, “He guarded Him as the pupil of His eye.” David writes Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” These are promises of how critically important it is that God watches over us. In today’s selected Prover, the son is to guard and protect his father’s teachings because they give him spiritual and moral sight. Binding them on our fingers and writing them on the tablet of our hearts is a a call to give the truth of divine wisdom a permanent place in our mind and in our conduct. That, we keep God’s Word always in sight, and always ready for the present moment.
“My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you.” – Proverbs 6:20-22 (NASB)
There are a number of ways that God instructs us to live using these proverbs of Solomon. This is how we listen to His word and respond to what we learn. First, it is clear the importance God places on family and on the chain of responsibility that exists in an established family. God never intended young people to be independent of their parents. Instruction from every sector is valuable. But from parents it is authoritative—the ordinance of God. Therefore, we are not to consider it a matter of occasional regard. “Bind them continually on your heart,” is allowing them to rule our lives and guide the way we live. Plus “around your neck,”as an adorning; making them a part of daily life so that others may know what we believe. The same was instructed in Proverbs. 3:3 and Job’s declaration in Job 31:36 regarding his integrity, “Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, I would bind it to myself like a crown.” Day and night, God’s wisdom is revealed to us in his word and should be more than momentary, it should be known by all who know us.
“My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge.” – Proverbs 5:1–2
Throughout the Book of Proverbs, readers are cautioned and exhorted to pay attention. Think of how difficult it is sometimes to EITHER keep our attention focused where we need it to be OR keep someone we are teaching to maintain attention. Attention results in benefits and so, we reap promises. Solomon gives significant effort to teach us regarding the dangers of our evil world. What is it that distracts and is so dangerous? It is laid out in this chapter. Solomon commands our attention from the very first verse. And, it is not only our attention (or the pretending to be attentive while our thoughts wander off in some cabbage patch) but the intentional effort to listen, receive, and understand what is taught. [PA1] It is a daily battle we all face. What are the promises? We learn to profit from the ability to exercise discretion and gain knowledge. The extreme likelihood of temptation is our call to give attention. Otherwise, we’re likely deluded and see only the present gratification; expecting to taste, the honeycomb (v.3); Hearing the smoothness of the tempter’s voice. But never is the beginning so sweet, as the end is bitter(v.4).
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her.” – Proverbs 4:7-8 (NASB)
Our verse today is included by Solomon as a lesson he was taught by his father David. In the larger context of verses 3-9 we find an urgency in the lesson he is teaching. Of utmost importance, this lesson stresses the acquisition of wisdom. We hear much of the value and importance of getting and clinging to wisdom in these Proverbs and especially in the first nine chapters. After the importance of acquiring wisdom, we are instruction to acquire understanding. In the last chapter Proverbs 3:5-6 we have the lesson to trust in the Lord with all our being and to not lean on our own understanding. But here we are to lean on the understanding that comes with the wisdom of God. We are warned to not turn away from what we learn here and to not forsake wisdom for guarding the wisdom from God provides us with a guard and a watch over our ways of thinking and acting. The more highly one esteems wisdom, the more highly wisdom lifts that person. If we place the importance of God’s Wisdom that comes from His Word as a treasure in our heart we will receive honor from wisdom.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:7-8 (NASB)
What are our thoughts abought those who seem overly confident in their own knowledge or wisdom? “Just another ‘know-it-all’ might be a fitting description? Perhaps they have placed a bit too much importance and confidence in their alleged expertise? Certainly we need some measure of confidence that we are capable of doing what we are called to do. Be we are never called to do it on our own resources, with our own understanding. Today we have “Another warning against self-confidence! and who needs it not? So natural is it to idolize our own devices! Yet self-wisdom is self-delusion. True wisdom is its opposite—the fear of God and the fear of sin1” God calls us in today’s verse to Fear Him. The phrase ‘fear of the Lord’ occurs 11 times in Proverbs and ‘fear the Lord’ occurs 4 times. In Psalm 19:9 we learn that “the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;” God is promising physical well-being for those who live wisely according to His will2 Humility and lowliness, abhorred by the world is blessed by our dependence on God. (Romans 12:16)
1 Charles Bridges, An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1865), 23.
2 John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Proverbs 3:8.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” – Proverbs 2:1, 6-8 (ESV)
The book of Proverbs came about in different ways. King Solomon, is called the wisest person and he ruled Israel from 971–931 B.C. He was granted great wisdom by God (see 1Kings 4:29–34). He authored the instructive sections found in chapters. 1–9. It is in this section Solomon addresses his son about what chiefly speaks to the conduct of early life. The importance of knowing and possessing the wisdom God gives is emphasized. It is the wisdom we received from God that we need and want. Wisdom is believing the words of God’s mouth which are revealed in Scripture. We can trust His words because when God speaks He promises. We are promised wisdom will be given from the Lord for He gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The upright are promised this wisdom. The upright identifies those who are true believers. God stores up sound wisdom as He is the source. True believers – covenant seekers – seek to know, love, obey God and to live righteously. Covenant keepers alone know this wisdom and experience God’s protection. For us who are true believers God promises to be our shield and to guard our paths as He watches over us.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction” – Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
Proverbs are short, pithy sayings expressing timeless truth and wisdom. They arrest our thoughts, causing us to reflect on how we might apply divine principles to life situations. Proverbs contains insights both in poetry and prose; yet, at the same time, it includes commands to be obeyed and promises. Today our promise is that having a proper fear of the Lord Almighty will bring (teach) us knowledge. We find the same instruction in Job 28:28. People who are unbelievers make statements about life and truth all the while thinking that is makes sense to them therefore is must be right and good. However, they do not have true or ultimate knowledge until they are in a redemptive relationship and possess reverent awe with God. Note the progressive steps here: 1) fearing God; 2) receptive to teaching about God; 2) learning about God; 4) knowing God; and 5) imitating God’s wisdom. The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which our own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God’s. The essence of true knowledge is fearing God. Without awesome respect of Him a person is ignorant of spiritual things.
“Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant. Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord God, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:28-29 (NASB)
By this time in the life of David, King of Israel, he has accomplished a great deal. His major accomplishments have been to subdue the enemies of Israel and while he still has more to do in this task, David has secured Jerusalem as the City of David for the People of Israel. Through the profit Nathan, God has promised again that David’s royal line will be established forever. David turns to a prayer filled with humility and adoration of God. “Who am I, O Lord God,?” David asks. Today we focus again on the significance of how God makes promises to His people. David acknowledges “You have promised (spoken) this good thing…” Then in the next verse, “For You, O Lord God have spoken (promised);” The same original word is used in each instance. David, recognized as we should also that God’s spoken word is a spoken promise, a promise delivered. God made these promises which are promises we can trust. We took can trust that with God’s blessings our own houses, as His servants are blessed forever.” Forever means eternal and the life God has given to us is just that, an eternal life.