Learning from God's Word (Proverbs 1-3)
1:1-7 - Scripture speaks of different kinds of ‘wisdom’. In Proverbs, wisdom is closely associated with godliness. In Ecclesiastes, wisdom - viewed as mere human intelligence - is described as ‘meaningless, a chasing after the wind’ (1:12-18). This contrast is continued in the New Testament, where Paul describes Christ as our ‘Wisdom’, contrasting this Wisdom with ‘the wisdom of the world’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25,30). The purpose of Proverbs is set out in its opening verses. Notice the vital connection between ‘understanding’ and ‘doing’ (2-3). We are to be ‘doers’ as well as ‘hearers’ of God’s Word (James 1:22). We are to ‘keep what is written’ in God’s Word (Revelation 1:3). The great theme of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’. Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7: 24-27).
1:8-19 - If we are to be saved, we must follow the Wisdom of the Proverbs: ‘Listen, my son, to your father's instruction’ (8). We must follow the ‘Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing’, the living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ (Church Hymnary, 191). Satan is seeking to destroy us - ‘let’s swallow them alive, like the grave’ (12). To ‘go along with’ those who do not honour the Lord Jesus Christ is to ‘rush into sin’ (15-16). To live by faith in Christ is to be ‘kept by the power of God’ for full salvation (1 Peter 1:5). There are choices to be made. You remain a fool if you choose not to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8). The fool is ‘a double-minded man’, trying to live for the Lord and for the world at the same time. Will you be wise or foolish? - The choice is yours. Remember this has more to do with the moral choices you make than with how ‘well educated’ you may be.
1:20-33 - This section begins with the words, ‘Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares’ (20) and ends with the words, ‘whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm’ (33). The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed. Why is it so important that we tell others about our Saviour, Jesus Christ? - It is because He offers salvation to all who come to Him: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13). Later on, in Proverbs, we read. ‘he who wins souls is wise’ (11:30). Those who are wise will pray for a greater fulfilment of the Lord’s promise: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses ...’ (Acts 1:8). Filled with the Holy Spirit, we will speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
2:1-15 - There is a real call for spiritual growth here. We are to accept God's words, storing up His commands, turning our ears to wisdom and our hearts to understanding (1-2). If we are to grow in the fear and knowledge of God, we must pray for insight and understanding. These blessings are greater than silver and hidden treasure (3-5). In the Christian life, there is both promise and warning. There is God’s promise - you will be led in a way that ‘will be pleasant to your soul’ (10). There is His warning - make sure that you do not ‘leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways’ (13). It is very important that we take time to read God’s Word, since it is ‘the Lord’ who ‘gives wisdom’. We must listen for God’s Voice, speaking to us through Scripture (6). As we listen to Him, we will be led in ‘every good path’ - protected and victorious (7-9).
2:16-3:4 - We read the warning about ‘the adulteress’: ‘her house leads down to death’ (16-18). We also hear the warning of the Gospel: ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). We are told that ‘none who go to her return or attain the paths of life’ (19). Left to ourselves, none of us would return to God, none of us would find the way to life (Romans 3:10-12). Some seek ‘prosperity’ (1). They seek ‘a good name in the sight of... men’ (4). We must not, however, make these things the be-all and end-all. There is more to life than material possessions, more than high ratings in the popularity stakes. There is eternal life - ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23) - and the forgiveness of sins - ‘justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1).
3:5-18 - ‘Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). If we are to know the Lord, we must come to an end of ourselves: ‘Be not wise in your own eyes’ (7), ‘do not rely on your own insight’ (5). True knowledge of God comes through faith: ‘Trust in the Lord...’ (5). True knowledge of God is heart-knowledge: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart’ (5). Knowing Christ involves growing in grace. We cannot get to know God apart from the grace of God working within us. Growth in grace is not always a smooth pathway (11-12; Hebrews 12:5-11). Never forget: ‘the Lord’s discipline’ is an expression of the Lord’s love. ‘Lord, You are more precious than silver, Lord, You are more costly than gold, Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares with You' (13-15; Mission Praise,447).
3:19-35 - ‘You will walk on your way securely... for the Lord will be your confidence’ (23,26). Trusting in the Lord, we are to say, ‘He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10). Our faith is under threat. There is the danger of ‘sudden panic’ (25). We are faced with the ‘man of violence... the perverse man... the wicked... the scorners... fools’ (31-35). What are we to do? Even in the most testing and trying times, we must hold on to this: God is at work for our holiness - ‘Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy. Set apart for You, Lord, I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will’ (Songs of Fellowship, 475). Submitted to God’s holy purpose, we rejoice in this: Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39).