Category Archives: Wisdom

Simple Windbags

Proverbs 9:13-15 

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways:”

A Tale of Two Ladies

Chapter 9 of Proverbs can simply be split into two different sections with two different titles – Lady Wisdom & Lady Folly. The first twelve  verses are spent talking about Lady Wisdom, while the remain explain the ways of Lady Folly. Both of these ladies are laying out for us an invitation; either to follow the way of wisdom or to follow the way of folly.

Lady Folly

Solomon begins verse thirteen by saying that Lady Folly is “clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.” The ESV says this verse this way – “The woman folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing”. The English word fool or folly come from the Latin word follis, which means to “bellow”. Warren Weirsbe says that the word follis also indicates that a fool is a “windbag, full of air but lacking in substance”.

How many “Lady Follies” do you know? We all know these type of people and for the most part, no one want to be around them. They are loud and obnoxious. They think they know everything and have an opinion about everything, and their way – by far – is the best way and they don’t have a problem letting you know that it is the best way.

Solomon is warning us to be on the lookout for foolish people. Their way of foolishness will lead us to destruction and death.

Compare & Contrast

When we begin to compare and contrast Lady Wisdom to Lady Folly, we begin to see just how opposite they truly are. While we see in Proverbs 9:1 that Lady Wisdom has “built her house & set her table”, we see that in comparison Lady Folly is just sitting at the door of her house. She is lazy and doesn’t seem to care.

The Invitations

Chapter 9 is giving us two completely different pictures and invitations. While both women are calling out to those who are going “straight on their way”, we can clearly see by reading the remain parts of each section (Proverbs 9:1-12 / 13-18) the results that will follow.

Clearly the way of Lady Wisdom is most promising and will lead us to have our days multiplied, and years added to your life (Proverbs 9:11). Or we can follow the invitation set before us by Lady Folly, which will lead us to the “depths of Sheol”. Lady Wisdom has promised so much and she will be able to deliver on her promises, while Lady Folly has promised much but will not be able to deliver.

So the invitation is for you today! Which path are you going to follow? Are you going to follow after wisdom or folly? The choice should be obvious, even to the “simple and those lacking sense”!

The more we fear the Lord, the easier our decision becomes!

Lord, help me to fear you each and every day. The more love and admiration I have for you, the more I will want to follow the invitation of wisdom and not of folly. Lord, help me to live a life intentionally focused on You and You alone!

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Self-controlled

Proverbs 9:12

“If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”

The Loud Mouth

Have you ever been around (or even been) that person who has to point out all the flaws? What about that person who gossips or cannot keep a secret? What about that person who just seems like a jerk?

Would you trust this person with a secret? Would you trust this person with almost any information? Would you want to hang out with this person?

Imagine for a moment (if you have to) that you are that person?

How would you feel if no one trusted you? How would you feel if no one wanted to be near you (at least for very long)?

What if you were struggling with something? What if you were depressed or in need?

That person – you – would have to bear that burden, and every burden, alone.

The Self-Controlled

The person everyone wants around them is the one who is trustworthy, can keep your confidence, and is generally genial.

Some people do not like these people (such as loud-mouths, jerks, etcetera), usually because the one who is self-controlled and wise embodies everything they are not. They might assume that the self-controlled person is arrogant and conceited. (This happens with many Christians)

The benefit to be self-controlled, though, is that life can seem pretty good. You have friends who can help you. You have loved ones near you when you are in need in any way.

We could almost say you should be wise and self-controlled for your own good.

As a reminder, Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God. Therefore, the only true way live a wise and self-controlled life is with Christ.

O Lord, Your way is the only way. Give us our self-control that we do not destroy ourselves. Send Your Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us in all wisdom. Not only that we may benefit and even find eternal life, but that You may be glorified in our lives.


Dependent on Grace

Proverbs 9:11

“For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.”

Health and Safety

Before the days of VCRs and DVDs, ships were supplied with movies on large 16mm reels of film. Each movie usually involved three large reels. Crews could expect to receive a supply of six movies at a time, which could be changed in port several times a year. Every movie began with a short safety feature covering different aspects of shipboard life. It wasn’t possible to skip these items in the way that a cassette or DVD can be fast forwarded, but the makers attempted to make them interesting so that they would be remembered.

The wisdom involved in operating a ship safely cannot be obtained simply from watching movie clips. There are many dangers at sea. While it is wise to educate seafarers in any way possible, training must be supplemented by experience if accidents are to be minimized, and loss of life avoided.

Grace

Wisdom that multiplies our days and extends the years of life cannot be found in a training movie. There is no earthly wisdom that can stand in the presence of God’s grace. In 2 Corinthians 1 the Apostle Paul writes; “We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom.” Paul recognized that earthly wisdom and years of experience are overruled by God’s grace, which exists outside of all human experience.

Human wisdom considers it folly that God would send Jesus Christ to walk upon this planet. Human minds find it difficult to understand why God would allow created beings to torture and murder His precious Son. But He did. Why? Because of grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)

Wisdom may be required extend our days on earth, but it is grace that takes us beyond earth into the presence of our Creator. He alone offers the gift of eternal life.


Holy Fear

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

This has been said many times over and over on Proverbial Thought, but if we don’t fear the Lord we will never truly understand or gain true wisdom…Period – end of story!

We can search and study all we want but Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10 simply say that the “FEAR OF THE LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 are the bookends for Proverbs 1-9. They proclaim the theme that Solomon is working so desperately to get across to everyone – obtain wisdom and understanding.

FEAR

Simply put – to fear the Lord means to respect Him (God) so much that we obey His will and seek to honor His name. The word “fear” in the phrase “fear of the Lord” comes from the Hebrew word YIRAH, and it means “to be in awe of” (1 Kings 3:28), and “to have respect for” (Lev. 19:3).

The Benefits of Fearing the Lord

Not only should we fear the Lord in order to obey Him and honor His name, but when we do fear the Lord, the Bible tells us that there are extra benefits when we do:

  • Deuteronomy 6:2 – enjoy long life
  • Psalm 25:14 – The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
  • Psalm 34:7 – the angel of the LORD encamps around them & delivers them.
  • Psalm 103:13 – the LORD has compassion on those who fear him
  • Psalm 115:11 – the LORD— he is their help and shield
  • Psalm 128:1 – Blessed are all who fear the LORD
  • Psalm 147:11 – the LORD delights in those who fear him
  • Proverbs 10:27 – adds length to life
  • Proverbs 14:26 – He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
  • Proverbs 16:6 – through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil
  • Proverbs 28:14 – Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD

Oswald Chambers once said,

“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

Solomon is again reiterating to us that we must obtain wisdom and knowledge in our lives and the first thing we must do it fear the Lord.

God dwells in light and holiness,
In splendor and in might;
And godly fear of His great power
Can help us do what’s right. —D. De Haan

Fear God, and you’ll have nothing else to fear.

Lord, help us to fear you enough in our lives that we do not want to do anything that displeases you. Help us to live our lives in such a way that we will stand in awe and honor your name each and every day. Lord, may our fear for you drive us to love you more and devote our whole heart and lives to You!


A Fool Is a Fool

Proverbs 9:9

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

A Different Angle

There are various commentaries that center on what is obvious about this proverb. However, what if we looked at it from a different angle? Let’s try to imagine it being written a little differently.

“Give betrayal, deceit, deception, falsehood, lie, misinformation, and misrepresentation (all antonyms of instruction) to a fool, and he will be yet more foolish: don’t teach a man, and he will increase in ignorance.”

When you look at it this way, do you see a contrast between the wise and foolish man? Do you sense any difference, other than what’s on the surface?

A Different Reaction

Given betrayal, deceit, deception, falsehood, lies, misinformation, and misrepresentation, what would the wise man do? Would he become foolish? “Give instruction to a wise man,” we are told, and he will become even wiser; but will his character be changed if given the opposite?

The real truth of Proverbs 9:9 is that no matter what instruction you give a fool, unless he has been transformed, he will always be a fool. Give instruction of any kind, true or false, to a wise man and he will be able to discern between good and evil. The key is whether or not the student loves Wisdom.

A Different Response

As a parent, I know that I will not always be able to manage what my children learn. One day they will go out into the world and receive instruction written by fools, for fools. But even in the midst of all that deception and falsehood, truth can be found. The key to success will be determined by instilled character and training in “the way [they] should go” (Prov. 22:6).

As believers, we should pray that God give us His Wisdom in ever-increasing portions. Because truth is so hard to find, we need Wisdom to give us discernment, allowing us to grow in wisdom, despite the misinformation of the world.

They say “the rich get richer, but the poor get poorer.” Profound observation, isn’t it?


Reprove the Reprovable

Proverbs 9:8 

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”

A Little Irony

In one way it seems counter-intuitive to be told not to reprove someone, but that is exactly what Solomon is saying. Some people refuse to be corrected.

It not only seems counter-intuitive, but ironic. Why would the “wise man” need to be rebuked? Shouldn’t we be rebuking the fool? It’s almost crazy, isn’t it? Don’t correct the fool, but do correct the wise: maybe we should dig into this a little further.

The Scorner

Let’s think about the scorner for a moment. Gesenius described the scorner as one who derides and mocks, maybe even by “imitating [the reprover’s] voice in sport.” In other words, the scorner could be thought of as someone who, when corrected, comes back with a “nah nah nah nah boo boo, I can’t hear you.” Trying to reprove someone like that is more likely to make you angry, rather than help him.

A scorner is also not likely to take kindly to the reprover’s suggestions. Scorners are proud and unwilling to hear instruction. They get offended at the mere notion they could be wrong. This kind of person is just as likely to become your enemy, calling you everything from “judgmental” to “self-righteous” in an attempt to hypocritically justify himself. Therefore, it is impossible to be a friend to a scorner, for they will only hate you when you wound them as a friend (Prov. 27:6).

The Wise Man

Isn’t it wonderful to encounter someone who accepts instruction and reproof? A wise man will accept rebuke because he wants to do what is right, not what is right in his own eyes. Instead of hating you, a wise person will say, “I love you!” They will see that by calling them out about a wrong only serves to keep them in the right.

However, we should be very careful when we attempt to rebuke others. If we don’t do it in love, then the wise will be able to discern our intent. Then, along with the fool who hates our reproof, we may end up losing a friend, as well.

A Prayer

Lord, help me to be teachable. Help me to love those who want me to succeed in life. Help me to never resent the one who loving points out my faults, so that I may change. 


Check the Mirror

Proverbs 9:7

“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.”

How not to Deal with Fools

The advice provided in this verse seems a little strange. Surely an idiot wants to know that he is an idiot? But who should tell him/her? The NIV translation is a little easier to understand:

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

Is it really our place to correct a scorner, a mocker? The likely response according to Proverbs is that the scorner will turn on the person providing correction. Does this mean we should suffer in silence?

My sixteen-year old daughter finds suffering in silence impossible, and constantly tries to correct her twelve-year old brother. As most children are not keen on being corrected by parents or teachers, there is little possibility of correction from an older sibling being well received. But the reaction from her brother doesn’t stop my daughter, who often fails to see the plank of wood in her own eye while trying to remove the speck of sawdust from her brother’s eye. Jesus said:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV)

Perhaps the shame in attempting to correct a scorner is that we fail to look in the mirror first?

Policing the Wicked

There is a reason why most law enforcement officers wear uniform. It is to distinguish them from civilians so that they are easily recognized. While members of the public do occasionally intervene to disrupt criminal activity, an untrained response can be fraught with danger. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. In other words, it is not our job to judge the wicked or attempt to punish or rebuke those we believe to be wrong.

There are earthly authorities with that responsibility, and a higher authority in God. He will deal with the wicked in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17). We need to ignore the fact that the wicked seem to prosper in this life (Job 21) and focus on ourselves. How are we doing?