Category Archives: Wisdom

Foolishness Hurts

Proverbs 10:1

“The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”

The Heaviness of Folly

I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son who thought he knew everything and made some very foolish decisions. This young man demanded his share of his father’s estate, while his father was still alive. Amazingly, Dad agreed. The young man filled his pockets with cash, and then left for a foreign land where he wasted his entire inheritance. Heaviness may be an appropriate word to describe how his father must have felt at the loss of his son to such behavior.

The Hebrew word used by Solomon for heaviness is also translated by Strong’s as depression, grief and sorrow. These three words put into perspective the extent of the hurt that foolish children can bring to their parents.

Finishing

It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. When he recognized his situation the foolish young prodigal swallowed his pride and was welcomed home with a huge party, albeit to the disgust of his brother who had stayed behind, faithfully working in his father’s business. In contrast to the brother the father was overwhelmed with joy. He was glad that his lost son had returned.

The lives of folly that we lead are immensely hurtful to our heavenly Father. Humanity has caused Him so much grief and sorrow that the only way to relieve His pain was through the additional experience of inconceivable heaviness caused by allowing His Son to be sacrificed on the cross at Calvary. Now He waits for the prodigals to come home and make Him glad. Because of Calvary we have a chance to finish the race and bring Him joy. The prodigal son shows us how. If we are wise enough to recognize our condition, swallow our pride, and say sorry, then our Father will welcome us with undeserved forgiveness and incalculable joy.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

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Sin, Sweet Sin

 Proverbs 9:16-17

“Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

In previous verses we have read about foolish young men who got into trouble simply because they wandered into the wrong part of town. In this case, however, what we are looking at is the baiting of a righteous man.

The Prey

In verse 15 we read that the foolish woman calls out to “passengers who go right on their way.” In other words, these are men who are “minding their own business” (NLT), or “going straight on their way” (ESV). They are the picture of travelers who have no intention of falling into sin, but are intent on following the “right way.”

Let there be no misunderstanding, those who want to stay on the right path of life are always going to be under attack. They are always going to be considered prey. Like a fisherman seeking a trophy catch, the foolish woman longs to mount the virtuous, the pure, the right-walking man on her wall.

I have personally seen and heard both men and women brag of their hellish plans. Men say, “If you really love me, you’ll give it up.” Women say, “I know he’s married, but I’ll make him give in.” Professors say, “This semester I will break your faith in God.”

The Problem

Sadly, so many that have been taught to live pure lives, who have tried to walk in the “right way,” have no idea what is out to get them. They assume that good and bad is obvious: good things are sweet; bad things are sour. They are unaware of poisons like automotive engine coolant, the sweet fluid that has killed many a wayward pet.

It is not to the stupid that the foolish woman calls, but to the naive. Because they have not been exposed to or stained by the evils of the world, the “simple” can be easily tempted. They are essentially “fresh meat” for the temptress.

Therefore, it is so important, when we “train up a child in the way that he should go,” that we speak truthfully about sin. Children need to know why sin is tempting. They need to know it can taste really sweet. They need to believe we’re not depriving them, but preparing them.

The Pan

The reason sexual/sensual sin is so dangerous is because it initially fulfills what it promises. There is a rush that comes from drinking stolen water. The thrill of eating bread in secret is hard to compare. Therefore, the temptress is not lying when she throws out the bait. What she is saying is true, so the one being tempted starts to think, “What’s so wrong with it?”

But just like a baited hook, there is a line attached to every sweet temptation. Once the hook is set, one rarely gets free, but ends up either in hot water, or the frying pan.

A Prayer

Lord, give us wisdom and discernment. Help us to avoid temptation, especially when the bait looks so sweet, so promising. Give us holy x-ray vision so that we may see the hidden hooks.


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!


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?