Proverbs 1:1-4

Reasons for the Proverbs

To Know Wisdom and Instruction

1. It is quite amazing to think that the God who created the universe, would even care enough about us to stoop and cause a book to be written for us, to tell us how to live… what to pursue and what not to pursue…

2. First of all note that this book was written that we might KNOW something.

a. It was not written so that we might FEEL good… or feel warm… or feel anything.

b. It was written that we might PERCEIVE the words of understanding.

c. Solomon wrote that knowledge excelleth folly and ignorance as light excelleth darkness. Ignorance causes men to wander in darkness.

3. God wants us to KNOW wisdom

a. The term for wisdom in vs. 2 is used 37 times in this book!

b. It means skillfulness; the ability to use knowledge properly.

c. It is possible to have lots of instruction and information in our head, and yet not have the wisdom to put it into practice in our daily lives.

d. We have many brilliant men and women throughout our country who have mastered their field… specialists in computer science… specialized fields of medicine… masters of literature… and yet have not the wisdom to get along with their neighbor or maintain a healthy family life!

e. Knowledge isn’t enough. If it were, our generation would be doing just fine! Knowledge has doubled every year since 1955. We have more information and data than we know what to do with. But we do NOT have the wisdom to use it properly.

f. The world has plenty of knowledge and information—but by anyone’s standards: the world today is a mess!

g. Unfortunately, the man who wrote this book failed on this very point! Read the account of the end of Solomon’s life. What a warning to us!

4. God wants us to KNOW instruction

a. Instruction – this term is used 26 times in proverbs.

b. It is sometimes translated “chasten”. (Cf. 13:24 – chastening a son.)

c. It means to instruct by discipline.

d. Instruction or training is a form of discipline… discipline of the mind… and ultimately, when the truth sinks deeper, into the heart.

e. Like a father who loves his son, and therefore chastens him, so God wrote this book as part of our “instruction”… discipline… chastening…

5. God wants us to KNOW the words of understanding

a. This term has virtually the same meaning as our English term.

b. It might be translated “discernment.”

c. This kind of spiritual discernment is what WE need today more than anything!—the ability to approve things that are excellent—

d. God wants His people to be able to discern between right and wrong… holy and unholy… clean and unclean. The devil is doing his best to blur those lines of distinction today.

e. Let’s make this our prayer: that we would all be better able to perceive the words of understanding… grasp a discerning mind…

f. The decisions many believers make today reveals a dearth of discernment.

g. It is far better to be poor and discerning, than rich and lack discernment; It is far better to be sick and discerning, than healthy and lack discernment; It is far better to be lowly and discerning, than important and famous and lack discernment; It is far better to be a failure in the eyes of the world and discerning, than to be a worldly and lack spiritual discernment.

h. The book of Proverbs has been written to help us put things in order… to give us discernment in ordering our lives… arranging our priorities…

To Receive the Instruction of Wisdom, Justice, Judgment, and Equity

1. Receive: God wants the readers of this book to KNOW wisdom… to learn in their heads all these wise principles… but also to TAKE IT IN!

It is possible to memorize the words of wisdom—but never “receive” it inwardly.

Ex: You can give your son a lecture. Once lectured, he has your words of wisdom in his head. He heard you. But that is not a guarantee that he “received” them! He could be just politely nodding to all you say… and not taking any of it in!

2. The purpose of the book is not accomplished in our life—even if we have memorized the whole book! God’s purpose is that we would RECEIVE these truths… take them to heart… make them “yours”… make them your words to live by… not just a dry lecture from an ancient king!

3. This term for wisdom in verse 3 is a different Hebrew word than was used in verse 2.

a. Harry Ironside wrote that this term for wisdom comes from a root meaning “bereavement”…

b. He concluded that this term differed in that this term described learning from unhappy experiences… the hard way… either on your own, or through the unhappy experiences of others. (the school of hard knocks)

c. Proverbs records many unhappy experiences and the results of folly… the young man and the harlot; the drunkard; the sloth; etc…

4. How much better to learn “by means of God’s Word”!!!

a. Ps. 17:4 – “By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.”

b. That is the best way to learn—by God’s word rather than by experiencing all that Proverbs warns about—sloth; greed; lust; etc.

c. We can gain wisdom about the dangers of drugs by trying them out and paying the price—or by listening to words of wisdom!

d. We can gain wisdom about the consequences of laziness by experience OR by taking heed to the words of wisdom in God’s Word!

e. Proverbs was written that we might RECEIVE this wisdom the easy way—by learning through God’s Word rather than having to learn the hard way all the time!

5. Unfortunately, Solomon learned many of these lessons the hard way—by experiencing the emptiness of following his own understanding…

a. He pursued many of the foolish things he warns us about in Proverbs!

b. He sought happiness through fun and parties and having a good time! (Ecc. 2:1-3)

c. He sought happiness through collecting great possessions. (Ecc.2:4,7-11) But it was all vanity!

d. Solomon pursued wisdom through experience… the hard way.

e. Proverbs is written that we might obtain wisdom the easy way—by taking heed to the inspired word of God!

f. RECEIVE this wisdom… take it in — just as if we had experienced all these things ourselves!

6. God wants the readers of Proverbs to “receive” the instruction of justice

a. Justice = righteousness; right kind of behavior; fair; just behavior

b. One learns in proverbs not to be a respecter of persons. The rich are not always right or kind. The powerful are not always wise. Treat people justly and fairly…

c. God wants us to TAKE IN these truths that deal with justice… into our heart, not just our head.

d. Make these truths that deal with justice OUR truth… words that WE live by…

e. Proverbs has a lot to say about being fair and just in our daily lives.
• Prov. 14:20 – Justice will keep us from being a respecter of persons… as such we will not treat the poor harshly…
• Prov.22.2 – the poor and rich are the same in God’s sight!
• Proverbs will keep us from all the ungodly biases and prejudices of the world. It will make us fair and just—if applied!
• 29:27 – Being “just” is a way of life = and one that will often be opposed. But that is the path God wants US to pursue!

7. Next, God wants the readers to “receive” the instruction of judgment

a. Judgment = the quality or ability to hear and decide a matter or a case fairly. This is the work of a judge. Every one of us needs to have this quality of good judgment.

b. Proverbs was written that we might learn to have good judgment. Far too many have poor judgment!

c. Proverbs has a lot to say about exercising good judgment…
• Prov. 18:17 – One with good judgment does not make up his mind on a matter after hearing “him that is first in his own cause.”
• Solomon demonstrated that when the two mothers came with their own version of who was the real mother of the child.
• Solomon showed good judgment. Proverbs can give US that kind of good judgment too… if applied.
• Jesus said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
• We all make decisions every day. Decisions on all sorts of issues and matters. How we need good judgment in making all those little decisions… because when you string all those little decisions together—that IS our life… that IS the course of our life.

8. Next, God wants the readers to receive the instruction of equity

a. Equity = even; upright; level; honest.

b. The author talks about a “just weight”—honesty and equity in business dealings! (Prov.11:1)

c. Honesty with our tongues… honesty with God…

Note what the author is doing here:

He is mingling together moral qualities with intellectual ones.
• Wisdom and instruction for the head;
• But they must be accompanied by justice; judgment; and equity for the heart.
• A truly wise man is a godly man.
• Wicked men can use their intellect and craftiness for evil purposes.
• But a truly wise man uses his intellect for that which is righteous; and equitable… Proverbs was written that we might KNOW wisdom and RECEIVE it… and allow it to produce its fruit in our lives: justice; good judgment; and honesty—integrity!
• Time spent in Proverbs is time well spent!
• One man likened Proverbs to medicine or vitamins. You shouldn’t make it your complete diet—but we need a little every day!