• Tony Birkhead

Wisdom Week - 1

Updated: Feb 26



Those who want no part of Wisdom will get their Wish!


INTRODUCTION

What is a proverb or short saying that you remember hearing as a kid?


How has your view of proverbial phrases changed as you have matured?


“No pain, no gain.” “The early bird gets the worm.” “Actions speak louder than words.” We’ve all heard these phrases and possibly said them ourselves. We like helpful insights and encouraging axioms because they’re motivating and generally a good rule of thumb. For the most part, they provide sound direction.


The Book of Proverbs calls us to pursue godly wisdom rather than foolishness. This part of God’s Word offers practical instruction for virtually every part of our daily lives. It even includes a warning for those who ignore its truths: their path will lead to heartache and destruction. Will we choose to live wisely or foolishly?

KEY SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— 6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:20-33

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: 22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.

30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Proverbs 1:1-7.

What does a person stand to gain from studying the proverbs in this book?


Which of the benefits listed in verses 1-4 most stands out to you? Why?


King Solomon wrote chapter 1 of the Book of Proverbs. It’s important to remember 2 Chronicles 1, when God allowed Solomon a request and he famously sought wisdom: “Grant me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people” (v. 10). Solomon became notorious for his wisdom, leading kings of other countries to solicit his advice (1 Kings 4:30). It’s no stretch to conclude that the wisdom collected from Solomon in these verses comes from God—and because of this, we can be assured that these words are trustworthy.


What three types of individuals are mentioned in verses 4-6?


In what area of life do you consider yourself a novice? a student? an expert?


In which spiritual discipline would you like to see more personal growth?


Solomon included wise and discerning people among the ones who benefit from godly wisdom. Those who fall into these groups gain learning and guidance from God. There’s room for growth for each of the three types of people: the less experienced (v. 4), the wise (v. 5), and the discerning (v. 5).


Read Proverbs 1:20-23.

What other voices in today’s world compete with wisdom for our attention? How do you know which voice to heed?


How would you describe the difference between the various groups identified in this passage? How do their identities correspond to their willingness to listen to wisdom?


Wisdom calls out to all people and does so over the voices of all other competitors. God has made His wisdom available, but many choose to ignore Him. Some even mock His wisdom, trying to discredit God’s truth. All those who ignore or reject God’s wisdom are headed down the path of destruction while those who heed God’s truth will know His heart and deepest thoughts.


Read Proverbs 1:24-32.

How is ignoring God’s wisdom the same as rejecting it? Is rejecting or ignoring God’s wisdom an all or nothing proposition? Can we accept some of His wisdom and reject other parts of it? Explain.


How would you describe God’s response to those who reject His wisdom? Would you consider His response fair? Explain.


How is living life with disregard for God and His wisdom a curse? In what ways are we responsible for bringing that curse upon ourselves?


God’s wisdom is openly offered, but that does not mean He will offer His help for eternity. Those who reject His offer will not find help when they are in the trouble they had been warned would come if they refused His wisdom. God is gracious in that He offers wisdom, but one is not immune to suffering the natural consequences if he or she refuses to listen to God’s voice.


Read Proverbs 1:33.

What are some potential blessings of heeding God’s wisdom? What benefits do we gain from living a life that reflects God’s wisdom?


Wisdom promised security and freedom from fear for all those who followed her teaching. God’s people can know that they have security and freedom from fear through faith in Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s wisdom.


MOVING FORWARD

  • In what area of life are you in need of an extra dose of wisdom?

  • What is one thing you can do this week to seek wisdom?

  • What can you do to minimize the other voices that compete with God’s wisdom? What actions should you take to make sure you can hear God’s wisdom?

PRAY TOGETHER

Lord, thank You for making Your wisdom available to us. Help us to live in light of that wisdom, demonstrating Your heart and mind in this world.

COMMENTARY

Proverbs 1:1-7

The prologue challenges the reader to commit himself to the mastery of this book. It offers the significant benefit of acquiring the key to attaining capability in life. By this book, one can learn the principles that determine success or failure in the major arenas of human activity, including business, personal relationships, family life, and community life. Verses 2–6 describe the purpose of the book, that is, to teach wisdom to the reader. The primary purpose of Proverbs is the instruction of young people and those who have yet to learn wisdom (v. 4), but it is not only for children. Those who are already mature and learned (v. 5) also have a great deal to learn from this book, and they should not shun it as unworthy of their time.

The vocabulary of this section indicates four characteristics of biblical wisdom. First, it is practical. “Wisdom” includes the idea of “common sense” and the ability to cope with daily problems and can also refer to occupational skills (Exod 28:3; Ps 107:27). Second, it is intellectual. This is implied in words like “understanding” and “knowledge.” Solomon’s own fascination with natural history illustrates this (1 Kgs 4:33). Third, it is moral and involves self-control. This is indicated in words like “right and fair” and “discipline.”7

Fourth, Proverbs draws the reader into the mysteries of life. This is implied in terms like “parables” and “riddles.” The ancients were intrigued at riddles (Judg 14:12–19), but more is involved here than casual entertainment. Biblical wisdom seeks to resolve or at least adjust to the ambiguities of life. It seeks the reality behind the appearances. Not only that, it affirms that the believer can understand mysteries that outsiders cannot and so may couch its teaching in enigma (Matt 13:10–17).

Verse 7 ties the fundamental principle of biblical wisdom (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”) to recognition that many will reject wisdom and God (“fools despise wisdom”). A principle that believers must teach their children is that in their pursuit of wisdom they will be surrounded by others going the opposite direction who will be encouraging them to do likewise. In this fashion the polarity of the entire Book of Proverbs—the way of the wise and the way of the fool—is introduced. The reader faces the alternatives and is challenged to attain wisdom through the fear of God.

Proverbs 1:20-33

Verse 20. God’s wisdom is personified as a woman seeking people who will heed her teachings. She raises her voice to attract the attention of busy people in the marketplace. Rather than staying in the quiet halls of scholars, wisdom plunges into the noisy hubbub of the streets and takes up a position at the gateways of the city where all traffic must pass. No one can claim that wisdom is inaccessible; she takes the initiative to offer her services. Personification is a common literary device. The writer of Proverbs did not mean that God’s wisdom was a separate deity. Rather, personification is a way of highlighting this attribute of God.

Verse 21. Lady wisdom attempts to be heard above many other noises. The commotion is so loud that some may not hear her teaching. In our society many voices compete for our attention. Advertisers desire that we buy their products. Politicians want us to vote for them. Entertainment figures seek fans.

Verse 22. God has made His wisdom available, but many have ignored or mocked it. Among these are foolish ones, mockers, and fools. The term foolish ones also can be translated “simple ones.”These people are naive and uninformed about the realities of life. Such persons must receive wisdom if they are to reach moral and spiritual maturity. They love ignorance; they might subscribe to the popular saying that ignorance is bliss. The mockers are scoffers who more aggressively reject wisdom’s teaching. Such mockers are described elsewhere in Proverbs as arrogant and proud (Prov. 21:24) and as hating rebuke (9:8; 13:1). The term fool in the Book of Proverbs generally refers to someone who is morally deficient. Foolishness is not the same as low intelligence. A fool makes wrong choices because he or she fails to follow God’s wisdom for life. Such an individual does not focus on what is right (17:24). God expects us to listen to and follow His wisdom.

Verse 23. All these people are going down the wrong path, so wisdom’s words to them will be a rebuke. Proverbs reminds us often that it is vital to welcome reproof, not reject it (1:23, 25, 30; 3:11; 9:8; 13:1; 15:31; 17:10; 19:25; 25:12; 30:6). The fool needs to turn from his self-destructive ways and place himself under wisdom’s tutelage. When he does, wisdom will pour out her heart (literally “spirit”) and make known her thoughts (literally “words”).

Verses 24-25. Both of these verses use the phrase “since you.” Because the hearers have chosen to ignore wisdom’s advice, they miss out on all the benefits that were promised. Wisdom has called and beckoned, but they have refused to heed any of her advice. They ignored all her counsel, dismissing it as irrelevant, and they refused to accept correction or rebuke.

Verses 26-28. These verses form the climax of the passage, the moment when wisdom’s warnings come true. Just as she had warned, the fools are suddenly blasted by the consequences of their stubborn rebellion. Calamity will hit them like a storm; disaster will sweep over them like a whirlwind; distress and trouble will come upon them. And when this catastrophe strikes, it will be too late to get any help from wisdom. They laughed and mocked at her, and now she will turn the tables and mock them. Even if they cry for rescue, they will find no way of escape.

Wisdom’s laughter might seem heartless, but wisdom is not a true “person.” It is a force which carries with it natural cause-and-effect consequences. Therefore, the laughter simply shows that we cannot escape the consequences of rejecting rebuke. In verse 24, wisdom called and they refused; now they call and she refuses. It appears that wisdom’s primary contribution is to help us avoid trouble. It does not keep us from pain after we have gotten into it, or necessarily make it easy to extricate ourselves from it.

Verse 29. The Book of Proverbs often presents us with a choice between two opposing ways of life. Wise people follow God’s advice, and fools reject His wisdom. The fools hated knowledge. The kind of knowledge mentioned here is not the accumulation of information but the knowledge of God that comes from a vital relationship with Him. Fools may believe in the existence of God, although David mentioned a fool who denied God’s existence (Ps. 14:1). The fools in this passage from Proverbs are those who chose to disregard God when they made decisions. They chose not to fear the LORD.

Verse 30. Fools have rejected wisdom’s counsel or advice and her correction or rebuke. Some people are more teachable; they are open to good advice. Others believe they do not need any counsel, and they resist all criticism, even constructive criticism. They have rejected the help God has made available. The problem is that they refuse to fear the Lord and reject the knowledge that He gives. Based on that attitude, they ignored Wisdom’s rebuke when it came.

Verse 31. Wisdom announces that those who reject her advice will suffer the consequences of their foolishness. They will eat the fruit of their way. They will be glutted with the payoff of their actions. As Galatians 6:7 points out, we reap what we sow.

The Bible is full of stories about people whose foolish actions led to tragic results. For example, after David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan announced the long-term consequences of that sin (2 Sam. 12:10-12). Each action, whether good or bad, is like a stone we throw into a pool of water. The ripple effect continues. Jesus talked about the contrasting results of building a house on a solid foundation versus building it on the sand (Matt. 7:24-27).

Verse 32. The consequences of unwise actions can be deadly. Foolish actions can kill and destroy. For example, experimentation with alcohol can lead to addiction, drunk driving, and car wrecks. A lesson later in this series will focus on the tragic consequences of alcohol abuse. Such unwise actions can destroy not only those who engage in them but others as well. Those who reject the way of wisdom take directions that result in their own destruction. Beware the consequences of rejecting God’s wisdom.

Verse 33. Wisdom continued to appeal to her audience. Having stressed the dangerous consequences of rejecting her wisdom, she then mentioned the benefits of following her teaching. Her wise followers would live securely, able to enjoy a quiet, restful life. The foolish are at ease out of carelessness, but the wise are at ease because they have genuine security. The wise followers would also be free from the fear of danger. As usual in interpreting these proverbs, we need to recall that these are not absolute promises. Christians do sometimes face physical danger. Believers through the centuries have died for their faith. Generally, however, God’s people have a calm assurance that God cares for them. They are not consumed with anxiety about life. They experience a sense of security as opposed to anxiety and fear.

Solomon intends this passage as a call for his readers to devote themselves to the pursuit of wisdom, heeding the advice of parents and wise teachers.



DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

If you could have one thing in the entire world, what would it be? In today’s verse, David asked that he “dwell in the house of the Lord” for his entire life. David wanted to live with God, gaze upon his beauty, and inquire in his temple. His son Solomon would eventually echo this longing, and ask God for wisdom more than anything else (2 Chron 1:10).

Now, one mark of David’s seriousness is that he doesn’t just ask, he also says that he will “seek after” these things.

Examine your heart today. What do you want most? What are you pursuing above all else? Is it God’s presence, beauty, and wisdom? In Jesus we have what David always wanted. We can dwell, or abide, in Jesus himself (John 15:5). Through the Holy Spirit within us, we can live in the Vine and have fruit produced through our lives.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

Proverbs 7:5-6

The “adulteress” symbolizes sexual temptation in the book of Proverbs. However, we can also translate it as the “foreign woman.” This means she is someone (or something) with a different values system, different gods, and different allegiances. Not simply different, but at odds with ours as God’s people. It’s not a stretch to say our commitments—and who we allow to influence us—should be closely watched.

Here are three questions to ask to do this:

1. Who do you trust for truth? What agenda might they have for you contrary to God’s?

2. Who (or what) are you prone to compromise your values or godly goals for? How

3. What people or things drag you back into actions and habits misaligned with God’s wisdom? How can you cut yourself off from these?

In Proverbs 7:2 we’re told to keep God’s teaching as the “apple of our eye.” This means it is so close you can see its reflection in your eyes. We are face to face and intimately close. How close is God’s wisdom to you? How hard do you seek it? What is your appetite to follow it instead of the “adulteress”?

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

When Job was suffering, he said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). Even hardship and pain have a place in God’s plan for each believer. During a particularly painful time in my life, I decided that I should learn something from my distress, as Job did. That allowed God to develop greater compassion in me—which helps me understand and relate to those facing similar trials.

Consider the truth in Paul’s words—that God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Think about the kind of people you seek out when you’re hurting. You want someone who has felt your pain, right? A person who has already walked the path you’re on can understand your suffering and share wisdom. Going through what we sometimes call a “valley experience” prepares us to be a blessing and encouragement to others. But we must first accept that God has allowed this adversity in our life and then choose to learn from the situation.

God is the Lord of our life, and He has the right to use us as comforters and encouragers to those around us. As His servants, we must be willing to do His will, even when it hurts. Don’t waste your suffering! Instead, use it to bring God glory.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 4

What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. 24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-26

King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:12), and he was also blessed with wealth and power. Studying and exploring were passions of his, and Ecclesiastes 2 tells us he indulged in the world’s pleasures. So we might expect him to be content, but the satisfaction Solomon sought evaded him.

The king also tried to find contentment through personal achievement. He successfully built houses, improved the environment with gardens and parks, and carried out an extensive irrigation project (Eccl. 2:4-6). Though he seemed to have everything one could ever need to enjoy life, Solomon found it all pointless.

The story has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? Our world has many educated and successful people, but dissatisfaction with life is an all too common part of their story. While refusing to accept limits on its passions, our culture enthusiastically pursues pleasure. Sadly, such lack of restraint has ruined countless lives.

Solomon had the wisdom and resources to accomplish anything he wanted, but nothing brought lasting satisfaction—except God. True enjoyment comes when we align ourselves with His will. Any other way is meaningless.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’.

Matthew 6:9-13

Sometimes I think people in the church are far too casual with God. They have a relationship with God, but they’ve forgotten the holiness of God. They say Jesus is their “homeboy,” but their so-called homeboy created the universe. Let’s show some respect. This is God Almighty we’re talking about. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9 NKJV). Holy is His name. Reverenced is His name.

Psalm 111:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (NKJV). Fearing God means that we have reverence for Him. I like this definition of it: “a wholesome dread of displeasing Him.” It isn’t so much a fear of retribution; it’s a dread of displeasing Him. It’s a dread of dishonoring Him or disappointing Him.

Years ago I became friends with Dr. Alan Redpath, a wonderful British gentleman who is now in Heaven. He wrote some fantastic books, and I was always in awe of him. When I was around him, I was always on my best behavior and never pulled my usual pranks. But one night we were sitting in a restaurant, and I felt something hit my chest. I looked down, and it was a fork. Dr. Alan Redpath had tossed a fork at me. He smiled and said, “I thought it was disposable.” I thought, “What? He’s a comedian now!” I never lost my respect for him.

Hebrews 11:7 tells us that “by faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became the heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (NKJV). Noah moved with reverence and godly fear. We should never lose our reverence for God.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

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