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THE VALUE OF WISDOM
Purpose of the book (1:1-7)
The instruction given in the book of Proverbs aims at producing wisdom. This wisdom involves not only growth in knowledge, but also the ability to use that knowledge in discerning what is right and true, then acting accordingly. It calls for training and discipline. The result will be purity in personal behaviour and justice in dealings with others (1:1-3).
Although this wisdom is available to the young and immature, even the wise and experienced have need of it. Proverbs help develop the mind as people think out their meanings. These meanings are sometimes expressed in figures of speech, other times plainly; sometimes with humour, other times with irony. But the guiding principle in searching for true wisdom is a respectful relationship with the holy God (4-7).
Heed instruction; avoid bad company (1:8-19)
Having introduced his subject, the writer now gives the first of a series of lessons on the value of wisdom. Throughout these lessons he speaks as a father to a son, drawing from his own experience to give advice and warning (8-9).
The first warning concerns bad companions, especially those who lead others astray with the tempting offer of instant wealth through robbery and violence (10-14). The writer hopes that the inexperienced youth, being forewarned, will not be caught by such temptations, just as a bird will not fall into a trap that its sees being set for it (15-17). Those who look for wealth through violence will, in the end, find that their evil plans bring about their own destruction (18-19).
Wisdom addresses the people (1:20-33)
To help people see what he is saying about wisdom, the writer tries to give illustrations that anyone can understand. He does not discuss wisdom as an abstract principle, but pictures it as being in the form of a person (i.e. personified). He speaks of wisdom as if it were a dignified and well respected woman who stands in the streets and market places of the town and speaks openly and plainly to those who pass by (20-21).
The woman addresses her words largely to three classes of people - the simple, the scoffers and the fools. The simple are those who are irresponsible and easily influenced. The scoffers (or mockers) are those who are arrogantly confident in their own ability and scornful of the opinions of others. The fools are those who have no interest in right thinking or right behaviour. They are not people whose mental ability is below average, but normal intelligent people who are lazy or careless in their attitude to what is worthwhile and what is not (22).
Those who refuse to listen to the voice of wisdom and go their own way will finally meet disaster. As they recall the wisdom that they ignored, that wisdom seems now to mock them (23-27). Wisdom’s words are proved to be true, but they are now of no use. It is too late for wisdom to help, and now they will suffer the consequences (28-31). To ignore God’s wisdom brings ruin; to seek it brings security (32-33).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Proverbs 1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27