Summary: We have to be cautious because much like the original audience of Proverbs, we are in a marketplace of voices that compete for our time, attention and even our allegiance. Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
VOICES AND CHOICES
Text: Proverbs 1:20 – 33
Matthew Henry once made the point that the book of Proverbs gives us a “…. necessary caution against bad company”. Matthew Henry’s comment reminds me of something I always heard when I was growing up which was “If you lie down with dogs, then you will get up with fleas.” It is interesting to mention the setting of where we must be cautious. We have to be cautious because much like the original audience of Proverbs, we are in a marketplace of voices that compete for our time, attention and even our allegiance. Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. God wants our time, attention and allegiance. We should give God our time, attention and allegiance and be obedient to His will. We have only to look at the Garden of Eden to see what happens when we disobey and do not follow God’s will. We are the epitome of both Adam and Eve in that picture. They listened to the voice of bad company where the serpent deceived Eve. Their disobedience had consequences. Our disobedience also has consequences. Proverbs reminds us that we cannot escape reaping what we sow.
What voices do we hear in the marketplace? What choices do we make?
THE VOICE OF WISDOM
How does the voice of wisdom speak to us? 1) Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is always personified as woman’s voice. 2) Notice how Proverbs 1:8, mentions the input of both the father and the mother. Proverbs 1:20 describe wisdom’s voice as that of a female. 3) Have you ever wondered why that is? Someone (Raymond C. Van Leeuwen) makes the point that perhaps the author of Proverbs gave wisdom a woman’s voice “… to alter the errant male perception of women” who were perceived as the weaker sex. (Leander E. Keck. ed. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Volume V. Raymond C. Van Leeuwen. The Book Of Proverbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997, p. 264). 4) Now take it a step further and think about how Proverbs starts off speaking of both wisdom and discipline (NIV), or instruction (TNIV, NRSV, RSV, NKJV & KJV) or good advice (TEV) depending on which translation of the Bible you use for Proverbs 1:2. 5) If you take the two terms (wisdom and instruction) and put them together, it would seem that “wisdom” could be thought of as the destination and “instruction” as the routes to take in order to stay on course. Navigating one’s own course without both wisdom and instruction is an invitation for disasters and calamities.
Who is the audience of wisdom’s voice? The voice of wisdom is addressing three different types of people in the audience. The voice of Wisdom is addressing the simple, the scornful and the foolish. 1) According to Psalms 14:1, “Fools says in their hearts, “There is no God” ”. Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that “fools despise wisdom and discipline”. Proverbs 1:21 tells us how fools hate knowledge. The foolish are obviously atheists. They seem to believe that they can be their own masters when they are in fact nothing more than slaves to sin. 2) The scornful mock those who believe. They reject God’s law. We might say they are agnostic because they could not reject God’s law if they did not have some knowledge about God and God’s law. 3) The simple are those who are naïve, lacking in judgement. They are often easily persuaded.
What is wisdom’s goal? It seems that wisdom’s goal is to help us to avoid bad company. Wisdom’s goal is also to help us live a godly life. Wisdom seems to be speaking primarily to the youth of every generation. At the same time, it seems that the voice of wisdom is reminding those who are more mature in her audience to remember her instruction because we are still on the journey of life. As someone (Dr. Waights G. Henry, Jr.) put it: “The past remain with us. For good or ill what we are is a result of what we have done.” To illustrate this point let us consider an example from the life of the Duke of Windsor. Someone asked him if they could show film taken from various segments of his life on film for continuous and public showing. He agreed to allow them to show continuous footage from his life so long as he could censor the film. The film that he had before censoring was 60,000 feet long. When he get through with his censoring, only 12,000 feet remained in the film. (Dr. Waights G. Henry, Jr. Begin Where You Are. Atlanta: Joint Radio Committee: The Methodist Church, 1960, p. 5). Now if you do the math you can conclude that he cut out four-fifths of the film. If someone were to approach those of us in the adult bracket of the audience and make us the same offer, how much film would we censor?