Learning From The Proverbs – Part 2

 

We continue today with our observations from the Proverbs of Solomon.

Let’s pick up with Proverbs, chapter one, verses 8 through 19.

Proverbs 1:8-19

8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

There are three important truths I want us to discover or be reminded of from this passage of scripture. The first one is found in verses 8 and 9. Solomon shares this wisdom with us:

1.  Listen to your papa and your mamma. How many of us have said or heard someone else say, “My dad used to tell me….” or “My mom used to say…”? Most of us, right? The teachings of our parents are pretty much the first things we learn.

We learn things like,

No
Don’t touch that
Be careful
Show respect
Be courteous
Be helpful
Do your chores
Mind your manners
Keep your commitments
Don’t violate trust

We learn at a young age the most fundamental and valuable life lessons which will be with us as long as we live. And Solomon tells us that following the principles which are instilled in us early make us attractive to other people.

We’ve also all seen and known people who aren’t very attractive personality-wise. Where does this come from?

In some cases it comes from the willfulness of a child unwilling to follow sound teaching. But we must also face the fact that not everyone grows up in an environment where they are exposed to good teaching and wholesome examples. After all, we learn not only from what we are told but from what we see. So if a parent says one thing and does another, the child will not be clear on which is the correct standard of behavior. And if the parent(s) are simply negligent in the responsibility to teach their children well, the children will learn from other influences in their lives.

So Solomon tells us that wise teaching is the responsibility of every parent and that adherence to wisdom will make every one of us more attractive.

2. Don’t be influenced by evil people. Listen to Solomon’s descriptions and see how consistent and familiar human behavior is. Listen for a modern-day equivalent of what Solomon describes in verses 10-19.

10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us; we will all share the loot”—
15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.

Reading this reminds me of what I’ve read about and seen depicted with regard to inner-city gangs and/or thugs in any community. I admit I have very little real-world firsthand experience in this area.

One thing which gang life provides which is often lacking for inner-city kids is what? A sense of community; a sense of belonging to a family. Sadly, this is missing in many kids lives. It may be because of circumstances and it may be because of irresponsibility, but it exists. Some kids don’t grow up in good homes where there are two parents and where there are strong values which are taught and enforced. As a result, they look for influences and boundaries in other places and often in the wrong places.

But when we read Solomon’s description what stands out glaringly?

Evil influences promote selfishness:

Let’s take advantage
Let’s do others harm
Let’s get loot
Let’s get valuable stuff

What was Solomon’s counsel?

Don’t give in to them
Don’t go along with them
Don’t set foot in their paths

Finally, let’s read verses 17-19 where Solomon teaches us a third truth.

17 How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.

3.  Living life at the expense of others is selfish, corrupt, evil and, eventually, self destructive. Such a life is a trap which will ensnare us and rob us of a life well-lived. Sometimes it will even lead us to crimes which will put us behind bars.

Just this week a pro football player who has confessed to and been convicted of insider trading was signed by the Seattle Seahawks football team. Since he hasn’t been sentenced yet, he is still free and able to play. A lot of the discussion centered on whether or not a convicted criminal should be allowed to play in the NFL.

Now, no doubt, this player is a very smart individual. He made over a million dollars through his trades. However, what he did was at the expense of others and, it turns out, he wasn’t smart enough not to get caught. He will likely spend many years in prison for his crime.

Solomon warned that ill-gotten gain (that which we gain illegally, without earning it) will rob us of our life. This is a modern day example of that very truth.

Wisdom and truth stand the test of time. If it is wise and if it is true then it is wise and true in any generation. Any supposed wisdom and truth which isn’t translatable beyond the present circumstance isn’t wisdom, nor is it truth.

Regardless of whether our culture tells us a belief or behavior is acceptable our final assessment of what is wise and true must rest with God’s Word. It is a standard which has endured because it is both true and wise and that which sounds good but which contradicts God’s truth must be rejected. 

 

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