Tuesday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Proverbs 1-3 (NKJV)
1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, 3 to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; 4 To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—5 a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, 6 to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; 9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; 12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; 13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; 14 Cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse”—15 my son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; 16 For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. 17 Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird; 18 But they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. 19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.
20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. 21 She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: 22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. 23 Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, 25 because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, 27 when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, 30 they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. 31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies. 32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.”
2:1 My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, 2 so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. 10 When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you,
12 to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, 13 from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, and who are devious in their paths;
16 to deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. 18 For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead; 19 None who go to her return, nor do they regain the paths of life—
20 so you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness. 21 For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 But the wicked will be cut off from the earth, and the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.
3:1 My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 and so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.
9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; 14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. 16 Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.
19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; 20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes—keep sound wisdom and discretion; 22 So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. 23 Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; 26 For the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you. 29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake. 30 Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways;
32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, but His secret counsel is with the upright. 33 The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. 34 Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. 35 The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Each portion of a couplet in Proverbs should be understood on its own, then viewed in relationship to the other. “Fear of the Lord” can represent two different Hebrew phrases, one of which would better be translated “fear FROM the Lord.” Such is “servile fear,” while “fear OF the Lord” is “filial fear.” Servile (slave-like) fear runs from God when we have sinned. Filial (son-like) fear instead runs to God seeking forgiveness, fearing life without this relationship. Fools despise wisdom, considering their own feelings and reason the wise path; anyone instructing them otherwise is automatically “the enemy.”
Putting the two together: fools despise the fear of the Lord. They despise having to run from a judging, condemning God, so they continue in their folly, thinking themselves wise, that they will be better off “ruling in Hell” than “serving in Heaven” and other such nonsense. What they miss is that God doesn’t want them to flee from Him, but to Him when they have sinned—to be sons and heirs, not slaves and enemies. Thus, they seek their own way in life, setting traps for others, but really trapping themselves: running away from the Lord, they bring more judgment upon themselves, being unable to escape. Yet, Wisdom calls out, seeking their repentance, their turning. Wisdom calls out as one that the young man studying under Solomon would desire as a wife: so earnestly should he seek and love and cherish wisdom!
Grant, O Lord, that we lean not on our own understanding, fleeing from You when we have sinned, which is folly, but fleeing to You and trusting in You with all our heart for forgiveness, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.