The Book of Proverbs - Chapter 1 - Personal Bible Study
So recently I started reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible. A quick reading through the first few chapters showed me that I need to spend a lot more time actually studying this book if I want to even begin to understand it. So much of it just flew over my head so quickly. There is a lot there to digest. There is a lot there to consider in light of ancient times vs. my own understanding of the world as it is today.
I've always been interested in Ancient wisdom. I even earned a minor in Philosophy while I was in college studying the likes of Plato and Lao Tsu. But as I try to grow closer to God, I find myself longing for his wisdom and trying to understand his word.
1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel,2 for gaining wisdom and discipline, for comprehending words of insight,3 and for receiving instruction in wise living and in righteousness, justice, and equity.4 To impart prudence to the simple and knowledge and discretion to the young,5 let the wise listen and gain instruction, and the discerning acquire wise counsel6 by understanding the proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
This book is a little harder for me to get through than are other books of the Bible, because it covers so much and bounces between subjects that are often presented randomly. It often speaks in riddles and comparisons that are hard to make sense of.
I need to write it down to help myself process. I need to look up the definitions of words that are used, and I need to meditate on these words to understand them better, so I will try to make a series out of it as I work through it. No promises though and there are no guarantees that I'm going to get it right. God could end my inspiration at any time. I am no biblical scholar, and am hardly an expert on ancient times, but I am well educated, I do have a very basic understanding of Hermeneutics, and do know how to read critically and carefully. So, I will ask the Holy Spirit to guide my hands and to open my heart to this knowledge and wisdom.
The book of Proverbs, according to the first paragraph in the first chapter (vs 1-3) is all about living wisely and in righteousness, justice and equity. The first part of the book is written as the advice a father should give to his son on how to live a good, honest, righteous, and loving life. And what to watch out for. What traps to avoid in the drama of day-to-day life, so to speak or rather what temptations to avoid.
The rest is a collection of sayings that have been passed down through the ages and were collected somewhere around 300 BC. King Solomon ruled from 970 to 931 AD, so a lot of this has been around for going on three thousand years. The first 9 chapters is written in a different format than the rest.
I will begin by asking the questions: What does it say? What is the meaning? How is this information beneficial to me?
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but the foolish despise wisdom and discipline.
How true is this in our modern times? There are two types of people, the wise and the foolish. Those who take care of their shit and those who don't. Those who live a good life and those who live a hard life of evil. Those who walk with the Lord always want to share their joy, and those who don't never want to hear it. They will say things like "Don't shove your religion down our throats." Meanwhile they are living a life of sin and eventually find themselves longing for something without realizing that it's being offered to them all the time.
To me, the "fear of the LORD" is the difference between being accepting of God's grace and being saved or being eternally separated from him. The whole point of the Bible is to teach us how to stay on the straight and narrow path towards salvation. It's like a bullet being shot out of a gun. If your aim is true, you will hit your target. If not, you will miss and the bullet will end up somewhere else. Imagine at death, your soul is shot out of your body like a bullet, missing it's target and being eternally lost. As long as your gun (life) is aimed towards Heaven, that’s where you will land. If not, you will shoot off in some other direction. Never finding your way.
That is a terrifying thought, and it is not how I want to end up.
Moving on to Verse's 8, 9, and 10 we get our first piece of advice. It is written as if a father is speaking to his son.
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother.9 For they are a garland of grace on your head and a pendant around your neck.
Um yeah. Parents usually want what's best for their children and one of the best things we can do for them is to teach them how to live a good, honest, productive, faithful and righteous life in the existing world. The world as we know it now as it was 3000 years ago is full of temptations and opportunities to sin.
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not yield to them.
I will reword this to: If your friends and acquaintances try to talk you into doing something stupid, sinful or illegal, do not give in to the temptation.
11 If they say, “Come along, let us lie in wait for blood, let us ambush the innocent without cause,12 let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole like those descending into the Pit.13 We will find all manner of precious goods; we will fill our houses with plunder.14 Throw in your lot with us; let us all share one purse”—15 my son, do not walk the road with them or set foot upon their path.
So basically, if Sinners try to get you to help them beat, kill and rob innocent people so you can take what is theirs and get your riches that way, don't do it. Don't join them. Don't even hang out or walk with them.
That seems kind of an extreme example in consideration of the modern civilized world, but I can see plenty of situations where this is valid. You hang out with bad people; you're going to get into trouble. I'm reminded of gang type violence where you just being with the bad guy is liable to get you shot.
But more simply it is saying, just avoid these kinds of people and situations altogether.
16 For their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed blood.17 How futile it is to spread the net where any bird can see it!18 But they lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush their own lives.19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy, whose unjust gain takes the lives of its possessors.
Once they do evil, they sit around watching their backs. The victims might come for revenge. The law will be looking for you. Sooner or later you will pay the price.
20 Wisdom calls out in the street, she lifts her voice in the square;21 in the main concourse she cries aloud, at the city gates she makes her speech:22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love your simple ways? How long will scoffers delight in their scorn and fools hate knowledge?
Wisdom is offered to you. It is all around you. You know right from wrong, but you are morally corrupt. You just don't listen to the advice of those who walk the straight and narrow path. You know better. Now you will pay the price.
23 If you had repented at my rebuke, then surely I would have poured out my spirit on you; I would have made my words known to you.24 Because you refused my call, and no one took my outstretched hand,25 because you neglected all my counsel, and wanted none of my correction,26 in turn I will mock your calamity; I will sneer when terror strikes you,27 when your dread comes like a storm, and your destruction like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish overwhelm you.
You should have listened when you had the chance. Now that you are going to pay the price.
28 Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will earnestly seek me, but will not find me.
You cry out for mercy, but it is too late. Those in Hell will cry out for God, but he won't hear them because it's too late.
29 For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the LORD.30 They accepted none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof.31 So they will eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
You chose your path. You denied the teachings of the Lord. You chose to do evil and evil always has a price. You dug your own hole, so to speak. You made your own bed and have to sleep in it.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.
Those who choose to do evil and cause harm will eventually destroy themselves.
33 But whoever listens to me will dwell in safety, secure from the fear of evil.”
So, to sum it up, for you, the beginning of wisdom comes from your parents who try to teach you to do the right thing. Society tries to teach you to do the right thing. God tries to teach you to do the right thing. But if you choose a different path, you will eventually pay the price. If you choose to live the life of a criminal, murder, robber, you will gain those quick rewards of riches, but will eventually pay the price with your life, your conscience your personal security, or your freedom.
So, wisdom has to do with the knowledge of doing the right thing and the understanding of the consequences of what happens if you choose to do evil.
In my dreams lately, I find myself alone in a run down and abandoned building in a world that is dark and lonely, never being able to find my way out. I'm not saying that I'm being given visions of Hell or anything, but I often wonder if maybe that's what it would be like. Being eternally lost, alone, no way out, full of regret, forever blaming God and others for my fate which I brought on myself.
I suppose being tortured by devils could be a part of it, but I wonder if they're too busy working to keep us off the straight narrow path while we still have time to choose. Once we've lost our way, we no longer matter to them. Just that God didn't win us over. Therefore, we'll be spending eternity torturing ourselves and we are no longer a part of God's plan.
Perhaps that's what it truly means to be a Poor Lost Soul. I don't know I'm just trying to give you an image to think about.
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