I tend to be a worrier by nature. It’s easy for me feel insecure when I’m not sure about the future. When I was little, I got nervous when my dad would joke around by pretending to swerve back and forth as he drove (I think this is one of the official dad jokes written in some secret book only fathers know about). While my brothers laughed, I told my dad to stop playing around. I didn’t want to risk getting hurt. What a blessing it is that God tells us how to have security: by listening to His Word.
In my last two posts on Proverbs 1, I discussed how wisdom is the foundation of our faith. We gain this wisdom by making God our first priority. It allows us to be a good example for others and to resist temptation to sin. Wisdom is given to us through God’s Word and the instruction of others. Today, we’ll learn more about the nature of wisdom and how our mindfulness of it affects our lives. We will be focusing on Proverbs 1:20-33.
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks…” Proverbs 1:20-21
In this passage, wisdom is personified. It is obvious that Wisdom is trying to get our attention. She is trying to get as many people to listen to her as possible by going to crowded roads and markets. The Reformation Study Bible notes that the city gates were a place that people assembled for counsel, which makes it an appropriate place for Wisdom to tell others her advice. From these verses, we can see that God delights in giving us wisdom. James 1:5 says,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Wisdom is sharing her message with urgency. The use of the word “cries” in verses 20 and 21 show us how important it is to God that we obey Him. He wants us to know Him. In these verses, Wisdom wants people to understand the importance of heeding God’s word before it’s too late for them to be saved. This is a clear picture of God’s mercy for us. Look for urgency in the following verses:
“Seek God while he’s here to be found,
pray to him while he’s close at hand.” Isaiah 55:6, The Message
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.” Proverbs 1:22-27
Wisdom confronts the people, asking how long will continue to reject God. She has reached out with compassion to them, and they have repeatedly chosen to delight in sin instead of God. Wisdom predicts that this behavior will come back to hurt them later. The proverb continues:
“Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.” Proverbs 1:28-31
Once those who ignored God realize that it was a bad decision, they will turn to Wisdom and find fear for God. However, they chose to do things that left them out of God’s favor, which in turn lead to difficult circumstances. It is obvious that ignoring God’s guidance is just as dangerous as choosing to sin, and these two actions go hand in hand.
Notice that verse 23 gives people a chance to repent. Matthew Henry’s Commentary explains that Wisdom offers to give people the strength they need to turn to God. The repentant person just needs to look to Him and He will give them His Spirit and help them to understand His Word. This makes it obvious to us that God doesn’t desire the difficult end brought to those who reject Him. He is crying out to the lost to bring them back to Him.
A note on verse 28: when Wisdom says that she will not answer those who call upon her, she is saying that it is too late for them to repent because they chose not to repent at the right time. She showed them mercy by offering a chance to repent earlier, but they still chose to sin. Once they saw the hardships caused by that sin, they changed their minds and wanted to repent. However, this desire for repentance came from a desperation to escape trouble, rather than a true heart (Matthew Poole’s commentary).
Proverbs 1 ends with this comfort for those who fear God:
“For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” Proverbs 1:32-33
Those who obey God don’t have to deal with circumstances that come from rejecting His Word. They are also free from the fear of those difficult situations. Our relationship with God provides stability and peace in our life on earth, and it gives us eternal security as well. The last couple of lines in Proverbs 1 are a great parallel to verse 7:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
Fools make a hard life for themselves by hating God’s guidance, but respect for God lays the foundation for eternal grace.
How amazing it is to see the grace that God extends so readily to people. We all need His mercy often. Reflecting on these verses makes me so grateful for God’s patience. I am thankful that He desires a relationship with us and helps us to come to Him. Those these verses may seem harsh at first, they are full of pictures of God’s mercy.
Thank God for the peace He gives us! We’ll start on Proverbs 2 in my next post. Blessings!