Friday, 5th February 2021
We should never read the Bible with an old mindset. Today we will study Proverbs 1 from the perspectives of how to live a godly life when we are in a wilful generation without leaders.
Section One: V1-7 Only by Listening
What does the Book of Proverbs give to us? It helps us to know wisdom and instructions (v2), this wisdom is from God not from people, and the instructions give us direction. Why is our generation a wilful generation? We need to receive the justice, judgment, and equity (v3), which can help the simple. The simple are those who don’t have wisdom (v4), and the Book of Proverbs helps the simple to understand wisdom and instructions, turn the simple to the wise. Young people do not have deep life experience, yet they want to prove themselves, to let their older generations know they can do anything, but often they will fall into being simple and unwise.
For those who are already wise (v5), the Book of Proverbs will help us to be wiser, so never think that we have already attained or are already perfected, as people of understanding we should humble ourselves and attain wise counsel. Verse 6 says wisdom can help us “understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles” – Just like how Jesus spoke parables to the people, only those with understanding can understand Jesus’ teaching. The Book of Proverbs helps us in the same way.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, if we think we already understand everything then we won’t be able receive anything. Our attitude determines our altitude in the Kingdom of God. Be humble to receive teaching then we will be wise ad blessed. When we don’t listen, it means we don’t treasure the teaching we are given, and we will become the foolish.
Section Two: V8-33 From Undiscerning to Unrepentant, Humility is the Only Way Out
How does one walk into the life of a fool? They will go through four stages:
1. The Undiscerning Fool
Proverbs 14:15 says “The simple believes every word, but the prudent consider well his steps” .
The fools despise wisdom, they don’t find teaching and instructions helpful and therefore do not have discernment.
In V8, ‘my son’ – this is not only talking about listening to our parents, but also to those we follow in Christ. If our parents are not Christians, we must also examine carefully if the instructions are of the truth. But our parents can still give us a lot of wisdom from their past experiences, and only by staying humble to listen then we can learn.
V10 tells us that we can be easily influenced by people around us, therefore we need to be careful about the friends we make. How do we know if our friends are good or not? From their marriage relationship we can see if a person can be a good friend for us. If they look after their wife and children well, they have shown that they can stay committed in a relationship. Because if someone who cannot look after their wife and children, then they don’t know how to treasure what they have from God.
Furthermore, verses 11-15 talk about how to choose partners (including personal and business). If someone, who looks after their wife and children, but cannot be faithful in what they believe in, then we also need to be careful about making friends with them. We can see this from their commitment in tithing, their attitude of listening to the teaching and diligence in serving God, etc. It doesn’t mean that if they are not Christians, we should not make friends with them, but we need to be careful. A fool does not have the ability to discern. We don’t just follow blindly. Be careful with the friends we make and the people we interact with, don’t let their lives influence our lives in an ungodly way.
2. The Unteachable Fool
When we don’t seek wisdom, don’t follow instruction, then from the simple we will turn into a fool. But we can see God looks after us all the way, He will never forsake us and never leave us. In V20-21, it says that when we face temptation, God wants to save us and bring us back. God has been giving us instructions from our authorities, but do we really listen?
In V22 says the simple loves simplicity and the fools hate knowledge. The foolish don’t like to be taught and instructed. But God is speaking to them and telling them to turn back. When our authorities give us instructions, they want to lead us out of simplicity and foolish, but often we cannot listen. We also need to pray for those we shepherd because only the Spirit and the Word of God can change people. We need to learn the Word of God, do not use our own words, because our words are not perfect.
Foolish did not want to receive teaching, they are easily offended, and they always think they are right. Proverbs 26:11 says, “as a dog return to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly”, as humans, we tend to keep on going back to our own mistakes, repeating the same wrong attitude. We have walked from simple to fool. That’s also why the Israelites in Book of Judges became a wilful generation because people have lost the ability to discern. God has given us a ruler to measure our own lives. When we eat our own fruits then we will learn the lesson, so we must turn back in time because when God stops answering us then destructions will come to us.
3. The Self-Righteous Fool
Proverbs 27:12 says, “a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.” The Israelites in the Book of Judges were like this. When they killed the people of Benjamin, they didn’t know what to do because they were destroying one of the 12 tribes. Then they went to take girls from other people. The Israelites thought what they did was right. When people become self-righteous they will walk in the flesh in a wilful generation.
4. The Unrepentant Fool
1:32, The foolish cannot examine into their own lives and at the end will fall into destruction. From the simple to the foolish, at the end will lead to destruction.
Even though we have reached the stage of the unrepentant foolishness, God does not give up on us and is still willing to see us turn back to Him. In verse 33, God is reminding us in love, so we can be attentive, turn back from our evil ways, listen to the instructions of our authorities and then we will dwell safely, be secure and without fear of evil.
Pursuit & Respond
Oh Lord, when we lost the attentive heart and ear then our lives will walk in complete foolishness from the undiscerning, to unteachable, to self-righteous, and to unrepentant. We don’t want our lives to end like this, so we come before You, for Your truth to shine into our lives and show us our current situation. Let’s come before God to meditate on our current situation. Do we listen to people more than we listen to God? Are we waiting for an answer from God but still have not received it? Do we often forget our authorities’ teaching? Do we feel hopeless that we thought we are already on the right track, but we are actually not? Without a teachable heart, we will walk into a foolish life. May Your Holy Spirit fall upon us, drag us away from this world. Let Your Word flow into our ears, our lives, and our hearts through our authorities.
We know the teaching and instructions may not sound nice to the ear, but they can safe our lives. Forgive us for our greed and for not listening, we have wronged You. Come O Lord to restore us, so our hearts will be renewed and help us to treasure more the teaching from our authorities and the light from You. Amen.
a. v2，“使人晓得智慧和训诲” – 这个“智慧”是从神而来，“训诲”是instruction（指示、教导） , 让我们知道前面当行的方向；
b. v3， 帮助我们去“领受”并能够明白“智慧、仁义、公平、正直的训诲”， 让生命能从任意妄为中转变过来；
e. v6，” 使人明白箴言和譬喻，懂得智慧人的言辞和谜语” – 耶稣也是常用比喻教导众人。若能听懂，就能得到帮助。
7，” 敬畏耶和华是知识的开端” – 如果我们自以为聪明，就不会领受到知识。我们学生上课时若认真对待老师所讲授的话语，就不会东张西望或随意走动。在神的国度里，态度决定高度。唯有谦卑服从，身量才能提高。不听就是“藐视智慧和训诲”, 他们就是“愚昧人”，唯有谦卑听教的，才是智慧人，才能蒙福(v33)。
二，V8-33：从愚妄走到愚顽 唯有谦卑 才是出路
20-21，虽然我们这样，神还是没有放弃我们。他一直想将我们挽回(e.g. verse 4)，帮助我们提升。我们的权柄也是如此想帮助我们，我们是否去听？
23-25，当神责备我们的时候，不要觉得受伤，神的话和我们权柄的教导是要帮助我们走出愚昧。要多为我们所牧养的人祷告，因为唯有神的灵、神的话语才能帮助愚昧人走出来。所以一定要背经文，用圣经的话，少用自己的话跟别人指示。权柄教导我们的时候我们不要觉得受伤. 箴言26:11 说，“愚昧人行愚妄事，行了又行，就如狗转过来吃他所吐的。” – 我们是否也是错了有错？明明听了权柄的教训却不跟从，就好像士师记里的人那样，没有分辨力，还自以为是，任意妄行。
箴言27:3 说，“石头重，沙土沉，愚妄人的恼怒比这两样更重。” 第12 节又说，“通达人见祸藏躲，愚蒙人前往受害。” – 从愚妄人到愚昧人，再到愚蒙人。这是在士师记最后几章记载的以色列人的光景 – 他们做出禽兽、残忍的行为，是因为他们以为自己是对的。愚昧人是不听教的，愚蒙人就是自以为是对的人。他们看到不对的事情不离弃，反而还去接近。