Category Archives: Portraits from Proverbs

Portraits from Proverbs (01)

Introduction

Welcome to a new series that I’ve want to do for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed the Book of Proverbs. Today, we begin a new series called Portraits in Proverbs. Here is some of what we’ll be looking at in the days ahead:

  • Wisdom Personified
  • The Wise Man and the Fool
  • The Righteous and The Wicked
  • The Sluggard
  • The Strange Woman
  • The Scorner
  • The Simple
  • The Young Man
  • The Godly Wife

As you can see, Proverbs often contrasts characters to help you understand them. That’s why we’ll be presenting some of the portraits in pairs.

Bible Reading

Pro 1:1-8 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, and judgment, and equity; (4) To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. (5) A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: (6) To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. (7) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (8) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

What Are We After?

The Book of Proverbs was originally written by a father to his son to help him become a person of godly character. Solomon also wrote it to help his son deal with life life’s problem people. We’re going to pursue those same goals. Hopefully, you’ll examine you’re own character as you read through this series. You’ll also learn how to better respond to the difficult people in your life.

Portraits from Proverbs (02)

Introduction

The first portrait we’ll take a look at is wisdom personified. Proverbs presents wisdom as a person in several of its passages.

Bible Reading

Pro. 1:20-23 (20) Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: (21) She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, (22) How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Pro. 8:1-5 (1) Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? (2) She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. (3) She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. (4) Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. (5) O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

Pro. 9:1-6 (1)Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: (2) She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. (3) She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, (4) Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, (5) Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. (6) Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Wisdom Seeks You

The first thing that stands out about this portrait of wisdom personified is that wisdom is seeking you. In each of today’s readings, we hear wisdom crying out to us, inviting us to come to her. Do you think of yourself as a seeker of wisdom? Isn’t it encouraging to know that wisdom is seeking you? Wisdom is available. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that these verses reveal wisdom pleading with you to get to know her. Has it ever dawned on you that God longs for you to be wise?

Wisdom Widely Available

The next prominent feature in this portrait is the wide availability of wisdom. Wisdom utters her voice in the streets (1:20). Wisdom stands “in the top of high places (8:2),” which were traditionally places of worship. Wisdom calls out to the simple, to the foolish, and to the wise. Wisdom is throwing a party and you’re invited.

What About You?

  • Are you seeking wisdom?
  • Do you know that wisdom is seeking you?

Portraits from Proverbs (03)

Introduction

In yesterday’s study, we learned that wisdom is eagerly seeking us. What exciting news! Today’s text contains a stern warning – it’s dangerous to ignore wisdom’s invitation. We continue our look at wisdom personified today with a look at wisdom’s warning.

Bible Reading

Pro 1:24-33 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Wisdom’s Warning

As you can see from today’s reading, there is grave danger in ignoring wisdom’s invitation. Refusing to turn at wisdom’s reproof can lead to calamity. Fear, desolation, destruction, distress and anguish await the person who rejects wisdom. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

But it gets worse. When disaster hits your life, you’ll be crying out for wisdom, but this time it will be wisdom’s turn not to R.S.V.P. Instead, you’ll be left to eat the fruit of your own way. Wisdom will laugh at you.

You may think this is cruel – that God is being mean. The truth is, though, that rejecting wisdom can put you in circumstances where there is no good answer. If God warns you that wine can make a fool of you (Pro. 20:1), but you ignore His warning, get drunk, get behind the wheel and kill someone, how do you fix that? There isn’t a good answer at that point. If God warns you to avoid the flattery and beauty of the strange woman (Pro. 6:25), but you think you’re above that kind of sin, what good answer is there when you lose you family, or end up with A.I.D.S.? All you’ll hear then is wisdom’s mocking voice saying, “I told you so.”

What About You?

  • Do you realize the danger of ignoring wisdom’s invitation?
  • Have you already experienced the pain of consequences without a cure?

Portraits from Proverbs (04)

Introduction

As we saw yesterday, wisdom’s warning is serious. Today, we’ll look at the blessings wisdom offers.

Bible Reading

Pro. 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Pro. 8:15-21 (15) By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. (16) By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. (17) I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. (18) Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. (19) My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. (20) I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: (21) That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

Pro. 8:32-36 (32) Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. (33) Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. (34) Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. (35) For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. (36) But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Wisdom’s Blessings

Wisdom promotes peace and safety. Wisdom empowers people to lead well. Wisdom offers durable prosper. It enriches in ways that excel and outlast mere money. Wisdom teach us how to live right and how to have good judgment. Wisdom allows us to obtain God’s favor. Wisdom makes these, and many other, blessing available to us.

It’s important to remember, though, that these blessings are offered under certain conditions. They are available to those who watch daily at wisdom’s gate. That means we must make it our regular practice to seek wisdom. Most people only seek wisdom in crisis. To enjoy the blessings of wisdom, we need to look for it every day. Second, we’ve got to obey the voice of wisdom – to harken to it. It’s not enough to know what’s wise, you must act wisely.

What About You?

  • Do you really understand how valuable wisdom is?
  • Is it you consistent habit to seek wisdom?

Portraits from Proverbs (05)

Introduction

As we’ve seen, Wisdom is dangerous to ignore, and a blessing to have. Today, we’ll consider wisdom’s character. That is, we’ll discuss the nature of true wisdom, so you can recognize it when you find it.

Bible Reading

Pro. 8:6-9 (6) Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. (7) For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. (8) All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. (9) They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

Jas 3:13-18 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (14) But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (15) This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (16) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Wisdom’s Character

Solomon’s portrait of wisdom shows that she is godly. You can tell by her conversation. She speaks:

  • Excellent things: important, honorable, noble things
  • Right things: equitable, upright things
  • Truth: that which is certain, sure, faithful
  • Righteousness: justice, morality

Missing from her vocabulary are:

  • Wickedness: wrong, immorality
  • Frowardness:
  • Perversion: distorted, false, crooked

James summed this up well when he said, “the wisdom that is from above is first pure.” You can be sure that any advice you get that encourages you to do wrong isn’t from God. Here are a couple of examples of ungodly “wisdom”:

  • A friend tells you that your mate wouldn’t take you for granted if they knew someone else was interested in you. They suggest a little flirtation to help your mate appreciate what they have.
  • You look at the working world around you and come to the conclusion that you’ll make more money if you’re dishonest. You cut corners and shade the truth to get what you want.
  • You’re under a lot of pressure right now, and a friend suggests that the two of you hit the bars to “blow of a little steam.”

All three suggestions are contrary to biblical commands and principles. Following this kind of advice may bring you short term relief, but it will dishonor God and set you up from trouble down the road. Real wisdom will never conflict with God’s Word.

Pro 21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

What About You?

  • Do you have godly counselors? Do they encourage you to do right?
  • If not, where could you go to get better advice?

Portraits from Proverbs (06)

Introduction

Today, we’ll begin looking at Solomon’s portrait of the wise man and the fool. These are general categories, and they overlap some of the other portraits we’ll look at later in this series.

Bible Reading

Pro 8:33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

Pro 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Pro 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

Pro 14:16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

Pro 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

Pro 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Pro 18:2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Pro 9:8-10 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. (9) Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Pro 29:9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

Only The Teachable Will Be Wise

According to Proverbs 8:33, you need to hear instruction to be wise. Only by listening to counsel and teaching will you be wise in the end. A wise person takes sin seriously, and obeys God’s commands. When he is confronted about sin, he fears God and departs from evil.

This is a problem for the fool, since he hates knowledge. Why is that? Because the fool is a know-it-all who doesn’t need anyone to tell him what to do. His way is the right way, so what could anyone else add to his knowledge? When a fool seems to be looking for advice, what he really wants is to hear the echo of his own voice. That’s one reason he won’t seek out wise counsel.

Pro 15:12 A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.

If you’re dealing with a fool, be prepared for him to hate you if you try to straighten him out – it’s the nature of the beast.

What About You?

  • Are you teachable?
  • Or do you get mad when people try to give you advice?

Portraits from Proverbs (07)

Introduction

We saw yesterday that the wise man seek wisdom, considers counsel, and receives reproof. The fool does not. So, how is his life directed, if he rejects God’s guidance system? That’s the topic of today’s study.

Bible Reading

Pro 17:16 Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

Pro 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

Pro 27:22 Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

Pro 17:10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

Study

Fool waste their money looking for help because the problem is in them, not outside them. They won’t listen to advice, and won’t accept reproof, so they end up being directed by discomfort and pain. Problem is, even this isn’t always effective. The fool ends up going through lots of pain before the lesson is learned.

That’s due, in part, to the fool’s pride. The painful consequences must be someone else’s fault. Bad luck, stupid people, mean God – something. It couldn’t be their fault.

What About You?

  • Is there a lot of pain in your life right now?
  • Is it possible that the pain you’re experiencing is sending you the message that you need to change your behavior?

Portraits from Proverbs (08)

Introduction

How do you know if you’re a fool? How do you know if you’re dealing with a fool? One of the fastest ways to tell is by what they say.

Bible Reading

Pro 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

Pro 15:7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.

Pro 15:2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Pro 18:6-7 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. (7) A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

Pro 14:3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.

The Fool’s Words – Echoes From An Empty Mind

One of the first evidences a fool gives is that they talk a lot. (After all, they know everything, so why not share it?) The wise person, though, doesn’t tell all he knows. The wise lay up knowledge. They speak it in due season. They use well the wisdom they’ve laid up.

Fools don’t just talk too much, what they say isn’t valuable. Their quantity doesn’t make up for their lack of quality. One of the common themes in the fool’s conversation is contention – conflict and a call for judgment. The irony is, their words will bring judgment on them.

What About You?

  • Do you have a reputation for talking a lot?
  • Is it possible that the pain you’re experiencing is sending you the message that you need to change your behavior?

Portraits from Proverbs (09)

Introduction

As we’ve seen, the fool is sure he is right. He also talks too much. Today, we’ll see one of the natural outgrowths of that combination.

Bible Reading

Pro 12:16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Pro 14:17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.

Pro 19:3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

The Fool and the Furious

With a big mouth and a heart swelling with pride, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the fool tends to have a bad temper. When people disagree with him, he’s quick to communicate their error to them. When they don’t see the wisdom of his rebuke, he gets angry.

Today’s last Bible passage uncovers another interesting twist to the fools anger. The leans on his own understanding, makes bad decisions, and experiences bitter consequences. The fool makes a mess of his life and, then, blames God for it.

What About You?

  • Are you often angry?
  • Are you angry with God because of the consequences of your own choices?

Portraits from Proverbs (10)

Introduction

No one lives in a vacuum – not even a fool. And, as we’ll see, the impact of foolishness often impacts those closest to us.

Bible Reading

Pro 10:1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

Pro 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Pro 15:20 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.

Pro 17:21 He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

Pro 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Pro 19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

Feeling For a Fool

If you could put all the world’s fools together in a big padded room and lock the door behind them, then they would only hurt each other. But, since we don’t have a room any where near big enough, they get to roam about, inflicting pain to the people around them.

The first to feel that pain are the parents. A wise son makes his father glad, but the father of a fool has no joy. The fool is heaviness to his mother. And, with a fool’s pride, he will usually blame them for the friction between them.

When the fool grows up, they get to make a mess of a family of their very own. The foolish woman tears down her family. She drives her husband crazy like a dripping faucet.

What About You?

  • Is there a lot a friction in your family?
  • Is it possible that you’re contributing to the trouble at home?