A Matter Of Life & Death

William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs

Proverbs 1:8-19

The introduction to the book (1:1-7) was a generic call for the reader to get knowledge and wisdom. However, verse 8 reveals that Solomon had a specific recipient in mind—his son. In fact, he will specifically address his son at least 40 times through the book. Every father wants to see his son live a full and fulfilling life. This will best be accomplished through making good decisions, grounded in godly wisdom.

Though the book is specifically addressed to Solomon’s son, we have the wonderful opportunity to sit at the feet of this wise king. In doing so, we are able to learn from his wisdom. It is important that we keep in mind, these are not just Solomon’s words, but the words of God, divinely revealed, recorded and preserved so that we too might seek knowledge and wisdom.

Father And Mother

…hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother… (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Despite the fact that he received a miraculous measure of wisdom, Solomon in no way minimized the importance and influence of his wife. Mothers are mentioned no less than 14 times in the book of Proverbs. God’s plan for family includes both father and mother, and the submission and respect of children to both. At the end of the book, we find that he also heeded the law of his mother (Proverbs 31:1-2). If a man expects his children to respect their mother (as he should), he must do two things himself: show his wife and his own mother respect. A man cannot command and expect of another what he himself does not do.

There are benefits to listening to father and mother. Certainly, the law commanded it (Exodus 20:12), and the unruly child would bring judgment to himself (Exodus 21:17). Solomon states that if his son would heed their voice, it would bring life and favour to him (v 9, cf. Proverbs 3:22). Consider that heeding the voice of our parents is training, that we should learn to hear and obey all authority; whether it be secular authorities (Romans 13:1-6) or God Himself (Matthew 7:21).

Don’t Walk With The Ungodly

…if sinners entice you, do not consent. …do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path… (Proverbs 1:10, 15)

One of the challenges that the young face is the desire to be part of the “in crowd.” This is not a modern problem only. Though their activities have changed from Solomon’s day to our own, their lack of morality certainly hasn’t. Neither has the peer pressure they used to coerce people to follow along.

Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause… (Proverbs 1:11)

It matters not what evil the “in crowd” are pursuing, Solomon did not want his son pursuing it with them. Neither does God want us to have a share with those who seek to work evil. As Solomon called upon his son to walk according to the instruction and law of his parents, so we are called to walk by the instruction and law of our heavenly Father. The Lord compels us, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16; cf. Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7).

The goal of those who enticed Solomon’s son was financial gain. They said:

We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse… (Proverbs 1:13-14)

Wealth is a powerful motivator. Though there is nothing wrong with wealth itself, it has the potential to destroy an individual. The apostle Paul remarked:

…godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

There are no shortage of people who are motivated by money—including people of faith. Friend, we must be very careful that the pursuit of wealth does not 1) become our goal in life; 2) involve us in associations we ought to avoid; or 3) cause us to do things that are contrary to our Father’s will, and detrimental to our fellow man. Time and again the Bible tells us to do good, to serve others, to care for the needs of others. We cannot do so if we are in camp with wicked people who make it their aim to misuse, abuse and take advantage of others.

They Lurk Secretly For Their Own Lives

…they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owner. (Proverbs 1:18-19)

Solomon warns his son against the wicked, not only because their way brings harm to others, but also, its eventual end is harm to themselves. Such is the case with all evil—death is at the end of the road. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Friend, do not listen to those who are self-seeking. They may want you to run with them, but it is their own benefit they have in mind, nor yours. Do not be motivated by the urgings of those who want us to participate in their wickedness. They may reason, “no one will get hurt,” “it will be fun,” “just once won’t hurt,” etc.. Do not listen to their lies.

May we hear the voice of our Father in heaven; He seeks our good, both here and in eternity (Hebrews 12:9-10). Whether we listen to Him or to the world that surrounds us is a life and death decision. May we choose life.

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