From Proverbs 1-3
Practical wisdom for living is the central concern of the book of Proverbs. We are told that the beginning and essence of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (1:7; 9:10). Proverbs often contrasts the benefits of seeking wisdom and the pitfalls of living a fool’s life. While the wicked stumble in “deep darkness” (4:19), “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (v. 18). Proverbs is a collection of Israelite wisdom literature, including an introductory section (chs. 1–9) that gives readers a framework for understanding the rest of the book. The book includes the work of various authors, but much of it is attributed to King Solomon. It dates from between the tenth and sixth centuries B.C. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Pr). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
In today’s passage a father is instructing his son in the wise ways of his mother. The world contains many temptations from the sinners who hope to entice the young man into their ranks and join them in sin. The father warns his son away from them, speaking about the trouble they get themselves into.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The passage begins introducing the father, mother and the son. The father is trying to teach the son.
9 for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Prov 1.8-9)
Parents give their children a wealth of teaching for life. What have your parents taught you?
The parents wisdom (‘instruction’ and ‘teaching’) are described as precious jewelry (‘garland’ and ‘pendant’). An ornament displayed in public for all to see. The association is intentional. The application of the parents valuable teaching will manifest itself in public.
But his parents are not the only ones who seek in influence him.
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse” (Prov 1.10-14)
The father points to the sinners in the world. They seek to entice him into their group and their teaching. The sinners are violent and kill for gain. They steal and plunder. They offer to share their purse.
What influences today seek to entice you into sin? What would your parents want you to do?
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. (Prov 1.15-18)
The father continues to encourage his son not to walk in their ways. He acknowledges is is an ongoing trail and takes effort to resist their call on him.
He says their attempts at sin have the same likelihood of working as attempting to catch a bird by laying a net on the ground. If the bird can see the net it will easily avoid the trap. So too are the traps set by these sinners avoidable by those they seek to ensnare.
Instead their attempts turn on themselves. Their ambushes will be turned against them. They will perish.
In one way or another sin will always be punished.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. (Prov 1.19)
The passage ends describing the outcome of the sinners way of life. They will perish. It forms a nice way of discouraging the father’s son from falling into the sinners enticement to join them.
“Sin is made to be attractive; and it is most important for all of us to know that there are pleasures in sin, in order that we may not be surprised at the discovery of them. The fruit is palatable, though, like apples of Sodom, it soon turns to ashes.” (Spence-Jones, H.D.M. ed., 1909. Proverbs, London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
In the gospel, Jesus has a lot of things to say about sin and its dangers.
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Mt 18.1-9)
Heed the teaching of our Lord Jesus. Do not lead others into sin and take extreme measures to avoid it yourself.
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