Let’s face it: we are a wayward flock of sheep! It’s not so much that we are ignorant, but rather that we are disobedient. More often than not, we know what we ought to do. Put plainly, we simply do not put what we know into practice. So we spend our days enduring the irksome and painful consequences of going our own way. The grind of disobedience is neither easy nor new. Unfortunately, it has characterized the human experience almost as long as humans have walked the earth. The sayings of Solomon address this tendency of ours head-on.
According to this ancient teacher, the secret of escaping the grind of disobedience is wisdom. That is, wisdom in the Hebrew sense of the term. Biblical wisdom is a process that begins with gaining knowledge, then choosing to set aside our former ways of thinking, and then putting this new knowledge into practice. In the verses you just read (Proverbs 1:20-33), wisdom is personified as a courageous heroine who stands in the street (symbolic of everyday life) and shouts! She calls for our attention. She doesn’t want us to drift haphazardly through the day; she urges us to engage in life with purpose, taking her along as our adviser. As I read these verses, I observe three facts related to wisdom:
- Wisdom is available (vv. 20–21).
- Wisdom can be ignored or spurned (vv. 24–25).
- Ignoring wisdom produces grave consequences (vv. 26–28, 31–32).
The deeper we dig into Solomon’s sayings, the more clearly we discover what brings wisdom into our lives. The secret? Accepting God’s reproofs. Jump ahead for a moment and look at a “completive couplet” with me from Proverbs 3:11-12:
My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
And while we’re at it, look at another even more sobering statement in Proverbs 29:1:
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
Reproof is from a Hebrew term that means “to correct; to convince.” I often think of reproofs as God’s persistent proddings, those unmistakable nudges, His inner promptings designed to correct our ways. They alert us to the fact that we have veered from His course. They communicate, in effect, “My child, that’s wrong! Change direction!” These reproofs—these warnings, proddings, nudges—can only keep us from disobedience if we heed them. We don’t want to be like the fool in this modern-day parable:
A man purchased a new car and enjoyed driving it everywhere. Unfortunately, he didn’t heed the dealer’s instructions to check the oil level at every other fill-up and to have the oil changed every three thousand miles. After a year, he ignored first the smell of burning oil and then the strange, hollow sound of his engine. He had long since covered the annoying yellow warning light with a piece of black electrical tape, so he didn’t see the light flash red, and he didn’t know why his shiny car rolled to a stop and refused to start. Unfortunately, he had also failed to heed the counsel of his financial adviser, so he couldn’t afford a new engine either.
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.