Monday, April 1, 2013

Don't Be An April (Or A May Or June Or July!) Fool

Solomon, son of David, King of Israel, did not want his son (or me or you) to be fooled (or fools). In Proverbs 1:1-7, he begins his collection of "the sayings of the wise" by expressing hope that the reader will:

  • "know wisdom and instruction and understand words of insight" (verse 2)
  • "receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity" (verse 3).

The words of these sayings, says Solomon,  are able to

  • "give prudence to the simple" and
  • "knowledge and discretion to the youth" (verse 4).

The challenge of Solomon to the reader is this:

  • "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a figure [an enigma], the words of the wise and their riddles" (verses 5 and 6).

Both the fulfilling of the grand purpose of Solomon's collection of proverbs, and the success of  the reader's efforts, depend on one thing: the reader (student) having the "fear of Yahweh":

  • "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (verse 7).

What characterizes the one who has the fear of the Lord? If the fool "despises wisdom and instruction," then the characterizing mark of the one who fears the Lord is the love of wisdom and instruction. But not just anything sold as "wisdom" or "instruction" will do. Solomon, and all the Scriptures, teach that there is one and only one source for true wisdom: the Scriptures themselves.

This is what God says concerning the Scripture (his words):

  • "All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word" (Isaiah 62:2).

Proverbs appeals to the simple to find prudence, to the youth to gain knowledge and discretion from instruction. It challenges the wise to hear and increase in learning, and offers ever more guidance in understanding to the one who understands these things. Proverbs makes the appeal to remain always and foremost a true disciple, a learner. Do you want to be one on whom the Lord will cast his approving eye? Become more and more a student of God's word, and learn more and more what it means to tremble at it; for this is how we learn, more and more, the fear of the Lord.

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