I’ve started a study on the first 9 chapters on Proverbs for my teen small group. I titled it “Navigating the Road of Life”. Using the driving motif, I called our study of chapter one “Watch Out for Dead-End Streets”. There are two dead-end streets in chapter one: hanging with gangs and other wrong crowds (8-19) and ignoring Wisdom’s cry (20-33).
Solomon (v.1) is warning his son against gang life. As enticing as it can be, as they talk about getting precious goods like plunder (v.13) and an implied brotherhood (v.14), he must avoid it at all costs (v. 8-10). He must have the wisdom to see that their end does not justify their means– murder and theft is evil and will be punished by God with death (v.11-12, 15-18). Solomon adds a simple adage: “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors” (v.19).
We too must heed Solomon’s warnings. Stay away from gangs and other wrong crowds. Their greed for unjust gain will take their lives. They are not your friends. They want to take you down with them. Avoid it at all costs. Find friends who are not driven by greed, but by wisdom. Find friends who trust God to provide their needs as they work hard for His name’s sake. Find friends who are not going to use you or attempt to bring you down with them, but are instead looking for your best and are constantly encouraging you to pursue God’s glory in all things. In other words, find Christian brothers and sisters who will encourage you to live together with them for one purpose– solely for Christ.
Solomon then passes the microphone to Wisdom (he speaks of wisdom as if it were a woman, something that I think would have connected with his son). Wisdom speaks in the streets, markets, and city gates. She is not trying to hide herself; she wants to be made known. She warns the unwise– the naive, scoffers and fools– about their hatred for all things wisdom (v.22). She tells them all the benefits of listening to her reproof: she will pour out her spirit to them and make her words known to them (v.23). They will also experience security if they listen to her (v.33). But what if they do not listen? They will fall into sudden, horrific calamity, and she will mock them. They will cry out for her, and she will ignore them just like they ignored her (v.24-28). In essence, she says, “That’s what you get! I told you so! Don’t look at me now! I tried to help you! I told you to fear the LORD and be wise, but you ignored me. So don’t come to me for help now!” (v.29-31) Interestingly, she gives the reason for their fall in verse 32: “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them”. Turning away, complacency. The simple think their way is better, and ignore wisdom. Fools couldn’t care less about the warnings, and it comes with a vengeance upon them.
We must avoid the dead-end street of ignoring wisdom. What a tragic mistake it would be to hear Wisdom call to us and ignore her. Don’t be simple; don’t be stupid. Listen to her words, and be wise. It will keep you from choices that lead you to a dead end.