Wisdom’s Offer

Text: Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom Cries Out

(Proverbs 1:20-21)

Solomon introduces us to the personification of wisdom. Wisdom is portrayed as a chaste, single woman. She isn’t hard to find, she is in the street, in the market square, in the busy streets, and at the gates of the city. Where people can be found, she is there. Since all traffic into and out of a city had to go through the gates, Wisdom isn’t hiding. Nor can you pass her by without notice. She is shouting at everyone who comes close.

Wisdom’s Message

(Proverbs 1:22-25)

Her approach doesn’t sound all that appealing. She calls the people naive, scoffers, and fools. A naive or simple-minded person is inexperienced and gullible; thus, susceptible to being seduced by evil. A scoffer or mocker is someone who disbelieves anything he doesn’t already accept. Where the naive lacks teaching, the scoffer is certain there is nothing he needs to be taught. He is proud of what he thinks is right and makes fun of anyone who presents a differing idea. As mentioned before, a fool is someone who refuses to learn. Where the naive can potentially be taught, the fool refuses attempts to teach him.

The common frustration for Wisdom among these three groups of people is that they like things just as they are.

Perhaps it is the content of the message:

Turn to my reproof,

Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;

I will make my words known to you.

Because I called and you refused,

I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;

And you neglected all my counsel

And did not want my reproof

Proverbs 1:23-25

Wisdom’s message is packaged inside of scoldings. A person cannot truly learn without realizing there is a need for information. Therefore, Wisdom is not scolding because she is haughty; she is stating facts that are not comfortable to face. Once a person is willing to accept his need, she is offering an overwhelming flood of information.

Going down into the chiasm is what Wisdom offers, coming back out of the chiasm are the people’s rejection of her offer: they refused it, they didn’t pay attention to it, they neglected it, and they did not want it. The center point, “Because I called and you refused,” summarizes the entire series.

The Consequence of Rejecting

(Proverbs 1:26-30)

Life is full of good and bad events. While I cannot predict when a disaster might strike, I can be confident that disasters will happen to me during my life. It might not sound polite, but Solomon tells us that Wisdom laughs as disasters strike those who would not listen to her. Like most disasters, it comes with little warning, but it comes with overwhelming power – like a huge thunderstorm or a tornado.

Think about it. When is the time to dig a tornado shelter? During your spare moments during the years, or do you wait until you see a tornado on the horizon? For the same reason, Wisdom realizes the sad humor of anyone who thinks they can learn wisdom right before they need wisdom. It doesn’t matter how badly they want it right now, it just can’t be taught instantly.

You Get What You Wanted

(Proverbs 1:31-33)

Paul warns, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8). You get back out of life what you put into it. But you also get back more than you plant. “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).

Logically, therefore, ignoring or scorning the offer of wisdom has a consequence far greater than you might expect. Too often it leads to death and destruction. But listening to wisdom in advance gives security and freedom from worries about future problems.

For Discussion:

  1. What other reasons might people not seek out wisdom in advance?
  2. What kind of laughter are we talking about when Wisdom laughs at the foolish people’s disaster? See Psalms 2:1-5 and Psalms 37:12-15 for hints.
  3. Does wisdom prevent disasters?
  4. How might wisdom help in times of disaster?
  5. Why would wisdom cause you not to worry about the future?

Compare and Contrast

Proverbs 1:10-19 Proverbs 1:20-33
Sinners are portrayed as a group of unnamed young men Wisdom is portrayed as a single woman
The offer is a private enticement The offer is loudly broadcast to everyone
The offer appeals to immediate gratification The offer seems insulting
What is being offered harms other people What is being offered can bring safety to the individual
What is being offered is a trap What is being offered is an escape
The long term result is death The long term effect is security and peace
The gang's offer involves actions to take Wisdom's offer involves words to heed

Both offers give the person back what they put in but in greater quantity.

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