Lecture 5: Parents to the Child

Course: Proverbs

Lecture: Lectures of the Parents to the Son

I. Lesson One – Warning against the Invitation of Sinful Men 1:8-19

A. Introduction

There are twelve lessons altogether. It is in the home of the parents of which there are two interludes where woman wisdom addresses the uncommitted, the masses. The parents are assuming that he will be a wise son and this will add to his learning. The first lesson comes in 1:8-19 entitled in the NIV as Warning against the Invitation of Sinful Men. The first interlude comes at the end of the chapter in verses 1:20-33 entitled Wisdom’s Rebuke. The second lecture is in chapter 2 and the 3rd lecture is in chapter 3:1-12. In the NIV this is titled Wisdom Bestows Well-Being. We have three lectures in the home and chapter 5, 6 and 7; we have three lectures against the folly of adultery and the wisdom of marriage. In chapter 8, we get another interlude of woman wisdom addressing the masses. This is not in the home but instead she appears at the gate of the city. In other words, woman wisdom is very involved politically. The gate of the city is the public forum where the city council meets. In speaking there, she is trying to protect the uncommitted before they enter into the city and encounter easy money with the wicked man and easy sex with the woman of the night. So if you haven’t made a commitment, you are in grave danger once you are in the city. She is at the gate protecting the uncommitted. Now is the time to make a commitment, if not now it may well be too late; you will have destroyed your life due to sex and drugs before entering into a full life of adulthood.

B. Command to Listen

So this is the first of the twelve lectures to the son which starts in 1:8, then 2:1; 3:1, 13; 4:1, 10, 20; 5:1; 6:1, 20; 7:1 and 8:1. All social wisdom involves speech and here it is the speech of the parents that the child is to hold because of the traditions of the family. And the question is, will he identify with the faith and traditions of the family or will he identify with his peer group. With the breakdown of the family, it is much more likely that he will identify with the peer group. So this is the tension where we have the parents speaking in verses 8 and 9; they don’t try to overly protect him but instead take him right into where the wicked men works. Proverbs 1:8: ‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not let go of your mother’s teaching (Torah). We have instruction and teaching here, Musar and Torah. This is most likely a literary fiction in regards to the place this was being done. I don’t think we should think of Solomon addressing Rehoboam in the home. God is teaching them, that is, the parents on how to raise the next generation. So he is using the home as the matrix for shaping the next generation; in the same way that Moses did in Deuteronomy 6:4 ‘Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD you God with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your heart.’ So in verse 7, ‘teach them to your children.’ You teach the ‘Torah’ in the home. When he says ‘son’ it is probably more than biological. He says when I was a son to my father in chapter 4:1-3. But what does that mean. The Septuagint says when I was an obedient son. So it not only assumes a biological relationship but a spiritual relationship. Note that in the ‘A’ verse set of 1:8a, that it is his father and then in the ‘B’ verse set of 1:8b, it is the mother. We have both parents in verse 8 and this will not appear again until the next scene at 10:1. ‘A wise son makes a glad father.’ But we are dealing with both parents and they stand on equal footing before the child. They are both authorities with the child, setting the parameters for the child.

C. The Garland and the Necklace

We now get the motivation in verse 9, ‘they are an ornament of grace for your head and a necklace for your throat.’ In Egypt this ornament or garland refers to a twisted wreath, a symbol signifying victory and vindication over enemies, of power and life, of prestige and high social status. And a necklace in Egypt was a symbol signifying guidance and protection. High judges and viziers carried the Ma’at as symbolic expression that they lived in an exemplary way in service of Ma’at, the right order. These are signs that you wear which says you belong to this order of justice. They take this into death, possibly as a symbol of the hope in the judgement of the dead of their service to Ma’at would give promise of life. This is a triumph over evil. And the Torah is a manual of religious instruction, used to instruct the young, win converts and testify to the faith. It is a catechism, a teaching. We have to be careful in talking about it as law or as Torah as it is usually translated. For example, the Ten Commandments are Torah but there are no penalties attached to it. So these teachings are catechistical, they are values of the community. For us, living in the New Covenant is different than the Old Covenant. This has to do with administration. As seen in Jeramiah, I will make a New Covenant with Israel writing my law upon their hearts. For me, I believe they are the Ten Commandments. God makes this part of our very nature which is administered by the Holy Spirit who writes that Law on our hearts. The substance is still the same but the style and administration has changed.

D. The Temptation of the Peer Group

We now have the tension created by the temptation of the peer group. Verse 10 gives us a summary statement. ‘My sons, if sinful men tempt you, do not give in to them.’ 10a give us the condition and 10b gives us the response. In verses 1:11-14, we have the temptation and how they tempt you. And then the ‘do not yield’ and the motivation of what you should not yield in 1:15-18. In particular the motivation comes in verses 17-18 with a summary conclusion in verse 19. In verses 11-14 you have words like blood, ambush, Sheol, plunder and allurement representing a violent death with no escape and Sheol being in league with devil and of course death. Plunder is immediate wealth outside of the law instead of the wealth involved with the development of the character within law and last the allurement of easy money and friends of the gang. The Ambush is a trap for the innocent and the reason is to take advantages of them. They are identified with Sheol, hell and the devil. They will not only shed your blood but also their own blood in verse 16; because God will be holding them accountable. This same verse occurs in Isaiah 59:7 ‘Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways.’ So we see an ambiguity as to whose blood is shed here. They lie in wait for their own lives. The conclusion is, ‘such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.’ If life ends beforehand, there is no justice, but he is insisting that there will be justice. Because if there is no judgement beyond this life, the wicked plunder others and get away with it, so there has to be an ultimate judgement. So this is the first of twelve lessons or lectures in Proverbs by the parents to the son.

II. The First Interlude

A. Interlude

We have an interlude where the woman Wisdom rebukes the simple in 1:20-33. The petiy is the uncommitted or the simpleton, those who are open-minded. This is happening at the gate by those who reject her. It is assumed that the uncommitted are not going to make a commitment in this case. ‘Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the public square she raises her voice; on the highest wall she calls out, at the entrance of the gate to the city she makes her speech:’ This is a literary fiction of wisdom addressing the masses at the gate before they encounter the temptation of the city. In verse 22, she rebukes the uncommitted: ‘How long, you uncommitted, will you love your lack of commitment? She addresses the petiy not necessarily only the mockers and fools. But she makes a statement through a question, ‘How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?’ Then she says, ‘Repent, turn at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my sayings.’ It is saying, until you make a commitment, you cannot enter into the wisdom of this book and she is not going to do anything before you make that commitment. In 1:24 she denounces them because they reject her counsel. This counsel is not just interesting advice, but it represents divine counsel. They refuse to listen and don’t pay any attention to her. Thus, she will laugh when disaster overtakes them. Even though this is hard, the actual laugh it a laugh of victory over sin and evil. The laugher is seeing truth exonerated. For example in Psalm 2:4, ‘He whose seat is in the heavens will be laughing: the Lord will make sport of them.’ This is because of victory and justice over evil. There is a certainty and finality of their judgement. 1:28 says that even though they eventually call out for help; I will not answer because they hated knowledge of the fear of the LORD. At the time of judgement and death, there is no second change; there is no purgatory in the Bible. Finality for many is difficult because we are hoping for a 2nd chance. And we don’t want to give that kind of dignity to our choices in this life. We don’t want our choices to account for eternity. People always want a second chance but there is no second chance; the race is only run once. That’s places a lot more value on this life. If there is a second chance, people will care even less than they do in regards to how they live it. Their choices will not be significant if there is a second chance. I believe in hell because I believe in the dignity of human choice. Those who reject this knowledge will eat from the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. Sadly, their complacency will destroy them but the one who listens will be safe from harm.

B. A Chiasmic Concentric Structure

Proverbs 1:22-33 is actually a Chiasmic Concentric structure. It goes A B C then C’ B’ A’ and in this way woman wisdom is able to say the same thing twice:

The simple are not committed and the fools despise the Fear of the LORD.

22-23

How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

A

 

 

Wisdom rebukes peti to repent

24-25

But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke,

 

B

 

Peti is condemned

26-27

I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

 

 

C

So Wisdom rejects them at judgement

28-29

Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord

 

 

C’

Again she says that Wisdom rejects them at Judgement

30-31

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

 

B’

 

Peti is condemned for their rejection

32-33

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

A’

 

 

Death versus the security of the wise

C. Woman Wisdom

She is a complex person with an appearance of a prophetess and she uses the language of a prophetess. She uses prophetic literature of scolding and calls for repentance and condemnation. At the same time she comes as a sage. Her words are wisdom, wise, fool mockers. She also appears as a divine figure, a goddess who professes life and laughs at judgement. Only God does this. She is a combination of prophet, sage and God’s representative. The sage represents Wisdom as a unique woman who wears the mantle of a prophet, carries the scrolls of the wise man, and wears a goddess-like diadem. The prophetic, sapient, and divine components of her characterization so interpenetrate one another that she emerges a unique personality whose only peer is Jesus Christ. Her identification as an incarnate heavenly being who in humiliation accepts the rejection of the masses to offer the eternal life functions within the canon as a foreshadowing of him who is greater than Solomon. Note that she is a female here because the Grammar of the text demands it. Words that relate to her are feminine. This is done by adding an ‘a’ to the end of male words. … To continue, though more closely related to God than human beings, she rubs shoulders with the masses in the rough-and-tumble of the city gate, and, in an amazing display of grace, invites the unresponsive youths to repent at her rebuke before eternal death overtakes them. Her identity is that of an incarnate heavenly being in humiliation who accepts the rejection of the masses but she offers eternal light. She humbles herself by going into the market place and she is rejected by those who she has come to save. That is humility and she is willing to accept that. This humility and rejection is like a Christ and thus her function is an actual foreshadowing of Jesus. This is more closely related to God than humans, but she is among humanity in the rough and tumble of the city gate. In an amazing action of grace, she invites the unresponsive youth to repent. Once wisdom and the Fear of God are rejected, it is too late. But the grace of it, she is offering them eternal life.

She acts like God as only God laughs at judgement. Some say that she is the created order, like Ma’at, others say she is God’s attribute; however the traditional Christian doctrine says that she is Jesus Christ. This makes us think about the Arian controversy as to whether Jesus Christ is God or not, but in 8:22-25 Not that God processed wisdom, thus wisdom in Proverbs is thought by some as existing before the creation but she wasn’t the Creator as she was created; so it cannot be Jesus Christ because Jesus wasn’t created. A major debate in Constantine’s day was whether not Jesus was God or human? It was also about how you thought about Jesus Christ. But, I think that the idea of Wisdom being Christ is a total fabrication. So I think Woman Wisdom is simply Solomon’s wisdom. And Wisdom in Proverbs has always been Solomon’s wisdom. She is the personification (you take something that is not human and treat it like a human) of his teachings, appealing to the masses to embrace and accept her teachings. And this personification is an abstract idea that is being defined as a person. Note that a student in the class asked why wisdom was a feminine. In Hebrew, the word for wisdom is chokma, thus ending with an ‘a’ making it feminine. This is a characteristic of a sematic language. Sometimes an ‘h’ is added to it but the word is still feminine. The same with folly in Aramaic, the word ends with an ‘a’ and therefore it is feminine. This is purely poetry and grammar causing this; nothing more.

III. Lesson Two – Moral Benefits of Wisdom 2:1-22

  1. My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you--
  2. by making your ear attentive to wisdom you will apply your heart to understanding--
  3. indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
  4. and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
  5. then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
  6. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
  7. He holds success in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
  8. for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
  9. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path.
  10. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
  11. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
  12. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse,
  13. who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways?
  14. who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
  15. whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.
  16. Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
  17. who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.
  18. Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
  19. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.
  20. Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
  21. For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;
  22. but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

    A. The Poem

This lesson actually comes in the form of a poem and I suggest that we use the above translation. Of the twelve lessons or lectures this is a crucial lecture. It presents motivation for accepting the parents’ teaching and provides a poem in praise of wisdom. It is a chapter that tells us how to know God. In relational theology there is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. But I say that you can’t know God unless you know who God is. In 5b, ‘you will find the knowledge of God. Remember the key to the Book is coming to know the Fear of the Lord, but how do you know the Fear of the Lord. Verse 9 points out that you will know what is right and just and fair. This chapter is going to supply the answer to what is the Fear of the Lord and how to achieve what is right, just and fair. There are twenty two verses in the poem matching up to the twenty two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and it falls into two halves. The first half includes verses 1-11 that demonstrates the production of a Godly character and it is also the root. It is not an across as such but it is rather very symmetrical. The next eleven verses is the purpose of the production of the Godly character or rather its fruit. This is to safeguard you against wicked men and women. So first of all the character has to be produced and it needs to be safeguarded. In verses 1-4 are the conditions. The first verse has an ‘if’ in verse 1 and it is implied in verse 2 and another in verse 3 and 4. These conditionals are even like those in English grammar. And these conditions need to be satisfied. The consequences are shown in verse 5; ‘then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.’ The next four verses deal with a theological education. You will understand the Fear of the Lord, find the knowledge of God with the Lord providing us wisdom and he protects you in verses 5-8. In verses 9-11 we get the ethical education. Then you will understand what is right, just and fair. So we have four verses of condition, four verses of the consequences and so the eleven total verses are divided up into four, four and then three. Verses 12-15 are a safeguard against wicked man and their perverse speech. There is also a description of the wicked and their way in verses 12-14. In verse 13, you have those who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, apostates. The dark ways are cut off from moral light and safety, freedom and success. The path in itself is shown to be perverse in verse 15. In verse 16, there is a safeguard against the wicked woman. Verse 16 summarizes the purpose and speech with a description of the wicked woman in verse 17. So you will be saved from wicked man and from wicked woman. Verses 20-22 are a conclusion and summary saying that we should state in the good path which represents life whereas verse 22 is the bad path which represents death. This is shown in the following table:

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

Verses 1 - 11

Production of a Godly Character

Verses 1 - 4

There are four conditions indicated by an if statement

Verses 5 - 8

The consequences by having a theological education

Verses 9 - 11

The consequences by having an ethical education

Verses 12 - 22

The Purposes

Verses 12 - 15

Four verses for the wicked man

Verses 26 - 19

Four verses for the wicked woman

Verses 20 - 22

Three verses in conclusion

In all good literature, the style represents substance. We live in a world under God’s order and the literature represents that order of God. The most important part is the conditions in verse 1-4. All the consequences depend upon this and this in return will safeguard you.

B. The Conditions

The first condition is acceptance and thus we have the key to everything here. It seems so simple yet the natural man does not accept it. And if you have accepted this, it is proof that you have been born again of God. The person without the Spirit cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolish and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. An author by the name of Polyani writing in the Scientific outlook: Its Sickness and Cure: Science (March 1957), he says that you must commit to a hypothesis in order to know. Knowledge flows from personal commitment to a set of particulars, as tools or clues, to shape a skillful achievement, not from detached observation of them. You have to make a commitment to know. Knowledge cannot just be learned; it has to be experienced. You must experience God in living a life of faith. This is the first condition.

The second condition is that you store up the knowledge (This is metaphorical language). This is done by study and memorialization. Last year in Soul, South Korea I was at a conference where I saw five year old children reciting the commandments in Hebrew and other things from the New Testament in Greek. But memorialization isn’t enough by itself. Interestingly, the magi went to the Scribes to find out where Jesus was born. The Scribes had memorized the Word of God but yet, they had no heart for it. The magi obviously had one verse and that was Micah 5:2: but thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you will come forth a ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. They found the Christ. Many people only know John 3:16 and they also find Christ. But yet at learning institutions around the world, they study knowledge, even linguistics, even Hebrew and Greek but they never find Christ. For the Scribes it was the same, they knew it all but it wasn’t in their hearts. The Word of God must come with religious affection. It is something that is hid in your heart and your very being