Chapter 1: Commentary

This chapter begins the first of five sections of Proverbs attributed to Solomon (as were the second and third). This section (1:1-9:18) is mostly comprised of a series of extended poetic wise sayings, frequently including "my son" sayings, as opposed to the more typical one-verse wise sayings in most of the book.

1:1-7 Introduction to the Book

     These verses represent an introduction to the whole book of Proverbs. Verse 1 serves as the book's title, while verses 2-6 are the introduction proper. I like to think of verse 7 as the theme or motto of the book. In the introduction (:2-6), Solomon gives the 5 purposes of the book of Proverbs. The book does not focus on going to Heaven, instead it's about the things we should do to live right and experience God's blessings down here in this life. For a discussion of each purpose see the appropriate verse below.

  • Purpose 1) :2 "for attaining wisdom and discipline;"
  • Purpose 2) :2 "for understanding words of insight;"
  • Purpose 3) :3 "for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;"
  • Purpose 4) :4 "for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—"
  • Purpose 5) :6 "for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise."

1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel

     Proverbs were ancient wise sayings about life. The Hebrew word "proverb" means "comparison," which describes how most proverbs are structured and what they say. Many are just that, short statements of contrasts about universal truths and human behavior.

     This verse introduces both Solomon and his wise sayings. The Bible says God gave King Solomon great wisdom and he spoke 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). Three collections of these are found in Proverbs (chapters 1-9; 10-24; 25-29; while chapters 30-31 are attributed to others). Just for the record, adding up all the verses in all these chapters totals far less than one-third of the original 3,000 proverbs he spoke.
      Frequently in Proverbs Solomon addresses his insights to "my son" (see 1:8). While this was an ancient literary technique of wisdom literature, it is still appropriate to understand it as father-to-son advice. This is guy talk – appropriate man-to-man locker-room talk – about life. But also note that the last chapter of the book comes from the king's mother – momma always gets the last word! One of the greatest lessons of Proverbs does not come from any verse in the book. Instead, it is the reality that Solomon, who spoke all these great truths from the wisdom God gave him, actually quit practicing them, himself. And when he did, his life and entire kingdom suffered.
      You may have known a wonderful spiritual leader or teacher who lived and taught Biblical principles for many years. But, at some point, something happened and they quit practicing what they preached – with disastrous consequences. It is just not enough to know (or even originate) these spiritual truths. We must continue to practice them – one day at a time.

1:2 for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;

     The introduction of the book (:2-6) introduces the five-fold purpose of Solomon's "wise sayings." The first two are here in this verse, with the first purpose of the book "for attaining wisdom and discipline." "Attaining" (literally "to know") these two character qualities is most fitting to begin this book      "Wisdom" is the key word of Proverbs and is thus mentioned first. As one of the weekly focused Character Qualities at Helping Up Mission, we define wisdom as "seeing life from God's point of view."
     The other thing Proverbs will help us attain is "discipline." While I tend to think of discipline as punitive, it actually carries the idea of "training" (the KJV Bible usually uses the term "instruction," in Proverbs).
     I spent 12 years – with 3 seasons each year – as head track coach of high school boys and girls track teams in one of the public high schools where I live in Frederick County. Coaching cross country, indoor and outdoor track each year, my job was to instruct/train/discipline my athletes to be better runners, jumpers and throwers. I took minimal punitive actions although I imagine many runners would have disagreed! But I did lots of discipline, training and instruction. That is the essence of the word used here in Proverbs 1:2.
     The second purpose for the book is "understanding words of insight" (literally "understanding words of understanding" – using the same word as both a verb and adjective). I define "understanding" as "realizing how right choices lead to a meaningful life." The root Hebrew verb from which "understanding" comes is often translated "to discern" and is also the root for the Hebrew word "between." Thus real "understanding" has to do with the ability to discern the relationship between things.
      From a Biblical viewpoint, I have "understanding" – caught on or really get it – when I can discern the cause-and-effect relationship between making right decisions and their benefits or me, my loved ones and everyone one else with whom I care to share it. I ran track in high school and college, so as a high school track coach years later, I "disciplined/trained" my athletes to have the "understanding" of the cause-and-effect relationship between good practice habits and winning performances in track meets.
      My own appreciation of the spiritual meaning of "understanding" was greatly empowered a few years ago and made a real difference in my life. It is embodied in the third line of the Serenity Prayer, "the wisdom to know the difference."

1:3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;

     The third purpose of the Proverbs is in verse three. It is a powerful verse for someone wanting to change their life. In English it looks like we "acquire" (verb) five things (nouns), but that is not how the Hebrew text is written. Technically this verse (and third purpose of Proverbs) is in two parts:

  1. "Acquiring" (verb) or receiving "discipline" (as an adjective here) and being "prudent" (or "give attention to") three special qualities. First is acquiring the "trained life of a disciple, a clear benefit of Proverbs. For those of us who struggle with discipline but want to do better, Proverbs can help
  2. The second part of the purpose in this verse is not so clear in English, but is to "give attention to" (the verb form of "prudent") or "consider" or "ponder" on three qualities – "right," "just" and "fair." "Right" is the standard Hebrew word for "righteous," and "just" is the standard Hebrew word for "justice." These are godly qualities that define who He is and how He wants us to be. The third word is "fair." While that is a good translation, I don't think it carries the same connotation as we use the word "fair" today. The Biblical idea of "fair" is also understood at "even," "level," "smooth." It represents "level places" (it is plural and actually comes from the Hebrew word usually translated "straight" or "upright'). The purpose of Proverbs here is to help us "give attention to" getting our lives on "level places." I would suggest a translation of "balanced." This is a great verse for someone in recovery – acquiring "discipline/training" and "giving attention to" the qualities of being right and just, like God, and being at "level places" or "balanced." But about the concept of "fairness" – I believe God is "balanced" in His dealings with us (although this word is never specifically used of God in the Bible), but I don't think we should say He is "fair," as we use the term in everyday life. As I tell the guys at Helping Up Mission, "if God was fair, I would still have hair!" God is even and level in His dealings with us all, but that doesn't mean He does the same thing in the same way at the same time in all our lives. He does what is good and best for us every day, but it will probably not be the same thing He is doing in my friend's life at the same time. He operates according to a plan, His plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11), not in a cookie-cutter fashion with us all. In fact, if anyone in the world has proclaimed fairness, it is Communism. Treat everyone the same way and everybody will be okay. It doesn't work in society and God doesn't deal with us that way, either. He is even and level in the way He deals with us all. That is, He loves us all the same and gives us all the right to experience His love and He watches over us all. But He also gives different abilities, opportunities and spiritual gifts to each one. That is not what most of us think of as "fair," – but He is. This verse says Proverbs helps us to focus our attention on being in a "level place" or "balanced."

1:4 for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—

     This is the fourth purpose of Proverbs and it is in two sections. "Prudence to the simple" is first. Basically the same word as verse 3 in English, "prudence," it is a different word in Hebrew. While our English use of the word has a positive connotation, this Hebrew word has a wider and more interesting meaning. Frequently translated "crafty" or "shrewd," is used in the Bible with both good and bad connotations. Amazingly, the same word, it seems to describe not some measure of moral character, but the ability to grasp information – which might be used appropriately or not.
     I like this idea and offer an East Baltimore (where Helping Up Mission is located) interpretation. One of the purposes of Proverbs is to make us "street smart." Not suggesting anything immoral, illegal or unethical – just good old-fashioned understanding about how people operate.
     This is probably also the essence of the Old Testament phrase about those who "understand the times" (1 Chr 12:32 and Esther 1:13). Not necessarily some supernatural power to know the future, just a good understanding about how people think and how life goes. I believe Jesus meant the same king of thing when He said to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matt 10:16). This also helps us understand His parable noting that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (Lu 16:8).
     The second part of this purpose of Proverbs is "knowledge and discretion to the young." Knowledge" focuses on true facts and the reality of a situation – the ability to see things as they really are. "Discretion," on the other hand, focuses on foresight or the ability to take these true facts and use them in forming a good plan of action.
     The first two of five characters mentioned in the introduction (:1-7) are "the simple" and "the young." At first thought, it surprised me that the first character mentioned in Proverbs is "the simple," I would have assumed it would be the wise (see :5). But, actually it makes sense – the very purpose of the proverbs is to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most – the simple (and the young). "The simple" is the noun form of the verb "to entice" (1:10). That would make "the simple" someone easily enticed or lured into things. The simple are not stupid, they just don't know about things because they don't have much experience in life, don't think things through or don't really have much interest in learning how to do the right thing. Consequently, they can benefit from the appropriate application of "prudence" in their lives.
      The second character in this verse is "the young," who would be similar to the not-so-street-smart simple one. He does not have much experience in life, either, but age is more of a factor. From the very beginning it is clear that this book is about change. Proverbs is designed to make a difference in anyone's life – especially those who need it most.

1:5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—

      This verse is sort of a parenthetical pause in the book's introductory section (:1-7). Here are the first two commands in Proverbs and here, also, we meet the book's third character – "the wise."
      In this verse the wise person listens and in the next verse (:6) he speaks. One of the things that actually makes a wise person is their willingness to "listen and add to their learning." We are supposed to listen to others and benefit from what we hear. Of course, as we listen, we will learn both things to do and things not to do!
      Here we are also introduces to the fourth character in Proverbs – "the discerning" person. Coming from the same root word as the verb "understanding" in verse 2, "the discerning" person is one who is able to receive, understand and benefit from the "guidance/directions" he receives daily.
      It's valuable to know that the wise and discerning are not people who know it all. Instead, so much of what they know has been passed on to them from others - and they can learn from anyone! The only prerequisite is a willingness to listen and learn.

1:6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.

      The fifth purpose of the book of Proverbs (after a slight interruption in verse 5, but even building on the idea of the wise listening) of Proverbs is for "understanding" (the verb form of same word in verses 2, 5) what other people are really saying. Since the Hebrew word "understanding" indicates the ability to discern the relationship between things (see :2), this verse suggests that learning and understanding Proverbs helps us to see the "cause-and-effect" relationships in other proverbs and parables and saying of the wise and riddles.
      This understanding extends to 4 things in this verse: other proverbs ("wise sayings"), parables (symbolisms or metaphors – similar to the New Testament "parables"), saying of the wise (the standard term for "words"), as well as riddles ("dark sayings"). This last word describes something that is not easily understood – in fact, even designed to be not easily understood. Riddle or mind-game is probably an appropriate understanding.
      Again "the wise" are mentioned. They say things which should be heard and understood. We should learn to listen to what they say and commit to be a wise person, ourselves.
      The idea of this verse is that learning and understanding Proverbs empowers us to be able to see the cause-and-effect relationships in words other people say. It appears that this Proverbs-induced understanding would extend beyond an understanding of the actual meaning of their spoken words and offer and may even cause-and-effect insights into the motivations and intentions behind their words.

1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

      This is the first reference to one of the key concepts in Proverbs – "the fear of the LORD" (see also the verb phrase "fear the LORD;" 1:29; 3:7; 8:13; 24:21). The concept is based not on being afraid of God but on being in reverential awe of Him.
      At its core, "the fear of the LORD" is when I see and appreciate God as He really is. This is the Biblical principle behind Step 2 of the 12 Steps and is life changing stuff. Seeing God as He really is – all His attributes and qualities – will affect how I see life. That will change how I think, which changes how I feel, which changes how I act.
      Here "the fear of the LORD" is connected with knowledge (as in :29; also 2:5). "Knowledge" tends to focus on true facts and the reality of a situation – the ability to see things as they really are. The idea here is that knowing God and seeing Him as He really is also helps us to clearly and correctly see and know about things around us.
      Elsewhere, "the fear of the LORD" is connected with wisdom (9:10; 15:33; Job 28:28). Wisdom and understanding are continually linked in Proverbs and it appears you can't really experience one without the other.
      In this verse we are also introduced to the fifth character in the introduction of Proverbs, and one of the central characters of the book – "the fool." Always used in the Bible with a negative connotation, it does not suggest someone mentally deficient, but someone who is morally deficient, someone who make inappropriate choices.
      The fool says in his heart that there is no God (Ps 14:1), so, it is no surprise that this verse says a fool despises both wisdom (see :2) and discipline (see :2, 3). Fools make conscious decisions to not connect with God – even though He is there and working in their lives all the time, anyway.

Beneath the Surface

1:8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.

      This verse is a command (second in the book: see 1:5) and the first time the phrase "my son" appears in Proverbs. It puts the book in a family setting, with "your father" and "your mother" in typical Hebrew poetic juxtaposition.
      "My son" is a favorite phrase in Proverbs. While it was used in ancient wisdom literature as a phrase representing teacher-to-student instruction, I suggest the way it's first used here at the very beginning of the book suggests these wise sayings are to be taught, learned and practiced in the context of family.
      The direction here is to listen to both father and mother's instructions. Paying attention to father's instruction is the most frequently given command in the first section of Proverb (chapters 1-9: see 2:1; 3:1; 4:1, 10, 40: 5:1, 7; 6:20; 7:1, 24).
      While listening to mother is not mentioned nearly as often, it is said here at the beginning of the book along with the first command to pay attention to dad. I also find it fascinating that the last chapter of Proverbs (31) is instruction from mother. While dad talks a lot throughout the whole book, momma got the last word!

Beneath the Surface

1:9 They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck,

      The instruction and teaching from my father and mother that I listen to and do not forsake are supposed to set me up for live. They will be a garland that will grace my head (see also 4:9) and a chain that will adorn my neck. They will both make me look good in my daily dealings with other people.
      It is unfortunate that a few of us grew up in home and family situations which were not good or healthy. That is not the way it is supposed to be. If you did grow up like this, be assured God has some special value and reasons why you had it different. It was not because you were bad or unworthy, but because He has something special planned for you. Someone once pointed out to me that a commanding officer only sends out the best soldiers on the most difficult assignments – you have apparently been given an important responsibility of special meaning and purpose that not just anybody could handle.
      But for those of us who had fathers and mothers that appropriately build into our lives, appreciate the gift. The instruction and teachings of these people who have years of life experience and have invested in our lives more than all others are designed to set us up for life and make us look good in the eyes of others.

Beneath the Surface

1:10-33 is instruction from the father to his son on two fronts:

  1. 1:10-19 involves not listening to sinner guys who entice you to sin. Note their quote (:11-14).
  2. 1:20-32 involves listening to lady wisdom's offer of help and guidance. Note wisdom's quote (:22-32). just and fair;"

1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.

      This is the second "my son" directive in Proverbs (see :8) and leads into the first of two sections of instruction from a father to his son (:10-14; :15-19). In this first section (:10-14), at issue are the bad guys ("sinners") out there who want to talk us ("entice us") into doing things that would not be good.
      Verses 11-14 record their invitation as a quotation. It describes all the activities these sinner boys say they are planning.
      We all need people in our lives to show us what to do and what not to do. These verses are guy talk – an older guy telling a younger guy what to do – or he will end up where the others do (:15-19).

1:11 If they say, "Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood, let's waylay some harmless soul;

      Since this is a message from father to son, it is reasonable to presume these are young men ("sinners") planning violence (:11-13). Either way, these are random acts of violence verses against "someone" and "some harmless soul."
      As opposed to this lifestyle, there is another way. A modern wise saying says "practice random acts of kindness." Every day we all have the opportunity to practice random acts of violence or kindness – with our words and our actions, may be become practiced at the latter.

1:12 let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

1:13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder;

      These two verses are the continuation of father's words to his son about not listening to "sinful men" (:10). Our verses are part of the invitation of those men to go after "innocent" and "harmless" folks (:11).
      Here, at the heart of their message, is their intent against their victims - "swallow them alive" and "get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses."
      No ambiguity here! These are people with an agenda to hurt others and steal their stuff for themselves. They're not even pretending to be "Robin Hood" - stealing from the rich to give to the poor!
      I suppose the message of these verses for us today is to know that there are people like this out there. While some of them may clean up well, talk nice and not carry weapons - they still have no good will toward us.
      So we need to be smart enough to recognize them as they show up in our world. And, like in these verses, we need to teach our children what to and not to do.
      Yet, there's one more lesson here...At Helping Up Mission we have quite a few guys who use to be those "sinful men." But Jesus touched them and that's not who they are anymore!
      People do change!

1:14 cast lots with us; we will all share the loot"

      This is the third of four verses in which "sinners" (:10) suggest going after "the innocent" (:11). While Solomon tells his son to not follow them (:10), they say, "cast lots with us, we will all share the loot" (:14).
      This verse just reminds us about the constant lure of people, places or things in the world. These guys offer the prospects of "loot" stolen from those innocent victims above.
      While this is probably not a great temptation for most of us, vengeance or getting even might be. Or, maybe, just the thrill of attempting something and not getting caught.
      Whatever our motivation, we all know about trying some things we otherwise wouldn't. The Bible talks about sins "which so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:2). We've all got a few!
      So, it'll be important today that we stay honest about our shortcomings. We also need to make conscious decisions to not put ourselves in places where we'll do things for which we will be sorry later.
      Yet, there will still be times when we all do. At that point, we need to get honest about that, as well. Half of the 12 Steps deal with our past shortcomings (Steps 4-9).
      If we are ever going to be the people we want to be, we'll have to learn to make appropriate commitments. Face our bad decisions, deal with them and then let it go!

1:15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;

      This "my son" section (:15-19) is a follow up to the last one (:10-14). The first "my son" had the father saying not to get involved with the guys who do hurtful wrong things to others.
      In this section the father also tells his son to not join these guys, but here he explains what will eventually happen to them (:16-19). Follow them into their activities and you will end up suffering the same consequences.

1:16 for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood.

      Father warns son to not go with the "sinners" (:10) who plan to hurt innocent people (:11) because they "rush into sin" and are "swift to shed blood." This is not a bunch of guys just doing stupid stuff, there are guys who want to hurt people and are even in a hurry to do so.
      Sadly, we hear news stories about people like this all too often. But for me there is still some good news in all this. Every day is stand in a classroom that has a number of men who used to be just those guys. They did all this stuff and have done the prison time to prove it.
      But in the process, they sat still, looked around, thought about their lives and began to hear God – many for the first time. He talked, they listened and things began to change – and they wind up in my class! God is good!!

1:17 How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds!

      While this verse does appropriately fit the context, it appears to me that this may have been an already well-known wise saying from Solomon's day that was quoted here. It speaks of the ancient practice of catching birds in a net (see also 6:5; 7:23; 29:5).
      The wisdom of the verse is the well-known truth that birds have the ability to see and avoid things, even while moving at a very fast speed. To spread a net when and where a bird can see it is a useless exercise.
      The actual meaning of this wise saying in this context is not clear. I suggest it points out that these bad guys are trying to gain something for themselves ("birds") but it is a useless exercise. They will not prosper (see :18-19).

Beneath the Surface

1:18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! 1:19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.

      The exact thing these guys said they were going to do - "lie in wait for" and "waylay" others (:11) - is precisely what verse 18 said they wound up doing to themselves. Sounds like an episode of Wiley E. Coyote and the Road Runner!
      Yet such scenarios happen all too frequently in real life and offer a couple of insights. First, these guys are really not that smart. Their best thinking not only didn't work out, but it actually backfired on them and produced the exact opposite results.
      While desiring "all sorts of valuable things" and "plunder" (:11) - and willing to do whatever necessary to get it - in the end, they were not able to appreciate or enjoy the stuff. On just the human level, the process of "going after ill-gotten gain" (:19) takes its own toll on us.
      Secondly, while God isn't mentioned in this section at all (:10-19), I suggest its a reminder to us that He is there, watching and He keeps score. In the end, we really don't get away with anything!
      If this passage reflects reality at all, the best I can do is quite making my own plans - let alone do things that will hurt others. God, being who He is, has a better plan for me and my life.

1:20-32 involves listening to wisdom's offer of help and guidance. Note also wisdom's quote (:22-32).

1:20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; 1:21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:

      In Proverbs, Wisdom is regularly mentioned in the feminine and depicted as a lady. The book is mostly a series of sayings from a father to his son (see :8, 10, 15) and dad refers to wisdom as a good woman.
      These two verses indicate that Lady Wisdom operates out in the open, accessible and available to all (in contrast to the guys lying in wait; 1:11). The different phrases here indicate she is at the city's gate complexes which included open public squares. This is the place of legal proceedings and public announcements and where the city's markets are located (see also 8:2-3). Lady Wisdom is not only out there, but loudly calls out to everyone passing by.
      Wisdom is not hard to find – secretly available for a few in a church, locked away with scholars in an ivory tower or hidden from view behind a high, strong, guarded wall. She publically and totally accessible to any and all who are interested.

Beneath the Surface

1:22 "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?

      Wisdom was introduced to us in verse 20 in the feminine (as a woman). In this verse, Lady Wisdom speaks for the first time in the book. She asks questions of the simple, mockers and fools. By definition, and throughout the book, these three are not seen as connected to or even interested in wisdom. She challenges the simple (see :4) about how long they will remain simple. She challenges the mocker about how long they will enjoy being cynical about life and continue to make fun of anything they don't like or understand. She challenges fools (:7) about how long they want to resist knowledge and truth. Wisdom ("seeing life from God's point of view") sees much farther down the road than any of these three do. She knows what a dead-end street their simplicity, mockery and foolishness it. She also knows they don't have to stay that way if they don't want to – they can change.

1:23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

      This is part of a public message of God's Wisdom (personified as a Lady; see 1:20-21) to the simple, mockers and fools (1:22). In our verse, she tells them all to do something and then makes them two promises.
      Lady Wisdom tells all these folks to "repent at my rebuke." Today would say it this way...Wisdom first called them out about their stuff ("my rebuke") and then told them to tighten up ("repent" or literally "turn around").
      If they'll receive her rebuke and directions, then Wisdom promises them something that will really help, something they don't have in themselves -- the benefit of "my thoughts" (literally "my spirit") and "my teachings."
      The point is pretty clear. If our way of thinking and living doesn't seem to be working - and we're open to something different - She says she can help us.
      We just have to know that the way we're operating is not only ineffective, but it's wrong -- so turn around and go the other way!
      Once we do, Wisdom will give us supernatural illumination and empowerment to be different people.
      It's the age-old message of the Bible - see myself as I really am; see what God can do for me; and decide to accept from Him what I can't do for myself.
      This is also the Biblical message of the first three of the 12-Steps: I Can't; He Can; So Let Him.
      It will work - if we'll work it!

1:24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,

1:25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke,

      In the second half of this chapter, wisdom is personified as woman (:20). She addresses the simple, mockers and fools (:22) and calls on them to repent and receive what she has to offer (:23).
      Then comes our two verses. She doesn't mince words here.
      Lady Wisdom says, "I call" and "I stretch out my hand" with some help. She offers "advice" and even gives a "rebuke" to help them experience a different way of life.
      But she also notes - "you refuse to listen," "no one pays attention," "you disregard" and "do not accept" what she offers.
      These verses are a sad indictment of the way many of us have struggled over the years. And our problem is not that we didn't know or never heard.
      Pure and simple we've just haven't wanted to listen, learn or do better. Somehow, we thought we had a better plan.
      I wish I could say that I'm cured from ever living this way again - but I do relapse back into it every now and then! Way too often I still find myself not open to hear the real issues or answers.
      When I'm like that, I generally just want to do what I want to do. And that is never a good idea!
      But, if wisdom is the ability and opportunity to "see life from God's point of view" (our definition of wisdom), then I would be no smarter than those simple, mockers or fools. And I can expect the same kind of results that they got (see :26-31).
      It's always going to be my choice and it will always be one day at a time!

1:26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

1:27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

      After describing our responses toward her efforts to help us (:22-25), God's Wisdom, personified as a Lady, tells us how she'll respond when things go terribly wrong in our world -- "when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you."
      This sound like a terrible time, a time when we need God most. Yet these verses suggest that our turning to God at that point for His wisdom is just a little late.
      Wisdom actually says in these verses that her response at that time will be to "laugh at your disaster" and "mock when calamity overtakes you." Now, she doesn't say she'll bring disaster on us, but she does indicate that when it does come (because we refused to listen to her), she'll let us live with the consequences.
      Wisdom chooses to give us the same treatment we gave her. It's like that well-known wise saying – live by the sword, die by the sword (actually based on what Jesus said in Matthew 26:52).
      This sounds really harsh and not what we would expect from God. But there's a actually an important message here.
      As we go through our daily routines and deal with the everyday issues of life, there may be a tendency to figure I can handle this stuff and put things on autopilot. I'll call on God when something really big shows up!
      Yet the Bible is very clear that we don't need God just when things seem out of control. Jesus put it this way, we're supposed to ask Him even for "our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).
      Until we understand that we need Him and His wisdom every day, we're just a train-wreck waiting to happen!

1:28 "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me,

1:29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord."

      These two verses are part of a longer poetic wise saying (:22-33) from God's Wisdom, personified as a lady (:20-21). While applicable for us all, it's particularly addressed to the "simple...mockers...and fools (:22).
      This entire poem is a series of four warnings from God's Wisdom (see also :26-27; 30-31; 32-33). She uses strong words to communicate honestly and frankly the state of things between us and her!
      Our verses are the second of those four warnings. Based on our past bad choices (:22) and our negative responses to her previous efforts to help us make changes (:23-25), she's going to let us "stew in our own juices" as my grandma used to say.
      In recovery we call it "tough love" as opposed to "enabling." When another covers for us and we don't have to face the consequences of our bad choices, that's enabling - and that's not how God's Wisdom conducts business!
      Instead, if we don't want to listen and learn - we don't have to! But we will have to deal with the alternative.
      Not only do we have to live with the results of our bad choices but, "since we hated knowledge and did not chose the fear of the LORD" we'll have to face the consequences of rejecting God's guidance, too.
      So, we'll "call"...but God's Wisdom "will not answer." We're ready to "look for her...but we will not find her" - she's nowhere to be found.
      Serious business, messing around with God. But it doesn't have to be a permanent situation. Once I understand what's happening and am ready to be and do different, everything can change.
      Otherwise, we'll have you go to the next set of warnings (:30-31)!

1:32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

      Once again Lady Wisdom addresses the simple and fools (see :22). Here, she notes that the waywardness of the simple will eventually kill them. Remember, the simple are not mentally deficient but morally deficient in their understanding. They represent the modern wise saying "if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
      Of course, we are talking about adults, people who are old enough and experienced enough to know better. It is not okay to just say "I didn't know," because their lack of knowing and understanding will lead to choices of "waywardness" which will, in turn, kill them. Sobering but true words, only we are responsible, under God, for our attitudes and actions.
      In this verse, wisdom also addresses fools. They are also not to be understood as mentally deficient. Fools are spiritually deficient, as opposed to the morally deficient simple. It is the fool who has said in his heart that there is not God (Psa 14:1; 53:1). The fool thinks God doesn't exist or, at the least, is irrelevant to his life. If that were true, then there really are no consequences to our choices and actions and that leads to complacency to eternal realities and truth. That kind of thinking will eventually destroy the fool.

1:33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."

      The idea of living in safety, at ease and without fear of harm sounds quite attractive to almost anyone – if life could only be that simple. Yet, this verse seems to suggest it is possible.
      The words of this verse are spoken by Lady Wisdom. The offer is to anyone who wants it. They just have to be willing to listen. Wisdom empowers us to see things differently, which will allow us to make better decisions, which lead precisely to what this verse promises.
      Yet, I admit that we need to put this verse in perspective. We are sinful people living in a "cursed" world. Things won't get perfect till we get to Heaven. So, I would like to suggest that what this verse refers to is the same thing mentioned in the last part of the Serenity Prayer: That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
      Not perfection or 100% happiness in this life (that is what comes in the next!), but to be reasonably happy most of the time, most days. That sounds pretty good to me – and I am happy to report that this is how I spend most of my time most days of my life. I encourage you to also accept this invitation.