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Proverbs 8:22-31

8:22-31

Here “Wisdom” gives autobiographical details about herself to prove why listening to her is vital for living in God’s world, pointing out that God used wisdom to create everything (vv. 22–31). First, she says, “Listen to me, because I’ve been around forever,” (vv. 22–26). Wisdom has existed before anything existed: earth, depths, foundations, mountains, hills, fields, dust, the stars and planets in the heavens, the clouds, and seas. The reason wisdom is eternal is because wisdom is an attribute of God—he is all-wise (Rom 11:33). Think about this: God knows exactly the right way to use his infinite knowledge. He never has been “stumped,” nor has he ever said “oops.” Second, “Wisdom” says, “When it comes to living life, listen to me, as I was essential to the creation of everything,” (vv. 27–31). Everything God created was perfect and exactly as he thought it should be. Thus, at the end of God’s creative work the assessment was that “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Since God’s wisdom was essential to his creative work, you must have God’s wisdom to correctly live in God’s creation. No one knows life in this world better than the Creator!

  1. Have you ever listened to a symphony? Most orchestras have 50–100 members. You might know a little about music, but could you correctly and skillfully apply that knowledge for dozens of players so that the music is beautiful and harmonious? Now, think about everything in creation!
  2. What should you think about the God who “orchestrated” creation?
  3. How should you respond to the “sheet music” God has given for living life as it should be (the Bible)?
  4. What happens when you don’t follow the “sheet music” God has given? How serious can the consequences be?
  5. How does a musician improve? Practice, practice, practice! The more you listen to the Lord, the more skillful you’ll live life. What kind of effort are you devoting to that?

Proverbs 8:12-21

“Wisdom” continues her autobiography detailing why listening to her is vital for living in God’s world by specifying why she is essential to everyday life, detailing her character (12-14), effect (15-16), and blessings (17-21). What does “Wisdom” say about her character? Only God’s wisdom can help you make sensible, level-headed, carefully considered decisions in everyday life (v. 12, “prudence, knowledge, discretion”). Only wisdom teaches “the fear of the Lord” that results in a right attitude and action toward sin and wickedness (v. 13). You will loathe evil when you live in awe of God. What does “Wisdom” say about her effects (15-16)? Wisdom is the correct, skillful application of God’s truth to life. Everyone needs this, but those making decisions affecting many others (“kings, rulers, princes, nobles, judges”) have more detailed and complex issues than a store clerk or garbage man. The point here is that God’s wisdom effectively helps every believer fulfill their roles and responsibilities in a Christ-like manner. What does “Wisdom” say about her blessings (17-21)? When you live by the fear of the Lord in this world, generally speaking you’ll enjoy many good things in this life. This was particularly so when the Mosaic Covenant was in effect, as Israelites enjoyed definite material blessings when they obeyed the Law (cf. Deut 28:1–14). The blessings listed in Prov 8:18–21 are so because of wisdom’s character (v. 20). Listening to God is vital for living in God’s world!

  1. Is the Bible your ready and regular “go-to” for the “how-to’s” of life?
  2. Do you hate evil (v. 13)? If you don’t feel revulsion about sin, what does that say about the level of your fear of the Lord?
  3. Your needed resource for life is found with Christ, in the fear of the Lord. He can help you in every circumstance and situation.
  4. Where does the world say to look to enjoy life? Where does the Lord say to look (v. 20)? Whom will and do you believe?
  5. Do you love the Lord (v. 21)? What’s the difference between being an acquaintance and in love?

Proverbs 8:1-11

In this talk wisdom speaks as if it were a person (this is called “personification”). “Wisdom” doesn’t tell us everything about her, just her key, important characteristics and how vital she is to living life by the fear of the Lord. This talk says that heeding God’s wisdom is vital for living in God’s world. “Wisdom” gives a bit of autobiography, insisting that life must be lived from her viewpoint. In other words, you must live from God’s viewpoint. She first says “Everyone, listen to me!” (vv. 1-5). No matter who you are or where you are in life, you must listen to wisdom, especially when you face different paths to take (2b). Wisdom is for everyone, even (especially!) for the simpleton (vv. 4-5). It can be known and understood, it’s not just for “smart” people. No one has any excuse. Second, “Wisdom” says “Here’s why you should listen to me!” (vv. 6-11) Wisdom’s pure, free-from-error character is described in vv. 6-8. Can this be said of anything or anyone in this world? No!  What is required to find wisdom? You must work hard to understand and find it (9), and value it more than anything in this world (10-11). If you have wisdom but not wealth you have everything, but if you have wealth but not wisdom you have nothing (cp. Mark 8:34-37). That is what God says, but the world says the opposite. Whom will you believe?

  1. Why do so many professing Christians not devote themselves to seeking and finding Christ’s wisdom? Is the problem with God? With the availability of wisdom?
  2. Gaining God’s wisdom requires faith in Jesus Christ, searching the Scriptures, and praying in faith for it. No money is needed! What specific actions are you taking to find it?
  3. Compare the character of wisdom’s words (7-9) with the world’s wisdom through books, music, videos, etc. Which do you know more of? How will that affect your outlook on life?
  4. What is the end result of a life characterized by wickedness? Of righteousness? What role does wisdom have in this?
  5. Is wealth truly essential for life, along the lines of air, food, shelter, and clothing?

Proverbs 7:24-27

This “talk” has emphasized loving the truths of heaven to resist lying lusts that lead to hell. You’ve heard that God’s protection from immorality is faithfully obeying God’s Word (1–5) and seen the foolishness of immorality in a tragic illustration (6–23). You must guard your heart and mind from the temptations to immorality (24–25a). You must mentally keep away from immorality. You must guard the steps of your life from going to the places where immorality presents itself (25b). Literally keep away from immorality. You must take the long look—seeing where immorality leads, death and hell (26–27). It looks good on the surface but underneath there is an evil, life-taking monster (26). Immorality’s home is all decked out, appealing in every way (16–17) but it is the doorway to death and hell (27). The only way you’ll see it for what it really is if you fear the Lord, reverently believing in the God of the Bible, exclusively loving, obeying, and worshiping the One you will give an account to.

1. Why doesn’t immorality show its true colors?
2. Sexual immorality is a lie, promising life and excitement that it never delivers on. What will it do to your soul? To your marriage and family?
3. What practically can you do to mentally keep away from immorality?
4. What practically can you do to literally keep away from immorality?

Proverbs 7:6-23

When it comes to sexual immorality, biblical wisdom commands you to love the truths of heaven to resist lying lusts that lead to hell (7:1–27). Faithfully obeying God’s Word (1–5) protects you from the foolishness of immorality (6–23). Sometimes a clear example is needed, so one is provided here, first by describing a foolish young person (6–9). (Remember that in the Bible a “fool” is an unbeliever, who doesn’t fear the Lord.) This person is with the wrong people (7a “among the simple”), doesn’t have godly wisdom (7b), rushes toward instead of away from evil (8), and wanders aimlessly at a time and around a location he shouldn’t be at (9). Next, the immoral person is described (10–20). This person is “dressed to kill,” her appearance matches her heart (10). There isn’t a smidgen of godly character or lifestyle (11–12), and has a hardened, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer pursuit of immorality (13–20). This pursuit uses shock treatment (13), hypocritical religious talk to soothe the conscience (14), flattery (15, “you” 3x), enticing, sensual appeal (16–18), and assurances that no one will know or find out (19–20). The last part of this illustration describes the foolish youth’s fall (21–23). He yields to the flattery, deceit, and seduction (21). He doesn’t think, ignores the danger, and lives in the moment (22). He is completely ignorant of any danger until its too late (23). What a sad, tragic, yet all too common tale. It is so common that this is something seen “from the window of my house.”

1. What the world calls “love” (18) is really lust. Matthew Henry (1662–1714) said, “true love is from heaven; this is from hell.”
2. How could this young person have avoided this sad end? Think through every step described here when answering this.
3. Some foolishly think viewing pornography doesn’t hurt anyone. How does it train your mind and heart? Would that make you “riper” or more resistant to this situation?
4. The world sees nothing wrong with this story. In fact, they’d make millions from a movie of it. This is how fools mock at sin (Prov 14:9). How do you view this, like Prov 1:7a, or Prov 1:7b?

Proverbs 7:1-5

These fatherly “talks” provide the “glasses” that give you wisdom’s essential facts and principles for understanding the proverbs of chapters 10–11. This next “talk” teaches you to love the truths of heaven to resist lying lusts that lead to hell (7:1-27). It has three parts:

1. God’s protection from immorality, 1-5
2. The foolishness of immorality, 6-23
3. The end of immorality, 24-27

What does God’s protection from immorality involve (1-5)? First, you must faithfully obey God’s Word (1-2). Merely knowing and having God’s Word isn’t enough—you must “keep” and “treasure” them (1). Your eye is the most delicate part of your body, so you guard it when something gets in it. That’s how sensitive you must be to keeping God’s Word, for in it God makes clear the path of life and death. Second, you must be wholly controlled by God’s Word (3). God’s Word must control and change you on the outside (“fingers”) and on the inside (“heart”) of your life. Third, you must exclusively love God’s Word (4-5). Calling wisdom “sister” is an OT expression of affection. To have this close affection with and for wisdom you must cultivate that kind of relationship with God’s Word. You do this by listening, consulting, being close with, loving. That is your only hope of protection not only from immorality, but any sin.

1. Think about the illustration of these “talks” as “glasses.” Have you ever looked through dirty or blurry glasses? How clearly can you “see” God’s wisdom?
2. Are you diligently keeping God’s Word as closely and carefully as you guard your eyes?
3. Does God’s Word control you on the inside and the outside of life?
4. How do you feel about God’s Word? Is it the dearest thing to you? Think about your days through the week. What kind of relationship does the time and attention you give the Lord Jesus Christ show?

Proverbs 6:25-35

6:25-35

Here are reasons to adhere to God’s Word , namely, to avoid adultery’s horrors. You must train your desires and affections (25); such training doesn’t happen immediately, it is continual, everyday. Be controlled by the fear of the Lord, by Scripture, not by sinful passions. When you are you’ll see temptations for what they are (24-25) to avoid their perils (26-35). The first temptation to adultery is silky smooth speech (24). “Flattery” is false praise offered for selfish reasons. It is the language of lust, not love; of adultery, not marriage. It comes from one who doesn’t know, love, or obey the Lord (“evil”). The second temptation is heart-snaring, eye-catching, alluring appearance (25) that entices to sin through physical appearance. When you adhere to God’s Word you’ll see through flattery and not be deceived by appearances. Beware the perils of adultery (26-35)! The first peril is you will get “burned” (27-29). Adultery always has harmful effects and consequences. The danger is you’re not thinking about the effects and consequences when you’re being lured in by flattering speech and alluring appearance; you’re only thinking about the moment, about yourself. The second peril is you will lose everything (26, 30-35). Most understand the starving thief’s motivation (he needs to eat), but he still has to pay the price. When it comes to adultery and sexual immorality, there is no “legitimate” reason and there are tremendous consequences. What will happen? You will lose your soul (32), your honor/testimony (33), and possibly your life (26, 34-35). Adhere to God’s Word to avoid adultery’s horrors!

1. How does a healthy fear of the Lord help avoid adultery’s temptations and consequences?
2. Did God give us desires for close intimacy? When has he said is it right to experience such? How should that control you?
3. Does culture and society have this view of adultery and sexual promiscuity? Is your heart and mind taught more by that or God’s Word?
4. In the “heat of the moment” do you always think straight? How would having your mind and heart “pre-programmed” with God’s Word help?
5. Check out Job 31:1; Matt 5:28; 15:19; Rom 13:14.

Proverbs 6 20-24

This next “talk” (6:20-35) gives wisdom’s protection from adultery: adhere to God’s Word avoids adultery’s horrors. Your responsibility is to faithfully obey God’s Word (20-21). Verse 21 vividly illustrates verse 20—you secure what you don’t want to lose (“bind, tie”). This isn’t rote memory, it is in the core of your being, essential to life (“heart, neck”). There are three results of faithfully obeying God’s Word describing the protection it gives from immorality’s continual bombardment (22). (1) You will always be shepherded, v. 22a; (2) you will always be protected, v. 22b; (3) you will always be taught, v. 22c. There are definite reasons for faithful obedience (23-24). God’s Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (v. 23; Ps 19:4; 119:105). Do you like walking in dark, dangerous areas? Would you go through a mine field without a detector? Don’t live life like that! You don’t have to be in the dark! Be wise, not foolish! God’s Word shows you where to go and what to avoid. The practical importance of this is seen in verse 24, which tells of a temptation to immorality (“the flattering tongue”) that is interpreted two different ways. The fool is impressed, but the wise are alarmed. This doesn’t happen automatically or naturally. It requires knowing, believing, and being disciplined by God’s Word (20-21; Heb 5:14). Practically fearing the Lord is seen by adhering to God’s Word to avoid adultery’s horrors!

1. What are some things you do that are just boring, mundane, daily chores that you do without thinking? Is that what is meant by vv. 20-21? What’s the difference practically?
2. How are you “tying down” God’s Word in your heart (21)?
3. How can your “grip” on God’s Word be loosened?
4. Do you remember what it means to fear the Lord?

Proverbs 6:16-19

6:16-19

The sixth “talk” teaching the skillful application of God’s Word (“wisdom”) is an exhortation: stay away from bad debt, laziness, and troublemakers (6:1–19). This section (16-19) gives more detail to the wicked person’s portrait from verses 12-15 (same body parts and actions are described). The phrase “six…seven” gives a sampling, not a complete list (16). The proud (16a) don’t give a thought about God and so look down on everyone else; the complete opposite of a Christian outlook (Phil 2:1-8). As a liar (16b, 19a) he doesn’t live or promote truth but changes things around for evil ends. This kind of person has no heart for others but is quickly violent and destructive (17c). There’s no hesitation, he’s quick and enthusiastic to join in mayhem, destruction, and mischief (18b). From “head to toe” the wicked person is totally corrupted by sin. The path of wisdom—practically living out the fear of the Lord—is to love what God loves and hate what he hates. Christ saves sinners to be like him (Rom 8:29). Who you are, what you do, and the kind of people you associate with affects you. Stay away from the wicked!

1. Invest some serious time comparing and contrasting the character and actions of the wicked with the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. What can happen if you willingly put yourself with those who have these characteristics and actions?
3. Are there certain things about this kind of person you appreciate? Enjoy? Get a kick out of? Laugh at? How do your feelings match up with God’s feelings (v. 16)?
4. Evaluate your life and actions by the descriptions in vv. 12-19.

Proverbs 6:12-15

Proverbs gives needed discernment (1:4) what not to be like and who to avoid. The person described in 6:12–15 is “worthless” and “wicked” (12). The Hebrew phrase behind “worthless” is “son of Belial,” or Satan; this kind of person demonstrates Satanic characteristics and conduct (cf. John 8:44; 2 Cor 6:15). Eli’s sons (1 Sam 2:12) and Ahab’s two witnesses against Naboth (1 Kings 21:10) were described this way. This kind of person lives to turn life upside down and corrupt everything. He rejects rules, calling evil good, and good evil. He communicates nothing but trouble to those who are with him and his cause (12b–13). The “heart” (14) is the control center of life, and this person’s control center is characterized by and works out perversity and evil. He’s always arguing, picking a fight, and causing trouble. Though he sounds proud and powerful, his end will be sudden and irreversible (15). The way of wisdom and the fear of the Lord is to stay far away from this kind of person so that you don’t end up like him and with him.

1. The path of wisdom is to love what God loves and hate what God hates.
2. Christian, what did God save you to be like (Rom 8:29)? Do you live that way? Look like that? Love that?
3. Can the people you associate and “hang out” with affect you? Note 1 Cor 15:33.
4. What is this person’s “food”? What was Christ’s “food” (John 4:34)? What is yours? Whose table are you eating at?
5. What will God do to the wicked? What does God command the wicked to do?

Proverbs 6:6-11

6:6-11

A second life-ruin is poverty, and to stay away from that you must avoid bad work habits (6–11). When applied to work, wisdom and the fear of the Lord involves hard work, not laziness and sloth. You should learn how to work from the ants (6–8). The “sluggard” is one who’s in the habit of being lazy, a couch-potato, a loafer, a do-nothing. If this describes you, “go…consider…be wise” (6). Ants work hard (7–8)—they never sit around doing nothing. No one needs to get them going. They do their work when and how they’re supposed to, so their needs are met. You must not only learn this positive example, you must stay away from its opposite: look out for laziness (9–11). Sluggards love to lounge around (9–10), avoid as much work as possible to enjoy a longer nap. This is living for rest and relaxation. Rest is substituted for work and made one’s occupation, career, and calling. The more you give in to and feed sloth, the more habitual it becomes. Eventually, however, sluggards will starve (11). Laziness brings poverty, but sadly sluggards learn this lesson too late. Poverty rarely happens in an instant; usually it is the result of a pile of “just a little.” The point of v. 11 isn’t the suddenness of poverty but the position you put yourself in because of your laziness. Be wise and avoid poverty by working hard and watching out for laziness!

1. Are ants made in the image of God? Who is? How is learning from ants how to work an embarrassing rebuke? Why do we need to learn this?
2. Who does the sluggard live for? How does that match up with living in the fear of the Lord? What do you live for?
3. What drives and controls the sluggard’s life decisions? How does that match up with biblical wisdom? What controls your life decisions?
4. This doesn’t mean rest is bad. When it comes to “R&R,” what’s the difference between the proper time and the present time?
5. Think about your work habits—do they show the fear of the Lord and biblical wisdom?

Proverbs 6:1-5

The sixth “talk” teaching the skillful application of God’s Word (“wisdom”) is an exhortation: stay away from bad debt, laziness, and troublemakers (6:1–19). A sure way to ruin is to be responsible for someone else’s debt (1–5). The situation (1–2, 5) describes the danger of becoming a cosigner—being legally responsible for paying another’s debt should the borrow fail to pay (cf. 11:15; 17:18; 22:26–27; 27:12–13). The danger of cosigning (“snare, caught, fowler’s hand”) isn’t obvious—it seems like a good thing to do, helping a needy friend who’s unable to get into debt on his own. What’s dangerous is that you completely surrender control of your life and finances to someone else. The solution (3–4) is to get out of that position as soon as possible. “Deliver yourself” (3, 5) means tear yourself away from the situation—“go…humble yourself…plead.” Do whatever it takes, don’t put it off, do it ASAP. Verse 4 emphasizes this—don’t wait until tomorrow, do it today! Being responsible for someone else’s debt is a foolish thing to do because (1) You’re committing yourself to something you don’t know and can’t control; (2) You lose your security—your future is now given to someone who is in debt and who could just walk away without caring what happens to you; (3) You’re putting everything that that you’ve carefully saved into the power of someone who probably hasn’t been careful. That’s foolish!

1. Is this saying be stingy? What is it saying?
2. If you want to help someone in need, is taking responsibility for their debt the only option? You could either loan it to them (without interest, 28:8) or just give what is needed (19:17).
3. What is the difference between loaning and becoming responsible for a loan?
4. What could happen to your family if you put yourself in this situation?