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Proverbs 3:5-6

A life lived by the fear of the Lord will be Focused on God, Not on Self. That kind of wisdom is characterized by entire, exclusive, and exhaustive commitment (vv. 5-6). To enjoy the Lord’s direction (v. 6) you must trust and obey the Lord’s directions (v. 5). “Trust” involves the complete and whole reliance, commitment, and confidence of your entire self (“with all your heart”). You must be entirely focused  and relying on the Lord, not riches (11:18), powerful people (Ps 146:3), worldly power structures (Jer 5:17), or your own cleverness and ingenuity (Prov 3:5). This trust must also be exclusive, not supporting yourself by your own knowledge and understanding (“lean not…” v. 5b). Your knowledge is but a thimble compared to God’s infinite ocean of knowledge. Your understanding is governed by irrational urges you cannot control. Last, this trust must be exhaustive, “in all your ways.” The root idea of “acknowledge” is knowing God. Knowing God means always obeying and always depending on God. In every aspect of and situation in life you always obey and depend on God. When you live by true faith you’ll never go out of bounds or astray (“direct your paths,” v. 6b). Don’t live by the worm’s eye view of life, live by the bird’s eye!

  1. Do you know what’s going to happen later today or tomorrow? Does God? Why should that affect how you live now?
  2. How must you trust the Lord and not your own understanding (vv. 1, 3)?
  3. Note how verse 6 follows the same theme/idea of verses 2 and 4. What is first required to enjoy these benefits? What will happen if you don’t do what is required (apply the opposite of vv. 2, 4, 6)?
  4. When do you often seek the Lord, during difficult or easy circumstances? Is that wise? Is that living by the fear of the Lord?
  5. If you traveled to a country whose language, customs, and geography you didn’t know, what would you do?

Proverbs 3:1-4

The entire third chapter is the third “talk” about living by the fear of the Lord (“wisdom”). Summed up, we are told to Live Life Focused on God, Not Self. There are four important truths in this chapter:

  1. Depend entirely on the Lord to enjoy his blessings, 1-10
  2. Welcome God’s love in his disciplining/training for wisdom, 11-12
  3. Wisdom is essential to living, 13-26
  4. The character and blessing of a life focused on God, not self, 27-35

Beware of the peril of leaving what is true and following what is false! (v. 1a) The preventative against this: work hard to embed God’s Word in your heart for protection and guidance (v. 1b, 3). When you do you will know God’s promise of blessing and a good testimony (vv. 1-4).

  1. It might be helpful to write the summary of each wisdom “talk” at the beginning of each chapter.
  2. What is the difference between—and danger of—believing truth in your head but not in your heart?
  3. When you hear truth from God’s Word that specifically addresses something wrong in your life and you say, “yeah, I know that,” but don’t change, is that wise or foolish? How does that stack up with vv. 1-4?
  4. Whose world is this? Has he said how life should be lived in it? Are you following his “instruction manual”? What happens if you do—or don’t?
  5. Remember the theme of this “talk;” how will that look with vv. 1, 3?
  6. How much concern, time, and effort do you have for the external things of life in comparison with your life (v. 3)?
  7. Don’t live life being concerned and controlled by what others want and think. Live life concerned and controlled by the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 2:20-22

This second talk urging you to wholeheartedly seek God’s wisdom to be protected from evil concludes by declaring that the Lord’s blessing or curse depends on whether you have God’s wisdom or not. The picture painted here uses only two colors black and white, no gray. One either has God’s wisdom and is blessed of the Lord (vv. 20-21) or is without God’s wisdom and is cursed of the Lord (v. 22). It is important to remember when and to whom Proverbs was originally for, Israel, when the Mosaic Law was in force during the OT theocracy, the historical kingdom of God (cf. 1:1). With this in mind, “land” and “earth” (2:21-22) don’t refer to heaven or eternal life but where Israel would enjoy the  Lord’s blessings as they obeyed him (cf. Deut 4:1). If you live by the fear of the Lord your character will be godly (“upright, blameless,” v. 21) and you will know and enjoy God’s blessings. If you reject God’s wisdom you will be without his protection from evil men and women (vv. 10-19) and become like them in character and end (v. 21).

  1. There is a necessary, essential close connection here—you must do good to avoid evil, and you must avoid evil to do good.
  2. Why do temptations appear in “grays” and not black and white?
  3. As “land” should be literally understood, what would “cut off, uprooted” involve for the Israelite who threw aside God’s Law of the land?
  4. How will your attitude and response to God’s Word affect the company you keep and your destination?
  5. Re-read this entire second “speech.” What changes do you need to make? How are you seeking the Lord? How is that seen in the direction of your life, who you keep company with, who and what influences you?

Proverbs 2:10-20

We now get to hear how God’s wisdom protects from evil if you are wholeheartedly seeking it (2:1-9). When you wholeheartedly seek God’s wisdom, the control-center of your life (“heart,” v. 10a) is so dominated by the fear of the Lord (“wisdom”) that you love and desire his Word (v. 10b; Ps 19:10; 1 Pet 2:2). God’s Word won’t hard to swallow but will be the tastiest food you can’t get enough of (v. 10b; Ps 1:2). As God changes you to be more like Christ you will be able to see temptations for what they really are and where they ultimately lead. God’s wisdom delivers you from evil men and their evil ways (vv. 12-15). God’s wisdom also delivers you from the evil woman and her end (vv. 16-19). When your senses are directed and trained by God’s Word you are protected from the sensually oriented temptations of evil men and women (Heb 5:12-14). God’s wisdom affects the company you keep and the direction you go (v. 20).

  1. Why can’t sinners correctly discern what is truly right? Why can’t they see the traps of sin?
  2. What are the characteristics of evil men and their evil ways (vv. 12-15)? How does his character and ways differ from God’s?
  3. What are the characteristics of evil women and their end (vv. 16-19)? How does her character and end differ from God’s?
  4. God’s wisdom protects you from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What is your responsibility in all this?
  5. The world tells you to follow your own path and do what makes you feel good. Where will that lead? Why is that so hard to fight against? What are you doing about it?
  6. What kind of company do you keep? Who influences you? Who do you allow into your heart and mind?

Proverbs 2:6-9

The second “talk” says Wholeheartedly Seek God’s Wisdom to Gain His Protection from Evil. Here reasons are given for doing this:

First, God alone is the source of wisdom and it is only received through His Word (“mouth,” v. 6). Through God-given wisdom you can truly know and understand life and its various issues (v. 6b). Second, God gives wisdom to those who are like Him and live like Him; whose character and conduct align with His; who love what He loves and hate what He hates (v. 7). To be “upright” is to be like and live according to God’s holy character. Third, God guards, protect, and preserves those who seek Him and in their hearts and lives show indisputable evidence of fearing Him (vv. 7b-8). The final reason and ultimate result of seeking God’s wisdom (vv.1-6) is a correctly calibrated conscience (v. 9). Good intentions are not enough; you must believe and follow the God-given instructions.

  1. God provides the right assessment and direction for every situation in life, and you can know that!
  2. How can you be godly and righteous? Your sins must first be washed away by faith in Christ! Then you must continually grow more like Christ and less like the world through the Spirit’s help and personal discipline.
  3. Why is being godly and righteous essential to gaining God’s wisdom—to correctly and skillfully applying God’s Word to everyday life?
  4. What is the fear of the Lord? How will that “calibrate” your conscience? What does that say about the nature of our consciences?
  5. You must be in the right path to know the right path. What path are you on right now? What direction are you going?

Proverbs 2:1-5

The entire second chapter is the second “talk” about living by the fear of the Lord (“wisdom”). Summed up, we are told to Wholeheartedly Seek God’s Wisdom to Gain His Protection from Evil.

You must have a wholehearted devotion to God’s Word, the only source of wisdom (v. 1, “words,” “commands”). Wholehearted devotion involves personal commitment (v. 1, “receive, treasure”) and definite obedience (v. 2, “incline, apply”), as well as a wholehearted diligence in seeking wisdom through earnest prayer (v. 3) and eager effort (v. 4). This whole-hearted devotion is essential to understand and find God’s wisdom, living by the fear of the Lord (v. 5).

  1. Do you look only to God’s word for how to live? (V. 1) Why shouldn’t you look to the world (1 John 2:15-17) or your own heart (Jer 17:9)?
  2. What specific kinds of effort are you putting into this? Vv. 1-4
  3. 2 means obedient listening is required for gaining wisdom.
  4. What you pray for shows your true desires. Do you put more effort in praying for wisdom than you do praying for physical needs? V. 3
  5. Think about the “eager effort” you would apply if you were told there was buried treasure buried on your land. Now, what kind of “eager effort” are you putting into seeking God’s treasure in His Word?
  6. Normally, gaining wealth takes great effort. Is it possible to be a wealthy fool? Read Luke 12:15-21.
  7. What is the fear of the Lord?

Proverbs 1:24-33

What will happen when one refuses to live by the fear of the Lord and heed His wisdom? “You will reap what you sow,” (Gal 6:7). There is no room for laying the blame anywhere else; note where responsibility lay in 1:24-25. “Wisdom” here stands for God, and remember it is founded on flows from the fear of the Lord (1:7). To reject wisdom is to reject God—always a dangerous thing with definite consequences. Those who reject God (vv. 26-27) will make a mess out of life and reap accordingly. Once the true nature of the terrible consequences begin to be seen there then may be the desire to do right to avoid those consequences, but that kind of “repentance” is sorrowful only for the consequences, not their root cause (vv. 28-30). They are getting what they deserve, harvesting what they cultivated, reaping what they’ve sown (v. 31; cf. 5:22-23; 22:8; Gal 6:7). Verses 33-33 sum up this first “talk” about living by the fear or the Lord.

  1. Where does sin always lead? Note also James 1:14-15.
  2. What is the fear of the Lord? What is wisdom?
  3. What path are you on? You can see the character of your path not only by your character but the character of your fellow travelers. What grace the Lord has shown by detailing the end of the fool—the one who despises rather than fears the Lord. God thus warns the simple so they will gain prudence, knowledge, and discretion (1:4).
  4. Usually it takes time for a harvest to come; that seeming delay from initial planting and cultivation can lull you into a state of false security. Once the crops finally start to appear you may then become fearful and regretful, but it is too late—the harvest has arrived and you will reap what you have sown. Who are you listening to? (v. 33; note vv. 2, 5, 6, 8, 20-21, 23-25)

Proverbs 1:20-23

Fear the Lord by Turning from Foolishness to the Lord’s Reproofs

God graciously calls sinners (vv. 20-21) to repent of their foolish character, desires, and direction in life (v. 22). When there is genuine repentance, there is a God-given love and acceptance of His truth and the ability to rightly apply it to life (v. 23). Right living is only possible with right repentance. Every aspect of life should be lived for God and according to God’s character and commands. That is the aim of salvation in Christ (Rom 8:29) and the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:1-17).

  1. Do you evaluate the character of your life by your standards or God’s?
  2. God graciously and mercifully invites us to follow him. How are you responding? How should this affect your prayers and efforts toward those who don’t know the Lord Jesus?
  3. Your spiritual “temperature” is evidenced by your attitude and response to sin and foolishness (v. 22) and the things of the Lord (v. 23). What are your attitudes and responses to these?
  4. Why do we have the tendency to stubbornly resist the Lord’s reproofs and keep going our own way?

Proverbs 1:10-19

Proverbs 1:10-19

The first “talk” says that wisdom involves Fearing the Lord by Staying Away from Sinners.

The path of wisdom is to stay away from sinners first by resisting their temptations (vv. 10-14) that entice by “everybody’s doing it,” (v. 11a), excitement (v. 11), ease (v. 12), and extravagance (vv. 13-14). Second, by running from their lifestyle (vv. 15-16), resisting temptation and staying far away (v. 15), seeing their true character and end (v.16). Third, the path of wisdom is to stay away from sinners by avoiding the ruin that will surely fall upon them as a result of their own doings (vv. 17-19). Those who are wise see past glitzy externals and live by the fear of the Lord, for eternity rather than the passing pleasures of sin.

  1. What is the specific kind of sinful person here?
  2. How can the basic principles of fearing the Lord with regard to this sin be applied to other instances of temptation?
  3. Also note Matt 26:41; Gal 5:16-26

Proverbs 1:8-9

Proverbs’ motto (1:7) is developed from this point on to the end of the book. Chapters 1-9 are a series of “talks” that a father gave to his son about biblical wisdom (each begins with “my son”). He begins by urging him to not only hear what he has to say but heed and do it (v. 8). Hearing and heeding godly, biblical wisdom gives true beauty and blessing to life (v. 9). The emphasis here is on the response to biblical wisdom (v. 8) and the result of such a response (v. 9). You won’t enjoy the result without the response.

  1. How did Jesus describe the difference between just hearing God’s truth and hearing and obeying (Matt 7:24-27)?
  2. In contrast to v. 9, what does the world look to for life’s “beauty and blessing”?
  3. What is beautiful and attractive to the Lord is viewed as ugly and out of style by the world.
  4. How can this help you to pray for parents? For children and young people?
  5. Everyone is teaching and everyone is learning. What are you teaching and learning?
  6. What kind of “curriculum” do we have?

Proverbs 1:7

This is the guiding principle, or motto, of the book of Proverbs. Proverbs aims to teach wisdom—the correct, skillful application of the fear of the Lord to daily life. To have this wisdom you must “fear the Lord”: a reverent belief in the God of the Bible, exclusively loving, obeying, and worshiping the One you will give an account to. This is the OT way of describing repentant, saving faith, and it is the “beginning” in the sense of being both the foundation and fountain of wisdom (cp. Matt 7:24-27). The one who rejects God and regards Him and His Word as worthless is a “fool”—one who is morally twisted, ignoring God in life. The fool is an unbeliever.

  1. If you haven’t already, memorize this verse!
  2. Memorize the definition of the fear of the Lord.
  3. It is impossible to correctly live life apart from God.
  4. It is impossible to correctly understand and apply the Bible (“wisdom”) without the fear of the Lord.
  5. Ask God to help you grow in your fear of Him and to live every moment of your day fearing Him.

Proverbs 1:1-6

This book was written when the Mosaic Law was in force during the OT theocracy, the historical kingdom of God (v. 1). A proverb is a compact statement giving biblical wisdom, and is based on and from the perspective of the Mosaic Law. Proverbs gives believers guidance and direction on how to live life skillfully before God (vv. 2-4). Proverbs—and the wisdom the give—are always needed and essential. Every believer must grow in his faith and ability to handle the Word (v. 5). The greater skill you have with God’s Word, the better you will be able to profit from challenging passages (v. 6).

  1. Do you welcome God’s Word? V. 1
  2. Be sure to work hard at accurately handling God’s Word, v.n1 (2 Tim 2:15)
  3. Diligently learn and apply, be shaped and directed by God’s word, VV. 2-4
  4. Always be learning! VV. 5-6
  5. Always have a desire to learn! VV. 4-6. Ignorance is never a good thing.