The Word Made Fresh
1These are the proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel.
2They are for learning about wisdom and teaching,
for understanding insightful words,
3for seeking instructions in how to deal wisely,
rightly, justly, and equitably;
4to teach wisdom to those who are simpleminded,
and to teach knowledge and wisdom to the young.
5Let also those who are wise to hear and learn,
and those who are able to develop skills
6and understand proverbs and figures of speech,
shall benefit from the words of the wise and their questionings.
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but the foolish will hate wisdom and teaching.
8Listen, children, to your father’s teachings
and your mother’s as well.
9That will be a lovely garland to wear on your head,
and jewelry around your neck.
10Children, don’t let sinners entice you.
11If they tell you, “Come with us
to make an ambush for the innocent
12and swallow them alive like the grave
swallowing the dead.
13We’ll find all kinds of riches
and fill our houses with the spoils.
14Cast your lot with us,
and we’ll share everything!”
15Don’t listen to them. Don’t follow them.
Stay off their paths
16because they are rushing towards wickedness
and won’t hesitate to shed blood.
17Don’t you see that it is foolish to bait the net
while the bird is watching?
18They will lie in wait only to capture themselves.
They plan their ambush only to bring judgment on themselves.
19That is what happens to greedy people;
greed shortens a person’s life.
20But wisdom cries out in the street
and makes her voice heard in the town square.
21She calls out from the busiest corner of the city
and speaks at the entrance of the city gates.
22She says, “How long will you of weak character love being weak?
How long will naysayers delight in their behavior?
How long will fools hate knowledge?
23Listen to me. I will teach you all I know about wisdom.
I will explain it to you in simple terms.
24If I give you this invitation and you turn away;
if I reach out to you only to be ignored –
25yes, you have ignored all my counsel
and refused to heed my warnings –
26then I will laugh when you fail
and mock you when fear seizes you.
27You will panic when the storm comes
and it will bring your calamity,
sending distress and anguish upon you.
28Then you will plead with me, but I won’t answer.
You’ll search for me but won’t find me.
29You spurned knowledge
and had no fear of the LORD,
30and ignored my advice,
despising all the warnings I gave you,
31and you will have to suffer the consequences
and swallow your own mistakes.
32The foolish wander down their wayward path
to their own destruction.
33But those who heed my instruction will be safe.
They will live at ease and with no fear of disaster.
1: The prologue does not apply to the entire book but only to the first section of it. We will see that some of the proverbs are attributed to other authors, though Solomon is by far the most prominent among them. Most scholars agree that Solomon is likely not the direct author of the book. Ancient compilers attributed a number of wisdom writings to Solomon including the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and even the Book of Wisdom (from the Apocrypha) which was written in Greek. The central theme of the book of Proverbs is indeed wisdom, and Solomon is after all the quintessential wise king (see 1 Kings 3:5-12, 16-27; 4:29-34; 10:23-24).
2-7: We begin with an advertisement for Solomon’s proverbs — a list of all the benefits one might expect to gain from them. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” is a statement we will read often over the next month. If we don’t understand that our very breath is taken at the pleasure of the Creator, we are, and always will be, fools.
8-19: The first instructions read like a parenting manual, and that is exactly what it is. How much anguish could be avoided if parents were diligent to teach their children to stay away from people who are so greedy for gain that they will willingly do harm to others!
20-33: Wisdom will be personified throughout the book. Here she calls to folks who are out and about in the city. Heed her instruction or come to ruin is the choice she offers, and she cares not which is chosen; it is entirely up to each of us.
Knowledge and learning are processes to help us gather facts to make choices as we walk the path of life. Wisdom helps us make the right choices.