Solomon’s wise lessons
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary)
on the Old Testament Book of Proverbs chapters 1 to 9
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
King Solomon ruled the nation of Israel for 40 years. He brought peace and wealth to the nation. Solomon’s workmen built palaces, and the great temple (house of God in Jerusalem). The people of Israel learned arts, sciences and music.
When he was young, Solomon obeyed God. He asked God for wisdom, and God gave it to him (1 Kings 3:9, 12). Other rulers, including the queen of Sheba, visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13). She asked him many questions. His answers showed great knowledge of many subjects. He taught about plants, animals and fish. Solomon became more and more famous.
Solomon learned and wrote many proverbs (wise words). He collected 3000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). The Book of Proverbs contains many of these proverbs. The Book of Proverbs also contains other lessons about wisdom. And the Book of Proverbs contains many poems about wisdom.
Solomon also wrote Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon in the Bible. The Bible also contains some other books about wisdom. These books are Job, Ecclesiastes and James. And Jesus taught lessons about wisdom in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 and Luke chapters 11 to 16.
The Book of Proverbs has 6 main sections:
· Solomon’s wise lessons (Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18)
· The proverbs (wise words) of Solomon (Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16)
· 30 wise lessons (Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34)
· More of Solomon’s proverbs (wise words) (Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27)
· The puzzles of Agur and Lemuel (Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:9)
· A poem about a perfect wife (Proverbs 31:10-31)
This document contains the first section, Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18. The other sections are available on our website.
Use these links to go to the start of each chapter.
Solomon wrote both proverbs (wise words) and songs. In all, he collected 3000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). The Book of Proverbs contains many of them. This book teaches us how we should live. It explains the way of wisdom. It warns us about being foolish.
The wise person honours God, and God protects him. A foolish person refuses to obey God. There are many dangers for such a person. The Book of Proverbs explains these dangers.
Solomon tells us about four types of person. Each will benefit from Solomon’s wise words.
The simple person
Today, we should not call someone ‘simple’. We might offend him. He would think that we supposed him to be stupid.
In the Book of Proverbs, a simple person is someone who is not wise. By the word ‘simple’, Solomon means more than this. A simple person has not learned to be wise. So he is in danger. Evil people can easily lead simple people to do evil actions. But nobody is really good. ‘Everyone does evil things. Everyone fails when you use God’s standards’ (Romans 3:23). We are all simple people by God’s standards.
God wants the simple person to learn his wisdom. This begins when we invite God into our lives. Then God will help us to become wise. We must grow in wisdom, and we must grow in our knowledge of God.
The Book of Proverbs is poetry. Some poems are very short and other poems are longer.
The style of the poems may seem unusual. Sometimes, one line has the same meaning as the next. Sometimes lines contrast with each other. In other places, the meaning develops from line to line. Watch out for these different styles.
These poems help us to remember the proverbs.
The people believed that they should remember proverbs (wise words). Fathers taught proverbs to their sons. Mothers taught them to their daughters. Grandchildren learned them from their grandparents. Children had to use their memories. The adults tested the children’s memories.
In this way, children learned to be wise. In the future, when problems came, they would know the right thing to do.
For the same reason, we should learn Bible verses today. We should teach them to our children. In this way, we shall learn true wisdom.
Many things in the world change. There are new inventions, for example television. There are new illnesses, for example AIDS. There are revolutions and new governments.
Wisdom does not change. Solomon gave advice that is still good. He wrote wise words and they are still wise today.
Today’s young people will grow old. Wisdom that we teach them now will remain with them.
The wise person
A wise person loves wisdom. ‘He loves God’s law. He is always thinking about it.’ (Psalm 1:2).
He always wants to learn more. He is never too tired to think about wisdom.
He still makes mistakes. ‘Show a wise man how he is wrong! He will love you for your correction.’ (Proverbs 9:8). He even wants you to teach him. ‘Teach a wise man and he will become still wiser.’ (Proverbs 9:9).
We can all learn more. We can all grow in knowledge. The Bible teaches us God’s wisdom.
The intelligent person
Like the wise person, the intelligent person wants to learn. He will ask for advice. He is trying to understand God’s ways. As he studies, he will know more. He will even understand difficult words of wisdom.
When you learned English, you started with easy words. When you learn any subject, you must start with easy lessons. The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God. He made everything. He is greater than we are. We must give honour to him.
A person who does not know God may be clever. He may have many skills. We can learn many things from him. Such a person lacks something important. He has learnt many lessons. But he has missed the first lesson. Wisdom begins when a person respects God. We should try to show a better way to this person.
The opposite of a wise person is a fool. (You would offend a person, if you called him a fool.)
A fool intends to do evil things. A simple person does evil things, because he does not know wisdom. But a fool does evil things, because he hates wisdom.
We want to show God’s way to such people. But this is difficult. Jesus said, ‘Do not give valuable things to pigs’ (Matthew 7:6). Wisdom is valuable. Sometimes we must leave a fool to be foolish. A pig does not appreciate things that are valuable to us. A fool does not appreciate the value of wisdom.
We can learn from the mistakes of fools. We must not copy their mistakes.
A fool hates wisdom and discipline. If we are wise, we shall love wisdom and discipline.
In Solomon’s time, both parents educated their children. It is good when children can learn from both parents.
We should listen to wisdom. Wisdom is beautiful, and it is valuable. To possess it is like a crown on the head. Or, it is like a gold chain round the neck.
To obtain wisdom, we must study. And we need discipline. We cannot become wise quickly. But wisdom will improve our lives.
Some people imagine that they know a quicker way to improve their lives. Solomon warns about such people in verses 10-19. They offer friendship (verse 14). But their friendship cannot last because their plan is evil. They offer rich rewards (verse 13). But really they will suffer a terrible fate (verse 19). Wisdom is much better than any evil plan.
The thieves’ plan
In Solomon’s story, a band of thieves have a cruel plan.
The thieves ask a young man to join them. Together, they will attack someone else. They will steal from him, and murder him. The young man and the thieves soon will become wealthy.
The young man does not realise the true plot.
The truth is this. The thieves also intend to kill the young man. This means that the thieves will keep all the money.
Solomon’s story teaches us about evil behaviour. An evil life is not fun. It is dangerous. The evil person risks a terrible end.
The young man in the story thought that he would become wealthy. In reality, he lost everything.
Solomon warns us not to make the same mistake.
The woman called Wisdom
In his second story, Solomon tells us about a woman. This woman’s name is Wisdom.
The woman is upset, and she is angry.
This is why she shouts. Her children are not obeying her. They refuse her advice.
She walks through the streets and she complains to everyone. She even goes to the city gate. In ancient times, judges were at the city gate. She wants to obtain a judgement against her children. They are simple, evil and foolish (verse 22). They deserve punishment (verse 26).
She obtains judgement. Their punishment is severe. This is because they refused wisdom.
They did evil things. Now they will suffer a terrible punishment. Their punishment is sudden, like a storm. It is powerful, like the wind. (Verse 27)
We are all like Wisdom’s children. We can learn to be wise. Or we can refuse to listen to wise words.
Wisdom begins when we respect God (verse 7). If we respect God, then God will reward us. But if we do evil things, then we shall suffer a terrible punishment.
Everybody does evil things. So we must turn to God. We must be sincere. Then God will forgive us and teach us his wisdom. He sent Jesus to take away our punishment.
The search for wisdom
We must greatly desire wisdom. We must listen to it. We must desire it. We must ask questions, so that we can learn more. We must hunt for wisdom, like someone who searches for gold.
Psalm 42:1 is similar. ‘My spirit needs God like a deer (wild animal) needs the streams of water.’ The animal searches for water. We also must search for wisdom.
Also see Job 28. A man digs deep into the earth. He breaks through the rock. He enters places that no animal has seen. He finds gold and silver. He discovers many things. However, he cannot find wisdom there. Wisdom is not in the deep sea. You cannot buy wisdom - not even with gold. ‘Respect God! This is true wisdom. Refuse to do evil things! This is true intelligence.’ (Job 28:28)
The reward of wisdom
If we respect God, then we shall become wise. God gives his wisdom to us. We are his people, and he guards us. He defends us, and he protects us. Psalm 23 compares God to a man who owns sheep. The farmer looks after his sheep. He provides their food and water. He cares about them. In the same way, God looks after us. When we are in danger, God protects us.
The journey of life
The Bible often compares life to a journey. Abraham’s whole life was a journey. He travelled from Ur to Haran, and then to Canaan. ‘He searched for the city that God built.’ (Hebrews 11:10) He did not find this place on earth. ‘These people wanted a better place, in heaven. God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.’ (Hebrews 11:16)
Jesus compared life to a journey. ‘Enter by the narrow gate! Do not choose the wide gate or the easy road! Many people go that way. The easy road leads to death. Look for the small gate and the narrow road. Only a few people find it, but it leads to life.’ (Matthew 7:13-14)
The Book of Proverbs also tells us about two ways. In verse 13, evil men walk in dark paths. They hide from the light, because light would show up their evil behaviour. In verse 15, Solomon says that evil men choose the wrong paths. It is easy to choose the wrong path in the dark! This wrong path is like their evil behaviour. Their behaviour is like a road that leads to death and hell (verse 18).
If we follow God’s wisdom, then our paths are good (verse 9). We are like travellers who choose the right way. We know where we are going. We act fairly. Our decisions are good. This is the right road for life’s journey. It leads to heaven (verse 19).
In these verses, a woman tries to tempt a man. Deuteronomy 5 lists 10 commands that God gave. One command was, ‘Do not have sex with someone else's wife or husband.’ (Deuteronomy 5:18) The woman in the Book of Proverbs refuses to follow this command. A man who goes to her is in danger.
Solomon is teaching us about other wrong actions. Sometimes wrong actions are attractive. Sometimes evil thoughts tempt us. Sometimes we might think that God’s law is not fair. Perhaps the man likes the woman. However, he must not go to her.
We must not do wrong actions, when evil thoughts test us. The devil even tested Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). But Jesus did nothing that was wrong against God. God gives his wisdom to us. His Bible teaches us how we should live.
If we turn from God, this is like leaving your husband or wife. When you became a Christian, you promised to follow God. Evil thoughts may still tempt you. Other religions may tempt you. Sex may tempt you. Do not break your promise to God! Jesus said, ‘I am the way. The only way to the father (God) is through me.’ (John 14:6)
Even Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs, turned away from God in the end. He had many wives. Some followed other religions. With his wives, Solomon prayed to other gods. The Bible says that Solomon’s actions were evil. (1 Kings 11:1-13) We should learn from Solomon’s mistake.
God gave great wisdom to Solomon. Solomon taught wisdom. His Book of Proverbs still teaches wisdom to us today. We must follow God. We must desire God’s wisdom. We must not be like Solomon when he turned from God.
God gave land to the nation of Israel. He warned them to follow his commands. If the nation turned away from God, then they would lose their land. (Deuteronomy 28) Solomon knew that God had warned them.
After Solomon, the people served false gods. Some kings were good, but most were evil. God did not punish that nation immediately. God told the people to return to him. They did not return. After a war, they lost their land.
As Christians, our land is not this world. We are only visitors, because we belong elsewhere. Our real home is in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16). We must follow God. He will lead us to heaven. He has prepared a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-4).
Chapter 3 begins, as usual, with advice for Solomon’s son. Solomon encourages his son to remember his commands. The son must remember the words. But he should also aim for a deeper experience. Wisdom should enter his heart. Wisdom should guide his thoughts. Wisdom should control his emotions and desires.
The son will benefit from wisdom. Solomon mentions health and wealth.
Wisdom brings health, because wisdom teaches safe actions. A wise person eats good food and takes care of his body.
Wisdom brings wealth, because the wise person is careful. The wise person works hard and he does not waste money.
Do not think that health and wealth show wisdom. A thief can become wealthy, because he steals. An evil person can take money from other people. Sometimes God gives health and wealth to a person, but not always. ‘Remember God! He makes you able to get wealth…’ (Deuteronomy 8:18)
True health is not only the health of the body. Your relationship with God must also be healthy. In fact, your relationship with God is more important than your body. See Matthew 5:29-30.
Solomon was very wealthy. But he knew that true wealth is not money. See Proverbs 3:14-15. Wisdom is worth more than silver or gold. Wisdom is worth more than all our money.
Love and trust should always be with us. As Solomon writes this, he is thinking about Deuteronomy 6:7-9. ‘Teach God’s law to your children. Talk about God’s law at home! Talk about it, when you travel! Talk about it, when you lie down! Talk about it, when you wake! Tie the words of God’s law on your hands! Tie the words about your head! Write God’s law at the side of your doors and gates!’
‘Wear them about your neck.’ You cannot really wear love and trust. But you can show your love and trust to other people. Everybody will know your attitudes when they see your behaviour.
‘Write them on your heart.’ You cannot really write ‘love and trust’ on your heart. But love and trust should direct your whole life, even in private. Love and trust should direct your thoughts, plans and attitudes. Love and trust should always be in your heart and mind.
Love and trust should not be just ideas. We must not remember them today, and then forget them tomorrow. They must be part of our lives. They should guide every decision.
Verses 5 and 6 are very important. It is a good idea to learn them. They will help us if we worry about the future.
‘Trust in God.’ People trust many things. Some trust money. Some trust governments. Other people trust luck or fate. You might trust your family or your church. Sometimes all these things will fail. But God never fails. ‘God is like a castle. We are safe with him, because he is strong. He is always with us. He protects us whenever there are troubles.’ (Psalm 46:1)
‘Your whole heart.’ Perhaps you trust God sometimes, but not at other times. Some people become Christians, but do not trust God with their whole hearts. God is part of their lives, but only part. Maybe they want God at home, but not at work.
God wants our whole hearts. We should always desire his wisdom. He wants us to live as Christians at work and at home. We must trust God, even when our lives are difficult.
God encourages us to trust him in everything.
‘Do not depend on your own intelligence!’ God is wiser than we are. We may know many things, but God knows everything. We must not be proud. We must not imagine that we are wiser than God.
The future is unknown to us. But God knows the future. He is able to lead us. He can guide us. We should trust him, and not our own ideas. So we should pray to God about our lives. We should ask him to help us and to guide us.
‘Wherever you go, think about God.’ These words remind us that life is like a journey. We shall have many experiences. Some experiences will be good. Other experiences will be bad. Wherever we are, we should think about God. We should remember God’s place in our lives. If life is like a journey, then we must follow God. He knows the right path. His way is the right way.
‘He will clear the path for you to follow.’ Another translation is: ‘He will show the right path to you.’ We can trust God to guide us.
Wrong types of wisdom and intelligence
There is a wrong type of wisdom. Verse 7 mentions ‘your own wisdom’.
There is also a wrong type of intelligence. Verse 5 mentions ‘your own intelligence’.
There is a difference between our own wisdom and God’s wisdom. Also, there is a difference between our own intelligence and God’s intelligence. God is wiser than we are. And God is more intelligent than any person is. See Isaiah 55:8-9.
We must not be proud. All true wisdom comes from God. Our own ideas may be good. But they are never better than God’s wisdom.
God teaches his wisdom to us. It is God’s gift to us. Do not confuse your own ideas with God’s wisdom!
Sometimes our wrong ideas cause illnesses. For example, excess alcohol will make us ill. But God’s wisdom does not hurt us. God is kind to us and he helps us. He cares about our bodies. He also cares about our spirits. Nobody will be ill in heaven (Revelation 21:4).
The wisdom that we need is God’s wisdom.
In Malachi 3:6-12, Malachi accuses the people. He says that they have stolen from God. This is because they have not given their gifts for God’s work.
The truth is that all our possessions belong to God. He made the world. So he made everything that we have. Our own lives belong to him. As Christians, we should be generous. We should give for God’s work. We should also give to help poor people.
People may say, ‘If I give, then I shall not have enough for myself.’ We should be sensible, but we must also trust God. God says, ‘I do not need your animals. Every animal in the forest is mine. I own the cows on 1000 hills.’ (Psalm 50:9-10)
If we give our money for God’s work, then God will provide for us. Jesus said, ‘If you give to God, then he will give to you. He will provide plenty of food for you. If you are generous, then God will be generous with you.’ (Luke 6:38).
God does not need our wealth. However, he chooses to work with us. We should be glad to give to God. ‘God loves a joyful giver.’ (2 Corinthians 9:7)
As we give to other people, God gives good things to us. ‘… I will open heaven. I will give good things to you. You will receive so many good things, that you cannot find space for them.’ (Malachi 3:10)
Many people do not want to learn how to behave well. They want to choose how they will live their lives.
God is our father. A father teaches his son. Sometimes, the father must correct or punish his son. In the same way, God corrects us.
God does not correct us because he is angry. God corrects us because he loves us. A human father should not punish his child because the father is angry. Rather, the father corrects the child because the father loves his child. If God corrects us, then we should be glad. His correction teaches us to do the right things. His correction will save us from troubles.
Jesus spoke about this in John 15:1-8. He compares God to a gardener. We are like a vine (fruit tree). ‘If a branch has no fruit, God cuts it shorter. He does this so that the branch will have more fruit.’ (John 15:2)
God does not forget about us. He watches us. He sees our errors. In love, he corrects us.
He might correct us by some word that we read in the Bible. He might use the advice of other people, for example, a minister or friend. He might even use someone who is not a Christian. ‘If you hear God’s voice today, do not refuse him!’ (Hebrews 3:15)
There is a different, ancient translation of verse 12. Hebrews 12:6 copies this translation. It says, ‘God punishes everyone whom he receives as a son.’ Hebrews 12:7-11 explains these words. God corrects us, because we are his children. If he did not correct us, we should not be his children. We respect our natural fathers who correct us. In the same way, we must respect God.
Sometimes correction includes punishment. ‘Punishment is not pleasant at the time. Punishment seems painful. Later, however, it produces something good. We learn peace, and we learn right actions.’ (Hebrews 12:11)
In Proverbs 1:20-33, Solomon describes wisdom as a woman. This happens again in Proverbs 3:13-18. There is a difference. In Proverbs 1, Wisdom is angry with evil people. They have refused her advice. In Proverbs 3, we read about the people who love Wisdom. Wisdom brings good things to them; long life, wealth and honour (verse 16). When we walk with Wisdom, our life is pleasant and beautiful (verse 17).
These verses compare Wisdom to valuable objects. She is worth more than precious stones. Her value is more than silver or gold.
You can put your money in a bank. The bank will pay you an income. However, the bank is not as good as Wisdom. If you give your life to Wisdom, she will pay more than any bank. No bank can make your life longer. But Wisdom can give a long life. No bank can promise you a place in heaven. But wisdom can promise this. No bank can make you right with God. Wisdom can do this.
The happiness that wisdom brings is not just an emotion. This is the same happiness that Jesus describes in Matthew 5:3-12. When God forgives our evil actions, we receive his joy in our spirits.
Sometimes our lives will still be difficult. Sometimes, we shall be very sad. Even then, God will comfort us. He will look after us. Although we are sad, God’s joy will still be in our hearts. And we will have good lives, because God will help us.
David wrote, ‘Even when death is near, you (God) are with me. So, I am not afraid. You guide and comfort me’ (Psalm 23:4). David was not happy when he was in danger. But he knew that God’s joy was in his spirit. So he was not afraid of the dangers that surrounded him.
We all need wisdom. Even God used his wisdom to make the world.
This paragraph is similar to John 1:1-3. ‘In the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. He was with God in the beginning. God made everything by his word. He made nothing without the word.’
John explains that ‘the word’ means Jesus. Jesus was always with God, because Jesus is God.
Verse 22 reminds us of verse 3. Verse 3 tells us to wear love about our necks. In many countries, women display their beautiful objects. They wear gold, silver and precious stones on chains about their necks.
Verse 22 encourages us. There are plenty of beautiful things for us. Right decisions, love and wisdom are all beautiful things. They are better than any precious stone.
Gold and silver may be beautiful. Wisdom is more beautiful than any valuable objects.
This is another passage that compares life with a journey. This passage teaches us that God will protect us. We have nothing to fear. Many Psalms teach a similar lesson. See Psalm 121, Psalm 46:1, and Psalm 62:2.
Verse 24 gives us special comfort. We cannot protect ourselves at night. In the dark, there are many dangers. Many people struggle to sleep. We should trust in God. He can keep us safe. He can protect us. ‘You do not benefit if you wake early. You do not need to work at night for your food. God gives sleep to the people whom he loves.’ (Psalm 127:2)
Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself!’ (Mark 12:31) In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). A Samaritan was a person from a nation that the people from Jerusalem disliked (John 4:9). Jesus told his story to explain the word ‘neighbour’. In the story, a Samaritan rescued a man from Jerusalem. The Samaritan cared, because this man needed help. So, Jesus argued, this other man was the Samaritan’s neighbour. We should do the same. We should care about everyone whom God sends to us.
Jesus discussed this subject again in Matthew 5:43-48. ‘You have heard the words: “Love your neighbour. Hate your enemy.” I am telling you to love your enemies. Pray for anyone who attacks you.’ (Matthew 5:43-44) The people in Jesus’ time thought that they should hate their enemies. But the Bible does not tell us to hate our enemies. In fact, Jesus said that we should love our enemies.
Jesus even prayed for the people who killed him. ‘Father, forgive them! They do not know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34)
People like to follow a leader. They might copy a film star. They might act like their teacher. They could behave like their ruler.
We must be careful if we choose a model. If we copy an evil person, then we shall become evil. Even a holy person makes mistakes and could lead us in the wrong way.
God has both friends and enemies. If we are evil, God hates us as enemies. This is because he hates our evil actions. However, God wants evil people to change their lives. God has great love, even for his enemies. This is why he sent Jesus. ‘Remember this! “Jesus came into the world to save evil people.” I was the worst!’ (1 Timothy 1:15. Paul wrote this passage.)
Honest people are God’s friends. We can all become honest. First, we must trust in Jesus. Jesus’ death takes away the punishment for our evil actions. Then God forgives us. He makes us his friends. Now we must learn more. God will teach us. He will use the Bible to teach us. He will also use other people. We should live God’s way. We should try to be honest. God will help us.
Formerly, we opposed God. We were his enemies. But when we trusted God, God forgave us. We became God’s friends. We are now God’s own people. See Ephesians 3:11-22.
God deals with different people differently.
God will do good things for us if we obey him. He is kind to us, and he is kind to our homes too. The word ‘home’ shows that God will help our families also.
Contrast this with the evil man. God curses both the evil man, and those who live in the evil man’s house. The evil man’s family suffer, because of his evil actions.
Since Jesus died, this has changed. Each person must trust God for himself or herself. ‘Then these words will become untrue: “The fathers ate sour fruit, and the children have a sour taste in their mouths!” Instead, everyone will die because of his own wrong actions. Whoever eats sour fruit will taste it for himself.’ (Jeremiah 31:29-30)
The time for judgement is coming. God will be our judge.
We should serve God, and we should be humble. We must not be proud. When God is our judge, he will show us kindness and love.
Some people are proud. They insult other people. They must turn from their evil behaviour. Then God will forgive them. If they refuse God’s love, God will punish them.
God loves us, although we do not deserve his love. He offers his kindness to everyone. We must be humble to receive it. If we trust in ourselves, we cannot receive his love. Nobody will go to heaven because they deserve it. We have all done wrong things. We all deserve God’s punishment. This is why God sent Jesus. Jesus did not deserve God’s punishment. Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve. If we turn to God, he will forgive us. He saves us, because he is kind.
This verse, Proverbs 3:34, is an important Bible verse. Both James and Peter used this verse in their own books. See James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:6.
This poem is not just about Solomon’s family. It is about all families. It tells us that a father should teach his son. When he grows older, the son should teach his own children.
Solomon’s family was Israel’s royal family. In the poem, the father does not teach about being a king. He does not speak about wealth and money. He does not explain how to lead the nation. For this father, only one thing matters. His son must learn wisdom.
We can teach our children about many things. We must not forget to teach them wisdom. This is the most important lesson of all.
The poem begins with commands to listen. The father will teach a valuable lesson to his sons.
The advice did not begin with the father, who is writing the poem. The father learned this lesson from his own father. The lesson is good, because it is ancient. Grandfather followed this advice. And he saw that it was good advice. This is why he taught it to the boy’s father. The father has lived by this advice too. So now he teaches it to his own sons.
The words of verse 3 speak about the father’s childhood. These words suggest a loving home. The father was grandmother’s only child, so he was close to her. Grandfather taught his lessons with love to his little child.
The grandfather began his lessons in the same way as the poet. The grandfather also emphasised that the lesson was important.
Today, many people say that things are important. A salesman will say that his advice is important. This is because the salesman wants us to buy his products. We can doubt salesmen and politicians. But we must not doubt God’s word. The Book of Proverbs repeats its advice, because wisdom really is important.
At last, we hear the advice. This is the lesson that grandfather taught. We must learn to be wise.
As in earlier chapters, he compares wisdom to a woman. Wisdom, like a woman, deserves our love. Like a woman, she will protect you, if you love her.
Wisdom is better than everything else. It is better than money. It is better than beauty. It is better than health. Wisdom is worth more than everything that you own. Remember that these words come from Israel’s royal family. They had great wealth. But wisdom is more important than wealth.
As in verse 6, the poet compares wisdom to a woman. In verse 6, the poet tells us to love Wisdom. In verse 8, he tells us to hug her. We should get closer and closer to Wisdom. We shall benefit if we do so. Wisdom will lift us higher and give honour to us. Like a woman, Wisdom looks after those who love her.
At the end of this poem, the royal family speaks about a crown. This crown is not a gold crown or a silver crown. It is a crown for a king, but a poor person can wear a crown, too. Wisdom gives honour to us. This gift is like a beautiful crown.
In the introduction to this poem, we saw that it was about every family. This poem was not just about Israel’s royal family. Every family can teach wisdom. Every person can trust God and learn to be wise. We can all wear wisdom’s crown. Jesus said, ‘God will give honour to anyone who serves me.’ (John 12:26)
This passage returns to the idea that life is like a journey.
If we plan our journeys wisely, then we are safer. We can avoid many dangers. In the same way, if we are wise, then our lives will be safer.
We shall not walk alone. Wisdom will be our guide and our guard. Remember that this whole book is about God’s wisdom! God protects us, when we live our lives in his way. Jesus said, ‘Do not worry about clothes. Look at the flowers in the fields. The flowers do not work or make clothes. But even the wealthy king Solomon did not dress as well as the flowers. God dresses the grasses in the field beautifully, although tomorrow they will burn in the fire. He will provide your clothes also, although you hardly believe.’ (Matthew 6:28-30) Jesus explained that the same was true about food and drink. God cares for us. He will provide what we need for each day. He will lead us to our home in heaven.
‘The people who trust in God will become stronger. They will be so strong, that they will be like the eagle (a large, strong bird). They will run, but they will not become tired. They will walk, but they will not become weak.’ (Isaiah 40:31)
We must guard the good things that God has given to us. Sometimes evil things might seem attractive. We might remember our behaviour before we knew God. We might see an evil action and we might want to do the same. ‘Stay awake! Pray! Do not allow evil things to tempt you!’ Jesus told this to his followers in Mark 14:38. Paul wrote, ‘Stand firm in freedom, because Christ has freed us!’ (Galatians 5:1)
Solomon emphasises his words. We should not behave like evil people. We should not listen to their advice. Their advice is never wise.
We must not do the same things that evil people do. Their behaviour is never wise. If we copy their actions, then we are in great danger.
As Solomon emphasises the lesson, he uses humour. He tells us to imagine the evil man. This man is a very evil man. So, he cannot even sleep until he has done an evil action. At midnight he gets up. He has still not done his evil action. He struggles to think an evil thought. The time is very late, but this man must act now. He cannot even sleep until he has completed his evil task.
The story shows us that evil things are powerful. Evil things will control us, like dangerous drugs or alcohol. We can become like slaves, to our own evil actions. God can set us free, but we must turn to him.
Solomon continues his joke. The evil man has woken. He is eating a meal. We are looking at his food. We expect to find bread or meat or vegetables. The evil man is eating none of these. This man does not want food. Instead, he chooses evil behaviour. He does not think that food will make him strong. Instead, he thinks that his evil actions will make him strong. He wants to do evil things, more than he desires his food. He thinks that evil things are essential for his life.
This evil man does not think that he needs milk or water or wine. He supposes that he can manage without these things. He does not want something to drink. Instead he thinks that cruelty is essential for his life. He wants cruelty, more than he wants a drink.
This is a beautiful short poem. It contrasts a good man and an evil man. Sometimes people think that everyone is the same. Some people say that everyone is good. The Bible does not say this. The Bible says that we all have turned from God. We must turn back to him. Only God can make us good.
The good man has a good life. He does not yet know everything that God wants to teach him. He has not yet received all the gifts that God will give to him. His life is like a man who walks at dawn. At dawn, there is only a little light. But the light will soon become brighter. And soon the good man will know God better.
Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 13:12. ‘Now, we see an image in a poor mirror. In heaven, we shall see clearly. Now, I only know a little. One day, I shall know completely, as God knows me completely.’ Paul is writing about the time when he will see God in heaven.
The evil man has the opposite fate. He is like a man who walks on a dark path. A journey at midnight is dangerous. A traveller cannot see in the darkness. Without any lights, the traveller will trip and fall. In the same way, the evil man is in great danger. He will suffer because of his evil behaviour. God will punish him.
Many people, who are not Christians, want God in their lives. They know that they are in danger. They are like someone who travels at night. Christians should speak to them. We should share what God has given to us. God will help those who ask him. When these people first trust God, they will know little about God. In time, they will know more, as they live God’s way. In heaven, they will know God fully. A path becomes brighter as the day begins. And they will know more, as they trust God more.
Wise words are like medicine. They benefit every part of our bodies.
These verses show us the subject of this passage. Each chapter of Proverbs 1-7 begins in a similar style. Here the subject is health. Wisdom is like a medicine, because wisdom improves our lives. Unlike a medicine, wisdom does not heal our bodies. Wisdom heals our spirits. Wisdom leads us to God.
We should be careful about our thoughts. We should love good things and hate evil things.
James 3:1-12 explains this verse. James compares our tongues to a fire. Our words can be powerful. We can use words to say good things. But we can use words to say evil things, too. Our mouths can praise God, but they can curse other people. We must be careful about our words.
We look forward, when we follow God. We should not look away from him. Jesus warned about this in Luke 17:31-32. ‘Jesus said, “Do not begin the work, then look back! If you look back, you cannot serve God.” ’ (Luke 9:62)
Again, this compares life to a journey. We will live ‘the best life’ if we obey God. This is like the best route for a journey. If we serve God, then we will help other people. We will be like a postman who brings good news. ‘On the mountains, the postman takes a good message. He has good news about peace and rescue. He says to Jerusalem, “God is king.” ’ (Isaiah 52:7)
Chapter 5 is a poem. The poem has two subjects:
1. A married woman tempts a man who is not her husband.
2. Evil things are like this woman, because sometimes these things attract us. But evil things offend God. We must obey God, and refuse to do evil things.
Solomon discusses both subjects at the same time. This is similar to Proverbs 2:16-19. The actions of the woman show us how evil ideas can attract us.
Solomon begins his lesson in the usual way. He reminds us why we need wisdom and knowledge. With wisdom and knowledge, we can avoid danger.
A married woman attracts a young man. She seems so beautiful. When he kisses her, her lips seem to taste like honey. When he listens to her, her words are so attractive. He does not think about the woman’s husband. He does not think about God’s law. He does not even think about the results of his actions. He only thinks about her.
Sometimes evil ideas attract us. These ideas might seem sweet and pleasant. Sometimes it seems easy to do the wrong thing, and it seems hard to do the right thing.
We should not do evil things. We should say, ‘This offends God. It might hurt other people. It could place me in danger.’ The devil offered bread to Jesus when Jesus was hungry. (Matthew 4:1-4) Jesus refused. He said, ‘Man does not live by bread alone. A man must live by God’s instructions.’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). We also must refuse to do evil things.
Evil ideas may seem attractive, but they are really terrible. When the man kissed the woman, even her lips tasted sweet. Later the taste in his mouth will be bitter. Later he will know the results of his actions. At first, the woman’s speech was attractive. Later she will be like a sword. She will attack him and hurt him.
Evil things are often like this. Evil behaviour always causes pain and trouble. The devil uses evil ideas to try to destroy us.
If our behaviour is evil, then the result, in the end, is death. Solomon’s son might die if he follows the married woman. Solomon does not say how his son could die. The woman’s angry husband may kill the young man. The woman herself might be a murderer. Or the whole town might punish the son for his evil actions.
Occasionally, evil actions lead straight to death. Usually, the process is slower, step by step. Every evil action brings death nearer, because our evil behaviour takes us away from God. We can only receive true life, if we trust God.
When the Bible speaks about death, often this does not mean the death of our bodies. Often the Bible means the death of our spirits. If your spirit is dead, then you will go to hell. If your spirit is alive, you will go to heaven. ‘Jesus became alive again after he died, by the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit lives in you, then your bodies will also live again.’ (Romans 8:11) The result of our evil actions is death. But God brings life to our bodies and spirits by his Holy Spirit.
Again, the verse compares life to a journey. Sometimes a person, like this woman, refuses to hear God’s law. The woman lives in the way that she chooses. She does not care about what is right or good. She lives by her emotions. She has forgotten God. She does not know where her life will lead. She does not even know that her actions are wrong.
We have heard God’s law. We know what is wise. We must trust God. We must not copy people like this woman.
Solomon advises that his son should not even meet the married woman. Solomon’s son must be very careful. He should not enter her house. He should not even walk near her door.
If the son walks near her door, then he might enter. If he enters, he might listen to her. Her speech is attractive (verse 3). She will tempt him. If he listens to her, he might want to have sex with her.
Solomon’s father, David, had a similar experience (2 Samuel 11-12). From a distance, he saw a beautiful woman. She was having a bath, naked.
David did not look away. If he had looked away, he would have avoided many troubles.
Instead, David watched the woman. He sent a servant to call her. She was a married woman, but she came to David. David talked with her. They had sex. They even had a baby together.
David tried to hide his actions. He even caused the woman’s husband to die in battle. Then David married the woman.
God knew what David had done. David’s older sons fought David, because of his evil deed. The baby, who was David’s youngest son, died.
God did not kill David for his evil deed. This was because David turned to God. David asked God to forgive him. His prayer is in Psalm 51.
Later, David and the same woman had another son. This second son was Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs.
A young man should not waste his strength with another man’s wife. He should use his strength wisely. When he marries, perhaps he will have his own family.
We must all be careful with our strength. We should use our strength for good things, not for evil things. Our energy is precious. Our time is valuable.
These verses teach us the result, if we live for our desires. In the end our wrong desires will ruin us. They will bring us to despair.
Solomon warns his son. He explains what will happen to a foolish son. The son will become an old man one day. Then the son will ask himself what his life achieved. He will see that he achieved nothing. He ruined his life, because he did not serve God. Instead, the foolish son served his emotions and desires. He wasted his energy on cruel people (verse 9). His strength brought wealth to another man’s home (verse 10).
We should think about our lives. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 7:24-27. A wise man built a house on rock. When the storms came, the house was strong. A fool built his house on sand. When the storms came, the house fell down.
We should be like the wise man in Jesus’ story. We should build our lives on a strong base. That base should be God. When problems come, God will protect us. And he will help us.
If we build a house on something weak, the house will fall down (Matthew 7:26-27). In the same way, our lives need a strong base. Our emotions are not a strong base for our lives. If we trust our emotions, we shall become very weak.
Let us build our lives in God’s way.
Paul wrote about sex in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. He said, ‘Your body does not belong to you. Jesus bought your body, for a price.’ (Paul means the price of Jesus’ death for us. We belong to God.) ‘Therefore, use your body to give honour to God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)
Here, Solomon talks about water. In dry countries, water is valuable. Clean water is very precious. You should not waste water. It should not flow into the streets. It should not pour out, into the town. Your family and your animals should drink it. You should water your crops. Use it wisely!
Think about your own life in the same way. You should use your strength wisely. If you follow your emotions, you will waste your energy. You should have sex with your husband or wife, and not with anyone else. Our lives belong to God. God has shown us how we should live. He will be kind to us when we obey his instructions.
As your own taps belong to you (verse 15), so a husband and wife belong together.
Marriage is God’s gift. A husband and wife should give themselves to each other. They should enjoy their marriage. They should love each other. They attract each other, and this is good.
Perhaps, like David, we do some wrong things in secret (2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12). A woman might tempt a man. They might think that nobody knows. They are wrong because God knows. He sees our secret actions. He knows everything that we do in private. Like David, if we have done wrong things, we should turn to God. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 will help us to understand why we must ask God to forgive us.
The evil man is foolish. He thinks that he is free. But his evil behaviour will make him into a slave. He can hide his actions from other people. But he cannot hide from God (Numbers 32:23). This man’s evil behaviour will destroy him. This man should invite God into his life. This man needs to ask God to forgive him. God will save the evil man, but only if the man trusts God.
In this poem, Solomon compares our mistakes to a hunter’s trap. When a hunter works, he may build traps. He hides his traps so that animals will not see them. He hopes that the animals will fall into his traps. Then he can kill and eat the animals.
In our lives, our mistakes can be like traps. Perhaps we want to do the right thing. Perhaps our plans are good. But our best plans could fail. Then, like a trap, our plans can destroy us.
In verse 1, Solomon’s son had good intentions. He wanted to help his neighbour. The son trusted the neighbour. The son tried to do the right thing, but the neighbour would not do the right thing. If his neighbour could not pay, Solomon’s son promised to pay instead. Now, his neighbour has failed to pay. The lender expects Solomon’s son to pay. The son’s plan failed and now he is in danger.
Sometimes we place ourselves in danger. Our own choices can become like traps. Many people suffer from alcohol or from dangerous drugs. Originally, they just wanted to enjoy themselves. When they tried to stop, they failed. Now they must ask God to help them. They must remember that God is greater than them. A doctor could also help them.
We all do wrong things against God. This behaviour is also like a trap. We cannot free ourselves. Paul wrote, ‘When I want to do good things, evil thoughts attract me. My spirit loves God’s law. But my body fights against my mind. I am like someone in prison. This is because evil behaviour controls my body.’ (Romans 7:21-23) But there is an answer to this problem. God can free us. If we ask God, then he will forgive us. And he will help us to control our behaviour. He will teach discipline to us. Paul continued, ‘Thank-you, God. God frees me through Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 7:25)
Be humble! The Bible warns us not to be proud. Jesus said, ‘If you are humble, like a little child, then you will be great in heaven.’ (Matthew 18:7) James wrote, ‘Be humble. Then God will give you honour.’ (James 4:10)
If Solomon’s son was proud, he could not escape. He is like an animal in a trap. He cannot free himself. He must ask for freedom. He must ask for help.
We have all done wrong things, against God. We must be humble. We must ask God to forgive us. Only God can do this.
If we want freedom, then we must not be lazy. We must not delay until tomorrow. If we delay, then we might never take action.
God calls us to trust him now. Do not be like King Agrippa. Paul spoke to the king about Jesus. Agrippa answered, ‘You cannot persuade me so quickly to become a Christian.’ He was not ready to trust God. Perhaps he was never ready to trust God. (Acts 26:28)
Earlier, Paul spoke to a ruler called Felix. Felix said, ‘I will speak to you at a convenient time.’ Felix never trusted God. He waited. Although he spoke again to Paul, Felix never found the ‘convenient time’ to trust in God. (Acts 24:25)
We should act quickly, like an animal that runs to escape from a hunter.
As Christians, we should work. We might have a job. We might look after people, for example our families. We might do God’s work, perhaps as a church leader. We might do various tasks. Whatever we do, we should not be lazy.
Solomon writes about insects. Ants are a common type of insect. Ants work together, in groups. They are wise because they store food. They do not waste their time.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, some Christians refused to work. The church gave food to them. Paul told the church not to do this. ‘If a man will not work, then he shall not eat.’ He added, ‘Do not get too tired to do the right things.’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
Paul obeyed this lesson himself. Daily, he spoke about God to the people. However, the church did not provide Paul’s wages. Paul deserved money, because he worked for God. Paul deserved money, but he did not accept money from the church. Instead, he decided to work. He made tents. He earned enough money for himself, and also for other Christian workers. He worked very hard. Paul did this, because Jesus taught, ‘God makes the giver even more glad than the person who receives.’ (Acts 20:35)
We also must work to help other people. ‘Belief is good, only if you do good things. Perhaps someone has no food and no clothes. You might tell him, “Go away! I hope that you will be warm. I hope that you get a meal.” But then you do nothing to help. This is not good. Belief achieves nothing unless you help people.’ (James 2:14-17)
Solomon emphasises that we must not be lazy. When it is time to work, we must not sleep. In verse 9, Solomon asks the sleeper how long he will sleep. In verse 10, we hear what the sleeper thinks. He does not want to get up. However, he must wake. It is time to work. It is as if a thief is at the door. The sleeper must act quickly. Otherwise, he is in great trouble. He might lose everything.
1 Thessalonians 5 discusses this idea. However, the situation in 1 Thessalonians is different. The Bible says that, one day, Jesus will return to this world. That day will come suddenly, like the arrival of a thief. Some people will not be ready. ‘We must not sleep. We must stay awake. We must be ready. Sleepers sleep at night. Drunks drink alcohol at night. But we belong to the day.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).
Sometimes, an evil person is easy to identify. At other times, we must be careful. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 mentions a ‘secret’ evil power. The evil man in verses 12-15 is dangerous because his evil plan is secret. His signals are small, but these signals might help us to identify him.
Matthew 7:15-20 explains how to identify evil people. We must look for the results of these people’s actions. ‘A good tree cannot have bad fruit. A bad tree cannot have good fruit.’ (Matthew 7:18) If we see a poisonous tree, its fruit is poisonous. If we see a good tree (for example, an apple tree), its fruit is good.
Consider the actions of the man in Proverbs 6:12-15. In verse 12, he speaks false words. Such behaviour is not good. It warns us about the man’s true character. In verse 14, he starts arguments. This man’s behaviour is evil. We should not trust him.
We cannot see that the man is plotting an evil plan in his heart (verse 14). However, we can already hear his arguments. And we can hear his false words. The results of his actions are wrong. He is like the bad tree in Matthew 7:18. The man’s actions are evil, so his plan will also be evil.
Verses 16-19 use a different style of poetry. The poet writes a list of things that God opposes.
This style is also in Proverbs 30 and in the Book of Amos. The numbers in these lists are not important. However, the subjects are important. Here the poet tells us that God hates these evil actions.
‘Proud eyes’. The poet is describing someone who is proud. He mentions ‘eyes’, because we see other people with our eyes. The evil man thinks that he is greater than other people. Perhaps he even thinks that he is greater than God. God opposes proud people. God wants us to be humble.
‘Lies’ and ‘murder’ are in the 10 commands. God gave this law to Moses. See Deuteronomy 4.
Today we might say ‘mind’ instead of ‘heart’. God knows our thoughts. He knows our secret plans.
Contrast this verse with Psalm 133:1. ‘It is good when brothers live together calmly.’ The evil man wants to start an argument, or even a war.
‘Brothers’ does not only mean family members here. It can also mean neighbours and friends. It could even mean nations. Peace is good - it is God’s gift. Sometimes a war might be right, if, for example, one side does a terribly evil deed. However, even in war, we must look after people and try to work for peace. We should always pray for peace.
We should love wisdom. Wisdom should be in our hearts and in our minds. We cannot physically keep wisdom in our hearts. We might not physically carry wise words about our necks. But we can live in a wise manner.
Life is like a journey. Wisdom will guide us each day. Wisdom will help us to make the right decisions. At night when we sleep, our wise decisions will protect us. As we wake, we can think about wisdom.
The relationship between us and God must be like this. God will guide us to make good decisions every day. The Bible will teach us the right way. At night, God watches over us. He protects us. As we wake, we should think about God’s word.
This is similar to Psalm 119:105. ‘God’s word is like a lamp for my feet. God’s word is like a light for my path.’
Solomon is writing about sex, but he is also writing about other evil actions. Sometimes an idea about an evil action attracts us. Sometimes we want to do evil things. But we should refuse to do evil things. Solomon has taught this lesson to us before. See Proverbs 2:16-19, and Proverbs 5. He will also explain the same lesson in Proverbs 7. He repeats the lesson because this is important.
In Proverbs 6:25-29, Solomon explains about punishment. A husband will punish the man that sleeps with the husband’s wife. In the same way, our evil behaviour leads to punishment. God will always punish our evil behaviour. There are punishments in this world, for example, prison. The Bible teaches us about heaven and hell after we die. Everyone has done evil things, so everyone must turn to God. We all must trust God, because only God can forgive us. When Jesus died, he suffered our punishment.
If a man has sex with a woman, she might use him for her advantage. She might ask for money. She might put him in danger. He might even die.
Fire is dangerous. It can burn you. Use fire carefully!
Sex is also dangerous. You should only have sex with your husband or wife. Otherwise, it is dangerous. Be careful!
Our evil actions are dangerous. These actions can send us to hell. Escape from evil things! Trust in God!
This thief is hungry. He has no food. His family also have no food. So, this thief steals, because he needs food. We can sympathise with him. However, the law will punish him. The law does not forgive. The law does not ask if he needed food. His punishment is severe.
Some people do wrong actions, because they hate God. Other people sincerely want to do good things, but they still do evil things. Everyone must trust in God, because everyone does wrong actions. ‘If you obey one law, but not another, then you are still guilty. Your actions are against the whole law, not just one part.’ (James 2:10-11)
The thief (in verse 30) suffered a severe punishment.
The man (in verse 32) will have a worse punishment. This man had sex with another man’s wife. The husband will punish him. There is a double punishment for the man who had sex with the wife. He receives punishment because his actions were evil. He also receives punishment from the angry husband.
The Bible says that God can be angry. He is angry about our evil behaviour. He is angry when our actions are unfair. He is angry with us, if we turn against him. A man’s anger may be terrible. God’s anger is much worse.
‘God’s anger comes from heaven. He hates people’s wicked actions. Men hide the truth when they do wrong things.’ (Romans 1:18) ‘God’s anger is against the people who do not obey God.’ (Ephesians 5:6)
God is angry, but he also loves us. Micah prays this to God: ‘There is no other god like you. You forgive the evil things that your people have done. You are not always angry. You want to love us. You will care for us again. You will forgive our wrong actions. You will forgive completely. You will act as if you threw the records of our evil deeds into the sea.’ (Micah 7:18-19)
The last, and greatest, of Solomon’s lessons, begins here. Since chapter 1, we have read the words that Solomon taught to his son. Now, in chapters 7-9, Solomon teaches his final lesson to his son. (Solomon’s lessons end in chapter 9. From chapter 10, the Book of Proverbs lists short proverbs (wise words).)
In these chapters, Solomon writes three great poems.
· The first great poem is in chapter 7. This poem is about a woman who tempts a simple man. This man behaves like a fool, because he trusts her. He does not realise what will happen to him.
· The second great poem is in chapter 8. This poem is a speech. The speaker is the woman called Wisdom. Everyone should listen to her words.
· The final great poem is chapter 9. This poem contrasts the woman called Wisdom, against another woman, called ‘The Foolish Woman’. Both women invite the simple people to a meal. If you accept the right invitation, then you will live. If you accept the other invitation, then you will die.
Previously, Solomon told us to learn to be wise (Proverbs 2:2). Now, he tells us to keep wisdom in our hearts. Previously, Solomon told us to accept wisdom (Proverbs 2:1). Now he tells us that Wisdom is like our sister. (He is comparing wisdom to a woman.)
Solomon’s lesson is a very personal lesson. Wisdom must be close to us. Wisdom must become part of us. Wisdom must be part of our lives. Wisdom must guide every decision.
Especially, wisdom will protect us when evil things attract us. As in earlier chapters, Solomon writes about sex. However, he is thinking about all types of evil behaviour. His story warns us about people who tempt us with their evil ideas. In the story, a woman tempts a man to have sex. Solomon shows how one person can tempt another person. He also shows us the result if we do evil things.
The story begins here. Solomon was watching the people. He was watching, because he wanted to learn more. He wanted to see other people’s mistakes. He wanted to understand more. He wanted to become wiser.
Solomon saw a young man who was ‘simple’. (See my note on Proverbs 1:4.) This young man had not learned to be wise. He was in danger, because he was not wise. It was easy to tempt him. He did not think about what was right.
We want to shout to the young man, ‘Stop!’ He walked along the wrong road. Down that road, there was danger. He approached the place where the woman would tempt him.
The young man was simple. He did not think about wisdom. Perhaps his father never taught the young man. Perhaps the young man never listened to his lessons. Maybe he forgot about wisdom. He made a terrible mistake.
The young man was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Even when we are strong, we might think wrong thoughts. However, when we are weak, evil ideas can tempt us more easily.
Night was beginning. The young man was looking for fun. He did not trust in God. He was very weak.
‘Be careful! Your enemy is the devil. He walks about, like a lion. He is looking for someone to kill and to eat.’ (1 Peter 5:8) We must stand firm and trust in God.
The young man was alone. Perhaps he was lonely. He was weak. He wanted fun.
Then, the woman came. She looked pretty. She looked sexy. (That is, her clothes showed the shape of her body.) The young man liked her. He needed an activity for that evening. The woman looked like the answer to his problem.
Women should choose their clothes carefully. They want to look beautiful. In some countries, sexy clothes are fashionable. But, these clothes can tempt men. These clothes can cause many problems. ‘You should be beautiful. However, you should not use clothes, haircuts or gold, to make you look beautiful. Instead, your spirit should be beautiful. You should be gentle and quiet. God considers these things valuable.’ (1 Peter 3:3-4)
This woman went everywhere! The young man could not miss her!
This is like any evil idea. If you try to do evil things, then you will do evil things.
There is a woman like this in every town. She is in every street. And there are always evil things that we could do.
The man and woman hugged. Then they kissed.
This is like tempting an animal into a trap. The animal might still escape. There is still hope. The animal must act quickly to escape. It must not delay.
The man could still escape. He could still run away from the woman. Each moment brought the man into more and more danger. Soon he would be unable to escape.
This was a lie. Verse 11 told us, ‘she never stays at home’. The woman was looking for any man. To her, this man was not special. She just wanted to have sex with him. She just wanted to destroy him.
The woman talked about her bed. Now, we are sure that she was thinking about sex. She wanted to get the man into her bed. Surely the man realised her plan. Perhaps he hesitated. If so, he did not escape. Instead, he waited. He let her speak. She spoke, and tempted him more.
Then the young man knew the truth. She invited him to stay for the night, in her bed. She promised love, but really she wanted sex.
The woman told the young man that he was safe.
But, she had a husband. If the young man slept with the woman, then the husband would be angry. This is dangerous.
If the young man were wise, he would escape now. He should run away. He must not delay. A right decision would save him. A wrong decision could kill him.
From his window, Solomon watched them. He heard the woman’s words. He saw the man make his decision. Solomon hoped that the young man was wise. Solomon hoped that the young man would make the right decision.
The end came suddenly. As Solomon watched by the moon’s light, the young man turned. The woman started to walk away. Then the young man followed the woman. Together they walked into her house. Nobody could stop them. Nobody could save the young man.
The way that the man followed the woman reminded Solomon of something. It reminded him of an animal that was soon to die. Like a bird in a trap, the young man had lost everything. Wisdom would have saved him.
Solomon saw no more. But then he says that the young man died. Solomon is explaining what might happen to such a man in the end.
Solomon’s message is clear. We should learn to be wise. Then we shall escape from danger. We must refuse to do evil things. Otherwise, we shall be in great danger.
Solomon speaks to his ‘sons’ (plural). In verse 1, he was speaking only to one son. The story was a personal lesson, to a loved son. Now, he speaks to us all. We all need to be wise. We all need to be careful.
Solomon is not writing about the actual woman whom he saw. He is writing about women like her. But he is really thinking about evil ideas. These thoughts can spoil your life. They will take you to death and hell (verse 27). Obey God! Do not obey your evil thoughts!
In the story, the woman offered love, but instead she caused great danger. She offered fun and life, but she gave only death. Evil ideas might seem attractive. But such thoughts are really lies. In reality, evil behaviour will only hurt us.
Evil behaviour has ruined the lives of many people. And evil behaviour continues to ruin lives today.
This is the second of Solomon’s three great poems. Wisdom, like a woman, gives a speech to all the people.
In verse 1, there are not two women. Wisdom is one woman, but she has two names. Her names are Wisdom and Intelligence. This is because wisdom is the same thing as intelligence. Right decisions and accurate knowledge are also the same thing as wisdom.
All these things will be ours when we trust in God. They do not come immediately. We need to learn to be wise. This is a slow process. Each day, we should learn new lessons. God teaches us in different ways. Sometimes he teaches us from the Bible. Sometimes he uses other people to teach us. Sometimes he uses nature or other methods to teach us.
If we are teachers, then we must be patient. It takes many years to learn law or medicine. In the same way, many people are slow to learn wisdom. Even for true Christians, some lessons can take years to learn.
A church leader is a type of teacher. He teaches the people that he serves. Often, he must repeat the same lessons several times. The teacher must try to be a model for his people. He cares for them. He tries to advise them about the Bible. He prays for them. The teacher himself also needs to learn more. He knows that he is not perfect.
The evil woman (in Proverbs 7:12) went everywhere. Wisdom is also everywhere. Wherever people are, Wisdom is there. (Wisdom is like a woman.) She is waiting to advise them. She wants to help them. She will guide them to make right decisions. She will show them good ways. She will help them to trust in God.
Many people do not listen to Wisdom. They do not want her advice. She still calls out, because her message is important to everyone.
This is a message to everyone. Wisdom (the woman) speaks to the people in every nation. You may be rich or poor. You may be a ruler, or an ordinary person. You may be a man or a woman. You may be young or old. Everyone needs to be wise.
Solomon uses special meanings for the words ‘simple’ and ‘foolish’.
The ‘fool’ is proud and lazy. He does not want to serve God. He hates wisdom. He prefers to do evil things. If you try to teach a fool, he will hate you. He will only learn if God changes him.
The ‘simple’ person does not know what is right or wrong. He has not learned to be wise. He chooses to do evil things, because ‘everybody does it’. But you can teach a simple person. A simple person can learn to be wise.
The woman called Wisdom speaks good words. Her words are always true (verse 6). They are fair (verse 7). She does not speak wrong words (verse 7). Everything that she says is perfect (verse 9).
God is like this. He uses the Bible to teach us. The Bible is the word of God. The Bible is always true (Psalm 119:89). The Bible is fair (Psalm 119:75). The Bible is never wrong (Psalm 119:68). It is perfect (Psalm 119:137-138).
Money is not really valuable. Silver and gold are beautiful, but they cannot give a good life to you. Wisdom is valuable. Wisdom is better than money, silver or gold.
The Bible is also better than these things. ‘I love God’s commands more than the purest gold.’ (Psalm 119:127)
Verses 10-11 are similar to Proverbs 3:14-15. In Proverbs 3, Solomon is speaking to his son about the woman called Wisdom. ‘She is worth more than silver. She is even more valuable than gold. She is more valuable than precious stones. No valuable things compare with her.’ Now, in verses 10-11, Wisdom herself agrees that this is true.
If you are wise, then you will also be skilful. Your wisdom will help you to make the right decisions.
The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God.
Wisdom hates these things:
· Evil deeds. When we serve God, we should not do evil actions. God will teach us to do the right things. If we do wrong things, then we must ask God to forgive us.
· Proud people. A proud person trusts in himself. He will not listen to God. He will not listen to other people.
· Greedy people. God wants us to be generous.
· Lies. God loves the truth.
Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs, was a king. He knew that he was responsible for many people. When he was young, he wanted to be a good king. He studied wisdom so that he would rule wisely. All rulers and leaders can learn from him.
A king should not use his power to steal money from other people. His people should not suffer so that he can have fun. He should care about the people. He should rule them fairly. His laws should be fair. He should use his power carefully. Everyone who has responsibility for other people should think about this. Employers, rulers and judges need God’s wisdom. Church leaders also need God’s wisdom.
The best wealth is not money or gold. Rich people can lose their money. But wisdom is not like money. When we learn wisdom, it will benefit our whole lives.
The woman called Wisdom is generous. She gives true wealth. We can love many things. Some people love wine. But too much wine will kill them. Some people love money. But they can lose everything in a single day. If we love wisdom, then God will look after us. He cares about us. Jesus said, ‘Love God, with all your heart, spirit and mind! This is the first and greatest law.’ (Matthew 22:37-38)
The woman called Wisdom continues her speech. She explains how God made the world.
We all need wisdom. Even God used his wisdom to make the world. In the beginning, before ancient times, wisdom was there.
Wisdom is like God’s word. God’s word existed in the beginning. And God’s word created the world, when God the Father gave his command. (John 1:1)
The ‘word’ is another name for Jesus. Jesus always existed with God in heaven. Jesus is the Son of God. There is only one God, but Jesus is God. This is difficult to understand. We cannot understand everything about God. We must trust God about the things that we do not understand.
The poem described how God made the world. God worked carefully. He loves people. So he prepared a beautiful home for us. Compare this with Genesis 1.
The poem talks about the ‘birth’ of wisdom. This is poetry. The poet is not saying that one day, wisdom was born. He does not think that before this, there was no wisdom. God was wise, even before ancient times. God was wise, even before he made the world. God has always been wise.
God worked with Wisdom. (Solomon continues to compare wisdom with a woman.) Together, God and Wisdom were glad to see the world. Together, they were happy about God’s work. Especially, they were glad to see the people. God made people to be in his image (Genesis 1:26). This means that people should behave like him. People should use wisdom. When people make things, they should be wise. When they lead other people, they should be wise.
These verses are also sad. They describe what God wanted. God’s plan was that he would live with us. But the people refused God’s love (Genesis 3:9-13). They refused wisdom.
Jesus died to bring us back to God. We should trust in God. We should greatly desire God’s wisdom.
The woman, Wisdom, asks us to listen to her. She will bless us. She will teach us to be wise. We must not refuse her advice.
If a man listens to wisdom, then he will benefit. This man does not just listen to one lesson, and then walk away. Every day, he wants more wisdom. He is like a child who is waiting at his mother’s door. The child waits for mother to wake, so that she will teach him! We should always want to learn more wisdom. God will be kind to us, if we do this.
If a man refuses wisdom, then he will suffer. His punishment is severe. A man who hates wisdom will die.
Solomon’s last, great lesson to his son is almost complete. Perhaps Solomon paused here. Maybe he thought about whether he had taught enough. His young son needed the full facts. The son needed to decide between wise behaviour and evil behaviour. His decision would guide his entire life. In the future, the son would be king, like his father Solomon. Then, the son would become powerful. Solomon wanted the son to choose wisdom.
Solomon decided to add a final, great poem. This poem would explain wisdom to his son, but it would also explain the opposite of wisdom. Then, at last, the son would know enough. Then, the son could make his own decision. The son must choose whether he wanted to be wise. If not, the son would be a fool, and the whole nation would suffer.
The woman, called Wisdom, has worked hard. She has decided to invite guests. She has even built a special house to give them a special welcome. The house has 7 columns, so it is large. It is complete, and it is perfect. The number 7 may refer to the 7 instructions in verses 6-12.
Everything is ready. The woman, Wisdom, has made a great meal for her guests. Her guests will not remain hungry. Wisdom has prepared everything that they need.
God provides the things that we need. Paul wrote, ‘My God will provide everything that you need. He will do this from the riches that are in Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:19) Jesus said, ‘Look at the birds! They do not grow their own food. However, God feeds them. You are more valuable than the birds.’ (Matthew 6:26)
The Bible compares heaven with an invitation to a meal. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let everyone who hears repeat, “Come!” If you need to drink, then come! Take the free gift of the water of life!’ (Revelation 22:17) ‘Come, if you need to drink! Come to the water! If you have no money, then still come! Without any money, you can buy and you can eat! Buy wine and milk! You do not need money, because there is no cost.’ (Isaiah 55:1)
The servants of Wisdom (the woman) go to fetch the guests. Wisdom herself has invited the guests. Everyone can hear her message because everyone must choose whether to learn to be wise.
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus told a story about a meal. A man invited all his friends to a great meal, but they all refused. The man was very angry. If his friends would not come, then other people must enjoy his great meal. He invited poor people and ill people. He invited blind people. He invited people who could not walk. Everybody was welcome.
Jesus’ story means that we should invite everyone to become Christians. If our friends refuse, we must invite other people. We can invite poor people and ill people. We can invite people that we do not like. We can even invite our enemies. God wants us to do this. In heaven, God is preparing a great meal. God’s house must be full of people. If our friends refuse, they will not be at God’s great meal. Other people will take their place.
Wisdom, the woman, chooses her guests carefully. They are not the guests whom we might select. She does not choose only clever people, whose conversation will be good. She does not choose only famous people, so that other people will respect her. She does not even select wealthy people.
Wisdom’s guests are ‘simple’ people. They are people who do not know about good and evil behaviour. They are people who do many wrong things. These people have not yet learned to be wise. Wisdom, the woman, wants to teach them. She wants to show the right way to them. She wants to lead them to God.
Jesus said, ‘When you make a meal, do not invite your friends! Do not invite your brothers or your relatives! Do not invite your rich neighbours! If you do, they might invite you back. You wanted to give a gift, but they will repay you. When you make a great meal, invite poor people! Invite ill people! Invite blind people! Invite people who cannot walk. Then God will be kind to you. These people cannot invite you back. Instead, God will reward you in heaven.’ (Luke 14:12-14)
A person must do two things to become a Christian:
· He must turn from evil behaviour. The woman called Wisdom, says, ‘Leave your simple ways, and live!’
· He must trust in God. The woman called Wisdom says, ‘Live wisely!’
Peter explained this in Acts 3:19. ‘Refuse to do evil things! Turn to God! If you do this, then God will forgive you. He will give a new life to you.’
Some people will never listen to you. They refuse to follow advice. They refuse all correction.
Perhaps, you think that you are wise. Here is a test for you. A wise man loves the person who corrects him. A wise man learns from the person who sees his (the wise man’s) errors. If you love such a person then you are really wise.
A Christian should always want to learn. The verse speaks about a ‘wise man’ and a ‘good man’. A Christian should want to be both ‘wise’ and ‘good’. At church, he should learn from the preacher (that is, the speaker). At home, he should learn from his family. At work, he should learn to be fair and honest. When he is alone, he should pray. He should read the Bible and learn from God. If he does this, he will become wiser. He will learn more. He will know God more and more.
A wise person is not always intelligent or clever. He might know only a few things. Maybe, he has only learnt his first lesson.
This is the first lesson: ‘Respect God!’ God must be first in our lives. God is more important than our businesses. God is more important than our friends. God is even more important than our families. When we make a decision, we must first think about God. We must ask whether our plans are good or evil. We must decide whether our plans give honour to God.
This is only the first lesson. But it is a great lesson. This lesson will teach us to be wise. If we respect God, then evil ideas will not attract us. If we respect God, then we shall try to be fair and honest with other people. If we respect God, then money will not control our lives. If we respect God, then we shall want to learn from God.
Wisdom, like a woman, cares for us. She is like a mother. If a child does not listen to his mother, then he is in danger. If a child learns from his mother, her instructions will keep him safe.
Wisdom offers a real reward. Wisdom will benefit our whole lives. If you refuse to be wise, then you will suffer.
The woman called Wisdom finishes her speech. This is her final speech in the Book of Proverbs. The poem is also approaching its end. But then we see another woman. This second woman is also shouting out. She also has an invitation. She too offers a meal. If you are simple, then you might confuse this other woman with Wisdom. If you are simple, then you might make a terrible mistake.
The second woman is called ‘The Foolish Woman’.
People who accept her invitation are foolish. This is why she has this name.
Wisdom, the woman, says that knowledge is valuable (Proverbs 8:10). The Foolish Woman does not think so. She thinks that knowledge has no value. She knows nothing.
The woman called Wisdom prepared a fine meal for her guests. Wisdom even built a splendid house for them.
But the Foolish Woman is lazy. The Foolish Woman did none of these things. She does not even stand to invite her guests. She sits down.
The messages of the two women both come from the highest place in the city. So everyone will hear both messages. Nobody will miss them. Everyone will receive both invitations. We cannot accept both invitations. We must choose. Either we follow wisdom, or we are foolish.
The people walk straight ahead. Solomon compares life to a journey. We should walk straight ahead. See Proverbs 4:25-26. We must not allow evil things to attract us.
The Foolish Woman calls to people. She wants to tempt them away from the straight path. She wants to take them on the path to her house. She will lead them away from God. In the end she will destroy them.
We heard this invitation earlier, in verse 4. The Foolish Woman gives the same words of invitation as the woman called Wisdom.
The Foolish Woman also calls ‘simple’ people. Evil people have decided already to be foolish. The simple people have not yet decided. The Foolish Woman tries to persuade them. She wants to tempt them.
The Foolish Woman also offers a meal to her guests. However, her meal does not belong to her. She stole the water. She must eat in secret.
‘Water’ reminds us of Proverbs 5:15-18. In that passage, ‘water’ refers to love and sex. So, the Foolish Woman offers sex. She ‘stole’ sex, so this is not sex between a husband and wife. This is the same invitation as Proverbs 7:18-20. This is why the meal is secret. So the meal also gives the idea of sex.
The woman tempts the simple man with evil ideas. Solomon is thinking about all evil things, not just sex. If we are foolish, then we shall choose to do evil things. If we refuse to be wise, then we also refuse to follow God.
Evil actions might feel ‘good’. Evil actions might feel ‘wonderful’. These are only feelings; they are not reality. The reality is that evil behaviour is always wrong. The reality is that evil behaviour will destroy us. The reality is that God hates all evil things.
‘Death is like a wage for the person who does evil things. But God gives us life that will last always, through Jesus.’ (Romans 6:23)
Death and hell are the punishments for our evil actions. So we must not do evil things. Instead, we should serve God. And we should ask God to forgive us. God wants us to trust him. God’s love is like a free gift. God offers real life. We shall not die. We shall live always with him, in heaven. This is the best invitation.
We must make our choice. We can be wise, or we can be foolish. Make the right decision! God wants us all to learn to be wise.
The Book of Proverbs hides a sad story. Solomon was a wise king for most of his life. When he became old, Solomon forgot his wisdom. He had many wives. His wives tempted him to serve false gods. He did not remember God, who gave wisdom to him. He served false gods. The real God was angry with Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-10).
Solomon wrote Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18 for his son. He wanted his son to learn wisdom. Solomon tried to teach his son. Solomon’s son was called Rehoboam. Rehoboam became the king when Solomon died. Rehoboam never followed wisdom. When he became king, his first decision was to refuse wisdom. He refused to obey the advice of Solomon’s wise advisers. Instead, he chose advisers who knew nothing (1 Kings 12:1-19). Rehoboam’s first decision was a terrible decision.
Most of the people refused to serve Rehoboam. There was a revolution and a war. The nation split in two.
Solomon led a great nation. His nation was always at peace. His son, Rehoboam, led a small nation. Rehoboam was always at war (1 Kings 14:30).
Various writings and sermons by C.H. Spurgeon, J. Wesley, G. Whitefield and other classic writers.
Notes on the Book of Proverbs - John Wesley
The Book of Proverbs by A.R. Fausset - in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown
Proverbs by S.S. Buzzell - in The Bible Knowledge Commentary edited by Walvoord and Zuck
Proverbs by G.W. Thatcher and other articles - in The Temple Bible Dictionary edited by Ewing & Thomson
Young’s Analytical Concordance
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by B. Davidson
Bibles - NIV, KJV, TEV, RSV, Moffatt, Jewish translation (1917), occasional use of Hebrew text and other translations.
Christ in all the Scriptures - A.M. Hodgkin
© 2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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