Proverbs 1:20,22b,33 | Proverbs 2:2-5 | Proverbs 9:10 | Exodus 20:18-20
Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do?
Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. […] “How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?Proverbs 1:20,22b NLT
Imagine a woman dressed in fine clothes, healthy and radiant, standing on a busy street corner with a loudspeaker, calmly yet emphatically pleading with people to listen to reason. She is Wisdom.
As on any day on any busy corner of any city, people walk by, ignoring the loud woman. She is not the only voice crying for their attention. City dwellers hear many loud voices from many corners. Everybody has a product or an agenda to sell.
But what is this woman selling?
[…] But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”Proverbs 1:33 NLT
God wants you to live this way–calmly, confidently. Wisdom is the key to doing so. But what is wisdom?
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.Proverbs 9:10 NLT
Wisdom is built on reverence for the Lord. The phrase “fear of the Lord” puts many people off because of the word “fear”. Who wants more fear in their life?
Actually, this Fear of the Lord could (more appealingly) be described as “reverent obedience”. But why water the term down? The more “knowledge of the Holy One” you gain, the more you have reason to tremble when faced with God’s sheer magnitude and (in the completely literal sense) awesomeness.
Consider how the nation of Israel reacted when the Lord came to speak with Moses after they left Egypt.
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”Exodus 20:18-20 NLT
Maybe your fear of God could keep you from sinning, as well. Do you fear God, or being uncool? Do you fear God, or the risk of poverty? Do you fear God, or giving up your plans?
Being wise is not about fostering fear, it is about banishing your fears by trusting in the most fearsome power in the universe–and knowing that He loves you. Your Heavenly Father can obliterate anything in the universe with just a word. (He can also create anything the same way.) Perfectly just, he has the right to unleash his holy wrath as he sees fit. But he is the epitome of Love–patient, kind, selfless, slow to anger, quick to forgive.
So when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do, take a moment and realign your fears. Are you afraid of what will happen? Or do you fear God; do you want to do right by him?
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.Proverbs 2:2-5 NLT
Questions for Group Discussion
- Why do you think that “fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10)? Does ‘fear’ here mean being scared? If so, why does God want us to fear? If not, what does it mean?
- According to Proverbs 2:6, what is the source of wisdom? From the next two verses (Proverbs 2:7-8), what are some benefits of wisdom to people who are honest, who walk with integrity, who are just, and who are faithful?
- Read Proverbs 3:5-7. Does having wisdom mean always trusting your own judgement? Should you feel especially wise if you truly have wisdom?
Application: That Woman Who Calls in the Streets
Read Proverbs 1:20-33 and imagine this woman, Wisdom, who cries out in the public square. Then answer (for yourself) the following questions, and respond creatively.
- Who is the woman calling to?
- Why is she shouting?
- What does she want?
- Does her offer expire?
- What happens to those who ignore her?
- Why will she offer no help and even laugh at those in trouble?
- What, specifically, is the bitter fruit she mentions?
- What destroys fools?
- What does she offer to those who listen to her?
OPTION 1: Writing
Write down some thoughts about this woman, Wisdom. What are her physical characteristics? Height, dress, hair, etc. How does she speak? How does she interact with people? Who are her friends? What does she do when she is not shouting in the public square? Where does she live? What is her preferred mode of transportation? Finally, write a brief story describing one day in her life.
OPTION 2: Drawing
Make a picture of the woman Wisdom. Consider the questions in Option 1 above, and use these to inform your depiction of her.