The first nine chapters of this book are a discourse on the nature of wisdom and stupidity (or folly). The literary form of proverbs is an ancient way of transmitting attitudes and reasons for godly behaviour. What are the marks of both wise and stupid people?
Here we are, starting the book of Proverbs – And Solomon gets straight to it.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
These words (at least the first part) should be fresh in our minds, as Psalm 111 speaks of it memorably.
But what of the second part? “… Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Solomon goes on to draw the picture of the two roads, the two paths. Wisdom and Folly.
We clearly see the link here with Moses and the Law, God’s commands where obedience gives blessing and disobedience cursing. Wisdom == Obedience. Folly == Disobedience. The two paths.
And here we have Solomon’s wisdom in full force – If we despise wisdom and instruction we are fools. We choose folly.
It’s good to read too that it is both wisdom AND instruction.
Because to learn wisdom we need to be instructed.
How do we know to fear the Lord? He tells us in His word! We’ve just finished the Psalms, a wonderful library of examples of how to approach God in reverence and fear in our prayers, in our songs of praise.
It’s a clear word to us – Don’t despise wisdom. Don’t despise instruction.
In Matthew 24 we see Jesus pointing clearly to the folly of the scribes and Pharisees. “Woe to you,” is repeated many times. “You blind fools!”
If we want examples of fools who despise wisdom and instruction, we find them in God’s word, both the Old and New Testaments.
But for us – Let’s be encouraged and convicted to be examples of wisdom and not folly.
Let’s choose Jesus. Be seeking His wisdom and not turn from His instruction.