by Keith Sherlin

– In Proverbs chapter one after the introduction we see two lines of thought that practically apply to all people. People will experience temptations towards sin. Yet too, people will experience or hear the call of God through truth in the form of wisdom and knowledge. How a person responds to either of these two options will mark that person’s life in monumental ways for the good or for the bad.

Proverbs 1:7 highlights for us the two categories that play out in the rest of chapter 1. This verse says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginnings of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I like what Dr. MacArthur says of this text. He says, “This reverential awe and admiring submissive fear is foundational for all spiritual knowledge and wisdom” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 698). Likewise, Dr. Merrill Unger says that this fear of God and instruction, or godly discipline, is for those “who reverence the LORD” as they “must hold” such instruction in “high regard and obediently submit to” it (Unger’s Commentary on the OT, p. 984). This verse seven is in some ways the key theme that “constitutes the grand summary” of the “whole book” (Unger, p. 984).

Verses 10-19 reveal the dangers and path of destruction for those who do not fear the LORD or his instruction. Verses 10-12 teach us that some people we encounter will actually desire to injure others for their own self-gain. This self-gain presents itself as a way in which a person can be prosperous quickly, even overnight (vs. 12-14). Yet the results of this are the loss of one’s own life (vs. 19).

How often in my professional career have I seen lives ruined by sin. As a law enforcement officer and then later as a judge I have seen lives ruined by people giving into the impulse to prosper quickly, often through dishonest or violent means. As William MacDonald says of this text, “there is a moral to the story. Those who try to get rich quick pay for their greed with their own lives” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p. 793).

God, however, calls out to us with a wise instructive warning. God’s wisdom in these cases where people purposefully plot to harm others for their own personal gain is simple and straight forward: “my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths” (vs. 15). Sometimes it is in our best interest not to even be near these types of people. In fact, in our culture (like many other societies under the rule of civil and criminal law) a person might be charged, prosecuted, and convicted as an accessory to a crime by being with those who commit a crime as so described here in these verses. God’s solution in these cases is for the person to avoid the corrupt company all together. A very practical point for us who seek to live practical lives!