Proverbs 1: A Review

In Proverbs 1: 26-27, wisdom mocks the mocker in their day of judgment for several reasons. They refused her call (v. 24); disdained her counsel and rejected her correction (v. 25); they have hated knowledge (v. 29a); they chose not the fear of the Lord (v. 29b).

Yet, “Fools, seeing no need for the ‘fear of The Lord,’ do not carefully select it as their way of life. In fact, they decide against it and sanction other lifestyles” (Waltke, NICOT Vol. 1: 210).

Note here how verse 22 shows the affections they hold with their sinful folly as wisdom calls out to the unrepentant ones, “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” Publicly, wisdom cries out to the fool, “stretching out her hand” and offering to “pour out her spirit” on those who would turn to her reproof.  In the public square, wisdom cries forth of the surety of judgment, yet the fools ignore her.

Waltke further observes that verses 26-27 derive personal ownership to the “naïve ones, simple minded, scoffers, and fools” of v. 22. The calamity that returns upon their own heads is not simply the common calamity that befalls all men; the righteous with the unrighteous; but one which is specifically suited for them as a means of judgment for their folly. It is fully theirs.

Thus, in the day of their calamity, wisdom returns mocking for mocking, scorn for scorn, whilst ignoring their call for rescue. She will not answer, for just as they did not respond in the day of salvation, she shall not respond to them in their day of judgment (v. 28).

“The literal reality behind the metaphor ‘they will eat from the fruit of their own way in’ in verse 31 shows the boomerang nexus between foolish deeds and fatal consequences. They will experience the catastrophe with their whole beings” (Waltke, NICOT Vol. 1: 211).

[i]Vern Poythress says: We find words like sarx (“flesh”), soma (“body”), psyche (“soul”), pneuma (“spirit”), nous (“mind”), kardia (“heart”), zoe (“life”), bios (“life”), suneidesis (“conscience”), sunesis (“understanding”), dianoia (“understanding”), splancha (“bowels”), chros (“skin”), not to mention verbs describing various bodily and mental actions and states.

[ii]He further goes on to articulate that the gloss of each of these Greek words is only approximate, showing that no one English word matches exactly the full range of meaning and connotative associations of a single Greek word. Add to this the classical Hebrew of the O.T. and we find even more unique properties matching neither the Greek nor English exactly.

As my pastor pointed out in his last sermon, these are all aspects of humanity. In other words, these components are not so much singular entities within humans to be separated, but comprising of the whole of man. Here we find Poythress utilizing 13 terms within the Greek;  adding the Hebew vocabulary as well, we can understand this within Waltke’s argument of the fool “experiencing the catastrophe with their whole beings.”

Continuing on in v. 31, they will experience “fullness with their own fancies,” paralleling with the sustenance of “eating the fruit of their own devices.” It is not healthily sustaining, but deadly (v. 32). They consumed the unsuspecting innocent, dividing the spoils of their bloodshed and robbery amongst themselves (vv. 11-14), all the while setting baited nets for their own entrapment (v. 17-19). All of this was publicly proclaimed through wisdom’s address, thus, we see a direct parallelism to their initial reactions as she now laughs, mocks, and ignores them as they cry out to her.

Pay careful attention even to the personal pronouns used in vv. 20-33

From vv. 20-27, wisdom uses the personal pronouns “you” and “your” in addressing the fool; yet, when the distress comes upon them, she uses the pronouns “they” and “their” instead.

Even in this, wisdom is seen distancing herself from the fool in his day of judgment. This may appear semantically “hair splitting,” but it seems rather odd that wisdom would address the fool personally and then switch midway in using differing pronouns if it wasn’t intended to show something more. At one point she was near to them, even in the gates of the very streets the fool walked upon, now she describes their calamity from a distance. At one point she offered her hand and spirit, now she is nowhere to be found for the fool in his calamity who is seeking her diligently (v. 28b).

Then note the contrast between this and Solomon’s address to his son to flee all of this (vv. 8-19) so that he will exhibit obedience to the purpose of Solomon’s writings (vv. 1-7a) and found to be within the qualities of wisdom in verses 5-7a (specifically, the fear of the Lord); that by listening to his father, he may “dwell safely, and be secure, without fear of evil” (v. 33). Beyond this, that the son would avoid the folly, pitfalls, judgment, and destruction of the wicked that is sure to ensue them.

This all sets the tone for Solomon addressing the “value of wisdom” in chapter 2 of Proverbs.

[i] and [ii] John Frame, “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief” (see chapter 34, page 797).


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