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Proverbs 1:10-19 by Robert Dean
A person can study philosophy and the minutia of ideas and still come up with only two ways of thinking; God’s way or the world’s way. Proverbs contrasts these as the way of the foolish and the way of the wise. Facts, reason and experience may fill 95% of your brain, but the 5% containing God’s revelation is the means of interpreting the 95% which can, if practiced, produce skillful living through wise choices. God doesn’t entice us to sin. He does test us, in prosperity or adversity, to give us opportunities to make decisions that allow us to grow. See the lessons in our passage on wisdom, taught as a father teaches his son, emphasizing choices. If you feel you lack wisdom, ask God for it. He wants us to have it.
Series:Proverbs (2013)
Duration:56 mins 40 secs

Protection from Temptation. Proverbs 1:10-19

 

As we look through the eyes of Scripture we come to learn something that is often denigrated in the world around us, and that is that there are basically two ways of looking at life. There is God's way and there is everybody else's way. The only way that counts is God's way. Everybody else's way may manifest itself in many different and even contradictory forms of thought.

 

We know that when we break certain physical laws we are going to hurt or break something. In the spiritual realm, the social realm, the emotional realm, in the realm that is unseen and unquantifiable God has also established certain unbreakable, inviolable laws. When we break those the consequences may not be as immediately felt but they are even more damaging and destructive to ourselves than if we jumped off a ledge, a building, or whatever is too high. Learning how to avoid the traps that come with thinking we know it all is learning to submit to the will of God and understanding the wisdom of Scripture. What Scripture teaches is that we are frequently entrapped and enticed by our own sin nature.

The core idea of Proverbs may well be choice, the idea of volition. Which path are we going to take in life? Verse after verse after verse contrasts the path of the unrighteous versus the path of the righteous, the way of wisdom versus the way of the fool, the walk of the wise in contrast to the walk of the fool. Again and again what is laid out for us in each of these introductory lessons in the first nine chapters we are faced with a choice. And this is true of everything in life. Every day in hundreds of ways we make choices. What the Bible presents is that at the end of our life our life is what we make it to be because of the choice that we make, not because of the choices other people make. We can't control that. Other people make choices that will negatively affect our lives, and some will make choices that will positively affect our lives, but the bottom line for our lives is how we choose to respond and react to the circumstances and problems, the adversities and prosperities.

 

And the question for each of us as we go through this study is: what path are we going to take? Are we going to be influenced by the sum total of the world's value system, which is what we will see here is the pressure of the peer group—which really stands here for the world's system around us. As the apostle Paul develops that is the New Testament the world system really represents zeitgeist around us. That which is popular, that which is politically correct or that which is politically incorrect, socially acceptable or socially unacceptable is determined by the values, the mores, the culture around us. When we face life are we making decisions based upon the priorities, the value system and the standards of Scripture? Or are we being influenced and are we following the dictates of what is popular in the eyes of the world and the culture around us. The more that the culture around us departs from its Judeo-Christian heritage the more conflict there is going to be between the believer and the surrounding environment. That means that in our surrounding environment, in the corporate world, in the social world, in the political world, we are going to face more and more conflict. There is going to be more and more friction between us and them, between those Christians who are determined to follow divine viewpoint and the world around which promotes human viewpoint; which is just the human presentation of Satan's viewpoint. And we have to have discernment and skill to know how to live in the midst of the devil's world in a way that doesn't create trauma, but on the other hand doesn't create compromise. The classic example of that in the Old Testament is Daniel. Daniel and his friends were pressured in many ways to conform to Babylon's system but they stood their ground.

 

The picture that we see in Scripture is one of wisdom in learning to prioritize, learning to make wise decisions, skillful decisions; and that only comes because we have taken in so much of the Word of God that through that foundation of knowledge and understanding that we have in our soul God the Holy Spirit enables us to make these wise choices. 

 

James 1:5 NASB "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." That is a verse that we have all taken out of context way too many times. It doesn't say, "If you lack knowledge." Wisdom is the ability to skillfully apply what we know, but first we have to know it. 

 

The theme of James is how to handle tests and trials in life. There are some ways in which James does mirror and reflect a lot of the ideas from the Proverbs, but unlike the Proverbs it is an integrated whole. Its theme is how to handle life wisely and how to face the tests and trials that come in life on the basis of wisdom. It is boiled down to three principles that are laid out in chapter one, and that is that we are to quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. The first part of the book deals with being quick to hear: listen to the Word. That is the most important thing.

 

So when we face these tests, tests that are difficult to figure out, how exactly should we handle them? We should be praying to God for wisdom and skill at being able to take the Word of God and apply it to the situation and not compromise the truth of the Word and that we are not causing undue conflict with the cosmic system, which conflict we are always in.

 

James 1:2, 3 NASB "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." The word that is translated "trial" and "testing" has two meanings to it. One is in the objective external sense of facing a test. Every choice is a test in an objective sense. It is an option. Are we going to choose to follow God and obey His Word or are we going to handle it on our own? Every decision is a test. But there is another meaning to that word that we find in James 1:12-15. It is the same word but we are shifting from the objective sense to a subjective sense. The subjective sense is temptation, the attraction to evil, attraction to sin. These are two sides of the same coin: the objective side which presents a test and opportunity to live life on our own terms or God's terms, and the subjective side which is the internal attraction that comes like a magnet to iron—our sin natures have an attraction to sin.

 

James 1:12 NASB " Blessed is a man who perseveres [endures] under trial …" Endurance is the big word in James, it means to stay in there. "… for once he has been approved …" 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." God gives us the strength to stay in there, to hang in there, in testing because that is where our witness/testimony takes place. When we pass the testing we are "approved," that which remains after the testing, and that is the basis for receiving rewards—"he will receive the crown of life …"

 

This is not a promise of salvation. The crown of life is not eternal life because we receive eternal life by grace; it is a free gift. A gift is something that is given with no conditions; a reward is something that is given on the basis of what one has done. There is a difference. Rewards are not given on the basis of grace; they are given on the basis of what we do, on the basis of what is accomplished. Salvation is given on the basis of what someone else did. There is a difference between salvation and eternal life which is given to all who come and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but rewards are given to those believers who endure, who press on to spiritual maturity, who walk by the Spirit and grow by the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. "…which {the Lord} has promised to those who love Him." It may surprise us but not all Christians love Christ. A lot of people say they do but they don't because love for God is measured in Scripture by one's obedience. Jesus said to His disciples who were already justified: "If you love me, keep my commandments." The flip side is true: If you don't love me, you don't keep my commandments. But you are still saved; you are just disobedient at that point and you are not loving God.

 

James 1:13 NASB "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God' …" Here is where he has shifted the meaning. God obviously provides testing situations but He doesn't internally tempt us or entice us to sin. "… for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. The word "entice" is an important word which shows up on verse 14: "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." That is what we are talking about here, that subjective attraction to the bait and trap. That is the picture that is presented here. [15] "Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." So we start off with the lust pattern. Am I going to yield to the lust or not? When we yield to it, it gives birth to sin—mental attitude sin, sins of the tongue, or overt sin. The end game is death: not eternal condemnation in the lake of fire but death in terms of a death-like existence now. James is talking to believers: "my brethren."

 

This is the same thing we see in Proverbs. In Proverbs 1:8 through 9:18 we have basically ten lessons of the father to the son. This first lesson is a challenge to listen to the father's guidance and to reject the influence of the son's peers. The peers here, those who are represented as sinners, are the ones who are depicting the values and the activities and desires of the culture around him who have rejected divine viewpoint thinking and rejected the Word of God. In terms of the organization of Proverbs this is then followed by a parenthesis where wisdom if personified as one who rebukes the simple, the naïve person, the person who doesn't understand the realities of living in the world system and is often open to sin. He is the open-minded one; he is not locked down on divine viewpoint. This is the open-minded person of the world, and being open-minded is basically the open throat of the grave. If you slide down that throat you go to death—not eternal condemnation but a death-like existence now apart from God.

 

The second lesson is how the son is to protect himself from the wicked, in chapter two. The third chapter focuses on the third lesson, the promise of the Lord and the son's responsibility. That relates to our responsibility in God's world—fourth lesson. The fifth lesson emphasizes the importance of following the path of wisdom. The sixth lesson, 4:10-19, is instruction on how to run well, seize life, and stay off of the human viewpoint road, which is the road to death. We see these phrases again in the New Testament: the path, the walk, the way. These all relate different ideas and one of the primary ideas in Proverbs is the verse, "There is a way that seems right to man but the end thereof is death." That is human viewpoint—all kinds of rationalization, all kinds of empirical evidence that this is the right thing to do, but the end game is death. That is the negatives of human viewpoint, and so the warning there is to stay off the human viewpoint road in 4:10-19. Then the seventh lesson is a warning against swerving from the right road in 4:20-27. Then lesson eight deals with the emptiness of free sex. There are two big issues that attract young people: easy money and easy love. These are emphasized again and again as the father teaches his son. Then there is an insight given in chapter 6:1-9, three patterns you don't want to imitate. Then lesson nine: the high cost of a promiscuous or adulterous wife is 6:20-35. Then lesson ten focuses on the tactics of the promiscuous or adulterous wife. There are two closing appendices in chapters eight and nine. Chapter eight focuses on wisdom's appeal. It appeals to those who are naïve and simple to listen to wisdom and make it a priority. The ninth chapter shows the conflict between the wise and the fools.

 

We have seen that this section begins in 1:8 with "Hear, my son, your father's instruction And do not forsake your mother's teaching. [9] Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck." It emphasizes the fact that the graceful ornament and the chains around the neck were used in the ancient world as signs of reward. But it symbolized protection, and so the idea that comes across in the metaphor here is that the victor's wreath and the chain around the neck are symbols of protection and guidance. So listen to your parents! If you follow their divine viewpoint guidance (assuming the parent has divine viewpoint; many do not) then they will protect you and guide you in life.

 

In this first lesson there is a warning against temptation. Proverbs 1:10, the warning from the father. It is the idea that to be forewarned is to be fore-armed. The father is going to present to the son and teach him about the traps, the enticements of the world and his peers, so that when he faces them he can be fore-armed to not fall into their traps. "My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent." In verse 15 he is going to reiterate this: "My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path." It is an intensification of his basic concern: "if sinners entice you, Do not consent."  

 

So we have a trap, and part of this in this section is the money trap, the idea of easy money and easy wealth rather than working for it through the process of developing solid character and virtues such as thrift and hard work. They are going to take the shortcut to money and just steal it from others. This is popular among certain elements of the criminal class and also other portions of the criminal class known as politicians! They just want to take from those who have worked hard, and they often present the rich as those who just came upon easy money. The trap is to think that somehow there is a shortcut to wealth and happiness.

 

They are classified as sinners (the basic Hebrew word for sin), and it basically has the idea of someone who has missed the mark. There are several different words in Hebrew for sin and each of them has the idea of someone who falls short of a standard, someone who has missed God's standard and lived short of it. So these are presented as a group that has rejected the standards of God and are thus disqualified. This personifies the group of the worldly, those who are following the standards of the world rather than the standards of God, the worldly peers, the worldly ones in the same age bracket who are influencing the son.

 

He says, "if sinners entice you." The writers of the Old Testament, especially it the poetry books, use a lot of word plays. Often we think of the lower class end of the word play, the pun; but this isn't a pun to get a chuckle out of somebody, it is a paronomasia, a word play designed to bring out a point. So in poetry the words don't have as narrow and precise meaning as they would, for example, in a legal contract or something of that nature. It is a little more fluid so we have to pay attention to things that are going inside of the text because the writer will bring things out that aren't always translatable to people. There are little things that go on in the Hebrew text that help bring out some points and one of them is the use of the verb here, "entice." This is the Hebrew word pathah which means to entice, deceive, or to persuade. The noun form means to be simple or naïve. It is used that way in verse 4. So we see that the purpose for Proverbs is to give prudence to the person who is naïve, simple, gullible, or so open-minded that he is sucking in all of the evil. He has responded to the enticements of the world system. The sinner entices, and by using that word the writer is causing us to think back contrast he is setting up between the wise and the simple. The simple person is the one who gets sucked into the traps of the sinners.

 

Then he says, "Do not consent." Do not be willing to go along with them, set your volition against this ahead of time. "Do not consent" appeals to the volition. So the trap has been laid out and identified and exposed in order to warn the son so that he is ready when that comes.

 

But notice how he sets this up. He sets it up in a wise way. He doesn't try to be too objective or scientific about the thinking of the sinners. He is going to set what they say in its most negative light so that we realize what is really going on. No hooligan, thug or gang member who is trying to entice somebody to join their gang is going to say it in this negative light, they are going to present it in the most positive way they can, the icing that is on the outside and not the poison that is on the inside. But the father sets it out and expresses their view in a negative way: Proverbs 1:11 NASB "If they say…" That is the sinner. This is what they are really saying to you, son. "… 'Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause." Let's go and ambush the innocent people, let's take advantage of people who have done nothing wrong. They never put it that way; they just try to present the people with money as the bad guys. See what they have stolen from us? They have their large piece of the pie. That is how politicians present it: they have their large piece of the pie and you can't have yours, so let's tax them to death so you can have your piece of pie. 

 

When they say, "Come with us" they are making an invitation. "Come on, come with us, we'll make you rich. This is the easy way to wealth." What they are really saying is, "Let us lie in wait." This is a Hebrew word which means to set a trap, to ambush someone, to snare someone. It is also translated "plot," so they are conspiring to set up this ambush. Literally is says, "Let us ambush for blood." The word dam, translated "blood here, is a word that indicates a violent shedding of blood. So what they are saying is, "Let's set up an ambush for the innocent without cause." The word used for the "innocent" is used in a judicial context to mean someone who is free from guilt, who has done nothing wrong; they are declared innocent from guilt and are guiltless. And yet they have been misrepresented in the rationalizations of the gang members, the peer group. 

 

Proverbs 1:12 NASB "Let us swallow them alive like Sheol…" They are comparing themselves to doing to people what the grave does. No bad guy is going to present it that way but that is really what they are saying. "… Even whole, as those who go down to the pit." Swallowing alive has the idea of something coming upon them suddenly, like death. Nobody expects death to come when it does, and the idea here is that this ambush is a surprise, and such a surprise that 'we are just going to take them quickly and the result is going to be compared to the destruction of death. We are going to take everything and they will go down to the pit (metaphor for destruction). We are going to destroy these people's live by taking what they have.'

 

The enticements. Proverbs 1:13 NASB "We will find all {kinds} of precious wealth, We will fill our houses with spoil; [14] Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse." The word "lot" here is the same word as for the casting of lots but it is used in a figurative sense here—cast your future with us. "One purse" – the same enticement that we also find in communism: we're just going to share it all together. It is using idealism in order to justify the theft from someone who has worked hard, saved and accomplished what he has accomplished. 

 

Proverbs 1:15 NASB "My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path." Notice the imagery here—walk, way, foot and path. This describes the course of life, and the father is warning against that. The word "way" has three basic nuances in its figurative use. One is the course of life, which indicates one's character and the context of his life as a whole. So it is a broad sense that we have in the word "lifestyle." A second sense in which the word is used is the idea of specific choices of behavior, the decisions made on a day-to-day basis. That can also be communicated by the English word "lifestyle" or way of life. The third emphasis in this word is the consequences that come from that conduct, the inevitable result of making these certain kinds of decisions. So which path are we going to be on? That path, of course, leads somewhere and so we are also choosing a destiny. Are we going to choose the end of death or the end of life? We all want to choose the path of life, so when the sinners come along to attract us they make it look as if they are the ones who are really offering the path of life. 2 Corinthians tells us that it is Satan who masquerades as the angel of life, and so the world system often masquerades as the real path to life and righteousness. And the only way to have the discernment to remove the mask, the disguise of the world system is to know the Word of God inside and out and have it part of our soul. 

 

The father explains why. Proverbs 1:16 NASB "For their feet run to evil And they hasten to shed blood." They are embracing evil. The end result is that they are not only going to shed the blood of their victims but they are going to ironically shed their own blood and destroy themselves. Their path leads not only to the destruction of their victims but also their own.

 

Proverbs 1:17 NASB "Indeed, it is useless to spread the {baited} net In the sight of any bird." This is an illustration that is often difficult. It is clear here that the father is wrapping up things for the son. Verse 18 makes it clear what the imagery of verse 17 is depicting. "But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives." They are ignoring the traps that they are setting for themselves. It is just like a bird which really doesn't make a connection between the fowler's net that is spread out on the ground, the fact that when they land upon it they are captured and lose their life. Sinners do not make a connection between the choices and the actions of their lives and the self-induced misery and pain that is brought into their lives and their own self-destruction. They are not very bright. This is what is played out in the conclusion.

 

Proverbs 1:19 NASB "So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors." That is, everyone who is greedy for gain. You can put anybody's name in there, politician or criminal, that you like.

 

So the choice that we will see again and again in Proverbs is the simple choice: Do we want to take the way of life or the way of death. Do we want to take the way of righteousness or the path of unrighteousness? Do we want to take the path of wisdom or the path of the fool? Human viewpoint or divine viewpoint? Those two paths are set before us in every single decision, and the path to death is portrayed, camouflaged and depicted as really of life. But it is a trap, and the only way we have our glasses removed so that we can truly see the trap that is there rather than just the bait is if we know the Word of God. Under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit as we study the Word and we learn it what happens is we develop discernment and understanding, and we are able over the course of time to be able to see things as they really are and to remove the masks and the camouflage and the masquerade of the world system, that it is simply a path to self-destruction and death. This is the challenge to each of us.