As I mentioned in my last post, Solomon wrote and accumulated the proverbs primarily to share wisdom with his son, Rehoboam. Verses 2 and 3 of the first chapter provide for us Solomon’s explanation of his purpose in these writings:
“To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity.” (NKJV)
To know, to perceive, and to receive . . . a progression in the training of his son. A brief interpretation of these words are as follows:
To know = to be taught
To perceive = to gain understanding
To receive = to accept it and apply the lesson
Wisely, dear old Dad (Solomon) was beginning the training of his son with a lesson on how to learn. He differentiated between knowing, perceiving, and receiving to tell Rehoboam that true knowledge isn’t complete until the information stored in our brains is thought through, and translated into a change of attitude which results in a desired action. Straight out of my Educational Philosophy class in seminary!
And look at the attitudes Solomon wished for his son to adopt and set as standards for his personal activity –
1. Wisdom – to be able to see life from a godly perspective (we call it a Biblical Worldview)
2. Justice – a basic sense of fairness in all his dealings
3. Judgment – an ability to discern what is right and what is wrong, and to act accordingly
4. Equity – to treat all people alike regardless of their position in the community
In verse 7 of this first chapter, Solomon sums up for his boy all that he is about to share with him: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” What does it mean “the fear of the Lord”? Are we supposed to cower down in terror at the very name of God? Of course not!
The Bible offers to us a picture of God as the great and loving Father who demands the respect of His children. When I was growing up I had no doubt that my Dad loved me. His actions proved that. This included the times when he disciplined me, sometimes rather harshly, because of my disobedience. A also loved my Dad, but I had a healthy respect for him and feared disappointing or disobeying him. I didn’t fear that my Dad would permanently injure me or ruin my life, but I still feared his wrath, and I feared failing him.
I have no doubt that my Heavenly Father truly loves me. His actions have proven that. The cross of Calvary proved it. Yet, I know that despite having that great heart of love, our God also will not be mocked, nor will He allow His children to be disobedient with impunity. Spoiling and ignoring unacceptable behavior is not love. Every child needs to learn the boundaries within which he or she must live their life. This is for their own good, and for the good of our society as a whole. God uses discipline and correction to help His children learn the boundaries within which a child of His must live, for their own good, and for the good of the Church, the body of Christ. Therefore, I have a healthy fear of God – not one which causes me to cower, but one which helps me develop into one who is “more than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37).
Solomon tells his son, “To look to God to set your boundaries through His perfect discipline gets you off on the right foot in your quest to understand this life He has given you. But to ignore what you are taught is a very foolish thing to do.” I can just imagine Solomon adding, “I’m counting on you, Son, to learn these things because your people will be looking to you for the right kind of leadership.”
The unfortunate truth is that late in his life, Solomon rejected his own advice and fell from God’s favor. This affected Rehoboam greatly. His reign over Israel started off badly and soon became much worse. Jeroboam (son of Hadad, a descendent of a king of Edom who had fled to Egypt when David destroyed the Edomites) challenged Rehoboam which resulted in the split of Israel into two nations, with Jeroboam ruling the 10 tribes of the north, and Rehoboam ruling the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south. (This story is found in 1 Kings 11-13)
May it be in our hearts to choose godly wisdom over anything this world has to offer!