An Open Heart and Mind - Part 2 - Proverbs 1:33

An Open Heart and Mind – Part 2

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” – Proverbs 1:29-33 ESV

Yesterday, we saw the warning in the choosing to hate knowledge. Today, we continue through Proverbs 1:29.

They Did Not Choose Fear of the Lord

Earlier in Proverbs 1, it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (v. 7). We can know that the entire knowledge block we have is because we aren’t fearing the Lord. What does it mean to fear the Lord? How do we know if we’re doing it?

The fear of the Lord is often described as reverential awe or something along those lines[1]. This is true, of course, but I’d like to dig in a bit and see if there’s a practical application of the fear of God we can lean on.

Psychology Today says, “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.[2]” We know that God is not someone we should be terrified of. There are so many scriptures that talk about God’s love and how much He wants to be with us and comfort us. Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Therefore, we know that the fear of God isn’t something that would cause us to pull away from God.

The Psychology Today definition points us to an interesting truth about fear: it is a vital response. In other words, we can’t do without it. If we didn’t have fear, most of the human race would have died off a long time ago due to not taking risks seriously. That cliff? Yeah, it’s  along drop, so be afraid of it. Not afraid of the drop? More likely than not, you’ll get too close. This is what fear is for: making sure that what we need to be aware of to survive is clearly in focus.

Let’s apply that idea to the fear of the Lord. Fearing the Lord should be creating a response in us that is vital to staying connected to Him. There should be a sense of urgency in being aware of Him. When we’re seeking Him and keeping fear of Him foremost, we are keeping what’s important to know Him clearly in focus.

To see what not fearing the Lord would be then, we can flip the scenario. If you are complacent about your relationship with Him, or if you don’t know what’s important in getting to know Him, you aren’t feeling the fear of the Lord. You aren’t finding in yourself the vital response to His presence that motivates you seek Him out. What do you need to survive, not just on this earth, but more importantly, in the next life?

Verse 29 tells us one other important things about the fear of the Lord: we can choose it. It’s not something that some people are born with and others aren’t. It’s not something that we get handed to us if we’re lucky. We can choose to keep this need for nearness as a focus. The fear of the Lord is something to be cultivated and emphasized.

[This is part 2 of a 4 part series. The first part can be found here.]



Folly's Guests Are in the Grave - Proverbs 9:18

Folly Seduces and Kills

The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. – Proverbs 9:13-18 ESV

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is known for talking about how to be wise. Many of the proverbs talk about how to be wise, recognizing wisdom, etc. Many others talk about it from the perspective of warnings: what the foolish do and how not to respond to fools, things like that. In one particular case, it talks about folly (which means to have a lack of good sense or to be foolish) and gives us a story about what happens to those who listen to folly. It’s not a pretty one, but those who are wise can learn to avoid folly-filled behavior in others.

First off, it says that, “the woman Folly is loud.” I don’t think there’s any significance to it beiung a woman as Wisdom is also called a woman in Proverbs. What’s important here is the volume. Foolish people are drawn to hoopla. This can be in the form of exciting entertainment; it can just be drama, television or real life. The next line of that verse says, “she is seductive and knows nothing.” So not only is she loud, but it’s empty words. Foolishness is hot air and emptiness. This is doubly dangerous because, to keep from realizing there’s nothing behind the entertainment, it must always be getting bigger and larger and louder (Vegas, anyone?).

Wise people can see value in all ranges of moments of life, and don’t always seek out the high moments in life. In each and every moment of our days, there is beauty and joy and purpose, if our eyes and ears are attuned to it. The may not be exciting or seductive, to use Proverbs word, but it is far better to be filled with joy over real life than seduced by the joy of nothing real.

The next thing Proverbs tells us about Folly is that she likes to be seen. She not only is out of the house (aka: not being productive, think about it, back then, women weren’t known for working outside the home…), but she’s also put herself in the place of the most conversation. She takes a seat on the highest places of the town. Places to be seen, places to see. She wants to be involved and chatting with anyone and everyone.

Once she’s put herself in an obvious place, she tries to pull in (remember, folly is seductive) anyone she can. She starts with, “I know the easy way to do things! Come with me!” I’m all for finding better, more efficient ways of doing things, but Folly is asking for people who aren’t willing to work hard to pay attention to her. They want simply easy answers.

Once she has them interested in that, she takes it to the next level, straight up lies. She encourages stealing and secrets. If you won’t work for it yourself, the next easiest answer is to take it from someone else. In addition, she fosters interest in secrets and secrets revealed (tabloids, yuck!).

Finally, we have the plot twist at the end. All these things are bad, but we haven’t seen the cost of them yet. Now we see where all this is leading: death. She has lured them in with entertainment and easy answers and doing whatever you want to. What she doesn’t show them is the basement full of bodies. Her words are sweet and tempting, but her inevitable end is a slow death.

We know that this sometimes means a physical death. Crime doesn’t pay and in-fighting among criminals ends up in their own deaths sometimes, think Jimmy Hoffa or Al Capone. More often, this is referring to a spiritual death. As we listen to foolish advice and seek easy, selfish answers, little bits of the parts of us that make us able to love and connect with others begins to die. Slowly, the love of ourselves takes over and we die to love with others. Because connection and relationships with others is what brings deep and long-term happiness, this eating away at the core of us is what finally leaves us empty shells of what we could be.

Wisdom learns to avoid the alluring voice of folly and the temptation for easy and simple answers. Life is hard, good answers can sometimes be complicated. That’s ok. Let’s find the best way to life, the most connected and least selfish way to live. If there is folly driving your decisions, you must turn to the Lord and let fear of Him fill you. It is by knowing him that we can be wise and live long, healthy, lives.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. – Proverbs 9:10-11 ESV