As Solomon was assuming the throne after David’s death, the Lord directed Solomon to make a request of Him. Solomon asked for wisdom. God was happy to grant this request. Late in his reign, Solomon wrote many wise sayings which are published in the book of Proverbs. Not all of Proverbs is attributed to Solomon but most of it is. The initial section of Proverbs begins by describing a distinct difference between wisdom and foolishness. Folly is pictured as coming in secret, lying in wait. Wisdom is seen as raising her voice, calling out loud in the crowded street. We are shown the great contrast between the two and given a clear choice. Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (NASU)
Proverbs 1:22 marks the beginning of Wisdom’s calling out to those who are in desperate need of wisdom. An interesting question is asked there, “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? (NIV) The first verse of Psalms seems to be related to Proverbs 1:22. Psalms 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (NIV) The idea seems to be that there are at least three groups of people who are in dire need of wisdom: the simple ones, the mockers, and the fools/sinners.
A study of the Hebrew word translated “simple ones” reveals that being dull, naïve, seducible is meant. It seems that simple ones are too lazy to put forth the effort to find the truth. The “mockers” appear to be those who scoff, make fun, and laugh in derision at the truth. The mockers are unable to hold their tongues. It is more important to them to be the class clown, the star of the show, to deflect attention away from their mistakes and toward their self-proclaimed wit. The “fools” must be those who have an intellectual understanding but willingly reject the truth. They know what is wise and right but they consciously choose that which is wrong because they believe they know best. They would like to remain in charge of their own lives. I suspect that if each of us is honest with ourselves that each one of us would have to conclude that we have at one time or another found ourselves in each of these three categories. Hopefully, we just visited and did not take up residence there.
As sinful, selfish, arrogant, fallen people we engage in all sorts of self-destructive behaviors. Rejecting wisdom is not the least of our problems. It is amazing that we reject wisdom at all but even more amazing that we do it repeatedly. We tend to live our lives with a slothfulness that keeps us bound up in our simple ways. We tend to be arrogant, sarcastic, mean-spirited people who want to mock anything and everything around us. We do tend to live our lives in ways that indicate that we hate knowledge. We may not plan it, but we knowingly do things that we are fully aware will hurt not only us but also others around us. God asked a really good question in Proverbs 1:22, “How long?” I joined with a group in committing to read through the book of Proverbs three times in the next three months. That is virtually one chapter per day. I can use all the wisdom I can get. How ‘bout you?
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.