Facts, Faith and Fools
Think about the young people you know, and hold them in your prayers as you read Scripture today.
Read Proverbs 1:1–19
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Prologue: Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom
Warning Against the Invitation of Sinful Men
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”—
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat thoughts consume your mind? Moving ahead in your career? What people think of you? How to pay your bills?
If you drew up a list of those things that young people focus on I reckon it would include education, friends, money and, in the “selfie” generation, their appearance. Hurtful observations about someone’s appearance can be so distressing as to lead to serious mental illness, especially if those comments come from your peer group. The opening of Proverbs suggests that not much has changed in three thousand years.
Proverbs is addressed to young people who faced the same pressures in the ancient world: needing to understand the world around them (2,3); vulnerable to falling in with the wrong crowd (10–14) and losing out on life’s possibilities (19); and concerned about what will make them attractive—in this case some fancy necklace and hair attire (9). But the writer says what is most important is not the knowledge they gain, the riches they acquire, nor the looks with which they are blessed, but wisdom—the ability to live wisely and virtuously. That starts with a right relationship of trust in God and obedience to his ways, and never moves very far from that foundation, no matter how wise you become.
When you find your mind fixed on worldly thoughts today (anything that distracts you from God), repeat: “God, I choose You.”
Lord, wisdom begins with You. Grant to me wisdom today in every choice I make.