A proverb is a simple and concrete saying, often repeated, easily memorized, and expressive of a truth based on common sense or experience. Since the biblical book of Proverbs is a part of the inspired Word of God, it can be easily stated that this is the sense that God wants us to make common in our lives, a sort of godly common sense.
There are four main characters in the Book of Proverbs whom God addresses. Those characters are the wise, simple, fool, and the scorner. Everyone starts out as a simple person. Your goal ought to be to move from simple to wise, but if you don’t take the right actions to apply godly common sense, you will become the fool or even the scorner.
Simple –> Wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) –> Prudent Christian (Proverbs 14:8)
Simple –> Foolishness (Proverbs 1:22) –> Scorner (Proverbs 24:9)
I was recently asked what is meant by calling someone “simple.” It is like a blank piece of paper. That blank piece of paper has no information, but what you write on that piece of paper can determine whether you become wise or foolish. We all experience simplicity any time we encounter a new experience whether that is a new job, a new home, or a new ministry. At many points in our lives, we have blank pages that will be filled with wisdom or foolishness.
Where should the simple begin? Begin with understanding the “fear of the Lord.” Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” One of the Bible’s main goals is to instruct mankind (II Timothy 3:16-17). Instruction is correction of men by God. As a loving Father, fully aware of our needs, He seeks to instruct us in all things, beginning with one of the most vital aspects of the Christian life – the necessity of wisdom. Before we learn about wisdom, we have to learn about “the beginning of wisdom,” which is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is reverence, respect, piety toward God as displayed in our attitude and our actions. It’s a deep respect with a sense of awe and wonder seen in the ways we live our life. Fearing the Lord is a choice we make every day, whether conscientiously or not. Thus, fearing the Lord is following the Lord.
As I like to say, the “proof is in the pudding.” Our choice to fear and to follow the Lord will be evident in our attitude, attention, and action. Does your attitude reflect a dependence upon God? This is called “humility” in the Bible (Proverbs 15:33; 22:4). Is your attention fixed upon God’s mercy and truth (Proverbs 16:6)? If so, you have required yourself to gain and maintain serious dedication to reading, to meditating, and to memorizing God’s Word. Finally, do your actions indicate a fear of the Lord? Proverbs 2:1-5 indicates that if you have a fear of the Lord, such fear will be demonstrated through actions attributable only to a disciple (one who follows the Lord):
•Receive God’s Word (2:1) – do you take it in hand, capture it, and turn to it?
•Hide the commandments with you (2:1) – protect and safeguard the Word like treasure?
•Incline your ear unto wisdom (2:2) – sharpen your hearing to discern even the smallest details of God’s wisdom?
•Apply thine heart to understanding (2:2) – allow your heart to be influenced by God as though holding it out for Him to take?
•Criest after knowledge (2:3) – to cry out in prayer for the knowledge of how to apply wisdom?
•Lift up your voice for understanding (2:3) – designate your words to share only wisdom and understanding? (Pause for a moment here to consider how you use your words – to incite, to belittle, to hurt).
•Seek wisdom as silver (2:4) – emphasize the desire and even demand for wisdom?
•Searchest for her as hid treasure (2:4) – dig deeply and diligently for wisdom that can only be found by searching?
If we understand the fear the Lord (Proverbs 2:5), such understanding will be evidenced by the characteristics of discipleship as we follow the Lord. The fear of the Lord involves the choice to recognize one’s simplicity coupled with the pursuit of wisdom with purpose. Do you want the answers to life’s challenges? Do you seek to make choices that honor the Lord? Do you want to avoid the feeling that you should have done something differently? Begin to fear the Lord and follow His wisdom.