Whom Will You Listen To - Proverbs 1:8-33 (Sermon)




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WElCOME

Hi, I am pastor Rob. It is a privilege to share with you God’s Word. 

VOICES

What news stations do you watch? 

What podcasts are in your library? 

What radio stations are pre-set in your car? 

What websites do you check? 

What books are on your nightstand? 

There are many voices in the world. How do we sort truth from opinion, fact from fiction? Whom do you listen to? Whom do you trust? This morning we are going to hear contrasting voices: some good and some not. The invitation for us is to listen, choose wisely, and act accordingly. 

REVIEW 

This message fits in the series we began last week on the book of Proverbs. Pastor Jeff shared with us how Proverbs is unlike any other book in the Old Testament. It is located near the middle of our Bibles, and if you turn there, we will camp out in chapter 1. King Solomon, the third king of Israel, wrote most of the 31 chapters. First Kings chapter 4 tells us Solomon wrote 3000 proverbs in his life (1 Kings 4:32). At the most, 800 are in the little book (https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/ot/proverbs/proverbs.htm). In Proverbs, Solomon addresses his son. This material is excellent for kids, teenagers, and young adults. We came up with this series because Joe Koehler, our youth minister, brought it to us, teaching it first to the youth group. At the same time, don’t tune out if you are older. This book relates to every one of us. What does it offer? Chapter 1, verses 2 through 4, answers that question. Look at those verses. Solomon wrote for us:

Pr 1:2–4

2 To know wisdom 

and instruction, 

to understand words of insight, 

3 to receive instruction 

in wise dealing, 

       in righteousness, 

justice, 

and equity; 

4 to give prudence to the simple, 

knowledge 

and discretion to the youth—

In sum, Solomon wrote to provide wisdom. Why? Not so our heads get puff up, but to become righteous, just, and equitable. God wants us to live a morally upright life. He wants us to be just in our dealings with others. He cares about what we do, what we say, and what we think. He wants us to be wise. Today, we are going to finish chapter one. I have asked C.& S. K. to read for us. Stand with me, if you are able, in honor of God’s Word. 

TEXT Proverbs 1:8–33

Reader 1

      8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, 

      and forsake not your mother’s teaching, 

            9 for they are a graceful garland for your head 

      and pendants for your neck. 

            10 My son, if sinners entice you, 

      do not consent. 

            11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; 

      let us ambush the innocent without reason; 

            12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive, 

      and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 

            13 we shall find all precious goods, 

      we shall fill our houses with plunder; 

            14 throw in your lot among us; 

      we will all have one purse”— 

            15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; 

      hold back your foot from their paths, 

            16 for their feet run to evil, 

      and they make haste to shed blood. 

            17 For in vain is a net spread 

      in the sight of any bird, 

            18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood; 

      they set an ambush for their own lives. 

            19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; 

      it takes away the life of its possessors. 

Reader 2

            20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, 

      in the markets she raises her voice; 

            21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; 

      at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: 

            22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? 

                  How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing 

      and fools hate knowledge? 

            23 If you turn at my reproof, 

                  behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; 

      I will make my words known to you. 

            24 Because I have called and you refused to listen, 

      have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, 

            25 because you have ignored all my counsel 

      and would have none of my reproof, 

            26 I also will laugh at your calamity; 

      I will mock when terror strikes you, 

            27 when terror strikes you like a storm 

      and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, 

      when distress and anguish come upon you. 

            28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; 

      they will seek me diligently but will not find me. 

            29 Because they hated knowledge 

      and did not choose the fear of the LORD, 

            30 would have none of my counsel 

      and despised all my reproof, 

            31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, 

      and have their fill of their own devices. 

            32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, 

      and the complacency of fools destroys them; 

            33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure 

      and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” 

PRAYER 

Thank you. Let’s pray. Dear, God. Thank you for a new day and new mercy. Thank you for your wisdom. We need it. We need you. Guide us in your truth by your Spirit. Your ways are higher than ours. You are just and true. You are great and glorious. You are worthy of our rapt attention. Be with us now. Amen. You may be seated. 

CONTEXT 

The key to Proverbs is verse 7. 

      The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; 

      fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Verse 7 contrasts those who fear the Lord and those who don’t. It calls those who don’t fear fools and their path of folly. The subsequent verses C.& S. read unpack that dichotomy in verses 8 through 19 and 20 through 33. The first section is the voice of a father telling his son to listen to him and his mother. Their parental voices contrast that of the sinners. Solomon warns specifically against greed and peer pressure. In the second section, verses 20 through 33, we hear wisdom’s voice speak out and calls for attention before it is too late. If you are taking notes, I have two points: Point one, A Parent’s Petition, and point two, Wisdom’s Warning. Let me say that again, A Parent’s Petition and point two, Wisdom’s Warning.  

POINT 1: A Parental Petition. I think our call for action is to listen, choose wisely, and act accordingly.  

The passage begins, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” 

I counted the Hebrew word for “son,” in Proverbs, over fifty times. The phrase “My son” is used 23 times. The Bible teaches that the parental role is paramount. The home is where spiritual education begins. Morals and ethics are lived out and worked out in the day to day operations of breakfast, carpooling, school, sports, and bedtime. That is how God designed it. Parents are to instruct their kids on what is right and wrong. Kids are to obey. This relates to our memory verse for this week and next. Ephesians 6:1 

C- Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Let’s say that together. 

C- Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 

As parents, we have been through life and know a thing or two. Kids, you would do well to listen. I know listing to parents can be challenging. It was hard for me. And it still can be. Those closest to us can be the ones that disappointed and hurt us the most. But that is not why it is hard. It is hard for me because of my pride. I want to do things myself, in my time, and in my way. Children, the path of wisdom is one of humility and an openness to hear what others have to say. This is a good word for you and me. 

WHEN TO DISOBEY YOUR PARENTS?

At the same time, you may ask, “What if a parent asks me to do something that the Bible says I shouldn’t?” The reality is if a parent commands something that contradicts scripture, God commands us to obey him rather than them. But really, how often does that happen? I can’t think of a time that happened to me. The reason I struggle to listen is pride, not moral purity. 

WHY? 

So why obey? Why listen to our parents? Why listen to Solomon or the Bible? First, the Bible says to. The Creator of the Universe says to. Second, Solomon gives us another reason. Look at verse 9. He says we should listen to our parents because their words are “A graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” They are like a medal of honor or a royal crown. That is what our parental insight is like. The benefit you. Don’t you roll your eyes at me, kids. Wink. How does our parent’s instruction benefit us? I see the third reason here to listen to parents. They are not the only ones who are seeking your attention and ears. Verse 10 and following fleshes this other voice out. Look at verse 10. 

10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 

THE SINNER

Now, as I read this, the question came to my mind, “Why would anyone knowingly listen to a sinner?” What appeal do they have? Children do not always see things the way their parents see them. Why are they called “sinners?” Look at verses 11 and 12 and see why. 

            11 They say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; 

      let us ambush the innocent without reason; 

            12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive, 

      and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 

These voices are calling for senseless violence. Verse 11 says they don’t have a reason? But that is not true. They have reasons. In pastor Mike’s youtube video on this text, he highlights the lack of reason accents the innocence of those they plan to murder. Why would they embrace such heinous violence? What motivates this slaughter? Look at verses 13 and 14. 

            13 we shall find all precious goods, 

      we shall fill our houses with plunder; 

            14 throw in your lot among us; 

      we will all have one purse”— 

Greed motivates them. The father is warning the son against hanging out with those who seek gain by sinful means. Has this ever happened to you? I don’t think so for most of us. However, I think this highlights a universal danger: greed. What is greed? Greed is an obsession with possessions. It is materialism, coveting, jealous longing. It is living for stuff and loving possessions more than God. Ephesians 5:5 tells us, 

covetous (that is, an idolater)

When greed is free to flourish, it brings death. The peer pressure is to pursue illicit gain at others' expense. It takes others down to build oneself up. Now, you may never want to kill the innocent, but have you ever verbally attacked someone to fit in or mocked someone to get a laugh? We can kill with our words for our gain, your likes on Facebook, memes, gossip, slander, canceling, and casting shade can all be done with a click, a text, passing word, or gesture. The father warns the son not to join in this peer pressure. Are you willing to stand up and do the right thing amid peer pressure? Whom are you going to listen to when the testing comes? Choose wisely and act accordingly. 


2020 has been quite a year. I think there is a place for satire. However, at the same time, we need to respect those whom God places in authority, regardless of party, policies, and person. By respect, I don’t mean agreement. I don’t mean support. And I confess not to have done this perfectly. Mockery is easy. We must not kill with our words for our gain. 


Now, note what is said here in verse 10. Solomon is not blaming his son for sinners enticing him. He calls his son to resist. He tells him not to consent. I have quoted this before. Martin Luther once said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” So, the question again from the beginning: “Whom do we listen to?” Solomon gives us four reasons to listen to parents:

  1. The Bible says it.
  2. It is good for you.
  3. The other voices are about hurt, and 
  4. Fourth, verses 16 through 19 tell us why.  

            16 for their feet run to evil, 

      and they make haste to shed blood. 

            17 For in vain is a net spread 

      in the sight of any bird, 

            18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood; 

      they set an ambush for their own lives. 

            19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; 

      it takes away the life of its possessors. 

That is surprising. The sinner lays in wait for his own blood. He sets an ambush for his own life. You would think he lies in wait for his victims’ blood and ambushes others at the cost of their lives. But his path leads to his own destruction. Such is the ultimate result of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain. 

BY YOUR SWORD YOU SHALL DIE

We have seen lots of violence. Why would anyone burn down a public library or break into property? I believed they listened to voices that promised gain. They were not listening to wisdom. They did not choose wisely. This reminds me of a riot on July 14th. Perhaps you heard of it. I won’t ask for a show of hands. The mob stormed a prison. They wanted equality, freedom, and brotherhood. Who wouldn’t? They were sick and tired of the government. Those guarding the prison opened fire. People died. In fact, one hundred and one were killed, and more were injured. Did you hear about that? You may not have because it was in another country. And you may not have because it occurred 232 years ago in Paris. It kick-started the French Revolution. I bring it up because it went from seeking gain at the expense of others' lives to their own. Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). The French Revolution led to the Reign of Terror. The guillotines installed were later used on the revolutionaries. “It takes away the life of its possessors.” Violence begets violence. Revolutionaries and us who are tempted to insult others verbally would do well to heed Proverbs 1:17 through 19. That concludes the parental petition about the dangers of greed and peer pressure. 

WARNINGS OF WISDOM

The author shifts voices from a father and mother to the voice of wisdom, Wisdom’s warnings. We finished hearing this parental petition, now let’s look at wisdom’s warnings. Look at verse 20. 

            20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, 

      in the markets she raises her voice; 

            21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; 

      at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: 

Her call is clarion. It is clear. What is she saying? She raises the questions, 

           22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? 

                  How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing 

      and fools hate knowledge? 

Some versions interpret the word for simple as gullible. Are you gullible? I don’t think we want to consider ourselves simple, gullible, a scoffer, or fools. Yet, some of us may.


I know people listening this morning are at different places spiritually. Some have loads of guilt. You may doubt or wonder if there is hope. Yes! Absolutely. Yes! Proverbs 1:23. Read it. It is an invitation. 

Wisdom says, in verse 23. 

            23 If you turn at my reproof, 

                  behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; 

      I will make my words known to you. 

Why would the hearer have to turn from wisdom’s reproof? Because he went the wrong way. He was simple, gullible, scoffing, and foolish. In a sense, that is all of us. First John 1:8, says “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Romans 3:10 says, “none of us are righteous, no not one.” None of us are perfect. We all have room to improve. We all can gain wisdom and insight, and knowledge of God. Look at Proverbs 1:5. 

            Let the wise hear and increase in learning, 

      and the one who understands obtain guidance,


Where are you at? We don’t know everything and can still listen to the voice of wisdom, choose wisely, and act accordingly. And if you have been rebellious, you are not too late or too far gone for God to pour out his Spirit on you. All you must do is turn at his reproof. Trust God’s promises. In his infinite wisdom, he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf, to forgive our sin and save us. God pours out his Spirit on those who trust in him. Do you trust in him? He is our advocate. He intercedes for us. He is with us. That is the good news. God promises all who will listen. 


Yet, you may listen, and you think, what about the next verses? They are dark. Verse 24, 

            24 Because I have called and you refused to listen, 

      have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, 

            25 because you have ignored all my counsel 

      and would have none of my reproof, 

            26 I also will laugh at your calamity; 

      I will mock when terror strikes you, 

            27 when terror strikes you like a storm 

      and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, 

      when distress and anguish come upon you. 

            28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; 

      they will seek me diligently but will not find me. 

            29 Because they hated knowledge 

      and did not choose the fear of the LORD, 

            30 would have none of my counsel 

      and despised all my reproof, 

            31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, 

      and have their fill of their own devices. 

            32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, 

      and the complacency of fools destroys them; 

The Bible warns that if you reject God if you persist in unbelief, judgment is coming. God will give us over to our sin if we want. There is no second chance after this life. You don’t know when your last day is. Those who laugh at God and his ways will be rejected with the same force. Sin will be paid for one way or another. Either we will accept Jesus’s death on our behalf as payment or pay for our sins ourselves. Accept God this morning. Don’t leave or turn off YouTube without turning to God today. Wisdom is calling. Listen, friends, choose wisely and act accordingly. 


How? Go back to verse 7. Fear God. What does that mean? Worship God. Revere God. Respect God. How? Well, listen and turn to the voice of wisdom. Don’t consent to the greedy or sinner’s peer pressure. They promise you life with an inheritance of death.  


Friends, we are one day closer to meeting our maker. We can trust him and his promises. Chapter one ends with hope, 

     but whoever listens to me will dwell secure 

      and will be at ease, without dread of disaster

That is not promising a life of ease and comfort for the Christian. At times I wish it was. However, it is far greater than that. This is a spiritual promise that will last longer than a storm door or an insurance policy. Verse 33 reminds us of the garland and crown available for us who turn at God’s reproof, put our faith in him.   

APPLICATION 

“Whom are you listening to?” Whose counsel do you hear? What guides you? What anchors your days? Where does your morality come from? The Bible calls us to transform our minds with God’s word to shape our worldview (Romans 12:1–2). Let us listen to God daily, choose wisely, and act accordingly. And when we fail, and we will let us turn to our gracious God who offers us mercy and forgiveness to cleanse us from all wrongdoing by his Son’s death. This is an invitation to all who will listen.

PRAYER 

Let’s pray. 

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