In two previous issues I shared with you how our family benefited from our “Proverbs Time.” All the children read and participated. I navigated and tied up loose ends, providing overview and summing up their observations, offering suggestions and steering the discussion back to the content of the text. The kids loved it. They never felt it was an invasion of their fun time. It was fun.
Last issue I labored the technique, trying to give you an understanding of how a single session might develop. I am going to assume you have grasped the concept and will now jump right into commentary that would be appropriate for the children. You will need to assimilate it and then package it to suit your family.
Remember to have the kids read and comment. If they miss the point, steer them with questions and suggestions.
Proverbs 1:7–19 (AV)
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Many modern commentaries and preachers are fearful of the word fear. They change it to something like “respect” or “reverence.” The progressive concept of God never makes us fear.
While we should not be scared of God, we should fear him like we fear people in authority. You fear cops or you wouldn’t suddenly slow down when you see a patrol car parked on the side of the highway. You fear the IRS, Obama, and drunk drivers. Children who are otherwise quite comfortable with their parents will experience fear at the thought of the consequences of disobedience—and that is as it should be. We fear God enough to pay attention to the words of wisdom found in this book. Since we do sow what we reap, we fear sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. We fear disobeying God and suffering the pain of eternal torment. We fear adding to or taking away a single word from his preserved words lest our names be removed from the book of life (Revelation 22:19). To not fear would be foolish.
Ask the children if they fear disobeying God. What would be the consequences of disobedience? Recount illustrations of people who disobeyed God and suffered dire consequences.
Why is it that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”? Because it is a worldview founded on reality. You haven’t begun to know anything until you know God is on his throne rightly ordering the universe and that he is committed to a right end. You cannot afford to be permissive and broadminded. God is narrow-minded. It is his way or the highway. Knowledge begins when you observe God in all things.
“…but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Look up every time the word fool is used in the Bible. It has to do with not believing or not regarding God. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 53:1). Ask the kids for examples of people they know who have despised wisdom and instruction.
8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
I am confident you will know what to do with this one. Read the passage in its context. Fools despise wisdom, but a wise son (or daughter) hears the instruction of parents. Fathers, your children can only hear instruction if you are speaking it. I am not concerned with mothers making laws. They do not become disconnected like fathers sometimes do.
Ask the kids for examples of people they know who have despised wisdom and instruction.
9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
The “they” is a reference to instruction and law in the above verse. Hearing instruction and fearing God will adorn a child like grace on his head and expensive gold chains about his neck.
The following ten verses, 10-19, carry a common theme, expanding upon verse 10. View it as a whole, for it builds concept upon concept.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Ask the children for examples of sinners trying to entice them. If they don’t mention it, ask them if the TV commercials and billboards are trying to entice them to evil. Ask them how they should respond when enticed to evil by a playmate. If they don’t have any ready examples of actually being enticed, ask them to imagine how they could be enticed. Their imaginary scenarios will reveal a lot about what they are thinking—where they are tempted.
Do NOT show anger or judgment toward your children for what they say in these sessions.
A word of caution: Do NOT show anger or judgment toward your children for what they say in these sessions. If you make it uncomfortable for them to be honest and open, they will shut down and from then on this process would be a boring monologue as you lecture the kids out of the book of Proverbs, a book they would come to hate. Occasionally they will shock you with their (much less innocent than you imagined) knowledge. Keep your cool and act like you knew all along. Breathe.
The following four verses contain the appeal of the wicked to steal and do violence.
11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
Ask them what this sounds like. What are these people planning on doing? Discuss burglary and thievery and the pain it causes the victims.
The following five verses are the instruction of the father to not join sinners in their evil.
15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
Discuss the vanity and futility of their efforts.
The remainder of the chapter contrasts the foolish sinner with wisdom, and stirs fear in the young man through describing the realities of the path of evil.
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, [The remainder of the chapter is quoting wisdom.]
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Look up the word simple in a concordance, and read all 20 references. You will find it is quite consistent with the popular term “simple-minded.” It is rather like calling someone “stupid.”
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
If the fool turns (repents) at God’s reproof, God will pour out his spirit (enabling grace) and will make the person to know the words of God. In English the words would no doubt be found in the Authorized Version. See In Awe of Thy Word.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
Labor on this passage. Here is a view of God that is lost on the modern god-makers who reconstruct God in the image of a progressive liberal. Picture God laughing at the calamity of a fool who failed to fear God. And then, when the sinner realizes he is reaping what he has sown and fears the ugly end he is about to experience, God mocks him in his confusion and distress. This separates the Bible believers—those who fear God—from the god-makers.
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
“This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” So said the disciples. Children are told in Sunday school that God will forgive anyone, any time. This passage says that one can indeed sin away his day of grace, and even if you are sorry for your sins, God may respond to a sinner’s prayers with mockery and not forgiveness.
They will never appreciate grace until they fear God.
Just this week, one of the women in our church was at the baby murder mill (abortion clinic) trying to persuade young mothers not to slaughter their children, and a girl carrying triplets said, “I am going to kill my babies, but God will forgive me. He forgives everybody.” She had been to Sunday school, or maybe watched some TV preachers.
Sober your children up. Put the fear of God in them. They will never appreciate grace until they fear God. Fear is the beginning of wisdom. Look at the passage as a whole.
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
This brings us back to where the passage started. Notice the word “choose.” They did not make the free-will choice to fear God, so they suffer terrible ruin. The passage assumes it is the responsibility of the sinner to make a choice, and if he fails to choose rightly, God will mock and laugh at him when he reaps what he has voluntarily sown.
If the Calvinists are right—that the sinner never had a choice, he was decreed to be as he is, not fearing God—then what does that say about God mocking him in his inability? Excuse me while I go get some fresh air.
Emphasize to your children the need for them to choose the fear of the Lord. Ask them how they can choose. What can they do today?
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
God did send counsel. He did reprove them. And there was a time when repentance would have brought forgiveness and restoration, but they chose to reject his reproof until they are in the midst of suffering for their sins and impenitence.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
This final verse contrasts the fool who did not choose rightly to the one who hearkens, pays attention, and obeys God. He shall dwell safely and be quiet from fear of evil. He who fears God need not fear evil.
Wow! I am impressed, highly impressed, with the power of the words of God. There is no better tool on the face of the earth to save your children from the wages of sin than the book of Proverbs. And there is no better way to instill these truths in your children than your own personal Proverbs Time at home.