“How long you simple ones will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning and fools hate knowledge?” This is the important question Solomon asked in Proverbs 1:22. Wisdom calls out, she is available. As Proverbs 1:20 says she “cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice.” People are fools when they fail to apply knowledge. If people reject Wisdom: 1. The judgment is severe 2. Wisdom rejects them, and 3. Wisdom turns them over to their sin. But if people embrace Wisdom, she gives them peace and security.
Table of Contents
- Sermon Lessons for How Long You Simple Ones Will You Love Simplicity? (Proverbs 1:20-33) – Wisdom Calls Out
- Sermon Notes for How Long You Simple Ones Will You Love Simplicity? (Proverbs 1:20-33) – Wisdom Calls Out
- Lesson 1: God makes wisdom available.
- Lesson 2: fools don’t apply knowledge.
- Lesson 3: if people reject wisdom (part 1) judgment is severe.
- Lesson 3: if people reject wisdom (part 2) she rejects them.
- Lesson 3: if people reject wisdom (part 3) she turns them over to their sin.
- Lesson 4: if people embrace wisdom, she gives them security and peace.
Sermon Lessons for How Long You Simple Ones Will You Love Simplicity? (Proverbs 1:20-33) – Wisdom Calls Out
- Lesson 1: ______ __________ wisdom available (Pro 1:20-21).
- Lesson 2: ________ ___________ apply knowledge (Pro 1:22-23, 29 cf. Pro 6:9, Exo 10:3).
- Lesson 3: If people reject wisdom:
- (Part I) Judgment is ____________ (Pro 1:24-27; Psa 2:4).
- (Part II) She _______________ them (Pro 1:28).
- (Part III) She turns them over to ___________ _______ (Pro 1:29-31; Jer 2:19; Rom 1:19-26).
- Lesson 4: If people ______________ _____________, she gives them security and peace (Pro 1:33; 1 Cor 1:24, 30; Matt 3:17).
Family Worship Guide for How Long You Simple Ones Will You Love Simplicity? (Proverbs 1:20-33) – Wisdom Calls Out
- Day 1: Read Pro 1:20-23, Pro 6:9, Exo 10:3 and discuss: How is wisdom available? Why is Wisdom personified? What noise in our lives might drown out wisdom? What makes people simple or scoffers?
- Day 2: Read Pro 1:24-31; Psa 2:4, Jer 2:19; and discuss: What makes people fools? What does it mean that fools hate knowledge? Define wisdom. Define knowledge. Why is wisdom judged so severely? How does Wisdom punish those who reject her?
- Day 3: Read Rom 1:19-26 Pro 1:33; 1 Cor 1:24, 30; Matt 3:17) and discuss: What similarities does Pro 1 have with Romans 1? What does it mean that Jesus is the wisdom of God? How are the provers fulfilled in Jesus?
Sermon Notes for How Long You Simple Ones Will You Love Simplicity? (Proverbs 1:20-33) – Wisdom Calls Out
Go ahead and open your Bibles to Proverbs 20.
You might remember Job had grown weary of his friends’ clichés and platitudes. He wanted real wisdom. He said:
- Job 28:12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
- Job 28:20 “From where, then, does wisdom come?
Since Job was asking where to find wisdom, you might be quick to think it’s hard to find. But we’ll see this morning that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Look w/ me at Proverbs 1:20…
Proverbs 1:20 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:
Job asked where to find wisdom, but she clearly isn’t hiding…and this brings us to Lesson 1…
Lesson 1: God makes wisdom available.
The pronouns “she” and “her” reveal Wisdom is presented as a person.
By personifying wisdom, it seems like something – or someone – we must have a relationship with to be wise. This is fitting, b/c Wisdom complements the Father, and we must have a relationship w/ the Father to be wise.
Wisdom is not a separate being from the Father. Instead, Wisdom is the mind of God revealed. To hear Wisdom is to hear God.
In the above verses Wisdom calls out to people passing by. She cries aloud…raises her voice…cries out. She wants to be heard.
She’s in the street, in the markets…at the head of the streets…at the entrance of the city gates. She wants to be found. She’s in the most prominent places, appealing to us right where we live our daily lives.
All of this is meant to communicate Wisdom’s availability.
But there is something threatening our ability to hear Wisdom, and it’s contained in the words the noisy streets.
There’s a lot of noise that threatens to drown out Wisdom. These are all the things vying for our attention…and they can distract us from Wisdom.
We should ask ourselves: What threatens to drown out Wisdom in my life?
- Is it movies?
- Is it news?
- Is it unprofitable books?
- Is it shallow conversations?
- Is it bad company, or unwise people?
We should think about what might prevent us from hearing Wisdom as she calls out to us.
She has a strong challenge for everyone. Look at verse 22…
Proverbs 1:22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
When Scripture asks “How long” – which it asks twice in this verse – it implies something bad has been going on, and it’s going to get worse.
Think of Moses speaking to Pharaoh…
Exodus 10:3 says, “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘HOW LONG will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.’”
The longer Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go, the worse things became for him.
Proverbs 6:9 HOW LONG will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
The longer the sluggard slept, the worse things became for him.
In verse 22 the idea is the longer people go w/o wisdom, the worse things become for them…and why’s that?
The longer they go w/o wisdom, the longer they make bad decisions.
It’s as though Wisdom says, “How long will you reject me and keep hurting yourself?”
Three groups who have been without Wisdom are mentioned in the verse: simple ones, scoffers, and fools. It’s important to understand each group…
First, the simple ones.
I’ve shared some opposites in Scripture with you recently:
- The opposite of foolish is wise.
- The opposite of ignorance is knowledgeable.
And this is another opposite…
The opposite of simple is prudent.
Prudence is what the simple need. Look at verse 4…
Proverbs 1:4 Give prudence to the simple
Proverbs 8:5 Simple ones, learn prudence
What does it mean to be prudent?
It means to know what to believe…therefore, to be simple means to NOT know what to believe…
Proverbs 14:15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
The simple are gullible and easily led astray.
They don’t have a mental deficiency, but they are naïve.
Prudence will encourage them to give thought to their steps, which means they would be discerning and examine things.
If the simple respond to Wisdom they can become wise. But if they reject wisdom, they’re on their way to becoming scoffers and fools…which brings us to the second group…
The second group is scoffers. In Proverbs they’re also called scorners and mockers.
Here’s how you can think about the simple and scoffers…
If the simple have blank looks on their faces, scoffers have smirks and sneers on their faces. They’re smug.
Proverbs 21:24 “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.
Wisdom reaches out to scoffers, but they reject her. They scorn Wisdom b/c they’re arrogant and they think they know everything.
The third group is fools.
They don’t just mock or scoff at Wisdom, it says they downright hate knowledge.
Briefly look down at verse 29…
Proverbs 1:29 Because THEY HATED KNOWLEDGE…
It’s repeated twice so we don’t miss it. If you want a simple definition of fools you could say they’re people who hate knowledge.
To understand this, and to understand fools in general, we must understand the way the word hate is used in Scripture…
According to dictionary.com, “hate” means, “to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.”
But in Scripture, hate often has to do w/ choice. Whatever you reject, you hate…not literally, but in the sense that you didn’t choose it.
Let me give you two examples…
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not HATE HIS OWN father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
We know Jesus isn’t literally telling us to hate our family members, b/c other places in Scripture command to care for our family members and if we don’t we’re worse than unbelievers.
So what does it mean?
It means we should choose Jesus even over our family members.
Romans 9:13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Did God hate Esau?
No. God blessed Esau.
But it says God hated him, b/c He chose Jacob over him.
So in Scripture, hate means to not choose.
Look at verse 29…
Proverbs 1:29 Because they hated knowledge and DID NOT CHOOSE the fear of the Lord,
Fools hate knowledge in that they don’t choose it – or you could say they choose not to apply it – and this brings us to Lesson 2…
Lesson 2: fools don’t apply knowledge.
Let’s briefly define wisdom and foolishness…
Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Wise people apply the knowledge they have.
Wisdom is the ability to do what is morally and spiritually right, which means wisdom is moral…unlike knowledge which is amoral.
Since wisdom is moral, it’s always spoken of positively. Gaining more wisdom only benefits us. There’s no downside to it; it can only help us. It can’t puff us up like knowledge can.
If you briefly take your mind back to 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14, they’re chapters about knowledge. Paul wanted the Corinthians and Romans to use their knowledge to benefit others, and that’s what wisdom is. It’s applying knowledge, and using it in a moral, loving way.
A theme in Scripture is that fools are wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 3:7, 26:12, 12:15, Isa 5:21).
Why would fools think they’re wise?
Because of their knowledge.
Earlier I said the simple don’t have a mental deficiency. Fools also don’t have mental deficiencies:
- Their problem isn’t a low IQ. They could be smart.
- Their problem isn’t a poor education. They could be educated.
So if their problem isn’t a lack of knowledge, a low IQ, or a poor education, what is it?
Their problem is a lack of desire. They lack the desire to obey and apply the knowledge they have.
If fools were ignorant it wouldn’t be so bad, but b/c they know their accountability is high.
Jam 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Fools live in this world of not doing what they know they should do.
So look what Wisdom says to them in verse 23…
Proverbs 1:23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
They must repent!
The words if you turn at my reproof mean if you repent at my rebuke.
Why is repentance the first thing Wisdom calls for?
Wisdom exposes our foolishness and sin, which requires our repentance.
If we’re going to grow in Wisdom, we must first repent of our foolishness and sin.
Think of how this happens…
Whenever we read Scripture we’re confronted w/:
- Areas of our lives that need to change
- Sins and struggles we need to turn from
If we repent – or turn at Wisdom’s reproof – we can grow.
But if we:
- Refuse b/c we’re being fools
- Scoff b/c we’re being mockers
We won’t grow in wisdom.
Look at how willing Wisdom is to help us grow…
She says I will pour out my Spirit – referring to the Holy Spirit – and make my words – or wisdom – known.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned b/c He enlightens our minds and illuminates the Scriptures, resulting in an understanding of wisdom.
In last Sunday’s sermon I said that wisdom is not natural…that’s why Job couldn’t find it anywhere in the natural world.
It’s also not natural in that we can’t gain it on our own. The Holy Spirit is needed.
We’re going to look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2 at a later time, but for now consider one verse…
1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of THE SPIRIT OF GOD, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED.
To say they’re spiritually discerned is to say wisdom is supernatural and therefore – as verse 23 says – God’s spirit must be poured out on us to receive it, or make it known to us…
Ephesians 1:17 The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may GIVE YOU THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM and of revelation in the knowledge of him
If we reject Wisdom, look what she says in the next verse…
Proverbs 1:24 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,
Wisdom repeatedly reached out. She has called [and] stretched out [her] hand. This looks to the many opportunities people have throughout their lives to receive wisdom.
But some people repeatedly reject her offer. They refuse to listen…[have not] heeded…ignored [her] counsel…would have none of [her] reproof, revealing their stubbornness and hard-heartedness.
As a result, look what Wisdom says in verse 26…
Proverbs 1:26 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.
Wisdom has been very gracious and inviting up to this point, but all that has ended. Now she discusses the suffering that comes to people who reject her…and this brings us to Lesson 3…
Lesson 3: if people reject wisdom (part 1) judgment is severe.
Notice Wisdom says I also. Wisdom does to people what they’ve done to her:
- They laughed at her, so she laughs at them
- They mocked her, so she mocks them
- They scorned her, so she scorns them
This is how God responds elsewhere in Scripture when people reject Him…
Psalms 2:2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed [but] 4 HE WHO SITS IN THE HEAVENS LAUGHS, THE LORD SCOFFS AT THEM (NASB).
Notice the strong, horrifying language in the verse: calamity, terror, terror, storm, calamity, whirlwind, distress, anguish.
These words should cause anyone to want to listen to Wisdom.
We might be troubled b/c Wisdom sounds cruel, but she’s trying to warn us about the consequence of rejecting her…which makes her words loving. She’s trying to produce repentance and create a healthy fear.
But if people won’t repent and fear…look at verse 28…
Proverbs 1:28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
This is more of Wisdom doing to people what they did to her. They wouldn’t listen to her, so she won’t listen to them…and this brings us to the next part of Lesson 3…
Lesson 3: if people reject wisdom (part 2) she rejects them.
Notice the context: they finally want Wisdom in verse 28, but it’s after they’re suffering as described in verses 26 and 27.
At this point she ignores them.
What does this look like in real life?
People sin, suffer, call out for help, but it’s too late. They must experience the consequences of their actions. They bring judgment on themselves, and Wisdom is no longer available to help.
The sad thing is people are finally ready to listen to Wisdom, but it’s AFTER they’ve sinned when it’s too late. There’s no undoing what they’ve done. All they can do is suffer the consequences.
How many times have you seen people sin, suffer, and suddenly they seem humble and they want to know what to do to undo what they did…how many times have we been like this?
But it’s too late then…Wisdom is no longer answering.
Some years ago – I believe it was during an Evening Service – we were talking about the consequences of sin, and someone said, “Scripture gives us wisdom to avoid getting ourselves into messes, but it doesn’t give us wisdom to get out of the messes we’ve gotten ourselves into.”
I thought this was an insightful and accurate comment…and it’s a good picture of this verse.
So let me say as lovingly as possible what this verse is saying…
We can sin, suffer, cry out for help, but the consequences won’t be taken away…or in other words, Wisdom will not answer.
Look at verse 29…
Proverbs 1:29 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
One of the themes in the last few sermons is that the fear of the Lord is associated w/ wisdom. For example, in last week’s sermon, after Job looked for wisdom, his conclusion was…
Job 28:28 Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.
Since the fear of the Lord is wisdom, when people reject wisdom, they’re rejecting God…which is why rejecting Wisdom is so serious.
Look at the way people are punished as a result…
Proverbs 1:31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.
This is one of the many places in Scripture revealing one of the strongest ways people are judged…
They’re simply left alone and turned over to their sin. They’re allowed to have what they want…and this brings us to Lesson 3…
Lesson 3: if people reject wisdom (part 3) she turns them over to their sin.
They turned from wisdom, so Wisdom turned them over to what they wanted instead: their foolishness.
You’re looking at the very worst thing God can do to people in this life…
Abandon them to their sin and the consequences of it.
Notice the language of eating is used…
eat the fruit of their way…have their fill
When God really wants to punish sinners, He lets them reap what they’ve sown…or eat what they want…and that is their punishment.
Consider this verse…
When Jeremiah was a prophet it was a dark period in Judah’s history. God said to the people…
Jeremiah 2:19a Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you.
This is a powerful verse.
God wouldn’t even have to punish them. Their sins would cause them enough suffering.
Think about these accounts and how God punished people by letting them have what they wanted:
- God told Balaam he could go w/ Balak
- God told the 2.5 tribes they could settle on the east side of the Jordan
- God told Israel they could have an earthly king
God can let people have the sinful things they want…and it can be devastating to them…or us.
All of this is remarkably similar to Romans 1. Let me quickly read through some of the verses…
Romans 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them (which is to say they have knowledge), because God has shown it to them.
Plain to them makes me think of Wisdom’s availability. She’s not hiding. She’s yelling out to people, making herself plain.
Romans 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools
Just like those in Proverbs, they think they’re wise, but they’re fools…
Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity,
Just like in Proverbs God turned them over to their sin…
Romans 1:25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie
They rejected wisdom for foolishness.
Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions…and RECEIVING IN THEMSELVES THE DUE PENALTY FOR THEIR ERROR.
Again, just like in Proverbs they were turned over to their sin, and their sin was the punishment.
After hearing these verses in Romans, read Proverbs 1:31 one more time…
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.
Doesn’t this sound like what God does w/ people in Romans 1?
Look at verse 32…
Proverbs 1:32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;
The simple end up being killed b/c they’re too simple to make it w/o wisdom.
Fools end up being destroyed b/c of their indifference. They didn’t care – they were complacent – and it ends up being their demise.
They all rejected Wisdom without having any idea how it would go for them.
Obeying God – which is to say embracing Wisdom – keeps us from greater suffering in the future.
I know there’s been much challenging teaching up to this point, but it ends w/ a wonderful encouragement for those who will hear Wisdom…
Proverbs 1:33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
The verse starts w/ the word but, b/c there’s a choice:
- Between foolishness and wisdom
- Between death and life
These verses are like a road map with:
- Wisdom leading to peace and security
- Folly leading to death and destruction.
Everyone is on one of these two paths.
And this brings us to Lesson 4…
Lesson 4: if people embrace wisdom, she gives them security and peace.
Wisdom offers life and blessing for all who receive her.
This past week I read an interesting quote related to Jesus that I wanted to share w/ you…
“The furniture has not moved. It’s just that the light is on now,” referring to the New Testament’s illumination of Christ.
So I’d like us to keep something in mind for these sermons on Wisdom…
They all look to Christ:
- 1 Corinthians 1:24 Christ is the wisdom of God
- 1 Corinthians 1:30 Christ became to us wisdom from God.
The Book of Proverbs is written as a father speaking to his son. Repeatedly it says…
A wise son makes a glad father.
Jesus is the Wise Son who makes His Father glad. Think of Jesus’ baptism…
Matthew 3:17 A voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.”
Since Jesus is the source of all wisdom, all the proverbs point to Him.
So what does that mean for verse 33?
This promise of security, ease, and no fear of disaster, finds its fulfillment in Christ.
Think of how only He can provide this for us:
- To be saved by Christ is to be secure
- To know Christ is to know the peace He offers
- To be in Christ is to no longer need fear – or dread as the verse says – the penalty of our sin
Wisdom delivers us, but Christ is the wisdom of God, and true deliverance is found in Him.