By Tim Miller
First Baptist Church of Roxana
Proverbs 1:8-19 begins one of several admonitions that Solomon wrote to his son. This first message follows directly on the footsteps of the introduction. In these messages to his son, he seeks to provide wisdom and instruction for his son (cf. 1:1a). He wants his son to be discerning and understanding (cf. 1:1b). He urges his son to receive instruction in wise behavior and righteousness and justice and equity (cf. 1:3). He wants his son to be prudent and not naïve (cf. 1:4a). He wants him to have discretion (cf. 1:4b). He wants to instill the fear of the LORD in his son, which he has just written is the beginning of knowledge; and he constantly urges his son not to foolishly despise the wisdom and instructions that his parents give him (1:7).
I. A Reminder
8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
9 Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
ornaments about your neck.
Parental instruction is a wonderful thing. Solomon compares it to adornments about the head and neck. He is concerned first that his son hear his parents' instruction. He wants his son to receive his wisdom and obey it. Second, he wants his son to remember it and keep it. He does not want his son to walk away from it. So he reminds his son how these instructions and teachings benefit him: they adorn his character in the same way that a wreath does his head or ornaments adorn his neck. They add beauty and grace and stateliness to him.
II. A Warning
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 cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
Having reminded his son of the importance of his instruction, Solomon gives his son a warning: do not listen to the enticement of sinners no matter how tempting their proposal is. In the face of his friends pressuring him to commit murder on the highway to get rich together, Solomon simply says not to consent.
III. An Exhortation
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
they hasten to shed blood.
17 Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net
In the sight of any bird;
they lie in wait for their own blood;
They ambush their own lives.
Instead of consenting to the ridiculous proposals of sinners, Solomon exhorts his son to run from them. They are about a fools errand, and God will bring their plans crashing down upon them. They sought to ambush and innocent passer-by with a large purse, but they end up ambushing themselves by their foolishness and greed.
IV. A Principle
19 So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
It takes away the life of its possessors.
Solomon ends with a principle: all of those who seek to gain by violence will have their lives taken away by violence. If one lives by the sword, one will die by the sword. He instructs his son to be wise and not live in this way, but to avoid those who do.
Solomon calls his son to hear his father’s instruction and not forsake his mother’s teaching, because they are truly beautiful adornments to him. Solomon urges his son not to give into the enticement of sinners. He tells his son that when they tempt him with vile and vicious words about murdering the innocent and plundering their wealth, he must flee. He should not walk in their way, because they run to the evil path with murderous intent. He further tells his son that their scheming will come to their own destruction, just as do all those who gain from violence. They will lose their own lives due to it.
God has given parents the place of instruction and teaching in the life of a young person. How important it is for parents to urge their children to avoid the wrong crowd, and not to get mixed up with those who will lead them to destruction. How necessary it is for parents to urge young ones to not give into peer pressure. And how much parents need to warn their children of the consequences, not just from themselves, but from God: that those who consent to evil and walk in the ways of the wicked will “ambush their own lives” and have their lives taken away by their own evil deeds.
As parents, let us seek to impart to our children the wisdom and instructions of the Word of God. Let us teach them to be discerning. Let us teach them to live wisely and righteously and justly and prudently. As Christians let us seek to impart the same wisdom and instructions of the Word of God, teaching those whom we disciple to have discernment and to walk in the ways of righteousness.
What a ministry the local church is given in aiding parents in instructing their children in the Word of God, coming around parents and families to encourage them and build them up and urging the children to walk in the ways of the Lord and not to be mixed up with those who hasten to do evil. How we are called to walk in such a way as not to tarnish the testimony of the gospel, giving the children an example of the transforming work of God in the lives of those who trust in Him. What an opportunity we have to proclaim that the consequence of sin is death, but trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ leads to eternal life.
We do a disservice to our children when we do not teach them the Word of God. What sort of practical wisdom and instruction can then be imparted? How can these children then be expected to walk in righteousness and justness? How will they learn the fear of the LORD? They will be easy prey for those who entice them to turn away from the paths of righteousness. When they are not taught the reverence of the LORD, they will have no foundation to flee the temptation of the ungodly.
So, if the Word of God is neglected in the home and in the school and in the church, how will the next generation learn the statutes of God? How will they ever be expected to understand the nature of sin and depravity? How will they ever see their need for a Savior? How will they ever understand the purpose of the church? How necessary it is for Christian parents to disciple their children in the fear of the Lord, urging them to remember the instruction they are imparting, exhorting them to flee those who would drag them into sin, and to warn them of the destructive consequences of sin. At the same time, we hold out the truth of the gospel: that Christ Jesus died in the place of sinners to take their penalty so that they may not be condemned but have everlasting life.