Proverbs 1:20-33 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How is the wisdom of God described in Proverbs 1:20-21 (printed below?) What is the significance of this?

Wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public square; (21) at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech. (Proverbs 1:20-21)

In verses 20-21 the wisdom of God is described as coming to the busiest intersection of the city and crying out for people to listen. God has a great desire for us to receive and possess His wisdom, and He offers His divine wisdom to us. Historically, these verses may poetically be describing the incident recorded in 2 Chronicles 17:7-9 where king Jehoshaphat sent out the Levites to teach the Word of God. Personally, we have access to the Word of God, and the Lord is urging us to make use of it: consult it, accept it, trust it, obey it, live by it.

2. What three types of people does wisdom identify in verse 22 (printed below?) How would you characterize each of them?

You who are naïve, how long will you love your simple ways? How long will scoffers delight in scoffing and how long will fools hate knowledge? (Proverbs 1:22)

In verse 22 we find the wisdom of God identifying three types of people. The “naïve” (or, the “simple”) comes from a Hebrew root word that has the meaning, “to open wide;” hence, as applied here, the word has the sense, to be susceptible or vulnerable to any and every influence; to be wide open to anything that may come along. Next there is the “scoffer.” Scripture defines the “scoffer” as one who refuses to receive rebuke or correction (Proverbs 13:1) and who seats himself in the judgment seat (Psalm 1:1). The “scoffer” assumes the position of God (making himself the judge and standard for judgment) and from that position he cynically and mockingly rejects all that comes from God, falsely assuming that he himself is immune to the judgment of God (note Isaiah 28:14-15a). Finally, there is the “fool.” The “fool” is the one who refuses to receive knowledge (or wisdom and instruction, note Proverbs 1:7b), because he thinks he knows it all (Proverbs 12:15a).

3. What promise does the wisdom of God make in verse 23 (printed below?) Upon what is this promise contingent?

If you would respond to my rebuke, I would pour out my Spirit upon you and cause you to understand my teaching. (Proverbs 1:23)

In verse 23 the wisdom of God makes the promise, “I will pour out my Spirit upon you and cause you to understand my teaching.” But this promise is contingent upon our responsiveness to divine wisdom, we must respond to wisdom’s “rebuke.” If you turn to the wisdom of God and heed its command to turn to the ways of God, the Holy Spirit will give you understanding and will help you to walk in the way of God’s truth.

4. According to verses 24-26 (printed below,) what will happen to those who reject God’s counsel?

Because you refused to listen when I called—I stretched out my hand, but no one paid attention; (25) you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke. (26) Therefore, I will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when what you dread overtakes you (Proverbs 1:24-26)

Verses 24-26 declare that if we reject God’s counsel, God will laugh at our calamity. These verses are speaking about a persistent rejection of God’s counsel. The inevitable result of rejecting God’s counsel is calamity (disaster): “I will laugh at your calamity” (verse 26a). The reference here is to the day of judgment (cp. Romans 6:23a; “the wages of sin is death”). On the day of judgment the response of God towards the sinner who has spurned and rejected God”s counsel is scornful rejection.

5. What warning does the wisdom of God give concerning “the naïve” and “the fool?” How are they described? See Proverbs 1:32 (printed below)

The aimlessness of the naïve will kill them and the “security” of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32)

The wisdom of God warns, “The aimlessness of the naïve will kill them.” That spiritual instability, that spiritual and moral aimlessness and drifting, (being like a weather vane atop a roof in a strong and ever shifting wind), the refusal to submit to Christ’s yoke and become His disciple, will eventually prove to be deadly to the soul and result in eternal condemnation. The Lord further warns, “the ‘security’ of fools will destroy them.” The Hebrew word has both the meaning of “quietness” and “carelessness,” or “negligence.” Thus, what is being referring to is that false confidence that the fool entertains—namely, that all will be well with his soul, even though he ignores and rejects the commandments of God and refuses to surrender his life to Christ the Savior—that false confidence will eventually destroy him, consigning him to the righteous judgment of God (cp. Matthew 7:21-23).