CSBC Sunday School: Proverbs Series
Lesson #7: Proverbs 14:8-15
July 19, 2020
Resources: Phillips; Braddy; MacArthur; McCrary, B. Jennings, Explore the Bible
HOOK: (Why should we listen to this lesson?)
Central Theme: JOY IN GOD’S WISDOM!
Objective Statement: EVERY CHRISTIANS CAN FIND JOY IN GOD’S WISDOM THROUGH LISTENING TO THESE FOUR WORDS!
Points: WORD #1 – PRUDENT! WORD #2 – CONTENT! WORD #3 – JOYFUL! WORD #4 – THRIVING!
- FOCUS ATTENTION: DESCRIBE A TIME WHEN YOU WERE SURPRISED BY HOW A FOOD TASTED RELATIVE TO HOW IT LOOKED. Things aren’t always what they appear to be. It is important to take into consideration all of the factors as we come to a conclusion. If we take the time to consider all the ingredients wisely, we’ll be better able to discern the truth. Sometimes our decisions are based upon incomplete information. In our search for WISDOM, we might erroneously conclude that disobeying God doesn’t really affect our happiness. But DISCERNMENT shows us that only God’s way leads to true joy.
- CONTEXT: Today our adventure in the Book of Proverbs will reinforce other principles about living wisely. Following God’s wisdom leads to JOY, while failing to do so leads to grief. From Proverbs 10:1 – 14:35, Solomon begins teaching his son a lengthy series of “short sayings” which usually compare foolishness with wisdom and wickedness with righteousness. These PROVERBS teach valuable life lessons in short, pithy, memorizable, verses. Solomon deals with a variety of topics, such as wicked people try to get rich using unscrupulous tactics, while righteous people will make money through hard work, honesty, endurance, and responsibility ( 10:1 – 12:28). In Chapter 13 Solomon contrasts the difference between a wicked lifestyle and upright behavior. God’s people would be humble, honest, their words and actions would match up, and they would be open to WISE instruction. The wicked man, or the fool, would be proud, arrogant, selfish, and unwilling to accept correction or instruction. As a result, the fool would experience disaster in his life, while the righteous one would be filled with a life of grace and satisfaction (Prov. 13:1-25). The fool walks a destructive path whereas the godly person would walk with the Lord and grow in integrity. Another important ingredient and result of the righteous choices a man makes is, he will have JOY and avoid the grief that awaits the foolish person.
- Let’s Explore the Bible in Proverbs 14:8-15.
BOOK: (What does the Bible say?)
WORD #1 – PRUDENT! (Prov. 14:8, 15)
- In our study today, Solomon uses another language formation that was common with ancient Hebrew poetic literature. It’s called “chiastic structure” and without getting too technical it just means the lesson being taught does not necessarily follow a consecutive order in the verses. Some thoughts are “bracketed” in such a way that one verse, relates to another verse, even though there may be verses between the two connecting thoughts. For example, dealing with the topic of PRUDENT, we will consider the two verses tied together by the word PRUDENT, even though they are found in our text above, 8 and vs. 15. So in this chiastic formulae, our emphasis will be on ideas that are bound together by a topic, rather than a sequential order of verses. So as we talk about the word PRUDENT we want to talk about our two proof texts, vs. 8 and 15. WHAT DOES THE WORD PRUDENT MEAN? We gain godly wisdom by prudence, which involves thinking through an opportunity or a challenge carefully before drawing a conclusion and coming to a decision. It is connected to discernment. It has to do with being sensible, practical, judicious, and wise. When we take the time to seek the Lord’s direction as we face a puzzling situation, we reflect the kind of “wisdom” (vs. 8), that only He can give. Giving due consideration to the variables involved in making a wise choice distinguishes a mature Christian. There is a stark contrast between the sensible person and the actions taken by “fools” (vs. 8b). Because “the folly of fools” doesn’t take the time to be thoughtful and prudent, they make choices that actually deceives them into taking actions that turn out to be utterly foolish.
- The corresponding verse on prudence is 15. When you read “The simple believeth every word,” what one word encapsulates that sentiment? Gullible! Naïve. Innocent. Unsuspecting. These people haven’t learned the value of seeking the Lord for wisdom and carefully discerning what is truth. They believe “every word” of someone they know and trust even if that person gives them bad advice. Sooner or later they will make mistakes that will hurt them because they listened to human reasoning and not godly wisdom. But for the one who exercises good judgment God will reward them. The rest of vs. 15 says it very profoundly, “but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” The Christian will carefully choose the way and direction that honors God and “He shall direct thy path” (Prov. 3:6).
WORD #2 – CONTENT! (vs. 9, 14)
- Solomon’s next grouping of verses are found in 9 and 14. As we analyze the two verses we can see a contrast described between a “Selfish Person” and a “Satisfied Person.” The “Selfish Person” would be Fools/backsliders in heart. These are people who are not accountable for their reactions towards sin or God. They don’t really care as they “make a mock at sin” (vs. 9a), or “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways” (vs. 14a). The Hebrew term for “backslider” paints a picture of someone who takes steps in one direction and then decides to turn back. In English, the word suggests the sad reality that some people begin as loyal followers of the Lord but then lose heart and retreat. One day they will give an account of their actions to God. These foolish responses to life reflect a person who is going to do what they want and they don’t care about anyone else. They are going their own way and they will not take the time to discerningly count the cost of their choices. In contrast, the “Satisfied Person” is content with his life in Christ. He chooses to be “righteous” (vs. 9), and be a “good man” (vs. 14), that God will honor and reward. This verse does not suggest that people can become good by their own efforts. Goodness is imparted by the Lord and it’s a result of a transformed life by God’s Grace. People take note of a man or woman who displays goodness in their actions. The conclusion is from others around them that those deeds are good. Over time, their loyalty to God turns out to be a blessing to themselves as well as to others, hence; “a good man shall be satisfied from himself” (vs. 14b). In other words, a person who lives out God’s wisdom brings true rewards of lasting contentment. The bottom line is, a fool will be receiving the judgment of his ungodly choices. On the other hand, “a good man” will receive the blessings of God and that will lead to a life of contentment.
WORD #3 – JOYFUL! (vs. 10, 13)
- In the next couplet of verses, Solomon encourages us to be, not only contented but joyful. A person’s “heart” stores a range of emotions that remain shrouded from the view of others. Our hearts can never reveal everything that’s stored there. For example, we can share our pain with others, but we cannot actually internalize the true depth of “bitterness” ( 10), that may be locked away in someone’s heart. We can empathize, but only to a point. Beyond that point, a person plagued with bitterness suffers alone. Another example has to do with “joy” (vs. 10b). Be careful not to confuse joy with happiness. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOY AND HAPPINESS? Our happiness depends on our circumstances. For instance, we’re happy when things go our way and we get what we want. Happiness can fade when circumstances change. However, joy defies circumstances and abides consistently in our hearts. Joy doesn’t fade when conditions change because joy comes from a relationship with the Lord. As we walk with Him, we enjoy His presence and rejoice in His grace no matter what may be happening in our lives. A person who has not received Christ stands as a “stranger” (vs. 10b), who beholds our joy from a distance. We can’t fully share the joy to our hearts with people who don’t share our walk with the Lord.
- Verses 13 is a unique verse. People laugh for different reasons. Ordinarily, we consider “laughter” to be evidence of happiness. A good joke, a funny story, a hilarious picture, or a happy surprise can render side-splitting laughter. Happiness makes us laugh. But isn’t it true that sometimes superficial laughter serves to cover up a “heart” drowning in sorrow? People sometimes turn to laughter in an effort to numb the pain of sorrow. For people who suffer with sadness, a smile may hide more than it reveals. When “mirth” is over, what is left is often “heaviness” ( 13b). A heart full of joy comes from an intimate relationship with God. Even when we try to hide our pain with laughter, remember the source of our joy does not depend upon our circumstances. It’s based upon our confidence in Jesus.
WORD #4 – THRIVING! (vs. 11-12)
- The final two verses of our chiasm in 14 are found here in vs. 11-12. The comparisons in these verses basically ask two questions; what happens to someone who chooses a foolish path? Also, what’s the outcome of a person who chooses to take the path of God’s wisdom? HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THOSE TWO QUESTIONS AS REPRESENTED IN THESE VERSES? Well, the way of the “wicked” (vs. 11), and the “way which seemeth right unto a man” (vs. 12), are both paths that lead to destruction and “death.” On the other hand, “the upright shall flourish” (vs. 11), which means God will reward the path of the wise and the righteous. The main principle: Without God, people do not have the wisdom they need to make the best choices for their lives. Trust God always, and He will cause the righteous to thrive!
LOOK: (Why is what it says important?)
Objective Statement (Repeated): EVERY CHRISTIANS CAN FIND JOY IN GOD’S WISDOM THROUGH LISTENING TO THE FOUR WORDS OF TODAY; PRUDENT, CONTENT, JOYFUL AND THRIVING!
- We have another quality memory verse to consider in our text; Proverbs 14:12. You should consider adding it to your list of memory verses that will benefit you all your life.
- How does the parable of the wise and foolish builders found in Matthew 7:24-27 relate to today’s lesson? The wise person will listen and obey the teachings of God’s Word.
TOOK: (Why is it important to me? What should I do with it?)
Evaluation: This week remember God’s wisdom leads to joy, while man’s foolishness leads to grief. Following God’s wisdom leads to contentment, joy, and His blessings. This week be sure to follow God’s way and not the “way which seemeth right unto a man.” Read God’s Word to discover His way! It’s the way of the wise.
In preparation for our next Bible Study please read Proverbs 15:33 – 16:11.