How many times have you looked back on your life and thought: “If only I had done ____ life would have worked out so much differently for me!” Much of our lives are predicated on the big “If’s” we face.
Solomon sought to save his son a life of regrets and “If-only-I-had’s” in this second chapter of Proverbs. It opens with a fatherly admonition to heed sound counsel.
(1) My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
(2) So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
(3) Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
(4) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
(5) Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
The big word here is “if.” As much as Solomon wants wisdom for his son, he cannot have it for him. It is something his son would have to choose. The big word for us as well is “if.” As much as our Heavenly Father wants us to have wisdom, He cannot have it for us. It is something we must choose.
To encourage his readers to choose the right path, Solomon is careful to spell out the benefits of following after wisdom. When we choose wisdom over impulse (foolishness) God promises more wisdom (2:6). He promises protection on our way (2:7-8). He promises discernment and discretion (2:9-11). He also promises that those who follow wisdom will know to steer clear of the ways of fools and just so we don’t miss the point, Solomon describes two main types of fools: The evil man and the strange woman.
By the “evil man” Solomon means anyone who deviates from the ways of God. This person is one who challenges God-given truths. He speaks “forward things” (v. 12). He willingly, knowingly leaves the paths of uprightness and purposely chooses the dark path (v. 13). Morally and spiritually he is like the hiker who leaves the marked trail and goes his own way even when he knows that that way can lead to danger. Not only does this person choose wrong behavior, he revels in it and rejoices when others engage in similar activity (v. 14-15).
When Solomon speaks of the “strange woman,” he does not mean strange as in crazy (although that could also be true). He means women who are foreign to a man’s God-given relationships. So, adulteresses, mistresses, etc. Like the wicked man, she too has willingly left the path of righteousness, having forsaken past counsel and her duties to God (v. 17). She is a destroyer of lives (vv. 18-19).
After going over these general types of fools, Solomon again makes a final appeal to his audience to follow wisdom because “the upright shall dwell in the land…but the transgressors shall be rooted out of it” (vv. 20-22).
Thankfully for all of us, the future is a blank slate. We cannot erase the past, but we can choose to do right by God with our present and our future – if we will receive God’s words.