Proverbs 8:13

Proverbs 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."
Buffalo NY Church
One of the most effective ways to teach is by using contrast.  A young student better understands what letters should look like by showing him what letters should not look like.  A young athlete better grasps throwing techniques by showing him what throwing should not look like.  An aspiring machinist better learns how to program the machine by showing him what it should not look or sound like.  There’s something about the human brain that benefits immensely from seeing what something shouldn’t look like next to what it should look like.  We learn best by comparing the right with the wrong and seeing the difference between the two.  Having assembled plenty of household products and children’s toys in my lifetime, I can tell you that I’m glad that many of the assembly instructions come with diagrams of what to do and what not to do.  One of the most effective ways to teach and to learn is by using contrast.  Solomon was gifted in the teaching art of contrast.

The majority of Solomon’s proverbs were simple statements of truth that hinged on the word, “but.”  This simple three letter word appears in the Book of Proverbs over two hundred times and is the key to teaching with contrast.  As an example, consider the first few verses of chapter 10:
     1 A wise son maketh a glad father: BUT a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
     2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: BUT righteousness delivereth from death.
     3 The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: BUT he casteth away the substance of the wicked. 
     4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: BUT the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
     5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: BUT he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

While it is not visible, there is a massive “BUT” in between chapters seven and eight of Proverbs. Chapter seven has very important truths regarding evil people and in particular, evil women.  Chapter eight has very important truths regarding virtue and in particular, wisdom.  On their own, both chapters are very insightful.  However, when we read chapter eight in light of chapter seven, we will better learn what Solomon was trying to teach his son and what our Heavenly Father is attempting to teach us.  Solomon wasn’t trying to teach his son to avoid evil women as much as he was trying to teach his son to obtain wisdom and understanding.  Chapter seven was the story of what happens to the man who is “void of understanding.”  With that story in mind, Solomon then teaches his son how to get wisdom and understanding.  With the details about the “strange woman” in mind, Solomon then gives his son a description of Wisdom.  The order of content of these two chapters was intentional.  The details of these two chapters were intentional.  Solomon mastered the art of teaching by contrast.

The author’s teaching style is pertinent to verse 13.  At first glance, the verse seems out of place and almost irrelevant to the statements all around it.  What does the fear of the Lord have to do with “finding out witty inventions” (verse 12)?  What does the fear of the Lord have to do with offering counsel, wisdom, understanding and strength (verse 14)?  As important as it is, why would Wisdom make this statement?  Why would Wisdom make this statement seemingly out of nowhere?  The answer to these reasonable questions is found in looking at the big picture of chapters seven and eight together.  Everything Wisdom is saying is in contrast to everything the “strange woman” just said.  Everything Wisdom is revealing about herself is in contrast to everything the “strange woman” just revealed about herself.  Everything Wisdom is doing is in contrast to everything the “strange woman” just did.  In chapter seven, Rehoboam was able to listen to a woman boldly seduce a young man to commit adultery with her.  In the thirteenth verse of chapter seven, Rehoboam was able to watch a woman with an “impudent” or shameless face beg for the pleasures of immorality.  In the thirteenth verse of chapter eight, Rehoboam was able to hear another woman declare her hatred for immorality.  After seeing one woman defy God’s Law, the son of Solomon was able to see another woman delight in God’s Law.  After hearing one woman demand evil, this young man was able to hear another woman denounce evil.  The beauty of Wisdom is best seen when contrasted with the ugliness of the “strange woman.”

If we’re going to appreciate Proverbs 8, we need to read it in light of Proverbs 7.  Wisdom is seeking young souls just as the “strange woman” was seeking young men.  Wisdom is trying to take the “sons of man” back to her house just as the “strange woman” was trying to take the “sons of man” back to her house.  Wisdom is making her pitch to her audience just as the “strange woman” was making her pitch to the young man.  The woman of chapter seven used her appearance to attract young souls while Wisdom in chapter eight uses her personality to attract young souls.  The woman of chapter seven used the thrill of immorality to entice young men into her bedroom while Wisdom in chapter eight uses the promise of purity to invite young men to her home.  The “strange woman” has a more appealing pitch but Wisdom makes a much better offer.  Because we now know the end of chapter seven, it’s apparent that immorality doesn’t work out in the end.  Because we now know the outcome of chapter seven, it’s obvious that evil doesn’t pay and its pleasure doesn’t last.  With the demise of the young man in chapter seven in mind, Wisdom’s offer of purity can be and should be seen as a much better offer.
 
While the “strange woman” doesn’t want the young man to get to know her before going to bed with her, Wisdom puts everything on the table.  She wants the “sons of man” to get to know her.  She explains who she is and what she stands for.  She announces her convictions.  She declares her allegiance to holiness and her loyalty to purity.  She has strong emotions regarding anything that would anger God.  She hates pride.  She hates pride’s offspring, arrogancy.  She hates the evil way and she despises a froward mouth.  She wants prospective mates to get to know her.  She wants her potential lovers to know that she will not put up with pride.  She wants her potential lovers to know that she will not tolerate arrogance.  She wants her potentials lovers to know that she will not accept perverted conversation.

When we listen to Wisdom in light of chapter seven, her words sound so refreshing.  If Wisdom hates evil, then she won’t suggest evil.  If Wisdom hates evil, then she won’t lie to me.  If Wisdom hates evil, then she won’t deceive me.  If Wisdom hates evil, then she won’t put me in a morally-compromised situation.  If Wisdom hates evil, then she won’t tempt me to do something that would provoke the wrath of God in my life.  Unlike the evil women of the world, wisdom is safe.  Unlike the evil women of the world, wisdom is trustworthy.  Unlike the evil women of the world, wisdom will help me and not hurt me.

Proverbs 8:13 is not a verse out of a place.  It is the statement Wisdom makes to all those who show an interest in her.  It is the statement Wisdom makes at the BEGINNING of any relationship so her lovers know exactly who and what they’re getting involved with.  This verse is anyone seeking Wisdom will hear if they’re seriously considering taking her offer.  Solomon would reiterate this truth in the next chapter by simply and plainly saying, “The fear of the LORD is the BEGINNING of wisdom” (9:10).  The Psalmist would say the same thing in Psalms 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the BEGINNING of wisdom.”  Job would essentially say the same thing in Job 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”  Fearing God is wisdom’s personality.  Fearing God is who she is.  She can’t not fear God.

Wisdom is safe because wisdom starts every relationship with the fear of God.  If you want wisdom, you have to forsake pride and arrogancy.  You can’t be wise if you’re proud.  If you want wisdom, you have to fear God.  You can’t be wise if you’re intentional embracing an evil way.  If you want wisdom, you must hate evil.  You can’t be wise if you have a froward mouth.  She won’t tolerate a partner who doesn’t fear God.  If you want to wisdom, it starts with sharing her feelings and fearing God.

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