Proverbs 9:7-12

Proverbs 9:7-12 "He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it."
Elma NY Christian Church
Have you ever gotten directions to a special destination where important details about the route were left out?  Have you ever made your way to an exciting location only to say, “I wish they told me about this” half way through the journey?  Such was the case for Tara and me twenty-one years ago.  We went to Shenandoah Valley, Virginia for our honeymoon and stayed at a B&B for a week, which we used as a base to explore the valley.  While at breakfast, the owners of the B&B often gave us ideas of things to do in the area.  On one particular morning, they recommended going to the top of a little-known mountain where we could see as far as the eye could see into both West Virginia and Virginia.  That sounded like a great idea so we jotted down directions from the kind innkeeper and went on our newly-married way.  Had we been armed with GPS then as we are now, we would’ve been able to do more research with satellite images and online reviews to make a more educated decision on that memorable day.  It is important to note at this point in the story that both Tara and I are not massive fans of heights but we agreed to the trip because we observed that the mountains in Virginia were not that high in elevation.  Unfortunately, we embarked on the day trip ultimately making some serious assumptions about the path to and up this mountain.  When we arrived at the mountain and began making our ascent, our eyes immediately got big and our bodies instantly became tense.  The road to the top was a one lane road curling around the mountain without a single guard rail and the road is best described as one step up from a dirt road!  Our fear of heights coupled with an older car whose breaks had not been recently checked took our minds to very uncomfortable places.

What would we do if another vehicle is coming down the mountain?  
What would we do if, on our descent, another vehicle is coming up the mountain?  
What would we do if, on our descent, our breaks decide to stop working?  
Would anyone find us if the tires slipped off the narrow path and we plummeted to our death?

 
You might be asking if the treacherous journey was worth it and I must say that it was.  It was a beautiful view but it came at the expense of a few years or at least, hastened gray hairs.  We said very early in that Virginian ascent however, “we wish the innkeeper would have told us about this!”  It’s not that we would’ve opted out of the special destination had he told us about the road, but we would’ve been more prepared.  We would’ve been more mentally prepared – more logistically prepared – more spiritually prepared (and probably put on more deodorant).
 
Here in Proverbs 9, Wisdom is doing more than extending an invitation to her home.  She is doing more than sending out invitations with an address on it.  She is giving pertinent information and instruction regarding the journey to her house.  The journey to her home begins with “forsaking the foolish” (vs. 6), which in itself creates the next leg of the journey – SOCIAL REJECTION.  The first six verses of this chapter provide the Invitation while the following six verses provide the Instruction – the first six verses describe where to go while the following six verses detail how to get there.

If you want wisdom, you need to forsake the foolish.  When you forsake the foolish, you will be ridiculed by the foolish.  The foolish by definition see no value in wisdom and for that reason, see no merit in pursuing wisdom.  The foolish will not respect a man for seeking virtue.  The foolish will not support a person seeking spiritual insight.  The foolish will not praise a person for leaving the bar for church.  The foolish will not applaud a person for leaving the university for a seminary.  Instead, the foolish will mock and ridicule the person who responds to Wisdom’s invitation.  Social rejection is the narrow road to Wisdom’s house.  Wisdom is warning those who make the journey about the potholes and curves of responding to this social rejection.  She is telling those who want her to detour the mocking and to ignore the scorning.  She knows that it is within human nature to defend our decisions, especially when we feel that they are noble decisions.  She knows that it is within our nature to justly rebuke fools for their foolish scorning of those who want to do the right thing.  Therefore, she informs us that reproving a fool makes us look foolish among the foolish because they already think we’re crazy for wanting wisdom.  Reproving a fool makes us look foolish among the wise because they already know that it would be an effort in futility.
 
Rebuking a wicked man for mocking you for seeking wisdom sprinkles mud on your reputation because it communicates to others a lack of reason.  When working at the Country Club as a teenager, I distinctly remember a time when I was witnessing to a man at the bar.  This well-intentioned witness brought me a social “blot” because all of my co-workers knew that it was an effort in futility since the man was intoxicated.  I lost credibility among my unbelieving peers because I lacked the common sense at the time to know that intoxicated people can’t think straight enough in order to make sound decisions.  My unbelieving co-workers liked me and even respected my dedication to my faith but they couldn’t take my faith that seriously if I didn’t have enough sense to know who I was dealing with at the bar that day.

Wisdom is telling all who respond to her invitation to forsake the foolish and to do so QUIETLY.  She instructs us to walk away from social rejection quietly because engaging in arguments won’t do anyone any good.  Disputing with the foolish doesn’t help the foolish for they are foolish. Disputing with the foolish doesn’t help the reputation of the one who wants wisdom either.  The only people who benefit from rebuke, reproof and hard discussions are the wise.  The wise welcome opportunities to become better.  The wise benefit from reproof because the wise person being rebuked takes the reproof to heart while the wise rebuker is then appreciated in heart.  When it comes to social rejection, Wisdom tells us that the only voices we should concern ourselves with are the voices of the wise.  On the road to wisdom, we are only to listen or respond to the voices of the wise.  It is within this context that Wisdom tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (vs. 10).  This is inserted here because Wisdom wants those coming to her to know that if they’re going to make it up the mountain to her house, they need to fear no one BUT GOD.  They are not to fear the foolish.  They are not to fear the wicked.  They are not to fear the scorning of their peers nor are they to fear the rejection of their “friends.” The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, which is the absence of the fear of man.  Social rejection is the narrow and curvy road to Wisdom’s house.  If you afraid of losing friends on the way to her house, then you fear man more than God and you will fall short of this excellent destination.

In verse 12, Wisdom summarizes the path to virtue as an INDIVIDUAL JOURNEY.  “If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”  The foolish that mock us for seeking wisdom can’t be made wise by our rebuke.  The foolish that scorn us for reading the Bible can’t be made wise by our reproof.  The foolish that ridicule us for going to church on a Wednesday night can’t be made wise by our defensive scorning.  The foolish are made wise ONLY by doing the same thing we do when we are made wise – make the individual decision to “forsake the foolish.”  Wisdom is found by individual desire and the individual decision to pursue it.  Our rebuke will only do something good for someone when they are wise.  Our reproof will only do something good for someone when they are seeking wisdom.  Until then, our words mean very little.  Until someone shows evidence of genuine interest in Biblical wisdom, our words do very little.  If on this journey to Wisdom’s house, we decide to engage in the scorning of the fool, we alone will be impacted.  When we respond to the scorning of the wicked, we alone are injured.
 
Throughout these chapters of Solomon’s Book, Wisdom is telling us where to go to find her and she is telling us how to get there.  No one arriving at Wisdom’s door can say, “I wish you had told me about that narrow winding road around the mountain.”  Here in chapter 9, she tells us to forsake the foolishly and to do so very QUIETLY.

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