When children reach the teenage years there is a delicate balance that must be achieved between parents and teens. How much control and how much freedom should a parent exercise? Parents have to decide how much control they will have over their child and how much freedom and decision making the youth will be able to exercise.
We see in this passage that a young man is being instructed by his father and he tells him that he will encounter two major temptations; peer pressure and sexual seduction. Instead of clamping down freedom and ratcheting up control â€“ the father tries to teach his son how to make wise decisions himself, and he instructs him on the benefits of making wise decisions. He tells him the truth about life (these are the dangers), and he gives his son the necessary tools to handle it when it comes.
Also, the father begins with the importance of knowing God. Many parents tell their children “donâ€™t do this,” or “donâ€™t do that” and they may even show in the Bible how these things are destructive, but they do not give an alternative to the desire to be popular, or have a girlfriend, or be in a bad relationship. The alternative is knowing God and finding joy in that relationship and way of life. The alternative given to us in Proverbs 2 is the most valuable pursuit there is, the most important thing in life â€“ to know and love God at a deeper level.
So let’s take a look:
How One Receives Wisdom (vv. 1-5)
2:1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
We see first in v. 1 there is an â€œifâ€ and again in v. 4, â€œifâ€ and in v. 5 we see â€œthenâ€ â€“ these are if/then statements that say if you do this, then these things will happen. If we take in our fatherâ€™s commandments, then we will understand â€œthe fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.â€ Fear and knowledge therefore do not just happen, they have to be sought after and desired. They require effort and time.
The way that is described here is of a person seeking wisdom, by calling for it, digging for it, mining for it, so that it can be found or discovered â€“ but all of these things require a person to diligently seek it out â€“ it does not just pop into your mind and heart.
I love my children, but one of my children has a tendency to wander off away from groups â€“ water parks, cub scout camp, churchâ€¦ and there have been several times when we realized that the child (who shall remain anonymous) there is a rush of panic and fear that rushes over you â€“ and your whole focus is finding that child as quickly as you can. I know I treasure this child, because I seek after the child with all I have, my heart desires nothing else but to find this child.
I yell the childâ€™s name â€œanonymousâ€, I look under stuff, I look in stuff, I really do want to find the child. This is how we are to seek God â€“ we cry out to the Lord in prayer, we search His Word as though we really want to discover Him, and His commands for our lives â€“ not in some kind of guilt trip, or so we can be self-righteous.
Mark 10:46-52 â€œAnd they came to Jericho. And as he [Jesus] was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, â€œJesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!â€ 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, â€œSon of David, have mercy on me!â€ 49 And Jesus stopped and said, â€œCall him.â€ And they called the blind man, saying to him, â€œTake heart. Get up; he is calling you.â€ 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, â€œWhat do you want me to do for you?â€ And the blind man said to him, â€œRabbi, let me recover my sight.â€ 52 And Jesus said to him, â€œGo your way; your faith has made you well.â€ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.â€
When we seek after wisdom with all that we have, it is not just wisdom that one is given, but God Himself! We get to know God better, we relate to Him at a deeper level.
How the Lord Protects Us With Wisdom (vv. 6-8)
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.
In chapter Proverbs 1 wisdom calls out to us and here we see that we are to call out for wisdom. So, wisdom desires to be listened to, and the Lord is ready to give wisdom to any who seek it. He stores it up for when we seek Him; it can be found in great quantity. Wisdom is directly related to obedience where the believer chooses to obey and wisdom is then given from God and their paths are protected. The seeker of wisdom is described as upright, blameless, just, and faithful.
Wisdom in the life of a believer then becomes a shield that is given by God that protects the believer. When we are diligent and obedient, wisdom is given from God and our decision-making becomes one where wisdom is shown. So if we look at it from the opposite view, and reverse the teaching here â€“ when we are disobedient, wisdom is not given in the life of a person, and then their decision making is one that lacks wisdom because it is not given by God, and the personâ€™s path is not guarded, and they suffer harm.
One of the ways that God â€œwatches over usâ€ is to allow us to choose to follow Him, and then because we choose His ways, and obey His commands, then he gives us the ability to protect ourselves by our ability to make good and wise decisions.
It is like a father who teaches his child to wear a helmet when he rides his bike. Every time the child goes to ride his bike the father tells him, wear your helmet â€“ then one day the son goes out, puts on his helmet and rides his bike without the father having to say anything â€“ he then falls â€“ how did the father protect his son? By giving him instruction and the son then listens and obeys, and the son is protected when he fell.
As our heavenly almighty father, He has the ability to make us walk in His ways, but He has decided to give us the freedom to choose. The Bible teaches us that those who become wise are those who seek the Lord, and obey His commands (holiness) â€“ wisdom â€œskills in lifeâ€ are given to them by God.
The best way to prepare our children for the world is to teach them to fall in love with Godâ€™s Word. To memorize it, to discuss it, read it, pray through it â€“ and teach them to have a quiet time on their own. We lead by example â€“ we love God and His Word, and they follow. We can have a quiet time with them, teaching of why we do this and how important it is, then have a quiet time at the same time but separately, and then them by themselves.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 â€œHear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.â€
Wisdom Protects Us From Evil Men (vv. 9-15)
â€œ9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; 10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.â€
The seeker of wisdom is described to us as being on a path. While on this path he begins to understand how God sees righteousness, justice, and equity â€“ and understand the â€œgood path.â€ He will discover that living this is â€œpleasant to the soul.â€ He enjoys living a godly life, it brings him joy. He doesnâ€™t have to, he gets to. Itâ€™s not a duty, or obligation but a privilege.
Wisdom given from God to the believer, and a love for God and this way of life becomes a guard against men who desire to seduce him into â€œways of darknessâ€ We see that not only do these men have perverted speech, are unrighteous, walk in ways of darkness, but that they â€œrejoice in doing evil.â€ They love being perverted, walking a crooked life path, and being devious. The danger is not what these evil men will do to the young man, but how they will draw him in to doing what they are doing, even to the point of thinking that it is pleasurable and having fun in this activity. The danger is that he will become what they are.
We all have a sin nature, that when we expose ourselves to certain things, stirs up things within us. These evil men use that sin nature to entice the young man into perverse activity. But when the young man has wisdom â€“ he realizes this and rejoices instead in His God, and Godâ€™s ways â€“ thus giving him the ability to not go down the crooked path.
Wisdom gives the young man the skill of saying, â€œnoâ€ and realizing that he does not want to live a life that way. The young man has a desire to serve God, rather than allow his sinful desire to control him, and lure him into wickedness.
Wisdom Protects Us From Evil Women (vv. 16-19)
16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19 none who go to her come back,
nor do they regain the paths of life.
We see the young man, who is separated from his father, and as he is walking he comes across a woman. Wisdom will protect a young man from this â€œsmoothâ€ talking woman. Her smooth talk is for the purpose of getting the young man to commit adultery with her. She is not keeping the pledge that she gave to God (notice itâ€™s not about her pledge to her husband).
Malachi 2:14 â€œBut you say, â€œWhy does he not?â€ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.â€
Another way to think of this is to engage in a relationship where the other person is willing to break a covenantal promise in order to get something she wants. The people that we choose to associate with will have a direct affect on us â€“ wisdom tells us that being around this woman is dangerous.
Proverbs 13:20 â€œWhoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.â€
Desire is a theme that runs through this chapter â€“ desire for God, desire to fit in, desire for an adulterous woman, etc.. Desire, when kept in check, and when a young man is righteous, holy, upright etcâ€¦is guarded and protected from the consequences of immoral and evil behavior because he does not engage in the activity.
But here the lust for this woman leads to a â€œsinking down to death,â€ keeping the desire in check, not engaging in activity or going to a place where this desire is aroused, has to be guided by wisdom. If not, it leads to destruction. The enticement to be with the peer group leads one to become like they are, here the desire and lust for this woman leads to the destruction of oneâ€™s life.
Wisdomâ€™s End Result (vv. 20-22)
20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Here again we see the young man joined with a group â€“ but they are a good and righteous group who are on a good path. And if the young man is able to be guided by wisdom, says â€œnoâ€ to danger, then he will â€œinhabit the landâ€ and â€œremainâ€ there. In the Old Testament land often times represents the presence of God, or a relationship with God. When we are obedient we are in a place where we can know God and remain in that place of knowing Him at a deeper level.
But the wicked are â€œcut offâ€ from knowing God, learning things about Him, and are even at a point where they are â€œrooted out of it.â€ Wisdom then, when sought after with all that we have, with our whole heart, and if we remain obedient to Godâ€™s commands, we will have the honor and privilege of knowing God.
Imagine you get on a plane and travel to deepest and most remotest part of a land where the people there do not speak your language and use crude instruments and tools, and have no knowledge of any other land than the surrounding country side where they grew up. Now you take that person and fly them to New York, and drop them off from a taxi to Times Square, you close the door, say â€œgood byeâ€ and drive off. How do you think they will do? Will they be successful? Will they even be able to live?
This is what life is like when we donâ€™t seek God with all of our heart. Life makes no sense, itâ€™s maddening, itâ€™s confusing, and it seems to keep changing. There is no sense of direction and we wander from place to place, day to day, not knowing, and not understanding. Everything is foreign and we donâ€™t understand very much at all.
But after a while, we kind-of figure some stuff out. We discover that we can dig through dumpsters to get food, and we can find clothing in the streets sometimes. But what if we were from New York, and spoke the language, and knew how to hail a cab, or had money to pay for it, because we had a job in one of those high sky scrapers. We had a home, and every sign we read told us where to go, how much, or we understood that dangers that lay ahead. Wisdom is like looking at the world as though we were from another land, and putting on glasses that allowed us to see and understand the world correctly.
The road to wisdom begins with understanding who God is, and what He is like. He is holy; we are not. He is all-powerful; we are not. He is all-knowing; we are not. He is all-loving; we are not. We have been cut off from Him, because of our sin. But in His love, he has made a way, for it all to make sense through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.
 Paul Koptan, The New Application Commentary (Grand Rapids:Michigan; Zondervan) 97.