Lessons for Wisdom
Dr. Joe Temple


We told you that the first division of the book of Proverbs represented a father's advice to his son, what we have also described as thirteen lessons on wisdom with a summary that summarizes all of the truth that was presented in the thirteen lesson themselves. I would now like for us to examine those thirteen lessons. Perhaps you would like to mark in your Bibles the lessons as we point them out to you so that you will know where they are. This does not mean that we are going to read these lessons. We are simply going to locate them for you and give you the theme for each particular lesson that you are going to find among the thirteen lessons here in the book of Proverbs.

The first lecture on wisdom begins with verse 8 of chapter 1 and goes through verse 33. It begins with the words, my son , which is the key phrase for the entire division. This particular lecture is related to the need for shunning evil companions.

The second lecture begins with chapter 2, verse 1, and goes through verse 22. We have labeled it The Search for Wisdom .

In the third lecture, found in chapter 3, verses 1-10, we have described the theme in the words, Trust and Obey.

The fourth lecture, beginning with chapter 3, verses 11-20, we have labeled Chastening and Wisdom . What is the result of chastening in the believer's life? What connection does wisdom have with it?

The fifth lecture is related to wisdom and fear. What will wisdom do with fear in the believer's life? You find that in chapter 3, verses 21-35.

The sixth lecture is related to a biographical sketch which you find in chapter 4, verses 1-9, when the father who is speaking throughout this passage tells of some experiences he had in his own life and how he profited from those experiences and trusted that his children would as well.

The seventh lecture, found in chapter 4, verses 10-19, presents its theme in the words, Shun Evil Paths . Just as in the first lecture you are instructed to shun evil companions, in the seventh lecture you are instructed to shun evil paths.

The eighth lecture, found in chapter 4, verses 20-27, suggests that we should cleave to that which is good.

The ninth lecture, found in chapter 5, verses 1-23, deals with sex relationships.

The tenth lecture, beginning in chapter 6, verse 1, and continuing through verse 19, deals with what we have been pleased to call The Chords of Sin . In this lecture you are going to discover that sin has a way of binding its tentacles around you, and you find it very difficult to free yourself and set yourself free from the problems that arise in connection with it.

The eleventh lecture on wisdom is found in chapter 6, verses 20-35, and it deals with the sin of adultery.

The twelfth lecture, found in chapter 7, verses 1-27, deals with the ways of the prostitute.

In the thirteenth lecture, in chapter 8, verses 1-36, we find wisdom personified, and we will discover, when we examine that lecture in detail, that when we speak of “wisdom personified,” we are actually speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ because wisdom personified in the Old Testament is always a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In chapter 9, verses 1-18, you are going to find the summary of all thirteen lessons presented in parabolic form in the sense of two houses—the house of wisdom and the house of folly. After we get through with these lectures on wisdom, you might find yourself asking yourself and others, “Where do you live? Do you live in the house of wisdom or do you live in the house of folly?”

I realize that we have gone over this rather hurriedly, but we will be able to understand it better as we notice it in each individual lecture.

Let us begin to look together at the first lecture on wisdom in the book of Proverbs. In this lecture you are going to find it falling into two natural divisions. In verses 8-19 you are going to find a word about parental training and the wisdom of it. Then in the latter part of the lecture, verses 20-33, you are going to find the plea of wisdom, or as we have already pointed out to you, wisdom personified, being Christ. You are going to find the plea of Christ to every individual.

Attention Presented to Parental Training

It is an interesting thing for me to notice in the very first lecture on wisdom, before any time is given to the plea that Christ makes to the human heart that attention is presented to parental training. I wonder if that suggests anything to us. I think that it does. I think that it teaches at least one thing and that is that your child will be much more eager to hear the voice of Christ if he has learned to hear your voice in the things of God, that your child will be much more amenable to the instruction of the Word of God if you, as a parent, have set the example in the home.

Notice with me what is recorded here in verse 8 of this chapter, where we read:

Proverbs 1:

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Notice with me once again what we find in verse 8:

Proverbs 1:

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

You will notice a rather strange thing. The strange thing is that the child is admonished in these verses. Listen carefully to what his parents have to say. The parents are not admonished to say anything. It is assumed that they will say it. The responsibility of the parent is not something about which they should be exhorted. The responsibility of the parent is something that is inherited the very moment a child is conceived, and that is the reason God does not spend any time admonishing parents to do what they ought to do. They are expected to do it, but God does admonish young people to listen to what their parents have to say.

I believe that when we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, many of us, as parents, are going to have to give an account for our failures in our children's lives. I don't know how many times I have had parents say to me, “I cannot understand it. I gave them everything. I did everything I knew to do and look how they have turned out.” I am not going to stand here and say to you, because I am not guilty of making such general statements, that every child who has failed could blame his parents. I am not going to say that, but I am going to say to you, Beloved, that I believe that the greater measure of blame lies at the feet of us who are parents, rather than upon the shoulders of our children, if our children do not, using the proverbial expression, “turn out right.”

I would like for you to notice what is first brought to our attention in this passage of Scripture. It is the father's instruction. Did you notice there in verse 8:

Proverbs 1:

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father…

It doesn't say, “Hear the instruction of thy mother.” It says “Hear the instruction of thy father.” Fathers, you have a responsibility to instruct your child. You may say, “I do. I help him with his homework every night.” That is not what we are talking about. This word instruction comes from a Hebrew word muwcar , which means “instruction” all right, but elsewhere in the Bible you will find it translated by the word “chastening.” So it is not a matter of just teaching out of books; it is a matter of chastening your child when he needs chastening.

If we were to look into this word in detail, we would find that the word chastening includes corporal punishment. It includes rebuke, but it also includes child training where no punishment is involved at all—the way in which a father should train his son.

Do you know why there is such a need for sex education in the schools today in the minds of men? Did you notice how I said that—why there is a need in the minds of men? I am not convinced there is a need, but do you know why they think there is a need? Because most fathers have failed in instructing their sons in relation to sex. When we speak of chastening, we not only are thinking of corporal punishment; we are thinking of son training as well, and any father ought to train his son in everything that is related to being a male. If he doesn't do it, he has failed miserably.

This word, muwcar , also includes the idea of correction. It is your responsibility. Are you noticing this? Isn't it strange there is nothing here about the mother's having the responsibility of correcting? It is the father's responsibility to enter into the correction of the child. Then there is the word discipline , so you see instruction involves quite a bit more than the study of books.

Fathers Should Teach Doctrine

The third word is something that is neglected by a great many folk. A great many fathers know something about chastening and they know something about correction and discipline; but how many of them know anything about doctrine? What does your child know about the doctrine of the Word of God? You say, “Well, I don't know, really.” Well, you ought to know. You may say, “That is why I bring him to the Bible church. That is your business to teach him doctrine. It is the Sunday School teacher's business to teach him doctrine.” No, it isn't. I ought to be teaching from the Word of God, which I endeavor to do every time I stand in the pulpit, but you ought not to shove your responsibility off on my shoulders. It isn't my responsibility, and you ought not to say, “Well, we need to find a new Sunday School teacher because the Sunday School teacher is not teaching the doctrine they ought to teach.” Well, that is regrettable, but remember this: What they teach should be something extra to what you are teaching. You, as a father, should instruct your child in what you believe. I wonder how many children would be able to state intelligently what their father's belief was concerning a certain doctrine. I wonder.

Mothers Should Teach the Word of God

Notice in this same verse of Scripture:

Proverbs 1:

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

We have presented to us not only the responsibility of the father, but also the responsibility of the mother. What is the responsibility of the mother? It is the responsibility of the mother to teach the child the law. What do we mean by that? The word law comes from the Hebrew word Torah , and the Torah , which every good Jew knows, is the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. I would not insist that you teach your child the Pentateuch in the same way that the Jewish families were supposed to do, but I would suggest that you teach your child the Word of God because this is exactly what the Scripture says. The Scripture says that it is the father's responsibility to instruct in the manner in which I have suggested. It is the mother's responsibility to teach them the Word of God.

You may wonder why this is true, and you may even question it. You may say, “I thought that the father was supposed to be the spiritual head of the home. I thought that the father was supposed to be the high priest.” He is. “Then why do you say that it is the mother's responsibility to teach the child the Word of God?” I say that, Mother, because the Word of God recognizes that you have your child in those very early and very tender years when your child is ready and willing to listen to what you are teaching. You have them more hours than the father does. Remember, by the time Father has any time to spend with his son or his daughter, the day is already gone. The child is weary, oftentimes in bed by the time some fathers come home because of the work hours they keep. The father himself is weary, and he can't present the Word in a way that will be appealing to that little child.

If you want to wait until your child is fourteen or fifteen and let your husband sit down in a Bible class on Saturday morning, you can do that; but by that time, your child will not be interested in the Word of God. It is your responsibility while he is young to teach him the Word, and I believe that this is the reason God said in this portion of the Word that it is the father's responsibility to instruct; it is the mother's responsibility to see to it that the child hides away in his heart the Word of God.

There are ways that Hebrew mothers and fathers were supposed to do this, and I think that we could learn a lesson from them because I am not convinced at all that most of us go about it the right way. I am afraid that in many homes the teaching of the Word of God is an ordeal. It is something that is tolerated and put up with because of the way it is presented. It is not something that is welcomed when the opportunity comes. For example, I am quite sure that in some homes the teaching of the Word is made such a formal thing that the children feel like they have attended another religious service and their reaction is, “Have I got to go to church every day? I go to church on Sunday.” It ought to be more natural than that.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 4. God is saying through Moses to his people some things that they needed to remember after they got into the land and got settled and had homes of their own. Notice in verse 9:

Deuteronomy 4:

9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;

“Teach them to your sons and to your grandsons.” Do you know that many people only notice the last part of this verse—the responsibility of teaching your sons and your grandsons. My, what a wonderful privilege it is to look forward to teaching your grandchildren the truths of God's Word. I think that one of the sweetest things—you will forgive this personal reference—that has ever been said to anybody was when our little daughter-in-law, Janice, said to Cricket, in the hospital, “You can't die (I don't mean to imply that we thought she was). You have got to live to teach Nancy (our grandbaby) the way that you taught the others.” That is the sweetest thing that I think could be said to any person. Grandmothers, you ought not to think that your life is finished and your work is over. You have a tremendous opportunity to teach your grandchildren because you will be able to profit from all the mistakes that you made with your own children, and don't be afraid to be a butinsky by teaching your grandchildren. That is God's order.

This is what I want you to get from this verse: Did you notice that before the instructions to teach these things to thy sons and thy son's sons, God said to take care of your own life first? Notice what He said:

Deuteronomy 4:

9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life…

I think one of the biggest problems parents have with children today is that they try to teach them when they are not in fellowship themselves. They try teaching them when they haven't taken heed to their own hearts. They try to teach them things that they themselves have forgotten as far as personal reality is concerned. Hypocrisy can be detected by young people quicker than by any other group of people.

Another passage of Scripture that indicates how these Israelites were taught to teach their children is found in Deuteronomy, chapter 6, in the paragraph that begins with verse 6. We read:

Deuteronomy 6:

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

All of the suggestions here might not be practical. For example, verse 8. If you tried to fulfill it literally, you might look a little bit ridiculous: “Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand…” This is a reference to the fact that the Jews carried a part of the Pentateuch strapped around their wrist, much like you carry a wristwatch today. Some of them carried it in a little package like a band that went around their heads, but the spiritual lesson is that you should have it with you at all times.

The other portions, I see no reason in the world why they cannot apply to us today. Look again at verse 6:

Deuteronomy 6:

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

Don't try to get them in the hearts of your children until you have them in your own heart. Don't be one of these parents who say, “Don't do as I do. Do as I say.” Be sure that it is in your own heart first, then teach them, in verse 7, diligently to your own children.

The remaining portion of this verse does not mean that you are going to have four or five Bible classes every day. Some people make a mistake doing that with their children. It simply means that the most natural thing in the world in your household will be to talk about the Word of God. You will:

Deuteronomy 6:

7 … talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Normal, natural conversation will revolve around the Word of God. In verse 9 is a good suggestion and I would like to see more of it among Christians: “Thou shalt write them upon the post of thine house, and on thy gates.” What I am saying is that I am always encouraged when I go into a Christian home and find some indication that there are Christians living there. I like to see a Scripture verse on the wall. I like to see some indication somewhere about the house that folk are depending upon the Lord. Only eternity will reveal the number of privileged testimonies which have been given to individuals because they have been able to read what was written on the walls, on the gateposts and on the doors.

A Child's Responsibility to Hear

Parents, you have your responsibility laid out before you, but really, let's go back to Proverbs, chapter 1. The admonition was not to parents, was it? The admonition was to children, to young people, to individuals who are the offspring of fathers and mothers, and I would like for you young people to listen closely to this portion. I would like for you parents to listen, because this is your responsibility to see that it occurs. Look at verse 8:

Proverbs 1:

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father…

We have talked about the instruction of father. We want to now talk about the child's responsibility to hear. Parents, you make a very great mistake if you are not sure that your child has heard what you have said. The word hear comes from the Hebrew word shama , which means “to pay attention.” If you hear the instruction of your father in the manner that is suggested here, you will pay attention to what he says. It won't go in one ear and out the other. You will pay very close attention to what he says. The attention you have paid will be indicated by the obedience that you render because you will obey the instruction that you receive from your father.

Remember, in God's Book, God wrote these words, and this is the original language in which He wrote it. In God's Book you haven't really heard unless you have obeyed. If you hear and ignore, then as far as God is concerned, you really haven't heard what has been said, and it needs to be said over again. Parents, if you can tell that the child to whom you have spoken has not heard by the fact that he has not obeyed, the greatest damage that you will do to him and the greatest mistake that you will make is to let him get away with it. Much better would it be if you never open your mouth than to open your mouth to give instruction and permit that instruction to be ignored.

Look at verse 8 again:

Proverbs 1:

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, [what about your mother] and forsake not the law of thy mother:

The words forsake not come from one Hebrew word natash , which means “to reject.” Actually, this English word forsake is not a happy rendering because it leaves the impression that for a while you obey the Word of God, the Word that your mother has taught you, and by and by, you forsake it. You decide not to obey it any longer. That is not the real meaning of the word. The instruction is, “Don't reject the law of your mother. Don't reject the Word of God.” Then another very interesting translation of that word is the phrase, “join battle.” Don't join a battle against the Word of God.

Mothers, if you are doing what God wants you to do—giving your child the Word of God, not your opinion, not your own ideas, but the Word of God—then the battle will not be against you. It will be against the Word of God, and you can enlist God's help. I don't want you to misunderstand what I am saying, but I don't think God is greatly concerned about whether your son or your daughter responds to some little whim of yours. I don't think He is greatly concerned about that, and I don't know but what you could pray about that from now to doomsday and get no response; but if you have instructed your child in the Word of God and your child joins battle against the Word, then you can enlist God's help because the battle isn't against you, though it may appear to be. It is against the Word, and I wish some of you parents would keep that in mind.

Sometimes you get the idea that the battle is against you, and you go around saying, “I don't know what I have done. I don't know why they don't like me, and so and so and so and so,” but the battle isn't against you. The battle is against the Word if you have been faithful in teaching the Word.

You young people listen carefully to what I say here, for my remarks are addressed to you out of love and honor and respect. You ought to give consideration to the desires of your parents, and if the desires of your parents mean more to them than they do to you, you ought to love them enough to yield on certain issues and on certain points; but I want to be honest with you and say that unless your parents can back up with the Word of God what they say, you have no reason to obey them other than the fact that you love them and you honor them and you are obligated to obey your parents in the Lord.

Listen carefully to what I say: If your parents can turn to chapter and verse for what they say, you had better not oppose them in what they say because you will be joining battle against the Word. You will be joining battle against God, and it won't be mother or daddy with a big stick or mother's or daddy's denying you some privilege or grounding you because you don't do some particular thing; it will be a matter of God's disciplining you because you dare to oppose His Word. This is the reason in this first portion of wisdom's lecture, parental training is so very important.

Instruction in the Ways of the World

I would like for you to indulge me for a just a few minutes because I would like to suggest to you that parental instruction will not only include the things about which I have been speaking, but parental instruction, according to the paragraph that begins with verse 10 and concludes with verse 19, will include instruction in the ways of the world.

I have heard it said that children who are raised in Christian homes are not ready to meet the world. Well, why aren't they? What have you been doing all these years they have been at home? If they aren't ready to come to grips with the world because they have been raised in a Christian home, you are to blame for it. Where did this idea get started that children who are raised in a Christian home can't cope with the world? Where did this idea get started that young people who go to Christian institutions don't know how to face the world when they come face-to-face with it? If the institutions are doing what they ought to do and the parents are doing what they ought to do, your child who has been reared in a Christian home ought to be more equipped to face the evils of the world than a child who never even heard of Christ because, Beloved, remember, you don't have to go down through the sewer to smell bad. All you need to do is stand at the outlet. If you are rearing your children practically in the ways of the world as well as theologically, they will be able to face the world all right.

In this paragraph to which I have referred, there is an illustration of a young boy who leaves home and runs into a group of people (you would think they were living in the twentieth century), and they say, “We have a good thing going. We have a gang, and we go out in Central Park every night. We do a lot of mugging, and boy, do we make the money. You ought to see what we have got. Come on and we will show you. We will take you down to where we hang out, and we will show you all the loot we got last night from our mugging in Central Park.”

Whoever the father is in this first chapter, whether it is Solomon or whether it was meant to be you, God said, “Father, you tell your boy when he gets out in life, he is going to run into characters like that, and they are going to make it sound very inviting. You tell him how to react when he faces a thing like that.” If you teach him how to react, he will react all right.

We will look at just a few words in this paragraph. Will you notice in verse 10:

Proverbs 1:

10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

The word entice , young people, comes from the Hebrew word pathah , which means “to flatter and to allure.” When the Devil or the Devil's crowd want to get you on their side, they will flatter you. They will make you think that you are the best thing that ever hit this planet. Some of you will be foolish enough to believe it and say, “They can't do me any harm. Look at all the things that they will do for me.”

Notice the advice that is given: “When they attempt to entice you, consent not.” Consent not comes from the Hebrew word abah , which means, “don't even be in silent agreement with them. Don't even listen to their story. Don't listen to their arguments as to why you should do what they want you to do.” Rather, if you will look down further in the paragraph, you will find the instruction that you should refrain your feet from their path. The word refrain comes from the Hebrew word mana, which means “restrain,” which is a very practical suggestion.


Parents, if you are teaching your children the way that you ought to teach them, you will teach them that they will come face to face with evil when they get out in the world. You will teach them that that evil will be very inviting, and you will teach them that they will not be free from it just because they are Christians. You will tell them that they should “refrain their feet from the evil path,” but you will tell them that they will have to put on the brakes. If you don't, they will be down that path before you know it.

Of course, the way to restrain feet that want to walk in an evil way is to depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit so that you might walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

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