Wisdom's Plea
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

If you keep in mind what we have suggested to you concerning the analysis of the book of Proverbs, you will remember that after the very beginning of the discussion of the book, by way of what we might call a preface , found in chapter 12 of the book of Ecclesiastes, we considered together the introduction of the book, which included a reference to the title, the purpose, the value, and the theme. Then we offered to you the divisions which are in the book of Proverbs itself—that is, the various divisions into which it naturally falls, reminding you that we have consistently followed the argument that there is in every book in the Bible an outline placed there by the Holy Spirit. If you look to find it and recognize it, you will have your correct understanding of the book. As many outlines as you would like to make yourself are always helpful, but the ones that are placed there by the Holy Spirit are the ones which are easily followed.

We suggested to you that the first division of the book of Proverbs is what we might refer to as A Father's Advice to His Son , and the first portion of that was thirteen lessons on wisdom. The thirteen lessons on wisdom begin with chapter 1, verse 8, and conclude with chapter 9, verse 18. The first lesson on wisdom we discovered was found in chapter 1, beginning with verse 8, and concluding with the last verse in this same chapter. We found that it was divided into two divisions: verses 8-19 representing a father's advice to his son, a mother's advice to her son in what we referred to as Parental Training . The last half of the lecture related to what we called Wisdom's Plea , and it is wisdom's plea that we want to notice with you in this lesson.

Christ is Wisdom Personified

Follow in your Bibles, please, as I read the portion that begins with verse 20:

Proverbs 1:

20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

As we have read the paragraph, I trust that you have noticed a very interesting thing. Wisdom , which is an abstract word, is personified in this paragraph—that is, she is presented to us as though she were a person. Wisdom is presented with all the personal characteristics of a living being. We recognize that this is but one of several personifications of wisdom which you will find in the book of Proverbs, and that attracts our attention because we recognize that perhaps wisdom means more than “that which makes one wise.” The Amplified t ranslation of the Old Testament has a footnote in which it suggests that you read for the word wisdom , “the wisdom of God.” It recognizes something that I would like to emphasize, and that is that wisdom, when personified in the book of Proverbs, is representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that when you read this passage of Scripture when you read the word wisdom , read it in this fashion: “The Lord Jesus Christ crieth without. He uttereth His voice in the streets. He crieth in the chief place of the concourse…”

Of course, if you are thinking, you will want to know why I would make such a suggestion like that. First, what is my reason for saying that wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ; secondly, how could it be the Lord Jesus Christ when the pronoun throughout the paragraph is feminine instead of masculine?

Let's deal with the second thought first and suggest to you that the feminine reference to wisdom here is a Hebrew characteristic of dealing with words of this sort, which is too detailed grammatically for us to discuss in this lesson, so just accept it on faith. The reason that we say that we believe that wisdom here and elsewhere in the book of Proverbs is representative of the Lord Jesus Christ is because the Bible would teach us that such is the case. Keep a marker here in the book of Proverbs and turn with me to I Corinthians, chapter 1, and notice verse 23, where the Apostle Paul says:

I Corinthians 1:

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Here Christ, the wisdom of God, is presented to us as wisdom personified. Then look at verse 30:

I Corinthians 1:

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

“Christ is made unto us wisdom.” These passages of Scripture would give ample reason for saying that wisdom, since it is personified by the Holy Spirit in the book of Proverbs, is representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when we refer to wisdom in this first chapter of the book of Proverbs, let us not think of an abstract word which is attracting our attention, but let us think of the plea of wisdom, which is the theme of this paragraph, as being actually the plea of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

I believe there is much that could be learned from this plea of the Lord Jesus Christ, the plea of wisdom. Much could be learned in relation to the needs of men and in relation to the manner in which all witnessing ought to be carried on. Because we don't want to take the time to reread the entire paragraph again, I am going to suggest to you that you notice with me some characteristics of this type of witnessing as it is found in the paragraph, looking at the verses where we need to look at them to refresh our memory.

Where the Lord Gives His Witness

The first thing that attracts my attention is the place where the Lord Jesus Christ gives His witness. It reminds us of some of the accusations which are being made against the so-called established church today—that the church has stayed within its four walls instead of reaching out and touching those who are in need elsewhere.

I have always said from the beginning of my ministry down to this present hour that there is nothing in the Bible that teaches that people ought to come to church in order to be saved. If you are without the Lord Jesus Christ, I trust that the Holy Spirit of God will convict your heart of sin, of sin that you believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ, of righteousness that the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the penalty in full, of judgment of all the judgment that rightfully belongs to you has already been borne of Him. As the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, I trust that you will receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior; but my friend, the services of the church ought not to be dedicated to an appeal to the unsaved. They ought to be dedicated to what we try to dedicate them to—an appeal to believers to study the Word of God and be thoroughly equipped for the witness that should be given out.

The Place Where Wisdom Offers its Plea

Did you notice in the passage of Scripture that we read in the very beginning where the witness was given? We are using phrases from other translations than the King James version that we looked at together a moment ago so that we might have the double emphasis, not only what is found here in the King James version, but what is found in other translations as well. And so, the witness is allowed in the open air. There is a scriptural foundation for street meetings out where individuals actually are who need the message—in public places where people are gathered together, where the crowd is who may not know the Lord Jesus Christ, at busy intersections. Of course, in our day and time you might find it a bit difficult to witness in some areas without bringing life and limb into danger, but the whole idea of the place of witness is that this is the place where people are gathered together and for that reason, the place where you ought to go.

The witness is also to be done in the open gates of the city. This is a slightly different translation than what you have in the King James version, but it is the exact rendering of the Hebrew text. The open gates of the city in the day in which the proverb referred to were the places where the people gathered together in large numbers. If you wanted to win someone or witness to someone or see someone, that is the place where you would naturally go.

You will recall that when Abraham commissioned Eleazar to find a wife for Abraham's son, Isaac, he didn't stay in his tent and say, “Lord, find a wife for my master, Isaac.” He went down where women were. In that day they were at the well gathering water. He was very logical and very sensible. He said, “If you want to find a woman, go to the place where women are.” We might remind you today that if you want to find someone who is in need of the truth of God's Word, then you need to go where those people are and do not sit in a church and wonder why people are not saved.

Someone said to me just the other day, “How many people did you have saved in your service last Sunday?” I said, “I don't know.” He said, “What do you mean, you don't know?” I said, “I mean I just don't know. We gave the Word. We preached the Gospel, and we asked God to speak to hearts. I don't even know if there were any unsaved there or not.” He said, “I couldn't stand a ministry like that. If I didn't see people walking the aisles every Sunday, I'd lose my mind.” I said, “Well, I rejoice with you in every person that comes to know Jesus Christ as Savior, but I find nothing in the Bible that tells me that the gathering of the saints is to be dedicated to the preaching to the lost. It seems rather ridiculous to me to spend an entire service preaching to the unsaved when there are no unsaved there.” Better it is for you to know the truth so that you can go out where they are and bring them to Christ.

People to Whom the Plea is Made

I would like for you to notice with me very briefly the people who are addressed in this plea which Christ makes. Three classes of people are addressed, and I suspect all phases of humanity will fall into one or more of these three classes.

Simple ones are addressed. Notice in the text:

Proverbs 1:

22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?…

What does the phrase, simple ones , mean? It comes from the Hebrew word pethiy , which means “individuals who are easily seduced.” They are no match for the Devil at all. He is able to seduce them without putting forth too much force at all. When the verse says, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?”, it is saying, “How long are you going to keep on being fooled by what the Devil has to offer? How long are you going to be seduced by the foolishness of the enemy?”

Then notice, the scorners are addressed:

Proverbs 1:

22 …and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

The word scorners comes from the Hebrew word luwts , which elsewhere in the book of Proverbs is translated by the word “mock.” Scorners are mockers. In chapter 9 of the book of Proverbs, we are told that fools make a mockery of sin, and only fools would do such a thing as that.

The third class of people mentioned are fools . There are three Hebrew words translated by the word fools in our English text. This particular one comes from the Hebrew word keciyl , which means “an individual who is insensible to moral truth;” that is, they have no interest in moral truth whatsoever. They don't understand it; they are not attracted by it; they are not attracted to it; and it is way over their heads. They are the type of whom Paul speaks in his Corinthian letter: “The natural man who understands not the things of the Spirit of God.”

We would like to remind you that it is not enough to give forth the Gospel. It is important for you to be praying that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of blinded men to receive the Gospel that you give forth. It is not enough to give forth the Truth. It is necessary to water the ministry of the Truth with your prayers so that the Holy Spirit of God can cause it to take effect in hearts and lives.

The Plea

We have looked at the place where wisdom offers its plea and the people to whom wisdom offers its remarks, and now we would say a word or two about the plea itself. What kind of plea is it? How may it be expressed? The first thing that is brought to our attention is what we find in verse 22: the words, how long , which indicates the patience that is related to the plea. We are going to learn before this chapter is over that the patience of God wears out, but the patience of God continues on and on and on: “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?” If God had not continuously offered the call, then He would not have been saying, “How long are you going to hold on to the things to which you have always believed?”

You will notice in verse 23:

Proverbs 1:

23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Notice particularly the words turn you. They can be translated by the word repent , for they speak of repentance. The plea that goes out is that men should repent, turn from the way that they are doing and live in the way that God would have them live.

The turning has to be very carefully done. Individuals have turned from idols and have gone back to idolatry right away, but when the procedure is followed, which is described in I Thessalonians, there is no problem. You remember the Thessalonian believers turned to God from idols. They didn't turn from idols first. They turned to God from idols. With that supernatural help that God gave, the individual was able to have the victory, for the plea of which we speak contains not only the words of admonition, but a promise as well that we read to you in the last part of verse 23.

The promise was first related to the Holy Spirit. You notice in verse 23:

Proverbs 1:

23 …I will pour out my spirit unto you…

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon men; in the New Testament the Holy Spirit dwells within men. Christ Jesus is reminding us that the very moment we respond to the plea that He gives, that very moment the Holy Spirit takes up His dwelling place in our lives as a seal of the finished work of grace. What would we expect—to be left alone to do the best that we can? Well, that is what happens quite often, but not when God is in charge of things, because the promise that is presented is not only the promise of the Spirit, but the promise of the Word itself. You will notice there in verse 23:

Proverbs 1:

23 …I will make known my words unto you.

I have said so often, and I repeat it again that all the effort of modern translations of the Scripture, if they may be called that, to put the Bible in the language of the man on the street will not be entirely effective, though they may be helpful, because it is only as the Word of God is administered by the Holy Spirit of God that it becomes effective.

Did you notice in the procedure we are following that the Word was not given until after the individuals in question turned from the manner of life in which they were to serve the living and the true God? Then the Word became an open Book to them.

I don't know how much effort you and I put forth to win people to Christ. Maybe we take what we would call a glancing blow at the matter. We know that someone is unsaved. We would love to see them come to Christ, and so we go and witness to them, and we feel like we have discharged our duty. I don't know that we pray a great deal about it; I don't know that we carry any excessive burden; we just offer our plea and that is all. But one cannot read this lecture on wisdom and the plea of wisdom in this portion of the Word of God without being reminded of the intensity of the plea itself, for the Lord Jesus Christ, as He pleads with the hearts of men, does not do so in a light fashion, but with a great deal of intensity.

As we read the paragraph, did you notice the word called in verse 24: “Because I have called.” The manner in which this word called is presented grammatically in the original text is, “I have called and called and called and called and called…” I could go on to infinity if I were able, and you would have an idea of the call. He never ceases to call. It continuously goes forth.

Not only are we reminded in verse 24 that He called, but we are reminded as well that He has stretched out His hand. The idea is stretching out the hand in appeal, beseeching, begging the individual to come to Him. It is not as though God stood on some distant mountain peak ordering people to come to Him; it is as though the Lord Jesus Christ Himself took upon human flesh and came down to this earth in contact with human beings and stretched out His hands and implored men to come to Christ.

Then you will notice the word counsel . The word counsel in our text does not mean that the Lord Jesus Christ called individuals in and said, “Now, let's have a conference,” much as an individual might suggest a conference between two human beings. The word counsel gives the idea of constant reminders of one's obligation to God, constant red-flag warnings, shall we say, that it is time to give your heart to Christ, and there is not a great deal of time left.

We don't always recognize these red-flag warnings for what they are, but the intensity of the plea of Christ is indicated in verse 25, when He said, “Ye have set at nought all my counsel. You paid no attention to it.”

Intensity of the Plea

The last thing that indicates the intensity of the plea of the Savior is the word reproof . This word reproof includes the idea of drastic things occurring in an individual's life, what we might refer to as narrow escapes , and we come out of them feeling like our life has been hanging by a thread and we are suddenly spared. In a moment we may have found ourselves in eternity, but in the mercy of God our lives have been spared. Sometimes individuals will recognize this as a reproof from God and they will straighten up for a while, at least, and try to do things differently and act the way they ought to act; but because they are not born again and are simply scared at the narrow escape, they go back to the old way of living. But God intensifies His plea with the reproofs involved.

How Will Men Respond?

What are the responses? It is an interesting thing to me to notice that in the very beginning of the book of Proverbs, which is meant to be God's appeal to you and to me to know how to live, we are told how men are going to respond. God knows already, and we suggest to you the various words that are used in the text as to how men do respond to the intense appeal that the Savior gives.

The first word is the word refused . You notice in verse 24, He said:

Proverbs 1:

24 Because I have called, and ye refused…

The word refused in the original text means “they refused to lend an ear; they refused to listen.” It is the sort of thing that happens when individuals come to church and refuse to listen to the message. They find something to talk about. I heard on the radio coming to church the testimony of a young man affiliated with the Association of Christian Athletes . He is a young man from Cooper High School and was a part of the service of another church in the city. He told of how many times he went to church and sat on the back row and played games and didn't hear a thing coming from the pulpit. Nothing of the message was heard. They refused to listen. A lot of people do that. A lot of people are refusing to listen to the plea of Christ. A lot of folk pay no attention. They not only refuse to listen, but they pay absolutely no attention. They ignore the suggestion in verse 24:

Proverbs 1:

24 …I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 [Notice this verse] But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:

They would have absolutely nothing to do with the message that went forth, and then you will notice in the same text that these individuals hated knowledge. They not only were careless in their attitude, but they had developed a literal hate for the Word of God so that when the Word of God was actually presented, that animosity and hate was stirred up, and they found themselves refusing to listen.

Of course, finally we come to the real crux of the whole matter, and that is they did not choose the fear of the Lord. Every individual sooner or later must come face-to-face with a choice. You may for a time refuse to listen; you may for a time pay no attention; you may for a time have nothing to do with what is presented. You may even hate the Word of God and the people who present it, but there will come a time in your life when it will be said of you that you did not choose the fear of the LORD. Then the sad state that is expressed by the last word becomes evident: You despise the things of God, and the very message that comes to you related to Him is despised by you so that you can even make light of it and not be greatly concerned about it. It is old hat to you. You have no real interest in it any more.

Natural Result of Rejecting the Plea

In this plea of wisdom that we are discussing, the story would not be complete if we did not think with you about what we have been pleased to term, for want of another way to express it, the natural result of individuals who reject a plea so very intense. What could you expect? What would you expect?

The first thing that is brought to our attention is God's mockery. This is one of the unique pictures of God in the Word. You don't find it but one other time in the Scripture, and it is rather difficult for us to think of God in the fashion that is described, but I would like for you to notice verse 26:

Proverbs 1:

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

God mocks at men when His patience is worn out and the time of judgment has come. I repeat that it is difficult for us to think of God as laughing at men, but He does. Psalm 2 is the other place in the Word where it is mentioned that God laughs at men. The record there is that He laughs at the nations who would tear God from His throne. He laughs at them and refuses to heed their call because they turned a deaf ear when the opportunity came.

I would not stand here and suggest to you that if you do not make a decision God would have you make that in the morning God will not hear any word that you have to say. I would not suggest that He would be laughing at you, but I would suggest to you that when God's patience has come to the end, then God will mock at men who mock at Him, whenever that day will be.

Man's Harvest

The other result that we should consider in the light of the context is what I have been pleased to refer to as man's harvest . You know, you don't have to wait for God to visit judgment upon men. All you need to do is wait for the seed that has been planted to grow up and produce the harvest, and soon that will be. Look at verse 31, of the paragraph:

Proverbs 1:

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Did you notice what was written in the text: “They shall eat of the fruit of their own way…” I have often said, and I repeat, that sin is its own worst punishment, and if you let that thought sink in, you will see the truth of it. Of course, judgment comes when man's laws are disobeyed. Judgment comes when God's laws are disobeyed, but even if that judgment did not come, individuals who have wasted their lives in sin recognize that sin is its own worst punishment. Notice again:

Proverbs 1:

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

A better word for prosperity here would be “the careless manner of life.” When you or I carelessly consider the claims of God, that very carelessness will destroy us.

The Alternative

Before we close we want to emphasize the alternative. You don't have to be one who is slain by your own devices. You don't have to be one who is destroyed by the manner of life that you live. There is an alternative. The alternative is found in verse 33. Notice the words:

Proverbs 1:

33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

You see, there is a difference. Up to this point we have been talking about men who turn a deaf ear to the pleas of Christ, but notice again:

Proverbs 1:

33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

As someone else has expressed it: “Whosoever listens to me shall live without a care and not be disturbed by fear of misfortune.” That is a wonderful way to live, isn't it? To live without a care and not be disturbed by the fear of misfortune.

Conclusion

How good it is to have our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ. Solomon spoke of wisdom's plea, but because the Holy Spirit was pleased to personify it, we speak of Christ's plea, and we say to you that this is His plea. I hope you will heed it.


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