Proverbs - Chapter 1

A verse-by verse study in Proverbs, chapter 1.

The Book of Proverbs
Chapter 1

In this study, we will walk through each verse of each chapter of the Book of Provides to glean a greater understanding of this most profound book of the Bible.


As an introduction, let me begin by saying that King Solomon, upon being crowned king of Israel, sought God, not for riches, but for knowledge and wisdom to rule over his people.   God, however gave him knowledge, wisdom, and riches.  As such, Solomon became known as the wisest man in the world.  He wrote over 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs; however, only a little over a thousand proverbs are in the Book of Proverbs.  Solomon wrote all of chapters 1-29, but chapters 30-31 are devoted to other writers.  God also blessed Solomon in that He also made him the wealthiest man in the world as well.  So Solomon, at one time was the wisest and the most wealthiest king in the world - all because of how God blessed him.

The Book of Proverbs teaches us how to gain wisdom from God's perspective, so we will obey Him and live a life pleasing to Him.  God shows us, through the writings of King Solomon, as he is giving advice to his son and those leaders of other nations who came to listen to his proverbs, that it is God speaking to us - even today.

  • God gives advice, warnings, criticism, feelings, encouragement, information, and expressions of what He wants for us.
  • God teaches us how to use "not common sense," but how to learn God's sense.  So whenever we speak of common sense, we are speaking of God's sense, as written down in His Word.

We will discover that those who are righteous will be spoken of as believers - believers and followers in the Mosaic Law, for they are the wise.  It can also refer to New Testament believers and followers of Jesus Christ, for the Book of Proverbs, like all of the Old Testament writings are our teacher to teach us right from wrong.

  • The wicked will be referred to as unbelievers...or those who think and do anything that is contrary to the will of God.  While that may seem surprising, especially to us as believers, we need to realize that anything contrary to the will of God is considered wicked in the eyes of God, meaning even believers can do things that God considers wicked if they think and do things that are contrary to the will of God.

Knowledge, Instruction, Wisdom

I met a man many years ago who became my advisor when I was the president of a small Christian college as the college was working toward its accreditation.

  • Dr. Petry was not only my advisor or mentor with the college, of which I could called upon him any time with the many accreditation questions I had, but he was also my professor at ORU when I was completing my masters’ degree
  • He was teaching a course on the Book of Proverbs where I was the student, and he said something so profound that I have never forgotten it.
  • “First comes knowledge, then comes understanding, and THEN comes wisdom.”
  • That has proved itself so true in all aspects of life…but especially true in the area of our relationship with God.
  • And now as I'am teaching you on the Book of Proverbs, I see these three words is really what the Book of Proverbs is all about!

King Solomon was trying to teach his son, as he was anointed by God, to speak to his son and to kings and leaders of pagan nations on the wisdom of God.  His writings of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom also speaks to us even today. You will hear me say these three words (knowledge, understanding and wisdom) over and over again throughout every chapter in our study of the Book of Proverbs.

Few Modern Commentaries

Many Christians read a chapter a day of Proverbs because of the wisdom it holds.  That is awesome...But let's go deeper.  We are going to go deeper by studying each verse to see on how God speaks to us today through King Solomon.

I have discovered over the years that there are very few modern commentaries out there on the Bible that has adapted itself to our modern-day living of today.  Many of them quote well known authors as sources of reference, and that is great, but it often still difficult to relate their writings to our modern-day living of today in 2023.

  • While the meanings of what King Solomon wrote remain the same, what Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, said back 3000 years ago, has to means the same thing today.  It needs, however, to be spoken in a way that makes sense to us today.
  • My discovery has been that there are very few commentaries that express those words easily for our world today.

There are many modern versions of Scripture out there; however, I primarily use the New King James Version, because that version, along with the King James Version has been my version of choice all of my adult life.  In later chapters, as we get into mini proverbs about half way through, I will use the New Living Translation for its ease of understanding.  I have, however, regularly examined the many other modern versions of Scripture as we work our way through each and every single verse in Proverbs.

  • Looking at a variety of versions will help us understand a fuller meaning to a point…and that is good.
  • Most people, however, either do not have the time or have at their disposal the many different versions out there to assist in their research. 
  • I will from time to time also give you the Hebrew meanings of various words to help you more accurately understand its true meanings as well.  Having an understanding of the original language is always critical in anayzing any text of scripture.

What is a proverb?
A short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice

Chapter 1

Proverbs 1:1  The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.

Verse 1 of chapter 1 simply claims King Solomon, son of King David, as the author of the Book of Proverbs.  It was written approximately 3000 years ago.

Proverbs 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,

The Book of Proverbs is all about gaining God's knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  First comes knowledge - studying the Word of God to gain God's knowledge.  Second comes understanding - we meditate on what we studied in God's Word.  Third comes wisdom - You can't have wisdom without understanding of the knowledge God gives to you.

The purpose of the Book of Proverbs is to know wisdom by pursuing knowledge, perceiving understanding through God’s revelation, which we then begin to gain His wisdom.  But it starts out by pursuing knowledge. 

Right now, we live in an informational age; however we DO NOT live in an age of wisdom.  There is a lot of information out there - a lot of knowledge.  We have computers, electronic tablets, cell phones, and with a click, we instantly have information coming before our eyes.  Yet, we live in a country that is in total chaos.  We are in an informational war with lies on one side and those seeking truth on the other.  And which is which is sometimes hard to determine.  So then, what is truth – where do we find truth?  Where do we go to receive knowledge so we can understand and gain the right wisdom?

3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, judgment, and equity;

If we are looking for the learning of justice, judgment and equity, we will find it in the Book of Proverbs if we read it with an open heart and mind.  That way, God can show and lead us to understand His knowledge down into our heart.  For then we can gain and live out God’s wisdom in our lives.

4 To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—

This is a powerful verse because it tells us that no matter how ignorant or uneducated we may feel, God still wants to pour His knowledge into us.  Remember, first comes His knowledge, then by meditating and pondering over that knowledge, we begin to gain His understanding. God reveals His truth to us.  When we finally understand, then we gain the wisdom of God as He has been trying to pour into our lives.

5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,  To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.

I know that if you are reading this teaching, your heart is to gain God’s wisdom, and if you do what God is asking here, you will obtain His knowledge.  And then when you do, you have God's promise in that when you obtain more understanding, you will keep increasing in more and more knowledge to gain more understanding and attain more and more wisdom.  Once you seek after it, it keeps following you as you develop more and more of God's wisdom.  That's pretty awesome!

Josh 1:8 tells us to meditate on God’s Word day and night so that we may observe to do all that is written in it.  For then we will make our way prosperous and have good success. 

This world is filled with lies, propaganda and narratives that violate the Word of God.  So in order to counteract those violations, we have to stay in the Word of God. God’s Word brings true knowledge, which when we meditate on His knowledge, it brings understanding and revelation that comes from God, which then leads to God’s wisdom operating in our lives.

The Fear of the Lord

Prov. 1:7  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

What is the fear of the Lord?  If we examine the word “fear” in this context, we find from its Hebrew meaning to say "moral reverence, not being afraid."  We need, however, to have enough fear of God to where we honor and treat Him with the respect that is deserving of Him.  After all, He is God Almighty, we are His creation – He is our Creator.

  • This kind of "fear of the Lord" is spoken of 13 times throughout the Old Testament.
  • When we treat God with the reverence and respect deserving to Him, we realize it is only through Him that we can gain true knowledge in our lives.

The fear of the Lord is the affectionate reverence by which a child of God yields himself humbly and carefully to His Creator.  This is our first obligation – fear the Lord above all else.

  • Fools on the other hand, deny Who God is and what He has done for the world. 
  • Fools despise the wisdom that God wants His people to have and they mock those who carry God’s wisdom about them.  Part of the reason they mock those who carry God's wisdom is because they fear they are correct and they don't want to look like a fool in being wrong.  They will defend their position no matter what.   
  • These kinds of fools certainly do not want to receive any instruction on how to gain God's kind of knowledge.  To them, they think they would look like a fool, when in the eyes of God, they have been a fool all along.

Prov 1:8  My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.

The Role of Godly Parents

Let's begin by looking at the importance of the role of parents in how they are to work together as one in the instructing of their children.  King Solomon may have been speaking to his son or sons, but more importantly, these words speak to us, as our heavenly Father is speaking to us on how to act as parents, and how God works with us His children.

  • The father is the head, and the mother has the supporting role – the two of them work together in unison.  The father gives the instruction, and the mother does the nurturing, but supports the instruction of the father.  They work hand-in-hand together to bring their children up to be responsible God-loving and God-fearing responsible people in this world – to replicate their parents.

Here is another Old Testament Scripture that really says it like it is to us parents on how we are to raise our children up in the Lord.

Deut 6:5-9 says:  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and then you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gate. 

  • In other words, live your faith in all you do and say.  Your children are constantly watching and learning to imitate you

Just as God and His Son Jesus are One together in the nurturing of the family of God, meaning us Christians, so are parents meant to be one together as they teach their children the ways of the Lord.

  • Then just as important is the attitude of the child to listen and obey his/her father and not forsake what mama says, who simply is working in unison to what the father has taught, but in a different way – usually being more nurturing.
  • Understanding that important role as a child, we then take this scripture passage here in Proverbs as God and His Son Jesus, as One, working together to teach and nurture us as His children, and the importance of our role as God’s children to listen and obey what God is teaching us.
  • God’s ultimate goal with us as His children? To becoming like Him – through His Son Jesus, in that we imitate His ways – be a reflection of Him in this world – and to help others become more like Him as well.

God’s ways can be worn like a beautiful jeweled crown upon our head because when we obey our heavenly Father, His ways protect us…like we see in verse 9 – a graceful ornament on our head.  His crown is our protection.

When we listen and obey the instruction of the Lord, we avoid the pitfalls of life because God has taught us that the ways of the world only lead to death and destruction, and His ways lead to life and joy!

While as a young child, either physically, or even as an immature believer, we may not always understand the ways of the Lord, thinking them as archaic and boring, but then as we begin to mature, we see that our Father’s ways were always the best ways to protect us from the evils that are out there in the world.  Father knows best – so to speak!

But with that protection also comes responsibility.

The other half of verse 9 statesAnd chains about your neck

We can think of that responsibility sometimes as a chain around our neck like this verse seems to indicate – a weight – which can be heavy at times, but that chain is also a protection to keep us away from the sins that so easily want to take us down.  Those chains about our neck are a constant reminder of who we are, and what is our responsibility to ourselves, our family, but most of all to our heavenly Father.  That chain then becomes a garland of beauty as we take on that responsibility to wear that beautiful chain of protection.

We need to ask ourselves:  Are we the kind of parent that represents God to your children? It doesn’t matter whether our children are young or even adults.  We are still their godly parent because God wants you to leave your godly heritage and legacy to your children.  And then, secondly, are we allowing God to give you His protection of care as we purposefully seek to learn His ways to gain knowledge, then understanding, to finally walk in the wisdom of God to all that you encounter each and every single day?

Wisdom to a Son

Proverbs 1:10  My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

Let’s establish a truth here.  Sin basically means to miss the mark – the mark being anything that is contrary to the will of God.  I brought out earlier in this chapter that God also considers anything that is contrary to the will of God, as wicked.  This is something we all do from time to time, no matter how close we draw to the Lord – for there are times when we are not walking in the Spirit, but in the flesh, and as such, we miss the mark.  And God considers it wicked in His eyes.  But that is not what Solomon is talking about here. 

In this passage, a "sinner" is one who continuously and intentionally misses the mark with God - and again,  anything outside of the will of God, God calls “wicked.”  A sinner will keep on sinning- for that is his nature.  He can’t help but sin.  Sin drives him to sin even more.  That’s just his basic nature.

Solomon was warning his son, in the same way God warns us today through Solomon’s writings, about the dangers of keeping bad company – with those who continuously and intentionally miss the mark with God – who continuously sins. 

  • The Bible tells us that we shall know people by the fruit in their lives.  Are then, are we seeing the fruit of the Spirit actively working in those we fellowship with - in their lives?  The actions of some people clearly reveal them to be "sinners" and not ones who purposes to live by the fruit of the Spirit.  In other words, God is telling us here to be careful of the company we keep because we are highly influenced by those around us.

This kind of guidance from father to son was simple and clear.   "Stay away from sinners – those who continuously sin - for they will entice you to become like them."  The nature of sinners are to drag as many people down with them as they can, so they will entice or allure, even deceive, others to join them in their destruction.  So, Solomon is saying – and God is saying to us…"Do not consent to be with them.  Do not keep company with sinners – do not even associate with them."

 Our lives are constantly surrounded with choices.  God will never force His will upon us, but then, nor will the devil lead a man into sin unless that man (or woman) consents to that sin.  But why, you ask, would we put ourselves in harms way – to be tempted beyond that which we are able to avoid?  Well, we are the ones who make the choice to associate with evil or we are the ones who make the choice to walk away.

Stay Away From Evil

11. If they say, “come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; 12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.

Ten years ago, I would not have seen this verse on how the evils of man destroy those around them, realizing it DOES apply to our society today.  We live in a ever changing chaotic world where extremes of bad behaviors are becoming the norm.  While this verse “seems” like an extreme of evil – shedding innocent blood and hurting someone without cause - even to the point of having them swallowed up into hell, so to speak, many people, even today, will do extreme things for money or power, or advancing themselves for gain and recognition, and it doesn’t take much for them to cross the line to where suddenly they don’t care how it hurts other people. 

  • We see it in all realms of society.
  • We see it happening all around us.
  • Oh, they probably didn’t start out that way, but remember, sin begets sin.
  • Sin only causes you to sin more.
  • We see it done in more immature ways with the young, but this kind of evil exists in many adults in our society.

We become like the company we keep.  There is an old saying, “show me your friends and I will tell you your future.”  Solomon was speaking to his son to avoid this kind of pitfall before it becomes too late.  That speaks to the great need for God’s people, young and old, to be more careful and wiser in their choice of friends.

13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; 14 Cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purpose.

It’s a real travesty what people will do for money.  And when you gather enough people together for that same purpose, we know what the Bible says about power in unity…they can accomplish almost anything together.  Remember the Tower of Babel?

Having one purpose together only gains more power through the unity that it gathers.  The more goods they possess, the more they want.  Greed creates more greed.  So they look for others to join them – cast your lots among us, they say – all for greed, money, and power.  All controlled by the master of evil - Satan.

15 My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path;  16 For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.

Again, sin begets sin – evil begets more evil and bloodshed will always be the end.

17 Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

Birds only see food – even when it is scattered upon a net that traps.  They only see the food, which for them is free for the taking.  In the process, they are trapped and killed.  People are often just like these birds.

18 But they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives.

In the same way, evil doers, as they look for those to come alongside them cannot see the connection between their evil acts of taking from others, and the fate that entraps them.

19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.

Ultimately, the gain promised by the wicked can never be fulfilled, but in fact, they will end up becoming the hunted because their sin compounded catches up with them to where they can’t live with themselves, or they have hurt so many people and they are now known for their evil and wicked ways to where nobody will have anything to do with them.

  • They may seek to take the life and livelihood of others, but their greed eventually brings on a life of its own and will one day will overtake them.
  • For those who are greedy for money, gain or power, their life will be shortened, for their greed will one day consume them.  You see, God will only allow compounded sin to last just so long.

We are establishing a real truth here.  Be careful of the company you keep.  Because sin begets sin, and what may start out seems like small sins, it grows to eventually overtake you.  So don’t even start with associating with those who habitually sin – they will only pull you down to their level.  Ultimately, the sins of the sinner will one day overcome them – for sin can only go so far to where it will destroy those in its trap and they will take you with them.

Wisdom Calls

 20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares.

 Wisdom has taken on a name – spoken of as a she.  She calls out to everyone.  But she especially calls out to those who commit evil.  In the center of town – the town square she calls out – “get wisdom.”

  21 She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city.  She speaks her words: 

 In the noisy streets – where the people congregate – she cries ‘get wisdom.”  Like a megaphone yelling out above the roar of the crowd, “get wisdom.”  Come one, come all.  At the gates that lead into the city – all the gates, wisdom is calling the people to change their ways.

 22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?  For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.

 Can wisdom be heard above the screams of the scorners?  The scorners receive pleasure in scorning wisdom – they mock, they yell, and they yell loud, showing themselves as fools.  Fools hate knowledge.

23 Turn at my rebuke;  Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;  I will make my words known to you.

God so desires for us to have His wisdom operating in our lives.  He wants to pour Himself in and on us.  He will make known His will and ways to us – if only we seek after His ways.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus, tells us how to get wisdom.  James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But… let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

Here’s how to get wisdom?  Ask God – He lovingly and willingly gives out wisdom to those who ask.  There is a condition, however.  You have to ask in faith – not doubting at all.  So then, how do you get faith?  By hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Get the knowledge of the Word of God down into your heart – over and over and over again.

  • First acquire knowledge.  Once you understand – by revelation, God will show you.  Then God gives you His wisdom liberally.  He doesn’t withhold His wisdom from you.  He anxiously wants to give you all the wisdom you need.

24 Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,

 Wisdom is crying out – “I have called, wisdom is saying, and called you, but you wouldn’t come.”  Wisdom speaks… “I have reached out to you, but you turned your back on me.”  You walked away.  Where were you when I called and called you?

The Prophet Hosea cried out the same thing.   Hosea 4:6 says my people perish for lack of knowledge.  Lack of knowledge, which is beginning of wisdom will bring a person to destruction. The end results is - they will perish.  So, going back to Proverbs, chapter 1, Solomon is warning his son – don’t even begin to enter into that trap of a fool.  In the same way, God is warning us – don’t even begin to enter into that trap of a fool who is refusing the knowledge of God.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus, also tells us how to get wisdom.  James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But… let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

Here’s how to get wisdom?  Ask God – He lovingly and willingly gives out wisdom to those who ask.  There is a condition, however.  You have to ask in faith – not doubting at all.  So then, how do you get faith?  By hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Get the knowledge of the Word of God down into your heart – over and over and over again.

  • First acquire knowledge.  Once you understand – by revelation, God will show you.  Then God gives you His wisdom liberally.  He doesn’t withhold His wisdom from you.  He anxiously wants to give you all the wisdom you need.

25 Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes,

 I, wisdom, warned you, but you wouldn’t listen.  And because you refused me over and over, the time of your trouble has come upon you.  When it comes, there is nothing that I, wisdom, can do for you to help you out of your situation.  I offered it to you, but you refused to listen.  And now, you have gone too far.

While God does not laugh at your calamity, wisdom does delight in that evil could not have its own victory.  The end is – wisdom will always triumph over evil.  And whatever choice you chose, you will get what you deserve…because that was the choice you made.

 27 When your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

Wisdom speaks out to the choices made.   While your choice of destruction began as what seemed like a little sin, it grew and grew.  Remember, sin begets sin, and before you knew it, you were entrapped into greater evils that you would not have thought possible in its beginningAgain, what started out as small, suddenly came in like a whirlwind.  Your heart became hardened to the things of the Lord.

And then when it has multiplied and you have sunk so deep in that evil of your sin, and it seems like forever while your reign of terror rules over others, but it all is about to come to an end.

  • God will only allow sin to go so far before He steps in.  But it is not that God brought on your destruction.  You see, your sin has brought you down to such deep levels to where you cannot get out, nor can anyone help you.

Your destruction – it will come upon you suddenly. You thought you had more time.  You always thought you had more time to turn things around.  But it will be too late.

 28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.  29 Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the Lord,

For those who have refused wisdom again and again, a time will come where it will be too late.  The heart will become so hardened to where the person will refuse anything that comes from the Lord.  He or she will want wisdom, but it cannot be found in them.  Wisdom will then say:  "You will cry out to me for help, but I won’t be anywhere near you.  I cannot hear you.  I cannot and will not answer you.  No matter where you look, I will be nowhere to be found" all because you did not fear the Lord.  

Prov. 1:7  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 30 They would have none of my counsel, and despised my every rebuke.

When knowledge, understanding and wisdom is rejected, destruction is the future for that foolish person.  When a crisis comes, and it will, the fool cannot expect to beg for and receive instant wisdom.  It just doesn’t work that way!

  • Remember, first comes knowledge, then upon digesting that knowledge, understanding begins to develop, and then finally wisdom comes out of that understanding.  Wisdom, however, does not come instantly. It has to be acquired – here a little, there a little – precept upon precept is it gained.  Knowledge, understanding, and then comes wisdom comes.

 31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies.

 Just as we recognize people by the fruit displayed in their lives, the consequences and rewards of walking in whatever fruit we display will come to pass.  The consequences of rejecting wisdom cannot be avoided.  The end result of living a foolish life of sin will be death and destruction.  The very moment we reject God’s knowledge, wisdom turns its back on us.  We simply then are eating the fruit of the way we have chosen to live our lives.

32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;

There are only two ways to respond to wisdom – listen and obey or turn away and live under sin and die.  Both are choices.  Wisdom is available to everyone, all we have to do is choose to listen.  First comes knowledge, then acquire understanding, being obedient to what you have learned, then God will give you ample supply of wisdom.  Sadly, most people will not seek out wisdom, and the end of this road leads only one way – destruction and death.

33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.

This chapter finishes on a wonderful and happy note.  For those who listen and are obedient to the ways of the Lord, will dwell in safety.  Peace and tranquility follows us around because we have chosen to seek after God’s knowledge that leads to understanding and finally wisdom.

Solomon was greatly blessed by God with wisdom, and God offers that same wisdom to us today.  And we will see that the whole of Proverbs is focused on clearly delineating the realities of the wise and the foolish, and what sets them apart from one another.  Each chapter has its own special nuggets of truth – and I hope you are excited as I am to seek after those nuggets of God’s truth as we continue on in the Book of Proverbs.

God bless!

Pastor Joyce Erickson



Written by Pastor Joyce A. Erickson

Believers Bible School, Founder