My dad loves to share riddles. He’s told them for years to us as kids and now he gets going with the grandkids. He wants to make them think. “An electric train is travelling at 75 km/h due west and the wind is blowing against it at 50 km/h. Which way does the smoke blow?” Because my dad is a math teacher, people immediately assume that he’s wanting them to think about the mathematics of speed. But what he loves to do is use specific words to see if you’re listening. “Electric trains don’t produce smoke!” I can see him smirking now.
Proverbs are like this – they are riddles with wisdom embedded all throughout (1:6). If we will listen to each word, put it together with the other parts, what we will discover is that God has spoken purposeful words for listening ears.
What Proverbs commends is listening to discern. There are two voices – two women – and their voices are different. When we recall that Proverbs written for young men, we can understand that it is not against women – it is seeking to train the ear to discern different voices. The Wise Woman calls aloud in the street, calling people off the path of death into the way of life. But the Loose Lady is using flattering, seductive speech to lure people into death. Just because you hear both voices doesn’t mean that you’re wise. It’s discerning the difference. Woman folly is loud, seductive, and doesn’t know anything (9:13). The Wise Woman is also loud – calling through the noise (1:20). So wisdom means listening and discerning the difference between good and evil, between wisdom and folly, between words of life and words of death.
Purposeful words, listening ears, and humble hearts can make all the difference. God has given us his Word – the Lord Jesus Christ. He has sent the Word in the flesh and then, at the Mount of Transfiguration, as Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in the cloud of glory, Mark tells us in Mark 9 that a voice from heaven came and spoke to the disciples. “This is my Son whom I love. Listen to him.”
If there was ever a time we need to listen to a father’s instruction, it is now. He has sent his Son so that we might hear the Words of Eternal Life (Jn. 6:68). He has spoken his recreating Word in Jesus Christ into our hearts so that we would have a knowledge of him (2 Cor. 4:4, 6). So let’s listen and then speak the words of life to others so that the wisdom of God would be heard and seen in and through us as we minister one to another the life of Christ.
~ Pastor Andrew