Solomon pleaded with his son—and, by extension, with all of us—to heed the warning voice of wisdom. A good question is, why? Why must Solomon plead? Why do we ignore God’s reproofs, those in Scripture as well as those that come through other means? Looking back at the sayings preserved for us in Proverbs 1, I discover at least four reasons we do not heed reproof. We’ll examine two today and two [Saturday]. Prepare yourself. These may sting!
“I called and you refused” (1:24).
See that last word? Refused. The Hebrew text uses an intensive form of the verb to convey the idea “directly refuse,” “stubbornly refuse,” or “emphatically refuse.” It is used most often in the Old Testament for defying established authority, for systematically and deliberately rejecting it as in the case of Pharaoh, who refused to let the Hebrews go. In another of Solomon’s sayings, the sluggard refuses to get a job (21:25).
In many cases, a strong will can be a positive trait. We praise the Hebrew midwives in Egypt who refused to kill male infants as Pharaoh had ordered (Exodus 1:17). Thank God for the strong wills of Peter and John, who refused to keep silent about the risen Christ after the religious authorities threatened severe punishment (Acts 4:19-20). History records the stories of many courageous men and women who stood alone against popular opinion to defend truth against error. We call these strong-willed, stubborn people “heroes” because they were right! They reluctantly defied authority because truth demanded they stand firm. Moreover, they acknowledged and embraced the consequences of their actions, willingly sacrificing their own well-being for the good of others.
Stubborn refusal to heed the warnings of others, however, reveals an arrogant spirit and a dull mind. Pray for humility and wisdom, both of which God longs to provide His people.
“I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention” (1:24).
When Solomon said that “no one paid attention,” he used a term that suggests lack of listening or awareness. It would correspond to the New Testament concept of being “dull of hearing.” If you have ever tried to penetrate the shell of an insensitive individual, you have experienced God’s frustration. You can also affirm the old adage “There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.”
Perhaps the best examples of insensitivity and unconsciousness would be pedestrians wearing earbuds. They walk through life in the isolation of their own music studio—literally walking to the beat of their own drum—completely unaware of their surroundings. Try getting the attention of someone lost in iPod oblivion and you understand something of God’s frustration.
Though wisdom “stretches out her hand,” many people lack awareness and therefore fail to see her gesture and tune out her voice.
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.