Drinking Deeply

Thursday, June 08, 2006 at 1:05 AM

Proverbs 1:Wisdom's Call(6)

Proverbs 1:
10My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse"--
15my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
Thus far we’ve noticed that the passage is not talking just about the unjust murder of someone in order to steal their goods, but it’s actually talking about seeking after unjust gain. What type of gain is this? Gain that is unearned. Gain that is someone else’s and not yours. This gain, when we take it, is unjust. There are no excuses here. “He has plenty” “He wouldn’t mind if he knew.” What we are talking about is simply theft and not loving our neighbor. This is flat out wrong.

In contrast, when we are tempted to follow these paths, by our friends or our lazy and sinful selves, the call is clear:
15my son, do not walk in the way with them;hold back your foot from their paths,16for their feet run to evil,and they make haste to shed blood
Don’t do it. Don’t walk in their ways, hold back your foot from their paths. The warning is actually a little broader here. Originally all that was said was that we shouldn’t “consent.” We shouldn’t give approval, we shouldn’t agree with them. But here the call is to avoid walking in their way. Don’t live like the sinners. No, I’m not advocating a complete break from society, but the question is, “can outsiders tell that we’re different?” The charge here seems to advocate a marked separation in pattern of life at least. Psalm 1 says almost exactly the same thing:
1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
Don’t walk in the counsel. Don’t stand in the way. Don’t sit in the seat. Don’t put your foot on their path. Don’t follow evil.

Yes, it is possible to discern good from evil. It is possible to mark out something (or even someone) as sinful and something as not. These passages are clear. There are wicked, sinners, and scoffers. There aren’t “morally neutral” people. There are cases where it is not appropriate to withhold judgment on whether something is good or bad. Unjust gain is wrong. Spiritual maturity is actually being able to recognize this right from wrong. Hebrews 5:14 says:
14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
We’ll eventually get to that passage, but for now we’ll just say that this discernment is a mark of spiritual maturity.

Continuing, why are we to avoid the way of the wicked? Why are we to avoid the life of sinners?
17For in vain is a net spreadin the sight of any bird,
v. 17 is interesting here. What is it saying and what does it have to do with people wanting to waylay strangers? “In vain” means useless. What is a net spread in the sight of any bird? Solomon must be talking about a trap. What is he saying about trying to set a trap to catch a bird that’s watching you? It’s “in vain.” It’s useless, it’s stupid. No bird is dumb enough to fly into a trap that it sees being laid out. In the same way, it’s stupid to waylay strangers. It’s stupid to seek after unjust gain.


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