Introduction: Would you like to be smarter? Would you like to know
exactly the right thing to say in difficult situations? In the
employment related courses that I teach in law school, I include a
“mini-course” on Bible-based emotional intelligence. Emotional
intelligence is nothing less than wisdom. There are numerous studies
that show that employees who are emotionally intelligent are more
successful. Here is something you might not know: Employees are not
generally fired because they are incompetent. Most of the time it has
to do with their inability to get along with others. The Bible texts
I use to teach emotional intelligence generally come from the book of
Proverbs. The great news is that our study this quarter is the book
of Proverbs and wisdom. Let’s dive into our first lesson!

  1. Table of Contents

    1. Read Proverbs 1:1-2. Have you looked at the index of a
      book to see if you would be interested in reading it?
      Proverbs starts out with an index. What do these verses
      indicate that we will find inside this book? (We can learn
      about how to be wise and how to have better insight.)

    2. Read Proverbs 1:3. What other subjects will we learn about
      in Proverbs? (Justice. Acting prudently.)

    3. Read Proverbs 1:4. We are born with a certain level of
      general intelligence that it seems cannot be greatly
      increased. Is wisdom like that – we are stuck with
      whatever we got at birth? (No. This tells us that the
      “simple,” meaning those who are not too smart, and the
      “youth,” meaning those who are immature, can learn wisdom,
      they can become emotionally intelligent.)

    4. Read Proverbs 1:5. Is Proverbs only for those in need of
      remedial lessons on wisdom? (No. Whatever your level of
      general and emotional intelligence, Proverbs can improve
      your wisdom and discretion.)

  2. Sources of Wisdom

    1. Read Proverbs 1:7. What is the source of true wisdom?

      1. In what sense is the word “fear” used here? (It seems
        to be a call to respect God’s view of things.)

      2. One commentary said this fear had “nothing to do with
        the superstitious and childish fear of divine
        punishment.” Do you agree?

    2. Read Revelation 14:9-10. Is this angel spreading
      superstitious and childish fear? (“Superstitious” refers
      to the “supernatural” – which would include the work of
      God. A fear of divine judgment makes sense. “Childish”
      fear also makes sense in light of Matthew 18:2-3. Jesus
      said there that laying aside pride, and becoming more like
      children, is an important attitude for learning.)

    3. Look again at the last part of Proverbs 1:7. What do you
      think about the different shades of fear and the idea of
      looking to God for wisdom? (Notice that Proverbs 1:7 says
      “fools” despise God’s wisdom. It seems foolish to me to
      ignore the ultimate fate of those who are lost. Fearing
      God ranges from respecting His opinion because He loves us
      and wants us to live better lives, to acknowledging the
      terrible downside of eternal death. I think all of this
      comes properly packaged in the phrase “fear of the Lord.”)

      1. Is it improper, or a violation of the principle of
        love, to talk about the destruction of the wicked?
        (When my children were young, we worried about them
        running into the street and being killed by a car.
        When a squirrel was killed in the road, my wife took
        the kids down to the road and had them look at the
        smashed squirrel. It was a powerful lesson. I can see
        wisdom “beginning” with this very basic point.)

      2. What kind of motivation does God give us in
        Deuteronomy 28? (Those who regularly read my lessons
        know I regularly refer to Deuteronomy 28. Just as we
        saw that Proverbs is for both the simple and the
        already wise, so God teaches us at many levels. Just
        as with children, He starts out with rewards and
        punishments, but then leads us to a more educated
        view of our relationship.)

    4. Read Proverbs 1:8-10. What other sources of wisdom are
      available? (Our parents.)

      1. Is there a limit on this? (If you look at verse 10,
        it warns us about being enticed by “sinful” men. The
        assumption here is that you have godly parents.)

      2. Why are garlands and chains mentioned in connection
        with taking the advice of your parents? (These are
        badges of honor.)

      3. How selective should we be about where we obtain our
        wisdom? (We need to be selective. Verse 10 tells us
        that God-given and God-consistent advice is what we
        need. The advice of those whose life is inconsistent
        with God’s advice should be avoided.)

    5. Read Proverbs 1:11-14. What is the goal of this advice?
      (To use violence to make money.)

    6. Read Proverbs 1:15-16. Why is it important not to “go
      along” with people like this, or “set foot” on their
      paths? Why not just say “Don’t join them in their evil?”
      (This is a very important point in American law. If you
      are driving the car carrying several “bad” friends, and
      one jumps out and commits some crime, if you simply drive
      them away from the scene of the crime you are guilty for
      the crime! The Bible says “stay away!” This is great
      legal advice.)

    7. Read Proverbs 1:17-19. What does Proverbs mean about the
      visible net? (Normally, you trap birds with a snare (net)
      that is hard to see. Proverbs says the problem with the
      kind of bad behavior described above is obvious to anyone
      with wisdom. Instead of the evil behavior gaining money,
      it destroys the life of the evildoer.)

  3. Wisdom’s Appeal

    1. Read Proverbs 1:20-21. Where does the call for fearing God
      take place? (Not only at church, but in the public square!
      It is everywhere if you look.)

    2. Read Proverbs 1:22-23. How does this differ from the
      world’s view about following God? (The world claims that
      Christians are stupid and uneducated. Proverbs says the
      reverse is true. Those who reject God are simple (not too
      smart), mockers and fools.)

      1. How can we show love towards pagans, and at the same
        time suggest they are the true fools?

      2. Making fun of your opponent (mockery) is a powerful
        weapon in debate. When God calls pagans “mockers”
        does He mean that this debate tool is off-limits to
        Christians? (Notice that mockery seems to be
        contrasted to knowledge. It seems that arguments
        based on mockery instead of knowledge should be off-limits.)

      3. If we repent, what will God do? (He will fill us with
        wisdom. He will teach us His ways.)

    3. Read Proverbs 1:25-26. Now we see that God mocks those who
      reject His advice. Now can we mock the pagans?

      1. Notice that the mocking is in reaction to disaster
        and calamity. How does that affect your opinion?
        (This is difficult. The picture I see is that God
        mocks those who mocked Him. Disaster for sincere
        people is an opportunity to share the gospel in

  4. The Pursuit of Wisdom

    1. Read Proverbs 2:1-4. What kind of effort is required in
      the pursuit of God’s wisdom? (We need to make a serious
      search – just like we were looking for buried treasure!)

    2. Read Proverbs 2:5-6. As we mentioned earlier, general
      intelligence is something essentially determined at birth.
      What about wisdom, can anyone have it? (Only those who are
      serious about finding it can have it. The good news is
      that anyone has the potential to be wise. The bad news is
      that this is a matter of works – we need to work at it.)

    3. Read Proverbs 3:1-2. Once we acquire wisdom is it a
      permanent part of our life? (We can forget God’s
      principles. The goal is to internalize them. To make them
      a part of how we think and how we live.)

  5. Wisdom’s Result

    1. Read Proverbs 1:32-33. Do our decisions regarding God have

    2. Read Proverbs 2:6-8. What aspect of God’s care keeps being
      repeated here? (God’s protection. God is a “shield,” a
      “guard” and “protect[ion].”)

      1. Do you think that God actively intervenes to protect
        those who follow His advice? (God’s active
        intervention is certainly possible, but I think this
        mainly refers to the natural consequences of certain
        actions. Following God’s advice (showing wisdom)
        protects you against a lot of bad things in life.)

    3. Friend, are you willing to put in the effort to acquire
      God’s wisdom? Why not commit to that today, so that your
      life will be on the path to improvement!

  6. Next week: From Ears to Feet.