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Ecclesiastes Podcast

Proverbs 1:24-27

These are the proverbs of Solomon, one of the most renowned kings in the history of Israel. The word translated “proverb” is the Hebrew word “mashal.” The root of the word contains the idea of “compare”—it is translated throughout Scripture as “parable” just as often as “proverb.”

This gives us some insight into the nature of these sayings. Proverbs are not prescriptions. It is not about a formula for how to manipulate circumstances and bend them to our will. That might be wishful thinking, but doesn’t work in reality. The proverbs are, in a sense, “comparing” our human perceptions to the reality of God’s world; trying to connect the two by providing principles that shape our perspective and inform our choices such that we live constructively—that is to say, wisely.

Like parables, the proverbs are meant to guide us “to wisdom”, that is, into a way of living. A way of thinking and perceiving. It is about molding and shaping our perceptions, values, and character into something that is consistently in tune with God, not just as a rule-follower but as someone who understands and practices the essence of the divine. One who sees the world through God’s eyes, and acts accordingly.

Ecclesiastes might be thought of as a philosophical foundation for wisdom. It shows the way to properly view the many aspects of life we cannot control, the “hebel” or vaporous nature of all that surrounds us. The main thing Ecclesiastes shows us is the importance of choosing to trust God, and make good choices based on that trust.

Proverbs will reiterate the philosophical foundations of Ecclesiastes, then zoom in and expand upon the practical application of trusting God and choosing a true perspective within certain areas of life. Proverbs leads us to choose a true perspective in all areas of life, and creates a foundation from which we can choose actions that are constructive, beneficial, and fulfilling.

There are only three things we control in life: who we trust, our perspective, and what we do—our actions. Ecclesiastes makes this reality abundantly clear. Trying to control what we cannot leads to complete futility. Trusting God, however, provides a foundation for constructive living. Proverbs teaches us how best to steward the choices we have—how to trust God, how to choose His perspective, and the key actions to take that lead us to the path of wisdom.


In the first chapter of The Book of Proverbs, Solomon establishes his intent—to teach the value of wisdom so that one might live effectively in an uncertain world. To help provide his audience with a way to navigate the mystery of life through trusting in God, having faith in Him, and listening to His practical advice.

Wisdom is a pathway to effective living, in a manner that serves our true best interest. The alternative is folly. It is a binary choice. Folly often seems best to us, but is actually self-destructive. It’s not always easy to tell which is which. Proverbs provides training on how to discern the wise path.

The Book of Proverbs is a practical guide. It shapes our perspective on life and provides a blueprint for how to live according to the path that leads to our greatest benefit. Proverbs leads us to learn and grow, to apply true insights constructively. It explains how cause-and-effect actually works in God’s creation. In a word, Proverbs shows how to learn wisdom.

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes how life in this world is enigmatic, beyond our control, and in many ways incomplete (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3:11). His conclusion is that mystery is an invitation to faith, an opportunity to trust God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In the midst of the conclusion of Ecclesiastes, it says that Solomon (the teacher) has “set forth many proverbs” (Ecclesiastes 12:9). This is a reference to The Book of Proverbs, Solomon’s attempt to get into the weeds and talk about the practical realities of daily life.

Ecclesiastes might be thought of as a philosophical foundation for wisdom. It shows the way to properly view the many aspects of life we cannot control, the “hebel.” “Hebel” is often translated as “vanity,” but a more accurate translation is “vapor.” This is what Solomon ponders in Ecclesiastes—the vaporous nature of life which we cannot grasp. The main thing Ecclesiastes shows us is the importance of choosing to trust God, and make good choices based on that trust.

Proverbs will reiterate the philosophical foundations of Ecclesiastes, then zoom in and expand upon the practical application of trusting God and choosing a true perspective in all areas of life. The wisdom in Proverbs creates a foundation from which we can choose actions that are constructive, beneficial, and fulfilling.

There are only three things we control in life: who we trust, our perspective, and what we do—our actions. Ecclesiastes makes this reality abundantly clear. Trying to control what we cannot leads to complete futility. Trusting God however provides a foundation for constructive living. Proverbs teaches us how best to steward the choices we have—how to trust God, how to choose His perspective, and key actions to take that lead us to the path of wisdom.

Solomon’s audience are youth—young people. He wants to get to them early, to set up the parameters for choices and consequence, for wisdom versus foolishness, and for what is truly in their best interest. Each of these requires making a choice.

In Chapter 1, Solomon sets up the two diverging choices we have set before us. On one hand is the choice of wisdom, calling to us from the streets. It is the design for our lives and for the world. On the other hand is the self-destructive and violent path of sinners, diverging from God’s instructions. Foolish people lose their alignment with reality and truth by derailing to a lesser way.

In this opening chapter, Solomon is working hard to set the stakes. He implores us to see how important and immediate the choice is between wisdom and folly. He wants to show which is truly in our own best self-interest and why. He wants to warn us of the slippery slope of choosing the foolish way, and guide us to the great hope and joy available when we align with God. When we commit to the way of wisdom. Chapter 1 makes it clear that if we desire to follow the path of wisdom, we must be intentional in choosing to listen to wisdom, understand its ways, and choose to follow in its path.


Lady Wisdom warns of the reality that some will continue to ignore her calling. This results in a myriad of undesirable consequences.

Lady Wisdom begins this section with a lament: “Because I called and you refused.” The because that begins this verse is not, as is often the case, linking directly with the preceding verse (23) as a cause-and-effect. Instead, it is setting up an if/then statement that culminates in verse 26. So, the word Because is preceding the cause-and-effect rather than standing in the middle of it. Because you refused and no one paid attention, etc., I will laugh at your calamity and mock your dread. Our refusal to listen is the cause, and wisdom’s response to turn us over to the resulting destruction is the effect.

This might seem like a harsh and unkind reply on the part of Lady Wisdom. But reproof and instruction require factual reality. The goal is not for the student to feel good about themselves. The goal is for the student to abandon folly and the resulting disastrous consequences. The student should embrace wisdom instead.

The point here is to acknowledge reality—to describe to the youth how the world actually works. I called and you refused. The fault is on those who do not accept the offer. I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention. When someone does not value wisdom, it is a choice they are actively making—choosing to focus in another direction they see as more lucrative. You neglected my counsel. People often choose to trust in other entities than wisdom. And, finally, you did not want my reproof. Truth is an acquired taste and some of the lessons of reality are hard and uncomfortable.

Anyone who chooses to be a fool and walk in folly will have the consequences of folly. In a great irony, Lady Wisdom will mock the folly of the scoffer. I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes. This harshness is the consequence of our poor choices. Notice the importance of the word “also” in the phrase I will also laugh at your calamity. It is a consequence: the result of mocking wisdom is to be mocked by wisdom. This is the way things are. It is like saying, “If you turn away from me you won’t see me any longer and I won’t see you.” It is kinder to be clear about this upfront, and perhaps offend, than to sugarcoat the true effects of turning from wisdom. The goal here is not to coddle the youth but to help them understand what is at stake. They have a choice, and the choice has immense consequence.

This is meant to be a stark warning. Wisdom is calling (and has called). And, as Lady Wisdom says, you refused. She stretched out her hand. Wisdom is doing its part; it is taking action to invite. We have agency to accept or decline the invitation. And when no one paid attention to wisdom’s attempts, neglecting counsel and not wanting her reproof, those declining have used their agency to set themselves against wisdom. As verse 3 told us, wisdom requires receiving instruction. In this case, instruction and reproof has been declined.

This is a bad idea. A very bad idea. Ignoring wisdom will not work out well for any of us. It will result in dread and calamity. These consequences come fast and hard, wreaking havoc on our lives: when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind. Wisdom takes a derisive posture to these consequences. When we ignore the reproof of wisdom, dread comes like a storm and calamity like a whirlwind. The negative consequences of following the folly of foolishness rushes upon us and stirs up confusion, lifting us from reality and clouding us from the truth. Following foolishness results in calamity, distress, and anguish.

Distress and anguish come upon us when we ignore wisdom. The warning is stern on two fronts: first, the circumstantial disaster that eventually follows foolishness— calamity, dread, distress, anguish—and the distance to wisdom. Perhaps more devastating to us than the direct consequence of our foolish choices is that it sets us in opposition to wisdom.

The message here is clear: DO NOT IGNORE WISDOM! Wisdom is shouting from the streets, calling and stretching out its hand. It is reaching for you. Ignoring it and shunning its advances is not good for you, to say the least.

This is the reality of what is at stake. The very essence of life. By partnering with wisdom, we have a chance at a fulfilling life, even in the midst of the mystery and uncertainty of circumstances (“hebel” see Ecclesiastes 1:2). If we ignore wisdom and turn the other way, that uncertainty will drive us into calamity and dread, the consequence of folly.

Biblical Text

Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.