Friday, May 14, 2010

Proverbs 1:20-33 Wisom in the market square

(the substance of this study relies very heavily on an article by Dr. Bruce Waltke which is well worth getting your hands on if you can, Waltke, B. (1999). Lady Wisdom as Mediatrix. Presbyterion, 1-15.)

I. the setting
A. the town square
1. Excavations at Tel el-Qadi, ancient Dan, exposed a large, enclosed plaza between the outer and inner gates.
2. The outer gate functioned as the setting for court sessions and council meetings; the plaza was used for commercial trade and public meetings.
3. At the gate there existed a play of life involving commerce, the court, and administration that could not be mastered without wisdom
B. the parts of the town square
1. Street – refers to the areas outside the houses in a town setting
2. Square – located inside the city in front of the gate-streets and markets were gathering places for people--- seem Amos 5:16; Ruth 4:11 –at the gate
3. At the head of the noisy street – the image is of a noisy crowd
4. Entrance of the gates – describes more precisely the place spoken of in the second line of v20—this is the part of the city where legal and other public matters were handled
C. The sermon fits the setting
1. Lady Wisdom’s podium is the most prominent place in the city-the street, the public square, the top of the hills, and the gateways designate not diverse localities within the city—but aspects of the gate at the entrance of the city. She sets her podium on the highest wall.
2. Lady wisdom having chosen the most advantageous point of the city in order to be heard far and wide—delivers her speech with emotion and fervor to capture the attention of fools
a. Wisdom shouts –calls out to in order to get the attention of the people in the noise and confusion of a busy marketplace
b. She lifts her voice-she makes her voice heard—or causes them to listen to what she says
II. the speaker
A. Throughout this unit Wisdom is personified, that is, represented as a speaking person. Wisdom is a feminine noun that is why she is personified as a lady and not a man. Linguists have shown that, in general, the grammatical gender of a noun guided the poets imagination in his personification of lifeless objects.
B. Wisdom occurs frequently in the early chapters of Proverbs. She appears as a hostess -9:1-6, as a child playing in a primordial time – 8:22-31, as a sister—(a bride)—7:4—and as a guide 6:22
C. Waltke argues that Wisdom – designates a fixed, eternal, religio-social order, an order that God created, established and upheld
III. the audience
A. Naïve ones–same word used in v4—however it refers not just to immature and inexperienced people but rather to those who love ignorance, and deliberately refuse to listen to instruction in right living-they love foolishness
B. Simple-minded – about these people Kidner says, “mentally, he is naïve…morally he is willful and irresponsible… a man who is empty-headed
C. Scoffers –renders a term used in Psa 1:1; and Isa 29:20. It refers to people who openly scorn or ridicule God and religion—the term is often used in the Proverbs for a person expresses contempt for wisdom
D. Fools – a person who is insensible to moral truth and acts without regard to it
E. Covenant learners -v28-32—switch in personal pronoun –from “you” to “they”
IV. the message
A. the Speech is organized in two parts:
1. a sermon addressed to fools -20-27, cf 22---
2. a statement in third person addressed to the children of the covenant – 28-33
B. The sermon (vv22-27) has two sections –an invitation to fools 22-23 and denunciation of them 24—27
1. Her invitation to fools:
a. it is urgent, “how long?” – the rhetorical questions is is accusatory and it calls on the unwise to realize the acute crisis that confronts them and demands of them a change in direction. So it is essentially an admonition to repent.
b. it is addressed to naïve ones, scoffers, and fools
1) the naïve love not committing themselves to wisdom but remaining in an open state of seduction
2) fools simply hate knowledge—reject it or refuse it
c. it is an admonition to repent—Lady wisdom admonishes her audience to repent and strengthens her admonition with promise in v23
1) the admonitions
(a) turn- wisdom is addressing her words to the simple one, the scoffers, and the fools mentioned in v22. Turn comes from the Hebrew word, shub, – which has as its central meaning, to change course of direction. So LW demands a conscious and willing turning toward her reproach, a turning that entails a radical reorientation of their affections toward her teaching and a total repudiation of self-satisfaction with their love of folly
(b) Reproof-correction, reprimand, rebuke or scolding that Wisdom gives the foolish
2) The promise: I pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you
(a) I will pour out my spirit on you. Wisdom is likened to a fountain of water, a gushing spring for the person who will accept her instruction.It’s a promise of spiritual illumination, Eph. 1:17-18; 2Tim. 2:7
(b) I will make my words known. This simply repeats the thought of the previous line from a different perspective. My words = my thoughts, decisions
(c) Wisdom is accessible to all
(d) What does this tell us about the role of the church in world? (Matt. 5:14-16)
2. Her denunciation:
a. a scolding accusation for not listening to her-v24-25
1) LW left a door of hope open to fools in vv22-23 and now she shuts the door as indicated by the shift to the perfective tense. LW bases her judicial sentence against the simpletons on their deafening silence
2) She uses 4 predicates to describe the simpleton’s rejection of her sermon
(a) refused to listen–refusal to obey God’s commands
(b) paid no attention – means a conscious, willing and attentive use of the ears. She says, “you have completely ignored me.”
(c) neglected – let loose—to let slip through the fingers
(d) did not want my reproof – same word rendered give in 1:10

3) LW’s appeals
(a) I have called—invited or advised
(b) Stretched out my hand – refers to the gesture inviting someone to come toward the one calling. It is might be aimed at getting the attention of the fools.
b. giving the grounds for the judicial sentence that she will mock them at the time of their distress—vv26-27. Laugh and mock – express the inward joy and disdain a mighty conqueror feels toward the defeat of his abject enemies – Ps 2:4; 37:13; 59:8
3. Her judicial sentence:
a. she will not listen to them v26-
b. they will fall into calamity
1) v27-focuses on the degree of the coming disaster
2) Similes –like a storm—and – like a whirlwind. The combined simile aims to picture the calamity befalling fools as coming suddenly and as so catastrophic that nothing survives it
3) Calamity-refers to suffering, trouble, or disaster
4) Dread- refers to terror or fright
5) Whirlwind-a destructive and violent storm
6) Distress and anguish-pain and misery, express the strong negative emotions produced in the fools by the ruinous disaster
7) The mood of fools will change from complacency, stubbornness, and pride to extreme terror when their destruction comes

C. Her statement to the covenantal children:
1. the withdrawal of Lady Wisdom from the fool’s cries at the time of judgment–v28
a. Then – takes the audience beyond the judgment itself to LW’s deriding laughter v27 and decisive withdrawal v28 after disaster strikes
b. Fools will cry out to her and earnestly seek her, but she will not respond and will not be found
c. Call on me-at the time they call in their trouble—that is—after the distress and anguish take hold of them
d. I will not answer—I will pay no attention to you
e. They will seek me diligently-seek diligently – a word meaning to look for intently
f. Spurned- used in v7—fools despise wisdom –in v23—Wisdom asked the people to pay attention to “my reproof”—that is to the correction Wisdom gives to the fools because of their errors –the same is the sense in this verse
2. the inevitability of judgment for those who reject her- v29-31; now the judicial sentence comes
a. eat of the fruit of their own way – is an idiomatic way of saying that people must suffer the consequences of their conduct. Fruit refers to the storm and whirlwind (v27) with its accompanying distress and anxiety. The metaphor emphasizes the natural, inevitable consequence foolish living
b. satiated with their own devices –
1) satiated means to be filled or gratified to the point of being stuffed
2) devices—refers to mental activities such as evil plans, schemes, or intentions that may or may not have become actions
3. a generalizing substantiation condemning fools and commending the wise – v32-33
a. v32
1) The naïve-those of v22 who love their ignorance
2) Waywardness- refers to turning away from or refusing instruction in right living. The refusal to listen to instruction causes their death. Instead of turning toward LW’s rebuke, the simpletons turn away from it and implicitly toward sin; had they turned toward her rebuke they would have found life; by turning away from it they found death
3) Complacency – be at ease by neglecting or ignoring what should be done. Its a feeling of false security
4) Fools—stupid people are destroyed by their own lack of concern
b. v33-the discourse concludes with commendation of the wise
1) he who listens - The opposite of turning away from LW’s rebuke is listening to her
2) live secure – means be safe—have security—live in peace-this condition contrasts with the destruction of fools in v32
3) Be at ease –sense of having peace of mind, not being troubled by anxious thoughts and fears
4) Dread of evil- trouble, difficulties, or misfortune

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