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The unlearning: it comes before

Summary: Wise people learn best by first unlearning things that are not true.

Here are some things people believe. Circle the ones you agree with, draw a line through the ones you think are wrong and if you are not sure about something, leave it alone:

You should believe in your self. You should believe in God. Rich people steal from poor people. Poor people are lazy. Trust your heart to guide you in life. Boys are gross. Girls are crazy. Follow your dreams. The main goal in life is to be happy. Good people go to heaven whey they die. You shouldn’t lie, but sometimes it’s OK. God helps those who help themselves. God watches over us.

Don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you. Proverbs 1:1-8

1:1 The wise sayings of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. 1:2 To have knowledge of wise teaching; to be clear about the words of reason.

The term “teaching” in the Hebrew suggests the idea of our being willing to accept discipline, and rebuke, (BDB, Strong) as if becoming wise may sometimes be painful. Some of the things we will learn about ourselves and about others may hurt.

1:3 To be trained (or corrected, BDB) in the ways of wisdom, in righteousness and judging truly and straight behavior.

The essence of wisdom is that we allow ourselves to be corrected, or to give up some things we believe, and some facts we know, if we find out those things are not true (Prov. 13:5,15:14), even if it is painful to do so.

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” — Will Rogers

“It’s what a man learns after he knows it all that counts.”

So why is learning sometimes painful?

1:3 To receive (or to take, to get, to seize-Strong) the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity (KJV).

Think of a leader you admire. How vital is it for him or her to be fair?

1:4 To make the simple-minded sharp (or to be shrewd or crafty in a good sense, BDB/Strong), “See, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Be then as wise as snakes, and as gentle as doves.” Matthew 10:16.

In Acts 23:6-10 when Paul was addressing the Sanhedrin, he realized he was in danger. What did he do that finally got him out of danger? Was this a smart thing to do?

So can believers be “crafty”? Isn’t that the same as being sort of sneaky and deceitful, or is it a good thing?

1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning (KJV).

Solomon wrote for the young and naive, but also for the wise who want to know more. Wise people listen well. One would think that if a person is smart somehow, that they would talk a lot, but that is not true. It is the wise person who listens and keeps on learning. The foolish one already knows enough and demands to be heard. The Cherokee tribe has a saying: “Listen, or your words will make you deaf.”

Solomon wrote for the young and naive, but also for another kind of person. According to this verse, what other kind of person might benefit from what he wrote?

1:6 To get the sense of wise sayings and secrets, and of the words of the wise and their dark sayings.

Solomon confirms our fears, that there are secrets to this life that only a few know about. But they are not being withheld or covered up. It is just that most don’t bother to find them and figure them out. Wise people seek to make sense out of these secrets and dark sayings. They know that those roadblocks do not stand in the way of single-minded pursuit for very long.

Is life easy to understand, or are there secrets to living a good life?

1:7 The fear (or respect BDB) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction (correction or discipline BDB) (KJV).

This verse tells us what any schoolteacher already knows. That before we can know something, there must be respect. We first respect God as the one who made all things and knows all things. Then we respect the world He made, because it is based on logic and reason. Then we respect our teachers as gifts to us to help us in this process. Then we respect ourselves as being someone who can make sense of some of these things. We respect our fellow students in the same way. Without respect, our classroom descends into chaos. Based on it, we learn.

According to 1:7, what is the first step we need to take before we can learn anything?

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