It’s All About the Soul
In our last post, we studied the “sinners” in Proverbs 1 who are known to entice an individual with the promise of freedom and free stuff, while covering their true agenda of taking the blood and soul of an innocent, righteous person – in essence, taking everything that is the “life source” of the righteous, and laying claim to it as their own.
Once again, I have to refer to the Stone Edition of the Tanakh for a more accurate translation of the verse that closes that passage.
Such are the ways of all despoilers; they take the souls of [wealth’s] owners.
Notice how the word “wealth’s” is in brackets? This is saying that “wealth’s” was not in the original text. The verse should read as follows.
Such are the ways of all despoilers; they take the souls of owners.
In the original form, this verse says nothing about the “sinner” (or “despoiler” or “thief” or “one who is greedy for gain”) wanting to take the “wealth” of “wealth’s owners.”
No, this is all about the nephesh – the “soul.”
In fact, if you’ve read all of my posts up until this point, it’s easy to see that this entire parallelism is about the choice of who you’re going to give your soul to.
Is it going to be Wisdom? Or the Strange Woman?
Now before you flippantly yell “Wisdom! Wisdom!” just track with me for a while. This may not be leading where you think.
You have to understand that both “lady” Wisdom and the Strange Woman are offering something to the traveler on the path, and – because they are trying to get the traveler to accept what they are offering – there is a certain allurement . . . a “seduction” that takes place.
But these ladies have two different methods of getting the travelers’ attention.
And once they have the travelers’ attention, they have two different ways of offering their services . . . two different “sales pitches,” if you will.
Wisdom Doesn’t Hide
Unlike the wicked that we studied earlier, who love to operate under false pretenses, the knowledge and works of Wisdom are on full display for all to see. She doesn’t need to hide her agenda.
There is nothing veiled or inferred. There is no hidden motive.
God’s got her back, and believe it or not, she’s pretty basic.
We’re just a little dense.
The reason that we have, up until this point, failed to perceive and understand Wisdom is because we have been saturated with opposing influences from birth. Each of us has to sift through generations of man-made doctrine, Hellenized logic and our own emotions in order to fully grasp the basic concepts set forth from the beginning.
As a result, when we discover these basic truths, they appear deep and mysterious, possibly even offensive, when in fact, they wouldn’t be if our thought patterns weren’t so tainted with our own human experience and our inability to process our “faith” beyond our own lifespan.
The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
We know from Proverbs 8:22 that the Father possessed and partnered with Wisdom from the very beginning, so obviously she had enough intrinsic value that she was worth keeping around. In having this rapport with the Father, we know that her way is His Way.
You will not find anywhere in the Word of God where Wisdom says “this,” but the Father says “that.”
They walk in a perfect unity.
We read in the Tanakh:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
This is saying that the Father’s deeds and words were plain for all to see and hear at the time David wrote these Psalms. They needed no clarification from God or man, nor were they hidden.
These were the words that the Father would preserve “forever.”
Ipso facto, Wisdom lines up perfectly with what the Father has always said from the beginning.
What’s more, a people who claim to know (or attain to) wisdom should have her at the forefront of their societal (or ecclesiastical) structure.
Wisdom in the Open Square
Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares [rechob].
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words.
During the time of Solomon’s rule, most cities – especially larger ones – had a central area – an “open” or “city square,” where everyone would gather for group meetings led by judges or other persons of prominence.
During the course of the day, it was possible for a person to pass by the open square several times.
We read in Genesis that the angels were going to spend the night in the open square before Lot invited them to stay at his house.
And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your “And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square [rechob].”
And Ezra read the Torah to “all the people” in the open square during the course of rebuilding Jerusalem.
Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square [rechob] that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.
It’s safe to assume that, if something was done in the open square, the whole town either saw it or knew about it within a short period of time.
What the heck are “chief concourses?”
Because of our tendency to read things over a little too quickly, Proverbs 1:20-21 is mistakenly read to say that Wisdom can be found in 3 places:
- The open square;
- The chief concourses;
- The gates of the city
This seemingly harmless mistake does us a great disservice and causes us to misunderstand where wisdom is truly found.
The Hebrew word for “chief” in “chief concourses” is “ro’sh” and it means “head, upper part, top.”  I found it interesting that BlueLetterBible.org says “from an unused root apparently meaning to shake.”
The Hebrew word for “concourses” is “hamah” and it means “roar, noise, disquieted, sound.” 
When you combine these two terms, there is no mention at all of a specific “place,” but rather a type of voice. This sound of this voice is authoritative [ro’sh], loud and likely uncomfortable [hamah].
But this voice is located somewhere.
Where is this loud and uncomfortable voice located?
The Voice of Wisdom in the Gates of Jerusalem
Let’s think about the term “gate” for a minute.
Because I’m from small-town America, when I think of a gate, I immediately think of a white picket fence around a small plot of land. If you’re like me, it’s really easy to get hung up on that mental image, but this type of scenario didn’t exist during Solomon’s time.
A person didn’t have his own personal boundary in the form of an elegant barrier around his property. This would have been especially true for those who lived in the large cities like Jerusalem.
When we read Proverbs 1:21, it can also be easy to assume that Solomon meant the gates that guard the entrance to a city.
This could very well be true, but we have to also remember that the Temple also had gates. Look closely at the passage again.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city.
The “openings of the gates” were “in the city.” These were not the gates of the city. They were gates located in the city.
This is the reason that I strongly believe Solomon meant the Temple gates (located “in the city”), but it’s possible that I could be wrong on this.
Either way, we read in the Torah the following:
You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
Being a judge was serious business.
God thought it was so serious that he instructed the Israelites to appoint judges “in all your gates” before they even entered the Promised Land. The purpose of these judges was to sit and pass “just judgment” on legal matters, disputes or other matters of controversy.
This is where the death penalty (Deuteronomy 21:19, 22:15) or other penalties (Exodus 21:22) would be administered before the eyes of the entire city.
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city.
King Jehoshaphat (whose name means “YHWH has judged”) told this to the judges he appointed:
Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.
Because prophets were said to be spokesmen for God, they were held to an extremely high standard. They weren’t allowed any “wiggle room.” They couldn’t hide behind their errors and say, “Well, I’m only human.”
No, they knew that they represented the Voice of God.
From the verse above, we can see that the judges of the city were held to the same high standard. Why? Because they were directly responsible for relaying God’s wisdom and justice to an entire city!
The wisdom and judgments that came out of their mouths could be heard as they “cried out” “at the openings of the gates [sha’ar] in the city.” (Proverbs 1:21a)
Judges would “split open, reason out, calculate, reckon, and estimate” each situation that was brought to them by the people. After hearing the evidence, they were responsible for judging each situation according to the Wisdom of God, modeled after the Torah (instruction) that God gave Israel.
Solomon’s Heart for Just Judgment
Prior to his downfall, Solomon had a heart for God’s judgments. In fact, when he was little and God appeared to Solomon, offering the young king pretty much anything he wanted “on a silver platter,” Solomon’s response was:
Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?
God was so impressed with this response that He granted Solomon’s request for “an understanding heart to judge,” plus a whole lot more!
Why was God impressed by Solomon’s response?
Because at that point in his life, Solomon was more concerned with continuing his father David’s legacy than he was with the material prosperity of his kingdom. As a child, Solomon’s top priority was learning to rule Israel with the values passed on to him by “the man after God’s own heart.”
It is likely that his father’s final admonishment was still ringing in his ears.
1 Chronicles 22:11-13
Now, my son, may the LORD be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the LORD your God, as He has said to you.
David put everything in place so that Solomon, whose name means “peace,” would have peace all of his days.
He set up judges from the Levites (1 Chronicles 23:1-4) and stored up enormous amounts of treasure (1 Chronicles 29:1-5) so that Solomon would be able to build the Temple without having to search for resources.
The judges, appointed by a “man after God’s own heart,” were not selected without careful scrutiny. David wanted to make sure that after he died, these same judges would ensure the “peacefulness” of Solomon’s kingdom by speaking and judging according to the Wisdom of God.
It is only natural for a good father to wish for and try to ensure peace for his children.
Solomon was no different.
Solomon wanted the “peace and quietness” (1 Chronicles 22:9) that characterized his kingdom to continue on with his son, so he urged his son to develop an “understanding heart to judge” by listening and absorbing the Voice of Wisdom coming from the mouths of the judges in the city gates!
In Solomon’s day, this was where “lady” Wisdom could be found.
It’s not the same today.
The “open square” and the “chief concourses” in the “gates of the city” were all places of honor and influence where judges (and other appointed leaders) would speak to the multitudes and render judgment in various matters, and administer punishment, if necessary, to those who ran afoul of the Torah.
Unfortunately, 3 – 4,000 years later, Wisdom is all but absent in our places of influence.
Wisdom longs to be heard in public discourse and places of leadership – with the Fear of the Lord as its foundation, but the politicians and religious leaders prove over and over again by what comes out of their mouths that they have no “understanding heart to judge.”
Things were different in the earlier years of Solomon’s reign. In Solomon’s kingdom, the mouths of the elders and judges spoke the wisdom that Solomon is here urging his son to listen to.
The good news is that “Lady” Wisdom can still be found if we can develop “ears to hear” her message.
What is Wisdom’s message? And how can we develop “ears to hear?”
We’ll get into that very soon, but I’ll drop a little hint to whet your appetite.
Today’s ultra-sensitive “believer” will never find it.
A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb,
But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
-  H7218 – ro’sh – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV) –
-  H1993 – hamah – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV) –
-  H8179 – sha’ar – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV) –
-  H8176 – sha’ar – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV) –