Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – January 10, 2016
Theme: Wisdom for Living
Topic: Wisdom and the Herd Instinct
Main Texts: Proverbs 1:8-33
Key Verse: Proverbs 1:10 –“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, we started our studies on theme Wisdom for Living with a study on Authentic Wisdom. Our key learning from that study include the following:
Authentic wisdom starts with the fear of God; whatever seems “smart” but does not reflect the fear of God is in fact foolishness. Be very suspicious of philosophies and cults (e.g. The Rosicrucian) that claim to impart special wisdom or knowledge. More subtle but also dangerous is the idea that praying at specific hours confer special powers or wisdom!
Outsmarting a business associate, stepping on the interest of colleagues to obtain promotion, and lying to the electorate to win an election may be deemed smart by many, but they all emanate from the lack of the fear of God.
Having the fear of God does not translate to automatic wisdom for daily living: Christians need to learn the wisdom for living, and the book of Proverbs is a great resource for that. While role models can indeed help us get wiser, we must constantly check to ensure that our role model is guided by the fear of God.
This Sunday, we will meditate on Solomon’s warning against following other people to do evil. The study, titled Wisdom and the Herd Instinct will examine Solomon’s graphic style of instruction, what we can learn from his style, and possible reasons why despite abundance of instructions on wise living, many still live foolishly. Key learning from the study should include:
Many of our foolish and devious acts emanate from our desire to “belong” to some group. Parents must help children develop a healthy questioning mind that critically assesses what their peer groups are into, and not just follow the herd.
Merely giving “dos and don’ts” does not develop a child’s sense of right and wrong – children need to be made to understand the allure of sin and the potential consequences of their choices. Psychologists sometimes use a term “herd instinct” to describe the natural tendency of animals – including human beings – to be part of a “herd”, to belong to, and want to be seen as part of a group by following the group in whatever it does. A more contemporary term for it is “peer pressure”. We readily see this instinct in herds of animals when one of them suddenly makes a move from panic. All the others, without thinking intuitively make the same move. In less dramatic ways, we human beings want to feel belonging by doing what our group does. If not trained from childhood to think our actions through, we grow up being driven entirely by peer pressure. It was from this perspective that Solomon commences his lessons on wisdom by warning his son against the herd instinct: “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.“ (Pro 1:10)
1. Mention some devious behaviours of human beings that can be attributed to a herd instinct that was not trained to be different from childhood. The first warning Solomon gives his son against peer pressure is to do with violence. Something to note about Solomon’s counsel to his son is that he does not just tell him “don’t”. He paints a picture of how a plot to do evil is hatched and executed. Solomon could have stopped with the instruction in verse 15: “… do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths” (Pro 1:15). But he goes on (verses 15~19) to describe what eventually becomes of such evil doers. This is the Solomon’s typical way of instruction – he paints a picture of the thoughts in the mind, the action that emanates from the thoughts, and the consequence of those actions.
2. If verses 15 to 19 had not been included, what impact would it have had on the effectiveness of the instruction, and what can we learn from Solomon’s methodology about training a child to discern good and evil, shun evil and choose good? In verses 20 to 33, Solomon presents wisdom as a lady crying out to be heard and warning of the scary dangers of not heeding the call. We also see in Psalm 107:17-20 the picture of one whose very life is at stake all because he despised wisdom. Thousands of parents live with the heartache of a child that has not heeded wise counsel and eventually runs into serious difficulties in life.
3. Why do many people – especially young people – not heed the seemingly obvious wise counsel? Wisdom says “Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them …” (Pro 1:30-32)
4. How would you counsel a parent whose child runs into severe difficulties in life as a direct consequence of rejecting wise counsel?
Father, grant us the grace to not only walk in your wisdom, but to also guide those you entrust into our care to do same, In Jesus’ name. Amen.