In this passage, Solomon addresses his “son.” His instruction boils down to this: avoid dishonest gain, especially gain by violence. First, Solomon tells him to hold on to the wisdom that he receives from his parents. God wants his people to pass wisdom from one generation to another through divinely-ordained relationships, such as parent to child. Solomon intends these poems to prepare a young person to navigate successfully through the world avoiding the pitfalls of life.
After briefly describing the benefits of following wisdom, Solomon gives him his instruction. “When sinful men try to persuade you – do not go with them!” Solomon wisely tells his “son” what these sinful men will say when they try to recruit him to join their gang. He tells his son about people who wish to gain “easy money” by violence. Interestingly, their actions, as betrayed by their words, demonstrate three of the seven things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). After describing their actions, Solomon repeats his injunction against going with them, using slightly different words. Finally, he tells his son the results or consequences of following that their kind of lifestyle.
Solomon’s wisdom, as shared in this poem, applies as well today, as it did when he wrote it! Violence permeates our culture. We find it in everything from our entertainment (video games, movies, etc.) to our city streets. Gangs promise comradery (or a sense of belonging), freedom, status, control, and easy money. Solomon warns us not to get involved with these people. As such, this poem shows that God has the answer for our cities and our culture. We find his answer in bringing our lives into alignment with his wisdom and his word.