“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”
The turning point in a person’s life happens when they hear and listen to the voice of truth. The Lord speaks to us through scripture, through his people, and through his Spirit. If we listen to the voice of truth and then repent, the Lord will bless us. The Lord will respond to our repentance by pouring out his Spirit and giving us insight into his truth.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1.9)
That’s the good news. Here is the bad news: If people are hard-hearted and refuse to listen to the truth, they will suffer God’s judgment.
“Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.” (Proverbs 1.24-27)
The Lord’s patience has a limit. At some point, he will respond to disobedience and rebellion with judgment. This is the prophetic message throughout scripture, especially in the prophets of the Old Testament. With vivid language, the Lord declares that when the point of no return has been breached, he will laugh at the calamity that befalls the stubbornly rebellious person or nation.
The immediate application of this passage is to the people of Israel. It is a dire warning of what eventually happened. In the OT, we read that both Israel in the north and Judah in the south refused to repent of their idolatry and disobedience. They ignored God’s counsel and did not respond to his reproof. As a result, they suffered destruction at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians.
Did God actually “laugh” at their calamity? Yes, but not with human laughter. The Lord’s laughter at the defeat and destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem was bittersweet. It was with great sadness and tears. Proverbs declares that the disaster that people experience is the result of their own choices:
“Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.” (Proverbs 1.28-31)
God has created a world of cause-and-effect. This is a core biblical principle: You reap what you sow (see Galatians 6). If you sow from the sin nature, you will reap from the sin nature. If you sow from the Spirit, you will reap from the Spirit.
“For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” (Proverbs 1.32-33)
There are two groups of people described in these two verses of Proverbs 1:
Group 1 are people who are simple and complacent. The word for “simple” is pethi, and it means devoid of understanding. These are people who are morally bankrupt. The word for “complacent” is shalah, which means “carelessly at ease.” These are people who are comfortable and prosperous, but indifferent about their disobedience and rebellion against God. This group, the Lord says, will be destroyed.
Group 2 are people who listen and respond to the Lord. They acknowledge and repent of their sin, they respond to God’s grace in Christ, and they follow the Lord’s truth. This group will experience the Lord’s peace; they “will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
Recognize the truth, repent of sin, receive forgiveness. That is the right response to the voice of truth.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10.27-28)