A Primer of Wisdom

Proverbs 27:17–27 (NKJV)

17 As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

18 Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit;
So he who waits on his master will be honored.

19 As in water face reflects face,
So a man’s heart reveals the man.

20 Hell and Destruction are never full;
So the eyes of man are never satisfied.

21 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And a man is valued by what others say of him.

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will provide your clothing,
And the goats the price of a field;
27 You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,
For the food of your household,
And the nourishment of your maidservants.

The wisdom of this passage is varied.  Relationships, hard work, cravings, and diligence all come to the table for discussion.  Friends–good friends–should press one another to greatness.  They should sharpen one another like two hard substances.  Those who work a fruit tree or serve their supervisor well will be fed and honored.  A man’s heart will betray his true intentions and feelings.  The cravings of a man are endless, never fulfilled to the point of satisfaction.  Wise men should be refined by the critique of others.  Foolishness can be an undeniable and indelible trait, never leaving an individual, no matter how many warnings or punishments try to thwart the foolishness of the fool.  Finally, the writer encourages businessmen, farmers, and even homeowners to be diligent, careful, and hardworking.  Riches are not forever, so lay up for the future and plan wisely.  Just as food comes in its season, and then you need to rely on your stores and your lamb and goats, a man or woman needs to plan for their future and not be caught short-handed or short-funded.  Be wise and live off the good of your labors all your days.  Wisdom will make you whole.  Live well!

Relationships

Proverbs 27:9–16 (NKJV)

9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

11 My son, be wise, and make my heart glad,
That I may answer him who reproaches me.

12 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself;
The simple pass on and are punished.

13 Take the garment of him who is surety for a stranger,
And hold it in pledge when he is surety for a seductress.

14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.

15 A continual dripping on a very rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike;
16 Whoever restrains her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.

Relationships can be tricky.  While humankind is created with great capacity for relationships with others, often those relationships are fraught with intricate rules and reactions, some not even intended by the one who would be offended.  However, wisdom can help one navigate those situations and avoid trouble.  For instance, hearing the wise counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume.  When you are in trouble, seek the comfort and advice of a good friend rather than traveling afar to seek a family member.  Children should be wise, so that their parents don’t have to wonder if they should defend his or her child’s honor.

Avoid evil, unlike the fool who walks right into it.  Take collateral from those who are a risk or unknown to you if you are going to loan them money, AND take collateral from the one who would secure (co-sign) the loan.  Don’t be obnoxious with your friends.  Know your spouse before you marry, and marry wisely.  If you have a contentious relationship with your spouse, learn his or her ways and learn how to deal with him or her with love and kindness, even if it is very difficult.  Relationships can be treacherous, but can also be a blessing–especially in a time of need.  Plant, cultivate, and develop relationships in a Godly, wise way, and they will be a blessed resource.

Discretion

Proverbs 27:1 – 8

1Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
But a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them.

4 Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent,
But who is able to stand before jealousy?

5 Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

7 A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb,
But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

8 Like a bird that wanders from its nest
Is a man who wanders from his place.

Don’t boast about your future, it is not here yet.  Don’t boast about your own abilities, let someone else.  Avoid a fool’s wrath.  Don’t be jealous, for it is cruel.  Don’t conceal your love; Let it show!  Even when a friend hurts you, it is better than the praise of your enemy.  When you are hungry, even bad food tastes good.  Don’t wander from your own nest:  Stay loyal!

This group of wise words encourages the reader to live a life of discretion.  Don’t let your words or your actions get you in trouble.  Be discreet and honest in all that you do.  Live Well!

Through the Valley

The Great Shepherd

Psalm 23 (NKJV)
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

The Shepherd: Nurturer and Protector

Provision of food and water

Restoration and Leadership

Where He Leads Me I Will Follow

The Irony of the Valley

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The Valley is associated with being down, low, and between high spots in life. The valley is dark, and sometimes has predators. However, the valley is also likely to have water and edible vegetation as well. The Shepherd leads us to green pastures and still waters. He restores us! Often, though, it happens in dark times. Dark times are frightening, ominous, intimidating. The psalmist understood the challenge of the valley. However, He also understood the God of the valley.

No Fear

The Comfort of His Presence (The God of the Valley)

The Favor of the Lord

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Favor in the Face of Opposition

Permanent, Eternal Goodness and Mercy

Hold the Phone: You Are Making No Sense!

Job 13:12–16 (NKJV)
12 Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes,
Your defenses are defenses of clay.
13 “Hold your peace with me, and let me speak,
Then let come on me what may!

The Futility of Words

He considered his friends words on no effect, even worthless

An Attitude of Faith:  I Will Believe!

14 Why do I take my flesh in my teeth,
And put my life in my hands?
15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
16 He also shall be my salvation,

Rugged Determination

Unconditional Faith

The Good Lord’s Promise

Psalm 86:5–8 (NKJV)
5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. 6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. 7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me. 8 Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works.

He is Good (The God of the Valley)!

Forgiveness
Mercy
Attending
God Answers
Great God (You are Good, You are Good, You are Good!)

Takeaway Thoughts

The Valleys Will Come
The God of the Valley is Always There
Trust the Good God of the Valley!

Proverbs 26:14–28 (NKJV)
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
So does the lazy man on his bed.
15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl;
It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.
16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven men who can answer sensibly.

17 He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own
Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.

18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,
19 Is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “I was only joking!”

20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out;
And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.
21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body.

23 Fervent lips with a wicked heart
Are like earthenware covered with silver dross.

24 He who hates, disguises it with his lips,
And lays up deceit within himself;
25 When he speaks kindly, do not believe him,
For there are seven abominations in his heart;
26 Though his hatred is covered by deceit,
His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.

27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.

28 A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.

The passage begins with a warning to the lazy man.  Don’t stay in bed all day, don’t eat all the time, and don’t think you know more than everyone else in the room.  The lazy man does all these things and is headed for demise.  The writer then warns against getting involved in someone else’s quarrel, and not to be insulting or sarcastic.  The writer moves to a discussion of gossip and contention.  He uses vivid images of a fire going out if it is not fueled and how contention fuels a fire while gossip seems like a piece of candy.  Don’t gossip and keep the peace!

Other advice includes being genuine, not like a gold-plated item, but rather like a solid gold plate.  Hatred may be disguised, but it will show itself at inopportune times.  Don’t hate!  Those who set a trap for others will have it snap on them.  Lies destroy others and ruins good people.  The bottom line:  watch your actions and your words, for they can bring harm to you and to others.  Your lives depend on it!

The Plight of the Fool

Proverbs 26:1–13 (NKJV)

1 As snow in summer and rain in harvest,
So honor is not fitting for a fool.

2 Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow,
So a curse without cause shall not alight.

3 A whip for the horse,
A bridle for the donkey,
And a rod for the fool’s back.
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6 He who sends a message by the hand of a fool
Cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
7 Like the legs of the lame that hang limp
Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
8 Like one who binds a stone in a sling
Is he who gives honor to a fool.
9 Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard
Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10 The great God who formed everything
Gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.
11 As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly.
12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road!
A fierce lion is in the streets!”

The writer discusses the various results of the actions of a fool.  In the case of the Hebrew word nabal (neḇālâ)*, the concept behind the word translated as “fool” connotes thickheadedness with wicked intentions.  This describes some people that I know or have known about.  Stubbornness coupled with evil is a dangerous combination.  The end result of such an attitude is described in this proverb.  A fool does not deserve honor.   Instead, the fool will receive punishment and discipline.  Wise people will not converse with the fool, will not trust a fool even with simple tasks, nor listen to a fool when he or she determines to spout supposed wisdom.  A fool will return to the very things that he cast off and will starve for lack of initiative.

Don’t be a fool!  The end result of a fool’s lifestyle is ruin, ostracism, and pain.  Seek the Lord and follow His wisdom.  It is the obvious opposite of the life of a fool.  Live Well, Live Holy, Love God!

 

 

*Walker, W. L., and R. W. Vunderink. “Fool; Foolish(ly); Folly.” Ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised 1979–1988 : 331.

Humility and Care

Proverbs 25:19–28 (NKJV)

19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble
Is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.

20 Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.

23 The north wind brings forth rain,
And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.

24 It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

25 As cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a far country.

26 A righteous man who falters before the wicked
Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.

27 It is not good to eat much honey;
So to seek one’s own glory is not glory.

28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls.

What a vast array of wisdom!  The writer suggests against frivolity with one who is sad.  He also encourages individuals to give your enemies food and drink when they need it, because it will brings emotional coals on their heads.  Don’t backbite, for it brings anger.  A contentious person is difficult to live with.  Good news refreshes an individual.  Seeking your own glory is like eating too many sweets: it is not satisfying.  If you don’t control your own spirit, then you have no defense for your soul.  So, be sensitive to others situations, be kind to your enemies, don’t talk about people behind their back.  Bring good news, not bad, and remain humble.  When you live by wise truths of Solomon (and God), your life will be awesome!  Live well and be humble.