Judge Rightly and Work Hard!

Proverbs 24:23–34 (NKJV)

23 These things also belong to the wise:
It is not good to show partiality in judgment.
24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Him the people will curse;
Nations will abhor him.
25 But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.

26 He who gives a right answer kisses the lips.

27 Prepare your outside work,
Make it fit for yourself in the field;
And afterward build your house.

28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
For would you deceive with your lips?
29 Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”

30 I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
32 When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest;
34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

Solomon addresses numerous issues concerning justice and life in this passage.  He begins by instructing those who would be wise to not show partiality.  Leaders lose support when they call the wicked righteous.  Judge rightly and call evil what it is.  He goes on to encourage landowners to make sure the fields and exterior of the house is fit first, then build and outfit the home.  The assumption here is that the field is where a family provides for its food and makes money.  Make sure your living is set first, then your comfort.  The writer goes on to discuss the necessity of honesty in court and matters of dispute.  Don’t try to get back at a neighbor by lying to get them in trouble with the law.  Finally, Solomon addresses the need for industry in the life of an individual.  Laziness leads to poverty.  If you sit around and do not take care of your property, business, or home, it will come to ruin.  Verses 33 and 34 are a poetic way of describing how poverty can sneak in and rob you of your livelihood.  Don’t be lazy!

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