The Wisdom of a Nation (Proverbs 14:20 – 35)

This passage continues the litany of comparisons between the wise and the evil.

20 The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor,
But the rich has many friends. 

21 He who despises his neighbor sins;
But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. 

22 Do they not go astray who devise evil?
But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good. 

23 In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty. 

24 The crown of the wise is their riches,
But the foolishness of fools is folly. 

25 A true witness delivers souls,
But a deceitful witness speaks lies. 

26 In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge. 

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death. 

28 In a multitude of people is a king’s honor,
But in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince. 

29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
But he who is impulsive exalts folly. 

30 A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones. 

31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker,
But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.

32 The wicked is banished in his wickedness,
But the righteous has a refuge in his death. 

33 Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding,
But what is in the heart of fools is made known. 

34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people. 

35 The king’s favor is toward a wise servant,
But his wrath is against him who causes shame. 

Here, we see the writer discuss the king quite a bit.  The king is blessed, and the king blesses, in the midst of wisdom.  He again discusses the wisdom in hard work, aqnd foolishness of laziness.  He also utters the well-known words in verse 27, calling the fear of the Lord a fountain of life.  One especially poignant line is found in verse 34, stating that wisdom exalts a nation.  God, help us to exalt wisdom, righteousness, restraint, and hard work as virtues to be pursued.  Let us again seek your face so that we may be healed and rise up as a bastion of Godliness among the nations!

The Blessings of the Wise (Proverbs 14:1 – 19)

This passage of Proverbs again compares the differing ways that wisdom and foolishness produce results in life.  The opening comparison shows how a wise woman builds, but a foolish woman pulls down.  The upright fears the Lord, and the perverse despise God.  More comparisons involve punishment v. preservation, lies v. truth, knowledge v. ignorance, understanding v. folly.  A famous line that many use as an encouragement to seek God is in verse 12:

“12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.”

The remainder of the passage discusses the arrogance of the backslider, the gullibility of the simple, the rage of the fool, and the crown of knowledge.  

The passage ends with this thought: “19 The evil will bow before the good,
And the wicked at the gates of the righteous.”

The general story here is the value of wisdom and righteous living.  Live by God’s precepts and exercise wisdom, and you will find favor and God’s blessings.  Live like a fool and you will find trouble and failure.  God rewards those who honor Him!

Prosperity and Waste (Proverbs 13:10 – 25)

This passage deals with the evils of pride, dishonesty, unfaithfulness, rejection of correction, evil acts, foolish living, and bad parenting.  The famous line, “24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly,” is found in this passage.  The basic concepts found in this passage make it clear that those who live in wisdom receive blessings untold, plus they even inherit the riches of the wicked.  So many Christians struggle and worry about the future.  However, God has made the future of the righteous secure.  He will uphold and protect the righteous, the wise, and the faithful.  Work hard, live holy, trust God.  That instruction will never fail!

A Wise Son (Proverbs 13:1 – 9)

1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. 

2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth,
But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence. 

3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. 

4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. 

5 A righteous man hates lying,
But a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame. 

6 Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless,
But wickedness overthrows the sinner. 

7 There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches. 

8 The ransom of a man’s life is his riches,
But the poor does not hear rebuke. 

9 The light of the righteous rejoices,
But the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

The proverbs are so varied, with such a wealth of information in each passage, it is difficult to adequately cover all the material in each reading.  For instance, this passage discusses instruction, provision, wise speech, laziness versus industry, lying, safety, etc., etc.

While each of these topics could be a discussion unto themselves, it is also possible to see this passage as a guidebook or primer for wise living, the benefits of wisdom, and the danger of wicked or foolish acts.  Read each proverb as a key to life, joy, and peace.

Wisdom Wins! (Proverbs 12)

The writer gives the reader numerous comparisons between the plight of the wise versus the plight of the wicked. 

1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge,
But he who hates correction is stupid. 

2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. 

3 A man is not established by wickedness,
But the root of the righteous cannot be moved. 

4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones. 

5 The thoughts of the righteous are right,
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. 

6 The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,”
But the mouth of the upright will deliver them. 

7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
But the house of the righteous will stand. 

8 A man will be commended according to his wisdom,
But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised. 

9 Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant,
Than he who honors himself but lacks bread. 

10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. 

11 He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding. 

12 The wicked covet the catch of evil men,
But the root of the righteous yields fruit. 

13 The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will come through trouble. 

14 A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth,
And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him. 

15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise. 

16 A fool’s wrath is known at once,
But a prudent man covers shame. 

17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit. 

18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health. 

19 The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment. 

20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy. 

21 No grave trouble will overtake the righteous,
But the wicked shall be filled with evil. 

22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
But those who deal truthfully are His delight. 

23 A prudent man conceals knowledge,
But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness. 

24 The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the lazy man will be put to forced labor. 

25 Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad. 

26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray. 

27 The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting,
But diligence is man’s precious possession. 

28 In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no death.

These comparisons make it abundantly clear that living a holy, wise life far surpasses the foolish, if temporarily pleasureful, life of the wicked and the simple.  Give your life to God’s will and the pursuit of His wisdom, and life will be much more pleasant, easy, and prosperous!

Various Wise Sayings (Proverbs 11)

The writer of this passage supplies dozens of comparisons between the fate of the righteous and the fate of the wicked.  The righteous are guided by integrity, are delivered from death, is delivered from trouble, and will receive a sure reward.  The wicked will be destroyed because of their perversity, their riches will not profit them, they will fall by their own wickedness, and will be caught by their own lust.

In addition, the writer extols the value of honest business practices, the danger of pride and the value of humility.  He also values confidentiality and faithfulness, being unencumbered financially, and having a pure heart.  He teaches that the wicked will not prosper, and will not overcome the righteous.  He says that women should exercise discretion, and all people should be generous.  He finishes with these thoughts:

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.

31 If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth,
How much more the ungodly and the sinner.

The writer (presumably Solomon) provides numerous wise sayings that should help any individual navigate life more adeptly.  The basic premises are the value of wisdom, humility, and deliverance, and the dangers of sinful living.  Today, there are numerous opportunities to live wisely and prosper spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  But there are also powerful temptations and opportunities that can entice even the strongest individual.  That is why diligence is necessary in pursuing wisdom.  Chase after God and His wisdom and He will direct your path!

The Blessing of the Lord Makes One Rich

Proverbs 10:15 – 32

The proverbs continue in this passage, extolling the safety in wealth and the destruction in poverty; the life in righteous labor and the sin in wicked wages; the value of keeping instruction and the loss in refusing correction; the lying lips of hatred and the foolishness of slander.  The writer goes further to suggest that few words that are valuable are better than many that are worthless.

22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.

The proverb continues by describing the fool doing evil as if it is a sport, knowing that his fear will come upon him.  However, the wise will have their desires.  Laziness and wickedness lead to destruction and ostracism.

27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
28 The hope of the righteous will be gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked will perish.
29 The way of the LORD is strength for the upright,
But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.

30 The righteous will never be removed,
But the wicked will not inhabit the earth.
31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
But the perverse tongue will be cut out.
32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.

This passage further extols the virtues of wisdom.  In this passage, the benefits of wisdom in a temporal or earthly sense are described.  Riches, favor, strength, safety, a path to success are all promised to those who pursue and acquire wisdom.  Destruction, loss, even annihilation are promise to those who are wicked or simple.  The message is clear:  pursue and find wisdom and the blessings of the Lord will not be far behind!