Words Matter

Proverbs 25:9–18 (NKJV)
9 Debate your case with your neighbor,
And do not disclose the secret to another;
10 Lest he who hears it expose your shame,
And your reputation be ruined.

11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.
12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

13 Like the cold of snow in time of harvest
Is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
For he refreshes the soul of his masters.

14 Whoever falsely boasts of giving
Is like clouds and wind without rain.

15 By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded,
And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.

16 Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomit.

17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house,
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.

18 A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
Is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow.

Keep your personal disagreements private, or your embarrassing debate will become public.  Words that are spoken well, with edification and blessing, are valuable, like gold and silver.  When you represent your friends honestly and well, it is refreshing to them.  Don't brag about your generosity.  Don't give up easily.  Don't take too much of a good thing.  Don't wear out your welcome with friends.  Don't lie about your friends!  These truths are full of references to relationships.  How you resolve conflict, how you speak to one another, your integrity with your friends, your tenacity, your respect of others boundaries, and your honesty with others all describe how to have healthy relationships.  Live well and be wise!

Honor the King

Proverbs 25:1–8 (NKJV)

1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied:
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.

4 Take away the dross from silver,
And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.
5 Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of the great;
7 For it is better that he say to you,
“Come up here,”
Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.

8 Do not go hastily to court;
For what will you do in the end,
When your neighbor has put you to shame?

This passage gives a great deal of instruction and guidance for dealing with rulers of nations.  Kings are responsible for nations, for the lives of many.  They search out truth and have deep hearts of wisdom and truth.  If the wicked are removed before them, they will have an even greater kingdom.  People should humble themselves in the presence of such great leaders and allow the king to give them place in the kingdom.  In general, the writer gives citizens of any nation an admonition to honor and submit to the leadership of its ruler.  When an individual does so, they will be blessed and make the kingdom even stronger!


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!

My Son, Fear the Lord!

Proverbs 24:11–22 (NKJV)

11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
13 My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;
14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off.

15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous;
Do not plunder his resting place;
16 For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again,
But the wicked shall fall by calamity.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him.

19 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the wicked;
20 For there will be no prospect for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.

21 My son, fear the LORD and the king;
Do not associate with those given to change;
22 For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin those two can bring?

Verses 11 – 14 speak of the responsibility of the wise to look out for and rescue those headed for destruction.  One cannot claim ignorance and be absolved of responsibility for saving others.  In the same way, believers must seek the wisdom of God and use that wisdom to witness to the lost to save them from sudden and utter destruction.  Conversely, in verses 15 – 16, Solomon warns the evil not to lie in wait to harm or steal from the righteous.  Even if they fall numerous times, the righteous will rise again and the wicked shall fall.  It is a losing game!  In verses 17 & 18, the writer says, “Do not rejoice over the demise of your enemies.”  Even when evil people fall, it is not Godly to mock them or rejoice over their pain or death.  The evil face an eternal punishment, therefore the righteous should mourn for them, not rejoice.  In 19 & 20, Solomon tells the righteous that they should not worry about evildoers, though, because they will not win.  Their riches are not worth envy, for they will disappear.  Finally, in 21 & 22, the reader is instructed to respect and obey the Lord first, and the king second, for they can bring great ruin to their enemies.  Be on the winning side!

A Wise Man is Strong

Proverbs 24:1–10 (NKJV)

1 Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them;
2 For their heart devises violence,
And their lips talk of troublemaking.
3 Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4 By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.

5 A wise man is strong,
Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;
6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,
And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

7 Wisdom is too lofty for a fool;
He does not open his mouth in the gate.

8 He who plots to do evil
Will be called a schemer.
9 The devising of foolishness is sin,
And the scoffer is an abomination to men.

10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.

Solomon juxtaposes the plight of the wise versus the eventual demise of the wicked.  Since evil will be punished, there is no need to envy their wealth or fame, because true wealth comes to the wise.  Wise men have strength, and find a way to win, especially in war, and find even greater strength in many counselors.  Wisdom is beyond the fool, and schemers are an abomination.  Finally, those who faint in the face of trouble are not strong.  Seek God and His wisdom, and be strong.  It is the wise who finish strong!

Listen to Your Father

Proverbs 23:22–35 (NKJV)

22 Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.

24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who begets a wise child will delight in him.
25 Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her who bore you rejoice.

26 My son, give me your heart,
And let your eyes observe my ways.
27 For a harlot is a deep pit,
And a seductress is a narrow well.
28 She also lies in wait as for a victim,
And increases the unfaithful among men.

29 Who has woe?
Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions?
Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger long at the wine,
Those who go in search of mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it swirls around smoothly;
32 At the last it bites like a serpent,
And stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
And your heart will utter perverse things.
34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:
35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt;
They have beaten me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

Obey your parents.  Value truth and wisdom.  Make your parents proud.  Don't sleep with anyone to whom you are not married, not matter how seductive.  Stay away from alcohol, because it brings sorrow and woe, and bites like a snake.  Solomon shares wise words for life that covers family relationships, lifelong learning, sexual holiness, and sobriety.  Solomon makes it clear that children should follow their parents' advice and leadership in order to bring joy and pride to their lives.  He also warns men against seductive women, although men and women should be chaste in their sexual relationships, only being with a spouse in a monogamous relationship.  Finally, Solomon discusses the dangers, and even the downward spiral caused by alcohol.  It mocks, depresses, and creates an altered reality that leads one to ruin.  Stay away from alcoholic drink!  Solomon was described as having wisdom beyond all men and women of his day.  His wisdom still makes sense today.

The Fear of the Lord

Proverbs 23:11–21 (NKJV)
11 For their Redeemer is mighty;
He will plead their cause against you.

12 Apply your heart to instruction,
And your ears to words of knowledge.

13 Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
14 You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself;
16 Yes, my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak right things.

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
18 For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.

19 Hear, my son, and be wise;
And guide your heart in the way.
20 Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

This passage picks up where the last passage left off, telling the reader that the Redeemer of the fatherless will plead their cause.  He cares for the weak, unfortunate, and deprived.  He instructs the reader to apply his or her heart to instruction and knowledge.  Parents are instructed not to fear discipline for their children.  Discipline actually delivers the child from hell, helping to save their soul. The writer, Solomon, then rejoices over the wisdom of his readers.  He further instructs the reader not to envy sinners, for they will be cut off, but the righteous will not.  He finally  warns the reader not to mix with winebibbers and gluttons, for they will lead him to poverty or lead her to drowsiness.  In the end, it is always wise to stand up for the weak and pursue knowledge.  The will of God is to be like Him!