1 ¶ A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
I’ve seen the truth of this Proverb many times in my life. You can defuse many hostile situations with kind words and nonthreatening verbal behavior.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Young people, when a parent or your employer gives you advice, makes a request, or directly asks you to do something it is best not to answer back. Simply acknowledge that you understand what they are saying. Many times an employer will tell you something you think you already know and it’s a natural tendency to say something like “oh, I already know that” or “I don’t do it wrong”, or some other thing to justify yourself. Well, the best thing to say is nothing or, as I said, acknowledge you heard the instruction and nothing else. You’ll avoid unnecessary confrontations that way.
Men, never ever say to your spouse, “I don’t know what I did but I’m sorry”. That is the lamest excuse they’ve ever heard. You know good and well what you did and if you really don’t you can’t be sorry for something you aren’t even aware of. Wives, your husband doesn’t want to know about a problem unless you expect the problem to be solved. If you just want to discuss something that bothers you make it plain that talking is all you are interested in, that you just want to know he cares enough to listen. Let him know up front what YOUR intentions are. Men want every problem to be solvable. Women just want to talk about problems and don’t always expect a solution.
Unless you want a verbal confrontation, or worse, and I hope you don’t love drama as that is wickedness, use a soft, non-confrontational answer to end an edgy encounter. Words that bite and fight back will result in a fight, or they often do.
2 ¶ The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
We have the words of knowledge, all that really matter to the eternal life of any human being. We can express those words of the gospel truth rightly and for the purposes of conviction and edification, speaking the truth in love ….or…we can get a bullhorn and stand on a street corner and scream them at complete strangers. We can then foolishly go home with the self satisfaction that we’ve “done our part for Christ”. There is little worse than to make a person feel as if converting them to Christ will give us another notch on our Bible belt or a feather in our cap at church. Do we use knowledge aright or do we pour out foolishness with our mouths?
On another level, the wise person uses their knowledge on all matters prudently, knows when to speak and when to keep silent. The fool simply babbles everything they think they know and all that winds up coming out of their mouths is foolishness.
In keeping with the last verse, the wise person knows how to use his or her knowledge for edifying and encouragement while the fool only knows corruption and the sharp tongue that stirs up wrath and discord. A fool can’t help but spew foolishness but a wise person carefully chooses their words.
3 ¶ The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
Two of God’s attributes is that He knows everything or “omniscience” which is what an atheist claims for himself when he denies that God exists. Another is his “omnipresence” or His being everywhere at once. God is not part of His creation but He is everywhere in His creation. One of the ways He sees everything is through the angels that stand before Him that represent things on earth; as in children;
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
And churches, among other things;
Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
God sees all things and God knows all things. It is a doctrine of Roman Catholic theology that God’s is not omnipresent as He is not in Hell. Many fundamentalists have accepted this belief that limits God’s omnipresence as in their statements that Hell’s worst condition is the absence of God. However, that is not true.
Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
And when Hell and death are cast into the lake of unquenchable fire for eternity;
Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. 24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Of course, we know that Jesus refers to this passage, quoting it in part three times in the gospel of Mark.
God knows your secret thoughts and there is nothing you did that is kept secret from Him. Many Christians live their lives as if they could hide behind a corner out of God’s sight occasionally to commit idolatry with some worldly made up god like sports, money, sex, education, and status. They deceive themselves that God doesn’t know or doesn’t see this aspect of their lives.
Remember, it is redundant to say in a prayer meeting that you want God to come down on the congregation or that you want God to send His Holy Spirit down, because God is already here. His Spirit resides in everyone of you, if you aren’t reprobates. If you are saved, God is here now. What you NEED is for God to fill you with His Spirit like heating up a jar with a little water in it will fill the jar with water vapor which is still water. Likewise, you need to be aware that God is able to see everything that you are thinking and feeling through your own spirit.
Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
God is as aware of what is going on in your mind and what your body is doing as He is aware of the events that take place in Alpha Centauri, light years away. And He will not close His eyes to your sin. Be sure of that. Now there are many more things to be said about this verse and many sermons that can come from it but I must move on lest I begin preaching one.
4 ¶ A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
A tree of life has been mentioned earlier in Proverbs; as wisdom personified in 3:18, as the fruit of the righteous in 11:30, as the hope for Christ by way of a spiritual application for us in 13:12, and now here as a wholesome tongue. Notice that the wholesome tongue as a tree of life is in contrast to perverseness in the tongue. Foul, vulgar language brings down the soul and lowers it. A mouth that speaks vile things, or even about some good things out of place as most every bad thing is a good thing twisted as Bob Jones used to say, is destructive, dirty, and creates an atmosphere of violence and disrespect for others. Once again, let me remind you of what Paul has said;
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
People with foul mouths are weak and substitute their vulgar language for powerlessness as they are spiritually bankrupt. In their perverse tongues they make a break in their own spirit. Don’t use any language in talking to others that you would not use in talking directly to God.
5 ¶ A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
Early on in Proverbs the respect of a child for a parent’s teaching and instruction is emphasized.
Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Proverbs 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
Remember, that in the Bible, to despise is to hold in low regard, to hold in contempt, as I have shown before by verse contrasting with verse, to give Bible definitions of words. Here reproof is in contrast to instruction. In various verses, reproof is linked with instruction, counsel, and correction as synonyms. Just look up the verses with the word reproof in them and see how its juxtaposed with these words for the purpose of definition.
Job 26:11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.
Proverbs 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Proverbs 1:25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
Proverbs 1:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Proverbs 5:12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;
Proverbs 10:17 He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.
Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
Proverbs 15:10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
Proverbs 15:31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
Pr 15:32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
Proverbs 17:10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
2Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Young people, don’t be fools. Pay attention to the reproof of your parents, very close attention. Your life may be saved by it. Never be stupid and look at them and think, “well, they did all that and they’re okay, so why can’t I?”. That would be the thought processes of a stone cold fool.
6 ¶ In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
Young person, you are entitled to anything God gives you during performance of His will for your life. You are entitled to nothing if you step out of His will to obtain it. I’m not talking about things not mentioned in the Bible, like million dollar lotteries, the stock market, and sweepstakes. It’s much more mundane and ordinary than that. I’m talking about honest labor for honest gain and being truthful to get your treasure. No liar, or scoundrel, thief, or player or con artist deserves one red cent of what he or she gets and those fools and their money are easily parted.
It’s very hard to scam someone who is honest and doesn’t expect something for nothing. I don’t even trust banks but at least your money is protected by the government. Oops, I don’t trust them any more than I do banks. In any event, money you get by honest means is of more value to God and money you get by lying and chicanery and mendacity is worthless and will come back to bite the Christian, especially, who falls for unrighteous greed.
Now think of a spiritual application for this Proverb. What a truly righteous person places on deposit is in the bank of Heaven and has eternal interest accrued. It can be devalued and is not subject to inflation or taxation. Place your treasure in heaven and you will be blessed. The wicked unsaved can only hope in this world and everything they build up will neither last them past the moment they assume room temperature nor will it itself last beyond the fire that will destroy everything when God creates new heavens and a new earth.
Matthew 6:19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
7 ¶ The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
This idea has been repeated before and it’s important to note that the knowledge spoken here is the knowledge of God’s law and our edification would be on God’s word and God’s grace. The lips of the wise should disperse knowledge to edification, as many verses in the New Testament letters to the Christian attest, to the edification of the brethren, to draw them closer to Christ.
It’s not even in the heart of the foolish to do so. Another spiritual application might be that a wise believer is ever ready to tell others about Christ and to have a testimony but foolish ones never open their mouths because it’s not in their hearts to do so.
8 ¶ The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Here, sacrifice and prayer are linked. As here also;
Psalms 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
I would say that until a person receives Jesus Christ as their Saviour that nothing they do in the way of honoring God has any value to Him and I would go further to say that their masses, their feast days, and holy days are an abomination to Him unless they believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ rather than their own righteousness.
9 ¶ The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
I have pointed out before that my assumption throughout my study of Proverbs is that the “wicked” can be applied to those, for our spiritual application, who ultimately reject Christ’s free gift of eternal life. In that regard, there is nothing that an unsaved person can do that would please God except to receive Christ. Receiving Christ is the beginning of any kind of relationship with the Lord God. The way of the unsaved wicked is, therefore, an abomination to God.
However, God loves His children. In our spiritual application, leaving the Jews under the Law and coming to the era of Christianity, it is the one who follows after Christ, which is our righteousness, whom God loves. He loved the world at the Cross as John 3:16 says, but God loves him or her who follows after Christ eternally.
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
2Thessalonians 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
1John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
10 ¶ Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
I’ve heard the Pastor say that you can tell when someone is turning their back on Christ because they will avoid the attempts at contact from someone to whom they can be accountable. They’ll stop taking your calls and stay away from church and functions where what they are doing is called into question.
The person who has turned aside from following Christ doesn’t want to be around situations where they might be reproved for their behavior. Correction and reproof here are linked for those who have had a hard time with understanding the word reproof. A person who is trying to quench the Holy Spirit does not want to hear the people that God has placed in their way to correct them. It grates on their mind to hear the truth that they are wrong and are headed for destruction.
Think on your own lives. When you were intent on doing something you wanted to do and had found a way to justify yourself, the last thing you wanted to hear was someone you knew who would say that you were making a big mistake. Mankind, as Dr. Ruckman says, has a few needs; self gratification, self propagation, and self justification among them. We can justify any thing we want to do.
But God gives us a warning here. He that hates reproof shall die. Notice the shall as a consequence. He shall die because he won’t listen to correction. It’s grievous to him and he hates it. He doesn’t want to be told that he’s wrong because he doesn’t care that he’s wrong. He wants what he wants, and God’s will isn’t in the picture any more. Just read Jeremiah 42:7 and further to see how the Jews refused God’s word and went to live in Egypt anyway to their destruction.
Young people and older, this kind of thinking will kill you in the end. I’ve seen it many, many times.
11 ¶ Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
Here’s a companion for verse 3. Even Hell and destruction aren’t hidden from God. In this Proverb, how much more our spiritual hearts are open to God.
Remember how the Holy Spirit uses our human spirit.
Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
We are told to bring every thought into subjection to Christ.
2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
So, we go from verse 3 where God sees everything you do to verse 11 where God knows everything you feel and think as well as your intentions.
12 ¶ A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
Just like in verse 10, a scorner can’t stand someone correcting him. He can’t stand to hear a sermon that points out the sin in his lifestyle. He’ll avoid people he should be accountable to and will refuse to even take their phone calls and maybe won’t answer the door if they come knocking. A scorner is full of himself. He’s not likely to go to a wise Christian for advice unless he thinks he’ll be justified. If he does go, he’ll only give enough information about his situation, twisted just so, as to make himself look good and to try to provide excuses for his behavior. Mostly, as this Proverb says, he doesn’t even want to be near someone who’ll tell him the truth about his wickedness.
13 ¶ A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
There are many medical studies that show that a happy person is healthier than an unhappy person. In this verse, it is said that a merry heart makes for a cheerful facial appearance, but that sorrow breaks the spirit. By all rights, the Christian should always have a merry heart. They’re saved. Their future in heaven is certain. They have the Spirit of God dwelling inside them. They can receive guidance and direction from the Bible, which God also uses to change them for His purposes.
So, why are so many Christians miserable? Because they are trying to hold onto the world, that’s why. They simply refuse to give up the things of the world that please them or make them feel comfortable. You have this conflict inside you, trying to love God and at the same time trying to love the world. Your possessions, your dreams, your aspirations, and the things you hold as valuable are all usually at conflict with what God wants for your life.
Fundamentalist Christians often say that homosexuals won’t come to Christ because they refuse to put their lifestyle on the table for God to deal with and yet many Christians refuse to put everything about their own lives on the table; their lust for violence even if in a movie where there is a good guy or a bad guy, their love of money and possessions, self pride, vanity, their house, a credit rating, their comfort, their past, their besetting sins, and so many other things will often stand right in the way of the call that Christ has made on their lives. The root of our unhappiness is not letting go of what has no place in our lives for God and that includes sin, possessions that control, and your attitude.
Note what I am NOT saying. You must pay your bills. You must work and work faithfully. These are two places where your testimony stands out forcefully. I’m not talking about abandoning your life to the bankruptcy lawyer. That’s not Godly either. What I’m talking about is your treasure, where does your heart lie? What does it yearn for? A closer walk with God where He leads you or a bigger house, newer car, better and higher paying job?
All Christians should have a merry heart and a cheerful face. The only thing that should sadden us is to realize that the majority of people are lost as a goose in a horse race. Compassion for the lost is the only thing that should bring us down and there is a cure for that.
14 ¶ The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
The Christian who has understanding is always seeking to know God, to have a knowledge of His will, to understand His ways. Notice the contrast with the heart and the mouth of fools. The mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. There are Christian fools just as there were Jewish fools. Look at the outward things the fools in Christ’s day focused on.
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
There are probably people in this very assembly who, if an unbeliever or an immature Christian walked into the congregation to hear God’s word preached, would judge them based on their dress and not even for garish or immodest dress but just not dressing to that person’s own personal standards. Is modest dress important? Certainly. Is it more important for a Christian to dress in a certain way than it is for him or her to know the God of the Bible? Of course not. Can you judge a person’s standing with Christ by the way they cut their hair or by the cut of their clothing? Maybe YOU can but I can’t.
If we have understanding we need to focus on things like having the fruit of the Spirit made manifest in our daily lives; at work and with our families, particularly the baby Christian and the unbeliever. We don’t need to keep prating on things that WE didn’t understand when we were first Christians as if everyone we meet is suddenly supposed to act as if they’d read the Bible through a dozen times, were constantly talking to God, and had had many a good sermon burned into their minds.
We seek to know Christ, to know His will, to know more about what He wants and less about what we want. We want Him to change us. We want Him to remake us from the inside out. From the heart. The fool is always going on about the outward appearance or the performance of some kind of ritualistic behavior that is satisfying to the flesh. Fools come to church to feed on foolishness. We come to meet with the body of Christ to worship and adore together the one who made us and saved us from eternal damnation.
15 ¶ All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
The word evil is first contrasted with the word good in its first usage in Genesis 2:9 as it is in Ecclesiastes 12:14 and other verses. Jesus says in Matthew 19:17 that only God is good so it follows that anything not of God is evil. But, evil also has other meanings such as calamity, disaster, trouble, and malice as in Genesis 37:20, Job 2:10, Isaiah 45:7, and Matthew 6:34.
Every day of an unsaved person’s life is filled with doubt and uncertainty. They are afflicted with rage at their fate as well as the fear of it. Many don’t realize that this is the base of their torment. They have confused confidence with arrogance and presumption and blindness. They seek solace and comfort in a career, money, their family, food, sports, a hobby, drugs, alcohol, porn, romance novels, or anything that gets their mind off their pain and uncertainty. If you, a Christian, are in the same boat as an unbeliever I’m sorry for you. One, you’ll have no credibility as a witness to the lost and, two, you don’t have the abundant life that Christ has promised because you’re holding on to something He wants you to let go of.
We have a continual feast of feeding on God’s words, of the Holy Spirit changing our lives, of the joy of seeing Christ work in your every day existence on earth. We should have that merry heart and that cheerful face. Where is our joy? I feel somewhat sorry for the young and for those older people who have been successful in the things of the world. I have made such a mess of my life that I am totally dependent on Christ to get from one day to the next, even pleading at times for help to stand just one more hour at work, or to find the money to pay a bill I should never had acquired. It is so much easier to live on faith when that’s all you have left, when you have no confidence in self, and when the things of the world leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
I literally feast on God’s words every day. I read them at home and hear them almost continuously, particularly in the morning, on my CD player in the car. I hunger for them. I need them and they give me joy and strength. Any unhappiness I have is from trying to do it my way rather than His or from not trusting Christ when things go seemingly wrong. And I’m a bum! I’m the least of God’s children. What is your problem if you’re afflicted? Many of you are much better people than I am, much more spiritual, with a close walk with the Lord. Why do you worry and fret? Let your heart be merry. God is in control. Nothing will happen to you or to your loved ones that God didn’t either cause to happen or permit to happen. The Devil is not some kind of almighty opposite of God like in the Persian religion and Roman Catholicism where there is a good god and a bad god. The Devil can do nothing to you or to your loved ones that God hasn’t given him permission to do. Trust Christ. Just trust Christ. Feast on His words continually and have a merry heart.
16 ¶ Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
One of the things you can be sure of in life is that it is better to keep a low profile and not be tied to many possessions or to have great ambitions for carving your mark on the world than to seek to get rich and spend most of your time chugging Mylanta and dealing with stress. A secular song of my era lifted up and extolled the benefits of being a simple kind of man, which, of course, most of us completely ignored.
You can do a lot of good with money if you have the right attitude but trying to obtain lots of it can drive you into the ground and bury you. A lot of trouble can come with a lot of treasure, as I have seen.
Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
I think you will have more satisfaction and less trouble in life if you , as a Christian, seek a Christian’s desire, which is “enough” and not the world’s desire, which is “more”. Young people, avoid credit except when necessary and learn to save your money. Work hard six days a week after learning a trade or skill while the sun shines and prepare for your own days when it won’t be possible to work. Be thrifty and not hungry for material possessions. Don’t say, if I had this or that I could use it for the Lord. If you give what you have now to the Lord He will trust you with more and when the Lord blesses you rather than you blessing yourself there is no sorrow accompanying it which is another way of looking at a verse we’ve already talked about.
Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
Oh, and cut off the television. It only teaches you to covet, among other bad things. Remember, the more you get, the more you’ll want or “need”, and the more trouble will come with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
It is better to have little to eat but in a home where love prevails than it is to have an abundance and a house full of hate and bitterness. Once again, the Holy Spirit keeps telling us to not be covetous and to place importance in important things, not unimportant things.
Contrast the following verses with the American ideal of always being dissatisfied, of coveting, and wanting more.
1 Timothy 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Don’t worry. By following God’s plan you won’t derail the economy. The hard working, the thrifty, those content with God haven’t destroyed the economy. The hungry for money people have with greed, exploitation, and outright criminal behavior. I know, what you’ve been taught contradicts these plain words from God so you may have to say they don’t mean what they say or use the child’s excuse, “but still…” or “yeah, but I believe…”. Go ahead. It doesn’t change what God has said. This is one reason why so few rich people receive Christ as their Saviour. Oh, many of them become cafeteria Christians who pick and choose what parts of the Bible they like, but very few would buy into God’s commands for a Christian.
Its much more satisfying to pretend you’re a tenth century BC Hebrew and talk about doing God’s work by killing your enemies or rather “the enemies of God” and much less satisfying for the carnal mind to embrace the marching orders God has actually given you for your life as a believer in Christ. Read these verses every day when you’re struggling with the desire to either make your car payment or buy that plasma TV. Does God want you to have either payment?
How about this, Better is a Bible, a sandwich, and a can of soup where love is, than two cars, a HDTV, swimming pool, steak and lobster, and a dozen credit cards with hatred therein.
18 ¶ A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
We’ve already seen that the wrathful man is a fool and can’t please God. Now, he’s accused of stirring up strife, trouble, and usually among the brethren, but it’s just as wrong to do it at home. We also know he or she has an unforgiving and selfish spirit. People who like to cause drama and to stir up strife and who are wrathful have a wicked streak a mile long. But, it clearly says here that the person who is slow to anger, the beginning of wrath which is an abiding anger, can calm those troubled waters. God is pleased by the person who is slow to anger by many, many verses. It’s important to cultivate that attitude and if you have a hot temper then you need to get on your knees and beg God to change you, then read His word over and over pleading with Him to remove that wickedness from you permanently.
19 ¶ The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
We saw in 12:24 that the slothful man will always be governed by someone else. The slothful and lazy man, slothful being abiding laziness, a character defect, is very hard to deal with because he will do nothing for himself. He’s like a hedge of thorns blocking the path. See the imagery here;
Hosea 2:6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
He will always find a reason not to do something he should. There will always be some difficulty that keeps him from accomplishing what is laid out for him to do. By contrast, the slothful man is not righteous. The righteous man has no obstacles in his path. He doesn’t see difficulty at every turn.
Now, applying this Proverb to the age of the Christian Church and leaving the Law and the Tribulation to come aside, let’s think about salvation. Many people, when confronted with the need for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will continue for their entire lives to find reasons not to receive Him. Most people can believe that He is real, that His way is good, and that His path is the right way, but, again, the slothful in spirit will grasp at every possible excuse not to believe, not to trust, and not to come. Like the invited guests in Luke 14 and in Matthew 22 that had excuses the slothful man is full of excuses. He can’t believe because he’d have to give up his alcohol, cigarettes, or sexual sins. He’s afraid his life would be changed and he’s made peace with the devils that control him. Maybe he believes that God isn’t powerful enough to save someone as wicked as he is or loving enough to want to. All of these are barriers, like a hedge of thorns across the path, that the slothful in spirit put up.
But, the way of those who seek God is clear and simple, with no such barriers. He knows that he doesn’t save himself, that Christ does it. He knows that God is as far above the worst sinner as he is above the most righteous person and there is no failing in God that would prevent Him from being able to save. He knows He can neither pay for salvation, earn it, or keep it, and that it depends completely on God. The righteous knows that God changes people by His strength and His words in a Book, the Bible, and that no man can change himself except on the surface. Only God working on you through the word can change the heart. The righteous way is made plain; trust Christ, talk to Him in prayer, let Him speak to you through His words in His Bible, and unite with a body of believers to worship Him as the body of Christ and to hear the word preached and the sense made plain. God will do the rest. There are no thorns blocking the way. It’s only in the imagination of the fool and the spiritual sloth that such things exist.
20 ¶ A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
Parent’s are blessed when they can see their child is making wise choices and smart decisions, putting off immediate gratification, planning for and thinking about the future. When they can see a child is doing right, following the Lord closely, and reading the Bible, praying, and attending church, it can really make them happy. One of the things that probably, and I say probably because I honestly haven’t talked to anyone here and I would think it is a touchy subject, is happening is that the parents of those who are about to enter legal adulthood might be praying that those young people stay in the church. There is always the worry that when a person reaches eighteen that they’ll drift away until they’ve had so much hurt and/or shame they come back. Some never come back.
But back to the verse. As it says that a father is made glad by a wise son, it also points out that a foolish child, and you can insert man or woman, boy or girl, into these verses, has nothing but contempt for their mother. Of course, again, mother and father apply to both sections of the verse. Just think on these verses young people. Consider them, take advice. I’m trying to avoid getting into this too deeply because as Danny’s sermon pointed out last Sunday, it’s wrong to try to emotionally manipulate people to get right or do right.
We had a sales trainer at one job I had who was a total dripping faucet in every way except for one piece of advice he gave. He said that it was wrong to try to emotionally manipulate anyone into buying anything. That’s not something you normally hear from sales trainers. Well, what Danny courageously said wasn’t something you normally hear from preachers either. Those who would say to the young people about to turn eighteen, “if you really love the Lord you’ll keep coming to church”, and “if you love your Mom you won’t stop coming” etc. etc. are trying to play on guilt and a sense of shame just like the preacher who tells someone to get saved or they won’t ever see their dear, departed mother again, who prayed so hard for their soul every day. That doesn’t produce real belief but encourages fake salvation experiences. What we should be doing is welcoming you into an adult role in the church with more responsibility and expectations of what you will do for the Lord Jesus Christ to glorify Him as you reach the age where your full legal and mental powers can be exercised. It should be a time of excitement and a looking forward to new adult members of the body of Christ, mature and grownup, rather than a dread of what will they do or where they will go.
I am fully expectant of our young people about to burst into adulthood to make their mother’s glad and blessed. I know they will. It would be wicked to try to shame them into it. It’s insulting even like threatening someone that if they ever do something that you have no evidence that they have any intention of doing or have ever done that you’ll pay them back.
21 ¶ Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
A fool, lacking wisdom, takes what is wrong and stupid and hurtful and makes a game out of it. A fool lifts up folly and sin to a vocation, a calling, and his badge of distinction. The fool proudly proclaims he’s a “player”, or “likes to party”, or “doesn’t care what other people think”, or some such drivel. To the person who is destitute of wisdom the words, “it’s my life, I’ll do what I want” and “nobody can tell me what to do”, or “I’m my own person, the captain of my fate, master of my destiny”. To him that is destitute of wisdom, a simpleton, naieve, and foolish, doing stupid stuff that drags them down to the ground and brings shame on those who love them and depend on them is fun, that is until their body plays out and stops bouncing back, stops forgiving them. Then they cry out for help and mercy and are all repentant and sorry. The old song, “The Night Life Ain’t No Good Life But It’s My Life” goes from being their anthem to being their funeral dirge.
A man or woman of understanding thinks about what they say, what they do, and how it will impact those who love them or their testimony for Christ. A man or woman of understanding appreciates the call that Christ has on his or her life. He or she understands that they are accountable to others within the body of Christ and to God. A man or woman of understanding is concerned about the example they are setting. A man or woman of understanding wants to live by God’s word as best as they can understand it, allowing God to change them with it.
22 ¶ Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
Specifically for us, at this time, this is a clear statement that before any activity is pursued of importance, not only should you pray which we already know to do, I hope, but you should get advice from several different Christians. Better that they are Godly people who trust Christ and are deep in His Bible. Going off on your own without any sound, Christian advice from older people around you will result in failure, most likely. But, with good advice from a large group of people your plans are most likely to be successful.
People can see from the outside how your situation looks, in a different way than you can. Proverbs 11:14 is another verse along similar lines. Look at how much advice the Pastor has sought about church organization. These are serious matters and not to be taken lightly. There are things you need to know. Starting a small business without good advice will most likely end in disaster, as well. Where should you go to school? Have you talked to graduates of that school? What about a career? Listen to others who’ve been there, done that.
If you want success in any venture, seek out good advice from Godly people. Of course, people who aren’t affected by the modern disease of the importance of how something makes you feel rather than if it is right and good and something of value. It is hard to get good advice these days, even from Christians.
Ever since Ed Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, created the advertising industry in this country people have been brainwashed to link what they do with how it makes them feel rather than whether or not it is the right thing. Before the 1920’s and Bernays influence you purchased something based on your need for it and for what you learned was its trustworthiness to your purpose. But, after Bernays guidance and manipulation people were taught to buy things based on how those things made them feel. If you shop because shopping makes you feel good about yourself based on what you buy you’ve been ensnared in one of Satan’s traps for us in these times. So it is young people, with advice.
If anyone gives you advice along the lines of directing you to how your purpose makes you feel about yourself, either good or bad, rather than whether its right, Godly, prudent, smart, likely to succeed, or something God would approve of then avoid that person’s advice like the plague. Also, “I don’t have a good feeling about this” is not advice unless it’s based on a sound Biblical principle. But, clearly, don’t depend only on your own judgment. Seek counsel.
23 ¶ A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
This clearly has a direct application to the Christian age. If you are ever ready and willing to present the gospel and to give an answer to people who ask you about eternity, the Bible, and about Christ, then the answer of your mouth can give not only you but others joy. The word of truth spoken at the right time and at the right place can result in joy and in the good of seeing someone spending eternity with Christ rather than burning in agony.
1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
On a different note, think of how the right word spoken at the right time can encourage someone, can bring someone out of sorrow, and can alleviate grief. Words have power. Young people remember words that older people have said to them. Those words affect their lives. Be careful and measured with the advice or criticism you give a young person. Make sure it isn’t out of jealousy or envy or pride. Make sure it is useful for edifying and bringing them along to maturity. Draw them closer to Christ with your words, don’t drive them away. Your words can bring joy, the right words, spoken at the right time.
24 ¶ The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
The wise would be the ones who trust Christ’s and not their own righteousness to get to Heaven. The way of life, which is the way of Christ, leads above. Here, in this proverb, is a clear Old Testament saying that the path that is opposed to the way of life leads to Hell below us.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The trouble is we’ve got people thinking that belief is just a head issue so that when they say a prayer with us they are deceived into thinking that, “okay, I said 1-2-3 repeat after me, I’m good”. The fact is that belief in the Bible sense means trust. It’s not enough to say you believe a chair will hold your weight. You’ve got to sit in it.
1Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Most so called Christians are still trusting in their own righteousness and most Christians are still holding them to their own righteousness which is one reason why we’re so disillusioned when a Christian stumbles or falls.
But, back to the Proverb. All wisdom starts at believing in and believing on Christ. You may not be a very wise Christian but you, at least now, have a chance to grow in Christ. Without Christ you just stumbled around like a blind person in darkness with no offense intended toward blind people.
25 ¶ The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
By contrast here, the proud is set against someone who has suffered loss. The widow, in those days, had no social security except for her son or sons. An older woman without support was at the mercy of charity. Widows were at the mercy of evil people.
Mark 12:38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
Dr. Ruckman has pointed out how priests would, in certain religions, for a sum of money make long prayers for the departed, and thus consume the grieving widow’s money and home. Widows were often reduced to extreme poverty.
The passage in Mark goes on to say;
41 ¶ And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much . 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
It would seem that the proud here are those who would oppress widows by the contrasting position of the words. Christians are given this instruction that applies to now and into the Tribulation;
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
It would interesting to see the condition of the house, the families, of those who have taken advantage of widows, such as Jim Baker, the televangelist who took many people to the cleaners, including many women who freely gave their money to him thinking that they did God a service. Remember, to establish can mean to make certain or sure.
Another way of looking at this verse might be by using the humble condition of the widow as contrasted against the state of the proud, or those who would have plenty and not feel dependent on God at all. This then becomes a warning against pride and points out on whose side God stands.
26 ¶ The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
The unsaved person who rejects Christ cannot begin to please the Lord. His very thoughts are an abomination to the Lord until or unless he begins to think on God.
Psalm 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
The words of the pure, or those who are judged, not on their own righteousness but on Christ’s righteousness, which is credited or imputed to them ; their words are pleasant to the Lord.
Psalm 19: 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
27 ¶ He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
1Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
This verse says that the greedy person makes problems for his own family. In the contrasting portion of the verse, though, it refers to gifts. The context seems to be talking about bribery.
Proverbs 19:6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
Proverbs 29:4 The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
Isaiah 1:23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
One of the downfalls of human government is that everyone seems to want something. The politicians take perks (gifts) from corporations, political groups, and their lobbyists and the people take entitlements and benefits from the government. The purpose is to buy their votes. Unions are beholden to the Democrats for giving them these gifts and wealthy banks are beholden to both parties, while international corporations seem to benefit from Republican policies and every group in the country looks for special gifts from the government from farmer’s subsidies to low income housing.
This sense of ‘gimme gimme’ has broken our country’s sense of independence and our uniquely American strong work ethic and Evangelical Christianity. Certainly our families are harmed by the attitude. At your job you’ll find people expecting more than just their pay as they seek every extra benefit they can squeeze from their boss from longer breaks to ‘freebies’, vehicles to drive owned by the company, and office supplies and tools they take for their own use.
Now, everyone, it seems, even at home, expects something for nothing. So it is with our faith. We like the free gift of salvation and most American Christians feel no need to either obey or serve Christ; the One who saved them, the One who created them, the One made apparent in the words of scripture. Not only do American Christians readily accept the free gift of salvation we demand more; ease of living, abundance and prosperity, and good health. It’s their right, they think, they demand it. “Name it and claim it”, they say.
Americans have always wanted more and taught their families the same. But, in the last few years, with the welfare state influencing both the poor and the rich, they want more without having to do anything themselves to get it, but to hold out their hands.
Have not greedy Americans, particularly Christians, troubled their own house? But God will prosper and give life to those who put their backs to the work, as a general rule. And remember, those of you who are greedy of gain;
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
1Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
28 ¶ The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Time and time again God emphasizes that the prudent person, the righteous person, and the wise person uses his or her words very carefully. They think on what they are about to say and its impact on others. Proverbs 10:19, 31, 12:23, 13:3.
Think about what you are going to say before you say it. In contrast, what is coming out of the wicked person’s mouth is evil, malicious, and sinful. You hear it every day around you. People call into talk radio and proclaim how they wish a certain sports personality would die or take Bible verses like the one applied to Judas in Psalm 109:8 and apply it to the President they don’t like. Fools who spew things out of their mouths carelessly and without thought. When it is a Christian who does these things and winks with the eye, gives that mischievous smirk, and acts all proud at how clever there are it is sickening.
The righteous man or woman carefully considers how they will answer someone about Christ and are careful to give a thoughtful and measured response to any question they are given. The wicked pours out evil and hatred, screaming and doing that Christian cursing thing at people that aren’t receptive. There are wicked Christians who say whatever they feel and don’t care what impact it has for Christ. After all, they say, I’ve done my job. I put the word out there. What they do with it is their problem. Yes, well the righteous has a heart for the lost and is pained that they are lost while the wicked gloats, haha, I’m going to heaven and you’re not, smart guy.
Think carefully about what you are going to say to someone. Study your answer. It is a reflection of what’s in your heart.
29 ¶ The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Making an application for us in this time of the church I would say that the first prayer an unsaved person needs to make is one for salvation. If he wants any recognition or acknowledgement from the God of the Bible, he must make that first step to get saved. Notice how God makes a divine appointment for one who is searching for Him in Acts 8:26-40.
Notice the contrast here is between the wicked and the righteous. For our purpose we’re not looking at the wicked Hebrew who ignores the Law and the righteous Hebrew who is faithful to the spirit and the letter of it. Let’s look at the unsaved versus the saved. God hears your prayers. He is concerned with your heartfelt desires and your needs. But God is not in the doings of the wicked. The bar owner is not going to get God’s help or probably even ask it when he is deciding on where to put his new place of business. The drug dealer won’t get and most likely won’t ask for protection from God against his competition. The liar will probably not ask nor will he get help from God in getting others to believe his lies. Now, if that person is a Christian or if God knows that one day he will become one, God might thwart that person’s plans, put stumbling blocks in his way, and frustrate his purposes but God is far from that person’s plans and desires.
Don’t expect God to bless your sin would be a good sermon title to be drawn from this verse. Or, with regard to the unsaved person, if you want the Lord to hear your prayer then pray for Him to save you.
30 ¶ The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
When you can see something that was previously in darkness to you and when the eyes of your understanding are enlightened and truths are opened up to you that were previously shut there is a joy in your spiritual heart.
Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Making the bones fat has to do with your soul being nourished.
Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
For those of you who read the Bible faithfully haven’t you ever had a time where you were reading something that previously you simply did not get or perhaps even see;
Psalm 38:10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.
……and then one day, maybe after praying about it or maybe just questioning, it seemed like it was opened to you, as if God had suddenly given you light on it. I don’t mean to say that you get some kind of new revelation on the Scriptures but that it sinks into your own spiritual heart and your own understanding is increased. Isn’t it a joy to feel as if the Holy Spirit has spoken directly to you? Remember how it was when you were first saved?
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
31 ¶ The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
In this repetition of earlier verses about the wisdom of being able to stand reproof and correction, and by the connection with hearing and reading doctrine and instruction in righteousness in the following verse;
2Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
…the person that hears the reproof of life, and by hearing the Bible always means more than just the work of the ear but the work of the mind in understanding and applying, is considered one of the wise. So, if you are able to hear sermons, think on them, pray on them, and apply them to your own life you are wise. If you are the kind of person that walks out the door and has forgotten what was said almost immediately after it was spoken then there isn’t much I can say about you that God hasn’t already said in Proverbs and elsewhere.
If you are the person who reads the Bible every day and is changed by it because they believe what they are reading are God’s very own words then you are among the wise. If you are bored by reading it, don’t take the time to either hear it or read it in any amount, or just don’t care then the Bible is full of statements about what you are. Wise isn’t one of the words used for you.
32 ¶ He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
Again, a companion verse to the last one and to many verses we’ve already discussed. Remembering that to despise means to hold in low regard, to hold in contempt, it states very clearly that if you won’t hear instruction, you hate your own soul, which would have benefited from it. And a promise that if you hear reproof, which is linked in this verse, as it is in 2 Timothy 3:16, with instruction. The cross referencing of these verses gives us Christians an understanding here that the instruction given is in righteousness. Go back and read the verse in 2 Timothy again. So, let’s say in our minds that the person who refuses instruction in righteousness, in reproof, not only hates his own soul but will not get understanding which is the foundation of …….
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
To refuse to be instructed out of the word of God, Christian, means that you hate your own soul, which is nourished by it.
33 ¶ The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
2Chronicles 19:9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.
Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
Before you are instructed about wisdom, before the fear of the Lord shows itself in your doings, before God bestows honor on you, you must have humility. You are not doing God a favor by getting saved. God is not lucky to have you on His team. You’re not the first Christian He has given light to and your understanding of the Bible is not necessarily superior to someone else’s understanding. You are just as capable of thinking you are speaking what God has laid on your heart as someone else is capable of being deceived by Satan or their own flesh. We must be humble before God and hear Him. Then, he will lift us up. Come to His Book with a clear mind, not full of your own fears, bigotry, or pride whereby you seek to turn the words of God into a justification for your own sin.
1Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.