Because the remainder of the book of proverbs, until chapter 30, is endless couplets, worth reading and thinking about, but too many for me to consider here, one by one, I am going to pick out several of them from each chapter and make comments. This of course does not mean that the others are worthless. You can always consider them yourself in private or as a group. Maybe with the family after your evening meal. At the end I will copy out the chapter from which I have chosen the ones I discuss so that you can easily find them to look at.
Whoever despises his neighbour is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. There are lots of reasons why we can despise our neighbour. To list a few:
- They’re richer than us and we are jealous.
- They have a different religion or philosophy and we are bigoted or biased.
- They have a different coloured skin and we’re racist.
- Their yard is always a mess and their kids are unruly and we feel a bit self-righteous.
- They’re poor and our well-being pricks our conscious as we don’t want to help them……etc.
But the author for some reason, may be because it is the commonest problem, chooses to discuss poverty. ‘I’ve earned it and it’s mine!’ ‘ Earn all you possibly can and give what you don’t need away.’ These are two statements and I have heard and read both of them. People who won’t work are in a different group from those who who cannot work either because of illness or unemployment reasons. And our generosity doesn’t always equal money but may involve working beside, encouraging, befriending etc.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Some are blessed with placid natures but most of us are not and being upset by and with our friends, neighbours, work-mates is a common experience. At any rate getting on top of the tendency to anger is important. It is one of those character failures where I, at least, get to pray that God will give me victory over the hasty temper which exhibits foolishness. Another proverb says ‘A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’. This addresses another side of the multi-faceted problem of interpersonal relationships.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. The way we live doesn’t just affect me as an individual. It affects my family, my work place, my friends and here it stresses our corporate behaviour at a national level. In my view, our combined national change towards godlessness is showing up in bad national behaviour. Abortions by the millions, praising what the Bible calls perversions, and God-condemned attitudes are being made acceptable by law. This proverb says that righteousness exalts a nation and it follows that unrighteousness (godlessness) denigrates a nation. We may try to redefine sin to fit our desires but God alone has the right to say what sin is. No lawyer or psychologist has that right.
Prayer: Thank you for these proverbs which make us think, and give us guidance in living aright.
Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
The poor is disliked even by his neighbour,
but the rich has many friends.
Whoever despises his neighbour is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.
In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.
A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honours him.
The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favour,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.