Initial comment: I have been led to understand that in later years someone(s) put the verse numbers in place. Often their placement makes sense but I’m not sure about that in this instance. I will make a comment after what seems to be a more logical division of these 12 verses.
1. Be not envious of evil men,
nor desire to be with them,
2. for their hearts devise violence,
and their lips talk of trouble.
We all have our hero figures and have developed a basic life style that we want to live. Early on I had a hero, a Dr Paul White, who had been a missionary doctor in East Africa. I chose my life style to try and follow in his foot steps. Solomon says whatever ‘Don’t have evil men as your heroes and don’t follow them!’
3. By 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 full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
6. for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counsellors there is victory.
7. Wisdom is too high for a fool;
in the gate he does not open his mouth.
You can apply the above section to a physical building, but my guess is that the ‘house’ in 3. means something like “life-style’. We are told that we should go on learning until we die. But let not our learning be from our mistakes but from diligently sort wisdom and Knowledge. If you are a fool you won’t go to the gate (of learning) for advice, but good counsellors are very valuable.
8. Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
9. The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.
Choose evil and you’ll get a bad name. I can think of a few stronger words to use than Solomon does here!
10. If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11. Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
The challenge is to be a person of good character. Get involved; don’t wheedle your way out of situations which will be difficult but be involved where you are needed. Who is the one ‘who keeps watch over your soul’? God? He knows how to repay appropriately.
Prayer: Let me not be one who reads but doesn’t learn!