16. Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life;
he who despises his ways will die.
17. Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed.
18. Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death.
19. A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.
20. Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.
21. Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
22. What is desired in a man is steadfast love,
and a poor man is better than a liar.
23. The fear of the LORD leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm.
24. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish
and will not even bring it back to his mouth.
25. Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.
26. He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother
is a son who brings shame and reproach.
27. Cease to hear instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28. A worthless witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.
29. Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
and beating for the backs of fools.
Comment: Sometimes when I am reading the Proverbs I just close my eyes and try to paint a picture of what is being said. For instance, in 24, I see the picture of a dishevelled poorly dressed thin man with his hand in a bowl of food for his area (many in a number of countries eat with their fingers). And he’s just so lazy that he won’t pick up his hand to feed himself. And I hear him call out to his wife ‘I’m so tired I’ll just go and lie down!’ And I blink and the picture changes to a very fashionably dressed rich lady with servants working away in the background, and I hear her call ‘come and pour me another drink!’ The bottle is on the table in front of her and because she is a sluggard, rich because of others hard work, she’s too lazy to pour her own drink. The kitchen worker has to wash her hands and come to her mistress’s bidding. She accidentally spills a few drops and the rich lady lets out a blast of criticism and condemnation, before leaning back and sipping away. Listen hard and you can hear what the worker says under her breath as she walks away!
16&17 start with ‘whoever’. Which, although many proverbs are usually the case and good guidance but not a 100% assurance. For instance a well-brought up child doesn’t always turn out well. But in these two I expect 100% promise. The commandment written by a Jew means by ‘commandment’ the Biblical principles of behaviour. If one follows them they will have eternal life. But turn your nose up at God and you inherit eternal lostness. 17 gives an example – have the right actions to the needy, and God will pick up the account.
There is so much truth packed into this small passage from the book of Proverbs. Read them slowly and imagine them in pictures!
Prayer: Help me to divide my time aright, so that I meditate on Your word!