17. Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
18. for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
19. That your trust may be in the LORD,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
20. Have I not written for you thirty sayings
of counsel and knowledge,
21. to make you know what is right and true,
that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?
22. Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate,
23. for the LORD will plead their cause
and rob of life those who rob them.
24. Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
25. lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.
26. Be not one of those who give pledges,
who put up security for debts.
27. If you have nothing with which to pay,
why should your bed be taken from under you?
28. Do not move the ancient landmark
that your fathers have set.
29. Do you see a man skilful in his work?
He will stand before kings;
he will not stand before obscure men.
Comment: In the middle of chapter 22 (as marked in my ESV translation) the couplet structure changes. Now often two verses as marked are one sentence or thought. You probably know that the verse numbers were not in the early manuscripts but are very useful to help us turn quickly to a point we want to see for some reason. Those marked 20 and 21 talk about 30 sayings. It cannot mean chapters of the book because there are 31 chapters. Do we now come into a section when Solomon sits down again with fresh thoughts which he wants to convey? Has he copied them into his book of sayings from some other source. It doesn’t matter to me as I believe that God has overlooked and controlled the canon of scripture as it was sorted out by the Jews and early Christian councils. It is therefore God’s word to us. So as I look on I will count the two verses before this statement as the first of this selection of 30 wise statements.
And how wise the words of 17 to 19 are. Listen well to wise words; put your heart (effort) into understanding the meaning; they give you comfort; follow up with speaking wisdom. The writer says that his purpose is for us to learn to trust God. Good advice! Then we are to/or not to:
- Don’t use the poor to your advantage – God is watching!
- Don’t make angry people close company in case you copy their ways.
- Don’t pledge your things as security for debts or maybe you’ll lose even your bed!
- Don’t cheat on your neighbours – the example is by trying to steal some of his land by in the night moving the fence!
- Good work will be noticed by the right people.
Prayer: Keep me learning good stuff until the day I die, please.