11 The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
Integrity and humility are expressed as attitudes and acts of wisdom.
Wealth has no real value. It’s an illusion. In a court the judge is not interested in wealth, he is only interested if the person is guilty or not.
Everyone will face an eternal judgment which will deal with “what did we do about Jesus?” Wealth will have no bearing on anything at judgment except the question of stewardship.
Life is a journey and the path we take is a choice. There are consequences for every choice we take. That is the cause and effect nature of life.
7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.
Verse 7 informs us that anyone living for this life alone is going to be disappointed. That’s their lot in life. Everything they strive for will die with them. They will lose everything they achieve in life. The righteous person, however is rescued from this and his investment is not in this life anyway.
Verses 8-9 contrast the evil man and the good man.The evil man may have the upper hand but the righteous man is ultimately going to be rescued from this trouble.
Verse 9 explains how a good man can avoid trouble. He is wise, because he has studied many things. His knowledge protects him. He is safer than someone who knows nothing.
However, someone who does not know God, or have any respect for God can be dangerous. Even his neighbour can suffer as a result of his actions.
Verses 10-12 are all about the power of words for influence. They can build up or destroy an entire community.Words are powerful. It is better to say nothing, than to be destructive with your words.
Verse 13 is also about silence. It’s about confidentiality. Sometimes we overhear gossip or someone may even disclose something to us but it is important to contain it rather than spread it.
In verse 14 we read about many advisors ensure our victory.The wise man will seek advice about situations that are new to him, complex situations, dilemmas and high stakes situations. It is helpful to get advice from specialists in different areas. People with experience. Many advisors is a key part of our Christian arsenal.
These are helpful reminders of what faithful living looks like.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
19 Truly the righteous attain life,
but whoever pursues evil finds death.
20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.
These verses are about justice. God’s justice.
Verse 15 is about making pledges that we cannot keep. It is important to honour our promises and therefore be careful about what we promise.
Verses 16 – 18 inform us of the benefits of being kind that in the end our rewards are greater than those of the cruel person who only brings about ruin on himself.
Verses 19 – 21 tell us that the righteous life will ultimately be blessed and those who live for themselves will ultimately come to ruin.
I usually want to bring about my own sense of justice and fairness which is clearly twisted and the root of the human sin problem. We have declared ourselves God of our own lives and wish to determine for ourselves what is right and what is wrong, to assert our own justice within our own independent frameworks and this results in differing values and therefore broken trust and ultimately conflict fuelled by self interest.
This is true in individual lives, families, communities and nations. It’s not pretty. These Proverbs remind me that only God is just and fair and that his justice is based on his assertion of what is right and wrong and that ultimately we have no choice but to accept that as the standard because that is what underpins creation and existence.
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
Solomon presents us with a Jewish oxymoron. An unclean pig does not become a beautiful creature because it has a gold ring in it’s snout. In the same way an attractive woman without discretion becomes less attractive.
When I think about the affairs that I had during my meltdown years, the fact is that what I found so alluring and attractive at the time I now find quite repulsive. There was an ugliness to the behaviour and attitude of some of those women that matched my own ugly and repulsive behaviour. Thinking about it now makes me momentarily shudder with embarrassment and shame. I wish I could erase some of these events but they stay as scars or helpful wounds to remind me of what I am capable of. These women frequently had their own stories of pain too and as much as I used them they also used me to innoculate themselves from their own sadness.
Radiance comes from God. Radiance is what make makes a woman attractive.
Ultimately God wins, the conscience wins, righteousness wins, integrity wins, love never fails!
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.
31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
Solomon writes about generosity. The idea of giving produces gain and withholding causes diminishing wealth.
It’s a universal law woven into God’s design. It’s the opposite of what we expect.
It’s about being fair and charitable. A fair price for a fair service. It’s about not trusting in wealth for our security but to trust in God. Wealth can be lost or stolen or taken away. We can have plenty one day and nothing the next.
My attitude to money needs to be different. I am grateful for the position I am in financially. It is challenging at times but it is a blessing. I brought it on myself. I have had enough money through my hands over the years to be quite wealthy. I wasted so much through crazy schemes, failed hairbraibed business plans, risky investments which would be better labelled as gambling, selfish pursuits. I used it to influence vulnerable women to give me what I want. I will be in financial slavery for what looks by sight to be about 7 years but with diligence, care, good stewardship might be around 5 years. I count it as a blessing that I get to pay back my debts, the money I stole and put things right. I pray that God will give me enough days on this earth to repay every penny and a lot more.
The stand out verse to me is about bringing ruin on my family. Inheriting only wind. This was so nearly the case. Today my family is not in ruins. It is broken but a new foundation is being built and something more secure. 18 months ago the word ruin certainly would have passed my lips and many others too.
The good news is that God is a God of reconciliation. What we break he can restore.