Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.
2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the Lord.
4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.
5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
6 Many curry favour with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading,
they are nowhere to be found.
In Verses 1-7 of chapter 19 we find Solomon making observations about things that are wrong with the world and the way that life is lived.
In Verse 1 Solomon informs us that it is better to be honest and poor than to have much and give a false impression. I have lived in both camps (relatively speaking) and I know that a clear conscience is the greatest gift of all.
In verse 2, Solomon describes a man who is in a hurry. But the man acts without sufficient knowledge. This is going to bring a lot of trouble and mess as wrong decisions are made. It contributed to my downfall. It is one of the primary ills of this world that we live in. We want to grab as much as we can before it’s too late.
Verse 3 describes the human condition. The rejection of God and wisdom. Living by our own definition of wisdom which leads to a mess and then we blame God for that mess.
Verses 4, 6 & 7 are an illustration of how selfish we are that we even choose our friends on the basis of what we perceive that we get back from them. We miss the blessing of sitting with the poor. I know the part of the work I loved when I was running the addiction recovery programme was being with the guys. I hated the politics, the regulations and business side of the operation but I could be with the guys all day long.
Verse 5 is a straight talking lies deserve to be and will be punished. If not by the system they will be punished by life.
8 The one who gets wisdom loves life;
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.
9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will perish.
10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—
how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!
11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
but his favour is like dew on the grass.
Wisdom is a precious gift with more value than worldly riches or position or anything that we tend to chase after in life. There is something deeply impressive about spiritually minded people. They stand out. Peace in my heart is more valuable than an easy life.
Verse 9 in contrast to verse 8 gives the air of pressure, stress and anxiety are the rewards for dishonesty.
In the second line of verse 10, a prince rules a country. However, the prince is unhappy. The prince is afraid of his slave. The slave controls the prince. Solomon says that this is even worse than a fool living in luxury. A prince manipulated by a slave.
Solomon was a king. Perhaps he knew this prince and his slave. We do not know who they were. Solomon seems to write about them again in Ecclesiastes 6:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 10:5-7.
Verse 11 shows that forgiveness is rooted in wisdom. The ability to forgive is to show that you will not allow someone else’s actions control you or influence you. It also shows that you are aware that you are also deeply flawed.
Verse 12 tells us not to mess with a King. It’s healthy to respect authority. Authority is established by God. If we are in the king’s favour then that will be an incredible blessing.
13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
and a quarrelsome wife is like
the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless go hungry.
16 Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.
17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
Verse 13 reminds us of the importance of managing our family and ensuring they are loved and taken of as well as trained in right thinking. This takes love and example. Neither have been traits that I have portrayed in recent years. It’s amazing to me that my family are in good shape. It is testimony to the power of God and the hearts of my wife and children. It’s definitely not much to do with my leadership.
In verse 14 we read about inheritance. Some people may gain an inheritance that provides a lot of security but a wise wife is a gift from God.
In verse 15 we read more words about laziness. It is clear that God has designed us to work and be productive in some manner.
Verse 16 briefly explains Deuteronomy 28. Obedience will result in our lives being blessed and disobedience will result in punishment. It’s very simplistic and though is true in principle, God uses the discipline through our erroneous judgment and wilful sin to help us grow and give us the opportunity to change.
Verse 17 reminds us that the poor and those without a voice are important to God. Whatever we do will be remembered. It is echoed in the judgment passage of Matthew 25.
18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.
19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
Two verses that focus on discipline. The first about disciplining children. Training them in right and wrong could save their life. It could save them from a lot of trouble in life.
The second is about anger management and not rescuing someone’s anger but allowing them to feel the consequences because without this they will not learn and you will end up rescuing them all over again. It will be a negative and destructive cycle. Rescuing people never works in any situation. It only enables them further in their sin.
Even at work we recognise that. My boss (the CEO in my work place) does not get angry when mistakes are made he just ensures that the person who made the mistake cleans the whole thing and all it’s consequences up. There is no assistance from higher up apart from some questions about what happened, how it happened and why it happened and then what do you need to do to sort it out with the emphasis on you. People grow quickly in our business.
Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
22 What a person desires is unfailing love
better to be poor than a liar.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth!
25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.
26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother
is a child who brings shame and disgrace.
Verse 20 is a great reminder that everyone needs to learn to be wise. Nobody is born wise. Advice is good and the discipline that life gives us when we make mistakes or are unwise needs to be listened to. The counsel of other believers and the circumstances of life along with the word of God are the things that make us wise.
Verse 21 raises the question … our plans or God’s plans? It’s God’s plans that always win and better to surrender to those rather than carve out our own. It won’t end well…as I discovered !!! See Acts 16:6-10. Paul had many plans, but these were not God’s plans.
In verse 22 we read about the importance of sincerity in friendship
Verse 23 reminds us that we must respect God – see Proverbs 1:7. If we respect God, then God will help us. When troubles come, he will protect us. See Psalm 46:1.
Solomon’s humour comes to the surface again in verse 24. This man is too lazy, even to eat. This means the same as verse 15. A lazy man refuses to work, so he will earn nothing. Because he earns nothing, he will be hungry. Solomon’s story in verse 24 explains this as a joke.
Verse 25 presents us with an interesting scenario
The man who insults other people might not learn from his punishment. Some people are just closed minded and will not listen to others. But other people can learn when they see his punishment or the consequences of his actions. Some people perhaps more simple in nature rather than rebellious. Simple people are easily led. They will potentially be put off from doing wrong when they see others suffer from their actions.
A wise man will learn from punishment, correction and life’s discipline because he wants to do what is right and what is in tune with God’s will.
Verse 26 talks about the rebellious son. Sometimes children are out of control despite their parents best efforts. This is not necessarily the parent’s fault or because of bad parenting. By the time children are approaching adulthood they are no longer viewing their parents as their role model and are now asserting their own way in the world according to other influences that they are attracted to. There is a point where it’s appropriate to try and understand their influences and connect with them at a deeper level but by the time they are out of control the only thing to do is to avoid them, separate and pray for them. God will use the sons’ life to discipline him and hopefully this will cause the boy to have a change of heart.
I really respect the way that my wife handled me when I was in my own pit. Every decision she made was right and helpful. I will forever be grateful for the space and time of reflection last summer. It was painful, it was difficult and very uncertain but it was the point I found God again and found my way out of a pit of self pity. I know it would not have been easy but the amount of trouble I brought upon my family deserved nothing less.
27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
I just wanted to camp on this verse this morning and contemplate it. This is the only verse in Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 where Solomon speaks to his own son. Perhaps this was a long lecture and his son was getting tired of listening to his dad’s voice, perhaps it is more generic instruction that says if you stop listening to advice, if you think you have arrived then you will stray away from learning and miss many opportunities to grow.
At 53 years old I think about this and my place in this story. I have been at the place where I listened to advice and accepted it as instruction only to be wrongly advised or advised on issues of opinion as though it were law. These occasions have sometimes hurt me and sometimes caused resentment to grow in me. The resentment has been nurtured because I didn’t trust people enough to go back and have the conversation out of fear of being closed down further which has been most often my experience.
I have also been in the situation where I decided that I wouldn’t listen to advice and pressed the proverbial “F<@# it” button. I want to do what I want to do. These people don’t care about me anyway. They only care about preserving the system.
Neither of these extremes are healthy ways of processing advice. I have landed on my current square of listening and considering it at my own pace and then coming to a conclusion of my own current understanding and acting accordingly.
I trust that God will do what he needs to do with the situation and growth for myself and others will be the outcome. I am more aware of my triggers and my selfishness. I am aware of my limitations and I am aware that I will never get into religious “groupthink” behaviour again.
I will make mistakes, I will make errors of judgment but God will do what he needs to do. In our Christian culture we are more obsessed with doing what’s right than walking with God. The emphasis is humanistic and religious to my mind as though we are giving ourselves all the credit. It is the beginning thread of a thought that I am developing. I am not justifying wilful sin I am just trying to grasp the place of sin in the redemption story.
28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
Verse 28 & 29 talks about giving false evidence in court. It is equally applicable to the reporting of any events, situations or incidents. Inaccurate reporting can feed biases and prejudices and fuel wrong judgments that cause the innocent to suffer. Verse 29 assures us that God will sort everything out. Everyone will be treated with a fair hand in the end of all things. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. It’s not my business to bring about justice. This is God’s job. It is my business to bring about faith, truth and love. Judgment is for God and not for me.