Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
4 By justice a king gives a country stability,
but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.
Verse 1 informs us that if we refuse to learn the outcome of our life will not be good. We must learn as our knowledge of God grows, we must learn by listening to wise counsel of others, we must learn from our own mistakes. (See also Proverbs 1:24-33).
Verse 2 I am sure was an instruction to Solomon’s son. The King designate. To win the hearts of the people the ruler needs to be absent of self service and corruption. The people will thrive under a God fearing fair ruler.
We do not want wicked rulers. I pray that our rulers will be good rulers. Everyone will benefit if our rulers are good.I know that God uses good, bad and really bad rulers to bring about his purposes but I pray that our rulers can gain spiritual wisdom.
Verse 3 is sad because we know the outcome of this instruction from Solomon to his son. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, sadly was a foolish king. He loved pleasure. His selfish attitudes caused his country to split in two. His people suffered greatly because of his actions.
I don’t write this with any sense of judgment. I did the same thing with my household and hurt many people that trusted me. The damage is irreparable even with my own good hearted efforts.
God can repair what I cannot and this world is in a state of disrepair as are all of our lives. None of this get’s fixed completely until eternity.
Solomon was a king. And he was also a judge. He believed that a ruler must be fair. He taught his officials to refuse bribes. Verse 4 echoes this attitude. Later Hezekiah became king. His officials found this good advice and they copied it (Proverbs 25:1).
Those who flatter their neighbors
are spreading nets for their feet.
6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.
The first man has an evil scheme. He uses words that are not sincere to praise his neighbour. So this evil man pretends that his neighbour is a great man. The evil man wants the neighbour to trust him. This will benefit him in some way
It looks as though the evil man is creating a net for his own feet or perhaps the neighbour’s feet. Either and both could be the outcome. Whatever it is, the bottom line is that we should beware of flattery from others and at the same time be sincere with our own words.
Sometimes flattery serves as a mild manipulation and sometimes it can be more sinister. Anything less than sincerity is a net. I am committed to being sincere today. Verse 6 tells us that the evil man brings on his own problems.
7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.
8 Mockers stir up a city,
but the wise turn away anger.
9 If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.
10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity
and seek to kill the upright.
11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.
Verse 7 reminds us that to love is to put down our self interest and to care for those who are poor or have no voice. I want to do something proactive that meets the need of someone that cannot help themselves. I think about it often. Occasionally I might do some good deed that helps improve another person’s day in some small way but I pray for God to put something special on my heart in this area.
In verse 8 we read about the wise diffusing anger. A hot topic needs to be considered carefully. When we are angry, we cannot always make sensible decisions. I love the way myself and my wife are tackling our hot topics.
The fool in verse 9 does not like the wise man’s calm and sensible words. They incite his anger and the situation becomes charged. It will be hard to take him seriously even if he has a point to make. Too much noise and not enough substance.
In verse 10 we read about people who are bent on doing wrong and how they war against honest people because they know that their dishonesty will be exposed.
Verse 11 shows us the unbridled and provocative anger of a fool. A wise man on The other hand knows that nothing good can be achieved unless negotiations are carried out in a calm manner !
12 If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials become wicked.
13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
his throne will be established forever.
Verse 12 informs us that leaders need honest advisors. Some leaders surround themselves with “yes men” and people who tell them what they want to hear. This is not good practice and sooner or later it will erode whatever the leader is supposed to be leading whether it is a country, an organization, a business or a church.
Verses 13 & 14 is about being fair and taking care of the poor. In many societies the poor are neglected and not cared for. God wants us to care for those who cannot care for themselves. His heart is that the poor and needy are looked after, helped and empowered rather than oppressed and deprived of opportunity to change their situation.
15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.
17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
they will bring you the delights you desire.
18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
though they understand, they will not respond.
20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
21 A servant pampered from youth
will turn out to be insolent.
These few verses all deal with the issue of training and discipline and the dilemma of seeing people without morality succeed. The reminder is that discipline is good, we should train our children with discipline so that they learn and God himself will discipline in an appropriate manner with the right measure at the right time. His goal is not to punish in order to satisfy his anger but rather to discipline for the best opportunity to learn, grow and change hence his timing is sometimes beyond our comprehension. The main message of the verses though is the wisdom of discipline and to carefully measure and exercise that discipline.
22 An angry person stirs up conflict,
and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
23 Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
they are put under oath and dare not testify.
25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.
27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright.
These verses play good versus evil in a collection of sayings that are underpinned by the fact that to trust in the Lord is the only security we have and the justice of the Lord is the only true justice. Light and darkness do not mix. You may or may not get justice from a ruler but you can be assured that if you do it is because God has woven it into the fabric of the universe and the ruler has somehow been able to tap into it. All good things come from God.
To fear or worry about what other people think, what they might do is a snare that will steal our authenticity and perhaps our life.
Pride and anger are destructive and to accomplice with thieves will lead us to a dark place. In contrast peace and humility in the fear of the Lord are the way forward.
Humility is not to have a low opinion of self but to have no opinion of self. It’s to live outside of self. That’s a remarkable place to get to. I don’t think any of us could truly arrive but I can strive.