Every word of God is flawless (Proverbs 30:5).
The Book of Proverbs contains practical wisdom. It deals with everyday life, work and relationships. It teaches the fear of God.
II Relationship with Parents
III Unanswered Prayer
IV Your Heart
XIII The Righteous
XV The Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
XVI Jesus in the Book of Proverbs
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge/wisdom (1:7/9:10):
● The practical part of fearing the Lord is to shun/avoid/hate evil (3:7; 4:14, 15; 8:13; 14:16; 16:6).
● It also means to be humble and not proud. Humility combined with the fear of the Lord brings wealth and honour and life (22:4). Remember that the Lord detests all the proud of heart (16:5) and pride goes before destruction (16:18). But humility comes before honour (15:33/18:12).
What you are challenged to do:
● Search for wisdom as for hidden treasure (2:4). Look for wisdom, call out for it and cry aloud for it (2:2, 3). Then you’ll understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (2:5). Those who seek wisdom find it (8:17). Read also Jeremiah 29:12, 13.
● Listen daily to wisdom. Blessed is the man who waits at the doors of wisdom daily (8:34). Finding wisdom means finding life and receiving favour from God (8:35). Jesus listened morning by morning to the wisdom of God (Isaiah 50:4).
Benefit: Wisdom is of greater value than silver, gold or rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with wisdom. It is a tree of life (3:13—18).
Encouragement: He who wins souls is wise (11:30). Read also Daniel 12:3.
II Relationship with Parents
Listen to your parents and their teaching: Do not turn your face away from them in their old age. Do not curse them. Do not rob them. Do not drive them out. (4:1; 6:20, 21; 20: 20; 23:22; 19:26; 28:24).
● Example: Keep Jesus as your example: “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51). Jesus also took care of his mother even while he was on the cross (John 19:26, 27).
● Warning: Remember that God had commanded that anyone who curses his father or mother should be given death penalty (Leviticus 20:9/Proverbs 20:20). Do not be part of a generation that is disobedient to their parents (2 Timothy 3:2).
● If you do not listen to wisdom God will not answer your prayer (1:28). The reasons given are: hating knowledge, choosing not to fear the Lord (1:29) and rejecting God and His wisdom when He called out to you (1:24).
● If you shut your ears to the cry of the poor; when you pray God will not answer your prayers (21:13).
IV Your Heart
● ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, for it is the wellspring of life (4:23). Read also Jeremiah 17:9.
● Your heart reflects you as water reflects a face (27:19).
● Hope that is delayed for a long time makes the heart sick; but when it is fulfilled it is like a tree of life (13:12).
● Your heart alone knows its bitterness and no one else can share your joy as much as you know it (14:10).
● Be careful when you enjoy too much for it is possible that the heart may ache even in laughter and joy might end in grief (14:13).
● Hard work brings profit. Mere talk leads to poverty (14:23). Those who work their land will have abundant food. Those who chase fantasies will get poverty (28:19).
● A lazy man does not roast his game. He gets nothing. But he who is careful and thorough in his effort and work is rewarded (12:27).
● Sleep, which is more than necessary, is an enemy. It is laziness that brings on deep sleep (19:15). If you love sleep, you will grow poor and have no food (20:13).
The Ant: A great object lesson is given. We (or sluggards) are asked to go and learn from the ant. Sluggards are people who are habitually lazy or idle. The ant, though there is nobody to command it stores its provision in summer. Even while it is hot the ant goes about its work of collecting food while it has the opportunity. Therefore it has food to eat at harvest.
Sluggards do not like to rise up from their beds. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest” are the recipes they have to welcome poverty and scarcity in their lives which will attack them like thieves breaking in (See Proverbs 6:6—11. Read also Proverbs 24:30—34). So use the opportunities God has given you in life for opportunities do not last for ever. Work hard. Do not be lazy. Do not love sleep.
● Do not be slack in your work. If so you are the brother of one who destroys. “Slack” means not putting enough care, attention or energy into something and so not doing it well enough (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
● Be skilled in your work. The promise of God is that if you are skilled in your work, you’ll be promoted to serve before kings and not before people who are less known (22:29).
● Lesson 1:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5, 6 NIV). First of all, trust with ALL your heart. Not partially; not half-heartedly; not with doubt. Then do not trust your plans. Finally put God first in all your thoughts. Then God will take care of and give you success.
● Lesson 2:
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV). To commit means to give to the Lord all your concerns; so that it becomes His and it is no longer yours.
● Lesson 3:
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31 NIV). Most of the books, seminars, audio/video tapes on success available in the market today teach trust in self (He who trusts in himself is a fool/28:26).
But a Christian is a person who has no confidence in his self; but all confidence is in God (Read also Jeremiah 17:7, 8). God does not need huge armies to bring victory. Nor does God depend on man’s intelligence or effort to help Him give you the victory. Read also Psalm 20:7, 8.
● You are commanded to honour God with your wealth. Give the first increase (firstfruits) to God. Then you’ll have an overflow and plenty (3:9, 10).
● “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it” (10:22).
● Being hasty in business decisions leads to poverty (21:5); one eager to get rich invites punishment (28:20) and so do not wear yourself out to get rich; instead show restraint (23:4).
● Many people try to make money dishonestly but it will soon grow less. Instead gather money little by little and it will grow (13:11). God hates dishonesty but appreciates honesty in business (11:1, 16:11).
● Contentment is very important. A little with the fear of the Lord is better than having great wealth with truckloads of worry and quarrels free (15:16). “Godliness with contentment is great gain” says Paul (Galatians 6:6).
● Careful management of your resources is most important: Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to . . . (27:23—27).
Warning: Do not put up security for debts (22:26, 27).
● Listening to wisdom and holding on to it is going to give you life and health to your whole body (4:22). The commands of God are not idle words, says Moses, but they are your life (Deuteronomy 32:47). It is also written: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
● “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 NIV). “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones” (Proverbs 15:30 NIV). Modern medical science underlines the great wisdom found in these words.
● Do not envy others. That will cause your bones to rot. Instead keep your heart at peace and it will give your body life (14:30). Read Psalm 37:1 which says, “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong.” Read that whole Psalm to know how God takes care of His children and destroys the wicked.
● Lesson 1:
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27 + 28 NIV). Read more at James 4:17.
● Lesson 2:
“He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25 + 24 NIV). A generous man who shares his food with poor will be blessed (22:9).
● Lesson 3:
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17 NIV). For more promises of God to those who has regard for the weak, read Psalm 41:1—3.
Do not accuse a man for no reason—when he has done you no harm (3:30).
Whoever spreads slander is a fool (10:18). Slander means a false spoken statement intended to damage the good opinion people have of somebody. “Do not go about spreading slander among your people” (Leviticus 19:16 NIV).
When we speak too many words the possibility of sinning is more. So hold your tongue (10:19). Read more on the tongue at James 3:3—12.
Gossip is informal talk or telling of stories about a person’s private life which may be unkind or not true. A gossip betrays a confidence (11:13). So avoid a man who talks too much (20:19). The words of a gossip are like small pieces of food which go down to a man’s inmost parts. They corrupt a man’s entire thinking (18:8). A gossip separates close friends by repeating the matter (16:28; 17:9). Without gossip a quarrel dies down just like without wood a fire goes out.
They pierce like a sword (12:18). So guard your lips. In that way you guard your life. If you speak rashly you’ll come to ruin (13:3). A deceitful tongue crushes a man’s spirit (15:4).
A kind word cheers a man up; especially an anxious heart (12:25).
They are like a honeycomb; a store of sweetness. It brings healing to the bones (16:24). Good news also brings health to the bones (15:30). The tongue that brings healing is said to be a tree of life (15:4).
A Gentle Tongue:
Answer a angry man in a gentle way. It turns away his anger (15:1). The gently tongue has great power. It can break a bone (25:15).
An apt reply is a joy. A timely word is good (15:23). If your speech is gracious and you’ve a pure heart; the king will be your friend (22:11). “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 NIV).
If you answer before listening; that is your folly and your shame (18:13). A fool has more hope than a man who speaks in haste (29:20).
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).
It is the mockers who create quarrels. Once such a person is driven out of your company peace comes back to your group. The Psalmist says, Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of mockers (Psalm 1:1). See also how Ishmael mocked and its consequence (Genesis 21:9).
An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips (24:26). Do not betray: Do not tell others what somebody has spoken to you to keep confidently. That will destroy your reputation (25:9, 10).
People are afraid of all sorts of superstitious things. But wisdom says, “An undeserved curse does not come to rest” (26:2).
Do not boast about tomorrow. For tomorrow is not in your hands (27:1). Read more at James 4:13—16. Do not praise yourself; let others do it (27:2). For it is not honourable to seek one’s own honour (25:27).
For those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute; defend the rights of the poor and the needy (31: 8, 9).
Revenge: Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” But wait for God (20:22). Instead think about doing this: Proverbs 25:21, 22.
A harsh word stirs up anger (15:1). A hot-tempered man stirs up disagreements. But a patient man calms a quarrel (15:18). “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). A patient man who controls his temper is better than one who conquers a city (16:32).
If you breach a dam, slowly the gap widens because of the rush of water until it becomes uncontrollable. That is how starting a quarrel has been described.
Drop a fight before it goes out of control (17:14). Don’t meddle in a quarrel that has got nothing to do with you. If you get involved it is like taking a dog by its ears (26:17).
If you lack self-control you are like a city whose walls are broken down (25:28). Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). So ask God to give you self-control.
Do not irritate people and make them angry. It produces friction between people for sure (30:33).
A man of many companions may come to ruin (18:24).
Stay away from a foolish man because his lips don’t speak knowledge (14:7).
Better is open rebuke than hidden love because wounds from a friend can be trusted. (27: 5, 6).
XIII The Righteous
(In this book, “the righteous” stands for people who love wisdom, fear God, hate evil and do what is right).
● The path of the righteous shines out becoming brighter and brighter (4:18).
● The memory of the righteous will be a blessing (10:7).
● Even in death the righteous have a refuge (14:32).
● The house of the righteous contains great treasure (15:6).
● Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again (24:16).
● The righteous are bold as a lion (28:1)
[Look up the contrast with the wicked in each of the quoted verses in the Bible]
A parent who loves his child will discipline him (13:24). Such parents won’t spare the rod (22:15 + 23:13, 14). “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV). [Read more of God’s discipline as a Father toward us in Hebrews 12:4—13. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.]
XV The Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
Wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life” (Proverbs 9:10, 11 NIV).
Folly: “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” “But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave” (Proverbs 9:17, 18). [Note the contrast between life and death. Sin though it gives pleasure brings sure death.]
XVI Jesus in the Book of Proverbs
Jesus is the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Proverbs 8:23—31 talks about God’s wisdom. It is given personal qualities. These verses cannot refer to anyone else than Jesus Christ. Read also John 1:2, and Colossians 2:3 with reference to this passage. Proverbs 3:19, 20 and 30:4 are two important passages. Both God the Father and God the Son are referred to here: “What is his name, and the name of his son?”
There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (18:24). This verse talks about a close friend that one can have. At the same time it is completely true of Jesus Christ who said, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). He is not ashamed to call us brothers (Hebrews 2:11). And He sticks closer to us than our own brother.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). [Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved/Acts 2:21.]
Wife: Proverbs deals with this theme in these portions: 12:4, 14:1, 18:22, 19:14, 21:19, 25:24, 27:15 and one great passage in all world literature praising a God-fearing woman in Proverbs 31:10—31. Read also 1 Peter 3:3—5 and Proverbs 11:22. Proverbs 5, 6:20—7:27 warns against adultery. Read Matthew 5:28/Hebrews 13:4.
God moves in history (21:1): See how He moved the heart of a foreign king to allow Jews to return to Jerusalem from exile (2 Chronicles 36:22— 23 and Ezra 1:1—4).
Never forget this: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30).
Life Application: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them find mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Read also Psalm 32:3—5.
Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart
Proverbs 3:27,28 Do Not Withhold Good
Proverbs 9:17, 18 Stolen Water Is Sweet; Food Eaten in Secret Is Delicious!
Proverbs 16:32 Better a Patient Man Than
Proverbs 20:22 Do Not Say, “I’ll Pay You Back”
Proverbs 22:6 Train a Child in the Way
Proverbs 22:29 A Man Skilled in His Work
Proverbs 27:1 Do Not Boast About Tomorrow
Proverbs 27:23,24 Be Sure You Know the Condition of Your Flocks
Proverbs 28:13 Confess and Renounce Sin to Find Mercy
Proverbs 29:25 Fear of Man; a Snare
Proverbs 31:10,30 A Wife of Noble Character
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