Proverbs 19:1-14: Words of Wisdom!
September 2, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
More words of wisdom!
“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool” (19:1).
Better the poor whose way of life is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. We understandably fear poverty, but there are worse things. Namely, having the kind of “perverse lips” and “foolishness” that characterize some wealthy. Having resources to spend and wasting those resources is a tragedy. Better, Proverbs says, is the person whose life is blameless and yet is poor. Remember that if you are tempted to compromise your character in order to gain money. It is not worth it.
“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (19:2).
Zeal without knowledge: how many well-meaning ambitions have been shipwrecked on the rocks of misunderstanding. Take the time to know your subject before you dive into the deep end.
“When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord” (19:3).
People complain against God when they are in difficulties, and yet sometimes—though certainly not always because some tragedies are not human-made or the fault of the person upon whom they fall—the difficulties are our own fault. And yet we blame God!
“Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend” (19:4).
A proverb that describes what is, rather than what should be! If this means that you are wealthy and have many friends, you might like to find other ways to know who your real friends are. Perhaps friends who were friends before you became successful. Or friends who stand with you when you are sick or fail. Choose your friends carefully.
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape” (19:5).
In the end, lies and false witness will have their comeuppance. We live in a moral universe, but one whose ultimate judgments are delayed until the day of judgment. But judgment for such lies and false witnesses will come. Take not vengeance into your own hands then; it is God’s job to judge, not ours.
“Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts” (19:6).
Once more a description of what is, rather than what should be. And a warning that if we are a powerful figure, realize that people will be seeking to get on our good side. Faithful, Proverbs elsewhere will say, are the wounds of a friend. Listen not to flattery.
“All a poor man’s brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursues them with words, but does not have them” (19:7).
Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found. Sadly, sometimes true; all the more should the Christian fight against this human tendency and love and care for the least of these, be Good Samaritans and love our neighbors as ourselves (however much money they may or may not have).
“Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good” (19:8).
Do all you can to grow in wisdom. Read books. Read the Bible most of all! Think carefully. Watch those who are wise and learn from them. Get wisdom!
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish” (19:9).
Verse 5 has almost exactly the same warning; this time is added that the one who lies will in the end “perish.” A warning to make sure we tell the truth.
“It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes” (19:10).
This is a proverb that seems to be protecting the status quo, the class hierarchy, in a way that sticks in the throat of moderns. Surely we want a meritocracy, not an autocracy to rule? But note that it is the “fool” that is the predominant character here. Sometimes fools do live in luxury. But there is abhorrence to someone wasting resources and money and possessions on themselves, rather than using their opportunities to serve others.
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (19:11).
Wisdom has certain practical fruits. Prominent among these is patience. Learn to look an over offense. There is no point arguing about every little thing.
“A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass” (19:12).
Someone in judicial or political power has real authority over other people’s lives. This can be used for good or ill. If you ascend that ladder of political or judicial or military power and rise to the top, ensure that you use that authority for good, not ill.
“A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain” (19:13).
We idealize families in some Christian circles, but families can create real pain. A foolish child can cause trauma to their parents. And a spouse who is always arguing is as annoying as the dripping of a leaky roof! The application, then, is to marry well and love well the one you marry – and also have the wisdom to have patience with the annoyances of your spouse. Also train your children, knowing that their life is shaped by their own choices and ultimately by God’s grace.
“House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (19:14).
There are certain things you can receive from having grown up in a good family. But the next stage of your life, your spouse, is really a gift from God. Pray, therefore; if you are single pray for God to provide you with a good spouse. If you have children, pray that God would provide them with good marriages too.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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