Proverbs 24:1-22: Thirty Sayings of the Wise (#20-30)
September 12, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Thirty sayings of the wise (#20-30).
“Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” (24:1-2)
Sometimes it seems as if those who disobey God end up living the best and most successful lives; it is easy to “envy the wicked.” Why should we not do so? This proverb only gives us one reason: that their hearts plot violence. It is assuming that the reader of this proverb wants to avoid violence and trouble making. If that is the case, then this is a more than sufficient reason to avoid envying those who disobey God and (apparently—though not actually) seem to succeed. Why envy someone who causes violence to other people?
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” (24:3-4)
How do you build a household? How do you establish a family? What is necessary for a godly organization to thrive? The answer: wisdom.
“The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisors.” (24:5-6)
Wisdom not only builds things, it also wins things. If you want to find an effective solution to major problems, then seek “many advisors.”
“Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.” (24:7)
How then do you get wisdom? The answer is that it is not easy. Foolish people are not able to attain wisdom. Wisdom, as Proverbs has told us repeatedly, is found in the fear of the Lord. Without such wisdom, then, in the “assembly at the gate,” in court or in discussion or in council, the person without wisdom finds they have nothing to contribute. Ask God for wisdom. Seek the wisdom of God through the Word of God.
“Whoever plots evil will be known as a schemer. The schemes of folly are sin, and people detest a mocker.” (24:8-9)
Don’t “plot evil” or make “schemes.” Subterfuge and underhanded ways are not the path towards effectiveness. Nor is being a “mocker,” sneering and looking down at other people. Instead make noble plans according to the Word of God. The noble man makes noble plans and by noble deeds he stands (Isaiah 32:8).
“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?” (24:10-12)
You can tell how strong you really are when you are being tested. And real strength is found in rescuing other people: don’t hide from your responsibility to love your neighbor through word and deed.
“Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (24:13-14)
“Eat honey”: in other words, a little sweetness in life is not a bad thing, but a good thing. Some sugar makes the medicine go down, and honey is sweet to the taste. That is not to say that gluttonous indulgence is good, but that some enjoyment is good for you. What is more, wisdom (which some people view as onerous) is actually sweet. Therefore, seek wisdom!
“Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling-place; for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” (24:15-16)
There is little point in attacking the righteous. Even if a righteous person stumbles, they will get back up again. Another good reason to seek Christ and his righteousness: when the wicked are struck by calamity, they stumble, whereas no one can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.” (24:17-18)
It is easy to cheer when someone who has treated you badly gets what—in your view is—their comeuppance. But it serves no purpose: when people see you acting without grace towards an enemy, they may well give that enemy a second chance, and in such things, whether directly or indirectly, God intervenes.
“Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.” (24:19-20)
Again: do not fret because of evildoers. They may seem to be flourishing. But there is no hope for them. Weigh effectiveness and success in the scales of eternity.
“Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?” (24:21-22)
Fear God and obey his commands. Do not be a revolutionary against the right kind of order around you. Sanctioned authorities are to be obeyed.
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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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