Lessons about wisdom
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Proverbs
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
Proverbs 1 | Proverbs 2 | Proverbs 3 | Proverbs 4 | Proverbs 5 | Proverbs 6 | Proverbs 7 | Proverbs 8 | Proverbs 9 | Proverbs 10 | Proverbs 11 | Proverbs 12 | Proverbs 13 | Proverbs 14 | Proverbs 15 | Proverbs 16 | Proverbs 17 | Proverbs 18 | Proverbs 19 | Proverbs 20 | Proverbs 21 | Proverbs 22 | Proverbs 23 | Proverbs 24 | Proverbs 25 | Proverbs 26 | Proverbs 27 | Proverbs 28 | Proverbs 29 | Proverbs 30 | Proverbs 31
King Solomon ruled the nation of Israel for 40 years. He brought peace and wealth to the nation. Solomon’s workmen built palaces, and the great temple (house of God in Jerusalem). The people of Israel learned arts, sciences and music.
When he was young, Solomon obeyed God. He asked God for wisdom, and God gave it to him (1 Kings 3:9, 12). Other rulers, including the queen of Sheba, visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13). She asked him many questions. His answers showed great knowledge of many subjects. He taught about plants, animals and fish. Solomon became more and more famous.
Solomon learned and wrote many proverbs (wise words). He collected 3000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). The Book of Proverbs contains many of these proverbs. The Book of Proverbs also contains other lessons about wisdom. And the Book of Proverbs contains many poems about wisdom.
Solomon also wrote Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon in the Bible. The Bible also contains some other books about wisdom. These books are Job, Ecclesiastes and James. And Jesus taught lessons about wisdom in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 and Luke chapters 11 to 16.
The Book of Proverbs has 6 main sections:
· Solomon’s wise lessons (Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18)
· The proverbs (wise words) of Solomon (Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16)
· 30 wise lessons (Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34)
· More of Solomon’s proverbs (wise words) (Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27)
· The puzzles of Agur and Lemuel (Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:9)
· A poem about a perfect wife (Proverbs 31:10-31)
Solomon wrote both proverbs (wise words) and songs. In all, he collected 3000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). The Book of Proverbs contains many of them. This book teaches us how we should live. It explains the way of wisdom. It warns us about being foolish.
The wise person honours God, and God protects him. A foolish person refuses to obey God. There are many dangers for such a person. The Book of Proverbs explains these dangers.
Solomon tells us about four types of person. Each will benefit from Solomon’s wise words.
The simple person
Today, we should not call someone ‘simple’. We might offend him. He would think that we supposed him to be stupid.
In the Book of Proverbs, a simple person is someone who is not wise. By the word ‘simple’, Solomon means more than this. A simple person has not learned to be wise. So he is in danger. Evil people can easily lead simple people to do evil actions. But nobody is really good. ‘Everyone does evil things. Everyone fails when you use God’s standards’ (Romans 3:23). We are all simple people by God’s standards.
God wants the simple person to learn his wisdom. This begins when we invite God into our lives. Then God will help us to become wise. We must grow in wisdom, and we must grow in our knowledge of God.
The Book of Proverbs is poetry. Some poems are very short and other poems are longer.
The style of the poems may seem unusual. Sometimes, one line has the same meaning as the next. Sometimes lines contrast with each other. In other places, the meaning develops from line to line. Watch out for these different styles.
These poems help us to remember the proverbs.
The people believed that they should remember proverbs (wise words). Fathers taught proverbs to their sons. Mothers taught them to their daughters. Grandchildren learned them from their grandparents. Children had to use their memories. The adults tested the children’s memories.
In this way, children learned to be wise. In the future, when problems came, they would know the right thing to do.
For the same reason, we should learn Bible verses today. We should teach them to our children. In this way, we shall learn true wisdom.
Many things in the world change. There are new inventions, for example television. There are new illnesses, for example AIDS. There are revolutions and new governments.
Wisdom does not change. Solomon gave advice that is still good. He wrote wise words and they are still wise today.
Today’s young people will grow old. Wisdom that we teach them now will remain with them.
The wise person
A wise person loves wisdom. ‘He loves God’s law. He is always thinking about it.’ (Psalm 1:2).
He always wants to learn more. He is never too tired to think about wisdom.
He still makes mistakes. ‘Show a wise man how he is wrong! He will love you for your correction.’ (Proverbs 9:8). He even wants you to teach him. ‘Teach a wise man and he will become still wiser.’ (Proverbs 9:9).
We can all learn more. We can all grow in knowledge. The Bible teaches us God’s wisdom.
The intelligent person
Like the wise person, the intelligent person wants to learn. He will ask for advice. He is trying to understand God’s ways. As he studies, he will know more. He will even understand difficult words of wisdom.
When you learned English, you started with easy words. When you learn any subject, you must start with easy lessons. The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God. He made everything. He is greater than we are. We must give honour to him.
A person who does not know God may be clever. He may have many skills. We can learn many things from him. Such a person lacks something important. He has learnt many lessons. But he has missed the first lesson. Wisdom begins when a person respects God. We should try to show a better way to this person.
The opposite of a wise person is a fool. (You would offend a person, if you called him a fool.)
A fool intends to do evil things. A simple person does evil things, because he does not know wisdom. But a fool does evil things, because he hates wisdom.
We want to show God’s way to such people. But this is difficult. Jesus said, ‘Do not give valuable things to pigs’ (Matthew 7:6). Wisdom is valuable. Sometimes we must leave a fool to be foolish. A pig does not appreciate things that are valuable to us. A fool does not appreciate the value of wisdom.
We can learn from the mistakes of fools. We must not copy their mistakes.
A fool hates wisdom and discipline. If we are wise, we shall love wisdom and discipline.
In Solomon’s time, both parents educated their children. It is good when children can learn from both parents.
We should listen to wisdom. Wisdom is beautiful, and it is valuable. To possess it is like a crown on the head. Or, it is like a gold chain round the neck.
To obtain wisdom, we must study. And we need discipline. We cannot become wise quickly. But wisdom will improve our lives.
Some people imagine that they know a quicker way to improve their lives. Solomon warns about such people in verses 10-19. They offer friendship (verse 14). But their friendship cannot last because their plan is evil. They offer rich rewards (verse 13). But really they will suffer a terrible fate (verse 19). Wisdom is much better than any evil plan.
The thieves’ plan
In Solomon’s story, a band of thieves have a cruel plan.
The thieves ask a young man to join them. Together, they will attack someone else. They will steal from him, and murder him. The young man and the thieves soon will become wealthy.
The young man does not realise the true plot.
The truth is this. The thieves also intend to kill the young man. This means that the thieves will keep all the money.
Solomon’s story teaches us about evil behaviour. An evil life is not fun. It is dangerous. The evil person risks a terrible end.
The young man in the story thought that he would become wealthy. In reality, he lost everything.
Solomon warns us not to make the same mistake.
The woman called Wisdom
In his second story, Solomon tells us about a woman. This woman’s name is Wisdom.
The woman is upset, and she is angry.
This is why she shouts. Her children are not obeying her. They refuse her advice.
She walks through the streets and she complains to everyone. She even goes to the city gate. In ancient times, judges were at the city gate. She wants to obtain a judgement against her children. They are simple, evil and foolish (verse 22). They deserve punishment (verse 26).
She obtains judgement. Their punishment is severe. This is because they refused wisdom.
They did evil things. Now they will suffer a terrible punishment. Their punishment is sudden, like a storm. It is powerful, like the wind. (Verse 27)
We are all like Wisdom’s children. We can learn to be wise. Or we can refuse to listen to wise words.
Wisdom begins when we respect God (verse 7). If we respect God, then God will reward us. But if we do evil things, then we shall suffer a terrible punishment.
Everybody does evil things. So we must turn to God. We must be sincere. Then God will forgive us and teach us his wisdom. He sent Jesus to take away our punishment.
The search for wisdom
We must greatly desire wisdom. We must listen to it. We must desire it. We must ask questions, so that we can learn more. We must hunt for wisdom, like someone who searches for gold.
Psalm 42:1 is similar. ‘My spirit needs God like a deer (wild animal) needs the streams of water.’ The animal searches for water. We also must search for wisdom.
Also see Job 28. A man digs deep into the earth. He breaks through the rock. He enters places that no animal has seen. He finds gold and silver. He discovers many things. However, he cannot find wisdom there. Wisdom is not in the deep sea. You cannot buy wisdom - not even with gold. ‘Respect God! This is true wisdom. Refuse to do evil things! This is true intelligence.’ (Job 28:28)
The reward of wisdom
If we respect God, then we shall become wise. God gives his wisdom to us. We are his people, and he guards us. He defends us, and he protects us. Psalm 23 compares God to a man who owns sheep. The farmer looks after his sheep. He provides their food and water. He cares about them. In the same way, God looks after us. When we are in danger, God protects us.
The journey of life
The Bible often compares life to a journey. Abraham’s whole life was a journey. He travelled from Ur to Haran, and then to Canaan. ‘He searched for the city that God built.’ (Hebrews 11:10) He did not find this place on earth. ‘These people wanted a better place, in heaven. God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.’ (Hebrews 11:16)
Jesus compared life to a journey. ‘Enter by the narrow gate! Do not choose the wide gate or the easy road! Many people go that way. The easy road leads to death. Look for the small gate and the narrow road. Only a few people find it, but it leads to life.’ (Matthew 7:13-14)
The Book of Proverbs also tells us about two ways. In verse 13, evil men walk in dark paths. They hide from the light, because light would show up their evil behaviour. In verse 15, Solomon says that evil men choose the wrong paths. It is easy to choose the wrong path in the dark! This wrong path is like their evil behaviour. Their behaviour is like a road that leads to death and hell (verse 18).
If we follow God’s wisdom, then our paths are good (verse 9). We are like travellers who choose the right way. We know where we are going. We act fairly. Our decisions are good. This is the right road for life’s journey. It leads to heaven (verse 19).
In these verses, a woman tries to tempt a man. Deuteronomy 5 lists 10 commands that God gave. One command was, ‘Do not have sex with someone else's wife or husband.’ (Deuteronomy 5:18) The woman in the Book of Proverbs refuses to follow this command. A man who goes to her is in danger.
Solomon is teaching us about other wrong actions. Sometimes wrong actions are attractive. Sometimes evil thoughts tempt us. Sometimes we might think that God’s law is not fair. Perhaps the man likes the woman. However, he must not go to her.
We must not do wrong actions, when evil thoughts test us. The devil even tested Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). But Jesus did nothing that was wrong against God. God gives his wisdom to us. His Bible teaches us how we should live.
If we turn from God, this is like leaving your husband or wife. When you became a Christian, you promised to follow God. Evil thoughts may still tempt you. Other religions may tempt you. Sex may tempt you. Do not break your promise to God! Jesus said, ‘I am the way. The only way to the father (God) is through me.’ (John 14:6)
Even Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs, turned away from God in the end. He had many wives. Some followed other religions. With his wives, Solomon prayed to other gods. The Bible says that Solomon’s actions were evil. (1 Kings 11:1-13) We should learn from Solomon’s mistake.
God gave great wisdom to Solomon. Solomon taught wisdom. His Book of Proverbs still teaches wisdom to us today. We must follow God. We must desire God’s wisdom. We must not be like Solomon when he turned from God.
God gave land to the nation of Israel. He warned them to follow his commands. If the nation turned away from God, then they would lose their land. (Deuteronomy 28) Solomon knew that God had warned them.
After Solomon, the people served false gods. Some kings were good, but most were evil. God did not punish that nation immediately. God told the people to return to him. They did not return. After a war, they lost their land.
As Christians, our land is not this world. We are only visitors, because we belong elsewhere. Our real home is in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16). We must follow God. He will lead us to heaven. He has prepared a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-4).
Chapter 3 begins, as usual, with advice for Solomon’s son. Solomon encourages his son to remember his commands. The son must remember the words. But he should also aim for a deeper experience. Wisdom should enter his heart. Wisdom should guide his thoughts. Wisdom should control his emotions and desires.
The son will benefit from wisdom. Solomon mentions health and wealth.
Wisdom brings health, because wisdom teaches safe actions. A wise person eats good food and takes care of his body.
Wisdom brings wealth, because the wise person is careful. The wise person works hard and he does not waste money.
Do not think that health and wealth show wisdom. A thief can become wealthy, because he steals. An evil person can take money from other people. Sometimes God gives health and wealth to a person, but not always. ‘Remember God! He makes you able to get wealth…’ (Deuteronomy 8:18)
True health is not only the health of the body. Your relationship with God must also be healthy. In fact, your relationship with God is more important than your body. See Matthew 5:29-30.
Solomon was very wealthy. But he knew that true wealth is not money. See Proverbs 3:14-15. Wisdom is worth more than silver or gold. Wisdom is worth more than all our money.
Love and trust should always be with us. As Solomon writes this, he is thinking about Deuteronomy 6:7-9. ‘Teach God’s law to your children. Talk about God’s law at home! Talk about it, when you travel! Talk about it, when you lie down! Talk about it, when you wake! Tie the words of God’s law on your hands! Tie the words about your head! Write God’s law at the side of your doors and gates!’
‘Wear them about your neck.’ You cannot really wear love and trust. But you can show your love and trust to other people. Everybody will know your attitudes when they see your behaviour.
‘Write them on your heart.’ You cannot really write ‘love and trust’ on your heart. But love and trust should direct your whole life, even in private. Love and trust should direct your thoughts, plans and attitudes. Love and trust should always be in your heart and mind.
Love and trust should not be just ideas. We must not remember them today, and then forget them tomorrow. They must be part of our lives. They should guide every decision.
Verses 5 and 6 are very important. It is a good idea to learn them. They will help us if we worry about the future.
‘Trust in God.’ People trust many things. Some trust money. Some trust governments. Other people trust luck or fate. You might trust your family or your church. Sometimes all these things will fail. But God never fails. ‘God is like a castle. We are safe with him, because he is strong. He is always with us. He protects us whenever there are troubles.’ (Psalm 46:1)
‘Your whole heart.’ Perhaps you trust God sometimes, but not at other times. Some people become Christians, but do not trust God with their whole hearts. God is part of their lives, but only part. Maybe they want God at home, but not at work.
God wants our whole hearts. We should always desire his wisdom. He wants us to live as Christians at work and at home. We must trust God, even when our lives are difficult.
God encourages us to trust him in everything.
‘Do not depend on your own intelligence!’ God is wiser than we are. We may know many things, but God knows everything. We must not be proud. We must not imagine that we are wiser than God.
The future is unknown to us. But God knows the future. He is able to lead us. He can guide us. We should trust him, and not our own ideas. So we should pray to God about our lives. We should ask him to help us and to guide us.
‘Wherever you go, think about God.’ These words remind us that life is like a journey. We shall have many experiences. Some experiences will be good. Other experiences will be bad. Wherever we are, we should think about God. We should remember God’s place in our lives. If life is like a journey, then we must follow God. He knows the right path. His way is the right way.
‘He will clear the path for you to follow.’ Another translation is: ‘He will show the right path to you.’ We can trust God to guide us.
Wrong types of wisdom and intelligence
There is a wrong type of wisdom. Verse 7 mentions ‘your own wisdom’.
There is also a wrong type of intelligence. Verse 5 mentions ‘your own intelligence’.
There is a difference between our own wisdom and God’s wisdom. Also, there is a difference between our own intelligence and God’s intelligence. God is wiser than we are. And God is more intelligent than any person is. See Isaiah 55:8-9.
We must not be proud. All true wisdom comes from God. Our own ideas may be good. But they are never better than God’s wisdom.
God teaches his wisdom to us. It is God’s gift to us. Do not confuse your own ideas with God’s wisdom!
Sometimes our wrong ideas cause illnesses. For example, excess alcohol will make us ill. But God’s wisdom does not hurt us. God is kind to us and he helps us. He cares about our bodies. He also cares about our spirits. Nobody will be ill in heaven (Revelation 21:4).
The wisdom that we need is God’s wisdom.
In Malachi 3:6-12, Malachi accuses the people. He says that they have stolen from God. This is because they have not given their gifts for God’s work.
The truth is that all our possessions belong to God. He made the world. So he made everything that we have. Our own lives belong to him. As Christians, we should be generous. We should give for God’s work. We should also give to help poor people.
People may say, ‘If I give, then I shall not have enough for myself.’ We should be sensible, but we must also trust God. God says, ‘I do not need your animals. Every animal in the forest is mine. I own the cows on 1000 hills.’ (Psalm 50:9-10)
If we give our money for God’s work, then God will provide for us. Jesus said, ‘If you give to God, then he will give to you. He will provide plenty of food for you. If you are generous, then God will be generous with you.’ (Luke 6:38).
God does not need our wealth. However, he chooses to work with us. We should be glad to give to God. ‘God loves a joyful giver.’ (2 Corinthians 9:7)
As we give to other people, God gives good things to us. ‘… I will open heaven. I will give good things to you. You will receive so many good things, that you cannot find space for them.’ (Malachi 3:10)
Many people do not want to learn how to behave well. They want to choose how they will live their lives.
God is our father. A father teaches his son. Sometimes, the father must correct or punish his son. In the same way, God corrects us.
God does not correct us because he is angry. God corrects us because he loves us. A human father should not punish his child because the father is angry. Rather, the father corrects the child because the father loves his child. If God corrects us, then we should be glad. His correction teaches us to do the right things. His correction will save us from troubles.
Jesus spoke about this in John 15:1-8. He compares God to a gardener. We are like a vine (fruit tree). ‘If a branch has no fruit, God cuts it shorter. He does this so that the branch will have more fruit.’ (John 15:2)
God does not forget about us. He watches us. He sees our errors. In love, he corrects us.
He might correct us by some word that we read in the Bible. He might use the advice of other people, for example, a minister or friend. He might even use someone who is not a Christian. ‘If you hear God’s voice today, do not refuse him!’ (Hebrews 3:15)
There is a different, ancient translation of verse 12. Hebrews 12:6 copies this translation. It says, ‘God punishes everyone whom he receives as a son.’ Hebrews 12:7-11 explains these words. God corrects us, because we are his children. If he did not correct us, we should not be his children. We respect our natural fathers who correct us. In the same way, we must respect God.
Sometimes correction includes punishment. ‘Punishment is not pleasant at the time. Punishment seems painful. Later, however, it produces something good. We learn peace, and we learn right actions.’ (Hebrews 12:11)
In Proverbs 1:20-33, Solomon describes wisdom as a woman. This happens again in Proverbs 3:13-18. There is a difference. In Proverbs 1, Wisdom is angry with evil people. They have refused her advice. In Proverbs 3, we read about the people who love Wisdom. Wisdom brings good things to them; long life, wealth and honour (verse 16). When we walk with Wisdom, our life is pleasant and beautiful (verse 17).
These verses compare Wisdom to valuable objects. She is worth more than precious stones. Her value is more than silver or gold.
You can put your money in a bank. The bank will pay you an income. However, the bank is not as good as Wisdom. If you give your life to Wisdom, she will pay more than any bank. No bank can make your life longer. But Wisdom can give a long life. No bank can promise you a place in heaven. But wisdom can promise this. No bank can make you right with God. Wisdom can do this.
The happiness that wisdom brings is not just an emotion. This is the same happiness that Jesus describes in Matthew 5:3-12. When God forgives our evil actions, we receive his joy in our spirits.
Sometimes our lives will still be difficult. Sometimes, we shall be very sad. Even then, God will comfort us. He will look after us. Although we are sad, God’s joy will still be in our hearts. And we will have good lives, because God will help us.
David wrote, ‘Even when death is near, you (God) are with me. So, I am not afraid. You guide and comfort me’ (Psalm 23:4). David was not happy when he was in danger. But he knew that God’s joy was in his spirit. So he was not afraid of the dangers that surrounded him.
We all need wisdom. Even God used his wisdom to make the world.
This paragraph is similar to John 1:1-3. ‘In the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. He was with God in the beginning. God made everything by his word. He made nothing without the word.’
John explains that ‘the word’ means Jesus. Jesus was always with God, because Jesus is God.
Verse 22 reminds us of verse 3. Verse 3 tells us to wear love about our necks. In many countries, women display their beautiful objects. They wear gold, silver and precious stones on chains about their necks.
Verse 22 encourages us. There are plenty of beautiful things for us. Right decisions, love and wisdom are all beautiful things. They are better than any precious stone.
Gold and silver may be beautiful. Wisdom is more beautiful than any valuable objects.
This is another passage that compares life with a journey. This passage teaches us that God will protect us. We have nothing to fear. Many Psalms teach a similar lesson. See Psalm 121, Psalm 46:1, and Psalm 62:2.
Verse 24 gives us special comfort. We cannot protect ourselves at night. In the dark, there are many dangers. Many people struggle to sleep. We should trust in God. He can keep us safe. He can protect us. ‘You do not benefit if you wake early. You do not need to work at night for your food. God gives sleep to the people whom he loves.’ (Psalm 127:2)
Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself!’ (Mark 12:31) In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). A Samaritan was a person from a nation that the people from Jerusalem disliked (John 4:9). Jesus told his story to explain the word ‘neighbour’. In the story, a Samaritan rescued a man from Jerusalem. The Samaritan cared, because this man needed help. So, Jesus argued, this other man was the Samaritan’s neighbour. We should do the same. We should care about everyone whom God sends to us.
Jesus discussed this subject again in Matthew 5:43-48. ‘You have heard the words: “Love your neighbour. Hate your enemy.” I am telling you to love your enemies. Pray for anyone who attacks you.’ (Matthew 5:43-44) The people in Jesus’ time thought that they should hate their enemies. But the Bible does not tell us to hate our enemies. In fact, Jesus said that we should love our enemies.
Jesus even prayed for the people who killed him. ‘Father, forgive them! They do not know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34)
People like to follow a leader. They might copy a film star. They might act like their teacher. They could behave like their ruler.
We must be careful if we choose a model. If we copy an evil person, then we shall become evil. Even a holy person makes mistakes and could lead us in the wrong way.
God has both friends and enemies. If we are evil, God hates us as enemies. This is because he hates our evil actions. However, God wants evil people to change their lives. God has great love, even for his enemies. This is why he sent Jesus. ‘Remember this! “Jesus came into the world to save evil people.” I was the worst!’ (1 Timothy 1:15. Paul wrote this passage.)
Honest people are God’s friends. We can all become honest. First, we must trust in Jesus. Jesus’ death takes away the punishment for our evil actions. Then God forgives us. He makes us his friends. Now we must learn more. God will teach us. He will use the Bible to teach us. He will also use other people. We should live God’s way. We should try to be honest. God will help us.
Formerly, we opposed God. We were his enemies. But when we trusted God, God forgave us. We became God’s friends. We are now God’s own people. See Ephesians 3:11-22.
God deals with different people differently.
God will do good things for us if we obey him. He is kind to us, and he is kind to our homes too. The word ‘home’ shows that God will help our families also.
Contrast this with the evil man. God curses both the evil man, and those who live in the evil man’s house. The evil man’s family suffer, because of his evil actions.
Since Jesus died, this has changed. Each person must trust God for himself or herself. ‘Then these words will become untrue: “The fathers ate sour fruit, and the children have a sour taste in their mouths!” Instead, everyone will die because of his own wrong actions. Whoever eats sour fruit will taste it for himself.’ (Jeremiah 31:29-30)
The time for judgement is coming. God will be our judge.
We should serve God, and we should be humble. We must not be proud. When God is our judge, he will show us kindness and love.
Some people are proud. They insult other people. They must turn from their evil behaviour. Then God will forgive them. If they refuse God’s love, God will punish them.
God loves us, although we do not deserve his love. He offers his kindness to everyone. We must be humble to receive it. If we trust in ourselves, we cannot receive his love. Nobody will go to heaven because they deserve it. We have all done wrong things. We all deserve God’s punishment. This is why God sent Jesus. Jesus did not deserve God’s punishment. Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve. If we turn to God, he will forgive us. He saves us, because he is kind.
This verse, Proverbs 3:34, is an important Bible verse. Both James and Peter used this verse in their own books. See James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:6.
This poem is not just about Solomon’s family. It is about all families. It tells us that a father should teach his son. When he grows older, the son should teach his own children.
Solomon’s family was Israel’s royal family. In the poem, the father does not teach about being a king. He does not speak about wealth and money. He does not explain how to lead the nation. For this father, only one thing matters. His son must learn wisdom.
We can teach our children about many things. We must not forget to teach them wisdom. This is the most important lesson of all.
The poem begins with commands to listen. The father will teach a valuable lesson to his sons.
The advice did not begin with the father, who is writing the poem. The father learned this lesson from his own father. The lesson is good, because it is ancient. Grandfather followed this advice. And he saw that it was good advice. This is why he taught it to the boy’s father. The father has lived by this advice too. So now he teaches it to his own sons.
The words of verse 3 speak about the father’s childhood. These words suggest a loving home. The father was grandmother’s only child, so he was close to her. Grandfather taught his lessons with love to his little child.
The grandfather began his lessons in the same way as the poet. The grandfather also emphasised that the lesson was important.
Today, many people say that things are important. A salesman will say that his advice is important. This is because the salesman wants us to buy his products. We can doubt salesmen and politicians. But we must not doubt God’s word. The Book of Proverbs repeats its advice, because wisdom really is important.
At last, we hear the advice. This is the lesson that grandfather taught. We must learn to be wise.
As in earlier chapters, he compares wisdom to a woman. Wisdom, like a woman, deserves our love. Like a woman, she will protect you, if you love her.
Wisdom is better than everything else. It is better than money. It is better than beauty. It is better than health. Wisdom is worth more than everything that you own. Remember that these words come from Israel’s royal family. They had great wealth. But wisdom is more important than wealth.
As in verse 6, the poet compares wisdom to a woman. In verse 6, the poet tells us to love Wisdom. In verse 8, he tells us to hug her. We should get closer and closer to Wisdom. We shall benefit if we do so. Wisdom will lift us higher and give honour to us. Like a woman, Wisdom looks after those who love her.
At the end of this poem, the royal family speaks about a crown. This crown is not a gold crown or a silver crown. It is a crown for a king, but a poor person can wear a crown, too. Wisdom gives honour to us. This gift is like a beautiful crown.
In the introduction to this poem, we saw that it was about every family. This poem was not just about Israel’s royal family. Every family can teach wisdom. Every person can trust God and learn to be wise. We can all wear wisdom’s crown. Jesus said, ‘God will give honour to anyone who serves me.’ (John 12:26)
This passage returns to the idea that life is like a journey.
If we plan our journeys wisely, then we are safer. We can avoid many dangers. In the same way, if we are wise, then our lives will be safer.
We shall not walk alone. Wisdom will be our guide and our guard. Remember that this whole book is about God’s wisdom! God protects us, when we live our lives in his way. Jesus said, ‘Do not worry about clothes. Look at the flowers in the fields. The flowers do not work or make clothes. But even the wealthy king Solomon did not dress as well as the flowers. God dresses the grasses in the field beautifully, although tomorrow they will burn in the fire. He will provide your clothes also, although you hardly believe.’ (Matthew 6:28-30) Jesus explained that the same was true about food and drink. God cares for us. He will provide what we need for each day. He will lead us to our home in heaven.
‘The people who trust in God will become stronger. They will be so strong, that they will be like the eagle (a large, strong bird). They will run, but they will not become tired. They will walk, but they will not become weak.’ (Isaiah 40:31)
We must guard the good things that God has given to us. Sometimes evil things might seem attractive. We might remember our behaviour before we knew God. We might see an evil action and we might want to do the same. ‘Stay awake! Pray! Do not allow evil things to tempt you!’ Jesus told this to his followers in Mark 14:38. Paul wrote, ‘Stand firm in freedom, because Christ has freed us!’ (Galatians 5:1)
Solomon emphasises his words. We should not behave like evil people. We should not listen to their advice. Their advice is never wise.
We must not do the same things that evil people do. Their behaviour is never wise. If we copy their actions, then we are in great danger.
As Solomon emphasises the lesson, he uses humour. He tells us to imagine the evil man. This man is a very evil man. So, he cannot even sleep until he has done an evil action. At midnight he gets up. He has still not done his evil action. He struggles to think an evil thought. The time is very late, but this man must act now. He cannot even sleep until he has completed his evil task.
The story shows us that evil things are powerful. Evil things will control us, like dangerous drugs or alcohol. We can become like slaves, to our own evil actions. God can set us free, but we must turn to him.
Solomon continues his joke. The evil man has woken. He is eating a meal. We are looking at his food. We expect to find bread or meat or vegetables. The evil man is eating none of these. This man does not want food. Instead, he chooses evil behaviour. He does not think that food will make him strong. Instead, he thinks that his evil actions will make him strong. He wants to do evil things, more than he desires his food. He thinks that evil things are essential for his life.
This evil man does not think that he needs milk or water or wine. He supposes that he can manage without these things. He does not want something to drink. Instead he thinks that cruelty is essential for his life. He wants cruelty, more than he wants a drink.
This is a beautiful short poem. It contrasts a good man and an evil man. Sometimes people think that everyone is the same. Some people say that everyone is good. The Bible does not say this. The Bible says that we all have turned from God. We must turn back to him. Only God can make us good.
The good man has a good life. He does not yet know everything that God wants to teach him. He has not yet received all the gifts that God will give to him. His life is like a man who walks at dawn. At dawn, there is only a little light. But the light will soon become brighter. And soon the good man will know God better.
Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 13:12. ‘Now, we see an image in a poor mirror. In heaven, we shall see clearly. Now, I only know a little. One day, I shall know completely, as God knows me completely.’ Paul is writing about the time when he will see God in heaven.
The evil man has the opposite fate. He is like a man who walks on a dark path. A journey at midnight is dangerous. A traveller cannot see in the darkness. Without any lights, the traveller will trip and fall. In the same way, the evil man is in great danger. He will suffer because of his evil behaviour. God will punish him.
Many people, who are not Christians, want God in their lives. They know that they are in danger. They are like someone who travels at night. Christians should speak to them. We should share what God has given to us. God will help those who ask him. When these people first trust God, they will know little about God. In time, they will know more, as they live God’s way. In heaven, they will know God fully. A path becomes brighter as the day begins. And they will know more, as they trust God more.
Wise words are like medicine. They benefit every part of our bodies.
These verses show us the subject of this passage. Each chapter of Proverbs 1-7 begins in a similar style. Here the subject is health. Wisdom is like a medicine, because wisdom improves our lives. Unlike a medicine, wisdom does not heal our bodies. Wisdom heals our spirits. Wisdom leads us to God.
We should be careful about our thoughts. We should love good things and hate evil things.
James 3:1-12 explains this verse. James compares our tongues to a fire. Our words can be powerful. We can use words to say good things. But we can use words to say evil things, too. Our mouths can praise God, but they can curse other people. We must be careful about our words.
We look forward, when we follow God. We should not look away from him. Jesus warned about this in Luke 17:31-32. ‘Jesus said, “Do not begin the work, then look back! If you look back, you cannot serve God.” ’ (Luke 9:62)
Again, this compares life to a journey. We will live ‘the best life’ if we obey God. This is like the best route for a journey. If we serve God, then we will help other people. We will be like a postman who brings good news. ‘On the mountains, the postman takes a good message. He has good news about peace and rescue. He says to Jerusalem, “God is king.” ’ (Isaiah 52:7)
Chapter 5 is a poem. The poem has two subjects:
1. A married woman tempts a man who is not her husband.
2. Evil things are like this woman, because sometimes these things attract us. But evil things offend God. We must obey God, and refuse to do evil things.
Solomon discusses both subjects at the same time. This is similar to Proverbs 2:16-19. The actions of the woman show us how evil ideas can attract us.
Solomon begins his lesson in the usual way. He reminds us why we need wisdom and knowledge. With wisdom and knowledge, we can avoid danger.
A married woman attracts a young man. She seems so beautiful. When he kisses her, her lips seem to taste like honey. When he listens to her, her words are so attractive. He does not think about the woman’s husband. He does not think about God’s law. He does not even think about the results of his actions. He only thinks about her.
Sometimes evil ideas attract us. These ideas might seem sweet and pleasant. Sometimes it seems easy to do the wrong thing, and it seems hard to do the right thing.
We should not do evil things. We should say, ‘This offends God. It might hurt other people. It could place me in danger.’ The devil offered bread to Jesus when Jesus was hungry. (Matthew 4:1-4) Jesus refused. He said, ‘Man does not live by bread alone. A man must live by God’s instructions.’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). We also must refuse to do evil things.
Evil ideas may seem attractive, but they are really terrible. When the man kissed the woman, even her lips tasted sweet. Later the taste in his mouth will be bitter. Later he will know the results of his actions. At first, the woman’s speech was attractive. Later she will be like a sword. She will attack him and hurt him.
Evil things are often like this. Evil behaviour always causes pain and trouble. The devil uses evil ideas to try to destroy us.
If our behaviour is evil, then the result, in the end, is death. Solomon’s son might die if he follows the married woman. Solomon does not say how his son could die. The woman’s angry husband may kill the young man. The woman herself might be a murderer. Or the whole town might punish the son for his evil actions.
Occasionally, evil actions lead straight to death. Usually, the process is slower, step by step. Every evil action brings death nearer, because our evil behaviour takes us away from God. We can only receive true life, if we trust God.
When the Bible speaks about death, often this does not mean the death of our bodies. Often the Bible means the death of our spirits. If your spirit is dead, then you will go to hell. If your spirit is alive, you will go to heaven. ‘Jesus became alive again after he died, by the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit lives in you, then your bodies will also live again.’ (Romans 8:11) The result of our evil actions is death. But God brings life to our bodies and spirits by his Holy Spirit.
Again, the verse compares life to a journey. Sometimes a person, like this woman, refuses to hear God’s law. The woman lives in the way that she chooses. She does not care about what is right or good. She lives by her emotions. She has forgotten God. She does not know where her life will lead. She does not even know that her actions are wrong.
We have heard God’s law. We know what is wise. We must trust God. We must not copy people like this woman.
Solomon advises that his son should not even meet the married woman. Solomon’s son must be very careful. He should not enter her house. He should not even walk near her door.
If the son walks near her door, then he might enter. If he enters, he might listen to her. Her speech is attractive (verse 3). She will tempt him. If he listens to her, he might want to have sex with her.
Solomon’s father, David, had a similar experience (2 Samuel 11-12). From a distance, he saw a beautiful woman. She was having a bath, naked.
David did not look away. If he had looked away, he would have avoided many troubles.
Instead, David watched the woman. He sent a servant to call her. She was a married woman, but she came to David. David talked with her. They had sex. They even had a baby together.
David tried to hide his actions. He even caused the woman’s husband to die in battle. Then David married the woman.
God knew what David had done. David’s older sons fought David, because of his evil deed. The baby, who was David’s youngest son, died.
God did not kill David for his evil deed. This was because David turned to God. David asked God to forgive him. His prayer is in Psalm 51.
Later, David and the same woman had another son. This second son was Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs.
A young man should not waste his strength with another man’s wife. He should use his strength wisely. When he marries, perhaps he will have his own family.
We must all be careful with our strength. We should use our strength for good things, not for evil things. Our energy is precious. Our time is valuable.
These verses teach us the result, if we live for our desires. In the end our wrong desires will ruin us. They will bring us to despair.
Solomon warns his son. He explains what will happen to a foolish son. The son will become an old man one day. Then the son will ask himself what his life achieved. He will see that he achieved nothing. He ruined his life, because he did not serve God. Instead, the foolish son served his emotions and desires. He wasted his energy on cruel people (verse 9). His strength brought wealth to another man’s home (verse 10).
We should think about our lives. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 7:24-27. A wise man built a house on rock. When the storms came, the house was strong. A fool built his house on sand. When the storms came, the house fell down.
We should be like the wise man in Jesus’ story. We should build our lives on a strong base. That base should be God. When problems come, God will protect us. And he will help us.
If we build a house on something weak, the house will fall down (Matthew 7:26-27). In the same way, our lives need a strong base. Our emotions are not a strong base for our lives. If we trust our emotions, we shall become very weak.
Let us build our lives in God’s way.
Paul wrote about sex in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. He said, ‘Your body does not belong to you. Jesus bought your body, for a price.’ (Paul means the price of Jesus’ death for us. We belong to God.) ‘Therefore, use your body to give honour to God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)
Here, Solomon talks about water. In dry countries, water is valuable. Clean water is very precious. You should not waste water. It should not flow into the streets. It should not pour out, into the town. Your family and your animals should drink it. You should water your crops. Use it wisely!
Think about your own life in the same way. You should use your strength wisely. If you follow your emotions, you will waste your energy. You should have sex with your husband or wife, and not with anyone else. Our lives belong to God. God has shown us how we should live. He will be kind to us when we obey his instructions.
As your own taps belong to you (verse 15), so a husband and wife belong together.
Marriage is God’s gift. A husband and wife should give themselves to each other. They should enjoy their marriage. They should love each other. They attract each other, and this is good.
Perhaps, like David, we do some wrong things in secret (2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12). A woman might tempt a man. They might think that nobody knows. They are wrong because God knows. He sees our secret actions. He knows everything that we do in private. Like David, if we have done wrong things, we should turn to God. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 will help us to understand why we must ask God to forgive us.
The evil man is foolish. He thinks that he is free. But his evil behaviour will make him into a slave. He can hide his actions from other people. But he cannot hide from God (Numbers 32:23). This man’s evil behaviour will destroy him. This man should invite God into his life. This man needs to ask God to forgive him. God will save the evil man, but only if the man trusts God.
In this poem, Solomon compares our mistakes to a hunter’s trap. When a hunter works, he may build traps. He hides his traps so that animals will not see them. He hopes that the animals will fall into his traps. Then he can kill and eat the animals.
In our lives, our mistakes can be like traps. Perhaps we want to do the right thing. Perhaps our plans are good. But our best plans could fail. Then, like a trap, our plans can destroy us.
In verse 1, Solomon’s son had good intentions. He wanted to help his neighbour. The son trusted the neighbour. The son tried to do the right thing, but the neighbour would not do the right thing. If his neighbour could not pay, Solomon’s son promised to pay instead. Now, his neighbour has failed to pay. The lender expects Solomon’s son to pay. The son’s plan failed and now he is in danger.
Sometimes we place ourselves in danger. Our own choices can become like traps. Many people suffer from alcohol or from dangerous drugs. Originally, they just wanted to enjoy themselves. When they tried to stop, they failed. Now they must ask God to help them. They must remember that God is greater than them. A doctor could also help them.
We all do wrong things against God. This behaviour is also like a trap. We cannot free ourselves. Paul wrote, ‘When I want to do good things, evil thoughts attract me. My spirit loves God’s law. But my body fights against my mind. I am like someone in prison. This is because evil behaviour controls my body.’ (Romans 7:21-23) But there is an answer to this problem. God can free us. If we ask God, then he will forgive us. And he will help us to control our behaviour. He will teach discipline to us. Paul continued, ‘Thank-you, God. God frees me through Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 7:25)
Be humble! The Bible warns us not to be proud. Jesus said, ‘If you are humble, like a little child, then you will be great in heaven.’ (Matthew 18:7) James wrote, ‘Be humble. Then God will give you honour.’ (James 4:10)
If Solomon’s son was proud, he could not escape. He is like an animal in a trap. He cannot free himself. He must ask for freedom. He must ask for help.
We have all done wrong things, against God. We must be humble. We must ask God to forgive us. Only God can do this.
If we want freedom, then we must not be lazy. We must not delay until tomorrow. If we delay, then we might never take action.
God calls us to trust him now. Do not be like King Agrippa. Paul spoke to the king about Jesus. Agrippa answered, ‘You cannot persuade me so quickly to become a Christian.’ He was not ready to trust God. Perhaps he was never ready to trust God. (Acts 26:28)
Earlier, Paul spoke to a ruler called Felix. Felix said, ‘I will speak to you at a convenient time.’ Felix never trusted God. He waited. Although he spoke again to Paul, Felix never found the ‘convenient time’ to trust in God. (Acts 24:25)
We should act quickly, like an animal that runs to escape from a hunter.
As Christians, we should work. We might have a job. We might look after people, for example our families. We might do God’s work, perhaps as a church leader. We might do various tasks. Whatever we do, we should not be lazy.
Solomon writes about insects. Ants are a common type of insect. Ants work together, in groups. They are wise because they store food. They do not waste their time.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, some Christians refused to work. The church gave food to them. Paul told the church not to do this. ‘If a man will not work, then he shall not eat.’ He added, ‘Do not get too tired to do the right things.’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
Paul obeyed this lesson himself. Daily, he spoke about God to the people. However, the church did not provide Paul’s wages. Paul deserved money, because he worked for God. Paul deserved money, but he did not accept money from the church. Instead, he decided to work. He made tents. He earned enough money for himself, and also for other Christian workers. He worked very hard. Paul did this, because Jesus taught, ‘God makes the giver even more glad than the person who receives.’ (Acts 20:35)
We also must work to help other people. ‘Belief is good, only if you do good things. Perhaps someone has no food and no clothes. You might tell him, “Go away! I hope that you will be warm. I hope that you get a meal.” But then you do nothing to help. This is not good. Belief achieves nothing unless you help people.’ (James 2:14-17)
Solomon emphasises that we must not be lazy. When it is time to work, we must not sleep. In verse 9, Solomon asks the sleeper how long he will sleep. In verse 10, we hear what the sleeper thinks. He does not want to get up. However, he must wake. It is time to work. It is as if a thief is at the door. The sleeper must act quickly. Otherwise, he is in great trouble. He might lose everything.
1 Thessalonians 5 discusses this idea. However, the situation in 1 Thessalonians is different. The Bible says that, one day, Jesus will return to this world. That day will come suddenly, like the arrival of a thief. Some people will not be ready. ‘We must not sleep. We must stay awake. We must be ready. Sleepers sleep at night. Drunks drink alcohol at night. But we belong to the day.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).
Sometimes, an evil person is easy to identify. At other times, we must be careful. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 mentions a ‘secret’ evil power. The evil man in verses 12-15 is dangerous because his evil plan is secret. His signals are small, but these signals might help us to identify him.
Matthew 7:15-20 explains how to identify evil people. We must look for the results of these people’s actions. ‘A good tree cannot have bad fruit. A bad tree cannot have good fruit.’ (Matthew 7:18) If we see a poisonous tree, its fruit is poisonous. If we see a good tree (for example, an apple tree), its fruit is good.
Consider the actions of the man in Proverbs 6:12-15. In verse 12, he speaks false words. Such behaviour is not good. It warns us about the man’s true character. In verse 14, he starts arguments. This man’s behaviour is evil. We should not trust him.
We cannot see that the man is plotting an evil plan in his heart (verse 14). However, we can already hear his arguments. And we can hear his false words. The results of his actions are wrong. He is like the bad tree in Matthew 7:18. The man’s actions are evil, so his plan will also be evil.
Verses 16-19 use a different style of poetry. The poet writes a list of things that God opposes.
This style is also in Proverbs 30 and in the Book of Amos. The numbers in these lists are not important. However, the subjects are important. Here the poet tells us that God hates these evil actions.
‘Proud eyes’. The poet is describing someone who is proud. He mentions ‘eyes’, because we see other people with our eyes. The evil man thinks that he is greater than other people. Perhaps he even thinks that he is greater than God. God opposes proud people. God wants us to be humble.
‘Lies’ and ‘murder’ are in the 10 commands. God gave this law to Moses. See Deuteronomy 4.
Today we might say ‘mind’ instead of ‘heart’. God knows our thoughts. He knows our secret plans.
Contrast this verse with Psalm 133:1. ‘It is good when brothers live together calmly.’ The evil man wants to start an argument, or even a war.
‘Brothers’ does not only mean family members here. It can also mean neighbours and friends. It could even mean nations. Peace is good - it is God’s gift. Sometimes a war might be right, if, for example, one side does a terribly evil deed. However, even in war, we must look after people and try to work for peace. We should always pray for peace.
We should love wisdom. Wisdom should be in our hearts and in our minds. We cannot physically keep wisdom in our hearts. We might not physically carry wise words about our necks. But we can live in a wise manner.
Life is like a journey. Wisdom will guide us each day. Wisdom will help us to make the right decisions. At night when we sleep, our wise decisions will protect us. As we wake, we can think about wisdom.
The relationship between us and God must be like this. God will guide us to make good decisions every day. The Bible will teach us the right way. At night, God watches over us. He protects us. As we wake, we should think about God’s word.
This is similar to Psalm 119:105. ‘God’s word is like a lamp for my feet. God’s word is like a light for my path.’
Solomon is writing about sex, but he is also writing about other evil actions. Sometimes an idea about an evil action attracts us. Sometimes we want to do evil things. But we should refuse to do evil things. Solomon has taught this lesson to us before. See Proverbs 2:16-19, and Proverbs 5. He will also explain the same lesson in Proverbs 7. He repeats the lesson because this is important.
In Proverbs 6:25-29, Solomon explains about punishment. A husband will punish the man that sleeps with the husband’s wife. In the same way, our evil behaviour leads to punishment. God will always punish our evil behaviour. There are punishments in this world, for example, prison. The Bible teaches us about heaven and hell after we die. Everyone has done evil things, so everyone must turn to God. We all must trust God, because only God can forgive us. When Jesus died, he suffered our punishment.
If a man has sex with a woman, she might use him for her advantage. She might ask for money. She might put him in danger. He might even die.
Fire is dangerous. It can burn you. Use fire carefully!
Sex is also dangerous. You should only have sex with your husband or wife. Otherwise, it is dangerous. Be careful!
Our evil actions are dangerous. These actions can send us to hell. Escape from evil things! Trust in God!
This thief is hungry. He has no food. His family also have no food. So, this thief steals, because he needs food. We can sympathise with him. However, the law will punish him. The law does not forgive. The law does not ask if he needed food. His punishment is severe.
Some people do wrong actions, because they hate God. Other people sincerely want to do good things, but they still do evil things. Everyone must trust in God, because everyone does wrong actions. ‘If you obey one law, but not another, then you are still guilty. Your actions are against the whole law, not just one part.’ (James 2:10-11)
The thief (in verse 30) suffered a severe punishment.
The man (in verse 32) will have a worse punishment. This man had sex with another man’s wife. The husband will punish him. There is a double punishment for the man who had sex with the wife. He receives punishment because his actions were evil. He also receives punishment from the angry husband.
The Bible says that God can be angry. He is angry about our evil behaviour. He is angry when our actions are unfair. He is angry with us, if we turn against him. A man’s anger may be terrible. God’s anger is much worse.
‘God’s anger comes from heaven. He hates people’s wicked actions. Men hide the truth when they do wrong things.’ (Romans 1:18) ‘God’s anger is against the people who do not obey God.’ (Ephesians 5:6)
God is angry, but he also loves us. Micah prays this to God: ‘There is no other god like you. You forgive the evil things that your people have done. You are not always angry. You want to love us. You will care for us again. You will forgive our wrong actions. You will forgive completely. You will act as if you threw the records of our evil deeds into the sea.’ (Micah 7:18-19)
The last, and greatest, of Solomon’s lessons, begins here. Since chapter 1, we have read the words that Solomon taught to his son. Now, in chapters 7-9, Solomon teaches his final lesson to his son. (Solomon’s lessons end in chapter 9. From chapter 10, the Book of Proverbs lists short proverbs (wise words).)
In these chapters, Solomon writes three great poems.
· The first great poem is in chapter 7. This poem is about a woman who tempts a simple man. This man behaves like a fool, because he trusts her. He does not realise what will happen to him.
· The second great poem is in chapter 8. This poem is a speech. The speaker is the woman called Wisdom. Everyone should listen to her words.
· The final great poem is chapter 9. This poem contrasts the woman called Wisdom, against another woman, called ‘The Foolish Woman’. Both women invite the simple people to a meal. If you accept the right invitation, then you will live. If you accept the other invitation, then you will die.
Previously, Solomon told us to learn to be wise (Proverbs 2:2). Now, he tells us to keep wisdom in our hearts. Previously, Solomon told us to accept wisdom (Proverbs 2:1). Now he tells us that Wisdom is like our sister. (He is comparing wisdom to a woman.)
Solomon’s lesson is a very personal lesson. Wisdom must be close to us. Wisdom must become part of us. Wisdom must be part of our lives. Wisdom must guide every decision.
Especially, wisdom will protect us when evil things attract us. As in earlier chapters, Solomon writes about sex. However, he is thinking about all types of evil behaviour. His story warns us about people who tempt us with their evil ideas. In the story, a woman tempts a man to have sex. Solomon shows how one person can tempt another person. He also shows us the result if we do evil things.
The story begins here. Solomon was watching the people. He was watching, because he wanted to learn more. He wanted to see other people’s mistakes. He wanted to understand more. He wanted to become wiser.
Solomon saw a young man who was ‘simple’. (See my note on Proverbs 1:4.) This young man had not learned to be wise. He was in danger, because he was not wise. It was easy to tempt him. He did not think about what was right.
We want to shout to the young man, ‘Stop!’ He walked along the wrong road. Down that road, there was danger. He approached the place where the woman would tempt him.
The young man was simple. He did not think about wisdom. Perhaps his father never taught the young man. Perhaps the young man never listened to his lessons. Maybe he forgot about wisdom. He made a terrible mistake.
The young man was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Even when we are strong, we might think wrong thoughts. However, when we are weak, evil ideas can tempt us more easily.
Night was beginning. The young man was looking for fun. He did not trust in God. He was very weak.
‘Be careful! Your enemy is the devil. He walks about, like a lion. He is looking for someone to kill and to eat.’ (1 Peter 5:8) We must stand firm and trust in God.
The young man was alone. Perhaps he was lonely. He was weak. He wanted fun.
Then, the woman came. She looked pretty. She looked sexy. (That is, her clothes showed the shape of her body.) The young man liked her. He needed an activity for that evening. The woman looked like the answer to his problem.
Women should choose their clothes carefully. They want to look beautiful. In some countries, sexy clothes are fashionable. But, these clothes can tempt men. These clothes can cause many problems. ‘You should be beautiful. However, you should not use clothes, haircuts or gold, to make you look beautiful. Instead, your spirit should be beautiful. You should be gentle and quiet. God considers these things valuable.’ (1 Peter 3:3-4)
This woman went everywhere! The young man could not miss her!
This is like any evil idea. If you try to do evil things, then you will do evil things.
There is a woman like this in every town. She is in every street. And there are always evil things that we could do.
The man and woman hugged. Then they kissed.
This is like tempting an animal into a trap. The animal might still escape. There is still hope. The animal must act quickly to escape. It must not delay.
The man could still escape. He could still run away from the woman. Each moment brought the man into more and more danger. Soon he would be unable to escape.
This was a lie. Verse 11 told us, ‘she never stays at home’. The woman was looking for any man. To her, this man was not special. She just wanted to have sex with him. She just wanted to destroy him.
The woman talked about her bed. Now, we are sure that she was thinking about sex. She wanted to get the man into her bed. Surely the man realised her plan. Perhaps he hesitated. If so, he did not escape. Instead, he waited. He let her speak. She spoke, and tempted him more.
Then the young man knew the truth. She invited him to stay for the night, in her bed. She promised love, but really she wanted sex.
The woman told the young man that he was safe.
But, she had a husband. If the young man slept with the woman, then the husband would be angry. This is dangerous.
If the young man were wise, he would escape now. He should run away. He must not delay. A right decision would save him. A wrong decision could kill him.
From his window, Solomon watched them. He heard the woman’s words. He saw the man make his decision. Solomon hoped that the young man was wise. Solomon hoped that the young man would make the right decision.
The end came suddenly. As Solomon watched by the moon’s light, the young man turned. The woman started to walk away. Then the young man followed the woman. Together they walked into her house. Nobody could stop them. Nobody could save the young man.
The way that the man followed the woman reminded Solomon of something. It reminded him of an animal that was soon to die. Like a bird in a trap, the young man had lost everything. Wisdom would have saved him.
Solomon saw no more. But then he says that the young man died. Solomon is explaining what might happen to such a man in the end.
Solomon’s message is clear. We should learn to be wise. Then we shall escape from danger. We must refuse to do evil things. Otherwise, we shall be in great danger.
Solomon speaks to his ‘sons’ (plural). In verse 1, he was speaking only to one son. The story was a personal lesson, to a loved son. Now, he speaks to us all. We all need to be wise. We all need to be careful.
Solomon is not writing about the actual woman whom he saw. He is writing about women like her. But he is really thinking about evil ideas. These thoughts can spoil your life. They will take you to death and hell (verse 27). Obey God! Do not obey your evil thoughts!
In the story, the woman offered love, but instead she caused great danger. She offered fun and life, but she gave only death. Evil ideas might seem attractive. But such thoughts are really lies. In reality, evil behaviour will only hurt us.
Evil behaviour has ruined the lives of many people. And evil behaviour continues to ruin lives today.
This is the second of Solomon’s three great poems. Wisdom, like a woman, gives a speech to all the people.
In verse 1, there are not two women. Wisdom is one woman, but she has two names. Her names are Wisdom and Intelligence. This is because wisdom is the same thing as intelligence. Right decisions and accurate knowledge are also the same thing as wisdom.
All these things will be ours when we trust in God. They do not come immediately. We need to learn to be wise. This is a slow process. Each day, we should learn new lessons. God teaches us in different ways. Sometimes he teaches us from the Bible. Sometimes he uses other people to teach us. Sometimes he uses nature or other methods to teach us.
If we are teachers, then we must be patient. It takes many years to learn law or medicine. In the same way, many people are slow to learn wisdom. Even for true Christians, some lessons can take years to learn.
A church leader is a type of teacher. He teaches the people that he serves. Often, he must repeat the same lessons several times. The teacher must try to be a model for his people. He cares for them. He tries to advise them about the Bible. He prays for them. The teacher himself also needs to learn more. He knows that he is not perfect.
The evil woman (in Proverbs 7:12) went everywhere. Wisdom is also everywhere. Wherever people are, Wisdom is there. (Wisdom is like a woman.) She is waiting to advise them. She wants to help them. She will guide them to make right decisions. She will show them good ways. She will help them to trust in God.
Many people do not listen to Wisdom. They do not want her advice. She still calls out, because her message is important to everyone.
This is a message to everyone. Wisdom (the woman) speaks to the people in every nation. You may be rich or poor. You may be a ruler, or an ordinary person. You may be a man or a woman. You may be young or old. Everyone needs to be wise.
Solomon uses special meanings for the words ‘simple’ and ‘foolish’.
The ‘fool’ is proud and lazy. He does not want to serve God. He hates wisdom. He prefers to do evil things. If you try to teach a fool, he will hate you. He will only learn if God changes him.
The ‘simple’ person does not know what is right or wrong. He has not learned to be wise. He chooses to do evil things, because ‘everybody does it’. But you can teach a simple person. A simple person can learn to be wise.
The woman called Wisdom speaks good words. Her words are always true (verse 6). They are fair (verse 7). She does not speak wrong words (verse 7). Everything that she says is perfect (verse 9).
God is like this. He uses the Bible to teach us. The Bible is the word of God. The Bible is always true (Psalm 119:89). The Bible is fair (Psalm 119:75). The Bible is never wrong (Psalm 119:68). It is perfect (Psalm 119:137-138).
Money is not really valuable. Silver and gold are beautiful, but they cannot give a good life to you. Wisdom is valuable. Wisdom is better than money, silver or gold.
The Bible is also better than these things. ‘I love God’s commands more than the purest gold.’ (Psalm 119:127)
Verses 10-11 are similar to Proverbs 3:14-15. In Proverbs 3, Solomon is speaking to his son about the woman called Wisdom. ‘She is worth more than silver. She is even more valuable than gold. She is more valuable than precious stones. No valuable things compare with her.’ Now, in verses 10-11, Wisdom herself agrees that this is true.
If you are wise, then you will also be skilful. Your wisdom will help you to make the right decisions.
The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God.
Wisdom hates these things:
· Evil deeds. When we serve God, we should not do evil actions. God will teach us to do the right things. If we do wrong things, then we must ask God to forgive us.
· Proud people. A proud person trusts in himself. He will not listen to God. He will not listen to other people.
· Greedy people. God wants us to be generous.
· Lies. God loves the truth.
Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs, was a king. He knew that he was responsible for many people. When he was young, he wanted to be a good king. He studied wisdom so that he would rule wisely. All rulers and leaders can learn from him.
A king should not use his power to steal money from other people. His people should not suffer so that he can have fun. He should care about the people. He should rule them fairly. His laws should be fair. He should use his power carefully. Everyone who has responsibility for other people should think about this. Employers, rulers and judges need God’s wisdom. Church leaders also need God’s wisdom.
The best wealth is not money or gold. Rich people can lose their money. But wisdom is not like money. When we learn wisdom, it will benefit our whole lives.
The woman called Wisdom is generous. She gives true wealth. We can love many things. Some people love wine. But too much wine will kill them. Some people love money. But they can lose everything in a single day. If we love wisdom, then God will look after us. He cares about us. Jesus said, ‘Love God, with all your heart, spirit and mind! This is the first and greatest law.’ (Matthew 22:37-38)
The woman called Wisdom continues her speech. She explains how God made the world.
We all need wisdom. Even God used his wisdom to make the world. In the beginning, before ancient times, wisdom was there.
Wisdom is like God’s word. God’s word existed in the beginning. And God’s word created the world, when God the Father gave his command. (John 1:1)
The ‘word’ is another name for Jesus. Jesus always existed with God in heaven. Jesus is the Son of God. There is only one God, but Jesus is God. This is difficult to understand. We cannot understand everything about God. We must trust God about the things that we do not understand.
The poem described how God made the world. God worked carefully. He loves people. So he prepared a beautiful home for us. Compare this with Genesis 1.
The poem talks about the ‘birth’ of wisdom. This is poetry. The poet is not saying that one day, wisdom was born. He does not think that before this, there was no wisdom. God was wise, even before ancient times. God was wise, even before he made the world. God has always been wise.
God worked with Wisdom. (Solomon continues to compare wisdom with a woman.) Together, God and Wisdom were glad to see the world. Together, they were happy about God’s work. Especially, they were glad to see the people. God made people to be in his image (Genesis 1:26). This means that people should behave like him. People should use wisdom. When people make things, they should be wise. When they lead other people, they should be wise.
These verses are also sad. They describe what God wanted. God’s plan was that he would live with us. But the people refused God’s love (Genesis 3:9-13). They refused wisdom.
Jesus died to bring us back to God. We should trust in God. We should greatly desire God’s wisdom.
The woman, Wisdom, asks us to listen to her. She will bless us. She will teach us to be wise. We must not refuse her advice.
If a man listens to wisdom, then he will benefit. This man does not just listen to one lesson, and then walk away. Every day, he wants more wisdom. He is like a child who is waiting at his mother’s door. The child waits for mother to wake, so that she will teach him! We should always want to learn more wisdom. God will be kind to us, if we do this.
If a man refuses wisdom, then he will suffer. His punishment is severe. A man who hates wisdom will die.
Solomon’s last, great lesson to his son is almost complete. Perhaps Solomon paused here. Maybe he thought about whether he had taught enough. His young son needed the full facts. The son needed to decide between wise behaviour and evil behaviour. His decision would guide his entire life. In the future, the son would be king, like his father Solomon. Then, the son would become powerful. Solomon wanted the son to choose wisdom.
Solomon decided to add a final, great poem. This poem would explain wisdom to his son, but it would also explain the opposite of wisdom. Then, at last, the son would know enough. Then, the son could make his own decision. The son must choose whether he wanted to be wise. If not, the son would be a fool, and the whole nation would suffer.
The woman, called Wisdom, has worked hard. She has decided to invite guests. She has even built a special house to give them a special welcome. The house has 7 columns, so it is large. It is complete, and it is perfect. The number 7 may refer to the 7 instructions in verses 6-12.
Everything is ready. The woman, Wisdom, has made a great meal for her guests. Her guests will not remain hungry. Wisdom has prepared everything that they need.
God provides the things that we need. Paul wrote, ‘My God will provide everything that you need. He will do this from the riches that are in Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:19) Jesus said, ‘Look at the birds! They do not grow their own food. However, God feeds them. You are more valuable than the birds.’ (Matthew 6:26)
The Bible compares heaven with an invitation to a meal. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let everyone who hears repeat, “Come!” If you need to drink, then come! Take the free gift of the water of life!’ (Revelation 22:17) ‘Come, if you need to drink! Come to the water! If you have no money, then still come! Without any money, you can buy and you can eat! Buy wine and milk! You do not need money, because there is no cost.’ (Isaiah 55:1)
The servants of Wisdom (the woman) go to fetch the guests. Wisdom herself has invited the guests. Everyone can hear her message because everyone must choose whether to learn to be wise.
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus told a story about a meal. A man invited all his friends to a great meal, but they all refused. The man was very angry. If his friends would not come, then other people must enjoy his great meal. He invited poor people and ill people. He invited blind people. He invited people who could not walk. Everybody was welcome.
Jesus’ story means that we should invite everyone to become Christians. If our friends refuse, we must invite other people. We can invite poor people and ill people. We can invite people that we do not like. We can even invite our enemies. God wants us to do this. In heaven, God is preparing a great meal. God’s house must be full of people. If our friends refuse, they will not be at God’s great meal. Other people will take their place.
Wisdom, the woman, chooses her guests carefully. They are not the guests whom we might select. She does not choose only clever people, whose conversation will be good. She does not choose only famous people, so that other people will respect her. She does not even select wealthy people.
Wisdom’s guests are ‘simple’ people. They are people who do not know about good and evil behaviour. They are people who do many wrong things. These people have not yet learned to be wise. Wisdom, the woman, wants to teach them. She wants to show the right way to them. She wants to lead them to God.
Jesus said, ‘When you make a meal, do not invite your friends! Do not invite your brothers or your relatives! Do not invite your rich neighbours! If you do, they might invite you back. You wanted to give a gift, but they will repay you. When you make a great meal, invite poor people! Invite ill people! Invite blind people! Invite people who cannot walk. Then God will be kind to you. These people cannot invite you back. Instead, God will reward you in heaven.’ (Luke 14:12-14)
A person must do two things to become a Christian:
· He must turn from evil behaviour. The woman called Wisdom, says, ‘Leave your simple ways, and live!’
· He must trust in God. The woman called Wisdom says, ‘Live wisely!’
Peter explained this in Acts 3:19. ‘Refuse to do evil things! Turn to God! If you do this, then God will forgive you. He will give a new life to you.’
Some people will never listen to you. They refuse to follow advice. They refuse all correction.
Perhaps, you think that you are wise. Here is a test for you. A wise man loves the person who corrects him. A wise man learns from the person who sees his (the wise man’s) errors. If you love such a person then you are really wise.
A Christian should always want to learn. The verse speaks about a ‘wise man’ and a ‘good man’. A Christian should want to be both ‘wise’ and ‘good’. At church, he should learn from the preacher (that is, the speaker). At home, he should learn from his family. At work, he should learn to be fair and honest. When he is alone, he should pray. He should read the Bible and learn from God. If he does this, he will become wiser. He will learn more. He will know God more and more.
A wise person is not always intelligent or clever. He might know only a few things. Maybe, he has only learnt his first lesson.
This is the first lesson: ‘Respect God!’ God must be first in our lives. God is more important than our businesses. God is more important than our friends. God is even more important than our families. When we make a decision, we must first think about God. We must ask whether our plans are good or evil. We must decide whether our plans give honour to God.
This is only the first lesson. But it is a great lesson. This lesson will teach us to be wise. If we respect God, then evil ideas will not attract us. If we respect God, then we shall try to be fair and honest with other people. If we respect God, then money will not control our lives. If we respect God, then we shall want to learn from God.
Wisdom, like a woman, cares for us. She is like a mother. If a child does not listen to his mother, then he is in danger. If a child learns from his mother, her instructions will keep him safe.
Wisdom offers a real reward. Wisdom will benefit our whole lives. If you refuse to be wise, then you will suffer.
The woman called Wisdom finishes her speech. This is her final speech in the Book of Proverbs. The poem is also approaching its end. But then we see another woman. This second woman is also shouting out. She also has an invitation. She too offers a meal. If you are simple, then you might confuse this other woman with Wisdom. If you are simple, then you might make a terrible mistake.
The second woman is called ‘The Foolish Woman’.
People who accept her invitation are foolish. This is why she has this name.
Wisdom, the woman, says that knowledge is valuable (Proverbs 8:10). The Foolish Woman does not think so. She thinks that knowledge has no value. She knows nothing.
The woman called Wisdom prepared a fine meal for her guests. Wisdom even built a splendid house for them.
But the Foolish Woman is lazy. The Foolish Woman did none of these things. She does not even stand to invite her guests. She sits down.
The messages of the two women both come from the highest place in the city. So everyone will hear both messages. Nobody will miss them. Everyone will receive both invitations. We cannot accept both invitations. We must choose. Either we follow wisdom, or we are foolish.
The people walk straight ahead. Solomon compares life to a journey. We should walk straight ahead. See Proverbs 4:25-26. We must not allow evil things to attract us.
The Foolish Woman calls to people. She wants to tempt them away from the straight path. She wants to take them on the path to her house. She will lead them away from God. In the end she will destroy them.
We heard this invitation earlier, in verse 4. The Foolish Woman gives the same words of invitation as the woman called Wisdom.
The Foolish Woman also calls ‘simple’ people. Evil people have decided already to be foolish. The simple people have not yet decided. The Foolish Woman tries to persuade them. She wants to tempt them.
The Foolish Woman also offers a meal to her guests. However, her meal does not belong to her. She stole the water. She must eat in secret.
‘Water’ reminds us of Proverbs 5:15-18. In that passage, ‘water’ refers to love and sex. So, the Foolish Woman offers sex. She ‘stole’ sex, so this is not sex between a husband and wife. This is the same invitation as Proverbs 7:18-20. This is why the meal is secret. So the meal also gives the idea of sex.
The woman tempts the simple man with evil ideas. Solomon is thinking about all evil things, not just sex. If we are foolish, then we shall choose to do evil things. If we refuse to be wise, then we also refuse to follow God.
Evil actions might feel ‘good’. Evil actions might feel ‘wonderful’. These are only feelings; they are not reality. The reality is that evil behaviour is always wrong. The reality is that evil behaviour will destroy us. The reality is that God hates all evil things.
‘Death is like a wage for the person who does evil things. But God gives us life that will last always, through Jesus.’ (Romans 6:23)
Death and hell are the punishments for our evil actions. So we must not do evil things. Instead, we should serve God. And we should ask God to forgive us. God wants us to trust him. God’s love is like a free gift. God offers real life. We shall not die. We shall live always with him, in heaven. This is the best invitation.
We must make our choice. We can be wise, or we can be foolish. Make the right decision! God wants us all to learn to be wise.
The Book of Proverbs hides a sad story. Solomon was a wise king for most of his life. When he became old, Solomon forgot his wisdom. He had many wives. His wives tempted him to serve false gods. He did not remember God, who gave wisdom to him. He served false gods. The real God was angry with Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-10).
Solomon wrote Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18 for his son. He wanted his son to learn wisdom. Solomon tried to teach his son. Solomon’s son was called Rehoboam. Rehoboam became the king when Solomon died. Rehoboam never followed wisdom. When he became king, his first decision was to refuse wisdom. He refused to obey the advice of Solomon’s wise advisers. Instead, he chose advisers who knew nothing (1 Kings 12:1-19). Rehoboam’s first decision was a terrible decision.
Most of the people refused to serve Rehoboam. There was a revolution and a war. The nation split in two.
Solomon led a great nation. His nation was always at peace. His son, Rehoboam, led a small nation. Rehoboam was always at war (1 Kings 14:30).
The second major section in the Book of Proverbs is Proverbs 10:1, to Proverbs 22:16. This section contains 375 short poems. Most poems have two lines, and each poem is one verse long. Each poem is called a ‘proverb’.
The structure of this section is unusual. Solomon did not separate the proverbs into groups. The proverbs change from one subject to another. However, their order does matter. Solomon uses an ‘organic’ (that is, ‘natural’) order. This order is similar to a conversation. For example, one proverb might explain the previous one. Another proverb might contrast with the previous one.
Together, these proverbs are like a conversation. Imagine that a group of wise people are talking about wisdom. Each person in the group speaks briefly. They all listen to each other. Then, each person tells his thoughts or ideas to the other people. The conversation would be similar to this section of the Book of Proverbs.
Because of this structure, you cannot split these proverbs into smaller sections. Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 belong together. To help us to understand their meaning, I have separated the proverbs into smaller groups. (The chapter numbers are not part of the original book. Sometimes, they are in the wrong positions. Proverbs 22:17 should really start a new chapter.)
The proverbs describe our lives. Often, they describe good things in our lives, for example, wisdom. Sometimes they describe bad things. They do not always explain whether something is good or bad. You need to use your own wisdom to decide. For example, Proverbs 10:15 says, ‘Great wealth protects a rich man. Lack of wealth ruins a poor man.’ This does not mean that we should try to get great wealth. Proverbs 8:10 told us that wisdom was better than wealth. Proverbs 10:15 describes our lives. We should want wisdom more than we want wealth.
These proverbs discuss many different subjects. However, all these subjects start with the first proverb. This proverb is about the difference between a wise son and a foolish son. The difference is (of course) wisdom.
Several words in this verse contrast with other words. ‘Wise’ contrasts with ‘foolish’. ‘Father’ contrasts with ‘mother’. ‘Joy’ contrasts with ‘pain.’
It does not matter whether you are young or old. It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman.
It does matter whether you are wise or foolish. If you are wise, then you respect God. ‘Respect God! This is the first lesson in wisdom. Know God! This is intelligence.’ (Proverbs 9:10) Your wisdom will help other people. For example, this verse says that wisdom will bring joy to a father.
If you are foolish, then you live for your own pleasure. If you do this, then you refuse God’s wisdom. Other people will suffer because you are a fool. For example, this verse says that a fool will cause pain to his mother.
‘If you steal money, then it has no value.’ You could argue that this is not true. If someone steals money, then he can still spend it. He can buy many things. A thief can become wealthy. But Solomon argues that this wealth is worth nothing.
Wisdom is better than money, because wisdom can save your life. So if a poor man is wise, then he is richer than a foolish king.
A good person is someone who trusts God. A good person always tries to respect God. This person may make many mistakes, but he loves God. God looks after the good person.
An evil person loves cruelty. He plots to destroy other people. God opposes the evil person. God will ruin this person’s plans.
A wise person is not lazy. He is not afraid to work hard. He does not steal to make himself rich. He does not expect other people to give money to him. A wise man learns from his studies. But a wise man can also learn when he works.
God gives good things to the good man. God helps the man. God gives honour to the man. Other people respect the good man, because God is pleased with that man.
The evil man is not like this. He hates God’s wisdom. He loves cruelty. Evil things surround him. Even his words cause trouble.
Good things happen when we are with good people. Evil things happen when we are with evil people.
We do not even need to meet them. When we remember them, this is enough. A memory about a good person makes us happy.
But we try to forget evil men. We prefer not to remember them.
We ourselves should do good things, not evil things. God can help us to do this. Then, we shall be helping our families (verse 1) and also our towns.
A wise man obeys instructions. He tries to learn from other people.
If you give instructions to a fool, he does not listen. By ‘fool’, Solomon means a person who refuses to obey God.
A fool only thinks his own thoughts. He only hears his own words. He only does what he wants to do. A fool is proud. He thinks that he is wiser than other people. He thinks that he knows better than God. He trusts only in himself.
Life is like a journey. If we follow God’s commands, then we choose the right way to live. God will protect us.
If we refuse God’s wisdom, then we are in danger. This is like a traveller who wanders in the wrong direction. Our wrong actions will lead us to death and hell.
‘Look out for the evil man! Look out for the thief! His mouth is speaking false words. Look out for his signals! He shuts his eyes. He moves his feet. He taps his fingers. He is plotting evil plans in his heart. He starts arguments. His punishment will be sudden. There will be no remedy for him.’ (Proverbs 6:12-15). In this passage, an evil man said few words, but plotted an evil plan. His tiny movements showed that he had an evil plan.
In the first line of verse 10, the man is silent. In the second line, the man talks loudly to himself. Both men are evil. Both men have evil plans.
A person who quietly makes evil plans causes trouble. He is responsible for his plans. Whether an evil man is silent or noisy, God will punish him. God knows all our plans, and God will punish our evil actions.
When a good man speaks, we should listen. His words bring life to us. They are like water that pours from a fountain. His words, like the water, are plentiful and good. And his words bless everyone who listens to him.
When an evil man speaks, do not listen! His words always cause trouble for everyone.
‘Love covers everything that is wrong.’ This is a beautiful line. When we love someone, we try not to think about their mistakes. Our love covers their mistakes, so that we do not think about their errors.
God loves us. He sent Jesus. When Jesus died, he suffered our punishment. Because of this, God forgives us. God does not simply cover our evil deeds. ‘God has taken our evil deeds away. God has moved our evil deeds far, far away from us.’ (Psalm 103:12)
A wise person studies. He wants to learn more knowledge.
A person who refuses God’s wisdom is a fool. A fool hates God. God will punish him for his evil deeds. However, the fool will also punish himself. His words cause trouble, both for himself and for other people.
This is true, but it is not good. A rich man can use his money to protect himself. A poor person cannot do this. When there is danger, the poor man suffers first. As Christians, we should care about poor people. We should give money to help them. See Ephesians 2:10.
Wealth brings some good things, but wealth cannot give a good life. Solomon does not write, ‘a rich man earns a good life’. He writes, ‘a good man earns a good life’. We can be confident of this. This is like wages for a job.
However, we cannot earn heaven. This is because we cannot make ourselves good. We have all done evil things. We all deserve punishment. Only God can forgive us. We must trust in God. God can make us good. Jesus died to suffer our punishment.
Other people can benefit from our wisdom. Other people will suffer if we refuse God’s wisdom. These verses explain this.
A wise person accepts correction. He wants advice. Other people will benefit from this. They will copy the wise man’s actions. The wise person leads other people. He shows them the right way to live.
A church leader must be careful. Other people will copy his actions. ‘God will be a strict judge with us because we teach other people.’ (James 3:1)
When a person refuses correction, other people will suffer. Other people will make the same mistake. Nobody will learn.
We should forgive other people. Even when someone hurts us, we should not hate that person. Instead we should pray for them.
Many people secretly hate someone else. The first line says that this is like a lie.
Other people talk about the person whom they hate. Perhaps they actually tell lies about that person. This happens in the second line of this verse.
This verse teaches that both of these are wrong. We should not hate someone silently. We should not talk about a person whom we hate. Instead we should forgive such a person.
Solomon is not saying that we should not speak. However, some people speak too much.
If we want to help people, then we should listen to them. We should try to understand their problems. Then, maybe, we can help them. We can pray for them. Perhaps we can advise them. Perhaps we can take them to someone else who can help.
If, for example, someone has died, many people are afraid to speak to the family. We should care, and we should sympathise. We should talk to the family. However we should not talk too much.
Sometimes, we can care with our words. Sometimes, we can care by our actions. Best of all, we can be with the sad person.
If we serve God, then our words will help other people. Our words are valuable, so we should use them wisely. We should use them:
· to encourage other people
· to sympathise
· to help people.
An evil man wants evil things. He makes evil plans. He tries to destroy other people. This is why his desires are worth nothing.
The words of a good person are valuable to other people.
This may be like a mother, whose own food feeds her baby. In some countries, a mother will take food from her own mouth. Then, she will give this food to her child. In the same way, a good man’s words are like food. His words feed other people’s minds and spirits. Other people become stronger, because of the wise man’s words.
If God gives wealth to a good person, then this is good news for everyone. By his kindness, God is good to the rich man, and his friends and neighbours. Everyone benefits, because the man will use his wealth wisely. He is generous. This rich man does not worry, because he trusts God to protect him.
An evil man’s wealth brings troubles. Everyone suffers because he uses the money for his evil purposes.
In this verse, Solomon asks us what we love.
A wise person loves wisdom.
We might think that wisdom is good. This is not enough.
We might think that wisdom is powerful. Many people think these things, and some of them are fools.
‘You believe in one God. This is not good enough! Even the devils believe in one God. They are afraid of him.’ (James 2:19)
We should love wisdom; and we should love God.
These proverbs are about time. Solomon discusses different situations. He explains what will happen in the future.
If you desire the right things, then God will give them to you. If you desire wisdom, then God will give wisdom to you.
In the same way, a wicked person will suffer the troubles that worry him. He is afraid of death and hell. His wicked behaviour will bring him to death and hell. He will lose everything.
A storm will sweep away wicked people because they have no firm security. But God will keep safe the person who trusts in him.
See Matthew 7:24-27.
There is humour in this verse. If you send a lazy man with a message, your message may never arrive. Instead, send a wise man with the message. It will soon arrive.
The good man respects God. He will have a long life. He will be happy.
The evil man refuses God’s wisdom. The evil man will die soon. His plans will fail. He will achieve nothing.
These verses are rather general. Some good people die young. Some evil people live long. Solomon is explaining simple principles. More complex explanations are elsewhere in the Bible. We must learn simple principles before we can understand complex explanations.
This is the principle. A good person has a good life. An evil person has a bad life. This principle is enough, for now.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ (John 14:6) Our lives are like journeys. We must live God’s way.
God will take us to the place where we belong.
This is good news for Christians. We belong in heaven.
This is bad news for evil people. The Bible says that they will go to hell. They should change their lives and trust in God. God will forgive them, if they turn to him.
See my notes on ‘the land’, under Proverbs 2:20-22.
In verse 30, Solomon compares a good man to a tree. Both belong in the place where God has planted them. Even when trouble comes, they can stand firm. ‘A storm passes. And wicked people cannot last. But good people are always safe’ (verse 25).
Good people are safe. We have security when we trust God.
Verse 32 encourages us. Many people worry that they will say the wrong thing. A good man always says the right thing. If we trust in God, then God will help us. If we study the Bible, then we shall speak God’s words. If we pray, then God will guide us. We do not need to worry. We need to be humble.
If we serve God, then we shall not speak evil words. We shall not even know how to speak evil words! When we speak, other people will benefit.
Our actions, like our words, are important to God. At work, we should not cheat other people. We must be fair. In a shop, a kilo or pound weight should be accurate. If we use false measurements, we lie to our customers. We should be honest.
Humble people know that God is great. God likes humble people.
God likes humble people because they look after other people. A humble person considers that other people are important.
A proud person thinks only about himself.
An honest man is a good man. He loves the truth. His decisions will be right.
Jesus met a man called Nathanael. Jesus said, ‘This man is a genuine member of the nation of Israel. This man is totally honest.’ (John 1:47) Nathanael had the right attitudes, and these attitudes helped him to find Jesus.
An evil man is not honest. He will suffer because of his lies.
A judge in court does not ask whether a man is wealthy. If a man is guilty, then the judge will punish him. The judge does not care whether the guilty man is rich or poor.
God will be the judge of everybody. We have all done evil things, so we all deserve punishment. Our money cannot save us from God’s punishment. We must trust in God. God can forgive us. He will teach us to do the right things.
Solomon compares life to a journey. We must be honest. Then we will be like travellers who walk along good paths. We shall take the correct route to heaven. This is a good, straight path. It does not bend into dangerous places. We shall not lose our way.
Verse 6 We have a simple choice. We can choose to do good things. Or we can choose to do evil things. We can choose to do the right things. Or we can choose to do the wrong things. We can choose freedom, or prison.
The decision to obey God is also a simple choice. A wise person invites God into his life. This person loves God, and God looks after him. But a foolish person will not listen to God’s wisdom.
Death is terrible for an evil man. He will lose all of his money. He will lose all of his possessions. He will lose everything that he achieved in life. He will discover that he was wrong. But then it will be too late.
The true Christian will have a different experience. Paul wrote, ‘While I live, Jesus comes first. When I die, I shall benefit… I want to go to be with Jesus. Heaven will be much better than this world. However, I must live longer, because I need to help you.’ (Philippians 1:21, 23-24)
Both verses explain that a good person can avoid troubles.
In verse 8, God cares about a good man. But an evil man will suffer.
Verse 9 explains how a good man can avoid trouble. He is wise, because he has studied many things. His knowledge protects him. He is safer than someone who knows nothing.
However, an evil man, who does not know God, can be dangerous. Even his neighbour can suffer.
An evil man’s words destroy his neighbour (verse 9). In verse 10, everyone suffers because of the evil man. Perhaps the evil man ruled the city. Perhaps he was very cruel. The evil man’s death means that the people will be free. This is why they shout for joy. This is why they want good men to succeed.
Verse 11 explains the reaction of the people in verse 10. In verse 11, when evil men talk about a city, they plot to destroy it. Perhaps their plan is to steal from the people. Perhaps the evil men want the people in the city to be their slaves. Words can be terrible. The words of evil men can destroy a city.
The words of good men also achieve great things. Because of their words, the city becomes great. They pray, and God helps the city. They speak about God, and people trust in God.
Words are powerful. It is better to say nothing, than to speak evil words.
This verse is also about silence. We must think before we speak. Christian leaders often hear other people’s secrets. People should be able to trust their church leaders. The church leader should not tell someone’s secret to another person.
Ordinary people need advice. Church leaders need advice. The leaders of cities need advice (verses 10-11). Even entire nations need advice.
Good and bad words affect the lives of ordinary people. But good and bad words can also affect whole nations.
The wise person is not afraid to ask for advice. Sometimes, we need to ask many advisers before we receive the best advice.
We should make a promise only if we can carry out our promise. See also Proverbs 6:1-5.
Many people ask about the benefits that a Christian receives. These verses compare kind people with cruel people.
Kindness brings a real reward (verse 18). People respect the kind person (verse 16). This is a real benefit for a kind person (verse 17).
A cruel man causes himself pain (verse 17). He receives money as his benefit (verse 16). However, this is not a real benefit (verse 18). He cannot take his money with him when he dies (verse 19).
Nobody is ‘really good’, except God (Luke 18:19). Nobody deserves to live with God in heaven. Heaven is God’s gift to us, but we must trust in him.
These verses explain simple principles. These principles explain many things.
God wants us to live good lives, but we are all evil. God hates our evil actions. God will punish evil people.
If we want to be good, then God will help us. He wants to forgive us. He sent Jesus. We deserve punishment for our evil actions, but we do not need to suffer this punishment. When Jesus died, he received our punishment. If we ask God, then he will forgive us. We can be free from the evil things that are in our lives. Then, when we die, we shall go to heaven.
God loves good people. When we trust in him, God will change us. As we learn God’s wisdom, God will make us into his people. ‘God called you from the darkness. He called you into his wonderful light. Before this you were not a nation. Now you are God’s people.’ (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Solomon uses humour in this verse. Solomon and his nation hated pigs. Everybody in Israel believed that pigs were unholy animals. The people never ate pig meat (Leviticus 11:7).
An ugly pig does not become beautiful, even if it has a gold ring! In the same way, a foolish woman is never really beautiful! (By ‘foolish’, Solomon means a person who refuses God’s wisdom.)
A beautiful woman should be kind and generous. The woman’s face might be ugly or pretty. But she is really beautiful if she does good things! (1 Peter 3:3-4)
A good man wants good things, and he will receive good things.
An evil man wants evil things. God will punish this man, because the man’s actions are evil.
‘One man gives, and his wealth increases. Another man does not give to anybody, and he becomes poor.’ This is a puzzle.
When a man gives, he loses money. When a man does not give, he saves his money. This verse says the opposite.
Solomon has not made a mistake. When someone is generous, God is kind to this person. Sometimes God gives more money to this person. (Luke 6:38)
There are many generous people who have great wealth. God has provided for them, so they provide for other people by their money. Then God provides the giver with more wealth, so that they can give even more.
This verse is about greedy people.
In business, we are generous, if we are fair. When poor people are hungry, some shopkeepers might refuse to sell food for a reasonable price. Then hungry people would have to pay a higher price or remain hungry.
The fair shopkeeper sells at a fair price.
There is a good reward for the person who does the right thing.
There is a severe punishment for the person who does evil things.
Wealth does not matter. If we are wealthy, we must not trust in wealth.
Once a wealthy young man wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus told him to give everything to poor people. Jesus loved the young man, but the young man refused. The young man trusted his wealth more than he trusted God. (Mark 10:17-23)
A person might expect to receive money from his parents. If he upsets them, then he will get nothing. He will become poor. Perhaps he will have to be someone’s poor servant. He must suffer, because he is foolish.
We can bring God’s life to other people. Our wisdom can show other people the way to God. This is another reason to learn God’s wisdom.
God is fair with everybody. The good man will receive good things. God will provide for him.
God is also fair with evil people. They will receive a fair punishment.
We can benefit when someone shows our mistakes to us. When we see our mistakes, we can learn to do better. Nobody is perfect. Everybody has something to learn.
Many people fear correction. They do not want other people to know about their mistakes. They try to hide their errors.
As Christians, we should be humble. We should appreciate people who correct us.
There is a real difference between good behaviour and evil behaviour. God cares about a good man. God is kind to that man. And God will help that man.
If we make evil plans, then we refuse to obey God’s commands. God will punish the evil man.
This verse is not about the strength of a man’s body. It is about our whole lives. The good man has a strong belief in God. The good man uses his knowledge to make decisions. His emotions do not control him. When troubles come, he is confident. This verse reminds us of Jesus’ story in Matthew 7:24-27. A strong house is safe, when a storm comes. A weak house is in danger, and it will fall down.
God will protect us if we trust in him. But an evil man is weak. Troubles will destroy him.
A wife should be honest, fair and kind. If so, then her husband will be proud of her. She is valuable and precious to him, like a crown. He is glad that she is with him.
A bad wife hurts her husband. If the wife is evil, then the husband will suffer. He will even feel weak.
A husband and wife should look after each other. They should love each other. Both should trust in God. God will teach them to be good partners.
A good man does not plot evil plans. His plans respect God. The good man tries to help other people by his plans.
For example, someone might open a shop that sells food. If the shopkeeper is a good person, then he wants to sell good food at a fair price. But an evil shopkeeper might want to sell poor food at an expensive price.
The second part of this verse is about advice. You cannot trust an evil man’s advice. When he is advising you, he is plotting an evil plan. You do not know his plan. An evil man will not give sound advice. His advice is a lie. He wants to cheat you.
The evil man is like a hunter. His plans are like a hunter’s traps. The evil man wants to steal from other people. He even wants to kill them.
A simple person is in danger. If someone does not know about a hunter’s trap, that person could fall into the trap.
The good man is safe. He speaks the right words. These words are better than the evil man’s plans. The good man’s words will protect him.
This reminds us of verse 3. An evil man is never strong. When the evil man is in trouble, he may lose everything. He will not ask God to help him. His life is in danger.
A good man is never weak. Verse 7 speaks about his ‘house’. This word also means his family. A good man and his family are safe, even when troubles come. The man who trusts God is not afraid. Even if the good man loses everything, God will help him.
Some people praise wealthy people, or famous people. Other people follow kings and rulers. As Christians, we should respect wise people. A wise person, who serves God, deserves honour.
This is a puzzle. A famous person can be very poor. An unimportant person can be wealthy. Often, we do not understand why a person should be poor or wealthy.
Some people pretend that they are wealthy. Or, perhaps, they pretend to be poor. We see these people, and we do not always understand their behaviour.
It does not matter whether someone is important or not. It does not matter what people pretend. It does not matter whether a person is famous or not. It does matter whether a person has food or not. We must try to understand the things that really matter.
A good man is never cruel. He is not cruel to people, and he is not cruel to animals. Every action of a good man is kind.
A farmer deserves his harvest. He has worked hard. He has looked after his animals. He has ploughed his land and he has sowed his seeds. He has protected his crops from the weather. He has rescued the plants from animals and insects. His reward is the harvest.
The person who merely imagines is lazy. He may make plans, but he does no work. He would be a very poor farmer. His imagination cannot help his plants and animals to grow. If the lazy man refuses to work, his plans will achieve nothing.
Different people have different ideas about work. Some people work with their hands. Managers use their intelligence as they work.
An evil person thinks that he is working. He uses his hands to steal from other people. He uses his intelligence to make evil plans. He thinks that he deserves to be wealthy.
An evil person does not behave in the proper way. He does not obey God’s law.
An evil man might seem impressive. He might be wealthy. He might seem clever. However, he is like a tree without roots. The part of his life that you see might seem good. The part that you do not see is terrible. His thoughts are terrible because they are evil.
A good man is like a tree that grows properly from its roots. He is strong (verse 3) because he trusts in God.
An evil man’s words are like a hunter’s trap. He is like a stupid hunter who falls into his own trap.
This verse encourages us to think about our words. Verses 11-13 remind us that work is important. We receive wages for our efforts. It matters to God, whether our work is good or evil. But our words are also important.
Our words can encourage people. They can show kindness. They can advise. They can teach and correct. They can lead people to God. God will reward us for our words. We shall get what we deserve.
Some people always think that they are right. On a journey, they never ask for directions. When they are ill, they do not go to a doctor. Even if they do go to a doctor, they do not obey his advice. They are proud, and Solomon calls them ‘fools’.
A wise man behaves differently. He is humble. He listens to advice.
As Christians, we try not to insult other people. But sometimes other people will insult us. And we must learn how to behave in this situation.
A fool is a person that hates wisdom. He wants to do evil things. A fool is proud, so he hates an insult. An insult upsets him, so he is angry.
If we are wise, then insults will not bother us.
Many people insulted Jesus. They said that Jesus had a devil (Mark 3:22). Jesus’ family thought that Jesus was mad (Mark 3:21). Even when Jesus was dying, people insulted him (Mark 15:29). This did not upset Jesus. He even prayed for them (Luke 23:34). He taught us to do the same (Matthew 5:11-12). People may insult us because we belong to Jesus. But God will help us if people insult us.
If you want to know the truth, then ask an honest person. You cannot trust a person who lies.
Words can hurt, and words can heal.
An evil man’s words can cause much damage. He might upset or insult people. He might use words to make an evil plan. For example, an evil lawyer can use clever words to write an unfair contract. Words might not hurt in a physical way, but they can cause real trouble.
Words do not heal in a physical way either. However, they can bring help and comfort.
The truth does not change. If something is true now, then it will always be true. This is like wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31). This is also like Jesus, because Jesus never changes (Hebrews 13:8).
Lies do change. When someone lies, he is always changing his story. ‘Many witnesses spoke lies against Jesus. However, their accounts were all different from each other.’ (Mark 14:56)
You cannot see a person’s heart or mind. However, you can understand their thoughts, if you look at their behaviour. Jesus explained this in Matthew 7:15-20.
God protects good people. He does not protect evil people. See Psalm 91.
Sometimes, we need to remember simple facts. Some wise words are complex, like a puzzle. Other wise words are very easy to understand. Even a little child can understand this verse.
A wise man is still wise, even if he does not speak.
When Jesus was in court, he remained silent (Matthew 26:63). Isaiah wrote, ‘A sheep is silent before the farmer cuts its wool. So he (Jesus) remained silent.’ (Isaiah 53:7).
Some people are always speaking. They want everyone to hear their ideas. If a fool talks constantly, all his words will be foolish. He needs to be silent, and to listen. Then a wise man can speak and teach wisdom to the fool.
Employers watch their workers. The employer wants to know which workers are working hard. He also wants to know who is lazy. A good worker will receive more responsibility. A lazy worker might lose his job. In the end, the lazy worker could even become a slave.
This verse expresses sympathy. A person who worries is sad. Life can be hard. People fear many things.
As Christians, we should look after other people. We should speak words of kindness and sympathy. We should speak words that encourage. We should tell people to trust God. Then we shall bring joy into people’s lives.
Other people benefit when someone respects God. People can learn from us. Our lives can teach people about God. This is like a man who leads his friend on a journey.
Life is like a journey. But an evil man is like a traveller who has no guide. This traveller must guide himself on his journey. He does not know the correct route, so he will go the wrong way. So the evil man will do the wrong things. He will suffer because his actions are evil.
The lazy man wasted his food. A wise person would cook his food and enjoy it.
A lazy person wastes his life. He achieves nothing, because he refuses to work. A wise person achieves many things by his hard work.
Life is like a journey. On our journey, we should follow good people. We should copy their behaviour. And we should learn to do the right things. Especially, we should follow Jesus (John 8:12). Then God will give a place in heaven to us. God has prepared a home for us in heaven (John 14:2-3).
When we teach people about God, some people will listen. Other people refuse to listen. This is not our fault. Some people are ready to hear us, but other people are not. We should pray for them all. Sometimes, someone who refused our message will later accept it. See Mark 4:1-20.
Sometimes, many people must teach the Bible, before people believe it. Paul compared this to a plant, in the field. He wrote, ‘I sowed the seed. Another man called Apollos gave water to it. God made the seed grow. The person who sows is not important. The person who gives water is not important. Only God is important, because only God makes plants grow.’ (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
As a tree has fruit, so good words have a good effect. Such words inform and help other people.
An evil man’s words have a bad effect on himself and other people.
Our words can place us in danger. Or our words can protect us.
Our words can make evil plans. Or our words can encourage and help other people.
We have a choice.
Everybody desires good things. A person should work and earn money. Then he can buy the things that he desires.
A good man hates lies, but an evil man loves to tell lies. This is why the evil man causes shame.
We cannot make ourselves perfect. We must ask God to forgive us. He loves us. He even sent Jesus to suffer our punishment. Only God can make us perfect. Only God can forgive us for our evil deeds.
Verse 7 is similar to Proverbs 12:9.
There is an interesting connection between verses 7 and 8. A man, who pretends to be wealthy, places himself in danger. Unlike a rich man, however, he cannot use money to save himself. It is safer to pretend that you are poor!
In verse 8, a rich man has many benefits. He can use his money to save himself. However, the poor man escapes this danger. The thieves do not want to steal from a poor man. The thieves know that a poor man has nothing for them to steal. Some benefits of wealth are not real.
Light is better than darkness.
On a journey at night, the wise man carries a bright light. He is safe, because of his light. He knows the right way, because of his light. He will arrive home safely.
On the same journey, the evil man has only a candle, but its light is weak. He cannot see the right path. He will lose his way. He is in great danger.
‘God’s word is like a lamp for my feet. God’s word is like a light for my path.’ (Psalm 119:106) God’s word is the Bible. The Bible is like a light, because it guides us. The Bible teaches us how to live.
Proud people argue because they speak their own thoughts. A proud person always thinks that he is right. He will not listen to anyone else.
A wise person behaves differently. Although a wise person is wise, he is willing to hear the advice of other people. A wise person has great understanding, because he listens to other people.
An evil person does not spend his money wisely. Often he does not save it for the future. He wastes it. Perhaps he spends it on beer and wine. Perhaps he places bets. Perhaps he takes risks. Sometimes thieves steal the money from him.
If a wise person has money, he spends it carefully. He saves the money that he does not need today. He is generous and he helps other people. Money is worth more, when a wise person owns it.
We do not receive everything immediately. Sometimes, we must wait. This can be difficult. We may not see quick results from our prayers. We should wait for God’s time. God will answer our prayers, if we ask for the right things.
Jesus told a story about an unfair judge. The judge refused to help a widow. She appealed to him many times. Finally, the judge agreed to help (Luke 18:1-8). God is better and kinder than an unfair judge. God will help us, when we pray.
People write books of instructions to help us. We should read and obey the instructions. Then, we shall be safer. A foolish person refuses to read instructions. He thinks that he knows what to do.
God gave his commands to us in order to help us. We should obey his commands. And we should live in the right way. Then we shall receive God’s reward.
Our church leaders and teachers need wisdom. They should respect God. Their lives should please God. Then when they teach, the people will benefit from their words.
Ordinary wisdom can save a person from natural dangers and death. God’s wisdom can save a person from the danger of hell. God’s wisdom will bring that person to heaven.
We should listen to other people. We should try to help them with their problems. If we are wise, then people will appreciate this. People will ask for our advice and they will respect us. They will love us, because of our wisdom.
If we learn from God, then we shall become wiser. God will love us, because we respect him.
But nobody respects the person that lies. This person does not deserve love from anyone.
A wise person does not waste his knowledge. He loves knowledge, and he uses it well. He uses his knowledge to help other people. He uses his knowledge to stay safe. The wise man’s knowledge is like a workman’s tools.
A fool has no understanding, so he makes the wrong decisions. Everyone can see this. Everyone realises that this man is stupid.
If we are Christians, then we carry a message from God to the people in the world. This message is very important. We must always tell the truth. We must not keep God’s message as a secret.
Our message, as Christians, is a good message. This message cures the spirits of men and women. This message will help people to know God. This message will protect them from evil plots. This message will teach the way to heaven. God loves the people from every country. He will forgive them, if they trust in him. These are all good things.
We are like soldiers in God’s army. We should learn discipline. Sometimes we make mistakes. God shows us that we are wrong. We must not refuse God’s correction. If we gladly accept God’s correction, then God will give honour to us.
When God gives good things to somebody, then that person is glad. The person is even happier if he has had to wait for these things.
A fool is someone who refuses to respect God. He does not think to ask God for good things, because a fool hates God. The fool refuses to turn from his evil behaviour, because he loves evil things. A fool will not wait for good things. Instead, a fool wants evil things, now.
Choose your friends carefully! A person who is a friend of wise people listens to them. Then, he learns from them, and he himself becomes wiser.
In the same way, a friend of fools can suffer their troubles. If your friends do not love God, then think about this. You need to bring God’s message to your friends. You must refuse to do evil things, if they test you. You should also have wise, Christian friends. They will help you to become a strong Christian.
Trouble is like an enemy who follows an evil man. The enemy will catch the evil man and attack him.
This means that an evil person will suffer his punishment. He cannot avoid it.
But success is like a friend who follows a good man. The good man will succeed. God will make sure of this.
A good man’s success helps other people. He will be able to help his children. He will even be able to help his grandchildren.
An evil man tries to copy this. He stores his money. He thinks that he is very wealthy. But he cannot benefit from his great wealth. When he dies, he will lose it all. In the end, everything belongs to God. See Luke 12:16-21.
Evil people can destroy many good things. This is one reason why today many people are poor. God has given great wealth to the people of the world. God gave land, which can produce plentiful supplies of food. But often, evil men prevent the supply of food to poor people.
As Christians, we must be fair and generous. Especially, poor people need our help.
A good parent should sometimes punish his child. The parent does not hate the child. Instead, the parent loves the child. This is why the parent punishes the child. This punishment will teach the child to have discipline.
This verse is not only about food. It is about satisfaction.
An evil person always wants more things. He wants more food. He wants more money. He wants more possessions. He wants to be famous and successful. Even if he is already famous, then he wants to become more famous.
A good person does not need these things. He is content with the things that God gives to him.
This is a little story that uses humour.
We walk along the street and we see two women. Both women are working on their homes.
The first woman is wise. She carefully builds her house. Skilfully, she makes a beautiful home for her family.
We expect that the other woman is doing the same. However, we are wrong. In fact, the second woman is pulling down her own home.
The story means this. A wise woman loves her family. She looks after them. She works hard to help them. A wise woman is a woman who serves God.
A foolish woman hates God and loves evil things. She might think that she loves her family. However, her evil actions do not help her family. Instead, her evil actions hurt her family.
We should respect God. So we should do the things that please him. See the instructions in Hebrews 13.
Some people hate God. They might not realise that they hate God. But their actions prove this. They refuse to obey God. Instead, they do evil things. Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will obey my commands.’ (John 14:15).
A fool’s pride makes him talk too much. His many words will lead him into trouble.
A wise man speaks with care. His words will save him from many dangers.
The wise farmer knows that he needs oxen (strong farm animals) to plough his fields. Without them, he cannot produce crops.
Oxen can be difficult animals for a farmer. They need plenty of food. The farmer must work hard to look after them. However, oxen used to be essential animals on the farm. Solomon’s farmers used oxen like tractors, to pull the plough. Without oxen, the harvest would be poor.
Some church members are easy to look after. They are polite and friendly, and everyone likes them. However, they do few things for God’s work.
Other church members act like the oxen. Such church members may ask difficult questions. They have many problems. Sometimes, they make serious errors. They are difficult to look after. However, we must learn to appreciate these members too. Sometimes, they will achieve great things for God. Peter was like this - see Mark 8:31-33, Matthew 26:74 and Galatians 2:11-14. We might not choose these church members, but God chose them for his work.
You must make your choice.
A person might say nice things. He might be very clever. Many people might want to hear his words. However, if his words are lies, then he cannot help us.
An honest person might seem to be unfriendly. He might be anxious. He might even be angry. Perhaps nobody wants to hear his words. However, he is telling the truth. Like the oxen (strong farm animals) in verse 4, we may not like his character. However, his honest words can really help us.
Knowledge is not difficult to find. It is everywhere. Honest people will tell their knowledge to us (as in verse 5). The Bible will teach God’s knowledge to us. Many other books will teach human knowledge to us.
However, if someone insults other people, he will not learn knowledge or wisdom. Perhaps he insults honest people, so he cannot hear the honest words. Perhaps he insults everyone, and only listens to his own ideas.
A fool is someone who hates God’s wisdom. You cannot learn from this man, because he himself has learned nothing from God.
A sensible person is cautious. He uses his knowledge to make good plans. He thinks carefully and he obtains advice. His decisions are good.
A fool thinks that his decisions are right. However, a fool hates God, so his decisions are evil. The fool does wrong things, because he does evil things instead of good things. His evil thoughts are lies. He trusts in his own lies, and suffers as a result.
When someone becomes a Christian, he will receive a welcome from other Christians. See Luke 15.
However, some people will laugh at a new Christian. Solomon calls these people, ‘fools’. By ‘fools’, he means people that do not respect God. They hate God, and they hate Christians too. They laugh at the new Christian because he has confessed his evil deeds. This is because they love to do evil things. If someone trusts in God, then this person seems stupid to them.
We try to sympathise with other people. We try to share their joys and sorrows (sad feelings). Our efforts are kind and good, but we cannot really understand their feelings. Only God really knows the true feelings of a person’s heart.
The wicked man might be rich. He might live in a wealthy house. The good man might be poor. He might only live in a poor tent.
Other people might think that a wicked man is really good. They might see his wealth. They might even suppose that God is pleased with that man.
God knows the truth. When God acts as judge, God will not care about a man’s wealth. God will still punish a wicked man.
The wicked man might not even know who destroyed his house. He might not realise why he lost his wealth. God has punished this wicked man.
Different people have many ideas and many theories. In this verse, Solomon describes our lives, and not just our journeys.
On a journey, if a man chooses the wrong road, he might be in danger. Thieves might attack him. They could kill him.
In the same way, if we choose to live evil lives, in the end God will punish us. We have our own ideas and theories, but these do not matter. The only way to God is to follow Jesus (John 14:6).
When we laugh, sometimes we are sad. Other people do not know this. They think that we are happy if we laugh. God knows our real feelings. He cares about us.
Here, Solomon compares a good man with a man who turns away from God.
A good man receives good things, because he deserves good things. An evil man receives evil things, because he deserves evil things.
The man who turns away from God used to be a good man. He turned back to do evil deeds. He too will receive what he deserves. See 2 Timothy 4:14, Jude 5-6, and Hebrews 10:26-31. ‘But we are not the people that turn back. God will not destroy us. We are the people who believe in God. Therefore, God will protect us.’ (Hebrews 10:39)
Solomon compares a wise person and a simple person.
Unlike a fool, a simple person does not hate God. You can teach a simple person. He can learn to do good things. Or he can learn to do evil things. He believes anything that you tell him.
You can teach a wise person too. However, you cannot teach him to do evil deeds, because he is sensible. He thinks carefully about your words. He works out whether you are correct.
In this verse, Solomon compares a wise person and a fool. A wise person respects God, but a fool hates God. The fool thinks that he himself is always right. A fool will not learn from anyone else. He is angry if someone tries to correct him. He loves to do evil actions.
Solomon contrasts two different types of people.
The first person is quick. In a moment, he becomes very angry. He has a terrible temper. He does not think about his actions. He does evil things so quickly that he cannot think first.
The second person is slow. He takes a long time to make his plans. He thinks about them carefully.
If a simple man learns to do evil deeds, then he becomes a fool. When he is simple, he does not choose to be evil. He does evil things because he is not wise. He does evil things by mistake.
When he becomes a fool, the same person hates God. Now, the man loves to do evil actions. He refuses to learn good things.
We should help simple people to believe in God. Then they can become wise. Then their reward will be knowledge. As a king receives a crown, so they will receive knowledge. Other people will see their knowledge and respect them.
This is not our experience today. Solomon is describing what should happen. Really, a good man is important. He is even more important than a famous person, or a king. People should respect him.
This is terrible! People love a rich man, because they want to benefit from his money. People hate a poor man, because he has nothing to give to them. Christians must not behave like this. See James 2:1-7.
In verse 20, the neighbour tried to avoid the poor man. In verse 21, Solomon explains that this attitude is evil. God is pleased with the generous person. God is kind to the person who is kind to poor people.
Life is like a journey. A person who plots evil deeds is like a traveller on the wrong road. The traveller’s road might lead to danger. And the evil man’s life will cause his death. And his evil life will take him to hell. His evil plans might bring him money, but he will lose everything.
A person who makes a good plan is like a traveller on the right road. His plan will achieve good things, for example, love and truth.
In the end, even the best plan is only words. Words without work cannot earn money. Words alone do not achieve results. Only work can bring success. See James 2:14-17.
A wise person deserves wealth and honour. However, many wise people are not wealthy. This may be because, for a wise person, wisdom is more important than money. A wise person works hard, but he does not work merely to get money. He works hard to get more wisdom.
A fool hates wisdom. He might work to get money, but he is stupid. He can only earn foolish things. He should work to get wisdom.
An honest man speaks the truth. He can rescue people from death, because he is honest. He will tell people if their actions are wrong. He will show them what is right and good.
A man who speaks lies causes great troubles. His lies can ruin other people’s lives. People suffer because of his lies.
God protects people who respect him. Even their families can benefit. See Psalm 46 and 2 Timothy 1:5.
Solomon was a king. If there were many people in a country, then there would be a large army. The country could win wars. Or the country could be at peace, because nobody would attack it. Solomon wanted peace for his country.
Patience is good. ‘Everyone should be quick to listen. Everyone should be slow to speak. Everyone should be slow to become angry.’ (James 1:19) A patient person will learn many things. This is how he becomes intelligent. See James 5:7-11.
Our emotions are powerful. Anger (verse 29) and jealous attitudes can even affect our health. So can good attitudes, like happiness. Paul wrote, ‘I have learned how to be content in every situation. I am content whether I am hungry or full. I am content whether I have plenty, or nothing.’ (Philippians 4:12)
Solomon tells us to help poor people, because God made them. When we love poor people, we love God. See Matthew 25:34-45.
Evil people have no protection when troubles come.
God will protect good people who trust in him. When they die, they will go to heaven. See verse 26.
Another translation of the second line is, ‘Even fools can hear wisdom.’
The wise person does not only think about wisdom occasionally. He is always thinking about wisdom. He is always learning new things. He loves wisdom. Wisdom is always in his heart and in his mind.
A foolish person hates wisdom. He might hear wise words (Proverbs 8:5, Proverbs 1:20-27). However, a fool will not obey these wise words. A fool does not understand wisdom. He only knows his own foolish ideas.
Solomon was a king. He wanted his nation to become a great nation. If his people were evil, then God would punish their nation. He wanted his people to serve God. And he wanted them to do the right things. Then their nation would be a great nation.
A king needs servants and advisers. Solomon knew this, because he was the king of Israel.
God is our king (Revelation 17:14). As Christians, we are God’s servants. God does not need advisers, but he wants wise servants.
If we choose our words carefully, then we will get a good reaction. When we tell people about God, we should be polite.
We should not use angry words. These will upset people. However, sometimes, we must warn people. Jesus did this in John 2:13-16.
We love to listen to wise people. Their words teach us and encourage us.
We do not benefit from the words of a foolish person, who hates wisdom. A fool will say many things. However, everything that he says is foolish.
God knows everything (1 John 3:21). He knows what the result of our actions will be. He watches good people so that he can protect them. He watches evil people so that he can punish their evil actions.
Our words can comfort other people. Words can help people, and they can encourage people.
Lies never achieve these good things. Lies hurt other people. Lies upset people and cause great problems.
If someone hates wisdom, then he hates instructions. He is angry if someone corrects him.
A wise person learns from correction. He wants to know if he is wrong. Because he learns from correction, a wise person becomes even wiser.
A good man has precious possessions. He cannot buy these possessions with money, and he cannot sell them. They are not physical objects, but they are real. They are things like wisdom and knowledge. These things are really valuable.
An evil man also earns things. He might earn money, but he also earns something else. He earns trouble. He will suffer trouble because his actions are evil.
The wise man teaches the things that he knows. Other people hear and they benefit from his advice. If we are wise, then we can help many people.
The fool’s heart does not benefit anyone. A fool hates God, and hates wisdom. Solomon does not mean the fool’s physical heart. Solomon means the fool’s emotions, thoughts and spirit. There is no wisdom there, because the fool’s thoughts are all evil.
The people of Israel sacrificed (killed) animals as a gift to God (Leviticus chapters 1 to 7). If an evil person did this, God would not accept the gift. God wants us to be holy. He wants us to ask him to forgive us. He wants us to trust in him. No gift can forgive us. Only God, who loves us, can forgive us. See Psalm 51:16-17 and Luke 18:10-14.
Our behaviour shows what sort of people we are.
God hates the actions of wicked people. God hates their evil thoughts and plans.
We should do the right things. We should trust God. We should obey his instructions. God will help us to do the right things. He loves us.
Solomon explains about people who start to do evil things. God will correct them. Sometimes, as a father smacks his child, this correction will be bitter. God corrects the person so that the person will return to God. See John 15:2.
If a person does not accept God’s correction, then that person will suffer. See 1 Timothy 4:14. That person’s punishment will be severe. See John 15:6, Hebrews 3:7-13 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-30. But we must encourage that person to return to God. God forgives even very evil people, if they confess their bad behaviour to him.
Some people think that God does not know their thoughts and actions. They are wrong. God even sees beyond the grave into hell. God knows all our thoughts, and all our actions. We cannot escape from God. Even when we die, God will be our judge.
This person insults other people, because he is proud. Nobody can correct him. He always thinks that he himself is right. He will not ask for advice. He does not respect a wise person.
Your thoughts and emotions control your whole body. We smile when we are glad. We are sad if our experiences upset us. If we pray, God will comfort us (James 5:13).
Both a fool and a wise man have important desires. The wise man wants more knowledge. The fool wants foolish things. By ‘fool’, Solomon means someone who hates wisdom. For a fool, this is like his need for food. He is hungry, not for food, but to do an evil action. See Proverbs 4:16-17.
A Christian may be poor. But he has every reason to be cheerful. See Philippians 4:4, 1 Peter 1:8 and Psalm 96:11-13. God’s love is like a party. See Psalm 23:5, Isaiah 55:1-2, and Luke 14:15-23.
For other people, their lives can be difficult. They might be rich or poor, but they all need God’s help. And we, too, should try to help them.
Many people want the best meat, instead of a few vegetables. But love is better than hate. We want to eat in a place where people love us. Sometimes it is better to be poor than to be rich.
Some things matter more than money or wealth. Love matters more than wealth. Especially, the love of God matters more than wealth. This is why the poor man in verse 16 has a good life.
We should be patient. A patient man can even help enemies to become friends. This might take many years. But a patient person can often achieve success in the end.
Sometimes, it takes many years to help someone to trust God. This may be especially difficult if, at first, the person hates God. We must be patient. We should show God’s love to the person, when we get an opportunity.
A slow man can be very slow. He has lots of excuses. Solomon uses humour here. Nobody could be so slow that plants grew on his path. The truth is that the man was very lazy.
The good man is like someone who travels along a good, clear road. A good person is patient (verse 18). But, at the right time, a good person acts very quickly. He is not lazy! He will achieve the things that he desires.
This is like Proverbs 10:1, but the second line is different. ‘A foolish son causes pain to his mother.’ (Proverbs 10:1). ‘A foolish son hates his mother.’ (Proverbs 15:20)
The foolish (or evil) son might not think that he hates his mother. However, his evil actions prove that he hates her. He causes trouble and pain for her, because he does evil things.
If someone is not wise, then foolish (evil) things attract him. This is like a traveller who chooses the wrong route for a journey. Some people love to do evil things. They gladly choose to do evil things.
A wise person does not make this mistake. He is careful to do the right things. He is like a traveller whose path is straight and direct. Evil things do not attract a wise person. A traveller on a straight road does not want to wander onto the wrong path. And a wise person never wants to do anything that is evil.
Many people do not like to receive advice. Perhaps they are proud and so they do not like to hear other people’s ideas. If you do not obtain advice, then your plans will often fail.
We should not make this mistake. If we are wise, then we shall ask many people for advice.
Some of the advice that we receive will be bad advice. For this reason, we should have many advisers. We should obtain the best advice.
An adviser should always try to give correct advice. He thinks and he prays about his words. He considers the probable results of his advice. He wants to say the right words, at the right time. He wants to help, because his advice can bring success to his friend’s plan.
An adviser is glad when he gives good advice.
Solomon uses humour. Life is like a journey. When we live wisely, we are going towards heaven. This is like a journey where we are going upwards. So we are travelling away from the graves and from hell.
Solomon imagines that the wise man is walking up a hill. Sometimes, it is hard to walk up a hill. However, the wise man needs always to travel upwards. He cannot travel downwards (opposite of upwards), because that way leads to death, the grave and hell.
Everything that God does is right.
Some people will praise a proud man. Some people think that proud people are very great. God does not think this. In the end, God will punish proud people.
Some people do not care about widows. They might say, ‘That old woman has no husband to protect her. We can steal her wealth.’ But God will protect the widow. He does not only protect her house. He protects her land, too. He even guards her fences. See Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 10:18; Isaiah 54:4-5; Mark 12:38-44; 1 Timothy 5:3.
God knows our thoughts, and he hears our words. The evil person thinks about evil plans. He might plot against other people. He might try to steal from them. God knows these thoughts, and he hates these plans.
An honest person speaks the truth. God loves the truth, so God loves the words of honest people.
People give bribes (secret gifts) so that other people will do wrong things. For example, if a judge accepts a bribe, then he might punish an innocent man. If a government official accepts a bribe, then he might allow the giver to meet the king.
The Bible teaches that we should not give bribes (secret gifts). The Bible also teaches that we should not accept bribes. We should not do evil things to get more money. This behaviour will only bring trouble to us and to our families. Instead, we should refuse bribes. If we refuse bribes, then God will help us to have good lives.
Jesus answered questions in Mark 11:27-33 and Mark 12:13-40. Jesus studied the Bible. His answers were wise. Jesus thought about what the Bible says. And he knew the right answers.
We too need to think about problems. Especially, we must discover what the Bible says. Then we shall learn God’s wisdom.
An evil man hates God. The evil man does not think about what is right. Instead, he answers quickly. If an evil man does think about his answers, then he makes an evil plan. If he does not think about his answer, his plans are still evil.
‘God is not deaf or weak. The result of your evil actions is that you have moved far away from God.’ (Isaiah 59:1-2)
However, God is close to a good person. God even knows a good person’s silent prayers. See Matthew 6:6-8.
Even our smiling faces can cheer other people! People are glad, if we smile.
Our words can achieve more than our happy faces. The Christian message is good news. God can change people’s lives. He will forgive them, if they trust him. This good news will make people strong.
If someone learns from words of correction, then that person will become wiser.
We all make mistakes. A wise person learns not to repeat his mistakes. He knows that correction is valuable.
When other people correct us, we become wiser. And we become more responsible. Correction is a good thing.
But someone who refuses to obey instructions will suffer as a result. This is as if he hates himself. We should learn discipline. And we should learn to be wise.
Especially, we shall learn to be wise, if we respect God. Wisdom is God’s gift to us. We must respect God. This is the first and most important lesson in wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).
People want to receive honour. But many people do not want to be humble. We need to be humble, because we need to learn from God. We also need to learn from other people. If we are humble, then God will be pleased with us. God gives honour to humble people.
If we are humble, then the result is honour.
This is the first of a series of proverbs (wise words) about God. This series continues in the next chapter.
The subject of the book now begins to change. In earlier chapters, the main subject is the difference between wise actions and evil actions. The earlier proverbs (wise words) compare a good man with an evil man (Proverbs chapters 10 to 15). Later chapters do not emphasise this (Proverbs chapters 16 to 22). Instead, they explain wise thoughts, actions and advice.
We should ask God to help us to speak the right words. The ‘plans of our hearts’ are our thoughts and ideas. We do not know everything. God knows the things that we do not know. We need his help to say the right words. See Mark 13:11.
Even an evil man thinks that he is right. He even persuades himself. Other people might believe him. But God knows the truth about that man.
When we pray, we should give our plans to God. We ask God to bring about the best result. We cannot control our own plans. We do not even know what will happen tomorrow. See James 4:13.
A man’s plan may succeed, or it may fail. God’s plans will always succeed. God can use an animal (Numbers 22:21-28). Or God can use a stone (Luke 3:8). Or God can even use a foreign king (Ezra 1:1).
God can use evil people to punish other evil people. God used King Nebuchadnezzar to punish the nation of Judah (Daniel 1:1-2).
A proud person refuses to listen to God or to other people. He has his own ideas. He thinks that he is better than everyone else. God will punish proud people. God wants us to be humble.
God does not want to punish us. God loves us. We must trust in him. Jesus died to suffer the punishment for our evil deeds. God wants to forgive our evil actions.
We respect God, so we should not do evil things. However, sometimes we still make mistakes. If we ask God, then he will forgive us, because of Jesus. See 1 John 2:1.
Our lives should please God. We should do the things that are right. We should respect God.
God can cause our enemies to become our friends. This does not always happen immediately. First, we ourselves must become friends of God. God accepts us because Jesus died for us. See Ephesians 2:13-14 and John 14:27.
Most Christians are not wealthy. See 1 Corinthians 1:26. We may have few possessions. However, we should earn our money fairly. God helps the poor man who is honest. God will punish the rich man who is not honest.
We all make plans for the future, but we cannot control everything. Events that we do not expect will happen. There will be problems. We might need to change our plans. We might not understand the reasons.
In all these changing circumstances, God is directing us. God will show us where we should go. He will teach us what we should do. See Acts 16:6-10.
Solomon was a king. In verses 10-15, he explains how kings and other rulers behave.
God has given authority to kings. Their decisions are important and affect many people. So a king must always be responsible.
At the time of King Solomon, the king was also a judge (see 1 Kings 3:16-28). This is why the king makes a ‘judgement’.
God rules the whole world, but a king rules a country. We must pray for kings and rulers (1 Timothy 2:2).
Honest attitudes are important to God. We must not cheat people. Everybody must respect other people’s possessions. Even a king must not cheat people.
If a king is evil, his nation will suffer. A king should not behave in an evil way.
A good king wants his people to do good things. He encourages the people to be honest. He makes fair laws. Then the people will respect the law and do right things. God will be pleased with the king and the people.
If a servant is honest, then the king should reward him. The servant might bring bad news. His honest words might upset the king. But the king needs honest servants to speak wise words of advice. If the adviser is not honest, then he cannot help the king. Compare the advisers in 1 Kings 12:6-16.
An angry king is very dangerous. Many people may suffer if the king is unhappy (Matthew 2:16). When the king is angry, his servants must call a wise man. The wise man will know what to say to the king. Then the king will make a wise decision, instead of an angry decision.
The wise servant wants the king to be happy. The king should not be angry. Events should not upset the king. Then the king will make good decisions. He will care about his people. He will serve God and act fairly.
Gold, silver and money are not really valuable. If we only want to earn money, then we are wasting our lives.
Wisdom and knowledge are really valuable. Especially, we should learn how to respect God.
Life is like a journey. The honest man is like a traveller who chooses the high road. It might be a difficult road, because a high road goes over mountains. However, the traveller chooses this road because it is safe.
The honest man has a guard for his journey. God is his guard. God will protect you, if you are honest.
To be proud is especially evil.
The proud man thinks that he is better than anyone else. He thinks that he deserves every luxury. God does not approve of this. God wants people to be humble, so that they can learn wisdom.
God will punish the proud person. A proud man will fall down with a crash. God will force the man to be humble.
A man who is rich and proud is selfish. He will want to keep his possessions to himself.
Humble but poor people are much more likely to share what they have.
A wise person obeys instructions. He learns more, and so he becomes even more wise.
We must trust in God. People may trust many different things. They may trust in money, or governments. But the wise person trusts God, so God helps him.
Another translation of the second line is, ‘Pleasant words persuade people.’
A wise person is sensible, because he is careful. He thinks about his actions, and obtains advice.
People like to listen to pleasant words. They can learn from nice words. If we are careful, we can use pleasant words to teach the Christian message. See Matthew 10:16.
Solomon does not only mean the life of our bodies. Rather, he means the life, or energy, of our spirits. Knowledge helps us to respect God. Our spirits are more important than our bodies, because our bodies will die. (See Luke 12:4-5.) However, if we trust in God, our spirits will continue to live, in heaven.
Another translation of the second line is, ‘So his words persuade people.’
A wise man’s words are honest. He does not think one thing, but say something else. He does not lie.
People trust the words of a wise person, because they know him. They know that he speaks the truth. So he can persuade them to do the right things.
Honey was a favourite food for Solomon. It has a beautiful smell and a good flavour. Solomon also used it as a medicine.
Pleasant words are like honey. Both are good for the body. Both bring pleasure. Both can help you.
In our lives, there are many dangers. People might trust in false religions. They might follow evil leaders. Or they might drink too much alcohol. There are many other dangers also.
Like the road, these things might seem good. The truth is that they are dangerous. They are dangerous for our bodies and for our spirits. We need to ask God for wisdom to avoid these dangers.
People should not be lazy. See Proverbs 6:6-11. They should work to earn what they need. This is a natural way to behave. Our hunger reminds us that we should work. See 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10.
Verses 27-30 are about different types of people who cause trouble. They have many different methods to cause trouble:
· lies and insults (verse 27)
· gossip and whispers (verse 28)
· the use of force (verse 29)
· silent signals (verse 30).
This evil man makes evil plans. He is dangerous. It is even dangerous to listen to this man. If you listen to his words, they are like a fire. His plans will destroy you. Do not even go near him!
Here is another evil man. This evil man gossips. He starts arguments. He will turn your friends into enemies. When this evil man has spoken, your best friend will hate you.
A cruel man will try to make other people behave like him. He will try to frighten them with a loud voice. He will even use force.
The cruel man’s neighbour should be very careful. He cannot trust the cruel man.
This man hardly says anything. But he has an evil plan. See Proverbs 6:12-15. The movements of his face are signals. You might be able to recognise his character if you watch his face.
When this man is ready, he will take action. Then everyone will suffer from his cruelty.
This person is an old man, who respects God. The man’s grey hair looks like a crown.
This old man deserves a real crown, because he is wise. We should respect God and do good things. Then, we too shall deserve honour, like the old man.
This man is not like the man in verse 30. The man in verse 30 caused trouble for other people. But the man in verse 31 did good things. He spoke wise words. And the result was that other people benefited. So the man in verse 31 deserves great honour.
The last man in this passage is a patient man. He is not angry. He does not fight. He achieves results, because he works slowly and carefully. He can achieve more than a man who wins a war.
In the Bible, people sometimes made decisions by lot (that is, by a game of chance).
Jesus had 12 disciples (special students). One of these was Judas, who helped to arrest Jesus. Then Judas killed himself. Afterwards, the Christians decided to appoint a new disciple (a special student of Jesus). They asked God to guide them. Then they chose Matthias by lot (Acts 1:21-25).
We do not need to use lots like this today, because God has given his Holy Spirit to guide us. (John 16:13).
However, often we cannot explain some events in our lives. Things happen, and we do not always know why. Some people might say, ‘This happened by chance’ (that is, by accident). But we know that God is guiding us by his Holy Spirit. We know that God controls these events.
Dry bread is not a good meal. We might prefer the rich food at a party. But a quiet place is better than a place where people argue.
A party can be noisy and unpleasant. Any arguments will upset people and spoil the meal. The man would be happier if he stayed at home. For this man, dry bread is better than special food at a party.
If possible, we should not argue.
An evil son deserves to be a servant. A wise servant deserves to be a son.
If the evil son does not change his ways, he will lose his inheritance. (An inheritance is the family’s money and possessions. Normally, a child receives an inheritance when his parents die.) The wise servant will receive a share of the inheritance instead of the evil son.
See John 8:39, Acts 13:42-46, and Galatians 3:26-29. A member of Abraham’s family ought to be a child of God. Each person who is a member of Abraham’s family deserves this. It is like that person’s inheritance. But if that person refuses to follow Jesus, then that person loses his inheritance. Instead, everyone who is not from this family can become a child of God. Everyone who follows Jesus is a child of God.
The hottest fire cleans gold and silver. The fire burns waste materials. This is how the gold and silver become pure. In the same way, God tests our hearts. He wants us to be free from evil thoughts and desires. See Isaiah 6:6-7 and Malachi 3:2-4.
Some people do not like honest words. They want to listen to evil plans. Then they copy the evil plans, and they do evil things themselves.
See Proverbs 14:31. God cares about poor people. He does not want them to suffer. He wants us to help them.
This is how God wants families to behave. Grandparents should be proud of their grandchildren. Children should be proud of their parents. However, evil behaviour prevents this. See Proverbs 10:1. If we are evil, then we bring troubles to our families.
Solomon uses humour here. A fool (an evil person) should be careful about his words. His words will cause trouble. Instead, he should say nothing. Certainly, he should not try to speak in a clever way. (Of course, a fool would not obey Solomon’s advice.)
However, some things are much worse than a fool who tries to impress people with his proud words. For example, people will not respect a ruler who lies.
Again, Solomon uses humour. He does not want us to give bribes (secret gifts). Solomon teaches that bribes are terrible. Bribes encourage people to do evil things. See Proverbs 15:27.
A bribe (secret gift) is like magic, because it changes people. Suddenly, people forget to do the right thing. Instead, they do something else, because of the bribe.
We should always do the right thing. So we should never give bribes. And we should refuse to accept bribes.
Sometimes we do not need to point out a mistake. We should forgive other people, and help them not to repeat their errors. See Matthew 18:21-22.
By ‘fool’, Solomon means someone who hates wisdom. Because of his attitude, he will not learn from a punishment. You could whip the fool 100 times, and he would still do evil things.
A wise man does not need a punishment, when he makes a mistake. A few words are enough to correct a wise man. This is because a wise man always wants to do the right thing.
This evil man refuses to change his behaviour. Even punishment will not stop his evil behaviour. A ruler will send an official to put the evil man in prison.
Bears are very dangerous animals. Even when a bear is content, you are in danger. This bear is a very angry bear, which you must avoid. The bear could kill you.
A fool is someone who hates wisdom. He loves evil things and he hates God. A ‘foolish fool’ is even worse. You must avoid him. It is safer to meet the angry bear.
There are some people, whom nobody can control. They are very evil people. We should realise this. We can pray for them. But we might be in danger if we try to help them. God can change their hearts - but we cannot do this.
It is evil to hurt people who help you. But some evil people do this.
As we help other people, we should realise this. The people that we help may not be honest. They might be cruel or unfair. As Christians, we serve God, rather than other people. We help them, because we love God. God rewards us.
If we are in difficulties, then we should obtain advice and help. We should not remain in a situation that is too difficult for us.
When people argue, they might become angry. If they become angry, then they might fight. If they fight, then they will hate each other. A simple argument might cause serious troubles.
It is easier to stop an argument when it begins. Later, this might be impossible. We should not allow our arguments to become serious problems.
Judges should make fair decisions. We all must be honest.
A judge should not accept a bribe (secret gift). He should not follow his own feelings and emotions. He should listen to the evidence. He should try to make the right decision.
A judge is evil if he does not punish guilty men. A judge is evil if he punishes innocent men. This is always true, even if the judge has reasons for his unfair actions.
Solomon uses humour here. By ‘fool’, he means a person who hates wisdom.
The fool wastes his money. He might buy ordinary things, or even sensible things. However, Solomon says that the fool wastes his money. The fool did not get the one thing that he needed. Wisdom is the only thing that a fool really needs. A fool wastes everything until he gets wisdom.
Wisdom is precious. It is worth more than gold (Proverbs 8:10). We cannot buy wisdom, but we can learn to be wise.
A real friend does not forget you, if you become poor. He helps you when you have troubles.
A brother or sister should be a true friend. Solomon uses humour here. He says that your brother was born to help you. Even his birth was God’s plan. God knew that you would need help one day.
The unwise man agrees to pay money that his neighbour owes. He is unwise, because he cannot trust his neighbour. If the neighbour refuses to pay, then the unwise man will suffer. See Proverbs 6:1-5.
There will be results from our actions.
Some people like to argue. These people will cause problems. They will cause hate and anger.
A proud man might build a high gate to protect himself from other people. Or, he might build the gate to show that he is important. God hates proud people (Proverbs 16:5). He wants us to be humble.
Solomon uses humour here. The proud man’s gate is too high. It is not safe. Perhaps it trembles, when the proud man opens it. It is too heavy. It will fall down.
This gate is like the proud man himself. He will fail. He will lose everything. God will make him humble. (Proverbs 16:18)
The first man has an evil heart. This means that his desires are evil. He cannot be successful, because God will punish him.
The second man tells lies. And he will suffer because of his lies. They will cause many troubles for him.
A fool hates God, and hates wisdom. By ‘fool’, Solomon means someone who is evil. Because the son is evil, the father suffers. The father might suffer, because the son makes evil plans against his father. Or the father might be sad because he sees his son’s evil actions.
People might become wealthy, if they do evil things. Their evil deeds might make them famous or important. But, in the end, an evil person will suffer because of his evil actions. And other people will suffer too.
Happiness is like a medicine for our spirits and for our bodies. We feel stronger and healthier, when we are content. Our emotions are powerful, so we should try to control them. We can be content even when we are poor. This is because God has forgiven us. If we have God’s gift of wisdom, then our troubles will not upset us. Instead, we shall trust God to help us. See Philippians 4:11-12, Hebrews 13:5, and 1 Timothy 6:6-8.
The people might not know why a judge makes a wrong decision. They might think that he made a mistake. The truth is often that someone is evil. Perhaps a policeman, or a lawyer, or the judge himself, received a bribe (secret gift). Bribes are evil, because they cause the law to be unfair. See also verse 15.
Life is like a journey. The wise man is like a traveller who chooses the right route. This is because the wise man is aiming to get to heaven. So the wise man is careful to choose the correct path. He thinks carefully about his decisions, because he is wise.
The fool hates wisdom. He does not think carefully about what he should aim at. So, he stares into the distance. He is like a stupid traveller who does not even want to find the right path.
This son refuses to learn to be wise. So, the son acts foolishly. He upsets his parents. And they suffer because of him.
This verse is good advice for any person who has authority.
When there is bad news, many people would blame innocent people. Many rulers do not want to hear about troubles. Sometimes people hate an honest adviser. (See 1 Kings 22.)
However, someone with authority needs to know the truth, even if the truth is bad news. He needs honest advisers. He should not blame innocent people.
Ordinary people also need to know the truth. We should ask honest people for advice. We cannot trust the advice of someone who is not honest.
A wise man thinks carefully. He does not suddenly become angry. Other people might think that he is slow. They are wrong, because it might take a long time to make a good decision.
This verse is good advice for a fool. Solomon is using humour here, because a fool hates wisdom and good advice.
Actually, Solomon is pretending that he is advising a fool. He does this because he has a good lesson to teach us all.
A fool’s words are all evil and foolish. So he should be silent. Then he can say nothing that is evil. Then everybody will think that he is a wise man.
The lesson for everyone is this. We should not speak too much. We should be careful about our words. We should think before we speak. Then we shall be able to use wise words.
Look after people that you do not know! Sometimes angels (God’s servants from heaven) are our guests. (Hebrews 13:2) A sensible person should be friendly.
If someone is not friendly, then he is selfish. He cares about himself, but he does not care about other people. And he refuses to consider their opinions.
A fool hates wisdom. He really knows nothing, but he loves his own ideas. He thinks that his thoughts are more important than the truth.
We should not behave like this. Instead, we should listen to other people. Then we shall learn to be wise.
Often, an evil person hates other people. He hates, because he is evil. He is evil, because he hates.
This person will receive both shame and punishment. He will feel shame, when he receives his punishment.
A man’s words may be hard to understand. The man may try to hide his real thoughts. It is difficult for a swimmer to dive down to the deep water.
Wisdom is easy to understand. It is easy to distinguish good things from evil things. It is easy to distinguish right things from wrong things. Wisdom is like a flowing stream. Anyone can easily collect water from a flowing stream. Anyone can easily learn to be wise.
We should be fair to everyone, especially in court.
An evil person does not deserve honour. He should not benefit from his evil actions. If he is guilty, he deserves punishment.
We should respect an innocent person. He should not receive punishment. Be fair to him!
A fool hates wisdom. A wise man thinks carefully about his words. But a fool does not think before he speaks. So the fool’s words cause arguments. His words cause trouble. And the fool deserves punishment for his evil words.
This verse is the same as Proverbs 26:22.
People listen, when someone gossips. They enjoy the stories. They even believe that the stories are true. This is dangerous. These stories are like food, because of how they affect us. The stories enter the mind, even as food enters the stomach. These stories can cause troubles, even as bad food causes illness. And such stories can even make friends into enemies.
We should be careful about the words that we hear. We should not encourage people to gossip.
If you are lazy, then this may cause trouble for other people. To be lazy is almost the same thing as to be dangerous.
These two verses are about different castles. A castle was a strong building, which would be safe, even during a war.
A good man trusts in God. He can relax, because God will keep him safe.
A rich man trusts in a strong building. He thinks that his money is safe in his castle. He trusts his castle. He does not trust God. This rich man thinks that thieves cannot enter the castle’s high walls. He is wrong. He is not safe.
The Bible teaches that a truly great man is a humble man. See Mark 9:33-35.
A wise man listens carefully before he advises anyone. A fool (that is, an evil man) does not need to listen. He already has plenty of foolish ideas to tell you.
The fool thinks that he knows everything. Really, he knows nothing. He is wrong, because he hates wisdom. So he has never learned anything.
Your spirit needs to be strong. Your spirit can help you when your body is weak. If your spirit is weak, then you will struggle.
Our spirits will become strong, if we trust God. Like our bodies, our spirits need exercise. We should study the Bible and pray to God. We should go to church and meet other Christians. We should look after and encourage other people. All these activities will help us. If we do these things, God will make our spirits stronger. See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, Hebrews 13:1-10 and Philippians 4:13.
King Solomon was also a judge. These verses are about judgements in court.
This verse is a little poem about the parts of the body.
The wise man’s mind loves wisdom. So he studies to be even wiser.
The wise man always listens with his ears. He listens so that he will hear more knowledge. Then his mind can learn it, and the man will become wiser.
In particular, a judge needs to listen carefully. Then he will know the truth in a matter.
Bribes (secret gifts) are evil. They tempt people to do wrong things.
Judges must be aware of the dangers of bribes (secret gifts).
A judge must listen to both opposing sides. Everyone believes the first person to speak. The lawyers must ask hard questions. Then they will discover whether this person’s words are true.
We should not believe everyone who speaks about God. The speaker might seem right. But we must ask questions, to discover whether the speaker really believes the Bible. See 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 1:6-9; Jude 17-23.
If strong men oppose each other, then they might want to fight. The argument could cause great pain and trouble. This problem seems impossible to solve.
However, a very simple solution might be possible. The two men might settle their argument by lot (that is, by chance).
People in the Bible often used lots to make decisions. They trusted God to make the decision when they used lots. God is wiser than any human judge is. So the people respected God’s decision and settled their arguments. See Proverbs 16:33.
We do not need to use lots today, because God has given his Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit will guide us to make the right decisions.
Family arguments can be serious problems. Relatives can struggle to solve an argument, if you upset them. It is hard to persuade your brother to forgive you. If you have hurt him, then he might refuse to accept you. When the relationship is close, it can be much harder to solve such problems.
We should avoid arguments. If we have done something wrong, then we should confess our error. We should say that we are sorry. If someone else makes a mistake, we should forgive that person. We should care about other people. So we should try not to upset them.
Our words make us what we are.
Bad food makes a man weak. Bad words will also make a man weak. Bad words are, for example, lies or evil plans.
Good food makes a man strong. Good words will also make him strong. Good words are, for example, true words or words that encourage. Good words bring many benefits. This is why good words are like the harvest.
When a judge makes his judgement, he can punish a man with death. When a thief makes an evil plan, his words can plot a man’s death.
Our words also bring results. We can tell people how to become Christians. We can advise people wisely. We can help people with our words. Words are powerful.
See Proverbs 31:10-21. When a man marries a woman, this is good. See Genesis 2:20-24. God has been good to them, so they love each other. They should look after each other. They should encourage and help each other. They must try to be a good husband and a good wife. God has been kind to them, so they should try to be kind to each other.
This is terrible. The rich man is greedy. He does not think that God cares about the poor man. The rich man does not use his wealth to help the poor man. Instead, the rich man wastes his money on luxury. God will punish him.
The friends ought to help the first man. But when he needs help, they all avoid him. This often happens. Many friends are not loyal. When troubles come, such friends leave.
The second man has only one friend. But this friend is a different type of friend. There is real love in this friendship. When troubles come, this friend is like a brother. This friend really cares. Jesus is like this friend. He cares for us, even if nobody else cares. He even died for us, so that God would forgive us. Jesus said, ‘Nobody loves more than the man who dies for his friends. You are my friends, if you obey me.’ (John 15:13-14)
In these verses, Solomon discusses things that are wrong. Many wrong things happen in this world.
A fool hates wisdom, so his words are lies. He tries to give a false impression. He should not speak these evil words. He should be honest. It would be better if this man were poor, but honest.
Solomon describes a man who is in a hurry. But the man acts without sufficient knowledge. He will cause troubles and problems. All his actions will be wrong actions. All his decisions will be wrong decisions.
He is like a runner who is going down the wrong road. Such a runner will not arrive at the right place. And a man without sufficient knowledge will not make the right decisions.
We too will make many mistakes, if we do not learn knowledge and wisdom.
A foolish man hates wisdom and he hates God. This man causes his own problems. But he is not sorry about his evil actions. Instead, he blames God for his troubles. Now the man hates God even more.
Many people prefer wealthy friends, and dislike poor people. Such behaviour is wrong. See James 2:1-4, Proverbs 18:24, and Luke 14:12-14.
If a man lies, then he deserves punishment.
The people praise the ruler, because they want his help.
These people are not praising the ruler because he is a good ruler. In fact, these people may think that he is a bad ruler. They are praising the ruler, but only because they want him to support them. This is called ‘flattery’.
The people praise the ruler, but their words are not honest. The ruler might think that he has many friends. He is wrong. These people only want his money. If the ruler becomes poor, then he will have no friends. See Proverbs 18:24.
God loves poor people (Luke 4:18). As Christians, we must be the friends of poor people. Greedy people will not help poor people. But Christians can show poor people that God loves poor people too.
Wisdom is a good thing. If you are wise, then you will benefit from your wisdom. Wisdom improves your whole life. Learn to be wise! Wisdom is better than wealth or fame. Nothing is better than wisdom, because wisdom teaches us to respect God.
This is similar to verse 5. Here, at verse 9, it contrasts with verse 8. We have a choice. The wise man loves wisdom, so he succeeds. The foolish man lies, so he will die. His death is the punishment for his evil words.
In the first line, the fool is someone who hates wisdom. He should suffer for his evil actions, but this fool does not suffer. Instead, he lives in luxury. Solomon thinks that this is terrible.
In the second line, a prince rules a country. However, the prince is unhappy, because he has a secret. The prince is afraid of his slave. The slave controls the prince. Solomon says that this is even worse.
Solomon was a king. Perhaps he knew this prince and his slave. We do not know who they were. But Solomon seems to write about them again in Ecclesiastes 6:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 10:5-7.
A wise man forgives the mistakes of other people. This shows that the wise man is a great man. See Matthew 6:14-15.
When a king is angry, he is dangerous, like a lion. Stay away from him!
But a king can be calm and quiet. Then it is good to be with him. This is like dew (water) on the grass, when it is cool in the early morning.
This man has a foolish son, and a wife who argues. He has many troubles.
His son is evil and hates wisdom. The man suffers because his son is evil.
The wife who argues always upsets her husband. Water is precious. If there is a leak, then this wastes the precious water. The wife who argues is like a leak of water. She wastes her husband’s strength. He is weak, because of the arguments.
This man has a wise wife and careful parents.
His parents have saved money to provide for him. His wife is the gift of God.
This man has a good life, because of his wise wife and wise parents. Parents can provide houses and wealth. But only God can give a wise wife to the man.
This man is too lazy. He is still asleep. He must awake and work. Otherwise, he will be hungry. See Proverbs 6:6-11.
This verse briefly explains Deuteronomy 28. If we obey God’s law, then God will help us. If we do not obey, then we shall suffer.
However, everyone does evil things. (See Romans 3:23.) So we must ask God to forgive us (Acts 17:30-31). God forgives us, because Jesus suffered our punishment (Acts 3:18).
God cares about poor people. He wants us to help them. See Matthew 25:31-46.
Perhaps you have an evil son. As he becomes older, his behaviour may become worse. Perhaps he will die when a judge punishes him. But we know that God will punish that son.
Perhaps you can still rescue your son. Perhaps if you punish him, he will change his behaviour. Perhaps your son will pray to God. Perhaps your son will ask God to forgive him.
Do not be afraid to punish your son! You may save him from a much worse punishment.
Discipline is not just for young people. Adults should also learn to have discipline. In other words, they should teach themselves to behave well. But some people easily become angry. You might work hard to rescue such a man from his punishment. But if he becomes angry again, then you must rescue him again.
Try to teach this person not to be angry. He should learn to be patient. An angry person has many troubles, because of his anger.
Everyone needs to learn to be wise. Nobody is born wise.
You, too, can learn to be wise. You must listen to your lessons. Your lessons are the advice that you receive. You must obey the instructions. This requires effort. It takes time. But, in the end, you will be wise.
We make our plans. But we cannot control even our own lives. See James 4:13-15. If we trust God, then God will guide us. See my notes on Proverbs 16:1.
See Acts 16:6-10. Paul had many plans, but these were not God’s plans. Paul needed to pray, so that he would know God’s plans.
A loyal friend is the best type of friend. Such a friend is always sincere. He does not try to gain by lies, because he is loyal. He does not even care if he becomes poor because of his friendship.
The second line is similar to Proverbs 19:1.
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 uses humour here. This is a very lazy man. He 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.
The man who insults other people might not learn from his punishment. In English, we say that this man has a ‘closed mind’. This means that he refuses to learn from anyone else. But other people can learn when they see this man’s punishment.
Simple people do wrong things, because they have not learned to be wise. Simple people will learn when the evil man receives his punishment. They will see the punishment. So they will realise that the man is evil. They will learn that the man’s actions were wrong. So they themselves will begin to learn wisdom. In English, we say that simple people have an ‘empty mind’. This means that they have learned little yet. But they might learn if they get a shock.
If a wise man does something wrong, then you should correct him. Because he is wise, he will learn from the correction. He will become even wiser. In English, we say that such a man has an ‘open mind’. That is, he wants to learn, even if the truth is painful.
This son does not just do one evil thing. He does many evil things. His parents cannot control him. They must avoid him. They can only pray to God for their son. The son will suffer for his own evil actions.
This is the only verse in Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 where Solomon speaks to his own son. These chapters form a very long lesson. Perhaps Solomon’s son is tired. Perhaps the son wants to do something else. But he must not walk away. He needs to listen to this lesson. He needs to learn this knowledge. He must be patient and learn more.
The first line is like James 2:10. If a witness lies, then the judge might make the wrong decision. Because of this, the law will be unfair. A guilty man might go free. An innocent man might suffer punishment. Lies are always evil, but especially in court.
The second line is like Proverbs 4:17. This line means that the evil man loves his evil behaviour. An evil man always wants to do more evil things.
The man who lies, in verse 28, insults the law itself. He deserves his punishment.
Fools hate wisdom, and love to do evil things. Like the man that lies, fools also deserve severe punishments.
The punishments are ready. Sometimes evil people avoid punishment in this world. But they cannot escape from God. So they must change their lives before it is too late. They must ask God to forgive them. They must do this without delay - because the punishments are ready.
A drunk might say that alcohol is like a friend to him. Solomon does not agree. A friend would not insult you. But wine and beer do this. Alcohol insults your mind and confuses your thoughts. It can hurt your body and put you in danger. It causes divorces and upsets families. A wise person should not allow wine and beer to tempt him.
This verse is similar to Proverbs 19:12. Do not make a king angry! He might order your death.
See also the prayer in Acts 4:24-20. Sometimes people (and even kings) will oppose us, because we are Christians.
A wise man tries not to argue. He is polite - see Acts 26:2-3. Sometimes he says nothing, to avoid an argument - see Mark 14:61. But sometimes he must speak, although other people will be angry (Mark 14:62-65). His wisdom will guide him to know what to say.
A fool is evil and he hates wisdom. He loves arguments, because he loves his evil behaviour.
Solomon uses humour here. The farmer in verse 4 was too lazy to plough his land. When the harvest is due, he gets a bad surprise. There is no food.
Even a stupid farmer knows that he must plough the ground. This farmer was lazy, so he will be hungry.
If we work hard, then we shall have enough food. Work is good. We should not be lazy.
Sometimes it is difficult to help a friend. Often a friend does not want to talk. He does not want to explain his problems. A wise person will speak gently to his friend. The wise person will encourage his friend to explain the problem.
The wise man must be slow and patient. He acts like a man who takes water from a deep well. After a long time, he will succeed. Then the wise man will understand his friend’s problem. So the wise man can help his friend.
People often say that they are loyal to their friends. Troubles will test whether their words were true. Anyone can say such words. But when problems come, many people do not try to help their friends.
In verses 6 and 9, Solomon tries to find an honest man. Many people seem honest. They say the right words. But when Solomon inquires further, these people disappoint Solomon. Everybody does wrong things. See Psalm 53:3, Isaiah 53:6, and Romans 3:23.
Jesus was always honest and he always spoke the truth. John lived with Jesus for 3 years (1 John 1:1-3). John tells us that Jesus did nothing evil (1 John 3:5). This is why Jesus could take the punishment for our evil actions. Jesus did this when he died for us (1 Peter 3:18). This is how God forgives our evil actions.
The children benefit if their father is honest. If we are honest and good, then God will help our children.
But only Jesus was really honest. Jesus is God (Colossians 2:9, John 10:30). If we trust God, then we are God’s children (Isaiah 53:10). So God is kind to us (1 John 3:1).
In Solomon’s time, the king was also a judge. God is also a king and judge (Revelation 19:16; 20:11-12). God gives authority to human judges (John 19:10-11). So we must respect them. A human judge is God’s servant (Romans 13:1-5).
A human judge does not allow lies in his court. He does not allow any evil behaviour in his court. In the same way, God punishes all our evil actions (Revelation 20:13-15). Nobody can lie to God. He knows everything (1 John 3:20).
See verse 6. We cannot say this (1 John 1:8). Only Jesus can truly say this. However, if we trust in God, then God forgives our evil actions. We are God’s children. We do not continue to do evil things (1 John 3:9). But if we do evil things, then we should tell the truth to God. We should confess our evil action to God. We should tell him about our errors (1 John 1:9). Then God will forgive us, because of Jesus (1 John 2:1).
Shops use scales and measurements. If these are false, then the shopkeeper is cheating the customer. Solomon says that the shopkeeper has lied. God hates all lies.
A good child behaves well. A bad child behaves badly. We test children by their actions.
God tests everybody by their actions. We all must do the things that please God. (Matthew 7:20)
God made our eyes and ears. Therefore, he knows how to see and to hear. God sees our actions. God hears our words. He knows the things that we have done. He is a fair judge. We cannot lie to God.
This is similar to Proverbs 19:15. Sleep is good, but it is not good to be lazy. The lazy man becomes poor, because he refuses to work. The worker earns his wages, so that he has plenty of food.
This buyer bargains for a cheap price. Perhaps he even cheats the seller. The buyer says that the seller is selling something bad. But later, he tells the opposite to his friends. He has bought something good at a cheap price.
People do not always mean the things that they say. And many people try to make a profit unfairly. We should be honest (Matthew 5:37).
Gold and precious stones seem valuable. They are beautiful and expensive. But many people own them. And these things are not very useful.
Knowledge is useful. Knowledge is more valuable than gold or precious stones. Knowledge is also rare. See Matthew 7:14.
You cannot trust this man’s promise. He has promised on behalf of a foreigner. Perhaps the man is hiding an evil secret. Therefore, you must keep his coat, until he pays. See also Exodus 22:26-27.
A man eats a meal. His food tastes good and sweet. He enjoys the meal.
But suddenly, something is wrong. The meal tastes awful. He breaks his teeth. His mouth is full of stones!
Evil actions are like this. Evil behaviour may tempt us and attract us. We might feel happy when we do an evil action. But soon it will feel terrible. In the end, we feel shame.
The man in verse 17 stole his food. Or perhaps he cheated someone else to get the meal. In the end, he receives his punishment.
Be careful when you make an important decision!
When a king goes to war, people will die. He must not decide to go to war while he is angry. He must think carefully. He must obtain good advice, from honest advisers. See Luke 14:31-33.
You cannot trust this man. He gossips, so he will tell your secrets to everyone.
We should not gossip. See James 4:11-12.
We must respect our parents. God orders us to do this. See Deuteronomy 5:16, and Matthew 15:4-6.
The second line of verse 20 means that this man deserves death. A man who insults his parents deserves a terrible punishment (Exodus 21:17).
There are many ways to get money quickly. You might steal money. You might cheat other people. You might make an evil plan. These methods are all evil. If you do these things, then you will suffer punishments and troubles.
You should earn money from your work. This is slower than if you steal. But God will be pleased with you because you are honest.
Sometimes we want to punish people who hurt us. This is not a good attitude. We should forgive people (Romans 12:17-21). We should even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). But God will punish evil people, if they do not ask God to forgive them. (See Deuteronomy 32:35.)
This is similar to verse 10. Many people think that small lies do not matter. Solomon does not agree with this idea. Solomon repeats the lesson, because it is important. God hates all lies.
We try to understand our own lives. We try to understand our experiences. Often we do not know why things happen. But God knows. He directs our lives. And he guides us. He is like a farmer who looks after his sheep (Psalm 23; John 10:1-11).
Judges 11:30-40 explains this. Jephthah promised to kill and to give to God, whatever greeted him first. He expected an animal to greet him. However, his daughter greeted him.
We should be careful about gifts and promises. It is better not to carry out a promise, than to do something evil. But you should not make a promise that you cannot carry out. See also Matthew 5:33-37.
A farmer drives a wheel over the wheat, to separate the grain from the straw. Then he scatters the grain, so that the wind blows away the straw.
A king attacks evil men. The king must protect his country, so his army fights against the evil men. This is like the farmer, who drives a wheel over the wheat to separate the straw from the grain. (Compare this verse with Amos 1:3.)
If the king does not kill the evil men, then he scatters them. If many evil men work together, then they are strong and dangerous. After the king scatters them, they are alone and weak.
God also does this. He punishes evil people and he scatters them (Psalm 2). God does this, so that God’s people are safe.
God even knows our thoughts. He knows whether our plans are good or evil. Other people might think that we are good and honest. But God knows the truth.
Some rulers think that they should be cruel. Solomon’s own son, Rehoboam, thought this (1 Kings 12:13-14). He was wrong. Cruelty does not make a king safe. If a ruler is cruel, then the people hate him. They want a revolution and a new government.
Love protects a king. A ruler should love the people. He should look after them and protect them. Then the people will love him. See 1 John 3:7-12.
We respect a youth’s strength. We call young people ‘champions’ and ‘heroes’ when they win in sports.
We must also respect old people. Their grey hair reminds us about their long lives. Often old people have great wisdom. They are too old to be champions in sport. But they can still be our champions and heroes, because of their wisdom.
Nobody likes pain. But a wound often heals, whilst it hurts. The body removes the bad part of the wound, and this hurts.
In Solomon’s country, judges might punish a guilty man with the whip. The second line means, ‘Punishment removes a man’s evil behaviour.’ No punishment is pleasant. But the intention is to teach good behaviour.
If we smack a child, then the child learns to behave. When a judge punishes a thief, the thief should learn not to steal.
God sometimes punishes Christians. He does this because he loves us. He wants us to learn how to be holy. See Hebrews 12:5-11.
This verse also reminds us about Jesus. Before Jesus died, the soldiers whipped his back. They made him suffer greatly, although he had done nothing wrong. Then they placed nails through his hands and feet. The nails fixed him to the wooden cross where he died.
Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve for our evil deeds. He suffered because God loves us. God forgives us because Jesus suffered. We need simply to confess our evil deeds and to trust God. Because Jesus suffered our punishment, God removes our evil behaviour. And because Jesus suffered our punishment, we can be friends of God. See 1 Peter 2:24 and Isaiah 53:5.
God directs both good and evil kings.
God directed King Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem. This was a punishment because the people in Jerusalem were very evil (2 Chronicles 36:15-17; Daniel 1:2).
Later, God gave a dream to Nebuchadnezzar. This dream was about the future (Daniel 2:28). Later, when Nebuchadnezzar became proud, God made him humble (Daniel 4:28-34). Afterwards, Nebuchadnezzar wrote, ‘God is always king. He always rules in heaven.’ (Daniel 4:34).
Nebuchadnezzar was an evil king who had served false gods (Daniel 3:5-6). But in the end, he praised the real God (Daniel 4:37).
We might think that we are always right. But God knows our real intentions.
Two men, called Cain and Abel, gave gifts to God. God did not accept Cain’s gift, so Cain was angry. God warned Cain, ‘Do the things that are right! Then I (God) will accept you. But if you do wrong things, then your evil attitudes will control you.’
Cain did not obey God’s advice. Instead, Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:3-8).
See also Psalm 51:16-17.
Evil people are proud. They think that they are more important than other people. And evil people think that they do not need God.
Evil people are proud when they look at other people. When they see other people, they hate those people.
The desires and actions of evil people are all wicked.
A businessman must think hard when he makes his plans. Then his business will succeed. He must think carefully, before he makes each decision.
This is true about all our plans. We should not make plans in a hurry. We must use intelligence, and make our plans carefully. If we follow our emotions, then our plans will fail.
This person cheats and steals to get money. He refuses to work to earn his money. God will punish him, even if judges do not punish him. Suddenly he will lose all his money. See Luke 12:20-21.
Many evil people love to be cruel. They use cruelty to get money. They use cruelty to control other people.
But evil people will also suffer in the end. Evil people will receive a severe punishment.
Life is like a journey. A guilty person is like a traveller who chooses the wrong path. A guilty person’s actions may cause his death. His actions may take him to hell. So he needs to confess his evil deeds to God.
But an innocent person is like a traveller who chooses the right path. This innocent person has chosen to live his life in God’s way. And God will guide him. See Psalm 1.
The corner of a roof is not a comfortable place to live. But it is better than a big house, if the man’s wife argues. This man escapes to his roof.
We should not argue. We should aim to be content. See Philippians 4:11.
This man is wicked. He does not want to do the right things. He wants to do evil things. This is why he is unfriendly. He hates his neighbour. A wicked person does not want to help his neighbour or anyone else.
The man who insults might not learn from his punishment. But other people can learn. Simple people have not learned to be wise. So simple people do evil things. But the simple people will see the punishment of the man who insults. So the simple people will be able to learn from that man’s error.
A wise man does not need a punishment. He will learn his lessons. Teach him, and he will become even wiser.
God sees evil people. He watches their evil actions. He knows their evil thoughts. God will punish them.
God cares about poor people. We also should care about them, and try to help them. If we do this, then God will help us. When we have problems, we can cry out to God. God will hear our prayers. See Psalm 40:1.
Solomon does not want us to give bribes (secret gifts). He teaches that bribes are evil. See Proverbs 15:27.
A man might seem to be very angry. Perhaps the man really is angry. Or perhaps he just wants money. Perhaps he is like the buyer in Proverbs 20:14. So this angry man is bargaining for more money.
If someone goes to court, then he might be very angry. Or he might pretend to be angry, so that he can win more money.
We want judges to be fair. We want them to make the right decisions. We want them to refuse bribes (secret gifts).
An evil person does not think this. A fair judge will punish evil people as they deserve. A good judge will send evil people to prison. A good judge will not allow them to cheat other people. He will refuse bribes (secret gifts). He will oppose the plans of evil people.
Life is like a journey. If we follow God, then he will guide us. We shall not be like travellers who wander on the wrong path. If we do not obey God, then we are in danger. This is like a man who wanders on to a dangerous road.
This person wastes his money. He buys expensive wine and oil. He does not save his money. He spends it on every luxury.
This person will drink the wine. He will use the oil. Soon nothing remains. He has spent all his money, so he is poor.
We should be careful with our money. Then we shall not waste our money but we shall spend it wisely. Our money can provide for us, and for our families. It can help poor people. It can even help with God’s work.
This is God’s principle. It is not a human principle. On this earth, good people sometimes suffer, even when wicked people do not suffer (Psalm 22:7-8). Sometimes innocent people suffer (Luke 13:1-5).
However, in the end God will punish evil people. Sometimes evil people suffer instead of good people, even on this earth. In Esther chapters 5-7, an evil man (Haman) suffered the punishment that Haman plotted against a good man (Mordecai). Another example is Exodus 12:35-36.
But in the end, God will punish all evil people (Luke 13:5). So we must refuse to do evil deeds. And we must trust in God. If we do this, God will forgive us.
This is similar to verse 9. However, this man lives in the desert. The desert is a terrible place to live. But it is better to live there than to listen to constant arguments.
This reminds us of verse 17. The foolish man wastes everything. The wise man stores the best things.
The wise man works hard so that, in winter, he will have plenty of food. This shows to us the wise man’s character. A wise man does not only store food. A wise man also stores wisdom and knowledge in his mind.
We should not desire money, or fame, or foolish things. Instead, we should desire love and goodness. Love and goodness come from God. ‘God is love.’ (1 John 4:16)
God gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11). God wants to give love and goodness to us. And he will also give other gifts to us, for example, long life and honour.
A wise man is not afraid of strong men. He is wise, so he serves God. Through his wisdom, he can even destroy a strong castle. Wisdom is better than strength.
Solomon tells a similar story in Ecclesiastes 9:13-16. In that passage, the wise man defends his city, when a strong man attacks.
Both passages remind us about Jesus. He is like the wise man. The devil is like the strong man. Jesus describes the devil as a ‘strong man’ in Mark 3:26-27. When Jesus died for us, he defeated the devil (Hebrews 2:14). God’s wisdom defeated the power of the devil (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Our words can be dangerous. We might gossip or tell lies. We might insult other people. We might even make evil plans.
We do not want to suffer a punishment for our evil words. We should ask God to forgive us. And we should be careful with our words. See James 3:1-12.
This verse explains how to identify a proud person.
A proud man does not respect anyone else. He only thinks about himself.
God wants us to be humble. See James 4:10.
These two verses belong together. They compare a lazy man with a good man.
This lazy man is greedy. He wants food. He needs money. But he refuses to work. So he tries to persuade other people to give these things to him. He will fail. He will die because he cannot earn anything.
This good man is generous. He is not greedy. He helps other people. He might even help the lazy man, although the lazy man does not deserve any help.
The good man works, so he earns wages. His is glad to receive his wages, so that he can give more money. He has desires, but his desires are not like the lazy man’s desires. The good man does not want luxuries. He desires to help other people. He wants to give.
If a wicked man gives a gift to God, that man is still wicked. He does not change his behaviour. He does not confess his evil deeds. He does not ask God to forgive him. This is more important than any gift. See Psalm 40:6-8 and Psalm 51:16-17.
This man is wicked and his reasons are wicked. Perhaps he wants other people to respect him. (Compare Matthew 6:2). Perhaps he thinks that he can deceive (lie to) God. Perhaps he thinks that God is like a man. A man might accept the wicked man’s gift (Proverbs 21:14). God will not accept it. God knows the wicked man’s heart. God knows the true reasons for his gift.
God punishes people who lie. Lies are evil (Deuteronomy 5:20, Mark 10:19). But a good listener will say helpful things. Such a person learns from what he hears. So his words will not suggest a wicked scheme.
The second line might mean, ‘The words of a man who does not lie will always be true.’ Or, ‘The man who listens to lies will also die.’ Or, ‘The man who hears a lie will tell everyone.’ Or, ‘People do not forget an honest man.’
Perhaps the second line means many different things. Perhaps Solomon intended this. Each of these possible meanings teaches a true lesson.
When people see this wicked man, he seems bold. Really, he is not bold, but he is stupid. An honest man would think about his actions. An honest man would be much more careful.
Some people think that selfish ambitions are wise (James 3:14-15). This is not really wisdom, and it cannot defeat God.
Some people think that they are clever. They think that there is no God. The Bible calls them ‘fools’ (Psalm 14:1). Their intelligence cannot defeat God. Their knowledge cannot defeat God.
The devil plots against us. He wants to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). But his plans cannot defeat God. In the end, God will destroy the devil (Revelation 20:10).
Evil people might think that they are strong. They might insult God. They might even think that they are stronger than God. But God is in heaven. When he hears this, he laughs at them. Their insults cannot bother God. (Psalm 2:1-4)
For Solomon, his horses were like today’s tanks. (Tanks are strong, powerful, army vehicles.) A horse was strong and fast in a battle. It could pull a chariot (vehicle) or carry a soldier. The enemy was afraid of the horses.
Horses need food, water and exercise. Soldiers trained the horses for the battle. But the strength of the horses could not win the battle. A large, powerful army does not always win the war, even today. God decides who wins. See 1 Samuel 14:6-15, Joshua 5:13-6:25 and 1 Samuel 17.
Wisdom is more valuable than wealth (Proverbs 8:10). Other people should be able to trust us. Christians should be responsible people, who are always careful and sensible.
God made everybody. So we are all responsible to him.
God made rich people. He gave wealth to them, so that they could help poor people (Proverbs 14:31).
God also made poor people. He cares about them (Isaiah 61:1). He will punish rich people who refuse to help poor people (Proverbs 17:5).
A simple person has not learned to be wise. He does not watch for dangers. He does not go to a safe place. (See Psalm 46:1-2.) He suffers, because he is not wise.
God is greater than we are. Therefore, we must be humble. The wise person respects God (Proverbs 1:7). God protects him and helps him.
Some wise people are not wealthy (Proverbs 19:1). But their wisdom is more valuable than money (Proverbs 8:10-11). Really, they are wealthy, because God will give great wealth to them in heaven. (See Revelation 21:3-4, Revelation 21:18-21 and Isaiah 55:2. See also Mark 10:29-20.)
Similarly, other people might not give honour to wise people (Matthew 5:11-12). But God gives honour to them (John 12:26).
In this book, Solomon warns us about many dangers. Wicked people suffer from all these dangers, because they refuse to learn wisdom (Proverbs 4:19). They even suffer from their own evil actions. They are like a stupid hunter, who falls into his own trap (Proverbs 5:22-23).
But we can be safe from these dangers. If we are wise, then we shall not be wicked. We shall obey Solomon’s advice. We shall learn about dangers and avoid them. (Proverbs 5:8).
This verse is a lesson for teachers to learn. It is also good advice for parents.
We should teach even the youngest children. We should teach them about wisdom. We should teach them to obey God’s commands. And we should encourage them to trust in Jesus.
Science, languages and maths are good subjects. Art and music can teach us many skills. But these things are not the same as wisdom. The first lesson about wisdom is that we must respect God.
When our children grow older, they will remember our lessons. Lessons about God will always be valuable to our children. God’s wisdom can guide our entire lives. This wisdom can protect us from danger. Also, wisdom teaches us to trust in God. So God’s wisdom will teach us the way to heaven.
Solomon collected 3000 wise lessons (proverbs) (1 Kings 4:32). This section contains over 400 proverbs (Proverbs 10-22). Here, Solomon is almost at the end of his list. As he finishes his work, he repeats the main principles.
Wealthy people are powerful, because of their money. They should use their power wisely. They should be generous. They should not cause poor people to suffer. A wealthy man should care about his servants.
It is not good to owe a debt (Proverbs 6:1). We should work hard and save money. We should spend our money wisely. We should not waste it on luxuries. Then we may perhaps avoid the need for a loan.
Evil actions are like seeds. If a man sows seeds, then he will receive a harvest. If a man does evil things, then he will suffer trouble. Other people might suffer from his evil actions. But the man himself will also suffer. God knows that the man is evil. God will punish him (Hosea 8:7).
Sometimes evil people are strong and powerful. An evil king might rule a country with his large army. We might think that nobody could defeat him. But God is more powerful than any king or ruler (Ephesians 1:20-21). In God’s time, the rule of evil people over this world will end. But God’s words will not end. God’s power will not end. God will always be the only God. (Mark 13:31; Hebrews 12:26-28)
God wants us to be generous. He wants us to share the wealth that he has given to us (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). God cares about poor people. If we help other people, then we are doing God’s work (Luke 6:38). So, God will reward us (Mark 10:29-30).
People who cause trouble by their evil words do not deserve a welcome. Such people may lie or gossip. Or they may insult other people. We should send away these evil people (Matthew 18:17). The troubles will end when they leave. And perhaps our actions will warn them that their behaviour was evil (1 Timothy 1:20).
Because Solomon was a king, his decisions affected many people. His friends needed to advise him and to inform him. He needed to choose the right friends.
Solomon needed honest friends who would speak the truth. He needed friends who spoke kind words. He did not want angry friends or dangerous friends. He did not want friends who told lies. It did not matter whether his friends were rich or poor. He needed wise friends.
Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, had the wrong friends. They were rich, and they loved luxuries. They were not kind. They were cruel. They gave bad advice. Because of their bad advice, there was a revolution. Rehoboam lost most of his country (1 Kings 12:10-16).
Everybody needs good friends. We need friends to encourage and to advise us. We want friends who will pray for us. We need to meet with other Christians. We should go to a church that believes the Bible. See Hebrews 10:25.
People may fail, but God’s word will never fail. God preserves his truth. Nobody can successfully oppose God. God will not allow anyone to destroy the truth.
‘Knowledge’ here means knowledge about God, and about what he requires.
In Jeremiah 36:27-28, an evil king tried to destroy the words that God gave to the prophet (holy man) Jeremiah. The king threw Jeremiah’s book into the fire. The book burned, but God protected the knowledge about his truth. After the book burned, God told Jeremiah to write the book again. So the king’s plan to destroy the prophet’s words failed.
When Solomon writes about the lazy man, he usually uses humour. This lazy man has an excuse for everything. He cannot even leave his house.
The lazy man tells us that there is a lion outside. We look, but we cannot see any lion. He tells us that a murderer is outside. We cannot see any murderer, either.
The truth is that the man just wants an excuse to be lazy.
God needs people to work for him (Matthew 9:37-38). God wants us to teach his good news. God wants people to hear about the Bible. God wants to forgive people. We must work for God. We must not be lazy.
Sometimes there will be dangers. Sometimes these dangers are real (Matthew 10:34-38). We must be wise and careful. (Matthew 10:16-17). But if we suffer, God will reward us (Matthew 10:39). So we should not be afraid (Matthew 10:26). Read Matthew 10.
A deep well is very dangerous. If you fall in, then you cannot easily climb out. Perhaps nobody will hear your cries. Perhaps nobody can rescue you. Perhaps you will die.
Evil deeds are dangerous. If evil things tempt you, these things are dangerous. These things can cause many troubles.
Perhaps sex tempts you. Or perhaps money tempts you. Or, other things might tempt you. You should refuse. Then God will protect you (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9).
God is angry with evil people (Deuteronomy 1:26, 34). If a person does evil things, then he will suffer many troubles. But, if he asks God to forgive him, then God will forgive (Psalm 51:17).
By ‘foolish’, Solomon means ‘evil’. We all do evil things (Romans 7:19). This is because men and women refused to obey God (Genesis 3). Even a child does wrong things.
But the child can learn to do the right things. And we can all learn to obey God. First, we must ask God to forgive us. We must trust in God. Then God will teach his wisdom to us.
We should teach our children. We should explain how they should behave. We should encourage them to respect God. When they can understand this, they should ask God to forgive their evil behaviour. Our children are not Christians merely because we believe. They themselves must trust in God.
Sometimes we must punish our children. We do not punish them because we are angry. We punish them because we love them. A smack does not always need to hurt. Often a smack should be gentle. It is like a lesson. It teaches the child to behave more wisely.
Solomon finishes this section of his book, with a puzzle.
Solomon describes two men. Each man has a plan. Each man thinks that his plan will make him wealthy. However, both plans will fail. Both men will become poor. These men become poor, because their plans are not wise. Both plans are evil plans. So God opposes these plans. And God punishes the men.
The first man wanted to be wealthy. So he was cruel to poor people. Perhaps he was an employer. He decided to pay poor wages for hard work. Or perhaps he was a landlord. The rent was expensive and the houses were dangerous. Or perhaps he was just a thief. He stole money from the poor people. All these plans are evil.
The second man did not think about poor people. He wanted to get money from wealthy people. Perhaps his gifts were bribes (secret gifts). He wanted government officials to like him. Then they would help him to make a profit. He thought that this would make him rich. Or perhaps he gave gifts to impress other people. He wanted people to think that he was wealthy or important. In the end, he wasted all his money.
People make many plans to become wealthy. But, in the end, wealth does not matter. When we die, we shall lose all our money (Ecclesiastes 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:7). But when we die, we do not lose wisdom. Wisdom teaches us to respect God (Proverbs 1:7).
We must not trust in money. We must trust in God.
The last major section of the Book of Proverbs begins here. The section includes several different parts. There are:
· short proverbs (wise words);
· longer lessons;
· and a poem.
Wise lessons are valuable. And they are important. We need to study these lessons. We should learn them. These lessons teach us how we should live. And they will teach us how to answer other people’s questions.
There are 30 wise lessons in Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22. The number ‘30’ was important to Solomon. It meant that there were many lessons. And they were great lessons. Other ancient books from different nations also contain 30 wise lessons. The people from these nations believed that their own books contained great lessons too. But the Bible is a special book. God provided the Bible to teach us how we should live. He helped the authors of the Bible to write the right things. And God guides us by the Bible today.
Verses 22 - 23
God looks after poor people. God does not think that poor people are less important than rich people. God considers that a widow’s coin is more valuable than a rich man’s large gift. (Mark 12:41-44).
Other people might not protect poor people. But God will protect poor people. He made them, and they belong to him. Jesus said, ‘I tell good news to the poor people.’ (Matthew 11:5).
We too must care about poor people. The first Christians were not wealthy. (1 Corinthians 1:26). But they shared their money with poor people (Romans 12:13). And we too should help poor people.
Verses 24 - 25
Anger causes many problems. Anger can cause fights and arguments. It can even cause wars. Avoid the company of people who have a bad temper. You will get into trouble.
Verses 26 - 27
We should be careful with money. Money is God’s gift, so we should use our money wisely. We should not risk our money on foolish schemes. We should not waste it on a bet. And we should not help jealous people who demand our money.
Verse 26 seems to describe a common problem at Solomon’s time. See Proverbs 6:1-5; Proverbs 11:15 and Proverbs 17:18. Jesus also mentioned that we should be careful to calculate the cost of our plans (Luke 14:28-30).
We should help poor people with our money. But we should choose carefully whom we help. And we should decide carefully how to help them. So we need to ask God to guide us.
In verse 27, the man is lying in bed because he is lazy. We need to work in order to look after money. We must not be lazy about our money. And we must not be lazy about other gifts that God provides. Jesus told a story about this subject - Luke 19:11-27.
Perhaps your boundary is ancient. Perhaps your family agreed the boundary with your neighbour’s family, many years ago. But perhaps now, you need more land. And your neighbour will not sell his land. You could just move your fence. Your neighbour might not even realise that the boundary has moved. And you will have the land that you desire.
But before you act, think first! There was an ancient agreement. Perhaps, before the agreement, there were many arguments. Perhaps your family even fought your neighbour’s family. If you do not obey the agreement, then these troubles might start again.
An agreement is like a promise. Everyone should respect an agreement. And you should respect your neighbour’s property. If a neighbour does not want to sell his land, then you cannot buy it. And you are a thief if you take his land without an agreement. See 1 Kings 21.
In ancient Israel, the ‘land’ had a special meaning. God owned the land (Leviticus 25:23). Proverbs 22:28 repeats God’s command in Deuteronomy 19:14. So these ancient boundaries were not merely agreements between neighbours, like our boundaries today. The ancient boundaries in Israel were an agreement between the people and God. And anyone who moved a boundary was refusing to obey God’s law.
King Solomon built many great buildings. His workmen built palaces. And they built the magnificent Temple (house of God) in Jerusalem. Solomon respected a skilled workman. He knew that skills are important. He knew that a skilled workman deserves honour. As the king, Solomon selected the best workmen to work for him.
We should learn skills. And we should learn them well. We should try to be experts at our work. When we work well, we honour God with our work. ‘In every kind of work, work hard! You are working for God. You are not really working for men. And you will receive God’s reward, because you are serving Christ.’ (Colossians 3:23-24). Paul wrote this to a group of Christians who were slaves (see Colossians 3:22).
A ruler does not invite you so that you can taste his fine food. He invites you because he wants to discuss serious matters with you. You should not think much about his food or his wine. But you must think about your words. Your advice must be good. You need to speak wise words.
Solomon uses humour in verse 2. Normally you place your knife near your plate. But Solomon jokes that your knife should be near your neck. In your imagination, hold your knife there to warn you. Then you will remember that your life is short. You will remember not to be greedy. And you will remember to advise the ruler wisely.
Solomon continues his advice in verse 3. Be careful if an important person invites you to a special meal. He could want you to do something for him.
Nehemiah 2 explains this lesson. Nehemiah was the king’s servant. The king expected Nehemiah to be happy in the royal service. But Nehemiah had received sad news. So Nehemiah prayed to God. And he spoke carefully to the king. God answered Nehemiah’s prayer. And the king gave to Nehemiah the things that Nehemiah requested.
The Book of Proverbs encourages us to work hard. But some people work too hard, because they want to become wealthy. These people suffer because they use all their energy in their work. Their families suffer too. We ought to be sensible.
We can lose our money quickly. When we die, we cannot take our money with us (Luke 12:16-21; 1 Timothy 6:7). Many things matter more than money. Love is more important than money. Wisdom is more important than money. And God is more important than money or anything else.
Some people pretend to be our friends. But they do not care about us. They might say the right words. They might invite us to their homes. But they do not want to share their possessions with us. Instead, they want to keep their things for themselves. This is not a good attitude. We should not copy it.
The first Christians were very generous. They shared their possessions (Acts 4:32-37). They did this because they loved each other. We might not copy their actions today. But we should still be generous. We should still invite people to our homes. And we should be glad to share our food with our guests (Hebrews 13:2).
Solomon uses the word ‘fool’ to describe an evil person. This person hates God. So this person hates wisdom. This person does not want wise advice, because that advice would tell him to stop his evil behaviour. He will not obey your wise words. See Matthew 7:6.
As in Proverbs 22:28, Solomon reminds us that the boundaries in Israel mattered to God in a special way. But verses 10-11 are also about a child that has no father. Perhaps the child’s father died. Now the child has nobody who will protect the child’s property. Perhaps nobody cares about that child.
But God is like a father to that child. God will protect the child. God will not allow you to steal from that child. God defends the child who has no parents. See Psalm 10:14. God cares for children.
Jesus said, ‘Allow the little children to come to me!’ (Mark 10:14)
Sometimes you need to punish a child with a smack. A smack will not kill your child. But a smack will teach him the right way to behave. And your child will learn how to live wisely. Your punishment now may save your child from a much worse punishment later in life. You could even save him from the evil behaviour that might cause his death.
Perhaps you do not need to hurt your child in order to teach that child. The law in some countries may not allow you to hit your child. But you must teach your child. And you must stop your child when that child’s behaviour is wrong. Then the child will learn to do the right things.
But you will be glad if your child learns to be wise. You will be especially glad if you had to punish your child. You must teach your child to be wise. You must teach the child to respect God. And if you do the right things, your child will copy your behaviour. And your child will also teach other people to be wise.
Perhaps you are jealous because some evil people are wealthy. Or they are famous, or important (Psalm 73:3-5). But you must desire the right things. So do not be jealous when you see evil people. Instead, think about God. Remember that God loves you. Remember the things that God wants you to do. And God will reward you.
The father warns his son. The son must not be greedy for food. And he must not be a drunk. This is because greedy people and drunks become lazy. They want only to eat and to drink. They do not want to work. Their expensive habits will waste all their money. This is how they become poor.
If the son loves his parents, then he should listen to them. He should obey their instructions. And he should learn to be wise. Then his parents will be glad. They will have great joy, because their son will be a wise man.
So, the son should choose the best things in life. He should not choose money or possessions. He should choose the truth. And he should choose wisdom, discipline and understanding. These qualities will cause the son to become a great man.
A wise son is better than a rich son. A wise son is better than a famous son. And a wise son is much better than a foolish son.
Verse 22 reminds us about God’s command in Exodus 20:12. Children should respect their parents.
In verse 23, we cannot buy and sell truth with money. But truth and wisdom cost much in effort to obtain. So do wisdom and understanding.
The son must be careful about sex. Some women sell sex. They are like a deep hole that a hunter uses as a trap for animals. And some married women tempt other men. They are like a narrow well that a man cannot escape from (Jeremiah 38:6-8).
Wells and holes are dangerous whether they are deep or narrow. And sex is dangerous, unless you are with your husband or wife. Sex can cause many troubles.
In verse 28, a robber waits to attack. The wrong woman is as dangerous as a robber. The son might suppose that the woman waits to greet him. Or he might suppose that she loves him. But she does not obey God’s law. And she will cause him, too, to do evil things.
The writer points out a group of people. They are sad. They argue. They cry. Perhaps we suppose that a terrible event has happened.
The writer tells us what is wrong. These people drank too much wine. Alcohol tempted them. This is terrible, he argues.
Wine may look attractive. But it causes many troubles. When a person begins to drink alcohol, that person sometimes cannot stop. This is an illness called ‘alcoholism’. If someone cannot control alcohol, that person needs help. That person should learn not to drink alcohol again. Doctors might help them. A group called ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ might help. And that person’s friends should explain the problems that alcohol causes. Alcohol causes many illnesses. Alcohol can cause death.
The writer tells us about a drunk’s strange experiences. If someone has an alcohol problem, that person should obtain help early. That person should not wait until they suffer these strange experiences.
The writer seems to know these experiences well. Perhaps the writer himself suffered this problem.
Drunks may see strange things. Some drunks imagine that they see snakes. A drunk might imagine that the snakes are attacking him.
Alcohol confuses a drinker. A drinker cannot think sensible thoughts. Often, he thinks that he needs to drink more alcohol. Really, he needs to stop.
When the drinker drinks too much alcohol, he feels like someone on a ship. The drinker cannot walk in a straight line. He might shake. He might fall. He might be sick.
Now the drinker hurts himself. But he might not feel the pain.
The next day, he might feel terrible pains. These pains are called a ‘hangover’. But the drunk does not learn from his error. He will make the same mistake again, many times.
This is because alcohol confuses the brain. The drunk does not realise that he must refuse alcohol. He thinks that he needs more alcohol. He supposes that alcohol will cure his problems. Really, alcohol causes all his problems.
You should not join a group of evil people. Their secret plans are cruel. And they plot trouble with their conversations. You should not be jealous of these people. You do not want to suffer their punishment.
The writer describes a fine house. Perhaps the house is really a palace, because the house has rare and beautiful objects. This house can be like our lives.
A house is safe if its builder was skilled. And our lives are safe, if we are wise. And we should use our intelligence. And we should study to gain more intelligence. We need wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. Then, our lives will be good lives.
You can count the number of soldiers in an army. But the number of soldiers does not win the battle. Your soldiers may be strong and brave. But this does not win the battle. The army needs a wise commander. And the commander needs good advice. One adviser is not enough. The commander needs many advisers.
You need advisers whenever you have a difficult problem. You cannot solve these problems yourself. You need other people to help you. Choose your advisers carefully! You need wise advisers.
In ancient Israel, the men from a city would meet at the city gate. They would discuss the city’s problems together. Sometimes they would act like judges in a court. Sometimes they would decide whether to fight a war.
All the men would gather. But the oldest men would speak first. The people thought that the oldest men would be the wisest men. Then the younger men would speak.
But a ‘fool’ is someone who hates wisdom. He does not even know the meaning of ‘wisdom’. So the fool would not speak at the court. He has no wisdom, so he cannot advise. Nobody wants to hear his foolish words.
This man makes evil plots. And the people hate him. They hate him because all his ideas are evil. Perhaps he wants to cause trouble. Or perhaps he wants to benefit himself unfairly.
We must learn to be strong, even when we have troubles. We must learn to advise well, even when people oppose us. We must teach God’s message, even if people hate us.
You should not pretend that you do not see someone else’s troubles. Help that person! Perhaps you can save him. God knows your actions. God will be your judge.
See Ezekiel 33:1-9. God told Ezekiel to warn the people about their evil actions. If Ezekiel warned the people, then Ezekiel would save his own life. But God would still punish the people if they continued their evil behaviour. But if Ezekiel did not warn the people, God would punish Ezekiel.
God has given a message to us (John 3:16). We must take this message to all the people in the world (Matthew 28:19-20). And God will help us to teach this message, because God is always with us.
Honey was a valuable food. Other foods do not taste like honey. And honey is useful as a food and as a medicine.
Wisdom is also special. Wisdom is precious. Sometimes we must study hard to become wise. But wisdom is good. We all need wisdom.
In verse 15, the writer uses humour. He writes a lesson for thieves. Of course, the writer really thinks that thieves are evil. But he pretends that he is teaching thieves. He advises the thieves not to steal from good men. If they try to steal from a good man, they will fail.
But even if the thieves succeed, the good man will not suffer. If a good man falls, he will rise again. If he falls again, then he will rise again. This will happen many times, because God protects a good man. When the thief attacks, this is like a fall. So God will protect the good man. The thief will be fighting against God. So the thief cannot succeed.
But the thief himself is a wicked man. In the end, the thief will suffer for his evil actions.
When your enemy suffers, perhaps you are glad. But you should not be glad. Instead, you should be cautious. Perhaps your enemy is suffering because God has punished your enemy for his evil actions. But if your own actions are evil, then God will punish you, too. We all must ask God to forgive our evil actions. Remember that God is the judge of everyone.
Perhaps you are afraid of evil people. Or perhaps you are jealous of their money or importance. Then, remember what will happen to them. In the end they will die. God is a fair judge. And he will punish them for their evil behaviour. So serve God! And learn to avoid evil actions!
God is like a king. God will punish his enemies. You might escape from an angry king. But you cannot escape from God’s anger. So do not be an enemy of God. God wants you to confess your evil actions. He sent Jesus to die for you. Jesus is God’s son; and Jesus suffered the punishment for your evil behaviour. If you accept Jesus into your life, God will forgive you. And you will become a friend of God.
Because we respect God, we also respect our rulers (1 Peter 2:17). We pray for kings and other rulers (1 Timothy 2:2). And we should try to be good citizens.
The 30 Wise Lessons are complete. They are important lessons. But there is more wisdom that the writer wants to teach us.
An unfair judge is terrible. God will punish that judge. But a fair judge makes the right decision. He deserves honour.
If someone loves you, then that person will be honest. You might not like your friend’s honest words. Those honest words might be bad news. You might even prefer someone who lies. But honest words are better than a kiss. Your enemy could kiss you. But honest words prove that your friend really loves you.
This is good, practical advice. You need to work in the fields to grow your crops. Without food, you will die. If you still have energy, afterwards you can build your house. But the person that builds his house first will have no food.
We should carry out our most important work first.
If you speak false evidence against your neighbour, your attitudes are wrong. You should not be opposing your neighbour without a proper reason. If your neighbour is guilty, then God will punish your neighbour. God is the judge.
So you should not punish your neighbour if he has upset you. Instead, you should forgive your neighbour. See Matthew 18:21-22 and Mark 11:25.
There ought to be crops in this field. But the lazy man did not sow any seed.
There ought to be food in this garden. But the lazy man did not look after the food plants.
Now the garden is wild. Now there are only weeds. The writer does not tell us whether the lazy man died. But we know that the lazy man had no food. So perhaps the lazy man starved.
So the writer learned a lesson. He learned that he must work hard. Rest is good. And sleep is good. But if we are lazy, then we shall suffer.
King Hezekiah lived 250 years after King Solomon. Hezekiah was a good king. He served God.
Hezekiah established again the temple (house of God in Jerusalem), which Solomon built. King Hezekiah’s officials found some more proverbs (wise words). So they added these proverbs to Solomon’s book.
Solomon wrote these proverbs (wise words). Or perhaps these proverbs were part of Solomon’s collection.
The style of these proverbs (wise words) is different from the style of the proverbs in chapters 10 to 22. Some of these later proverbs are longer than the earlier proverbs. And many of these proverbs are in subject groups.
Mysteries show one way that kings differ from God.
We know that God is great. We see many mysteries that are the works of God. We see plants and animals. But we do not know how God made them. We do not even know how our own bodies work. These things are mysteries to us. But they are the works of God. Because of such mysteries, we realise that God is great.
But a king is great if he understands mysteries. The king needs to realise if his people are unhappy. And he has to decide what he should do. The solution to the problem might be a mystery. The decision may be difficult. The king needs the best advisers. But if the king’s decision is right, then he is a great king.
We cannot see all the stars, because the sky is too high. And we cannot know a king’s emotions or secret thoughts. In public, the king might seem bold. But in private, he might be afraid.
The workman cannot make a beautiful object with dirty silver. And the king cannot rule well if his government is evil. Paul taught us to pray for kings and governments (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
This is similar to Jesus’ words in Luke 14:7-11. We should be humble. Then God will give honour to us.
If you are unhappy with someone, you should discuss the matter with that person first. You should not gossip.
We should always want to say the right words. The right words are beautiful, like gold. The right words are valuable, like silver. But the right words are also rare, like silver or gold. People do not often say the right words. Instead, they say the wrong words. For example, people speak their own ideas. Or they make evil plans. Or they gossip. Or they insult people. Or they lie, or they argue. And these words are the wrong words.
But the right words are wise. The right words teach us about God. The right words help us. They comfort us. Let us speak the right words!
Many people do not like correction. These people do not want to know that their actions are wrong. But when someone accepts correction, that person is glad. That person is glad because he will not continue to do the wrong things. So that person praises the wise man.
The wise person has taught a beautiful lesson to the other person. And the other person thinks that the lesson was valuable, like gold.
You can trust this man. He does the things that he promises. He will deliver your letter. And you will be as happy as a man who finds snow on a hot day.
As Christians, we should do the things that we have promised to do. Then other people will be able to trust us. And these people will learn from us that they can also trust God.
Solomon lived in a dry country. His people needed rain for their crops. So the people were sad when the clouds did not bring rain.
This man behaved like these clouds. He did not do the things that he promised. His promises seemed genuine. But he never gave the gifts that he promised. He should not have promised these things.
Jesus said, ‘ “Yes” means “yes”. And “no” means “no”. Any other ideas are from the devil.’ (Matthew 5:37. See also James 5:12.)
A patient person can achieve great things. His gentle words may not seem as impressive as other people’s words. But the patient person will continue until he succeeds. And, in the end, his gentle words are very powerful. See James 5:7-11.
Honey is good. But too much honey will make you sick.
Friendship is good. And visits to your neighbour are good. But you must be careful. Your neighbour needs to meet other people. And your neighbour needs to do other things. If you visit your neighbour too often, then you will upset your neighbour.
We must learn how to control our own behaviour.
There are many cruel people who want to attack their neighbour. They could hurt their neighbour with a whip. Or they might use a sword.
But you can also hurt your neighbour if you lie about him. You might argue, ‘My lie is merely words. Words do not hurt.’ But your neighbour will suffer because of your evil words (Exodus 20:16).
A bad tooth causes pain. And it continues to cause pain. A fool is an evil man who hates wisdom. You cannot trust this evil man. He will not help you when you are in trouble. Instead, he will cause you to suffer. His advice will be evil. And his actions will be evil. So you will continue to suffer.
These people are all cruel.
If someone steals a coat on a cold day, then that thief is very cruel. If someone pours acid on soap, that person is cruel. He spoils the soap. Now, nobody can use the soap.
A singer might not seem cruel. But this singer is cruel also.
Someone is sad. But this singer is happy. The singer does not think about the sad man. And the singer does not try to help the sad man. Instead, the singer continues to sing. And this upsets the sad man. So the sad man becomes sadder. And the singer does not even realise that his actions are cruel.
Do not attack your enemy! Do not fight him! Instead, trust God! God will protect you. Pray for your enemy! Love your enemy!
Jesus taught this lesson in Matthew 5:43-48. While Jesus was dying, he prayed for his enemies (Luke 23:34). And Jesus forgave a criminal who insulted him (Mark 15:32 and Luke 23:39-43).
Your enemy might be upset when you help him. He does not want to accept your kind gifts. He might continue to insult you. But God sees that your actions are right. And God will reward you.
Perhaps you do not want a friend to hear your words. So you whisper. Your friend might not hear your actual words. But he knows that you are whispering. So your friend guesses that your words are not good. Or he guesses that you are gossiping. And he is angry.
If you whisper about another person, someone else may repeat your words to that person. Then you can expect an angry reaction from that person. As the wind brings rain, your whisper will cause this angry reaction.
If your husband or wife always argues, life is hard. This man has escaped. He has gone to his roof, to avoid the argument.
We should try not to argue. Forgive other people’s errors! Learn to be calm! Do not be like this man’s wife who continues to argue.
We wait for news about our friends and relatives. They may be distant, but we still care about them. And we are glad to hear their good news. We ourselves may have many troubles. But their good news comforts us.
This is terrible. This good man is helping a wicked man with an evil plan. The good man is not trying to do evil things. But he has not realised that he must oppose the plan. He has not realised the evil effects of the wicked man’s plan. He did not know that a wicked man’s plans are always evil.
You should not drink muddy water. It is not safe. But even muddy water is more useful than that good man. The good man ought to be useful. So he ought to oppose the evil plan.
You might like honey. But you cannot eat only honey. So you make a mistake if there is too much honey in your meal.
This man also has made a mistake. He wants to be a great man. So he pretends that he is already a great man. But he is not a great man. Instead, he is stupid.
This man ought to be humble. Then other people will decide whether the man is really great.
When Solomon’s workmen built a city, they built strong walls round that city (1 Kings 9:15-19). The walls were important defences. They protected the city from attack.
We ought to learn discipline. Discipline is like the city walls, because discipline makes us strong. We may have many problems. But we shall act wisely if we have discipline.
We all know the seasons in our own countries. We know when to expect rain or snow. We know what should happen.
And we know the reaction that an evil man deserves. A fool is an evil man who hates wisdom. And he does not deserve any honour.
A flying bird does not pause. It continues to fly. Otherwise, it would fall. An insult is like the bird, because an insult continues to cause trouble. Perhaps the insult was only one word. Perhaps you spoke that word many months ago. But the insult upset your friend. And he is still unhappy.
You ought to go to your friend. Ask him to forgive you. Otherwise, your stupid insult will continue to cause trouble.
These verses all describe a fool. Solomon uses the word ‘fool’ to describe someone who hates wisdom.
When a horse pulls a cart, the driver whips the horse. This is because the driver needs to control the animal.
A fool is an evil man. He refuses to listen to wise advice. If you are a judge, then you must punish this evil man. Unless someone controls an evil person, that person will continue his evil behaviour.
The fool is an evil man who hates your wise words. Solomon uses humour here, because verse 4 is the opposite of verse 5. But both verses are correct.
Verse 4 The fool hates wisdom. So his words are foolish. You do not want to be foolish. So do not answer him with foolish words!
Verse 5 Do not answer a fool with sensible words! Do not allow him to think that he is wise! He deserves only a stupid answer. So answer him with foolish words!
The truth is that this evil person will not obey good advice. He does not care whether your words are sensible or foolish. He will even use your own words against you. This man is very evil. Perhaps you should say nothing to him (Matthew 27:12-14). Or perhaps God will help you to know the right words (Matthew 13:11).
The person who causes his own injury is stupid. But the person who sends a fool is also stupid. A fool will not do the right things. Perhaps he will not deliver the message. Perhaps he will change the words. Perhaps he will deliver an enemy’s message instead.
If you send a fool with your message, then you will suffer.
A fool might repeat a proverb (wise words). But a fool is stupid, so he does not understand the proverb. He says the right words, but he is still stupid. If he understood the words, the fool would stop his silly behaviour. But he refuses to do this. So his proverb cannot help him.
Even the devil can repeat a Bible verse (Matthew 4:6 and Psalm 91:11-12). But the devil did not understand the verse. He tried to use the verse to test Jesus. But Jesus told the devil that the devil was wrong (Matthew 4:7).
Solomon’s father was David. David used a stone from a bag to kill his enemy, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40). But David did not tie the stone to the bag. This action would be stupid. This action would waste both the stone and the bag.
And only a stupid person gives honour to a fool. A fool is an evil person who hates wise words. A fool does not deserve any honours. The person who gave the honour wasted his time.
This drunk carries a thorn bush. (A thorn bush is a weed with sharp points.) The drunk will hurt himself. And he might hurt other people.
This fool speaks a proverb (wise words). But he is a fool. So he is evil, and he hates wise words. He repeats the proverb as an evil scheme. He wants people to think that he is wise. And he wants people to trust him. The fool will hurt people with his proverb.
The man who shoots arrows everywhere is clearly dangerous. But the employer might not seem to be dangerous. In fact, this employer is also dangerous. He would even employ a fool. The fool is an evil man. He might steal from his employer. And the fool might cause many troubles. The employer will suffer because of the fool’s evil schemes.
You cannot cure a fool. A fool is an evil person. He will repeat his evil behaviour. This is terrible. You cannot change this man. Only God can stop the fool’s evil behaviour.
A fool is not like a simple person. A simple person is someone who has not learned to be wise. But you can teach a simple person to do the right things.
Solomon thinks that this man is even worse than a fool. (But perhaps Solomon uses humour here.)
This man imagines that he is wise. But he is not wise. He thinks that his advice is good. But his advice is wrong. He tries to help everyone. But really, he causes problems for them.
We must be very careful when we advise. We must study well. We must listen to other people. And then we shall not copy this man’s errors.
Solomon uses humour whenever he discusses a lazy man. The lazy man has his excuse. And perhaps there is a lion. But we know that, really, this man is lazy. He only wants an excuse not to work.
This man is very lazy. He is still in his bed. He might turn. He might even move. But he will not get up. He is too lazy.
So Solomon says, this man is like a door. The door moves. But it is still in its doorway. The door never goes anywhere.
Now, the lazy man has a meal. He is lazy. But he knows how to take things. And lazy people often take things from other people. For example, a lazy person might ask for a gift.
But the lazy person does not know how to enjoy these things. And he does not know how to use them. The lazy man takes the food. But he is too lazy to eat it.
This lazy man is like the man in verse 12. Both men think that they are wise. But the lazy man thinks that he is the wisest of all men. The lazy man thinks this because he refuses to work. But he is not clever when he avoids a task. The lazy man may become poor. He may suffer for his attitude. He might even starve.
The lazy man ought to work. He should learn a skill. Then people will respect him. Then he will deserve honour.
A dog is angry if you grasp its ears. It will bite you.
Some people are angry if someone interrupts their argument. Perhaps that person wants to help. Perhaps he supposes that he can help them to be calm. But when he interrupts, he will have to deal with their anger too.
Everyone can see that this mad man is dangerous. But the other man is also dangerous. His lie caused trouble. Then he claims that the lie was just a joke. So his humour caused trouble for everyone.
A fire will not burn without fuel. When someone gossips, their words are like fuel. And an argument is like fire. So, if people do not gossip, they avoid arguments. We should learn to be careful with our words. See James 3.
You need wood to start a fire. A man who disagrees is like the wood. He can start a terrible argument.
But we cannot always agree with everyone. And we cannot avoid every argument. But we should think before we speak. If we say nothing, we might avoid the argument.
This verse is the same as Proverbs 18:8.
Solomon uses humour here. When someone gossips, their words are like a special food. People enjoy it when someone gossips.
Food enters the stomach. And when someone gossips, their stories enter the mind. People remember the stories. And they repeat the stories. So they gossip too. Soon many people will hear the stories, even if the stories are not true.
When someone gossips, their words cause many problems. We should learn not to gossip.
You cannot believe everything that you see. Some pots seem silky on the outside. But they are just cheap pots.
You cannot believe everything that you hear. Some evil men speak clever words. But they are still evil men. You must not trust them
Here is an evil man who speaks clever words. And some people think that his words are wonderful. They do not realise that his plans are evil. They do not know his evil ideas. And if they trust him, they will suffer.
Soon everyone will know the man’s evil scheme. And a judge will punish that man.
These men wanted to cause trouble for other people. But in fact, these men suffered because of their own cruel actions. Everything that went wrong in their lives was their own fault.
It is never good to hate other people. We should never try to cause trouble. If we do, we shall cause trouble in our own lives.
Both men cause trouble because their words are not sincere.
When the first man lies, the people believe him. Then they do the wrong thing, because of the lie.
The second person pretends that someone else is great. He does this because he wants a gift from that person. These words also cause trouble.
See James 4:13-17 and Luke 12:16-21. God controls your life. You could die tomorrow. So trust God about the future. And be ready to meet God (Amos 4:12).
Do not say that you are important! Be humble! Jesus said, ‘If someone wants to become great, he should become a servant. And if someone wants to be your leader, he should become a slave. I did not come as a king. I came as a servant. And I will die so that God will forgive many people.’ (Mark 10:43-45)
The anger of the fool (evil person) causes great strain. But a good person should not be angry. See Ephesians 4:31. Instead, a good person should forgive other people’s errors. (Ephesians 4:32)
Anger is terrible. But, like the flood, the anger will soon end. The waters of a flood will soon go away. And an angry man will soon become calm again.
But a jealous person is in a worse state. This feeling will not end quickly. Instead, it will continue to cause trouble for a long time. See Deuteronomy 5:21.
A word of correction might be unpleasant. You do not want your friend to see your error. And you may not want your friend to talk about such matters. But he warns you because you are wrong. He speaks the truth to you because he wants to help you. He does these things because he loves you. See also my note on Proverbs 24:26.
But your enemy does not love you. Even his kiss has an evil reason. See Mark 14:44-46.
Our reactions depend on our circumstances.
A rich man cannot recognise the best foods. He has eaten too much. So he cannot even enjoy honey.
But a very poor man will not even see good food. He is glad to have anything to eat.
The rich man has a huge meal, but he does not enjoy it. The poor man has a tiny meal. But he is hungry and his meal tastes good. Sometimes a poor person enjoys life more than a rich person. But both men can have a better life if the rich man is generous.
A mother bird that wanders from her nest cannot look after her young birds. And a man who leaves his home cannot look after a family. That man may have no children. But if he has children, he cannot teach them to be wise. Such a man cannot establish a strong family.
We like to smell flowers. We like to smell good food. And many other smells give joy to us. These smells are beautiful.
And we have great joy when our friends help us. We are glad when their advice is good.
Some young people will not ask older people to help them. But often, a family friend is more willing to help than your own friends. Your father’s friend used to help your father, and perhaps your father’s friend would like to help you now. Older people have plenty of experience, and their advice is often wise. When you have troubles, such people may be better helpers than even a brother.
A father is responsible for his son’s good behaviour. If the boy develops well, his character is proof of the father’s success.
See Proverbs 22:3.
See Proverbs 20:16.
Solomon uses humour here. This stupid man will waken his neighbour. The man wanted to show how cheerful he was. But the neighbour will still be angry.
We must think about the probable results of our actions. And we should not waken our neighbours.
Wives should try not to upset their husbands. Some wives are always arguing. But a good wife is calm. She gently teaches her husband when he is wrong. And she works hard, so that he is content. See Proverbs 31:10-31.
Friendship is good. Friends should encourage each other. They should help each other. And they should teach each other about God. In the Bible, Jonathan and David were special friends. See 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19:1-6; 20:1-42; 23:16.
A good farmer deserves his harvest. And a good servant deserves a reward. His master should pay this servant well.
We see our own good and bad qualities when we notice the same qualities in other people.
Nothing satisfies a man’s desires. And nothing can satisfy death and hell. Only Jesus can completely satisfy human desires (John 4:13-14).
But as Christians, we must learn to be content. See Philippians 4:11-13.
You can find out whether gold is real in a fire. Gold does not burn. And silver does not burn.
And you can test a man’s attitudes. Some people are proud if you praise them. Some people are foolish if you praise them. And humble people will still be humble, even if you praise them.
You strike grain to make flour. A fool is an evil person who hates wisdom. A judge might order a cruel punishment for an evil person. But an evil person will learn nothing, even if you strike him many times. After his punishment, that evil man will still be evil. He will learn nothing from his punishment.
Solomon is describing a farm. He warns the farmer to be responsible. If the farmer does not work, he could lose his land. But if the farmer works hard, his family will be content. The sheep and goats will grow well. And the farmer will make a profit from his animals. The farmer will also obtain clothes and milk from his animals. The farmer will receive a good income. The farmer will live well. And his family will live well. Even his servant girls will enjoy their lives, because the farmer is responsible.
These verses teach us several lessons:
· Do not only aim to make money (verse 24).
· God created the seasons of the year. So plan your work at the right time of year (verse 25).
· Use wisely the things that God has created. Then God will supply the things that you need (verses 26-27).
A wicked man has a bad conscience. And he does not trust God. So a wicked man has no hope for the future. And he is afraid of many things.
But the good man has a good conscience. He trusts God. The good man is not afraid that he might lose his money. He knows that God will provide. The good man is not even afraid of death. God will take the good man to heaven when the good man dies. So the good man has courage. See Daniel 3 and Matthew 6:25-34.
An evil country has many rulers. This is because evil people hate each other. So they oppose each other and they fight for power. Such a country is never at peace.
But a good country has one ruler. The people respect their ruler. And the ruler is fair. So that country is a good place to live.
Sometimes a poor man becomes powerful. But he might not use his power fairly. He might be very cruel. He does not remember that he is like the other poor people. He thinks that he is better than them. So he cheats them. He acts as if they are his slaves.
If you respect the law, then you do not want evil people to succeed. You want to stop their evil plans. If their evil plans succeed, then everybody will suffer. And other people will not respect the law.
Especially, the police should oppose the plans of wicked people.
Evil people do not know how to be fair. They do not even see why someone should want to be fair. But if you respect God, you will be fair with everybody.
Perhaps you can become rich by an evil method. Perhaps you can get more money if you lie to people. Or perhaps you have another evil scheme to increase your wealth.
But your evil deeds will ruin your relationship with God. See Isaiah 59:1-2. People can do many terrible things for money (1 Timothy 6:10).
So do not allow money to tempt you. A poor, honest man is better than a rich, evil man.
Money does not tempt everybody. Food and drink can tempt some people. In the second line, the son upsets his father. This is because the son only wants to eat. This son is greedy. And he does not care about other things. He does not even care about God’s law.
This wealthy man is an evil man. He lends money. But he does not charge fairly. So he obtains a big income. And the people who are in debt will suffer. (See Exodus 22:25.)
But, in the end, the wealthy man will die. Perhaps his son will be generous. And perhaps his son will care about poor people.
As we earn our money, we should be fair. We should not cause other people to suffer. And we ourselves should be generous to poor people.
An evil man refuses to obey God’s law. And even his prayers are evil. Perhaps he prays that his evil plans will succeed. Or perhaps he prays to an evil god. The true God hates these prayers. So God will not answer this man’s prayers.
A man may have evil plans against good people. But God cares about good people. God will not allow evil plans to succeed. Instead, the evil man will suffer from his own evil schemes.
This rich man thinks that he is wise. He thinks this because he is wealthy. So he supposes that he is wiser than other people.
But the poor man who is wise knows the truth about the rich man. This poor man knows why the rich man is wealthy. This rich man is wealthy because he cheats poor people. If the rich man were wise, he would respect God. And he would respect God’s law. So this rich man cannot be wise.
Some wise people are rich. But many wise people are poor. And a poor person who is wise is better than a rich fool.
We want good people to succeed. We want good people to be in the government. And we want our rulers to serve God. Then our country will be a good country.
But if wicked people are the rulers, then the country is a bad place. The law is not fair. Everybody suffers.
So we should pray for our rulers (1 Timothy 2:2).
This is a very important lesson. You must confess your evil deeds to God. You must invite God into your life. God will forgive you, because of Jesus. You cannot stop your evil behaviour by your own efforts. But God will help you. Trust God now! Do not delay!
If you respect God, then God will help you. And you will become wise (Proverbs 1:7).
But some people refuse to obey God’s message. They do not invite God into their lives. They continue their evil deeds. They do not want God to help them. The Book of Proverbs calls these people ‘fools’. God will be their judge. And he will punish them for their evil deeds.
Lions and bears are strong animals. They attack. And they kill.
A wicked ruler is like these animals. He does not care about his people. He only cares about himself. He will attack his own people. He will even kill his own people. And the people are weak, so they cannot defend themselves.
A ruler should not be cruel. He should not attack his own people. If he does, he is not wise. A ruler needs his people to protect him from his enemy.
The ruler’s own people hate a cruel ruler. So this cruel ruler is stupid.
A wise person is honest. He does not cheat. He does not steal money. He is fair with everybody. And God will help that honest person. The honest person will have a good life.
A murderer has a bad conscience. So he is afraid of people. At any time, they could guess what he has done. A murderer knows that he deserves punishment. His actions are very evil.
God’s law says, ‘Do not murder!’ (Deuteronomy 5:17). So do not help a murderer to escape.
But God can forgive even a murderer. But the murderer must confess his evil deed. And he must humbly ask God to forgive him. See 1 Samuel chapters 11 - 12 and Psalm 51.
The honest man is safe because God protects him. God sees the man’s honest behaviour. And God loves that man.
But sometimes, honest people suffer. See the Book of Job in the Bible. God allowed the devil to test Job. Job’s friends thought that Job suffered because of his evil deeds. But Job was an honest man.
God is a fair judge. He cared about Job. God did not rescue Job immediately. Job was patient (James 5:11). But in time, God helped Job. And in time, God will rescue everyone who loves God.
But an evil man will suffer. This man might not suffer immediately. But God is a fair judge. And in time, God will punish that man. And the punishment will be sudden. So the evil man must not delay. He must invite God into his life now. God will forgive the evil man, if the evil man humbly confesses his evil deeds to God.
Do not be lazy! Do not continue to sleep when you should work! You might prefer to imagine good things. You might not want to work. But your imagination cannot provide your food. So you need to work.
Some church leaders imagine that their churches will achieve many things. They speak about their ideas. But they do not want to work. They do not want to teach God’s message. They do not care about people who are not Christians. Perhaps these church leaders do not even invite people to come to their churches. They only want to enjoy themselves. And they only want to imagine good things. Such attitudes are not good.
Church leaders need to work. They must not be lazy. Then their ideas might become reality. And many people will hear God’s message. See John 4:34-38 and Matthew 28:18-20.
You can trust the first man. So pay him well! Christians should behave like this man. Other people should be able to trust a Christian.
But the second man only wants your money. He wants the money, but he does not care about the work. So he is not careful. He does not do the job well. And he does not deserve the money. Instead, he deserves a punishment.
As Christians, we should not love money (1 Timothy 6:10). And we should not love our possessions. We should love God. And we should love to do the right things.
A good person is always fair. But some people do not care whether their actions are good or evil. They only want money. Or they only want a reward. And if someone rewards them, they will do anything. They would even do evil things.
A sandwich is not a big reward. But even such a small gift is enough to persuade some people to do an evil deed.
This man is greedy. He does not want to share anything with other people. He supposes that this attitude will make him rich. But his scheme is stupid. He needs friends, but he will lose his friends. They will hate his attitudes. And the greedy man will waste his own possessions. And God will punish this man because the man is not generous. So the greedy man’s scheme will fail. And he will become poor.
We all need to know the truth. We need to know when we are wrong. We need to accept words of correction. These words may not seem pleasant. We might feel terrible when we hear these words. We might prefer to hear that we are right. But a lie does not help us.
This man ought to provide for his parents. He should look after them. See Mark 7:9-13. Instead, the man steals his parents’ money. And he imagines that he deserves the money. This is terrible. This man is a very evil son.
Jesus told a story about a similar subject in Luke 15:11-24. A young man took his father’s money. This son wasted all the money. But he returned to his father. And he confessed his evil deed to his father. The father forgave him.
The father in the story is like God. And the son is like us. We all do evil things. But if we humbly confess our evil deeds, God will forgive us.
If you love your own possessions, you cause trouble. So trust God! He will protect you. And he will provide for you.
Do not trust yourself! Trust God! You will become wise if you trust God. And you will be safe, because God will protect you.
God wants us to be generous. If we are generous, then God will help us. See Psalm 37:25-26 and Luke 6:38.
See Proverbs 28:12.
We try to help people. But they will not always follow our advice. We can try to teach such people. And we can warn them. But we cannot change their behaviour. In the end, they will lose their last chance. If they refuse to learn, then God will punish them. See Proverbs 1:24-33.
We do not want wicked rulers. We should pray that our rulers will be good rulers. Everyone will benefit if our rulers are good.
A father is glad if his son grows to be wise.
But some sons are foolish. They love pleasure. They love sex. And they sleep with many women. These sons waste their own money. They waste their own strength. Perhaps they even waste their fathers’ money. So their fathers are sad.
Solomon’s son did not grow to be wise. This son, called Rehoboam, was a foolish king. He loved pleasure. His selfish attitudes caused his country to split in two. His people suffered greatly because of him.
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 (secret gifts).
Later Hezekiah became king. His officials found this good advice and they copied it (Proverbs 25:1). Hezekiah was a good king who respected God.
And this verse is still good advice today. People do many evil things because of bribes.
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. Then the neighbour will give gifts to the evil man. Or perhaps the evil man will steal from the neighbour.
We are not sure about the meaning of the second line. Perhaps it means that the purpose of such words is to cause trouble for the neighbour. Or perhaps the meaning is that the evil man will cause trouble for himself, as in verse 6.
This evil man causes his own problems. But a good person has great joy. So he sings.
If the law is fair, poor people will benefit. The law will protect them, so that they will not starve.
In England, 150 years ago, many good people worked hard to free slaves. These good people persuaded the government to make good laws. But many people opposed these good laws.
Selfish people will always oppose good laws. These people do not care about poor people.
People hate insults. The inhabitants of this city will be very angry. They might even want to attack the people who insulted them. But this reaction is not always sensible.
Wise men will help the city’s inhabitants to be calm. Then people can consider the situation carefully. And they will make a sensible decision.
When we are angry, we cannot always make sensible decisions. We should try to become calm. Then our decisions will be good decisions.
By ‘fool’, Solomon means an evil man. This evil man does not like the wise man’s sensible words. The evil man hates the wise man. And the wise man’s calm words may upset the evil man. So the evil man’s reaction is foolish. Perhaps he insults the wise man. Or perhaps the evil man is angry. But the evil man cannot be calm.
Cruel people oppose honest people. Cruel people do not want anyone to be honest. The honest person could ruin their evil schemes. So cruel people think that honest people are their enemies.
A fool is an evil person. And he has many evil schemes. If you upset this man, he will be very angry.
But a wise person should not be very angry. The evil person may try to upset him. But the wise man keeps calm.
A ruler needs good advisers who speak the truth. The ruler should not prefer officials who lie. If he does, then the whole government will be evil.
These people are poor because their rulers are evil. God allows the people to know this. And God also allows the rulers to realise this.
A king should care about his poor people. He should defend them.
The king should not allow cruel people to cheat the poor people. Good laws oppose cruel people. Good laws defend poor people.
See Proverbs 22:15. This mother is upset because her child is evil. She should punish her child. Then her child will learn good behaviour. Otherwise, the child will continue to do evil things, even when the child becomes old.
Wicked people will not always succeed. In time, God will punish them. Then good people will rule the country.
We see that some people are very evil. Perhaps there always seems to be some evil rulers. But, in the end, God will punish evil people. Even the countries that we know in this world last only for a short time. But God’s rule in heaven never ends. So he is always king. (Daniel 4:3).
God rules from heaven. In heaven, nobody is evil. In heaven, nobody suffers. In heaven, there is no pain. See Revelation 21:4.
See verse 15. When your child learns to do the right things, you will be glad.
If someone does evil things, then tell God’s message to that person. Tell that person about Jesus. Tell that person about God’s love. And tell that person that he must invite God into his life.
Some people will obey your advice. They will invite God into their lives. They will learn to do the right things. And they will serve God, because they accepted God’s message.
Sometimes people cannot understand our words. They need to see our actions.
This servant might be a child. So the master must punish his servant as a child. The servant’s punishment should be fair. Then he will learn right behaviour.
Think before you speak! Perhaps you need to obtain advice from wise people. Make a good decision! Then, when you speak, your words will be wise.
This servant might be a child. Be sensible when you give gifts to your children. Give gifts that will help them.
This verse is difficult to translate. Other possible meanings are:
· If you give your child only luxuries, he will become a servant. And he will suffer in the end.
· If you give honour to your servant boy, in the end he will become your son.
Anger is dangerous. A bad temper causes many troubles. We should learn to stay calm.
The proud man wants to be a great man. But God will not allow such a man to become great. See Proverbs 16:18.
But God loves humble people. And God will give honour to them. See Luke 1:51-53.
Jesus was humble. Although Jesus is God, Jesus became a man. And he lived like a servant. He even died like a criminal. But God has given the greatest honour to Jesus. And everyone will know that Jesus is God. See Philippians 2:5-11.
The thief’s friend does not help the thief. When the thief is in court, the thief wants his friend to lie.
In court, the friend promises to God to tell the truth. The friend is not afraid of the court. But he is afraid of God. And this friend remembers that God will punish people who lie.
So, when the lawyers ask their questions, the thief’s friend says nothing.
People will cause many troubles. There are many cruel people. But do not be a coward! God will protect you. Trust in him. See Psalm 91.
Perhaps you trust judges. Perhaps you think that the court will help you. But there are some evil judges. And even good judges sometimes make wrong decisions. So trust God. He is fair with everyone.
Good people and evil people have nothing in common.
Do not suppose that evil people will support you. If you do the right things, then evil people will still hate you.
And do not support an evil man’s scheme. His scheme will be cruel. Or his scheme will be evil. Or his scheme might even be terrible. It will not be a good scheme, because the man himself is evil.
Instead, warn the evil man. He must confess his evil deeds to God. And he must invite God into his life.
These passages are by Agur (Proverbs 30) and King Lemuel (Proverbs 31:1-9). We do not know anything about these men. The Bible does not mention them elsewhere. But we learn some things about them from these passages. And we learn many things about wisdom from their words.
Solomon was not the only teacher of wisdom. The Bible mentions other wise men who lived at the same time as him (1 Kings 4:30-31). Many people studied wisdom at this time.
Agur had been studying hard. He had seen many wonderful things that he could not explain. He had tried to understand God. And he had tried to understand the world. But God is so great (1 Corinthians 1:25). And the world is too difficult to explain (Job 38). Now Agur was tired (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
In verses 2 and 3, Agur was using irony. That is, he was using words in a special way. He was not really a stupid man who knew nothing. In fact, he knew many things about God (verse 4). But his own knowledge seemed like nothing when he thought about God. Wisdom is so wonderful that Agur’s own thoughts seemed foolish. And the world is so complex that Agur felt stupid.
Agur wanted someone to teach him. He so wanted to learn about God. Agur’s ideas in this verse are like God’s questions in Job 38.
Agur knew that somebody must have created the world. But he did not realise that God created the world.
Agur knew that somebody must control the wind and the seas. But he did not realise that God controls these things.
Verse 4 is an important verse. The verse shows that God guided the Bible writers (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Verse 4 is about Jesus, who is God’s son. But Agur knew nothing about Jesus. Agur lived over 1000 years before Jesus was born. Nobody knew about Jesus then. But Agur mentioned subjects that nobody knew before Jesus.
The people of Agur’s time did not know that Jesus is God’s son. They did not even think that God had a son. (See John 10:30-36.) But Agur wanted to know about God’s son. And Jesus is God’s son (John 3:16).
The people of Agur’s time believed that God was in heaven. They did not think that God would come to earth. But Agur thought that God would come to earth. And Jesus came to earth to save us (Philippians 2:5-8).
Agur knew few things (verse 2). But God guided Agur, so that Agur wrote great words in the Bible.
Agur wanted someone to teach him. But Agur already knew some things. He knew that God’s word is perfect. And Agur was right. The Bible is perfect.
Agur also knew that we must teach the Bible accurately. This is also right.
Agur knew that God will punish our evil actions. This is also right. But Agur did not explain some important principles. He did not say that God loves us. He did not say that God wants to forgive us. Agur was afraid of God, because he did not know about God’s love.
Agur had a special prayer. But it was a strange prayer.
Agur had a particular reason why he did not want to become rich. He thought that he would forget God. But money does not cause people to forget God. Many rich people serve God. And they use their money wisely. They are generous and they help poor people.
There was also a particular reason why Agur did not want to become poor. He thought that he might steal. But if someone is poor, this does not cause him to steal. Many poor people serve God, and they do not steal. These people need many things, but they are still honest. And there are many rich people who are evil. Some rich people even steal from poor people.
Whether you are rich or poor, you should still serve God.
This is sensible advice. But perhaps Agur was afraid. Agur did not mention that you could apologise. And Agur did not mention that the servant might forgive you. Agur also explained his fears in verses 11-14.
Another translation of the second line is: ‘When the servant insults you, then you will suffer.’
God punishes all evil behaviour.
These people do not respect their parents. See Deuteronomy 5:16 and Deuteronomy 27:16.
Everyone has done evil things. We all must ask God to forgive us. See Romans 3:9-12.
God opposes proud people. We should be humble. See James 4:6.
These people are murderers. See Deuteronomy 5:17.
A leech is a small animal that drinks blood. The leech bites a person. Then the leech holds that person’s skin. Then the leech drinks the person’s blood. The person cannot remove the leech while the leech drinks blood.
Some people behave like leeches. These people are always causing trouble. They desire many things. So they try to obtain other people’s possessions. And, like the leeches, such people make constant demands.
Agur used several lists in this chapter. The numbers at the start of each list are a type of poetry. These numbers are not important.
This is a list of things that make constant demands, like the leech:
· Hell is never full. This is because hell is always claiming more lives. We must tell people about God. If they invite God into their lives, God will protect them from hell’s punishment.
· A woman who has no children always wants children. This is sad. But perhaps she can adopt a child. And perhaps she would like to help with children’s activities at church. She has no children, but she can love other people’s children. And we can encourage her.
· The soil always needs more rain. Solomon lived in a dry country. Without rain, there would be no harvest.
· Fire always tries to burn more things. You must control fire carefully. Otherwise, it will burn your possessions and your home.
See also verse 11. Agur again warns that we must respect our parents. The behaviour of a son who insults his parents is terrible. Agur describes a terrible fate for that son. The son did not respect his parents. And nobody will respect the son, even after his death. Nobody will care enough even to bury his body. This fate would upset everybody in Israel. They thought that proper graves were very important.
Agur did not know how these things move. They move smoothly in places where it is difficult to move. And these things leave no trace as they move. So Agur considered that they were great mysteries.
· He did not know how a bird flies through the air.
· He did not know how a snake could move without legs on a smooth rock.
· He did not know how a ship sails on the sea.
· And he did not know how a man loves a woman. This is not like the other things in this list. But love between a man and a woman is also a strange mystery.
Agur heard what this woman said. But Agur knew what she had done. She thought that it did not matter. But God also knew and he will punish this woman.
People often act as if their evil deeds are innocent. Often they even manage to confuse their own minds. Their behaviour was evil. But they may actually think that they are innocent. God knows the truth about what we have done.
Each person in this list has suddenly become powerful. But they lack the skills that they need for their new situations. They may become proud. Their characters do not match their new situations. These events may disturb us. We do not expect such events to happen.
· The slave does not know how to lead anyone. He has obeyed other people’s instructions for his whole life. But now he is the king, and he must lead the entire nation.
· The fool is an evil man. He does not deserve a good meal. But this fool eats plenty. And he is still greedy. He has no sense. He is proud. He does not know when he should stop.
· A hateful woman has just married a man. But after she marries, she is still hateful. Her attitudes are wrong. She is a bad wife for her husband. And she will be a poor mother to her children.
· The master’s original wife deserves her husband’s love. But he does not care about her. This is very sad. We soon discover why her husband does not love her. The woman’s own servant girl has become the master’s new wife. The husband chooses his servant girl, instead of his wife. This is terrible. The two women will hate each other. (Compare Genesis 16:1-6.)
Here are 4 types of animals. Each is both small and wise. So we can learn a lesson about wisdom from these animals.
· Ants store food for the winter. And we should prepare for the future, too. See Proverbs 6:6-8.
· Conies are weak animals. But they still have a home. They live together in small groups. And they appoint one animal as a guard to watch for the large birds that may attack the conies. We should look after our homes too. We need homes where we can bring up our families in safety.
· Locusts march like an army but without a commander. Locusts work together. And we too should work with other people. See Hebrews 10:25.
· Lizards are clever. They can even avoid the guards and live in palaces. And we need to be clever, too. See Matthew 10:16.
These animals are impressive because they are bold.
· A lion is very strong. It is bold. And everybody respects a lion.
· A mating cock (bird) might not be strong. But the cock is still bold, because it wants to impress a female bird.
· A male goat will attack anything. But a goat is not a wise animal. A goat attacks even when it does not need to attack. And even when the danger is great, the goat still attacks. The goat does not realise that it should try to escape!
· A king’s words and actions are bold. But really, a king is very weak. He would not be bold if he did not have an army. Another man might have one or two guards to protect him. But a king needs a whole army.
Agur advised this evil man to say nothing. Mere words cannot save an evil man from his punishment. So Agur told the evil man to put his hand on his mouth. (That is, to be silent.) If the evil man spoke, he would cause more anger. Then the evil man would suffer even more trouble (verse 33).
Lemuel was not a king of Israel. But his name means ‘he belongs to God’ in the Hebrew language. (Hebrew was the language of the people in Israel.)
Lemuel’s birth was the answer to his mother’s prayers (verse 2). The prophet (holy man) Samuel was also born as the answer to his mother’s prayers (1 Samuel 1:1-18). Samuel became a very great prophet. And Lemuel’s mother wanted Lemuel to be a good king. She wanted him to be fair. And she wanted him to rule well. So she taught him this lesson.
Many women try to tempt an important person like a king. Solomon himself loved many women. He thought that these women would make him happy (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). But Solomon did evil things because of these women (1 Kings 11:1-13).
Kings must be careful about alcohol. In fact, everybody needs to be careful about alcohol. Alcohol causes people to make stupid mistakes. And alcohol confuses the brain. It causes many troubles.
But a king is also responsible for other people. So the king has a special reason to refuse alcohol. The king’s people need help when they are suffering. The king will be unable to protect them if he is a drunk.
Church leaders too always need to be careful. See James 3:1. A church leader must not be a drunk (Titus 1:7). And many church leaders have decided not to drink any alcohol. They decide this because they are responsible for other people. And these church leaders do not want to cause problems for weaker people (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
This is a strange passage. Lemuel’s mother knew that a king should not drink alcohol. But she supposed that poor people should drink lots of beer and wine in order to forget their troubles. But she was wrong. Alcohol cannot cure the problems of poor people. Their lives will not be better if they become drunks. In fact, their lives will be worse.
Poor people cannot afford wine and beer. They will become weaker if they drink alcohol. And they might be unable to do their work. These people are poor now. But they will become poorer.
Often rich people give stupid advice to poor people. The rich people are trying to help. But they are not poor. So they do not know the problems of poor people.
We need accurate knowledge to advise well. Our experiences are different from other people’s experiences. So we must study their problems well, before we can advise. Otherwise, we might cause even more problems.
A king should care about poor people. In fact, everyone should care about poor people. But a king has greater responsibility. King Lemuel was also a judge. So Lemuel’s mother advised him to help poor people in the court. Perhaps poor people cannot afford lawyers. Perhaps poor people do not speak well. So Lemuel should protect them, because nobody else would help them.
In Proverbs 30, Agur did not understand some important subjects. He did not realise that we need to confess our evil deeds to God. And he did not explain that God forgives.
In Proverbs 31:1-9, Lemuel’s mother did not realise some important subjects. She did not realise that rich people should be generous. She knew that Lemuel must protect poor people. She knew that the law must be fair. But she did not tell Lemuel to give any money or food to poor people. See Proverbs 31:20.
The Book of Proverbs ends with a special poem. Men did the most important public jobs when Solomon was alive. The officials were male (1 Kings 4:1-19). The soldiers and workmen were male (1 Kings 9:22-23).
But women were important in their families. Women were important in their towns and villages. And women were even important in the palaces (1 Kings 10:1-13; 1 Kings 9:16; 11:19). In fact, Solomon even describes wisdom as a woman (Proverbs 8). Solomon does not write about a man called Wisdom. But he does write about a woman called Wisdom.
So someone wrote this poem to describe the perfect wife. Perhaps Solomon did not write this poem. Solomon had many wives. And his wives caused trouble for him (1 Kings 11). So Solomon’s wives were not good wives.
The perfect wife in this poem was an important person. Everybody respected her. The people even respected her husband because of her. Women should copy this perfect wife. And men can learn things from her, too.
The original language of this poem is called Hebrew. This poem has a special structure because the poem uses the Hebrew alphabet. So, in Hebrew, verse 10 begins with the first letter of the alphabet. Verse 11 begins with the next letter. This structure continues until verse 31. Verse 31 begins with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
God wants men and women to marry (Genesis 2:18). It is good to marry (Hebrews 13:4). But God may not want everyone to marry. Paul was not married (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).
A husband and wife should look after each other. A husband should be glad if he has a good wife. A good wife will benefit her husband greatly.
A man who has great wealth does not always have a good life. But a man who has a good wife will also have a good life. So a good wife is better than great wealth.
The husband can trust his wife. She is careful. She will not waste his possessions. He will have everything that he needs.
This wife selects good things for her husband. Verses 13-15 describe things that she obtains for him. She always tries to help him. She does not hurt him. She does not waste his possessions. She does not upset him with arguments (Proverbs 21:9). She does not cause trouble.
The wife makes clothes by hand. And she is happy to do this work.
She selects good food. But perhaps there is no good food in the local shops. This woman does not want to use poor quality food. So she travels until she finds the best foods.
She works hard, even before dawn. She does not only provide food for her husband. She also provides food for her family. And she even provides for servant girls. Everyone in the house has good food, because this wife works hard.
Another translation of the second line is:
‘Before sunrise, she provides food for her family. And she gives out work to her servant girls.’
This woman does not waste time. She uses her time well.
This woman is wise. She prepares for the future. Her fruit bushes will not provide fruit this year. And perhaps the bushes will not provide fruit for a few years. (Compare Leviticus 19:23-25. God told the people not to eat fruit from a new tree for 4 years. This is good advice for farmers. Young fruit trees are weak if you allow the fruit to develop too soon.)
But afterwards, the family will enjoy the fruit for many years.
She herself works with her hands. She has servants (verse 15), but she is not lazy. She works with them. So she becomes strong and healthy.
This woman starts to work before dawn (verse 15). And she continues to work late at night (verse 18). She buys and sells.
At this time, there were no machines to make cloth. So women would make cloth by hand. And clothes were precious.
This woman’s work was very valuable.
But this woman does not work so that her family will be wealthy. She cares about everyone. She earns money so that she can help poor people. She is kind and generous. She looks after old people and ill people. She wants to help everyone.
Snow does not often fall in Israel. It is a warm country. But this woman is ready for cold weather. The whole family have warm clothes, because this woman makes the clothes.
But this woman does not just make practical clothes. She loves her work. She is happy when she works. So she makes good clothes. And she makes fine covers for the bed.
This woman is humble. You might suppose that she wants to be important. But she does not work for this reason.
Instead, she is happy to help her husband. He is important because of her. He does not worry about clothes or food. She provides his food and clothes. So he can do an important job. He is a judge. And he advises at the city gate. Nobody pays the husband for his advice. But he can do his important work because his wife looks after him.
This woman earns the money that her family needs. She makes belts and clothes by hand. And she sells these things.
Now the writer describes the woman’s character. This woman does not worry about the future. She prepares carefully. Perhaps she saves her money. And she teaches her children to be wise (verses 26-27). So she is ready for future events. Even if the family suffer troubles, she is ready.
We know that this woman’s husband is a wise man (verse 23). But the wife is also wise. She teaches her children. And perhaps she advises her friends.
Some people behave well in public. But at home, they do not behave well. But this woman does not care whether anyone sees her good works. Her own family see her in private. And they know that she is a good person. So they bless her.
Now the husband speaks.
He realises that some other women are good like his wife. But he does not want to be with these other women. His own wife is very special in his opinion. He loves her. He appreciates her work. He thanks her.
This husband does not want a younger woman. He does not want a more beautiful woman. He realises that some qualities matter more than youth and beauty. And his wife has these special qualities.
In this verse, we discover why this woman is a great person. Her special qualities are not beauty and grace. When she is older, this woman might lose her beauty. And she might lose her grace. But she will still be a great person. And she will still be a great wife.
This woman is great because she respects God. The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God (Proverbs 1:7). Every woman needs to learn this lesson. And every man needs to learn this lesson too.
This woman has learned this lesson well. So this woman is really wise.
And we can see that she is wise:
· She respects God.
· She is not lazy.
· She is not proud.
· She works hard. And she is glad to work.
· She is generous to poor people.
· Her husband can trust her.
· She studies carefully. And she has learned to be wise.
· She teaches.
· She uses her money wisely.
· She is loyal.
· She is skilled. And she has many skills.
This woman has learned the lessons in the Book of Proverbs. She is a model of a wise person. Every woman should be like this woman. And every man, too, can learn from her behaviour.
If we learn to act like this woman, then we shall be wise.
We, too, know that this woman deserves honour. And we should all try to be like her.
Various writings and sermons by C.H. Spurgeon, J. Wesley, G. Whitefield and other classic writers.
Notes on the Book of Proverbs - John Wesley
The Book of Proverbs by A.R. Fausset - in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown
Proverbs by S.S. Buzzell - in The Bible Knowledge Commentary edited by Walvoord and Zuck
Proverbs by G.W. Thatcher and other articles - in The Temple Bible Dictionary edited by Ewing & Thomson
Young’s Analytical Concordance
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by B. Davidson
Bibles - NIV, KJV, TEV, RSV, Moffatt, Jewish translation (1917), occasional use of Hebrew text and other translations.
Christ in all the Scriptures - A.M. Hodgkin
© 2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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