Proverbs
1 A Wise Son or a Scoffer 2-3 The Fruit and Protection of the Mouth 4 The Desire of the Sluggard against Diligence 5-6 Righteous or Wicked 7-8 The Rich Poor Man and the Poor Rich Man 9 A Rejoicing Light or a Lamp That Goes Out 10 Insolence or to Receive Counsel 11 Easy Come, Easy Go 12 Hope Deferred or Desire Fulfilled 13 Despise or Fear 14-16 Wisdom or Folly 17 A Wicked Messenger or a Faithful Envoy 18 To Neglect Discipline or Regard Reproof 19 Sweet or an Abomination 20 To Walk with the Wise or with the Fools 21-23 To Receive the Good or the Bad 24 He Who Loves His Son, Disciplines Him 25 To Satisfy the Appetite or to Be in Need
A Wise Son or a Scoffer

1A wise son [accepts his] father’s discipline,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

The contrast in this verse, indicated by the word “but”, is that of “a wise son” and “a scoffer”, a scoffing son. It is to be understood as an introductory verse. We see this contrast again and applied in the following verses in numerous daily situations.

A wise son will embrace the “discipline” of his father. He accepts his father’s discipline, he keeps and appreciates it, he respects it and acts accordingly. ‘Accepts’ is not written in the text, which is indicated by the brackets. From the second line of the verse it can be derived that ‘accept’ or ‘listen’ is meant. But it can also mean embrace or keep or respect or other positive valuations. The line can even be rendered as follows: “A wise son [is the fruit of] his father's instruction” (Darby-translation in a footnote). In this sense, he owes his wisdom to his good education. Because he is wise, he has listened, and because he listened, he is now wise.

The scoffer laughs at his father when he disciplines him. “Discipline” is a stronger word than instruction. As powerful as the father may address his son, when the son is a scoffer, he will not listen. He cuts himself off from it, he doesn’t want to learn from it. In that way he leaves the atmosphere of fatherly love which is necessary for his spiritual and emotional development. Whoever doesn’t accept parental discipline, will not listen to God’s discipline either. Both are intended to show the son the way of blessing and to be a blessing.

A scoffer finds himself on the highest level of foolishness. He has no respect for authority, he blasphemes religion, and because he thinks to know what is best, he rejects every teaching. The change into the stronger word ‘rebuke’ in the second line of the verse shows that he doesn’t respond to any kind of discipline.

He who has true wisdom, acknowledges that a person who has more experience, can prevent him from stumbling on the path that he goes. It is a new, unfamiliar way to him, but not for the experienced father. He who is not wise and doesn’t listen, he who is a scoffer and despises the instruction of an ‘experience expert’, will learn through bitter experiences what he would have been spared if he had listened.


The Fruit and Protection of the Mouth

2From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good,
But the desire of the treacherous is violence.
3The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

With “the fruit of a man’s mouth” the speech of the righteous is meant (verse 22From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good,
But the desire of the treacherous is violence.
). Fruit is here the result of inner considerations, of meditations of the heart. We can only produce good fruits from our mouths when there are good considerations in our heart (Lk 6:4545The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil [man] out of the evil [treasure] brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.). The desire that inspires the heart of the treacherous is nothing else than violence. There is mention of a difference in the source. “Good” and “violence” prove what is in the heart. The good is pleasant of taste and smell; violence is offensive, rough and hard.

The Christian who walks in fellowship with God will be communicating Godly language with his mouth. How others may respond to that, it will anyway do good to his own soul, it will refresh and edify it. To himself, the words that he speaks are good nourishment. That goes also for those to whom he speaks. They are refreshed by his words. The result in its turn is that he receives blessing from those whom he has refreshed by his words.

The treacherous are those who deceive, the unfaithful ones. Their desire, their ‘appetite’, is not to feed others with something good, but to commit violence. They do not seek to help others, but to harm them by violence. This can be physical violence, but they can also use verbal violence and speak offensive words. Offensive speech choirs at football matches are an example of it.

Verse 33The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
connects to verse 22From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good,
But the desire of the treacherous is violence.
. The lips are fed by what comes out of the heart, says verse 22From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good,
But the desire of the treacherous is violence.
. At the same time the mouth is to be guarded (verse 33The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
), for not everything that is good, should be said. We should also guard ourselves against the bad things that can still come out of our mouths. Sin also still dwells in the believer. The mouth is represented here as a city or a house that still has to be guarded. We can also apply this with reference to the use of ‘modern mouths’ such as Facebook and Twitter, which regularly are used to hurt others. What turmoil this has caused already. Just think about the bullying via ‘social’ media amongst the pupils in secondary schools.

To guard the mouth means that attention is given to what comes out of the mouth, what one says, the words that one speaks (cf. Psa 141:33Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
). It is safest to keep your mouth. The lesson is that we can prevent problems by having a tight control over what we say. The advice to ‘consider something overnight’ before we respond to it, is very valuable.

An old Arab proverb says: ‘Make sure that you do not cut your throat with your tongue.’ This is certainly to be applied to “one who opens wide his lips”, which means that he always speaks out his words rapidly in a thoughtless way. It regards someone who always thinks to have the right to say things, without any self-control and without any consideration. The contradiction in the previous verse is the fruitful tongue against the false tongue. Here the ‘uncontrollable tongue’ stands against the ‘controllable tongue’. He who is careful with his mouth, takes the safe way to preserve his life. His life is often in danger because of talking too much and without consideration, by saying anything at any time he wants. He who cannot control his mouth, is on the road to ruin.


The Desire of the Sluggard against Diligence

4The soul of the sluggard craves and [gets] nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat.

The sluggard desires prosperity and abundance and dreams about it. But his desire remains unfulfilled, empty, in vain; he gets nothing because its fulfillment demands effort, which he doesn’t want to deliver. Diligent people respond to God’s intention with their lives and will experience the satisfaction of it. They seek first the kingdom of God and all what they need will be added to them (Mt 6:3333But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.). The diligent do not dream all the day about what they would want, but they work for the fulfillment of their dreams.

The diligent is satisfied with what the sluggard desires in vain. The sluggard has the wish, but not the willingness. He desires the profit of the diligence, without the diligence that produces something. He is jealous of what others know and have, but he wants to be wise without (bible) study and become (spiritually) rich, without any effort. It is about desiring without effort to receive what is desired. He wants to be a Christian, but without the efforts that go together with it. The road to hell is paved with such desires.


Righteous or Wicked

5A righteous man hates falsehood,
But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.
6Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless,
But wickedness subverts the sinner.

Verse 55A righteous man hates falsehood,
But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.
is about the mind and performance of the righteous and the wicked. Verse 66Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless,
But wickedness subverts the sinner.
is about the results, the guarding righteousness and the subverting wickedness.

In verse 55A righteous man hates falsehood,
But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.
it is not said that the righteous never lies. Nor is it about avoiding the lie. Avoiding the lie can also happen out of selfish motives, without hating the lie. It is about hating it, abhorring it (Rom 12:99[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.). This abhorrence is present with the righteous, because he possesses the Divine nature.

The lie is expressed in “falsehood”. Each word that is spoken in a lie, is hateful to God and to the righteous. We cannot love the truth without hating the lie. It is perfectly true with the Lord Jesus and it is like that with everyone who lives close to Him.

The wicked lives in the lie and acts despicably and shamelessly. What he says and does stinks and is shameful. To “act disgustingly” towards a person happens by speaking lies about him. But in that way the person who acts like that, he himself becomes disgusting. It is the smell that surrounds it. Whoever uses falsehood, is acting shamefully. The wicked makes himself to be hated and acts shamefully by his falsehood.

“Righteousness” and “wickedness” are personalized in verse 66Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless,
But wickedness subverts the sinner.
. The righteous is characterized by righteousness. The way of such a person is “blameless”, which means that pure motives determine his actions and conduct. His righteousness guards him against evil attacks that want him to sin. He is kept from unrighteous of deceptive acts by his righteousness, because he is clothed with “the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph 6:1414Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,). Righteousness is like a breastplate that keeps the heart, from which “the utterances of life” flow (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
).

The opposite of righteousness is wickedness, which characterizes the sinner. He is without any protection against the sin and goes a way of sin. With wickedness every thought toward God is missing. He who is wicked, does nothing else than sin. The way of the sinner inevitably ends up in destruction. He is subverted into it, which no one or nothing can stop. It is presented here as something he himself does.


The Rich Poor Man and the Poor Rich Man

7There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
[Another] pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.
8The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
But the poor hears no rebuke.

People can pretend to be different from what they are (verse 77There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
[Another] pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.
). That is hypocrisy or to play an act, living behind a mask. It is being somebody whom you are not in reality. The instruction which is embedded in here, is that one should be honest, without arrogance. That is only possible when both the rich and the poor see themselves in God’s light. James points out to both the poor and the rich which attitude everyone ought to take before God (Jam 1:9-109But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position;10and the rich man [is to glory] in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.). Paul did not want anybody to think higher than what was seen or heard of him (2Cor 12:6b6For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain [from this], so that no one will credit me with more than he sees [in] me or hears from me.).

Here it is about people who pretend to be rich, while they are poor and about people who pretend to be poor, while they are rich. One can pretend to be rich because he doesn’t want to lose face. A person who has lost everything, may want to keep up the appearance of being prosperous and in such a way his respect among men, his neighbors or colleagues. He who pretends anything, lives in the lie.

Those who “pretend to be poor, but have great wealth”, may be doing that out of fear to be killed or to be robbed from their wealth. It can also possibly be out of fear to have to give away something, to have to do something merciful. Whoever pretends to be poor because of that, does that to escape from his obligation to be good to the poor and to freely open his hands for them (Deu 15:1111For the poor will never cease [to be] in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’). Then the motive is greed.

What is applied to wealth, can also be applied to power and wisdom and also to spiritual gifts. The church at Laodicea pretended to be spiritually rich, but she had nothing (Rev 3:1717Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,; cf. Hos 12:99But I [have been] the LORD your God since the land of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
As in the days of the appointed festival.
). Christ, Who stood outside, confronted her with it. You can also say that you are nothing and are not able to do something, while you are still rich in Christ, but are still not willing to take up your responsibility. We should not automatically believe people who say something about themselves. In senses like ‘I am very good at this’, or ‘I really can’t do that’, it is about the own ‘I’. In both cases the Lord is being denied as the Giver.

Paul was poor, but made many rich (2Cor 6:1010as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.) both by preaching the gospel to unbelievers and by the teaching to the church (cf. Acts 3:66But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”). Above all the Lord Jesus, Who was rich and became poor for our sake, has made us rich by His poverty (2Cor 8:99For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.).

Verse 88The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
But the poor hears no rebuke.
connects to verse 77There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing;
[Another] pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.
. There are disadvantages attached to wealth. Someone who is rich, can become the prey of a kidnapper. Then he has to give all his wealth as a ransom to stay alive. The poor doesn’t have to deal with such a danger. He is not even being threatened, for he has nothing to be robbed from. He cannot be blackmailed and concerning that, he lives without worries.

We see here that wealth creates problems for the rich, while a poor man is not bothered by it. Poverty has this advantage above wealth. The poor can in a manner of speaking peacefully go to sleep without locking the door, for he has no possessions which a burglar could be looking for.


A Rejoicing Light or a Lamp That Goes Out

9The light of the righteous rejoices,
But the lamp of the wicked goes out.

The life of “the righteous” radiates “light”. It “rejoices” themselves and also their environment. The good things in their lives are a blessing to others and give joy. The advantages that the wicked have, do not result in a permanent joy, for in those advantages there is nothing present of God, Who is light (cf. Job 18:5-65“Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
And the flame of his fire gives no light.
6“The light in his tent is darkened,
And his lamp goes out above him.
; 21:1717“How often is the lamp of the wicked put out,
Or does their calamity fall on them?
Does God apportion destruction in His anger?
). They do not have the light of God, the only Source of light. Therefore their lamp, which is a symbol of the light of life, goes out (Pro 20:20,2720He who curses his father or his mother,
His lamp will go out in time of darkness.
27The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD,
Searching all the innermost parts of his being.
; 24:2020For there will be no future for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.
).

Light and joy belong together (Est 8:1616For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor.). The light of the righteous is the Word of God (Psa 119:105105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
), which is a source of joy (Psa 119:24,77,92,143,17424Your testimonies also are my delight;
[They are] my counselors.

77May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.
92If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
[Yet] Your commandments are my delight.
174I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.
).

Light is an independent source of life, while a lamp derives light from something else. The lamp can also be a picture of the Word of God (Psa 119:105105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
), but it is not in this context. The lamp is an artificial light, like in the earlier days the light of a lampstand, or in our time the electric light is. It represents the artificial light of the darkened mind of the man without God. Whoever walks in that light (which the wicked do), will end up in complete darkness (cf. Mt 6:22-2322“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!).


Insolence or to Receive Counsel

10Through insolence comes nothing but strife,
But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

Insolence – the arrogance of ‘I know everything’ – is shown in boasting in one’s own wisdom and despicably rejecting counsel. The result is a conflict. Besides, in a conflict there are involved two fleshly natures. He who receives counsel, acknowledges the necessity of counsel and accepts those who give that to him. He shows wisdom, with the result of harmony instead of strife.

Strife is avoided by searching for good, Scriptural counsel from others who are spiritual, not from unspiritual people. It is especially important to seek counsel with God. He who is really a studious one is the one who acknowledges that what he does not know, is endlessly more than what he already knows.

Strife and discord arise when one puts himself above others and doesn’t want anything to do with correction. That happened at Corinth. Paul came with counsel to correct it.


Easy Come, Easy Go

11Wealth [obtained] by fraud dwindles,
But the one who gathers by labor increases [it].

This verse is about the here and now, about immediate wealth and pleasure. It is a warning against wild speculation. It is the spirit of this time. Everything should be directly available – quick money, quick pleasure. Many people therefore participate in lotteries or speculations. If you win a prize, you can become very rich in one fell swoop. It can also regard wealth by theft. The pleasure of it will disappear in the long term. There is no permanent pleasure in the earthly things. Here the proverb ‘Easy come, easy go’ is to be applied, which means that what you easily have gained, you can also loose easily. Someone who lives by ‘easy’ money will not spend it carefully either.

The patient worker who “gathers by labor”, works for the future. His wealth will not dwindle, but increase. His satisfaction will not decrease but increase. This also applies especially in spiritual view.

God does not use the lottery or gambling or theft to make a person rich. He wants us to work hard and honestly for our wealth. Ways that God can use to make someone rich without having to work for it, are an inheritance and a donation.


Hope Deferred or Desire Fulfilled

12Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

What is exactly meant by the “hope deferred” is not mentioned here. It is general. What is meant is that the time during which someone cherishes his hope, is being stretched, that the fulfillment is advanced again and again. One may think that the fulfillment happens now, but it appears not to be. Each time it is a disappointment or even disillusionment. Such a hope makes the heart sick. It makes a person lose heart and languishing by it.

“A desire fulfilled” is something else than a certain hope with which a person ends up disappointed again and again. The desire fulfilled speaks of a desire for something which God has promised and which He also fulfills. Such a fulfilled desire “is a tree of life”. It does not make the heart sick, but makes it to be filled of fellowship with God, which is eternal and gives full satisfaction.

The deepest desire of the righteous is the desire for the coming of Christ. When He comes, that desire will be fulfilled. Simeon has experienced His coming (Lk 2:25-3025And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.27And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,28then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
; Hag 2:77I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.). All believers will experience His coming. They persistently look forward to it. A desire deferred is therefore totally different from a persistent hope for something.

The disciples were aggrieved or painfully impacted in their hearts, because their hope for the kingdom of the Messiah was deferred. The two disciples going to Emmaus were aggrieved or sad in their hearts because of a disappointed hope. We are disappointed in our hope when we base our hope on our own desires and not on what God’s Word says.


Despise or Fear

13The one who despises the word will be in debt to it,
But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

The first line of the verse is a warning against despising “the word”, which is the Word of God. Whoever despises God’s Word, will not maintain, but “be in debt to it” (Heb 10:26-3126For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,27but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.28Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on [the testimony of] two or three witnesses.29How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?30For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”31It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.). His whole house of life will be destroyed. King Saul is an example of it (1Sam 15:17-2317Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were [made] the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel,18and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’19Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”20Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.21But the people took [some] of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”22Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
[And] to heed than the fat of rams.
23“For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He has also rejected you from [being] king.”
). The second line of the verse is a motivation to fear the Word as “the commandment”. Whoever obeys the Word, will be rewarded by God.

The contrasts are “despise” and “fear”, and “be in debt” and “to be rewarded”. It is about “the word” and “the commandment”, which is the Word of God and the commandment of God, and the obedience to it or the rejection of it. ‘The word’ refers to the teaching in general, while ‘the commandment’ implies an order, which indicates a powerful instruction.


Wisdom or Folly

14The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
To turn aside from the snares of death.
15Good understanding produces favor,
But the way of the treacherous is hard.
16Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool displays folly.

Out of “the teaching of the wise” comes forth life for everyone who listens to it (verse 1414The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
To turn aside from the snares of death.
). This teaching “is a fountain of life”, that quenches the thirst of the righteous for fellowship with God. Fellowship with God is the true life. All teachings are focused on it.

However, there are active powers that want to kill the righteous. Death is everything that is not in fellowship with God. The second line of the verse gives the motive for the first line. The teaching of the wise does not only give life, but also ensures us that we, as long as we are on our way on earth, “turn aside from the snares of death” and therefore will remain in fellowship with God. ‘The snares of death’ suggests that death is a hunter or trapper which is looking out for his prey.

The world that we are to go through, is described as a spot where there is a multitude of snares of death. A snare is set to catch and kill. The means to make someone be caught in a snare is a bait. A bait may look like something edible and sweet, but in reality it is a means to kill. The Word of God reveals the true character of the bait and serves as a guide to turn aside from the snares and traps. Then we will stay alive. Judas, the one who betrayed the Lord Jesus, did not accept the teaching and ended up in the snares of death.

If we go through the minefields of life on earth, the Word of God shows us how we could prevent to step on a landmine and be blown up. It gives us the hope for an escape and a safe arrival.

“Good understanding” (verse 1515Good understanding produces favor,
But the way of the treacherous is hard.
) is not only the understanding of the teaching of verse 1414The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
To turn aside from the snares of death.
, but also the application of it. That gains favor from God and men (Lk 2:5252And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.). Good understanding produces a good relationship with our fellowman, our neighbor, by which his favor is won. It is about the mind which is enlightened by the Spirit through which one knows and does the will of God and goes the way of wisdom. Those who follow God’s teachings, will experience the favor of men.

The contrast is “the way of the treacherous” which is “hard”. It is not a difficult way, but an impassable way. The treacherous go that way and get killed. They lack good understanding and are not to be trusted. They dream about a way that goes over roses, but their way is sown with thorns. Those are hard people whom you cannot rely on and with whom you cannot live together. They do not find life hard, but they make it hard for others.

With “the way” is meant the acts and conduct. The thought is that while good understanding is producing favor, the acts of the treacherous deliver no permanent result.

“Every prudent man” will examine the facts and then decide (verse 1616Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool displays folly.
). “Every” means ‘all’, without exception. He who is prudent, will not take his feelings to be the basis of his actions. He knows the dangers and the traps of the circumstances. This makes him cautious. The fool operates totally different. He follows his intuition. The fool makes us think of a hawker who displays his merchandise. The fool displays his foolishness like a merchant does with his goods for recommendation.

We see here the contrast between the discretion which characterizes the prudent and the recklessness of the fool who speaks foolishly. The fool exhibits folly. He exhibits it like a peacock spreads out his feathers.

“Knowledge” is more than only having information in the head. It is the skillfulness in using knowledge, it is understanding the art of applying the knowledge that has been acquired. In the context of the verse it means that the prudent knows that he has to conceal something which he indeed succeeds to, while the fool lacks this ability and spreads around what is foolish. Every prudent man ensures himself first of knowing what he does or says before he starts to work or say something. If he does not do that, he will spread folly.

Valuable knowledge is sometimes wasted by a lack of acting prudently. Therefore, when it appears from somebody’s actions that he has knowledge and insight, he is prudent. It appears from the way he operates in his family, in society and in the church. We should deal prudently with everyone. The Lord Jesus acted perfectly with knowledge. Therefore He always knew what He was and was not to say.


A Wicked Messenger or a Faithful Envoy

17A wicked messenger falls into adversity,
But a faithful envoy [brings] healing.

The contrast between both lines of the verse is “a wicked messenger” and “a faithful envoy” and “adversity” and “healing”. It is thereby about the bearer of the message of God. A wicked messenger deforms God’s message; he brings a false doctrine and false teachings. He causes confusion to the hearers and disturbs and damages relationships. The faithful envoy speaks about reconciliation with God and the neighbor. Paul and the apostles were faithful envoys for Christ (2Cor 5:2020Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.). Their message means healing of broken relationships, above all with God and then with others.

If we think of nowadays messengers, we may mention for example journalists. Most of them bring every day the daily news. We can read it in newspapers and on the internet. Their messages are mostly ungodly and evil of contents. They are messengers of the devil, for they want the readers to believe that what God calls sin in His Word, is not sin.


To Neglect Discipline or Regard Reproof

18Poverty and shame [will come] to him who neglects discipline,
But he who regards reproof will be honored.

This verse is about how one responds to “discipline” and “reproof”. Whoever thinks that it is beneath his dignity to accept discipline and therefore neglects it, will live in poverty and shame. These are two kinds of evil that strike such a person. Poverty strikes the body and shame the spirit. Whoever regards and accepts reproof willfully and humbly for his wrong characteristics and actions, listens and acts accordingly, will be honored.

We need discipline and reproof, because sin is still within us. Whoever regards reproof, does it because he is aware of its necessity. To his surprise he, additionally, is being honored by God.


Sweet or an Abomination

19Desire realized is sweet to the soul,
But it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil.

This verse shows a similarity with verse 1212Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
. It “is sweet to the soul” to have a desire for something and to have that desire to be realized. The soul is here the center of the desires, the place where something is desired, considered and enjoyed in advance. It is here about the desires of a wise man.

“Fools” do not want such desires at all. The thought of something good and the fulfillment of it does not attract them at all. The thought “to turn away from evil” is “an abomination” to them. What is an abomination in God’s sight, is the passion and life of the fools. Despite the pleasure of the fulfillment of good desires, the fools will not turn away from evil, for it is important to them to experience the fulfillment of their wicked lusts.

“A desire realized” with regard to the good, the ultimate fulfillment, is incompatible with doing evil. It is impossible to be happy, when we live in sin. Only fools live in sin. The fulfilled desires belong to the righteous and the wise. Only they will desire that what truly gives fulfillment, which is the fellowship with God.


To Walk with the Wise or with the Fools

20He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

This verse advises us that we should connect with the wise men and not with the fools. Connection with the wise men will make us wise, for we learn that from them in our walk with them. The wordplay in the second line of the verse emphasizes the power of the connection. He who gets befriended with a fool “will suffer harm”, which means that he will end up to be a fool. Examine who influences you. The effect will show it: “to be wise” or “suffer harm”.

Pitch sticks, says the proverb. From what we do and what we say appears whom we spend most of our time with. “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1Cor 15:3333Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”). ‘To walk with’ means to be in the company of. The first thing the father warns his son about, is bad company (Pro 1:10-1110My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
). It may refer to people, but also to contacts via social media and the consumption of all kinds of movies and magazines.

Who has not changed from friendships after his conversion? After conversion there is no common interest anymore with worldly friends. It inevitably leads to a distance. The new friends form the Christian character of wisdom. That should remain so, for we run the risk of turning back to old friendships when the fellowship with the Lord weakens. It is important to walk with Him as the Wisdom and also walk with those who walk with Him and be wise in that way.

The advice is to walk with those of whom we know that God is with them (cf. Zec 8:2323Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”‘“). The same goes for going to a church where people edify one another, where the members can all function according to the place that they have in the body. The result is therefore that there will be a spiritual growth to independency. This will make one able to be a friend to others by whom they in their turn could become wise.


To Receive the Good or the Bad

21Adversity pursues sinners,
But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.
22A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
23Abundant food [is in] the fallow ground of the poor,
But it is swept away by injustice.

“The evil” in verse 2121Adversity pursues sinners,
But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.
is considered as a person who pursues “the sinners” with the thought that the evil will overtake them too. “The righteous” will receive “the good” of men for his righteousness.

Adversity is the evil, the wrong, the misfortune, the disaster. Some people speak in such cases about ‘bad luck’. That indicates that they exclude Divine control over matters as if someone is hit by the impersonal ‘fate’. The opposite then is to be ‘lucky’.

This verse is sometimes true in life, but always true in eternity. In the hereafter the imbalances that we have on the earth will be corrected. The rich man had received the good during his life and Lazarus the bad. That was reversed after their death. Abraham reminded the rich man of that (Lk 16:2525But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.).

When one dies, the inheritance does not go to the grandchildren, but to the children. Still, the grandparents can leave an inheritance for their grandchildren also (verse 2222A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
). What can the grandchildren inherit? An inheritance is not necessarily about money or material property. Someone has said that the worst thing a person can do for his children, is to leave them a lot of money. What “a good man” can leave for his grandchildren, is his Godliness and his good example (Psa 103:1717But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
).

How do our grandchildren remember us? They can ‘inherit’ the righteous principles, which means ‘take over’ the principles which determined our conduct and also live up to them. All prayers that we have prayed for them, are a great inheritance that we can leave.

Divine righteousness determines the final destination of the wealth that a person leaves. The wealth will not come into the hands of sinners, but into the hands of the righteous. What the sinner considers to be his wealth, will after his death be transmitted into the hands of the righteous, who can deal with it properly (cf. Psa 49:1111Their inner thought is [that] their houses are forever
[And] their dwelling places to all generations;
They have called their lands after their own names.
). This will be fully accomplished in the kingdom of peace, when the wicked have been judged (Isa 61:66But you will be called the priests of the LORD;
You will be spoken of [as] ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
And in their riches you will boast.
).

When “fallow ground” is cultivated – which means that the land is ploughed – it provides “abundant food” to the poor (verse 2323Abundant food [is in] the fallow ground of the poor,
But it is swept away by injustice.
). Therefore the poor do not need to suffer hunger, for the earth delivers enough for everybody. That would be the situation if the rich were righteous. But due to sin, the practice is that by injustice is swept away what is acquired by hard labor. The poor are oppressed and exploited. Therefore it is not about a lack of food, but a lack of justice (Jam 2:66But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?; 5:44Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, [and] which has been withheld by you, cries out [against you]; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.).


He Who Loves His Son, Disciplines Him

24He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

The absence of disciplining a child is not only a lack in the education, but also a lack of love. The rod is one of the means in the education, not the only means. Eli withheld his rod to his sons and God had to judge them (1Sam 2:22-24,27-3422Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.23He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?24No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the LORD’S people circulating.27Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I [not] indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt [in bondage] to Pharaoh’s house?28Did I [not] choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I [not] give to the house of your father all the fire [offerings] of the sons of Israel?29Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded [in My] dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’30Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the LORD declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.31Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father’s house so that there will not be an old man in your house.32You will see the distress of [My] dwelling, in [spite of] all the good that I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever.33Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes will fail [from weeping] and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life.34This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die.; 3:1313For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.; 4:10-1110So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.). A weak education does no good to a child, but wrong. It is not true love, but it goes against the interest of the child. ‘His’ rod is the rod of the father for ‘his’ son. ‘Diligently’ indicates to effort by the father. He does not act slackly, but with consideration and purposefully. It also involves diligence.

Withholding the rod is called here hating the child. It is claimed that the use of the rod is not a proof of love towards the child. But in fact it is often self-love instead of love for the child. Parents do not discipline the child, because they do not discipline themselves. They let themselves be guided by their natural feelings and indulgence, by wanting to be liked and to be popular. But it is better for parents to dispense a short pain than to live a life of pain, which is caused by children to whom the rod has been withheld.

There should neither be an exaggeration of discipline. A punishment should be in accordance with the disobedience which deserves punishment. Otherwise the child will become discouraged or bitter and that due to us (Eph 6:44Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.; Col 3:2121Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.). In the education it comes down to the balance between giving space to the child to grow and indicating the borders of that space.

Corporal punishments are prohibited more and more in the modern western society. The increase of the cases of child abuse has caused this shift in the public opinion. It is clear that there is a difference between beat and abuse. It is at this point that the public opinion is mistaken. As it is always the case with the public opinion, the balance has tapped from one end to the other.

The Bible however, does not speak about child abuse, but recommends that the rod must be used because it is an effective means of teaching a child. An Egyptian proverb says: ‘Children have ears at their behind, they listen when they are beaten.’ God wants us to learn in our childhood to associate physical pain, applied by our parents, with the evil, in order to educate us to make the right moral choices when we are growing.


To Satisfy the Appetite or to Be in Need

25The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
But the stomach of the wicked is in need.

God promises that “the righteous” will not be in need, but that he can “satisfy his appetite”. He rewards the righteousness of the righteous by the satisfaction of his physical needs. This is a general statement based on what God promises in the law to those who walk according to His commandments (Lev 26:55Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.; Psa 37:2525I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
). This promise will be fulfilled in the kingdom of peace. It is not the guarantee that God will always provide in all our physical needs and that the righteous will never suffer hunger, not even to some minor extent. Paul has suffered hunger and need (Phil 4:1212I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.).

It does not mean that the righteous will always have enough to eat. It surely means that the promises of God will always be perfectly enough for the righteous. The Lord Jesus has spoken about “the food which perishes”, and about “food which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6:2727Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”). Here we see the difference. Our first concern should not be the food which perishes, but the spiritual food which He gives in Himself as the manna. The Lord Jesus had food to eat which His disciples did not know. That food was doing the will of His Father (Jn 4:3434Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.). That food gives full satisfaction.

“The stomach of the wicked”, which today is often fat and round, will not be filled anymore. For them there will be an endless “need” after death. Instead of being satisfied, they will be endlessly tortured by everything that their life had determined on earth. In life their stomach was their god (Phil 3:1919whose end is destruction, whose god is [their] appetite, and [whose] glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.). In the everlasting pain the gnawing feeling of hunger, of unfulfilled lust, will torment them forever. Not even a drop of water will be given to them (Lk 16:24-2524And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.).


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