1-2 A Gentle Answer and the Tongue of the Wise 3 The LORD Sees Everything and Everybody 4 The Soothing Tongue 5 To Reject or Regard Discipline 6 Great Wealth or Ruin 7 The Lips of the Wise and the Hearts of Fools 8-10 Which Is an Abomination to the LORD 11 Sheol and Abaddon Lie Open before the LORD 12 A Scoffer Does Not Go to the Wise 13-15 A Joyful, Wise and Cheerful Heart 16-17 Better … Than … 18 Hot-Tempered or Slow to Anger 19 The Way of the Lazy and the Path of the Upright 20-21 The Influence of Wisdom and Folly 22 Many Counselors Make a Plan Succeed 23 How Delightful Is a Timely Word 24 The Path of Life Leads Upward 25 The LORD Protects the Widow 26 Evil Plans or Pleasant Words 27 Warning against Illicit Profit 28 Think First, Then Answer 29 The LORD Answers the Prayer of the Righteous 30 What Gladdens the Heart and Puts Fat on the Bones 31-33 To listen and to fear is life, wisdom and honor
A Gentle Answer and the Tongue of the Wise

1A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
2The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

Solomon, the king of peace, tells us in verse 11A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
how a person who is inflamed with anger can be calmed down. This can be applied to all situations wherein someone is angry because of (alleged) injustice that has been done to him. It can happen in a family, in a friendship relationship, in the living and work environment and in the church. How important is it then to respond with “a gentle answer” to the explosion of anger. Someone who has been provoked in his feelings can be calmed down with a gentle or thoughtfully spoken answer, through which the tension can disappear and peace returns.

The opposite of a gentle answer is “a harsh word”. That does not calm a person down, but on the contrary stirs up anger. The spark ignites. A harsh word is not only an offensive word, but also a sharp and hurtful word, which causes pain and grief. Such a word causes a violent and angry response. When a carnal expression is answered with a carnal expression, it means war.

Of both ways of reactions we have a clear example in the Scripture. The way in which Gideon answers the offended men of Ephraim, is an example of a gentle answer (Jdg 8:1-31Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they contended with him vigorously.2But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning [of the grapes] of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?3God has given the leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb into your hands; and what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.). By what he says, the differences are resolved. The harshness with which Jephthah answers the same men of Ephraim who were offended again, causes a civil war with many victims (Jdg 12:1-61Then the men of Ephraim were summoned, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the sons of Ammon without calling us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you.”2Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife with the sons of Ammon; when I called you, you did not deliver me from their hand.3When I saw that you would not deliver [me], I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the LORD gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”4Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim; and the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, O Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim [and] in the midst of Manasseh.”5The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when [any of] the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,”6then they would say to him, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim.; 1Kgs 12:13-1613The king answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him,14and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”15So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn [of events] from the LORD, that He might establish His word, which the LORD spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.16When all Israel [saw] that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying,
“What portion do we have in David?
[We have] no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, O Israel!
Now look after your own house, David!”
So Israel departed to their tents.

How wise men are can often be determined by what they say (verse 22The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.
). The wise know when, where and how they should speak. The good use that the wise make of knowledge with their tongue, gives knowledge a good name, makes knowledge attractive to others and worthy of pursuing it. In that way knowledge is no theory, but practice and it is a blessing to those who listen to it.

Knowledge comes from the wise and folly from the fools. The so-called knowledge of the fools is folly. What comes out of the mouth of fools is nothing but folly. Their mouth overflows with it. The many words that bubble out of their mouths like water show how foolish they are of heart.

The LORD Sees Everything and Everybody

3The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.

God knows and sees through everyone completely. He is omniscient and omnipresent and has a perfect knowledge of His entire creation, of people and of things. There is nothing hidden from Him. He observes all things and all men, like a guard does who guards a city. Nothing and nobody escapes His sight (Jer 23:2424“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the LORD.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.
; Psa 11:44The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
; 33:13-1413The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men;
14From His dwelling place He looks out
On all the inhabitants of the earth,
; Heb 4:1313And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.). That is necessary for Him to be Judge of every individual (cf. Jer 32:1919great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds;).

This thought continues in the second line of the verse. The knowledge that God sees everything, is a warning for “the evil” and a comfort to “the good” people. The evil people are both the great sinners and the friendly people who live decently, but none of them allow God into their lives. They are both those who openly sin and those who secretly sin. God wants them to become aware that He sees them, so that they may repent.

The good people are in themselves also sinners, but they do good because they have acknowledged to be sinners. They live from a good relationship with God. That relationship has become good by their confession of sins and their faith in the forgiveness of those sins by God. God is able to grant that forgiveness on the ground of the work of Christ on the cross, which He had accomplished for each penitent sinner. The knowledge that God observes them is an encouragement to live to His honor (2Chr 16:99For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”).

The Soothing Tongue

4A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.

That the tongue, which means the words that are spoken with the tongue, presented as “soothing”, assumes that the hearer is depressed. Soothing words are gentle, calming, benevolent words. This is fitting to the picture of “a tree of life” which means a source of vitality to others. The tree of life is mentioned here for the fourth time in Proverbs (Pro 3:1818She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
; 11:3030The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.
; 13:1212Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
; 15:44A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.

He, who knows how by his gracious and comforting words to cheer up a person who is in trouble, leads this person to restore, as it were, his connection with the tree of life. His life shines and is meaningful again; it gets something back of the shine of the paradise. The spoken words are words from and about the Lord Jesus and refer to Him. He is the Tree of life.

But words with “perversion in it” have a reverse effect. Those are deceitful words that crush the spirit. Perversion affects the addressed person inwardly and breaks him and makes him languish (Isa 65:1414“Behold, My servants will shout joyfully with a glad heart,
But you will cry out with a heavy heart,
And you will wail with a broken spirit.
). What the friends of Job said was not soothing to Job. In what they said, was perversion, which resulted that the brokenness in Job’s spirit about the suffering that happened to him, remained.

To Reject or Regard Discipline

5A fool rejects his father’s discipline,
But he who regards reproof is sensible.

Only “a fool rejects his father’s discipline”. No one other than a father can instruct a child in a most intrusive and at the same time appropriate way. He knows his child and knows what he needs. He also knows life and where the dangers are hidden. The child that does not care about a loving instruction of his father and even despicably rejects it, is a fool.

In contrast to that is a son who testifies that he “is sensible” when he “regards reproof”. In that way he shows that he realizes that he has to learn a lot more and that he needs correction. He shows to have common sense.

After accepting the fear of the LORD, the acceptance of instruction of one’s parents is of the greatest value. The authority of the father and the parents is the authority of God. Discipline should start at home and is the responsibility of the father or the parents. That’s where our lives begin. Because we are inclined to do the wrong things, we need correction. David was a sensible man. He considered it to be a favor when he got punished (Psa 141:55Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;
It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it,
For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.

Great Wealth or Ruin

6Great wealth is [in] the house of the righteous,
But trouble is in the income of the wicked.

“The house of the righteous” is characterized by “great wealth”. With wealth is not necessarily meant money and property. It can be especially about spiritual wealth. When love, joy and peace, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:2222But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,), characterizes the house of the righteous, it is a great wealth (verse 1616Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
). When the inhabitants of a house treat one another with respect for each one’s capacities and qualities, it is also a great wealth.

Of such a great wealth the wicked does not know anything at all. He may have a great income, but in that income is the seed of decline and misery. There is a curse on it, because he thinks only about himself. Pride and lust cause that he cannot enjoy with satisfaction. He is led by jealousy of others who have just a little bit more than he has. There is also the fear that it will be taken away from him. All these factors are in his income and they rob him from the joy of it. Together with his income confusion and sleeplessness enter into his house.

The Lips of the Wise and the Hearts of Fools

7The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
But the hearts of fools are not so.

Wise men spread knowledge when they speak. Their words are useful and profitable to the listeners. In such a way knowledge is used rightly. Knowledge is not meant to be kept to oneself, or to be shared with only a select group of people. “The lips of the wise” will let all hear the knowledge of God and His will which they have in their hearts. They do not do that to boast in their knowledge, but to make others profit from it. The knowledge that they have, they have received to share.

That knowledge is ‘spread’, also implies the thought of multiplication. Seed that is spread develops into a great harvest. What the lips of the wise spread of knowledge, comes into the hearts of many, who in their turn also spread the received knowledge.

The lips of the Lord Jesus have spread knowledge, so that His hearers would know God and His judgment about them. It is important that we pass on to others what we have learnt from God’s Word about God and Christ and also about ourselves. Then we show that we have ‘lips of the wise’.

In “the hearts of the fools” there is no knowledge. Fools shut their hearts to knowledge. Therefore there is nothing in the hearts of the fools that can be useful to others. Fools have no understanding of knowledge. They do not want it either; they do not open themselves up for it. Therefore they are not able to spread it.

Which Is an Abomination to the LORD

8The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
9The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
10Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way;
He who hates reproof will die.

Like everywhere in the Bible, here “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD” (verse 88The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
) because the heart of those who offer it, is unrighteous (1Sam 15:2222Samuel 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.
; Isa 1:10-1710Hear the word of the LORD,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
11“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
13“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14“I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing [them].
15“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer],
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
16“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
; Jer 6:2020“For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba
And the sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable
And your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me.”
). It is not only unacceptable to God, but He hates it. Cain was such a wicked one who came with a sacrifice which was rejected by God with dismay (Gen 4:55but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.). Cain brought an offering according to his own will and God was to be satisfied with it. Like that, so-called Christians come with all kinds of offerings to God. Those are the offerings of good works, but God rejects them. We find it in abundance in the roman-catholicism.

What He accepts is “the prayer of the upright”. The prayer is called an ‘offering’ (Psa 141:22May my prayer be counted as incense before You;
The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.
). When the upright do that to Him, it is “His delight”. The upright take their true place before God. In their hearts they stand upright before God. They realize that they only can come near to God on the ground of the offering of Christ and not on the ground of something from themselves. Their prayer is the prayer of faith. They pray in the awareness that they are sinners by nature. The prayer stands against the haughty offering of the self-satisfied people who tell God how well they serve Him (Lk 18:10-1410“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’13But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’14I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”).

Not only the offering of the wicked, in other words the pure fulfillment of religious obligations, is an abomination to God, but also “the way of the wicked”, in other words his whole life is an abomination (verse 99The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
). In the same way the prayer of the upright is not only His delight, but the entire life of those “who pursue righteousness”, is His delight. He “loves the ones” who do that. To pursue righteousness is to give the other person what he is entitled to and above all to give to God what He is entitled to. It is an active, perseverant and even dangerous search to righteousness (1Tim 6:1111But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance [and] gentleness.). Only one who has new life is able to do that.

Verse 1010Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way;
He who hates reproof will die.
connects to verse 99The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
, the way of the wicked, for the wicked is someone who “forsakes the way” which God wants man to go. The way is here the way of righteousness, like it is emphasized in the whole book. He who forsakes that way, has to be punished. It is not pleasant, but very necessary. He who does not listen to the instruction of his parents or someone else, shows that he hates reproof. That will lead to death (cf. 2Chr 25:1616As he was talking with him, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” Then the prophet stopped and said, “I know that God has planned to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”; 2Pet 2:15,2115forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the [son] of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;21For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.; Rom 8:1313for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.).

Sheol and Abaddon Lie Open before the LORD

11Sheol and Abaddon [lie open] before the LORD,
How much more the hearts of men!

The development of the train of thought in these two lines of the verse is an argument of the less to the more (“how much more”). “Sheol” and “Abaddon” represent the isolated underworld and all the mighty powers that reside there, but they are powerless there (Job 26:66“Naked is Sheol before Him,
And Abaddon has no covering.
; Psa 139:88If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
; Amos 9:22“Though they dig into Sheol,
From there will My hand take them;
And though they ascend to heaven,
From there will I bring them down.
; Rev 9:1111They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.). This territory lies completely outside the perception of men, but is not a secret to God at all. That this isolated territory with its inhabitants lies open to Him, implies that He is omniscient. That also means that He certainly knows “the hearts of men”.

The word “hearts” means the motives and thoughts (Psa 44:21b21Would not God find this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
). The eyes of the LORD not only see all individuals and their deeds (verse 33The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.
), but He also sees their hearts and everything in it. Nobody knows his own heart, let alone the heart of another person, but God knows every heart (Jer 17:1010“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
; Jn 2:2525and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.; Heb 4:12-1312For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.). He knows every intention of each individual.

A Scoffer Does Not Go to the Wise

12A scoffer does not love one who reproves him,
He will not go to the wise.

A scoffer resists every attempt to reform him. He does not love reproof or discipline and therefore he does not love “one who reproves him”. He stiffly holds on to his own senseless opinions which he spreads around him with great pleasure. His goal is to scoff others and especially God and His service. That’s what his life consists of. He loves pleasure and scoffing too much to forsake them.

He will not go to the wise to become wise, which proves that a scoffer is a fool. He does not even want to be in the company of the wise. Imagine that he would accept something of their wisdom. He cannot imagine his life without scoffing. Scoffers are people who do not want to come to the light, because they do not want to be exposed (Jn 3:19-2019This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.20For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.). The own ‘I’ is their god and goal, and scoffing is their life, which is why they reject all the wisdom from above despicably.

A Joyful, Wise and Cheerful Heart

13A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken
14The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
15All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a cheerful heart [has] a continual feast.

The emotional condition of a person, what he experiences in his soul, has a clear effect on his spirit. If somebody has “a joyful heart”, it is seen on his face (verse 1313A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken
). Someone who is on his way to meet his beloved, will have a joyful heart. The joy of that meeting will radiate from his face. Such it is with a heart that is filled with the Lord Jesus and lives with Him. There is joy about the redemption of sins and the judgment over it and about the coming meeting with Him.

When the heart is filled with worry, it makes the “spirit broken”. The words that are used here, emphasize the pain and depression with a thought of despair. A broken spirit shows a sad facial expression. Nehemiah had “a sad heart”, which was seen from his face (Neh 2:22So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid.; Gen 40:6-76When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected.7He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”). With Hannah her face changed from broken into cheerful after she had received the assurance that her prayer about a son would be answered: “So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (1Sam 1:18b18She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer [sad].). In this way we can also bring our worries, which cause us to have a broken spirit, in prayer to the Lord. That gives a change for our benefit in our mood.

Here also it applies that this is in general speaking, without the guarantee that this happens always and directly. There can be situations that one is depressive and remains like that (for a long time), although he brings everything to the Lord. That can have several causes, which we do not always understand. That is the case when it happens to ourselves and certainly when it happens to others. Job does not have a joyful heart and a cheerful face for a long time. Only when God fulfilled His goal with him, he experienced a complete change (Job 42:1-171Then Job answered the LORD and said,
2“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
4‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
5“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
6Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”7It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.8Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you [according to your] folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite [and] Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job.10The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.11Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold.12The LORD blessed the latter [days] of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.13He had seven sons and three daughters.14He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch.15In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers.16After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations.17And Job died, an old man and full of days.

The opposite of “the mind of the intelligent” is “the mouth of the fools”, the opposite of “seeks” is “feeds” and the opposite of “knowledge” is “folly” (verse 1414The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
). Both the intelligent and the fool seek to fill their mind with something. He who is intelligent of mind, longs for knowledge. He who has knowledge, longs for more knowledge. It is about knowledge on how life should be lived according to the thoughts of God. When a heart is looking for that, it indicates wisdom.

In the heart of fools there is no desire for knowledge. He actually seeks ‘to eat’ something. Therefore there is mention about “the mouth of the fools” and about feeding. ‘Feeding’ is grazing like cattle do, which indicates the satisfaction of the fool with food of the brand ‘folly’ (cf. Isa 44:2020He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”).

What one is looking for, appears from, among other things, what he reads and what he watches. An intelligent mind “has tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1Pet 2:33if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.) and therefore longs for “the pure milk” of the Word of God (1Pet 2:22like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,). The fools feed their mind with perverted reading matters and they watch bad movies. They graze like the stupid cattle in defiled meadows and eat without any filtering from the folly of these meadows.

Life can be miserable or pleasant, dependent on one’s circumstances and nature (verse 1515All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a cheerful heart [has] a continual feast.
). “The afflicted” is one who inwardly feels terrible all days. All of those days “are bad”. He cannot find pleasure in anything at all, for inside he feels terrible. Whatever people try to brighten him up, the affliction dominates in such a way that he only sees affliction. Everything is bad. Nothing tastes nice, nothing makes him happy. He continually feels bad.

There is misery when we do not succeed to find our help in God. Jacob said to Pharaoh: “Few and unpleasant have been the years of my life” (Gen 47:99So Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.”). That is because his life was marked by going his own ways, without asking God to help him. Naomi has also, together with her husband Elimelech, gone her own way. She testifies of it that she has experienced “great bitterness” because of that (Rth 1:20-2120She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.21I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”).

He who has “a cheerful heart” sees and has the life in the light of the sun, which means in the light of the Lord Jesus, Who is called “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 4:22“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.). Life is a continual celebration meal for a cheerful heart. We have a cheerful heart when we are glad in the Lord and live in fellowship with Him. Even bad days will not affect the cheerful mood. When there is joy from the inside, outward circumstances can in no way take that joy away.

The prophet Habakkuk testifies of that. Although he sees a cheerless barrenness and emptiness, he testifies and says: “Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:1818Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
). The Lord Jesus offers us a continual meal in Himself (Jn 6:3535Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.). He wants to dine with us and we are allowed to dine with Him when we open our hearts to Him (Rev 3:2020Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.).

Better … Than …

16Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
17Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox [served] with hatred.

The verses 16 and 1716Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
17Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox [served] with hatred.
clearly belong together. They say that spiritual things are better than material things or material wealth (cf. Psa 37:1616Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
). Verse 1616Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
is about money and the fear of the LORD, verse 1717Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox [served] with hatred.
is about food and love.

Verse 1616Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
says that fear or respect to God brings more satisfaction than “a great treasure and turmoil with it”. Turmoil expresses itself in restlessness, panic, commotion. Turmoil is fear. There is a saying that says: The more possessions, the more fear. The respect for God has no such fear, for it brings satisfaction and rest, which is the opposite of turmoil.

Solomon makes clear that the righteous will not allow himself to be controlled by prosperity. You may have much money, the most expensive car, the quickest computer, the largest television set with the sharpest picture, a house that has everything and still have no rest (cf. Ecc 4:66One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.; 5:1212The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.). That rest is only found in the respectfully walking with God.

Verse 1717Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox [served] with hatred.
says that a happy, loving relationship is better than a delicious meal whereby the hearts of those who share the meal are filled with hatred towards one another. This is the situation in a family where wealth replaces love. There can certainly be a rich meal with love, but here we have a situation in which a choice should be made between a luxurious meal with hatred on the one hand and a poor meal with love on the other hand.

Many people admit that a house with cheap furniture in which the people love one another, is preferable to a luxuriously decorated house in which people hate one another. Love makes difficult situations bearable, while hatred destroys all the joy which a good meal is intended to for. You can have food of the highest quality in abundance on the table and still not have the “continual feast” of verse 1515All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a cheerful heart [has] a continual feast.
. Instead you feel miserable every day and your heart is consumed by fear, restlessness, hatred and bitterness. The leaven of hatred is the cause that one cannot really enjoy the meal.

Even if someone is not known as a rich person and he has to do with very modest meals, he still can have a continual feast. That is true, if he knows values and enjoys his spiritual wealth. That makes the heart really and continually joyful. There is rest and satisfaction, the opposite of turmoil and restlessness.

We can also apply these verses to a local church. When there is “a great treasure” of knowledge, the chance for turmoil is also great when people boast in it. That was the case in Corinth, where the believers were rich in Christ (1Cor 1:4-74I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,5that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,6even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,7so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,). That actually did not make them humble and grateful, but arrogant, while love was missing (1Cor 8:11Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.). Because the Corinthians were boasting about their knowledge, there was disagreement and confusion and all kinds of malpractices (1Cor 1:10-1210Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.11For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s [people], that there are quarrels among you.12Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”; 14:3333for God is not [a God] of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.; 11:17-2217But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.19For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.20Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,21for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.22What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.). Opposite to that, is what the Lord Jesus says about the church of Philadelphia (which means ‘brotherly love’) that it has only “a little power”. He honors and encourages them (Rev 3:7-137“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:8‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.9Behold, I will cause [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and [make them] know that I have loved you.10Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that [hour] which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.11I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.12He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.13He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’).

Hot-Tempered or Slow to Anger

18A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.

The contrast is between “a hot-tempered man”, which literally means ‘a man of anger’, someone who is quick-tempered, and a man who is “slow to anger”, like James also calls it (Jam 1:1919[This] you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak [and] slow to anger;). Hot-temperance is expressed by certain circumstances. Someone who is hot-tempered, is proud by nature, for otherwise he would not get excited so quick about something that concerns him. Hot-temperance causes disagreement. A hot-tempered man has to have and insists to have his right, even if he has to go to court.

He who is slow to anger, does not demand his rights and knows how to resolve differences by not responding with agitation. By his calm response he silences the “dispute” that is aroused. It demands much patience and calmness to maintain or restore peaceful relationships. It takes two persons to cause a dispute. If one of them keeps his patience, the dispute will be silenced. The one who is slow to anger is a peace maker. To make peace begins in the heart that bows to God in Christ. That will characterize the spirit and the conduct. Abram showed this spirit when there was a dispute between the shepherds of his cattle and the shepherds of Lot’s cattle (Gen 13:7-97And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.8So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.9Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if [to] the left, then I will go to the right; or if [to] the right, then I will go to the left.”).

The Way of the Lazy and the Path of the Upright

19The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns,
But the path of the upright is a highway.

The lazy sees his “way”, which is his life, “as a hedge of thorns”, through which he feels to be hindered to go to work. His life, according to him, is full of difficulties, dangers and painful experiences. He seeks and finds in everything that happens to him in life an excuse for not being obligated to work. The hedge of thorns which he sees, is stopping him, as he thinks and as he wants others to believe. Because the lazy in the second line of the verse is in contrast to the upright and not to the diligent, it shows that laziness is a proof of unrighteousness.

The upright do not deal with hedges of thorns. Their “path … is a highway”. It is a well paved path, a path that is good. They go on “a highway …, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness” (Isa 35:88A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it [will] be for him who walks [that] way,
And fools will not wander [on it].
). They have no reason to divert or move away. That actually does not mean that the path of the upright is smooth and that they have an easy life.

Both the lazy and the upright are on a path where they meet difficulties and troubles. The difference is the way they deal with the difficulties and troubles. The lazy sees lions and bears in the difficulties, a hedge of thorns, on his way; the upright also see their difficulties, but see further than that, up to God and go their way in trusting Him, because they know that He has brought them on that path. They trust in His grace.

The Influence of Wisdom and Folly

20A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
21Folly is joy to him who lacks sense,
But a man of understanding walks straight.

When a son (or a daughter) behaves wisely as a response to the strongly protecting love of his father and the warm affection of his mother, he (or she) will cause joy to them (verse 2020A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
). However, if a son (or a daughter) behaves foolishly, it means they despise the parental investment of care. It is a declaration to the mother that she has done him or her wrong by bringing him or her into the world.

Wise children cause the parents to be glad about them. Foolish children show despise towards their mother. They show an unnatural harshness which causes great sorrow to their mother. The greatest joy and the bitterest sorrow in this world of tears are found in the heart of parents. There is no greater joy than to see that children walk in the truth (3Jn 1:44I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.). There is no greater sorrow than to see a child that rejects the truth and who lives and dies in unbelief (2Sam 18:3333The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”).

The fool does not only live without God in his sins, but has delight in folly (verse 2121Folly is joy to him who lacks sense,
But a man of understanding walks straight.
). That marks him as a person “who lacks sense”. Everyone who has delight in expressing or seeing folly, lacks sense. He goes a foolish way which ends up in eternal death. He who has sense or “understanding”, “walks straight”, which is the way of life that leads into eternal life.

The fool follows every fad and lives by the everyday humdrum. Such a life is pleasing to him, for he has no understanding in God’s will, which he does not want either. Someone with understanding knows what God’s will is for him and therefore goes the right way, the way which God has outlined. He knows “that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer 10:2323I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself,
Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.

Many Counselors Make a Plan Succeed

22Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed.

It is not God’s intention for us to do everything on our own. He has created man as a social being, who needs others to function well. Also in the church He has made the members interdependent on one another (1Cor 12:14-2114For the body is not one member, but many.15If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not [a part] of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less [a part] of the body.16And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not [a part] of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less [a part] of the body.17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?18But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.19If they were all one member, where would the body be?20But now there are many members, but one body.21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”). Self-will is always damaging. The plans of one who works alone without consultation with others, often do not succeed. The success of plans demands making inquiries and accepting good advice.

To carry out a plan without consultation also proves of hastiness. Time is needed for consultation. Consultation may be seen as wasting time, but it is not. Besides, two people see more than one person. It is good to see one’s own limitations, how much gifted one can be. Consultation with faithful and skilled people is decisive for a good result, for establishing a plan.

This is a general observation which is valuable in society, both on personal and on national level. It means that we need others. That also goes for the matters that happen in a church. In the consultation whether to keep or not to keep the law by the Gentiles in Acts 15, we have a good example of consultation for the establishment of what is necessary. The outcome is good, because the people listen to the Scripture and the Holy Spirit (Psa 119:2424Your testimonies also are my delight;
[They are] my counselors.

). With all consultation it is important above all to look up to Him Who is “the Counselor” is (Isa 9:66For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

How Delightful Is a Timely Word

23A man has joy in an apt answer,
And how delightful is a timely word!

Here we have an answer without reading about any question. The question that we are dealing with here and what the answer refers to, may regard everything. It can be an oral question, the request for advice, but also a situation which one cannot handle. The second line of the verse makes it clear that it is not about a direct and a formally right answer. It is about an answer that deals with the details on the question, but which is also given at the right time, not later and not sooner than that.

The joy that such an answer gives, is therefore not so much the result of its correctness, but the right timing of it. We speak wisely when we speak at the right time, when at that very time there is a need of the things we say. “For a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure” (Ecc 8:5b5He who keeps a [royal] command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.). To say the right things at the right time gives a deep satisfaction; it demands knowledge and wisdom and self-denial. To say the right thing, but at the wrong moment, can be counterproductive, which means that it leads to the opposite of what one seeks.

If Paul had told the prison guard that he had to believe in the Lord Jesus before he threw him in prison, Paul would have been right, but with no result. It was not the right time for the right word then. That right time came when the prison guard was about to kill himself (Acts 16:27-3227When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.28But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”29And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas,30and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.). We can learn this way of speaking from the Lord Jesus only (Isa 50:44The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens [Me] morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

The Path of Life Leads Upward

24The path of life [leads] upward for the wise,
That he may keep away from Sheol below.

“The wise” sees life in the right perspective. He knows that he is on the path of life and that this path also leads to life. It is the path “upward”; it leads to eternal life, to heaven, where eternal life is enjoyed in its fullness. The Christian who is wise, will seek the things that are above, that are upward, for there is Christ, his life (Col 3:1-21Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.). He fixes his eyes on “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:22fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.).

The wise walks on that path because he wants to stay away “from Sheol below” as far as he possibly could. It is not so much because there would be a chance that he could end up in hell. Through the blood of Christ he knows that he has escaped from the judgment of hell and that he will not end up there. The point is that he now goes the path of life and in that way also takes a distance of matters that belong to ‘the hell below’. He is born from above and goes the way upward. He belongs to heaven and not to hell. That appears from the focus of his life.

The LORD Protects the Widow

25The LORD will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.

The LORD tears down the “proud” and their houses, but He protects the vulnerable “widow”. The contrast is between the proud and the widow; between those who fully trust in themselves and someone who is powerless, who has no one else but God (Psa 68:55A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
). The Scripture sufficiently confirms that God defends the case of the widow, the orphan, the poor and the needy.

The contrast assumes that the widow is the prey of the proud people, who want to take her land and house (Isa 5:8-108Woe to those who add house to house [and] join field to field,
Until there is no more room,
So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
9In my ears the LORD of hosts [has sworn], “Surely, many houses shall become desolate,
[Even] great and fine ones, without occupants.
10“For ten acres of vineyard will yield [only] one bath [of wine],
And a homer of seed will yield [but] an ephah of grain.”
). God has established the borders of His people in the land and will maintain them (Deu 19:1414“You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess.). Those who do not consider that – the proud – He tears down, including their whole ‘empire’ in which they trust and of which they think that it is established forever. Only what has been established by God, such as the boundary of the widow, has been unshakably established.

Evil Plans or Pleasant Words

26Evil plans are an abomination to the LORD,
But pleasant words are pure.

God not only hates the sacrifice and the way of the wicked (verses 8-98The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
9The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But He loves one who pursues righteousness.
), but also their “plans” and thoughts. A wicked person is also a deviser if “evil plans”. The plans that he makes have the purpose to do others evil, to harm and damage them. There is no thought of God with him. It is all about him. The LORD knows his heart. His evil plans are “an abomination” to Him.

The contrast in the second line of the verse is that between hidden plans or thoughts are “pleasant words”. Pleasant words do not have to be hidden, but can be spoken. They cannot but come from a heart which is pure because it is focused on God. Those words do not reflect evil plans; they are not impure, but “pure”.

David is the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2Sam 23:11Now these are the last words of David.
David the son of Jesse declares,
The man who was raised on high declares,
The anointed of the God of Jacob,
And the sweet psalmist of Israel,
). The words that he has spoken, are pure words because they are spoken by him through the Spirit of God (2Sam 23:22“The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
). When we speak through the Spirit of God, our words are pleasant and pure.

Warning against Illicit Profit

27He who profits illicitly troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.

“To profit illicitly” leads to dishonest practices, like the use of “bribes” and kickbacks, which distort justice (Exo 23:88“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.; Deu 16:1919You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.; Job 8:33“Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?
; Mt 28:11-1511Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,13and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’14And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.”15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, [and is] to this day.; Exo 18:2121Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place [these] over them [as] leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.; 1Sam 8:33His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.; Isa 33:1515He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity,
He who rejects unjust gain
And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe;
He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed
And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil;
; 1Pet 5:22shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;). The greedy man is the one who hurries to become rich and does not worry about how it happens. He not only troubles himself, but drags others with him. He troubles his whole house, wife and children.

The verse is a warning against accepting bribes. Gifts can be harmless, but they can also change one’s norms and values, which means lower them. He who hates gifts which are meant as bribes, “will live” and keeps his family from troubles. Illicit profit is slavery. Whoever hates illicit profit, will now already experience the real life and he will soon do that perfectly. It is living in the freedom of the Spirit.

Think First, Then Answer

28The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

“The righteous” is not a blabbermouth. He “ponders” in his heart how he shall answer when he is asked a question or when something of God happens to him (Hab 2:11I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
). Pondering is weighing or observing. He who is wise, is careful with his words. For a good answer we need Divine wisdom, for we are surrounded by a wicked world. Therefore we are to consider what and how we should answer.

The wicked are not led by the fear of God. Therefore a flow of evil comes out of their mouths. They cause evil with what comes out of their mouth. Their mouth overflows from it. Their mouth is not to be stopped from being a source of torment to others. They produce evil things from the evil treasure of their hearts (Mt 12:34-3534You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.35The good man brings out of [his] good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of [his] evil treasure what is evil.).

The LORD Answers the Prayer of the Righteous

29The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

The wicked people keep the LORD at a distance. Therefore He is far from them. When they need Him because they think that He can serve them, He appears inaccessible for them and deaf to their calling to Him. His mercy, love and help are not available to them because they refuse to break with their sins. Of course, a prayer of repentance of the wicked is the exception, for that’s how they become righteous. When they pray as righteous people, He answers them (Jam 5:16b-1816Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.; Psa 34:16,1816The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
; 1Pet 3:1212“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”).

What Gladdens the Heart and Puts Fat on the Bones

30Bright eyes gladden the heart;
Good news puts fat on the bones.

“Bright eyes” are caused by the sun. Light is from heaven, from God. When that light comes in the eyes, when the eyes see that, it gladdens the heart (cf. Ecc 11:77The light is pleasant, and [it is] good for the eyes to see the sun.). Through the light of God in our eyes, we can see everything that God has done and praise Him for it. That goes for both the old creation and the new creation, for both the material world and the spiritual world. When “the eyes of our hearts are enlightened” (Eph 1:1818[I pray that] the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,), it means that we are able to know what spiritual blessings we have received from God.

“Good news” regards something good that our ears hear. That has an effect on our bones. It feels like fat on them, by which they are strengthened. We see that with Jacob when he hears that Joseph is still alive. His spirit revives and he goes to him (Gen 45:27-2827When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.28Then Israel said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”). We receive power for our walk when we hear about the good of God’s intention when He disciplines us (Heb 12:11-1311All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,13and make straight paths for your feet, so that [the limb] which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.). Ten out of the twelve spies spread bad news about the promised land and in that way paralyzed the people, which caused them to refuse to move on.

To listen and to fear is life, wisdom and honor

31He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
32He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
33The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor [comes] humility.

A “reproof” may be painful, but he who has an ear to listen to it, will therefore live according to the wisdom of God (verse 3131He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
). A person who is eager to learn, belongs to the wise, for he who “listens to the life-giving reproof”, shows himself to be wise. The wise will live to the honor of God. Reproof serves to remove out of one’s life all things that hinder it. Whoever has an open ear for that, “will dwell among the wise”, which means that he will find rest among the wise. He is one of them.

“He who neglects discipline”, which goes further than refusing to listen to reproof, “despises himself” (verse 3232He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
). He thinks that nobody should meddle with his life. He wants to live as he himself thinks it’s best. He forgets that by such an attitude he despises himself. The reproof is intended to let him live the real life, which means how God has meant it. That gives full satisfaction to life.

Whoever “listens to reproof acquires understanding”; he receives understanding about himself and about life. Then one can grow spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. He will know how he should live to God’s honor. For his neighbor he will not seek the evil, but the good, and will know what God asks of him.

Whoever lets himself to be led by “the fear of the LORD”, is continuously instructed, in the sense of taught, in order to go wisely through life (verse 3333The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor [comes] humility.
), for “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD” (Pro 9:1010The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
). He knows how to make the good choice when there is a choice to be made and in that way also to avoid the evil. His life is adapted to doing the will of God.

The first effect of wisdom is that it works “humility” in the righteous. Fearing God goes together with humility. Where the one is, there the other will also be. The one is the way to wisdom; the other is the way to honor. Humility is a mind of the heart which we have to learn. We can learn humility from Him Who is Wisdom. He has said: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:2929Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.).

Humble submission in trusting the LORD, brings “wisdom” and “honor”. The Lord Jesus has humbled Himself and was exalted by God. He is the example of what He says to us: “He who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11b11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”). Our exaltation, the honor that we shall receive, depends on our humiliation. If we humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God”, He will exalt us “at the proper time” (1Pet 5:66Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,).

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