Proverbs
1-5 The LORD Is Sovereign 6-9 To Live under the Sovereignty of God 10-15 The Characteristics of a King after God’s Heart 16 Wisdom and Understanding, Not Gold and Silver 17 The Highway 18-19 Humbleness Is Better Than a Haughty Spirit 20-24 The Value of the Word and Words 25 The End of a Seemingly Right Way 26 Hunger Urges to Work 27-30 The Worthless, Perverse, Violent Man 31-32 A Gray Head, Patience and Self-Control 33 Man Considers, but God Decides
The LORD Is Sovereign

1The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
2All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
3Commit your works to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
4The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
5Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.

Verse 11The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
indicates that the LORD is beyond the “plans of the heart” of a “man”. The word “but” at the beginning of the second line of the verse assumes that there is a contrast with the first line of the verse. In the first line it is about man and the plans that he has in his heart. In the second line it is about “the LORD” from Whom “the answer of the tongue” of man comes. That here and in the next verses is spoken about “the LORD” (Yahweh), shows that the emphasis lies on God’s relationship with man.

Man can and may have plans in his heart. The word ‘plans’ has to do with developing a plan in arranged order with the intention to implement it in such a way. But when it comes down to the implementation, it is important to realize that God has the final say. He determines the implantation of it, which may be quite different from what man would have thought. It is about the acknowledgement of God in the implementation of the plans which are made by man.

It is a general proverb that applies to every person, believing or unbelieving. An unbeliever does not acknowledge God and does not involve Him in his plans and their implementation. Still God has also the final say here. An example of that is Balaam. He had plans in his heart to curse God’s people, but God made him speak out blessings over His people (Numbers 23-24).

Verse 22All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
indicates that the LORD is beyond the “ways” of man. With “ways” is meant all his ways, his whole conduct, everything he says and does. When man judges himself, when he looks at himself with his own eyes, he thinks that he is “clean”. He does not see uncleanness in his motives. But because he judges himself, he cannot be objective. Lack of self-knowledge and the great probability of self-deception make his self-judgment unreliable. The proverb assumes that such premature opinion about oneself is ignorant at best and self-satisfied at worst.

But the LORD examines the behavior and knows the motives of it. He examines or tests the spirits which leads one to self-judgment. In His light it can turn out that a person is far from being clean in his motives. When God says: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1Sam 16:77But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God [sees] not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”), it does not only apply when we look at others, but also when we look at ourselves. Testing the spirits is more than the testing of motives only. God also sees the mind in which one speaks and works. Is there obedience or rebellion?

The conclusion is that we easily deceive ourselves and therefore are not able to evaluate ourselves completely. Only God comes to a perfect, all pervasive assessment. Intellectual explanations and self-justification are typical to the nature of the fallen man. But God sees through its smoke curtain and knows what motivates a person inwardly.

We can see the speck in the eye of our brother and at the same time be blind for the log in our own eye (Mt 7:33Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?). We are blind for our own mistakes and think that we are completely right. But the Lord knows us completely. When it is all right, we are not aware of anything and at the same time we know that we are not righteous by that, because the knowledge of ourselves is very limited. Therefore it is good to leave the ultimate judgment about ourselves and our service to the Lord (1Cor 4:4-54For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.5Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, [but wait] until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of [men’s] hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.).

Verse 33Commit your works to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
indicates that the LORD is beyond the “works” of man. If we want our plans to succeed, we should be dependent on God. Therefore we should commit our works, what we intend to do, to Him. The verb ‘commit’ literally means ‘turn’ or ‘roll’. It is the picture of the turning or rolling of burdens. It means that we should turn away the worries about the activities, its project and the execution, as a stone from us and turn them in the direction of God and in that way commit those worries to Him (cf. Psa 22:88“Commit [yourself] to the LORD; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
; 37:55Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
; 55:2222Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
). We do that by laying everything that we are engaged with, in prayer with the Lord.

If we do that, all our plans will be established, meaning carried out, be achieved. It proves of full dependence on God. Success or failure does not depend on accidental events or adversaries, but on God. Therefore we should commit our plans to Him. To commit means that we cast all things on Him and leave them with Him (1Pet 5:77casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.). This is a one-off matter. It is good to start the day with committing ourselves to Him about everything with which we will be occupied, whether planned or not planned.

Verse 44The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
says that the LORD stands above all His works, also above the wicked. Everything that He has created, is part of His plan. Nothing exists ‘accidentally’; there are no ‘loose ends’ in His world. He stands at the beginning of everything and has made everything with a purpose. Everything that is, meets His intention. That intention is His glorification (Col 1:1616For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.). All His works will glorify Him (Psa 145:1010All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
).

That also goes for the wicked. When he comes into judgment, it is because it fits to his life. This is how God has ordered it. Therefore we should not draw the wrong conclusion that God is the Author of evil. God cannot sin and does not tempt anyone to sin (Jam 1:13-1513Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.). Only good things come from Him (Jam 1:16-1816Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.18In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.).

God has made man well (Gen 1:2727God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.), but man started to behave wickedly (Ecc 7:2929Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”). God calls the wicked to repent (Acts 17:3030Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent,), for He takes no pleasure in the death of sinners (Eze 33:1111Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’). But if he does not repent before the day of judgment, he will perish on that day. The wicked and the day of evil belong together.

The wicked have not honored God in their life. They will be forced to do it in the judgment (Phil 2:10-1110so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.). The wicked is not made to live wickedly and to die wickedly. There is no election to be rejected. The Lord Jesus says of Judas Iscariot that it would have been good “if he had not been born” (Mt 26:2424The Son of Man [is to] go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”). Judas is fully responsible for the choice that he made to betray and deliver the Lord Jesus for payment. At the same time God knew how to use him for the implementation of His plan.

Everything has a purpose. The existence of the wicked seems to mock that purpose. Therefore it is clearly said here that “the wicked” was made “for the day of evil”. The wicked is focused on the purpose that God has allocated him for because of his wickedness. Also from the judgment over the wicked – whereby we can think especially, but not exclusively, of the antichrist, the man of sin – God’s elevation appears beyond everything that He has made.

Verse 55Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
says that the LORD is above “everyone who is proud in heart”. The wicked of verse 4b4The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
has followers: everyone who is proud. ‘Proud’ describes the arrogance of those who have an arrogant attitude against God (2Chr 26:1616But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.; Psa 131:11A Song of Ascents, of David.
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
). It is not only the proud look, but the pride in heart by which one exalts himself above everything and everyone. Pride is the characteristic of satan and the antichrist and all their followers. Because pride disputes the elevation of God beyond everything and because the proud wants to take that place himself, this sin is an abomination to Him. It is the sin of satan and man.

God will take revenge for that sin. That is absolutely sure. It is just as sure as giving a pledge to someone (“assuredly”). These arrogant people will not go unpunished as innocent ones. God will humiliate all who are arrogant and proud (Isa 2:11-1211The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.12For the LORD of hosts will have a day [of reckoning]
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.
).


To Live under the Sovereignty of God

6By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.
7When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.
9The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.

Verse 66By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.
is about the full liberation of sin, by which that liberation has been achieved and its consequences in practice. The first line of the verse speaks about the atonement of a crime. The second line of the verse speaks about the keeping of oneself from evil.

“Lovingkindness and truth” are features of God. They become especially visible on the cross (Psa 85:1010Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
). God has brought about the atonement for everyone who believes by the work of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross. His lovingkindness announce that He is full of kindness and love towards man. He has shown that in the gift of His Son.

His truth has to do with His faithfulness to the truth. Naturally, He cannot ignore sin. Sin has to be judged. He did that in the judgment that He brought over His Son. His faithfulness to the truth also implies that He reconciles everyone with Him who accepts the sacrifice which He has brought in Christ.

He who partakes in the atonement of his crimes, has been liberated from the power of sin. It will be seen in his life that he does not serve sin anymore and that he keeps away from evil. He cannot do that by his own strength. The impetus of that lies in “the fear of the LORD”. Out of love and honor for God he will not want to have anything to do with evil, with sin, anymore, in order to live to the honor of God (Tit 2:11-1211For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,).

When “a man’s ways” are pleasing to the Lord, it is because they remind him of the ways that the Lord Jesus went about on earth and in which He was fully pleased (verse 77When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
). Those ways evoke in the first instance hatred from the side of the world and no peace. Yet, enemies will recognize the advantage of such a way and because of that will seek to be friends with him.

A lifestyle which is pleasing to God, disarms social hostility. The life which is pleasing to God, is a life which is lived in faith (Heb 11:66And without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and [that] He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.). It will be blameless and will find mercy with others. God can make that happen. It is not about all hostility of all enemies, but in certain situations, which are according to His will. One can be accused by enemies and be thrown into prison. God can work on the hearts of the fellow prisoners in prison, in order to accept and honor the believer. Joseph experienced it.

We must not forget that this proverb is not to be validated in all situations. Another rule, which is equally valid, is that believers have tribulations in the world (Jn 16:3333These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”), like also “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus” will be persecuted (2Tim 3:1212Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.).

The few possessions that one has, but which have been gained in a righteous way, are better than “a great income” which is unfairly gained ”with injustice” (verse 88Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.
). “A little” does not necessarily mean extreme poverty; it may possibly refer to a modest income. It is about what is satisfactory in life, and that is God’s approval and having fellowship with Him. God hates unfairly gained income.

What has been gained unfairly, will therefore not be used fairly. What has been earned fairly, will be spent well, to live from it and also to do good to others with it. What has been unfairly gained, will be squandered in debauchery. As soon as one gets the taste of it, he is insatiable. He will want to appropriate more things in order to be able to finance his luxurious lifestyle.

The widow of Zarephath, who had a little, but with Elijah had the resources in her house (1Kgs 17:10-1510So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.”11As she was going to get [it], he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”12But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”13Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring [it] out to me, and afterward you may make [one] for yourself and for your son.14For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.’”15So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for [many] days.), was better off than Jezebel with her ‘great income with injustice’ (2Kgs 9:32-3732Then he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” And two or three officials looked down at him.33He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her under foot.34When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.”35They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.36Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel;37and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.”‘“). In spiritual sense we can apply this to the church on earth. The true believers, the true church, have little in an earthly point of view, but possess God’s righteousness in Christ. They have little strength. In contrast there is the false church, the roman-catholic system which boasts to have all spiritual riches, but with injustice. The true church has nothing but Christ, the false church has everything apart from Christ.

Verse 99The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
shows the possible contrast between what our plans are and what really happens. God determines what really happens. We can make plans for the way that we want to go. But if we want to make steps to go that way, we should consider that it is ultimately the Lord who directs our lives (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.
; Psa 37:2323The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
). It is all about that we learn to say: “If the Lord wills and we will live and also do this or that” (Jam 4:1515Instead, [you ought] to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”; Jam 4:13-1413Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are [just] a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.; 1Thes 3:1111Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you;).


The Characteristics of a King after God’s Heart

10A divine decision is in the lips of the king;
His mouth should not err in judgment.
11A just balance and scales belong to the LORD;
All the weights of the bag are His concern.
12It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts,
For a throne is established on righteousness.
13Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.
14The fury of a king is [like] messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
15In the light of a king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.

In verses 10-1510A divine decision is in the lips of the king;
His mouth should not err in judgment.
11A just balance and scales belong to the LORD;
All the weights of the bag are His concern.
12It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts,
For a throne is established on righteousness.
13Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.
14The fury of a king is [like] messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
15In the light of a king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.
follows a series of proverbs about kings. What is said here of a king and kings, is perfectly brought into practice by the Lord Jesus, both in His government now in secret and soon when He will openly reign over the world. Kings are the representatives of God on earth (Rom 13:1-71Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.6For because of this you also pay taxes, for [rulers] are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.). God wants them to express His features as a righteous Ruler in their speech and actions.

That also goes for the speech and actions of the believers in this time, for they are a royal priesthood (1Pet 2:99But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;) and have been made to be a kingdom (Rev 1:66and He has made us [to be] a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him [be] the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.). They have no government task yet, but surely have the dignity of kings and therefore are to behave like that.

The first and main task of someone who reigns is that he makes righteous decisions (verse 1010A divine decision is in the lips of the king;
His mouth should not err in judgment.
). A king must make righteous decisions in disputes. When “a divine decision is in the lips of the king”, it refers to an official judicial decision from him in his capacity as king. It is not possible to appeal against such a decision and there is no need to. It is literally an ‘oracle’, an utterance of God, for he represents God. It does not mean that he is infallible, but it clarifies what kind of responsible function he has. In the same way we are also responsible, if we serve with our gifts, that our speech must be “as of one who is speaking the utterances of God” (1Pet 4:1111Whoever speaks, [is to do so] as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves [is to do so] as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.). Here also the word ‘utterances’ is literally ‘oracles’.

The king who is aware of his high position and great responsibility, will not “err in judgment with his mouth”. This is what the Lord Jesus perfectly did. Error in judgment is a judgment which is contrary to the truth. In that case a king releases the guilty and punishes the innocent. God will never do that and thus neither will the Lord Jesus do that. Also a believer who lives in fellowship with the God and Christ will never do that.

Verse 1111A just balance and scales belong to the LORD;
All the weights of the bag are His concern.
is between verses which deal with a king and kings. Therefore this verse applies in the first place to them. They are to be fully honest and sincere. Not a king determines what is honest and dishonest, but God. God is the sovereign Ruler over morality, not the king. God is the source of honesty and justice in all human relations and actions. The proverb is about “just balances” and “scales”. It is written in the law of the LORD that the means of weighing are to be just (Lev 19:3636You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.; Deu 25:1313“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small.; Amos 8:55saying,
“When will the new moon be over,
So that we may sell grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat [market],
To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,
And to cheat with dishonest scales,
; Mic 6:1111“Can I justify wicked scales
And a bag of deceptive weights?
).

God has given man the ability to work with measures and weights. We owe them to Him. As He teaches the farmer how he should plough the land (Isa 28:23-2923Give ear and hear my voice,
Listen and hear my words.
24Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed?
Does he [continually] turn and harrow the ground?
25Does he not level its surface
And sow dill and scatter cummin
And plant wheat in rows,
Barley in its place and rye within its area?
26For his God instructs and teaches him properly.
27For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
Nor is the cartwheel driven over cummin;
But dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a club.
28[Grain for] bread is crushed,
Indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever.
Because the wheel of [his] cart and his horses [eventually] damage [it],
He does not thresh it longer.
29This also comes from the LORD of hosts,
[Who] has made [His] counsel wonderful and [His] wisdom great.
), He also teaches the merchant and everyone who trades. He makes a regular purchase and sale possible by giving man the ability of weighing. In that way he can earn money in an honest way and provide in his livelihood.

Because man is sinful, it is to be said to him that he is not to work with deviating, thus false balances and weights. He has to be faithful. That applies above all to those who have a particular obligation as role models, such as kings, but also parents, elders, teachers.

Cunning traders had light and heavy weights for dishonest transactions. They used light weights when they had to sell something, in which way they gave less goods than what was paid for. In our time we can think of the keeping of two accounts, whereby the account as a proof is shown which delivers the most profit.

Faithfulness in trade transactions is also necessary when it comes down to spiritual matters. When decisions are to be made in a spiritual case, it should also happen honestly. Sympathy or antipathy may not play a role. The case should be considered without discrimination. It is also important to present the truth of God’s Word in balance or balanced and not to emphasize certain truths at the expense of other truths.

A righteous king not only acts justly, but it is also “an abomination to him to commit wicked acts” (verse 1212It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts,
For a throne is established on righteousness.
). He hates adultery and murder that others commit, but those sins are also an abomination to himself. What is wrong for others, is certainly wrong for kings who are considered to be punishing the wrong.

If they themselves would act wickedly, it would jeopardize their throne. A righteous government determines the stability of the rulers. Therefore kings hate the committing of illegal acts. The kingdom of the Lord Jesus fully answers to it (Psa 45:7-8a7You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
8All Your garments are [fragrant with] myrrh and aloes [and] cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
; 89:14a14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Lovingkindness and truth go before You.
).

Godly kings love righteousness and dislike hypocritical flattery (verse 1313Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.
). Flattery is the order of the day in palaces, but is despised by one who reigns in the fear of God. People who are honest and frank, are valuable for rulers of countries. Political leaders know that the society, over which they have authority, becomes chaos without such people. Only when the truth rules, is there a good government. A king, who wants to reign righteously, will surely take faithful people in his government.

When the king gets inflamed with anger, it is like a death threat (verse 1414The fury of a king is [like] messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
). The expressions of his fury are messengers of death to him or to those whom he is angry about. Those who are the object of his anger do well by taking a wise attitude. Only wisdom offers a possibility to escape from death which is a result of the king’s fury (Ecc 10:44If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.).

God’s anger is inflamed against sin. He sends messengers out with the warning about the judgment of death. Whoever listens to those messengers and acknowledges that His judgment is just, and in that way takes in the right place before Him, sees that there is a wise Man, Who has made an atonement. Christ took away God’s anger about sin for everyone who believes, by undergoing the anger of God’s wrath as a substitute for everyone who believes. Therefore, everyone who believes and accepts the atonement, is also wise.

The verses 14 and 1514The fury of a king is [like] messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
15In the light of a king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.
belong together. A king has power over death (verse 1414The fury of a king is [like] messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
) and life (verse 1515In the light of a king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.
). Verse 1515In the light of a king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.
is the reverse of verse 1414The fury of a king is [like] messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
. The opposite of the dark anger of a king, with death as a threat is the light of his face with life as a result. This light radiates from God’s sight to all who are reconciled with Him through the work of Christ. Whoever lives in the light, lives the true life. Light and life belong together (Jn 1:44In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.).

His delight is in those who walk in the light of His face. It means that they live in fellowship with Him. Therefore He blesses them with a great blessing. He is “like a cloud with the spring rain”. In Israel the spring rain is the rain that falls down before the harvest. In that way the harvest gets a last growth stimulus in order to come to stage of full ripeness. It is also a picture of the coming of the Lord Jesus for His people (Hos 6:33“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
) and also a picture of Himself (Psa 72:66May he come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.
). The greatest blessing of life in the light of God’s face is the fellowship with Christ. That works spiritual growth and a focus on His coming.

In a prophetic sense it refers to the blessing with which Christ in His kingdom will influence the earth. Under His righteous government the land will know a prosperity which it has never known ever before (Psa 72:15-1715So may he live, and may the gold of Sheba be given to him;
And let them pray for him continually;
Let them bless him all day long.
16May there be abundance of grain in the earth on top of the mountains;
Its fruit will wave like [the cedars of] Lebanon;
And may those from the city flourish like vegetation of the earth.
17May his name endure forever;
May his name increase as long as the sun [shines];
And let [men] bless themselves by him;
Let all nations call him blessed.
).


Wisdom and Understanding, Not Gold and Silver

16How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.

Wisdom is not a little bit, but much more precious than the purest gold. Wisdom builds up a man, gold builds up his possessions. Wisdom and wealth are not incompatible. In this comparison it is about the difference between wealth without wisdom and wisdom without wealth. Earthly wealth without heavenly wisdom often comes forth from greed or degenerates into it.

The power of the proverb is to encourage people to gain wisdom and understanding. In case the choice (what is “to be chosen”) has to be made between gaining understanding and gaining silver, Solomon puts it clearly that the choice must be made for gaining understanding. Gold and silver are earthly, temporary things; wisdom and understanding, which can only come from God, are of permanent value. There is no noble metal that can give satisfaction to the soul.

We find the meaning of this proverb in the words of the Lord Jesus not to store up treasures on earth, but in heaven. He says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:19-2119“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.).


The Highway

17The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who watches his way preserves his life.

“The highway of the upright” is the excellent way of life of upright men. The highway is an elevated and paved way. The holes in that way are closed and the bumps on that way are removed. The dangers of falling into a hole or stumbling over a height are not there for the upright ones. That does not mean that they don’t have to care about anything on going their way. They see that the evil threatens them from all sides and to turn away from it. That shows that they go a highway and live uprightly.

Whoever goes the highway and watches carefully to stay on that way “preserves his life”. He protects his life against evil. To live righteously is a protection against evil. The highway is the best way, but it is not the way that everyone goes. It is the way of the pilgrim. He goes that way because this way is in his heart (Psa 84:55How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways [to Zion]!
). It is “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].
), which God shows us in His Word.


Humbleness Is Better Than a Haughty Spirit

18Pride [goes] before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

It is an act of God’s righteousness He humiliates proud, haughty men (verse 1818Pride [goes] before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
). They have exalted themselves and are struck by God. Their destruction and stumbling come when they feel like being at the height of their fortune and provoke God with their nose in the air (Dan 4:30-3130The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’31While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, [saying], ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you,; Rev 18:7-87To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit [as] a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’8For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.). Whoever walks with his nose in the air, doesn’t see where he goes and over which he can stumble. That causes his “destruction” and “stumbling”. We therefore do not need to be worried about the pride and haughtiness of others, but all the more about our own pride and haughtiness. Haman is an illustration of this verse (Est 5:9-149Then Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate and that he did not stand up or tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.10Haman controlled himself, however, went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh.11Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every [instance] where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king.12Haman also said, “Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king.13Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”14Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go joyfully with the king to the banquet.” And the advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made.; 7:1-101Now the king and Haman came to drink [wine] with Esther the queen.2And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.”3Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;4for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.”5Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?”6Esther said, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.7The king arose in his anger from drinking wine [and went] into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm had been determined against him by the king.8Now when the king returned from the palace garden into the place where they were drinking wine, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.9Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who [were] before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.”10So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.).

Verse 1919It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
connects to verse 1818Pride [goes] before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
. It is better to be “lowly” together with the “humble in spirit”, than “to divide the spoil” of robberies with the “proud”. The humble in spirit submits himself to God. He is modest and does not push himself to the front. That shows that he belongs to the company of the gentle ones and therefore to the Lord Jesus from Whom they have learnt to be gentle and humble in heart (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.). Someone is humble when he does not assert his rights and doesn’t defend himself when injustice is done to him.

The proud are those who in their pride are rebellious against God. They are arrogant and oppressive. That there is mention of dividing the spoil with the proud refers to the pressure that the proud exert on the humble to cooperate with their evil practices, using the division of the spoil as a bait. In order not to bite in the bait we should have a humble spirit which is depending on God.


The Value of the Word and Words

20He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly.
23The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

The conclusion that we can draw from both lines of verse 2020He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
, is that “he who gives attention to the word … trusts in the LORD”. Conversely we can say that he who trusts in the LORD, will give attention to the Word of God. To give attention to the Word literally means ‘the one who wisely deals with the Word’. That makes clearer that it is not about incidentally giving attention to the Word, but that it means the daily, continual dealing with the Word of God. It is about what God says and not about what somebody says himself.

Giving attention to the Word of God implies that we listen to the teaching of it. He who listens with that mind and lives with God like that, “will find good”. He will find the true meaning of life, which is Christ. He is the personification of good. He is the Good.

That it is about what God says and not what the person says who is addressed here, appears from the second line of the verse. To give attention to what God says implies that we trust Him. The trusting one is he who continuously trusts. Whoever does that, can really be called “blessed”. He will receive all kinds of blessing (Jer 17:77“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
). The LORD provides him who gives attention to His Word, him who seriously considers it, with good through His Word.

That one who is wise of heart, will appear from his speech and silence and his whole conduct (verse 2121The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
). Others will remark about it and he will be called “understanding”, a man of understanding, a man who speaks knowingly. His wise words will deliver him a reputation of competence and will offer him the possibility to exert a benevolent influence on his environment.

His manner of speaking makes it pleasant for others to listen to him. His words are sweet or pleasant. Those are words which are spoken with a certain gracefulness. There is no bitterness or harshness in them. What he says edifies the listener; it gives him more understanding in what is spoken about. His words of education are received well, because they are convicting. The wise in heart is “able to teach” (1Tim 3:22An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,).

The “fountain of life” which the ones of understanding have (verse 2222Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly.
), has been given by God to them. That fountain is not only a refreshment for its owners, but also for everyone around him. The New Testament believer also owns such a fountain. Of it is said that rivers of living water flow from his inside to others to refresh them (Jn 4:1414but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”; 7:38-3938He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet [given], because Jesus was not yet glorified.). That refreshment can only flow by the power of the Holy Spirit. In that way Paul has been a fountain of life by the power of the Holy Spirit in the proclamation of the gospel and in strengthening the believers (Acts 14:21-2221After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,22strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and [saying], “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”).

We also can be a fountain of life, for also to us the understanding has been given, by which we know Him Who is true (1Jn 5:2020And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.). It is the understanding which formerly was darkness (Eph 4:1818being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;), but now has been opened and enlightened by the Spirit of Christ, by which we are able to understand the Scripture (Lk 24:4545Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,). With the knowledge that we have of Him, we can serve others and in that way become a fountain of life to others.

With the fool there is no fountain of life present. Fools have nothing else in themselves than a fountain of foolishness. When an admonition of teaching comes out of their mouth, it is nothing more than foolishness. Whoever listens to that, becomes like the fools.

The one who is wise of heart, is taught by his heart so that he may say wise things (verse 2323The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
). He also knows when he should speak and to whom he should speak. He not only speaks well-chosen words which others understand, but his words are educational and increase the understanding of him to whom he speaks. What the wise says, is not only useful, but it also improves the growth. There is an increase of understanding, which will become apparent from what he says.

The heart of the wise is a source of words of wisdom. That is not only true from the born-again heart. When the Word of Christ dwells abundantly in us, we will teach and admonish one another in all wisdom with psalms, praises and spiritual songs (Col 3:1616Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.).

With “pleasant words” (verse 2424Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
) the words from the heart of the wise of the previous verse are meant. Such words have the sweetness of a honeycomb (Psa 19:1010They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
; 119:103103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
). Pleasant words are comforting and encouraging. They can be words from the Word of God, or words, spoken in a prayer or a praise. Those are words to which God loves to listen to and therefore also to which everyone does who is born of Him.

Like honey in a honey comb is being produced by diligent bees, pleasant words are the result of a continuous relationship with God in secret. He who can speak pleasant words, has studied the Scripture diligently and can therefore bring forward old and new things for the benefit of the listeners, to the encouragement and recovery of spiritual power (Mt 13:5252And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”).

We see the benevolent effect of the use of a little bit of honey with Jonathan (1Sam 14:2727But Jonathan had not heard when his father put the people under oath; therefore, he put out the end of the staff that [was] in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.). In a spiritual sense sweet words have the same effect. Sweet words are no juicy words. They are loving and at the same time clear, convincing words. Sweet words are healing when they come forth from the teaching of God’s Word.

Bones are the power through which the body is able to move and move on. We regain spiritual and physical power when we have heard encouraging words. People can listen to the words of prophecy, which means words that are spoken for “edification, exhortation and comfort” (1Cor 14:33But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.), as to melodious music (cf. 1Chr 25:1-61Moreover, David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service [some] of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who [were] to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals; and the number of those who performed their service was:2Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah and Asharelah; the sons of Asaph [were] under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king.3Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun with the harp, who prophesied in giving thanks and praising the LORD.4Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth.5All these [were] the sons of Heman the king’s seer to exalt him according to the words of God, for God gave fourteen sons and three daughters to Heman.6All these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman [were] under the direction of the king.).


The End of a Seemingly Right Way

25There is a way [which seems] right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

This proverb is identical to Proverbs 14:12. There the proverb is in context with appearances which deceive (Pro 14:11-1311The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
But the tent of the upright will flourish.
12There is a way [which seems] right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
13Even in laughter the heart may be in pain,
And the end of joy may be grief.
), with looking at the appearance, while the reality is different. It is relying on what you see without the awareness of being deceived. Here the proverb is in context with the way in which we plan our lives and where it ends up to. It is about how we think of our own lives and how we live it opposite to the way God thinks about it and wants us to live it.

The way which seems right to someone, can be the way of pleasure and careless enjoyment. We see that the very apparently right way, ends up into countless "ways of death". There is plenty of choice on that very way, but each choice on it, leads to death. It does not necessarily have to be about the choice for a life in great sins. As long as there is enough money, as long as one can make a career, if everything goes well in one’s family and everyone gives the other what he is entitled to, one can think that he is on the right way. Such people will turn out to be deceived. It is as with the man who said: ‘I climbed the ladder of success, but I discovered the ladder was standing against the wrong wall.’

Another way that can look right to someone is that of total freedom. Give free sex all the space in whatever relationship one wants to have; give man the right to life and death by allowing him to commit abortion and euthanasia, and people will say that it is the right way of and to happiness. Also here that way will appear to be ending in death.

The broad road of sin seems right because many walk on it. But that is appearance, for that way ends up in death (Mt 7:13-1413“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.14For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.). The way of death is walked by those who use their mind, their feelings or their conscience as a standard and not God’s Word. One only goes the way which is right when he trusts in Christ and not in his own understanding, and knows Him in all of his ways (Pro 3:5-65Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
).


Hunger Urges to Work

26A worker’s appetite works for him,
For his hunger urges him [on].

Hunger stimulates one, triggers him, urges him, exerts him, to work diligently (cf. Ecc 6:77All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.). Hunger is good and has a benevolent effect that stimulates someone to work, in order to earn money. This makes it possible to buy food with which the hunger can be satisfied. Also in the New Testament the importance of working is pointed out several times, among other things in order to be able to provide for one’s own livelihood in that way and also to give to others (2Thes 3:10-1210For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.; Eph 4:2828He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have [something] to share with one who has need.; 6:77With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,).

It also goes for the spiritual application. He who is newly converted and therefore has new life, will have a desire for spiritual food (1Pet 2:22like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,). Spiritual hunger stimulates one to examine God’s Word diligently.


The Worthless, Perverse, Violent Man

27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30He who winks his eyes [does so] to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.

Verses 27-3027A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30He who winks his eyes [does so] to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.
deal with the worthless, perverse and violent man. There is climax in these verses. It starts with the “worthless man”, which is who this man is in himself and how he acts (verse 2727A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
). Worthless men create ways to slander other people. ‘A worthless man’ is literally a ‘man of Belial’, someone in whom there is nothing good. The term describes deep depravity and wickedness.

This man is a bad person, for he “digs up evil”. It means that he brings the evil to the surface and he does that with great effort. Digging is a heavy job. He will go through someone’s entire case, in order to find anything evil, which he may use. Social media is an example of a wide and deep ‘digging territory’, whereby also certain data can be manipulated in such a way that they serve the wicked purpose which the worthless man has in his mind.

He scatters the evil that he digs, whether it is true or a lie, as seed from “his words”. His speech is like “a scorching fire”, which refers to the destroying effect of his words. James speaks about the tongue as “a fire, the world of iniquity” and continues to say: “The tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell (Jam 3:66And the tongue is a fire, the [very] world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of [our] life, and is set on fire by hell.).
The worthless man of verse 2727A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.
is the “perverse man” in verse 2828A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.
. He is a man of falsehood and lies and “a slanderer”. He has no success with open attacks; therefore he chooses to whisper lies and slander, imputations, half-truths. The worthless man causes trouble and even brings division between best friends.

He cannot make friends himself and cannot stand it that there is friendship between others. Therefore he starts a campaign to slander others. He slanders the one after the other and sows doubt and distrust between both of them. He tells a lie about someone of which he knows that it would be spread. Thereby he is aware of the fact that the spreading will make it worse. Therefore he is also called a “worthless man”, because he destroys good relationships.

In verse 2929A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
the worthless and perverse man of the previous verses has become “a man of violence”, ‘a man of hamas’. The friends have become separated from one another by his slanderous talk, which disaster he already caused. But that does not satisfy him. They are to be killed also. It does not stop with talking, but he uses violence.

He is also a deceiver, who wants to influence others to join him. The man of violence will try to influence people in his environment to commit the violence which he has planned (Pro 1:10-1410My 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;
12Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13We will find all [kinds] of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
; 2:12-1512To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;
13From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
14Who delight in doing evil
And rejoice in the perversity of evil;
15Whose paths are crooked,
And who are devious in their ways;
). He will bring his fellow man “in a way that is not good”, which means that he wants to introduce him to the criminal circuit.

In order to reach the goal of verse 2929A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.
, he devises “perverse things” and then “brings evil to pass” (verse 3030He who winks his eyes [does so] to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.
). He is devoted to the evil in such a way that his body language cannot suppress his evil intentions, but betrays them. Facial expressions often make clear whether one intends to do harm to others (Pro 6:13-1413Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14Who [with] perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.
). Here two expressions are mentioned: to wink (or shut) the eyes and to compress the lips.

One shuts his eyes when he wants to concentrate on something without being distracted. This is how the worthless, perverse, violent man fully concentrates on the evil. He imagines how it will happen. To compress the lips means that one refrains to express his feelings, whether to laugh or to burst out in anger. Here it indicates the hidden evil intentions which he is about to carry out.


A Gray Head, Patience and Self-Control

31A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
32He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

When a person has gray hair and in that way wears “a crown of glory”, it is a proof that he walks the way of righteousness, which he has walked up to now. Righteousness is rewarded with a long life (cf. Psa 92:1414They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,
; Lk 1:5-75In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.6They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.7But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.). This is again the general meaning of this book. The general meaning of righteousness in Proverbs is that the wicked does not live long and passes prematurely and that the righteous lives long. But that does not mean that it goes for everyone in all cases. The gray head of the wickedly living older man is not a crown of glory, and one can die before he can find the first gray hair, while he has walked the way of righteousness.

It has to be the greatest care of older people to stay “in the way of righteousness”. When it is noticed in their old age that they have walked with God and they still do, their “gray head is a crown of glory” to them. Solomon says this in the first place to the young people. Young people are inclined to see especially youthful power as a crown of glory, whereby they despise older people because of their physical weakness. God’s Word prohibits that and demands instead, respect for older people (Lev 19:3232‘You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.). Whoever considers that, shows respect for God’s election of righteousness beyond youthful power.

But this word is not only important for young people. For older people it is important that they wear that ‘crown of glory’ with dignity. Let the old believers be old disciples (Acts 21:1616[Some] of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge.). In that way they give the young people a reason to respect them. It is in the same line as what is said to Timothy, that he has to be watchful that no one will despise him because of his youth (1Tim 4:1212Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but [rather] in speech, conduct, love, faith [and] purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.). Apart from that it is always appropriate that young ones treat old ones with respect, even if an older one does not behave himself with dignity (Gen 9:20-2720Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard.21He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.22Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.23But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.24When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.25So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers.”
26He also said,
“Blessed be the LORD,
The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.
27“May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.”
).

Like a gray head goes above youthful power (verse 3131A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
), slow to anger is better than physical power (verse 3232He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
). Slow to anger is a feature of God (Exo 34:66Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;; Nah 1:33The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And the LORD will by no means leave [the guilty] unpunished.
In whirlwind and storm is His way,
And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.
). One is “mighty” on a certain occasion in a certain case, but “one who is slow to anger” is better, for he not only shows this Divine feature on certain occasions, but continually.

“He who rules his spirit” – or ‘controls’ his spirit, or controls himself, shows that he is better “than he who captures a city”. To capture a city after having taken it under siege for a shorter or longer time is an act which costs the lives of people. Self-control or self-judgment does no harm to anyone, but rather spares lives. It is a blessing to others and for the protection of oneself.

A godly man once said to the king: ‘You are the servant of my servant.’ He meant by that: ‘You are the bondservant of your evil desires, while I am the master of my evil desires’. The heart is a battle field. The evil desires which dwell in it, are lethal enemies. For the believer these enemies have been conquered. The point is to kill the evil desires as soon as they want to take control (Col 3:55Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.), which means that they are directly made harmless in self-judgment. We do that by considering them as being judged in Christ on the cross. The true power to conquer these enemies lies in knowing our position in Christ. In Him we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:3737But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.).


Man Considers, but God Decides

33The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.

This verse is about the practice of seeking God’s guidance by casting the lot. What is decided by the lot is ultimately the decision of the LORD. Even when unbelievers do that, He decides. He determines the course of matters. Nothing happens outside His knowledge, without His will. He is involved in everything and it happens according to His counsel. We see His hand in everything, a hand that guides everything with wisdom. We thus see that this chapter ends like it started, with a word about God’s sovereignty.

In the Old Testament the lot was cast among others:
1. To organize the service in the temple (1Chr 24:5,315Thus they were divided by lot, the one as the other; for they were officers of the sanctuary and officers of God, both from the descendants of Eleazar and the descendants of Ithamar.31These also cast lots just as their relatives the sons of Aaron in the presence of David the king, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of the fathers’ [households] of the priests and of the Levites—the head of fathers’ [households] as well as those of his younger brother.; 25:88They cast lots for their duties, all alike, the small as well as the great, the teacher [as well] as the pupil.);
2. To reveal the truth (1Sam 14:4141Therefore, Saul said to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Give a perfect [lot].” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped.);
3. To trace offenders (Jos 7:1616So Joshua arose early in the morning and brought Israel near by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken.);
4. To stop disputes (Pro 18:1818The [cast] lot puts an end to strife
And decides between the mighty ones.
);
5. To divide Canaan among the tribes (Num 26:5555But the land shall be divided by lot. They shall receive their inheritance according to the names of the tribes of their fathers.);

The last mention of the use of the lot in Scripture, is in context with the question of whom was going to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:2626And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.). The Christian does not need the lot, for he has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, Who leads him in the whole truth (Jn 16:1313But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.). He also has got the complete Word of God at his disposal, in which he can learn to know the will of God. Thereby he has prayer at his disposal. He can go directly to God as his Father to ask Him about His will.


Read more