1-3 Quietness, Inheritance and Refining 4-5 Listening to Lies Leads to Mockery 6 Honor the Generations 7 Two Things That Do Not Fit Together 8 Bribes Bring Prosperity Everywhere 9 Conceal against Repeat 10-11 If Discipline Does Not Work, Judgment Will Follow 12-13 Warnings against Foolishness 14 Prevent Worse 15 God Hates the Distortion of Right 16 A Fool Has No Sense 17 Real Friendship 18 Only a Fool Becomes Guarantor 19-20 To Love Strife Comes from a Crooked Mind 21 The Sorrow of a Father 22 A Joyful Heart or a Broken Spirit 23 The Intention of a Bribe 24 What One Pays Attention To 25 Grief to the Father and Bitterness to the Mother 26 Do Not Punish an Innocent Man 27-28 The Control of the Tongue
Quietness, Inheritance and Refining

1Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
2A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully,
And will share in the inheritance among brothers.
3The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests hearts.

The contrast in verse 11Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
, rendered in a “better … than” construction, is simple and understandable. The wise will agree that poverty with peace is better than prosperity with strive (cf. Pro 15:16-1716Better 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.
). He prefers “quietness”, while there is no more than “a dry morsel” to satisfy the hunger, above “strife” with an abundance of food. The “dry morsel” is bread without anything that makes it easier and tastier to swallow it (cf. Rth 2:1414At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.; Jn 13:2626Jesus then *answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He *took and *gave it to Judas, [the son] of Simon Iscariot.).

A sober meal “and quietness with it” means that those who participate in it, find satisfaction in the fellowship with God and with one another. In that way the sober meal becomes a festive meal. That is better than “a house full of feasting” whereby those who participate in it, are in conflict with one another. In that way the festive meal is immersed in bitterness. Abundance often comes together with a decrease of values and standards, with the result of an increase of jealousy and quarrel.

Here it looks like it is about offering animals, which were brought in the temple, God’s house, as peace offerings and of which those who brought the offerings were allowed to eat a portion together with others (Lev 3:1-171‘Now if his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he is going to offer out of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without defect before the LORD.2He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar.3From the sacrifice of the peace offerings he shall present an offering by fire to the LORD, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails,4and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys.5Then Aaron’s sons shall offer [it] up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.6But if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD is from the flock, he shall offer it, male or female, without defect.7If he is going to offer a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD,8and he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it before the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.9From the sacrifice of peace offerings he shall bring as an offering by fire to the LORD, its fat, the entire fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails,10and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys.11Then the priest shall offer [it] up in smoke on the altar [as] food, an offering by fire to the LORD.12‘Moreover, if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD,13and he shall lay his hand on its head and slay it before the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.14From it he shall present his offering as an offering by fire to the LORD, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails,15and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys.16The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar [as] food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the LORD’S.17It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.’”; 7:28-3428Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,29“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offerings to the LORD shall bring his offering to the LORD from the sacrifice of his peace offerings.30His own hands are to bring offerings by fire to the LORD. He shall bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be presented as a wave offering before the LORD.31The priest shall offer up the fat in smoke on the altar, but the breast shall belong to Aaron and his sons.32You shall give the right thigh to the priest as a contribution from the sacrifices of your peace offerings.33The one among the sons of Aaron who offers the blood of the peace offerings and the fat, the right thigh shall be his as [his] portion.34For I have taken the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution from the sons of Israel from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons as [their] due forever from the sons of Israel.). To have strife while eating the peace offering, is in contrast with its character. In the church at Corinth, such a situation happened. The believers felt themselves to be spiritually rich, but there was division among them. Paul admonishes them about it (1Cor 11:17-3417But 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.23For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”25In the same way [He took] the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink [it], in remembrance of Me.”26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.27Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.28But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.31But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.32But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.33So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.34If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.).

The proverb in verse 22A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully,
And will share in the inheritance among brothers.
is about “a servant who acts wisely” and who in the service for his lord takes well advantage of all his capacities. The behavior of the servant stands against the behavior of the son of that particular lord. The son is living a wicked life. His father is ashamed of it. He disinherits his son and instead he makes the servant to become fellow-heir of the brothers, which means that he adopts him as son. In that way the servant gets a place above the disinherited son, with the result that he rules over the son.

It is an encouragement to all who are faithful in their work. Faithfulness is rewarded with a position of ruling and the sharing of the inheritance of the family. One who serves in humility, is placed above one who has a certain position, but behaves himself unworthy of that position.

The first line of verse 33The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests hearts.
makes clear what the intention is of the second line of the verse. As silver and gold are heated in “the refining pot” and in “the furnace”, in order to refine precious metals more and more, the LORD tests the hearts (Mal 3:2-42“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.3He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.; 1Pet 1:6-76In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,7so that the proof of your faith, [being] more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;; cf. Isa 48:1010“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
; Zec 13:99“And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”
). God examines every thought and every motive. Those examinations and tests are always for the increase of the value of him who is being refined.

By the heat of trials God wants to purify the hearts of His own from everything that stands in the way to make Christ visible. The godly person himself also asks God to do that to him (Psa 26:22Examine me, O LORD, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.
). In that mind we are able to eat the peace offering with quietness (verse 11Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
) and are we worthy of being heirs (verse 22A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully,
And will share in the inheritance among brothers.

Listening to Lies Leads to Mockery

4An evildoer listens to wicked lips;
A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
5He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker;
He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.

“An evildoer” and “a liar” love to listen to lies and destructive talk (verse 44An evildoer listens to wicked lips;
A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
; cf. Jer 5:30-3130“An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
31The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their [own] authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?
). The point here is that those who listen to such talk are like those who make this kind of talk to be heard. The “lips” and the “tongue” indicate speech; the qualifications “wicked” and “destructive” say that this speech causes destructions.

The people who listen to gossip are as guilty as those who tell them. If there were no listeners, there wouldn’t be gossip. Listeners of gossip help to maintain gossip. That’s how it works with gossip magazines. If there were no buyers, there wouldn’t be gossip magazines. The buyers of the gossip magazines are just as much gossipers as the authors and publishers of them.

What about us? Do we also enjoy the programs in which lies and deception are presented as entertainment and in that way are glorified? If we continue to watch them and do not turn away from them, we become like those people who are called here evildoer and liar.

The mocking of the poor happens because a calamity happened to him, which caused him to become poor (verse 55He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker;
He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.
). That appears from the second line of the verse. Everyone who mocks the poor, taunts his Maker and therefore will be punished. After all, man is made in His picture (Gen 1:26-2726Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.; Jam 3:55So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and [yet] it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!). The second line of the verse explains that such a person “will not go unpunished”, but will be punished.

The mockery at the poor expresses itself in malicious delight about the calamity that has happened to him. One can be happy about the misery that strikes another person. The taunting of the Maker can be seen as disparaging comments towards God, with the meaning that He couldn’t keep the poor one that is involved, from that calamity. Besides God being taunted, also the poor bears the brunt of it. The mocker enjoys that the poor has ended up in trouble. He rubs salt into the many wounds of the poor by telling him that he owes his own failures to himself.

The Edomites did have malicious delight about the calamity that happened to Israel. The prophet Obadiah shows that they would not go unpunished. God promises that He would surely punish the Edomites (Oba 1:12-1612“Do not gloat over your brother’s day,
The day of his misfortune.
And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Yes, do not boast
In the day of [their] distress.
13“Do not enter the gate of My people
In the day of their disaster.
Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity
In the day of their disaster.
And do not loot their wealth
In the day of their disaster.
14“Do not stand at the fork of the road
To cut down their fugitives;
And do not imprison their survivors
In the day of their distress.
15“For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you.
Your dealings will return on your own head.
16“Because just as you drank on My holy mountain,
All the nations will drink continually.
They will drink and swallow
And become as if they had never existed.
). The same goes for Ammon (Eze 25:6-76For thus says the Lord GOD, “Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the scorn of your soul against the land of Israel,7therefore, behold, I have stretched out My hand against you and I will give you for spoil to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and make you perish from the lands; I will destroy you. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.”). Job said that he was free from such an attitude (Job 31:2929“Have I rejoiced at the extinction of my enemy,
Or exulted when evil befell him?
). How is our response to the calamity of someone, especially of someone we dislike?

Honor the Generations

6Grandchildren are the crown of old men,
And the glory of sons is their fathers.

It is an honor to a man when as long as he lives, he sees children and grandchildren who serve their own generation in a way according to God’s will (Psa 128:66Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
; Gen 50:2323Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees.; cf. Acts 13:3636For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay;). When generations will appreciate one another and pursue the good, there will be harmony. There is an emphasis on the responsibility of (grand)parents for their (grand)children. The following generation is reminded of looking back to the previous generations.

In what is said here, the ideal situation is presented. We know that the world is full of headstrong parents and rebellious children who cannot look back to a happy youth. But for each new generation it is a challenge to break that tendency. This verse is a stimulus to focus on that.

Children can make sure that their children will remember them as godly parents and their parents as godly grandparents. The children will not be ashamed of their parents and grandparents, but on the contrary testify that they are very grateful to have such a "crown". This in its turn can have the result that the children of their children will go in the way of the Lord. The line of children and children’s children, the generation line downward, is the glory of the old age, the line of parents and grandparents, the generation line upward, is the crown of their children or their descendants.

Two Things That Do Not Fit Together

7Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool,
Much less are lying lips to a prince.

The teaching of this verse is that, as we do not expect excellent speech from the mouth of fools, we surely do not expect lying lips from a dignitary (prince). When a fool speaks excellent things, it is like a flag on a broomstick. Normally he vomits the greatest foolishness and suddenly he makes beautiful statements. Then it will be like ‘a strange sound’ in our ears. It makes us think of the proverb ‘beware of the geese, when the fox preaches’, which means that when a cunning man comes with nice words, he is up to something. His words do not agree with his nature.

Conversely it means that a false word is not fitting to a dignitary. It is not fitting to such a person to speak words which hurt others. With a dignitary is meant a leader or a monarch, someone with a certain status and whom people trust. To his status the code of honor of truthfulness is fitting and not a false word. Lies are just not fitting to him.

Bribes Bring Prosperity Everywhere

8A bribe is a charm in the sight of its owner;
Wherever he turns, he prospers.

The meaning is that “a bribe” works like a magic stone, which causes “its owners” to be successful with their plans and prosperous wherever they go. The word ‘bribe’ which is used here, is another word than the word ‘charity’ which is also ‘a charm’, but used to indicate an unselfish gift. Therefore it is right to say bribe here, for that is what is meant. We speak about ‘bribes’ or ‘a slush fund’.

“A charm” is very attractive to the one to whom the owner of the stone presents it, in such a way that he cannot resist to accept the charm and give the giver in return whatever he wants. There goes a spell from it to the recipient, which causes to melt away all resistance. A bribe opens doors which otherwise would remain closed, as if a magical statement has been made.

The proverb shows the effect of a bribe without a comment. It is not a recommendation to make use of bribes. The law clearly prohibits us to accept bribes (Exo 23:88“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.). What Solomon says is the reality from the point of view of someone who gives the bribe: this is the way it works. It is a charm which brings luck, a charm that has magical features and works as a spell. It is a ‘lucky stone’.

Conceal against Repeat

9He who conceals a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

This proverb is about the contrast between “he who conceals a transgression” and “he who repeats a matter”, by telling it to another person. The first encourages “love” and the second “separates intimate friends”. Friendship demands the capability of concealing, forgiving and forgetting a transgression. When that does not happen, it will end the best friendships. Repeating a matter of the past and to focus on it has destroyed a lot of friendships and marriages.

The true friend will bury the wrongs instead of campaigning about a matter to whoever wants to hear about it. To repeat is an activity that destroys love and confidence, which destroys what it deserves to preserve. To conceal does not mean that a transgression is made silent or ignored, but that is not talked about with others, that it is not spread.

“Love covers a multitude of sins” (1Pet 4:88Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.). Every child of God has experienced it, for through the love of the Lord Jesus, which He has shown on the cross at Golgotha, his sins are covered. They do not exist anymore to God. That does not mean that God overlooks them, but that He forgives them and conceals them when there is remorse and repentance. The concealing of the transgression happens after the confession, after which God forgives. In following Him we can act like that when someone transgresses against us (Eph 4:32-5:232Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.).

If Discipline Does Not Work, Judgment Will Follow

10A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding
Than a hundred blows into a fool.
11A rebellious man seeks only evil,
So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

The covering of a transgression (verse 99He who conceals a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.
) does not mean that the transgression is not exposed. This happens by confronting the transgressor with his transgression, to rebuke him for it. “One who has understanding” will profit from the rebuke, but the fool will not (verse 1010A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding
Than a hundred blows into a fool.

This verse contrasts the one who has understanding and the fool in their response to a rebuke. He who has understanding and is humiliated by a rebuke will learn from it. But even “a hundred blows” will have no effect on a fool. Blows may come down to his back, but they will not change his heart; he remains to be a fool.

The difference between one who has understanding and a fool becomes especially clear by the way in which one responds to a rebuke. The rebuke that Peter received, both from the Lord Jesus and from Paul (Mt 16:2323But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”; Gal 2:11-1511But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.12For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he [began] to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.13The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.14But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how [is it that] you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?15“We [are] Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles;), went deeper into him. It did not result in a grudge, but he learnt from it. But the many severe plagues that came over Egypt did not cause Pharaoh to change his mind (Exo 7-12). He remained to be a fool and got killed in his foolishness.

“A rebellious man” (verse 1111A rebellious man seeks only evil,
So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
) is fully insensible to discipline. He lives in rebellion against God and his fellow man. As a devoted follower of the great rebel against God, the devil, he seeks to cause turmoil and uproar. He seeks nothing else than “the evil”; he deliberately seeks it.

This rebel will be visited by “a cruel messenger” who is especially sent to him to kill him. It is a matter of cause and result. Rebellious people have no other goal than searching for the evil. The result of it is that revenge is sent in the form of a cruel messenger. This expression may refer to a cruel messenger that the king sends; it can also refer to storms, an illness, or an accident as God’s messenger of revenge.

Benaiah was a messenger that was sent to kill the adversaries of David and Solomon (1Kgs 2:13-4613Now Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, “Do you come peacefully?” And he said, “Peacefully.”14Then he said, “I have something [to say] to you.” And she said, “Speak.”15So he said, “You know that the kingdom was mine and that all Israel expected me to be king; however, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD.16Now I am making one request of you; do not refuse me.” And she said to him, “Speak.”17Then he said, “Please speak to Solomon the king, for he will not refuse you, that he may give me Abishag the Shunammite as a wife.”18Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak to the king for you.”19So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.20Then she said, “I am making one small request of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Ask, my mother, for I will not refuse you.”21So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as a wife.”22King Solomon answered and said to his mother, “And why are you asking Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him also the kingdom—for he is my older brother—even for him, for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah!”23Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying, “May God do so to me and more also, if Adonijah has not spoken this word against his own life.24Now therefore, as the LORD lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father and who has made me a house as He promised, surely Adonijah shall be put to death today.”25So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him so that he died.26Then to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth to your own field, for you deserve to die; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before my father David, and because you were afflicted in everything with which my father was afflicted.”27So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD, which He had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.28Now the news came to Joab, for Joab had followed Adonijah, although he had not followed Absalom. And Joab fled to the tent of the LORD and took hold of the horns of the altar.29It was told King Solomon that Joab had fled to the tent of the LORD, and behold, he is beside the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, fall upon him.”30So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “Thus the king has said, ‘Come out.’” But he said, “No, for I will die here.” And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus spoke Joab, and thus he answered me.”31The king said to him, “Do as he has spoken and fall upon him and bury him, that you may remove from me and from my father’s house the blood which Joab shed without cause.32The LORD will return his blood on his own head, because he fell upon two men more righteous and better than he and killed them with the sword, while my father David did not know [it]: Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah.33So shall their blood return on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever; but to David and his descendants and his house and his throne, may there be peace from the LORD forever.”34Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and fell upon him and put him to death, and he was buried at his own house in the wilderness.35The king appointed Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in his place, and the king appointed Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.36Now the king sent and called for Shimei and said to him, “Build for yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, and do not go out from there to any place.37For on the day you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head.”38Shimei then said to the king, “The word is good. As my lord the king has said, so your servant will do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.39But it came about at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away to Achish son of Maacah, king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, “Behold, your servants are in Gath.”40Then Shimei arose and saddled his donkey, and went to Gath to Achish to look for his servants. And Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath.41It was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and had returned.42So the king sent and called for Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the LORD and solemnly warn you, saying, ‘You will know for certain that on the day you depart and go anywhere, you shall surely die’? And you said to me, ‘The word which I have heard is good.’43Why then have you not kept the oath of the LORD, and the command which I have laid on you?”44The king also said to Shimei, “You know all the evil which you acknowledge in your heart, which you did to my father David; therefore the LORD shall return your evil on your own head.45But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.”46So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he went out and fell upon him so that he died. Thus the kingdom was established in the hands of Solomon.). Someone who only seeks evil will not open himself to something good. Therefore he has to be dealt with in this way.

Warnings against Foolishness

12Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly.
13He who returns evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house.

It is more dangerous to encounter a fool who is involved with foolishness than “a bear robbed of her cubs” (verse 1212Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly.
). The one who is assumed to be intelligent and rational, is more dangerous in his foolishness than the bear that acts after her instinct (2Sam 17:88Moreover, Hushai said, “You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people.; Hos 13:88I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs,
And I will tear open their chests;
There I will also devour them like a lioness,
[As] a wild beast would tear them.
). The fool is totally blind for his foolishness and acts in stupid blindness. The lesson is: do not come near that bear and certainly not near a fool.

We often underestimate the enormous danger of foolishness. Foolishness is the exclusion of God. It means that the warnings of God are considered to be jokes, like the sons-in-law of Lot did (Gen 19:1414Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.). That brings a man in a much greater danger than whatever danger. One knows what to expect from a bear, but that is often not so from a fool.

Adam is the first to whom verse 1313He who returns evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house.
is fully applied. He has returned evil for all God’s kindness. Due to that evil came over his house, which means it has come over his entire offspring, which till now has not departed from his house. The evil only departs, when it is confessed. Then the reverse happens: God returns good for evil to everyone who believes.

The verse is generally to be applied to every individual who returns evil for good, also to the believer, without saying whether God allows the evil to come over him again directly or that He does that at another time. David experienced that Saul had returned evil for the good that he had done to him. Nabal did the same towards David. But David himself also did return evil for good when he let Uriah to be murdered, while Uriah served him with a total devotion. Therefore the evil did not depart from his house (2Sam 12:9-129Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.10Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’11Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give [them] to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.12Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’”).

Above all, the Jews have returned the Lord Jesus evil for good. We hear that when He says: “Thus they have repaid me evil for good and hatred for my love” (Psa 109:55Thus they have repaid me evil for good
And hatred for my love.
; 35:1212They repay me evil for good,
[To] the bereavement of my soul.
). As a result of that the evil has not departed from the house of Judah. The Lord has told His disciples – with that He tells us also – that they, just as He did, ought to act the other way around: “But love your enemies and do good” (Lk 6:3535But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil [men].). In this context an exhortation is also applied to us: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:2121Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.).

Prevent Worse

14The beginning of strife is [like] letting out water,
So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

Conflicts are to be stopped before they break out. That is what this proverb is telling us. The picture is that of a small leak, for example in a dam, through which water starts to flow gradually. If we do not do something quickly, the leak will become bigger and becomes a great hole. The disaster that follows will have unforeseeable consequences. We can apply this to a conflict that must be solved, because it otherwise can turn out into a court case. When one goes to the court, it may lead to a legal victory, but at the same time the conflict gets a permanent and unrecoverable character.

A conflict often starts with a small thing. If one does not solve it directly and rightly, it can lead to a war. The best thing is to stop yourself and do not say anything back. If both parties insist on their right, it will break out. It is like a small spark that causes an enormous fire if the spark is not extinguished. At the beginning of the church there was a disagreement between two groups of widows. Before it became a real conflict, the twelve apostles stopped this disagreement by taking a wise decision (Acts 6:1-61Now at this time while the disciples were increasing [in number], a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic [Jews] against the [native] Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving [of food].2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.3Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.4But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”5The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.6And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.).

God Hates the Distortion of Right

15He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

In the administration of justice it is important that justice is done, which means that the wicked is condemned and the righteous is justified. If that is reversed and the judge “justifies the wicked” and “condemns the righteous”, then both the one and the other “are an abomination to the LORD” (cf. Isa 5:2020Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
). The clearest and most horrible illustration of this proverb we see in the ‘court case’ against the Lord Jesus. Pilate justified the wicked Barabbas and condemned the Righteous to be guilty (Mt 27:24-2624When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see [to that] yourselves.”25And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”26Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.).

The great miracle of the grace of God is that the first line of the verse applies to God Himself. The epistle to the Romans shows this line of the verse from God’s side on the ground of the work of Christ. God justifies the wicked on the basis of righteousness. He has made the Righteous to be sentenced with the punishment of the wicked, through which He can make us righteous: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:55But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,).

A Fool Has No Sense

16Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom,
When he has no sense?

A fool is a fool because he does not look for God, while that is of first importance to become wise. The fool has no interest to gain wisdom in the way it should be gained. Money has no value at all in this case; it doesn’t count, for money cannot buy what is needed the most – which is a relationship with God. He may want to have the reputation of the wise, but he is not able to fulfill the requirements that belong to the wise, for he lacks the sense, the spiritual understanding for it. Simon the magician, who desired to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, was such a fool (Acts 8:18-1918Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,19saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”).

There is amazement and indignation in the question. In fact it is said that it is of no use that there is a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, for he has no sense. He would not recognize wisdom at all when he would see it.

Real Friendship

17A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.

The love of a real friend is permanent. His love does not change when circumstances do. He is a friend in prosperity and in adversity, in good times and in times when the friendship is put to the test. Christ shows that He is such a friend Who always under all circumstances loves (Jn 13:11Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.). He calls us His “friends” (Jn 15:14-1514You are My friends if you do what I command you.15No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.). He also calls us “brothers” (Jn 20:1717Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”; Heb 2:11-1211For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,12saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”). Besides, there is no Scripture that tells us that His followers call Him ‘friend’ or ‘brother’. Therefore we should not call Him so. He is exalted far above us.

Friendship means that thoughts are being shared. Friends are there for one another and always help each other (Lk 11:5-85Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;7and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you [anything].’8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him [anything] because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.). A brother is a blood relative. There is a family relationship. Ruth and Naomi and also David and Jonathan show what friendship and family relatedness means in practice, especially in times of adversity.

It is perfectly true of the Lord Jesus, Who shares His thoughts with us as a friend, and Who as a brother to us, supports us in heaven in our troubles, which He is familiar with from His own experience. That a brother is born for adversity, means that we can call on Him, precisely when we face “adversity”.

Only a Fool Becomes Guarantor

18A man lacking in sense pledges
And becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.

It is foolish to become guarantor to a person who has got himself into debt (cf. Pro 6:1-51My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
). “To pledge” means that one has promised something to another. It is like signing for an agreement by which the promise is confirmed. One who becomes guarantor, is “a man lacking in sense”. For you never know what may happen to you. The debt may be that great, that it is unpayable.

What the Lord Jesus did when He became guarantor may from a human point of view seem to be like ‘lacking sense’, but of course it was not. He knew as a matter of fact, how high the price was and He knew that He was able to pay it. It reminds us of the statement in the epistle to Philemon where the apostle Paul as a real follower of the Lord Jesus, also becomes guarantor of Onesimus (Phlm :18) towards Philemon.

To Love Strife Comes from a Crooked Mind

19He who loves transgression loves strife;
He who raises his door seeks destruction.
20He who has a crooked mind finds no good,
And he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.

We may “get caught in a transgression” (Gal 6:11Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; [each one] looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.) without loving that transgression. Someone else can then restore us. But “he who loves transgression” (verse 1919He who loves transgression loves strife;
He who raises his door seeks destruction.
), has a depraved spirit. His performance shows that he loves strife. A transgression has consequences for interrelationships. He who loves to transgress has a preference for strife. Through his depraved talk he continually puts good relationships under pressure.

The meaning of “he who raises his door” is not entirely clear. In the context of the use of this expression, the door seems to represent ‘the mouth’ here. The meaning may then be ‘having a big mouth’ (cf. 1Sam 2:33“Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the LORD is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed.
; Psa 141:33Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
; Mic 7:55Do not trust in a neighbor;
Do not have confidence in a friend.
From her who lies in your bosom
Guard your lips.
). He who loves strife, has a big mouth towards heaven, towards God, and to his neighbor too (Psa 73:8-98They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
9They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue parades through the earth.
). He does not seek prosperity for the other, but “destruction”.

Verse 2020He who has a crooked mind finds no good,
And he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.
shows the origin of verse 1919He who loves transgression loves strife;
He who raises his door seeks destruction.
. He who loves strife, shows that he “has a crooked mind”. He who has a crooked mind does not only seek the destruction of others, but he himself “finds no good”. With the “good” the blessings of God are meant which He gives to everyone who serves Him. The one with the crooked mind seeks what is good in his own sight. He strives for possession at the expense of others.

He is “perverted in his language”, the words that he speaks are perverse. He speaks falsity, which shows that he hates the truth. He strives for the fall of others, but he himself will fall into evil and cause his own destruction. Instead of finding the real good he gets to be confronted with a life full of calamities. The prosperity that he is searching for himself, leads to his destruction.

The Sorrow of a Father

21He who sires a fool [does so] to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.

It is a sorrow for a father to sire a child that appears to be a fool. He had hoped for having a son who would be a gain to the family and the faith, but he only finds disappointment when his son appears to be a fool. A godly father will not rejoice in his foolish son. The father “was seeking a godly offspring” (Mal 2:1515But not one has done [so] who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did [that] one [do] while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.), but his son appears to be from the devil. He has brought his son up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:44Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.), so that he would live to God’s honor, but he rejected all teaching of his father. The father will not rejoice in his son, but the foolishness of his son will break his heart.

One knows not what kind of child he or she has sired. Therefore it is so important to pray before a child is sired, so that God may give a child that will live to His glorification. Still, godly parents can have ungodly children. It remains to be a choice that a child itself has to make as soon as it is ready: for or against Christ.

We cannot always blame parents for the choice that children make and parents cannot make a claim upon their children to be godly. Actually, parents are responsible for the education, to fully commit themselves for making their child to learn to know Him. Thereby they will be an example for their child about how to go that way. Whether the child will go that way, is a choice it will have to make by itself.

A Joyful Heart or a Broken Spirit

22A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

“A joyful heart” is a heart that rejoices in God and the things of God. A person gets a joyful heart when the peace of God dwells in it. Due to that it will be “good medicine” to body and spirit. One who has “a broken spirit”, will experience the contrary. There is no mention of joy. That has disappeared by all kinds of worries and miseries that he suffers. This process “dries up the bones”. Like it is said earlier, bones strengthen the body to make it move. When the bones have been dried up, it means that the health has disappeared and that powerlessness has begun (cf. Eze 37:1-141The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.2He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, [there were] very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, [they were] very dry.3He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”4Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.6I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’”7So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.8And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.9Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”‘“10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.11Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’12Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.13Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.14I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’”).

This verse is not a judgment of someone who is depressed. The intention of it is not that he should be happy, so that depression will disappear. What is generally true is also presented here, without any judgment about one’s condition. Someone who is depressed knows that a joyful heart is good medicine. The problem is that he does not have a joyful heart. He will not get a joyful heart by just telling him again and again that he should have one. Such a person needs another approach. What is primarily needed, is understanding and patience. Let him who has got to do with such a situation ask the Lord for wisdom.

The Intention of a Bribe

23A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom
To pervert the ways of justice.

Bribery corrupts justice. He who allows himself to be bribed, is “a wicked man”. It seems to regard the influencing of a judicial decision, for it mentions “to pervert the ways of justice”, or to keep justice to be done in the normal way. Not only that justice is being kept to have its course, but it is turned into injustice, while the appearances of justice is being kept up. The fact that a judge accepts this bribe “from the bosom” proves that it happens in secret. It is a secret transaction, not a pure one. A corrupt judge is a wicked man.

Perverting the way of justice may also happen in work situations. One can bribe his employee with a present to silence him about a criminal offense that he has committed. The same can happen within a family and in God’s church. The bribery does not have to consist of money. It may also consist of a promotion or presents or preferential treatment.

What One Pays Attention To

24Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding,
But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

“One who has understanding” perseveres in following the course of wisdom. He always seeks wisdom as a compass. That’s what he is looking at and determines his route through life. He concentrates on wisdom, because he understands the real problems of life and knows that only wisdom can lead him concerning these problems and through these problems. One who has understanding knows what it is to have a ‘clear eye’ (Mt 6:2222“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.; Lk 11:3434The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.), which means that he focused on only one object, through which he continues to follow the right path.

The fool lacks any serious concentration. He is not able to focus his attention firmly on something. Because he has no understanding, his eyes roam all through the whole world, but they find no place of rest anywhere. He is like a student who does not hear what his teacher says, because his eyes go around all over the classroom. In that way he does not note the teaching of the wisdom teacher.

The eyes are the window of the soul. What is observed with the eyes, has an impact on the soul. Man has become a sinner by seeing, desiring and taking. With television and the internet, it is possible to focus the eyes “on the ends of the earth”. That also happens massively. People let themselves to be led by what they see on the media and remain because of that blind for wisdom, which is Christ, “in Whom all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.). Therefore they will remain foolish and will perish in their foolishness, unless they start to seek wisdom from Above.

The one who has understanding will focus uninterruptedly “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” (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.).

Grief to the Father and Bitterness to the Mother

25A foolish son is a grief to his father
And bitterness to her who bore him.

It is a great grief to have a child that develops to be a fool (verse 2121He who sires a fool [does so] to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.
). Here the emphasis is on the son who grieves his father in that way and becomes bitterness to his mother, who “bore him”. The joy with which the birth has been announced has turned into grief. The joy of the birth after the pain of deliverance has changed into bitterness by the way that the foolish son goes.

A foolish son not only does wrong to his own soul, is not only rebellious against God, but shows the greatest possible ingratitude towards his parents. His mother has given birth to him with pain and then educated him. His father has taught him wise lessons about life. But he rejects all of that. His greatest foolishness is that he remains indifferent about what he does to his father and mother.

The father and the mother share the pain of the way that their foolish son goes. In that way they can understand and comfort one another and pray together to the Lord about their need. That prevents them to start to blame one another. They can also help each other to deal with this very difficult situation. The mother can help the father to deal with his anger, the father can help the mother not to succumb to their sorrow. Sometimes the reverse happens.

Do Not Punish an Innocent Man

26It is also not good to fine the righteous,
[Nor] to strike the noble for [their] uprightness.

This is again a proverb that deals with the evil of dishonest legal practices. Everyone will agree that it is “not good to fine the righteous” with the unrighteous, for he has done nothing that justifies that. When that still happens, it shows how dilapidated our society is. People do not consider God, Who has ordained the legal order.

It is still worse to “strike the noble for [their] uprightness”. In this case the law has dilapidated in such a way that people who are righteous, are being tortured physically, precisely for their uprightness. The noble are people who want to defend justice. That should deserve appreciation, but it is being punished. In this kind of time we live. Uprightness means to live according to God’s Word. Those who want that, have to deal with an increasing opposition.

To the righteous and the noble who are being fined and who have to suffer because they hold fast to God’s Word, it applies that they suffer for uprightness or righteousness. They are called “blessed” (1Pet 3:1414But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,). “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong” (1Pet 3:1717For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.).

The Control of the Tongue

27He who restrains his words has knowledge,
And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is [considered] prudent.

The first line of verse 2727He who restrains his words has knowledge,
And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
is about restraining the tongue not to say thoughtless and untimely things. It says literally that he ‘saves his words’. He who does that, seems to have “knowledge”. The second line of the verse deals with self-control, literally ‘a cool spirit’. That is the opposite of being hot-tempered. “He who has a cool spirit” will not lose patience and will not get hot-tempered during a discussion. We learn that if we want to have rest, calmness, self-control and cautiousness, we have to develop knowledge and understanding.

The wise man has a source of knowledge in himself. That knowledge is acquired by him because he is wise. That he has that knowledge now, means that he is wise and knows what he should and especially what he should not say. He will not boast on his knowledge and will be a man of few words. He is patient and waits until it is God’s time to say something.

Keeping silent is a sigh of wisdom (verse 2828Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is [considered] prudent.
). Even a fool seems wise and is considered wise when he keeps silent, meaning by those who do not know him. In any case he hides his foolishness by keeping silent. When this applies to the fool, how much more does it apply to the wise whose keeping silent shows that he is a wise. Of course the fool does not become wise; he only hides his foolishness. The fool may keep silent and give the impression that he is wise, but God knows his heart and also the wise will not let himself to be deceived.

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