1-3 The Poor and the Fool 4 Wealth and Friends 5 A False Witness and He Who Tells Lies 6-7 Wealth Is Attractive, Poverty Repulsive 8 To Love His Own Soul and Find Good 9 A False Witness and He Who Tells Lies 10 What Is Not Fitting 11 Patience and Forgiveness 12 The Wrath and the Favor of a King 13-15 Domestic Misery and Domestic Happiness 16 To Keep One’s Soul or Die 17 Who Is Gracious to a Poor Will Be Rewarded 18-20 Discipline and Accept Discipline 21-23 Counsel, Kindness and Life 24 Even Too Lazy to Eat 25 Discipline Makes Others Shrewd 26-27 A Son Who Acts Shamefully 28-29 Scoffers and Iniquity
The Poor and the Fool

1Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
2Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.
3The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the LORD.

The contrast in verse 11Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
is one between “a poor … in his integrity” and “he who is perverse in speech and is a fool”. Because of the contrast with the poor, we could, concerning the fool, think of someone who is rich. The poor is not under the punishment of God because he is poor and the rich is not under the blessing of God because he is rich. Here the appearance is deceptive. Wealth in itself is not condemned. The point is, where we got it from and what do we do with it.

The contrast regards inward value and outward appearance. He who seems to have everything, is the fool, while he who seems to experience only bad times, walks in his integrity and therefore is better off than the rich fool. Personal integrity, even with poverty, is much better than foolishness.

It totally depends on the relationship with God. The poor who walks in his integrity, can go that way because he goes that way with God. Therefore he is rich in reality. He who is perverse in speech, speaks perverse things that show that he has no relationship with God. He also is a fool, which means that he doesn’t want a relationship with God either. The way that he goes without God, leads to death.

The word “also” indicates that verse 22Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.
is connected with verse 11Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
. He who is acting “without knowledge” is the fool of verse 11Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
. Foolish and thoughtless diligence leads to failure. That is expressed by someone who “hurries his footsteps”, who acts hastily to fulfill his desire. It characterizes a man who desires to get quick results and as much profit as he can. People who spontaneously respond to something, are going the wrong way and miss the real target (the verb ‘sin’ literally means ‘to miss the goal’). Saul was such a person (1Sam 13:11-1411But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash,12therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.14But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”). There can even be diligence for God, but still without understanding (Rom 10:1-41Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for [their] salvation.2For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.3For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.).

This proverb reminds us that we should know the time and direction for the action, for otherwise the diligent effort will be in vain and even a wrong activity. Actions “without knowledge” make the feet move on a path of sin. Doing something is good when it is about the good (Gal 4:1818But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you.), but the knowledge of God and His will are needed for that. Therefore our diligence should come from the fellowship with God, through which we know His will. Then we can go our way in calmness and at the same time with diligence. The result of it is that the goal will not be missed, but will be achieved and that God will be glorified.

To act without knowledge or understanding is something that characterizes young people in particular who are not concerned about God’s Word. Therefore they miss the necessary discernment to know the value of the things they surrender themselves to. Only by studying God’s Word, they – and that of course applies also to elder people – will gain that discernment. There is no excuse for being without knowledge. The whole Word of God is available to us. It is the only true, unchangeable source of knowledge and accessible for everyone who wants to learn.

A fool without knowledge (verse 22Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries his footsteps errs.
) distorts his own way, which has caused his life to become a mess (verse 33The foolishness of man ruins his way,
And his heart rages against the LORD.
). And then he also blames God for it. Due to his own foolishness he has distorted his way; he gave it a different twist that caused him to walk in the wrong direction. It is the path that is away from God. He blames God for the misery that he faces on that way. He is even furious at Him, that He causes that to happen to him.

This attitude has characterized man since the fall. When Adam had twisted his way and had sinned, he blamed God. It was because of the woman that God had given to him, which caused everything to turn out wrong (Gen 3:1212The man said, “The woman whom You gave [to be] with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”). We hear and see this today repeated in various ways where people do not want to be reminded of their responsibility. There is always someone else to blame.

Man does not want to give God the control over his life. When he makes good decisions that turn out well, he praises himself. When he makes bad decisions with a bad result, God is blamed (cf. Eze 18:2525Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?). He doesn’t want to search his own heart. God is not given thanks that He in His kindness gives sun and rain and fruitful times (Mt 5:4545so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on [the] evil and [the] good, and sends rain on [the] righteous and [the] unrighteous.; Acts 14:1717and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”). But when He makes plagues come over the world which man brings upon himself, people blaspheme the God of heaven, without repenting of their evil works (Rev 16:9-11,219Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.10Then the fifth [angel] poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,11and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.21And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, *came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague *was extremely severe.).

Wealth and Friends

4Wealth adds many friends,
But a poor man is separated from his friend.

This verse is again an observation without attaching any conclusion to it. That conclusion is left to be made by the reader. It is about the unfaithfulness of a friendship which is based on wealth. Like love, friendship does not deserve that name when it is only about any advantage that love or friendship can deliver. If we ourselves love money, the only effect that it will have on others is nothing more than love for the money that we have. People follow rich people in the hope to get something.

But when the rich man has become poor, his friends disappear. They forsake him, for there is nothing left that they can get from him. Even a separation takes place between them, for imagine a poor man who would expect something from you. You’d better take a great distance from him. But the poor who knows the Lord Jesus, may know that he will never be and cannot be separated from Him (Rom 8:38-3938For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.; cf. Psa 40:17a17Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

A False Witness and He Who Tells Lies

5A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.

“A false witness” will be punished (Deu 19:16-2116If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing,17then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be [in office] in those days.18The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness [and] he has accused his brother falsely,19then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.20The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.21Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.); that is for sure. The same goes for “him who tells lies”. A false witness tells lies in public. Telling lies looks more like telling lies in the general conversation of a private atmosphere. A false witness and he who tells lies are at the same level and receive the same judgment.

The saying is general, for sometimes perjury is not punished, because it is not discovered, or because the judges are corrupt. Therefore, we should look at this verse in the light of God. He will not allow it to go unpunished and will not allow the offender to escape.

Wealth Is Attractive, Poverty Repulsive

6Many will seek the favor of a generous man,
And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.
7All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues [them with] words, [but] they are gone.

People seek to be friends with influential people, in order to profit from them (verse 66Many will seek the favor of a generous man,
And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.
). Therefore they try to find their favor (cf. Jude 1:1616These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their [own] lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of [gaining an] advantage.). “To seek the favor” literally means ‘to caress the face’ or ‘to soften the face’ (Psa 45:1212The daughter of Tyre [will come] with a gift;
The rich among the people will seek your favor.
). The generous people are valued because of their wealth, not because of their qualities.

Also he who gives gifts may be assured of countless friends. The generosity does not need to have a negative meaning. He who gives gifts, attracts people. Everyone wants to belong to his friends. It shows that man is selfish, someone who only seeks his own profit. When there is something for him to gain, that can make his life easier, he is very eager to get it. That’s how it also works in business life and in politics.

That he only wants to have what can make his life more pleasant appears from his rejection of God as the great Giver. God has given His Son as a free gift of His grace. But man does not want that Gift, for that means that he has to judge himself as a selfish person. It makes an end to living for himself.

People avoid those who are poor (verse 77All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues [them with] words, [but] they are gone.
). The thought of “hate”, in the sense of ‘reject’, indicates that family members and superficial friends will leave the poor man because there is nothing more that he can mean for them. We see it also with the Lord Jesus. His earthly family, the Jews, have hated Him.

When your happiness has reached the breaking point, even your family avoids you. Your friends wish that you would perish. You can cry out to them, but they won’t listen to you. When they see you, they look the other way and pretend that they do not see you; it is for them ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

To Love His Own Soul and Find Good

8He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good.

“He who gets wisdom”, is someone who has made efforts for it, has worked for it. He shows in that way that he loves his own soul. It means that he wants to learn to know God’s will for his life. In that way he benefits himself. He who gets wisdom comes to the point that he doesn’t love his own soul (life) till death (Rev 12:1111And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.). To love his soul actually does not refer to the earthly life, but to the life that He has received from God to live for Him.

It doesn’t stop there. After getting wisdom, the preservation of what one has gotten, follows. That proves understanding in what is really important. The result is that he finds “good”. The good is the good life, the life with and for Christ. The good is the knowledge of God’s will for his life, which means that it will be conformed to Christ, that He becomes visible in his life. Therein understanding and insight become effective.

A False Witness and He Who Tells Lies

9A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will perish.

This proverb is almost verbally the same as verse 55A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.
. Verse 55A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who tells lies will not escape.
sounds more or less as a warning, “he will not go unpunished”, but here clearly explained is that he “will perish”. The transgression of the ninth commandment affirms his guilt and God’s judgment. To be a false witness and tell lies, are against everything that God is. He is “righteous and upright”, “the faithful and true Witness”, the “God, Who can’t lie” (Deu 32:44“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
; Rev 3:1414“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:; Tit 1:22in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,).

What Is Not Fitting

10Luxury is not fitting for a fool;
Much less for a slave to rule over princes.

There are enough fools who live in luxury. That directly makes the truth of this proverb clear. A fool always indulges in luxury. One needs wisdom to carry luxury, which is something that the fool lacks. He lacks wisdom to deal rightly with luxury. The luxury may consist of property, but also of a position. He uses both wrongly. He is rude and insensitive, which makes him repulsive and to be a mockery.

Worse than a fool who lives in luxury, is a servant who gains power (cf. Ecc 10:77I have seen slaves [riding] on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.). There have been servants who ruled because they were faithful. Think of Joseph and Daniel. This verse is about an unfaithful servant. The servant here is probably someone who hires out his own services, in order to be able to pay his debt. He has run up debts because of his foolishness. If he cannot manage his own possessions, how could he be able to properly execute a leading function over those who are able.

In today’s world there are also a lot of people with large debts who still think that they are permitted to have the function of a ruler. The same goes for the church. Someone who is not able to rule his own household, cannot have a ruling function in God’s house, the church of the living God. Such a function would be inappropriate (1Tim 3:55(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),).

Patience and Forgiveness

11A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

He to whom injustice is done and therefore lets his emotions go uncontrollably free, gets angry and reacts violently. But when his discretion, in the sense of spiritual insight, is in control, it will “make him slow to anger”. That is only possible when he has fellowship with God. In that way he is able to obey the word: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord’” (Rom 12:1919Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God], for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.).

Then he is able “to overlook a transgression”. This goes further than not blaming somebody for something because he is in a forgivable mood. It is also the capability of not counting the insults and not allowing any feeling of hurt to remain, even when the words have caused a wound.

Such an attitude is not popular in the world, but is very appreciated by God. This proverb is true in the perfection of God (cf. Mic 7:1818Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
). He delays His anger and it is His glory to overlook a transgression. He can do this because of the accomplished work of His Son, towards Whom He was not slow to anger and did not overlook the transgression when He made Him to be sin.

The Wrath and the Favor of a King

12The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is like dew on the grass.

Here we have a wonderfully imaginative contradiction. On the one hand “the roaring of a lion” raises fear to everyone who hears it, and on the other hand the “dew on the grass” that falls down inaudibly, which refreshes and can also be trampled. We see these two expressions with a king. His wrath raises great fear (Rev 10:33and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices.), while his favor is a benefit (Psa 72:66May he come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.

A king has the power to cause fear or to revive and refresh. He can look threatening, but also kind. This proverb advises the subordinates of the king not to do things that make him angry, for that will not benefit them. They, however, can count on his beneficial favor when they serve him faithfully.

We can apply this verse to God and Christ, like the previous verse. Christ is the Lion from the tribe of Judah. We are to fear His wrath when we resist against Him, but we can be sure of His reviving appreciation when we serve Him faithfully.

Domestic Misery and Domestic Happiness

13A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.
14House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.
15Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.

“A foolish son” and “the contentions of a wife” are two problems that cause chaos in a family (verse 1313A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.
). “A foolish son” takes away the pleasure of his father by his lawlessness, laziness, stubbornness, pride and disobedience. The word ‘destruction’ is plural, which indicates that such a son causes his father sorrow after sorrow. He is like a chain of disasters to his father, under which his mother of course also suffers.

A quarrelling wife does the same as the son, for she also makes her home uninhabitable by her quarrels. The home which should be an oasis of rest is full of envy and quarrels. The one quarrel after the other; it is just like drops of water falling down steadily, a never-ending process. When it starts to drip through the roof, you don’t know where the leak is. As long as the leak has not been found and has not been sealed, the water will continue to do its devastating work in secret. This is sometimes how it works with the quarrels of a wife. You do not know where it comes from nor how to solve it.

It may be clear in this case, where the contentions come from and that is from the behavior of the son. When a son, or a child, behaves shamefully, it can be a divisive issue in the marriage. That happens when the wife blames her husband (in practice it happens also the other way around). Fortunately it may be the case that the worries about a child can cause husband and wife to become a closer unity. That is the case when they continually bring the child as a common care in prayer to the Lord.

Acquiring “house and wealth” is a matter of inheritance (verse 1414House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the LORD.
). An inheritance is passed on from father to son. It is a result of being a member of a certain family. That’s totally different from getting a “prudent wife”. It has nothing to do with a family relationship. When a person gets “a prudent wife” it is a special gift from God. Therefore the contrast is on the one hand wealth, which can be received from a father and on the other hand a prudent wife, which is a gift from the LORD.

“Laziness” is another cause which brings misery upon others and not only upon the idle man himself (verse 1515Laziness casts into a deep sleep,
And an idle man will suffer hunger.
). This proverb is intended to scare us from laziness. Laziness means that one is totally inactive. “A deep sleep” (Gen 2:2121So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.) is a condition of unconsciousness. Time goes by without the idle man having the slightest idea about it.

He who is lazy, is wasting the time that is needed to take care of himself and his family. The family in which the husband and father through laziness does not offer safety, because he does not take care of getting an income, is a miserable family. There is hunger, but nothing to satisfy it. An idle man is a bad steward of a precious gift from God, which is time. Laziness is the coffin of a living person.

To Keep One’s Soul or Die

16He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
[But] he who is careless of conduct will die.

“The commandment” which this verse is talking about, is the commandment of God, for God’s commandment is unto life. Obedience to the commandment of God is a protection of life. It also regards obedience to the commandments of a father, for he represents God on earth. The same goes for the commandments of the government. Whoever does not consider them, despises his ways and “will die”.

When one determines himself the way he wants to live, he expresses in that way that he despises what God has commanded. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with what God has said about his conduct, his way of life and the choices that he makes. He thinks that he is on the way of life, but he is on the way of death. To be careless of conduct means that he sets aside God’s commandments for his conduct. He will experience that at the end of his stubborn ways, death is waiting.

Who Is Gracious to a Poor Will Be Rewarded

17One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,
And He will repay him for his good deed.

When one “is gracious to a poor”, it is a form of lending to the LORD (cf. Mt 25:4040The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them], you did it to Me.’). Money that is given away to a poor, will not be lost. God sees it as a lending to Him; it is seen by Him as a “good deed”. He will repay the lending abundantly. One who is gracious to the poor, shows a feature of God, Who has compassion (Psa 116:55Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
; Isa 49:1010“They will not hunger or thirst,
Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down;
For He who has compassion on them will lead them
And will guide them to springs of water.
; 54:1010“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

The presence of the poor among God’s people is a test for the rich people (Deu 15:7-117“If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;8but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need [in] whatever he lacks.9Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you.10You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.11For the poor will never cease [to be] in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’). Our response to their presence shows whether we have faith (Jam 2:14-1714What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for [their] body, what use is that?17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, [being] by itself.). One who is gracious to the poor, shows “a good deed”, a deed which the Lord Jesus calls “your righteousness” (Mt 6:1-41“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.2“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.3But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.). The Lord adds to it that this should not happen in the sight of men, not even for the reason of getting a good feeling, but that it should happen “in secret”. Whoever gives like that, receives His promise: “And your Father Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” God blesses the generosity of one of His own with His generosity.

The promise of a reward does not necessarily mean a reward of what has been given. If it was only that, then it is to be seen as a reward of a good deed. It is about a reward which expresses appreciation. When God rewards something, it is more than paying back what has been given. He will give the one who is compassionate, a deeper impression of the riches of living with Him. No money or gold can compete with that.

Discipline and Accept Discipline

18Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.
19[A man of] great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue [him], you will only have to do it again.
20Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.

Discipline, or the teaching of obedience, is an order (verse 1818Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.
). It is at the same time a powerful warning against passivity of parents. There is a time to discipline children. That time starts as soon as it is clear that a child has the awareness of good and evil, which is at a very young age. When it is clear that a child does not listen to the commandment of the parents, it should learn to obey (Gen 18:1919For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”). That may demand a lot of patience. It can sometimes become so bad that a parent loses his patience and even his sense. Therefore the warning not to allow the thought of killing the child or taking decisions that may lead to his death.

“Do not desire his death”, may therefore imply that a parent can discipline a child in such a way that it kills him. But another meaning is also possible, which is not to discipline him at all, so that he becomes a fool, comes into the wrong path and finds death because of its bad behavior. He who does not discipline his child, kills him, for then he continues on that path which leads to death. Not to punish him will lead him to a much heavier and eternal punishment. Indulgence leads him to destruction. False indulgence is real cruelty.

Eli did not discipline his sons. Therefore they became fools and were destroyed by their foolishness (1Sam 3:12-1312In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.13For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.). David also did not discipline his son Adonijah, which caused him to die an early death (1Kgs 1:66His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, “Why have you done so?” And he was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom.; 2:2424Now 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.”).

There are cases where discipline is of no use anymore (verse 1919[A man of] great anger will bear the penalty,
For if you rescue [him], you will only have to do it again.
). Then all hope for correction is gone. That is the case of a man of great anger. One who is not to be calmed down, must experience himself the consequences of his foolishness. Whoever wants to help him, will never get rid of him, for he will never learn his lesson.

A hot-tempered man will continually get in trouble. Only conversion and the Holy Spirit can make a change. Christ is the only One Who can save one from such a behavior. The Son really makes free.

Verse 2020Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.
is connected to the two previous verses. By listening to “counsel” and accepting “discipline” one becomes “wise”. Ultimately maturity will come out because of the discipline and teaching that have been given. There will be a steadfast perseverance on the path of life. The rest of your days does not mean till the end of one’s life, but the rest of the days of the learning process. Effectively it means that we need to listen to counsel and accept discipline till the end of our life to remain wise.

Counsel, Kindness and Life

21Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.
22What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And [it is] better to be a poor man than a liar.
23The fear of the LORD [leads] to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

It is allowed to make “many plans”, but it is good to subject ourselves to “the counsel of the LORD”, or the plan of God (verse 2121Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the LORD will stand.
; Jam 4:13-1513Come 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.15Instead, [you ought] to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”). Man should remain to consider that he is human and that God is Who He is. Man is extremely limited in what he can think of and even more limited in what he can carry out. God on the contrary, is endless in understanding and in capacity. Not what man devises, but what God decides, happens (Lam 3:3737Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,
Unless the Lord has commanded [it]?
; Psa 33:10-1110The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
; Isa 46:1010Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
). Paul also made plans, but God directed it differently (Rom 15:22-3222For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you;23but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you24whenever I go to Spain—for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while—25but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.26For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.27Yes, they were pleased [to do so], and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.28Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.29I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.30Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,31that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and [that] my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;32so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find [refreshing] rest in your company.).

Every man desires that someone else treats him with “kindness” (verse 2222What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And [it is] better to be a poor man than a liar.
). Every man likes it to hear kind words, words that show kindness, in other words: words of goodness. Those are edifying, encouraging words, in which there is no dishonesty. They are not spoken to flatter someone.

“A liar” lacks kindness. He may pretend he is kind by promising all kinds of things and giving the impression that he is full of kindness, but that is hypocrisy and deception. Behind his words dishonest motives are hidden. It is better for you to deal with a poor, from whom you do not expect anything that he could give you, but from whom kindness radiates, than with such a liar.

Respect for the LORD brings a life of satisfaction and safety (verse 2323The fear of the LORD [leads] to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.
). He who fears the LORD, lacks nothing and fears no danger. God gives a quality of life that cannot be interrupted by evil. The Godly goes to bed without hunger and sleeps satisfied, without fear for something evil that could happen to him.

The life that is related to the fear of the LORD is not the life that man has by nature, but the life in relationship with Him. That life will be only enjoyed, when the believer is with Him. But also here on earth already it means that this life cannot be affected by anything, because it is an inward spiritual life. It is the life from God. That life knows neither lack nor fear. The Lord Jesus therefore says that we don’t need to be afraid “for those who kill the body, are unable to kill the soul” (Mt 10:2828Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.).

The true life that is meant here is not found in wealth or in health, neither in a good marriage or a nice family, but in Christ alone. That is what we should tell our children and live up to that. Of the evil that may strike us, we know that God will make it work together for good (Rom 8:2828And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose.; Psa 91:9-109For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
[Even] the Most High, your dwelling place.
10No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

Even Too Lazy to Eat

24The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
[But] will not even bring it back to his mouth.

“A sluggard” is so lazy that he cannot bring back the hand with which he dipped the piece of bread in the dish with dipping sauce “back to his mouth”. The described actions have made him so tired, that he has fallen asleep again before he can chew. It is a ridiculous description of a sluggard. This presentation should serve us not to desire to be a sluggard and to prevent the ridicule which is attached to it.

In the spiritual application we see that there are people who do not make efforts to even take the most elementary step to come out of their sinful misery. Salvation is offered to them in the gospel and is within easy reach, but they do not reach out their hand to grab the lifebuoy that has been thrown to them.

Discipline Makes Others Shrewd

25Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd,
But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.

There are three kinds of people in this verse: “a scoffer”, the “naive” and “one who has understanding”. They show who they are by their reaction to reproof. The scoffer does not allow himself to be corrected by any discipline. He doesn’t consider the meaning of it, because he distances himself from it.

The naive is someone without knowledge, an ignorant, a nitwit. He is not so hardened yet like the scoffer. He may become aware that the discipline that comes over the scoffer, is a warning for him. When he becomes aware of that, he will become shrewd and realize what will become of him when he continues on the way of foolishness and becomes a scoffer (cf. Deu 19:2020The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.).

One who has understanding doesn’t need to be struck. He has enough spiritual maturity to be able to discern between good and evil. When he does something that needs correction, he can be corrected with words. Those words can be painful, but he will listen to them and “will gain knowledge” in what he had done or said that was not good and must be corrected.

A Son Who Acts Shamefully

26He who assaults [his] father [and] drives [his] mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.
27Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
[And you will] stray from the words of knowledge.

Verse 2626He who assaults [his] father [and] drives [his] mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.
seems to be about a situation that the father and mother are dependent on the son and that this son misuses the situation for his own profit. A sharp judgment is pronounced about this. It should frighten children to misbehave themselves towards their parents like that.

Here it goes further than only about disobeying parents. Disobedience is bad enough. It is a trespass of the commandment to honor father and mother (Exo 20:1212“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.). But here it is about the abandonment of the natural love which a child should have for his parents. He rebels against the most elementary natural laws. The son who is described here doesn’t only ignore what has been commanded, but he dishonors his parents. God let the Levites say about that: ”Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother!” (Deu 27:1616‘Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’). This son not only disobeys his parents, but exploits them.

This happens more and more often in a social climate that becomes colder and colder. It was, as it appears from what Solomon says here, then already the case, and now it is very topical. Children verbally or physically abuse their parents in an increasing number of cases, in order to enrich themselves instead of taking care of them (cf. Mt 15:4-74For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’5But you say, ‘Whoever says to [his] father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given [to God],”6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And [by this] you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.7You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
). A headline in the newspaper recently mentioned: ‘Exploitation of elders by their own children is an underestimated form of elder abuse’ (Reformed Daily Newspaper, 15-06-2015).

A son can steal from his father. He can make his mother’s life so unbearable that she leaves the home. He makes himself shameful because he acts shamefully. It is a special bitterness to parents when a son acts like that. Like that Israel has behaved towards God (Isa 1:2-32Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the LORD speaks,
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.
3“An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
[But] Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.”

In the proverb of verse 2727Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
[And you will] stray from the words of knowledge.
there is a certain irony to be heard. What the father says to his son is not an advice not to listen. The father only wants to say to his son that it has no sense for his son to listen to his instruction when he is not intended to act accordingly. Let his son stop to listen to instruction when he intends to deviate from “the words of knowledge”.

The discipline therefore consists of words of knowledge, which are words of the knowledge of God’s will for his life. By listening to it and obeying it, the son will walk the right way. The way that the father approaches his son here, confronts the son with his responsibility. Does he want to go another way than the way that is presented to him in the words of knowledge? Let him then stop to listen to discipline. Hopefully this approach will cause the son to listen well and not to stray.

Scoffers and Iniquity

28A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
29Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.

“A rascally witness” (verse 2828A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
) is literally ‘a witness of Belial’. He is inspired by satan. It is someone who distorts the facts consciously. That he “makes a mockery of justice” means that he distorts justice very easy. Justice is meant to keep men from sin, but a rascally witness doesn’t care about that at all; to him the concept of ‘righteousness’ is something to ridicule. He doesn’t worry about God as Judge, but provokes Him by directly despising justice.

While people despise justice, they take pleasure in injustice, which is even consumed. The wicked are like hungry wolves who shamelessly attack injustice and eat it as if it is the nicest sweet. Injustice is a real pleasure for the mouth of the wicked. They chew on deceiving words and then speak them out. They draw all of their life energy from it.

What characterizes the wicked, characterizes our fallen nature. Our fallen nature does not only make us insensitive to receive lies, but makes us to enjoy it.

God has “judgments” prepared for the stubborn “scoffers” (verse 2929Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools.
). They mock at the holy things. Their mockery will be publicly judged in the judgments that God will bring over them according to His plan. Also the “blows for the back of the fools” are prepared and will unavoidably strike them.

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