1-3 The LORD Directs and Judges Everything 4 Haughtiness Is Sin 5 Diligence, Not Hasty 6-8 A Lying Tongue and a Crooked Way 9 Better Alone Than Together with Fight 10 He Who Desires Evil, Has No Favor 11 The Scoffer and the Wise 12 Turned to Ruin 13 To Shut the Ear and Not to Be Answered 14 A Gift and a Bribe Bring Rest 15 Joy and Terror 16 Wandering Leads to the Dead 17 He Who Loves Pleasure, Wine and Oil 18 A Wicked Man as a Ransom 19 Better … Than 20-21 The Wise Is Saving and Lives 22-23 The Wise Conquers and Guards Himself 24 The Scoffer and His Insolent Pride 25-26 The Sluggard and the Righteous 27-29 The Hypocrite Will Perish 30-31 Unconquerable and Victorious
The LORD Directs and Judges Everything

1The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
2Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
3To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.

Verse 11The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
is one of the clearest proofs in Scripture of God’s sovereignty. We see that in the life of the mightiest rulers that we meet in the Scripture, like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:1-371Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and [men of every] language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound!2It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
3“How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation.4“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace.5I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and [these] fantasies [as I lay] on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.6So I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.7Then the magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners came in and I related the dream to them, but they could not make its interpretation known to me.8But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and I related the dream to him, [saying],9‘O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, since I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no mystery baffles you, tell [me] the visions of my dream which I have seen, along with its interpretation.10‘Now [these were] the visions in my mind [as I lay] on my bed: I was looking, and behold, [there was] a tree in the midst of the earth and its height [was] great.
11‘The tree grew large and became strong
And its height reached to the sky,
And it [was] visible to the end of the whole earth.
12‘Its foliage [was] beautiful and its fruit abundant,
And in it [was] food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
13‘I was looking in the visions in my mind [as I lay] on my bed, and behold, an [angelic] watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.
14‘He shouted out and spoke as follows:
Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit;
Let the beasts flee from under it
And the birds from its branches.
15“Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground,
But with a band of iron and bronze [around it]
In the new grass of the field;
And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
16“Let his mind be changed from [that of] a man
And let a beast’s mind be given to him,
And let seven periods of time pass over him.
17“This sentence is by the decree of the [angelic] watchers
And the decision is a command of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind,
And bestows it on whom He wishes
And sets over it the lowliest of men.”
18This is the dream [which] I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell [me] its interpretation, inasmuch as none of the wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.’19“Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, [if only] the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries!20The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth21and whose foliage [was] beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which [was] food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged—22it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth.23In that the king saw an [angelic] watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze [around it] in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,”24this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:25that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.26And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that [it is] Heaven [that] rules.27Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by [doing] righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to [the] poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’28“All [this] happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.29Twelve months later he was walking on the [roof of] the royal palace of Babylon.30The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’31While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, [saying], ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you,32and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place [will be] with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’33Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ [feathers] and his nails like birds’ [claws].34“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom [endures] from generation to generation.
35“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And [among] the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
36At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me.37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
), Belshazzar (Dan 5:1-301Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.2When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which [was] in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.3Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which [was] in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.4They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.5Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing.6Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.7The king called aloud to bring in the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners. The king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, “Any man who can read this inscription and explain its interpretation to me shall be clothed with purple and [have] a necklace of gold around his neck, and have authority as third [ruler] in the kingdom.”8Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription or make known its interpretation to the king.9Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, his face grew [even] paler, and his nobles were perplexed.10The queen entered the banquet hall because of the words of the king and his nobles; the queen spoke and said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale.11There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans [and] diviners.12[This was] because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation.”13Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?14Now I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that illumination, insight and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you.15Just now the wise men [and] the conjurers were brought in before me that they might read this inscription and make its interpretation known to me, but they could not declare the interpretation of the message.16But I personally have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Now if you are able to read the inscription and make its interpretation known to me, you will be clothed with purple and [wear] a necklace of gold around your neck, and you will have authority as the third [ruler] in the kingdom.”17Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.18O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.19Because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled.20But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and [his] glory was taken away from him.21He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like [that of] beasts, and his dwelling place [was] with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and [that] He sets over it whomever He wishes.22Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,23but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.24Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.25“Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’26This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.27‘TEKEL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.28‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”29Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and [put] a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he [now] had authority as the third [ruler] in the kingdom.30That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.), Ahasuerus (Est 6:1-141During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.2It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.3The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”4So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows which he had prepared for him.5The king’s servants said to him, “Behold, Haman is standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”6So Haman came in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?”7Then Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor,8let them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed;9and let the robe and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble princes and let them array the man whom the king desires to honor and lead him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.’”10Then the king said to Haman, “Take quickly the robes and the horse as you have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king’s gate; do not fall short in anything of all that you have said.”11So Haman took the robe and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and led him [on horseback] through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.”12Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried home, mourning, with [his] head covered.13Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.”14While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hastily brought Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.) and Koresh (Ezra 6:2222And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.; Isa 45:1-71Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
2“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.
3“I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places,
So that you may know that it is I,
The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
4“For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen [one],
I have also called you by your name;
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.
5“I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
6That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
7The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these.
). God has the full control over them. The same goes for the world leaders of today and also for the two great dictators in the end time; the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth (Rev 13:1-181And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns [were] ten diadems, and on his heads [were] blasphemous names.2And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like [those] of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.3[I saw] one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed [and followed] after the beast;4they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”5There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.6And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, [that is,] those who dwell in heaven.7It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, [everyone] whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.9If anyone has an ear, let him hear.10If anyone [is destined] for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.11Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.12He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.13He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life.15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.16And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,17and [he provides] that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, [either] the name of the beast or the number of his name.18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.). Therefore, no human ruler is the highest ruler of the universe, but the LORD. He is the real King of kings (Ezra 7:21,2721“I, even I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are [in the provinces] beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may require of you, it shall be done diligently,27Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put [such a thing] as this in the king’s heart, to adorn the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem,; Isa 10:6-76I send it against a godless nation
And commission it against the people of My fury
To capture booty and to seize plunder,
And to trample them down like mud in the streets.
7Yet it does not so intend,
Nor does it plan so in its heart,
But rather it is its purpose to destroy
And to cut off many nations.
; 41:2-42“Who has aroused one from the east
Whom He calls in righteousness to His feet?
He delivers up nations before him
And subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
As the wind-driven chaff with his bow.
3“He pursues them, passing on in safety,
By a way he had not been traversing with his feet.
4“Who has performed and accomplished [it],
Calling forth the generations from the beginning?
‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
; Dan 2:2121“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
; Jn 19:1111Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has [the] greater sin.”; Rev 17:1717For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.).

The decisions that a king makes in his heart are directed and controlled by God. He guides the king in “wherever”, which means nothing excluded, “He wishes”. The heart of the king is in His hand, which indicates that He has total control over it. It is like “channels of water” which with He does like a farmer does who digs channels in order to direct the watercourse up to and over his field in such a way that it comes exactly where he wants it to. In that way God deals with the heart of a king.

Verse 22Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
seamlessly connects to verse 11The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
. Like God knows the heart of a king, He knows the heart of every man. A man may think that “all his ways are right”, but indeed in “his [own] eyes” (cf. Pro 16:22All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
). We are very well at making our ways “right”, while we go a wrong way. The real Judge of what is in the heart, is God. He not only sees the way that one goes, but He also “weighs the hearts”. He searches the motives.

The Pharisee, who has a very good opinion about himself, appears to have a heart full of pride in himself, while it is full of disgust towards others. This is the judgment of Him Who knows what is in man (Lk 18:9-149And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’13But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’14I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”; Jn 2:2424But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,). He fully “searches the heart” of man (Jer 17:1010“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
) and knows that it is “more deceitful than all else” (Jer 17:99“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

Our view on our way is limited, both in time and direction. God is eternal and controls everything and knows the purpose. Therefore it is good that we pray with David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psa 139:23-2423Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

One of the things that may seem right in our own eyes (verse 22Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
), is offering a sacrifice, thinking that it is all right with our lives (verse 33To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.
). We see a sacrifice as a compensation for the unrighteousness that we have done and the injustice that we commit, and then can continue to do so. We give some things to God and assume therefore that He will not punish us for our sins ‘in reward’.

Here it is not said that sacrifices are to be avoided, but that religious acts are worthless without a righteous life. God gives preference to doing “righteousness and justice” above religiosity (1Sam 15:2222Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
[And] to heed than the fat of rams.
; Pro 15:88The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
; 21:2727The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
; Psa 40:6-86Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
7Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
; Isa 1:11-1711“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
13“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14“I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing [them].
15“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer],
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
16“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
; Mk 12:3333AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”). Whoever does righteousness and justice, holds on to what God says in His Word, in His laws.

God rejected the sacrifice of Cain, because he did not do righteousness and justice, but on the contrary unrighteousness and injustice, which appeared when he murdered his brother (1Jn 3:1212not as Cain, [who] was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.). Outward acts like baptism and the Lord’s Supper are important, because God speaks about it in His Word. But if baptism and the Lord’s supper are not more than outward acts and our heart is not involved in it, they are an abomination to God.

Haughtiness Is Sin

4Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
The lamp of the wicked, is sin.

“Haughty eyes” reflect “a proud heart”. The first is the proof of the presence of the second. Both “is sin”. Outwardly (haughty eyes) and inwardly (a proud heart) is nothing more than sin. They belong to the existence of the wicked; these are what they produce. The soil of their lives doesn’t deliver anything else.

The second line of the verse can also be translated as “the newly developed land, is sin”. A wicked man cultivates his life as a new piece of land. When he starts a new project, when he develops a new land, “that newly developed land” will deliver nothing else but pride. His life produces only pride. Everything serves his own glory, while he despises others.

Diligence, Not Hasty

5The plans of the diligent [lead] surely to advantage,
But everyone who is hasty [comes] surely to poverty.

This verse exhorts us to be diligent and warns us at the same time for haste. Diligence is good when we work with consideration and systematically. Diligence and making plans go hand in hand. He who is diligent, but who is also patient with making plans, will have no lack, but it will lead him to “advantage”. We can use that advantage to invest in other or new projects or to help others who are poor.

Everyone who is too diligent, “who is hasty”, doesn’t allow himself to make plans. He is impulsive and wants as fast as he can, the most advantage or profit as he possibly can. But he “[comes] surely to poverty”, because he is reckless. Haste is good, but ‘more haste, less speed’. The text presents a calculated, quick, profitable act against an unproductive or even a loss-making haste.

Haste includes all cases of which we think that we should be in a hurry because we, according to our opinion, would otherwise miss an opportunity to have advantage. People are rushed to have themselves enlisted for something especially now, or to buy something now, or to click on something now, for over an hour or after a day or next week it will be too late. Then the opportunity will be over.

But let us consider that the time to think over something, or to plan something carefully, is not a waste of time. It is time that will recover with great profit and prevent great losses by stupid investments. Therefore we should go to the LORD with our plans first and ask His approval. If He approves, we can start diligently with the security of an optimal result.

A Lying Tongue and a Crooked Way

6The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
7The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
Because they refuse to act with justice.
8The way of a guilty man is crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.

“By a lying tongue” (verse 66The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
) means in a fraudulent manner, by telling lies or, by what is also called a ‘chat trick’. It is for example someone who comes to the door of an older person and while telling him a nice story he steals the older person’s money or cash card and PIN code. He will notice that the treasures which he has gained in such a way, do not offer him any stability for this life. It will be as if they disappear and vanish. Additionally, he himself is like “those who pursue death”. They do not consciously pursue death, but because of what they do, they do pursue death automatically.

Gehazi is an example of such a man (2Kgs 5:20-2720But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, “Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Aramean, by not receiving from his hands what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.”21So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?”22He said, “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.’”23Naaman said, “Be pleased to take two talents.” And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags with two changes of clothes and gave them to two of his servants; and they carried [them] before him.24When he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and deposited them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.25But he went in and stood before his master. And Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”26Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go [with you], when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?27Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow.). Due to his lies he became rich, but also leprous, a disease that leads to death. Therefore he couldn’t enjoy the treasures that he acquired by his lying tongue, like he thought he would. Ananias and Sapphira had to pay their lies directly with death and in reality could not for one minute enjoy the money they stole from God (Acts 5:1-111But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2and kept back [some] of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back [some] of the price of the land?4While it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”5And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.6The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.7Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.8And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”9Then Peter [said] to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [as well].”10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.).

Wicked people do not only speak with a lying tongue (verse 66The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
), but their actions are violent actions (verse 77The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
Because they refuse to act with justice.
). They are dragged like powerless animals by their wickedness. They go from one destruction to another, they cannot do otherwise than cause only destruction wherever they go. That will finally lead to their own destruction, “for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Mt 26:5252Then Jesus *said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.).

They are not the passive victims of their crimes or circumstances, people who cannot do anything about it. They act like that, “because they refuse to act with justice”. They can only blame themselves for that, because they choose not to do justice and thus to persevere in the evil.

In verse 88The way of a guilty man is crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.
the father speaks about two kinds of people that exist. In the first line of the verse he speaks about “the way of a guilty man” which he has presented in verses 6-76The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
7The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
Because they refuse to act with justice.
, the man who lives without God. In the second line of the verse he speaks about the work of someone who is related with God.

“The way of a guilty man” – which means of a man who refuses to go the right way of God – “is crooked”. The way of the natural man is full of bends, his whole conduct is full of pretexts. A crooked way goes against the truth, against the instructions of God’s Word about the right way. It is also a strange way, a way which is strange to the Scripture, for which not a single instruction is to be found in the Scripture. This way is walked by those who are strange to the life from and with God, who do not partake in it. Their whole life shows that they belong to “a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:1515so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,).

In the second line of the verse it is said “way” opposite to “conduct”, “a pure” opposite “a guilty man” and “upright” opposite “crooked”. A pure man is somebody who has been purified by faith and in that way is related to God. He is pure of heart, which appears from his work (cf. Tit 1:15a15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.). It is a just or right work because it is just and right to God and men.

Better Alone Than Together with Fight

9It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

This is another “better … than” proverb about living together with a contentious woman (Pro 21:1919It is better to live in a desert land
Than with a contentious and vexing woman.
; cf. Pro 19:1313A foolish son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.
). Everyone can imagine the situation that Solomon presents here and agree with what is better. Just imagine to be married to a contentious woman. When you are married, you are obliged to live together. You may have ordered everything to the smallest detail. The house may be provided with all convenience. You live in it, but then in all that space of all convenience you experience nothing but quarrels. The atmosphere in the house is poisoned.

Would Solomon speak from experience? After all he had a thousand wives. It is imaginable that among those many wives there were some who were continually quarrelling. Solomon was surrounded by all grandeur that a man could desire. But he realizes that simplicity and solitude with tranquility are better than all the luxury that is immersed in an atmosphere of quarrels.

You’d better be unmarried and live in a small room in simplicity and solitude somewhere in a corner of a roof (cf. 2Kgs 4:1010Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, [that] he can turn in there.”). You then have a small house, but you have peace. It may be tight and lonely, you may possibly be exposed to wind and weather in the corner of the roof, but there is rest; you don’t have to deal with continuous conflicts that poison your life.

He who is not (yet) married, finds a counterpart of the thought that being married gives the highest enjoyment. To be married to a wife given by God is indeed a great gift and a continuous source of happiness. But when you are married to the wrong woman, the women you covet, then the marriage you’ve dreamt of may turn into a nightmare. The verse shows again how important it is to only marry the woman that God gives.

He Who Desires Evil, Has No Favor

10The soul of the wicked desires evil;
His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.

“The wicked” seeks “evil” and not grace. He not only does evil, but his soul “desires” to do it. He is a sadist, a representative of satan, who finds pleasure in hurting others. The soul is the seat of desires. The wicked desires evil with all of his heart, because that only satisfies his deepest feelings.

The thought of showing favor to his neighbor is totally missing with him. In such a person not only the least bit of favor is missing for his enemy but also for his neighbor. If his neighbor would beg him for mercy, he would have pleasure in doing him the evil of which his neighbor begs him not to do.

The Scoffer and the Wise

11When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise;
But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.

Here again there is mention of the three persons, “the scoffer”, “the naive” and “the wise”. “The scoffer” is the stubborn person. He is punished for his mockery. The punishment can be applied by God or a judge or someone else who is above him. But it doesn’t change the attitude of the scoffer. He continues to scoff. The question is whether it is useful to punish him, if it doesn’t help.

Then it appears that his punishment does have a beneficial effect, not to himself, but to “the naive” who observes it. The example that he sees has the result that he becomes wise. He sees what the consequences are of the mockery, which he wants to avoid. That is wisdom. A punishment that is being applied not only reaches the person that undergoes the punishment, but also others. He corrects the one and prevents others to make that mistake, which causes that they also prevent punishment (Pro 19:2525Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd,
But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.
; cf. Deu 19:2020The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.; 1Tim 5:2020Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful [of sinning].; Acts 5:1111And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.).

While the naive learns by an example, “the wise” learns by being “instructed”, which makes him to receive “knowledge”. The instructions that he receives, not only makes him to ‘know’ something, but it gives him understanding in the problems of life. The wise never stops to learn.

Turned to Ruin

12The righteous one considers the house of the wicked,
Turning the wicked to ruin.

“The righteous” doesn’t allow himself to be deceived by what he sees from the house of the wicked. He often sees the prosperity and welfare of it. However, he doesn’t watch it superficially, but he “considers the house”; he looks at it with the eyes of God. Then he sees that the prosperity of his house is temporal. When he looks with the eyes of faith, he sees the end of the prosperity of the present moment.

There will indeed be a moment that God turns “the wicked to ruin”. Everything they boasted in and wherein they found their rest, will then be changed into disaster and misery, which are not temporal, but eternal. That there will be a moment that the Judge of the whole earth will do justice, is an encouragement for the righteous to endure poverty and sufferings.

To Shut the Ear and Not to Be Answered

13He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be answered.

God’s judgment not only strikes people who do evil (verse 1212The righteous one considers the house of the wicked,
Turning the wicked to ruin.
), but also those who refuse to do good. “The one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:1717Therefore, to one who knows [the] right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.). “He who shuts his ear”, consciously does not want to hear (cf. Acts 7:5757But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.). It is an expression of cruelty and insensitivity. Here someone does so, that he cannot hear “the cry of the poor”. He shuts himself for a help request. He does hear it, but pretends not to hear it.

It is thereby about a help request which has been spoken. It can also be applied to an unspoken help request, to an observation of somebody who is poor, but avoid such person. He who does so, is insensitive; he closes his heart, his inner being (1Jn 3:1717But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?). He may even camouflage his deafness with pious words (Jam 2:1616and 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?).

Those who do not show favor, will not receive mercy when they themselves shall ask for it (cf. Jam 2:13a13For judgment [will be] merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.). Poor Lazarus was laid at the gate of the rich man and was longing to be satisfied with what as falling from the rich man’s table. But the rich man overlooked him. He covered his ears and eyes to Lazarus and did not care about him. So when the rich man opens his eyes in the torment and begs for mercy to cool off his tongue, he finds no answer (Lk 16:19-3119“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.20And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,21and longing to be fed with the [crumbs] which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.22Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.23In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and [that] none may cross over from there to us.’27And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—28for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’29But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’30But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’31But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”).

A Gift and a Bribe Bring Rest

14A gift in secret subdues anger,
And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.

“A gift in secret” is a gift which is not given loudly. It is a gift which is given from the one person to the other without others hearing about it. Such a gift has a calming effect on someone whom for whatever reason is angry. In that way he is made calmer. The second line of the verse says the same in other words.

In this verse it does not seem to be about a bribe, kickbacks or hush money, but about a means that causes a person to be calmed down. It often makes someone who is inflamed with anger, to calm down when someone approaches him with kindness. The gift or the bribe does not need to be given by the one whom he is angry about, but it can also be someone who has heard about it. Examples are the gifts that Jacob sends to Esau (Gen 32:1-201Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him.2Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim.3Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.4He also commanded them saying, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob, “I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now;5I have oxen and donkeys [and] flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.”‘“6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies;8for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.”9Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’10I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff [only] I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.11Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me [and] the mothers with the children.12For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’”13So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau:14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,15thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.16He delivered [them] into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.”17He commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these [animals] in front of you belong?’18then you shall say, ‘[These] belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’”19Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him;20and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.”) and the gift that Abigail takes with her when she approaches David (1Sam 25:18,3518Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred [loaves] of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded [them] on donkeys.35So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”).

Joy and Terror

15The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous,
But is terror to the workers of iniquity.

The nature of men becomes clear from their reaction to the exercise of justice. When doing justice “is joy” for someone, we are dealing with a righteous man. When doing justice “is terror” for people, we are dealing with those who are doing injustice. The righteous not only does justice because he is supposed to, but he does it with joy. He doesn’t do justice because he is afraid of the consequences when he does not, but he does justice because he loves justice. The Lord Jesus is the true Just. God testifies of Him: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness” (Heb 1:9a9“You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.”).

“The workers of iniquity” are those whose life exists of doing injustice. Doing justice is doing God’s will. They hate that. Only the thought of it is already a terror for them. They are not able to do justice and they do not want that at all. But they will totally be overcome by terror when they will have to give account for their deeds before Him. Then they will be forced to do justice, in the sense of bowing down before Him, for Whom they never wanted to bow down. Hell will be full of people who have always hated justice. They will be under eternal terror because justice has been done to their injustice.

Wandering Leads to the Dead

16A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

“A man who wanders from the way of understanding”, is someone who has known the right way, but has left it. The way of understanding is the way of God. He who leaves it, turns his back to God and His Word and His people. First he walked in the way that God in His Word presents to man as the right way, which is the way of blessing. Whoever leaves that way, will be someone who continually wanders and always goes a wrong way (2Pet 2:1515forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the [son] of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;).

The tragedy is that such a person thinks that in the way that he wanders, he is going the way of understanding. It is actually true, but it is then the way of his own dark understanding. It is impossible that someone who lives in full spiritual darkness, finds and goes the right way. Only the grace of God can make someone discover that he is wandering.

He who is wandering, is on the way of the “assembly of the dead” to “rest” there, which means to dwell or stay there. It refers to the wrong way that he goes. That way is full of spiritually dead people, those who live as dead ones without God. It also refers to the place where he will eventually end up when he dies physically.

He Who Loves Pleasure, Wine and Oil

17He who loves pleasure [will become] a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.

The love for “pleasure” and “wine and oil” is a love for these things in itself, without a relation with God. It is about someone who belongs to the group of people of whom Paul says that they “are more lovers of their own pleasures than of God” (2Tim 3:44treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,). We may surely enjoy all kinds of earthly blessings that God has given us. But if we forget that we owe everything to Him and it means everything to us, lack will appear in our spiritual life and we will miss spiritual wealth. Pleasure in the sense of plain amusement, having fun every day, is an empty form of life. This life is seen as the highest aim by the world around us.

‘Enjoy’ is the key word. You come across it in numerous advertisements. Delicious food and drink, music, sports and amusement in all varieties have to give a feeling of pleasure. But it is like the crackling of thorns that cause warmth for just a little while when they are being burnt, but this fire is quenched within a moment. Then the warmth is over and gone.

Wine and oil are symbolic here for the luxury life and as stand-alone causes of joy (Amos 6:66Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls
While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,
Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.
). When these things are being pursued, they will lead to a life of complacent pleasure, which in its turn leads to spiritual poverty. Whoever focuses on life in luxury, will seek fellowship with God less and less in Bible reading and praying. He will become spiritually poor. He who pursues luxury, will also neglect other responsibilities, such as attention and care for wife and children.

It also has something to say to us as Christians. We can be so focused on the joy of faith, that we forget the Source of it. It becomes being happy because of and in the happiness. Pleasure, however, is never an abstract phenomenon, but comes forth from the Source out of Whom we can draw. You find this in certain churches where joy and the ‘Spirit’, of Whom oil is a picture, have an excessive place. Therefore the consequence is always the poverty that is mentioned here.

A Wicked Man as a Ransom

18The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
And the treacherous is in the place of the upright.

When God brings His judgment over the wicked, we can see that as a ransom for the righteous (cf. Isa 43:3-43“For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
4“Since you are precious in My sight,
[Since] you are honored and I love you,
I will give [other] men in your place and [other] peoples in exchange for your life.
). In that way the righteous is being released from the oppression by the wicked. Ransom is the price that is paid to release a prisoner. God brings the evil over the wicked that he has done to the righteous (cf. Pro 11:88The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked takes his place.
). Also the unfaithful comes under the judgment of God. He deserves and receives that judgment because he himself has oppressed the righteous.

There comes a time that God will reverse the roles. That will be at the coming of the Lord Jesus to the earth to judge and to reign. He will judge the oppressors of His people and lead His people that have been oppressed to rest (2Thes 1:6-76For after all it is [only] just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,7and [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,). He will let the wicked perish, so that the righteous may be liberated.

Better … Than

19It is better to live in a desert land
Than with a contentious and vexing woman.

Like verse 99It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
this proverb is a “better … than” proverb about living with a contentious woman. From the corner of a roof where the man in verse 99It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
would have had a better place than in the communal house, he has now moved to “a desert land”. It is better for him to be living there than “with a contentious and vexing woman”. In that place he is far away from the hearing of this woman.

In the corner of the roof he could hear her still, but there he was also able to have social contacts. In a desert land he dwells totally by himself and almost without any social contacts. It is sparsely populated there and very peaceful, but also dangerous because of wild animals. Still, that dwelling area and that environment are preferable to being constantly confronted with ‘domestic strife’. The woman is not only contentious, constantly looking for conflicts, but in addition to that she is also ’vexing’, a woman who frustrates her husband and makes him sad. The marriage with such a woman is a continuous source of problems instead of joy.

Both verses that deal with living together with a contentious woman, are a warning to the unmarried man. They do not imply advice for a married man to search for another place to live when his wife shows characteristics of contentiousness and irritation. They underline how important it is to be careful at choosing a marital partner. It is also a warning to the married man to make efforts not to allow contentiousness and irritation to dominate the marriage, but that the marriage is characterized by a serving love. That is first of all his responsibility.

The Wise Is Saving and Lives

20There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man swallows it up.
21He who pursues righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness and honor.

“The wise” (verse 2020There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man swallows it up.
), while living day by day, lives by focusing on the future. There is “precious treasure and oil in his dwelling place”, which he uses daily, while he knows that whatever he has is also enough in times of lack. That is because he looks further and more importantly higher than these means. He sees that he receives them from God’s hand.

The wise may be a poor man who lives in a hut. The precious treasure is not so much a lot of gold or silver, but may be a little bit of bread, with the confidence in God that He will give him daily the amount of the bread that he needs for that day (Mt 6:1111‘Give us this day our daily bread.
). The oil does not refer to a great supply of oil which he can sell later, but to a little bit of which he trusts that it is enough for that day and which he will also need later. In short, the wise trusts in God.

The widow of Zarephath was such a wise woman (1Kgs 17:11-1511As she was going to get [it], he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”12But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”13Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring [it] out to me, and afterward you may make [one] for yourself and for your son.14For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.’”15So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for [many] days.). She had a little bit of flour and a little bit of oil, but she also had the man of God. He made sure that the flour and the oil did not exhaust, because the woman believed what he said. We also have that precious treasure and oil in our home if we surrender everything of our house to the Lord Jesus. He shall then make sure that we shall have no lack.

The fool doesn’t think about the future. He also has the precious treasure and oil but no confidence in God. He therefore wastes everything that he has. The wise live in the here and now, but with his eyes focused on the future; the fool lives only for the here and now. The fool spends his money like sand is slipping through his fingers. He doesn’t see his property in the light of the future and therefore he wastes it. His motto is ‘no worries about the future’, but he does not consider that he ‘then’ will meet God and will have to give account to Him for all he has done with his property.

He who “pursues” (verse 2121He who pursues righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness and honor.
) something, is convinced about its value and that it is worthy to do everything to get it. The wise is convinced about the value of “righteousness and loyalty”. Righteousness is giving to God what He is entitled to and to people what they are entitled to. It is according to justice. “Loyalty” refers to a mind of kindness. They go together in a perfectly balanced way in God. They should also go together in the righteous.

He who pursues these two characteristics, shall find and experience the real “life”, in both now and forever. The real life is life in fellowship with God, as which Christ had known when He was on earth. In addition he also finds “righteousness”. He is totally sure about him being accepted by God. It is not about receiving a position for God here, for that is not to be earned. It is about the awareness of the blessing to be able to be in God’s presence. The basis of it is the work of Christ. Finally he also finds “honor”. God honors him for his effort (cf. Jn 12:2626If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.).

This ‘pursuing’ cannot happen in one’s own power. It can only happen through the Holy Spirit Who works this pursuing in the new life. It is also said to Timothy that he should pursue righteousness and also a number of other features. When he does that, he will seize the real, eternal life (1Tim 6:11-1211But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance [and] gentleness.12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.). Timothy was a believer, but it is also about the new life which is being lived by him. That is also what Solomon means here.

The Wise Conquers and Guards Himself

22A wise man scales the city of the mighty
And brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
23He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles.

“A city of the mighty” thinks that it is invincible (verse 2222A wise man scales the city of the mighty
And brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
). It trusts in the power of its mighty men. But “wisdom is better than power” (Ecc 9:1616So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded.). It is more effective to use wisdom than to trust in power (Ecc 7:1919Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.). Due to his wisdom a wise man is able to scale that city, despite the mighty men that are in it and to bring down the stronghold, which was not considered to be brought down (Ecc 9:14-1514There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it.15But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.).

The stronghold is brought down because people have trusted in it. That’s what makes the difference with wisdom. Wisdom is stronger than self-confidence, because wisdom leans on God. Fearing God is after all the beginning of wisdom. Only by the power of God which goes together with wisdom, the wise is able to scale a city of mighty men.

A careful strategy and a wise application of courage will win from pure muscle power and skillful use of weapons. In that way Joshua conquered Ai (Jos 8:3-223So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night.4He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready.5Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them.6They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘[They] are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them.7And you shall rise from [your] ambush and take possession of the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.8Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do [it] according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.”9So Joshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people.10Now Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai.11Then all the people of war who [were] with him went up and drew near and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now [there was] a valley between him and Ai.12And he took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.13So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north side of the city, and its rear guard on the west side of the city, and Joshua spent that night in the midst of the valley.14It came about when the king of Ai saw [it], that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that [there was] an ambush against him behind the city.15Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.16And all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city.17So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel, and they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel.18Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city.19The [men in] ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it, and they quickly set the city on fire.20When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city ascended to the sky, and they had no place to flee this way or that, for the people who had been fleeing to the wilderness turned against the pursuers.21When Joshua and all Israel saw that the [men in] ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and slew the men of Ai.22The others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were [trapped] in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped.) and Gideon defeated the great army of the Midianites with a small army (Jdg 7:77The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the [other] people go, each man to his home.”). The power of the enemy is broken by those who trust in God. That also goes for the spiritual warfare. Each stronghold of human, each mind that contrasts God is pulled down and taken down by him who allows himself to be led by the Spirit of God and the Word of God (2Cor 10:3-53For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.5[We are] destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and [we are] taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,).

Another victory is that over the tongue (verse 2323He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles.
). He who can control his tongue, prevents himself to get into troubles. The wise knows when to be silent (Ecc 3:77A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
). The talkative gets into troubles quickly. He had said things which were supposed to be kept secret or was too quick in speaking out a judgment about someone. That causes him resistance and sometimes even hostility. He is being blamed for what he has said.

People who control their mouth and tongue, think first before they say something. They will not get into social or legal troubles quickly because of a wrong remark that they have made (cf. Pro 13:33The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
). It is therefore good to consider things that are true, honorable, right, pure, loving and of good repute (Phil 4:88Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.) and also say those things, while we avoid everything that is dishonest, painful and damaging to others.

The Scoffer and His Insolent Pride

24“Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

“Haughtiness” and “pride” are the characteristics by which the scoffer is recognized. A person who is haughty and proud, bears the name “scoffer”. He goes his way arrogantly, with contempt for every form of authority. In his haughtiness he refuses to bow down to God. In his pride he exalts himself above others. With him there is no desire for wisdom at all, for that means that he should have respect for God.

There is a total lack of modesty with the scoffer. In his arrogance he “acts with insolent pride”. He thinks that he is able to control everything and that he can order whoever he wants, to help him. He does not accept contradiction. The antichrist is the scoffer par excellence. Pharaoh and Sennacherib said things about God in their arrogance and they both were killed by God’s judgment (Exo 5:22But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”; 14:23-3023Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea.24At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.25He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, for the LORD is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”26Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.”27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained.29But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters [were like] a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.30Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.; Isa 36:16-2016Do not listen to Hezekiah,’ for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern,17until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.18[Beware] that Hezekiah does not mislead you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?19Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? And when have they delivered Samaria from my hand?20Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD would deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’”; 37:3838It came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.). In such a way the antichrist will also get killed and everyone with him who are recognized by his spirit of mockery.

The Sluggard and the Righteous

25The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
26All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back.

“A sluggard” has a powerfully working “desire”, but his “hands refuse to work” (verse 2525The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
). That combination “puts him to death”. A sluggard is day dreaming about food and drink, about everything that others have and what he also wants. But he does not want his hands to work. That demands too much energy from him. It is not a question of not being able to, but a question of not wanting to. He chooses not to work.

Additionally, the sluggard is also ignorant or foolish, for he does not realize that his laziness is leading him to death. He is so occupied with his desires, his world is such a lie, it is a world of ‘wishful thinking’, that this life becomes fatal to him and that he dies of lack.
Verse 2626All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back.
is directly connected to verse 2525The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
and continues the theme of the sluggard and his desires. A sluggard is totally locked up in his own world of life. He is all day long totally filled with feelings of lust, which seek to be satisfied. It may regard nice food and drink, or buying things that make life pleasant or exciting. Those are “cravings” for him. He has surrounded himself with those things in his fantasy. But he rejects the thought of buying these things with money earned by himself.

“A righteous man” is no sluggard, but a diligent worker. That he is righteous, appears also from his generosity. The Bible teaches us that a righteous person is a giving person. The righteous is not only diligent and he not only has enough for himself, but has so much, that he gives also to the poor. The sluggard covets continually, but the righteous gives continuously, without restraint (cf. Acts 20:34-3534You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my [own] needs and to the men who were with me.35In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”). The sluggard wants to receive continuously without working for it. The righteous works hard and gives away abundantly to whom is poor.

The Hypocrite Will Perish

27The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
28A false witness will perish,
But the man who listens [to the truth] will speak forever.
29A wicked man displays a bold face,
But as for the upright, he makes his way sure.

God hates “the sacrifice” or the worship “of the wicked” because they come to God without confessing their sins and therefore they are without righteousness before God (verse 2727The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
; Jer 6:2020“For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba
And the sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable
And your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me.”
; Amos 5:21-2421“I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
22“Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept [them];
And I will not [even] look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
23“Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
24“But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
). The sacrifice or the worship with which such a person comes to God is not only unacceptable to God, but it is an abomination to Him. God first of all, demands from the worshipper a true conversion and the intention to live right. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psa 51:1717The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Hypocritical worship is bad enough; worship “with evil intent” is fully abominable. God doesn’t want acts of worship without contrition, but it is fully abominable when it comes from someone who thinks that he can bribe God with his sacrifice, so that He will give him what he desires. ‘You do not get something for nothing. I bring a sacrifice – I give for example money to the church or once in a while I visit a sick person – so, He should give me whatever I want or anyway make sure that nothing bad happens to me.’ Evil intents are a great abomination to God.

The hypocrite in verse 2727The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
stands opposite to God. The hypocrite in verse 2828A false witness will perish,
But the man who listens [to the truth] will speak forever.
stands opposite to men. “A false witness” is someone who deliberately testifies falsely against someone else. He will get killed. God will judge him. When it appears to men that his testimony is false, he will be convicted by the judge on earth.

The opposite of the false witness is written in the second line of the verse: “he who listens”. Such a person is a true, reliable witness. He who always listens first to what is being said about a matter in which he has to witness, someone who says nothing more than what he has heard or seen, will speak forever. He is faithful; he will again and again speak in cases that have occurred. Because he knows and understands what the truth is, he doesn’t have to keep silent. Nobody will be able to rebuke or refute him.

Stephen was such a witness. He listened to God’s voice by His Word. The wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke, were not to be refuted (Acts 6:1010But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.). Also Abel, after he died, he still speaks (cf. Heb 11:44By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.). Above all, the Lord Jesus is the faithful and truthful Witness. He has always listened to God and He therefore will always speak. He is the truth and speaks the truth.

“A wicked man” gives the impression to be convinced (verse 2929A wicked man displays a bold face,
But as for the upright, he makes his way sure.
). He displays a bold face. He is ashamed about nothing and does not know how to blush (Jer 6:1515“Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the LORD.
; 8:1212“Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done?
They certainly were not ashamed,
And they did not know how to blush;
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time of their punishment they shall be brought down,”
Says the LORD.
). The bold face reflects a hardened, unrepentant heart (Isa 48:44“Because I know that you are obstinate,
And your neck is an iron sinew
And your forehead bronze,
; Jer 5:33O LORD, do not Your eyes [look] for truth?
You have smitten them,
[But] they did not weaken;
You have consumed them,
But they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent.
; Eze 3:77yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate.). With a straight face he tells the harshest lies and commits the most horrible crimes. From the second line of the verse it seems that a wicked man goes a way that has no security at all, how powerful he pretends to be. He will sink away in immeasurably deep troubles when he will be judged by God.

“The upright makes his way sure” because he looks up, to God, and asks Him for guidance. He seems to be dependable and weak, but that makes him strong, for God gives him strength. God’s joy rests upon him. The Lord Jesus is also the perfect example here. In following Him, we also see Paul as an example. He was upright (2Cor 1:1717Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no [at the same time]?) and admitted that he was dependent on grace: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor 12:1010Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.).

Unconquerable and Victorious

30There is no wisdom and no understanding
And no counsel against the LORD.
31The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the LORD.

The chapter ends with which it began: the absolute sovereignty and majesty of God. Everything that He intends to do, will happen. There is nothing and nobody, who can hinder Him to carry out His plans (verse 3030There is no wisdom and no understanding
And no counsel against the LORD.
). He laughs at everything that man does to hinder Him in His plans (Psa 2:1-41Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.

Human “wisdom”, “understanding” and “counsel” are nothing more than foolishness in the light of wisdom, understanding and the counsel of God. It shows total blindness and powerlessness. By using the word “no” three times, it is emphasized that there is really absolutely nothing that can be said against the LORD. All His plans and acts are perfect and inviolable for whatever power.

We see that in everything that was planned against the Lord Jesus, in order to kill Him. Still, everything has happened the way that God had determined (Acts 2:2323this [Man], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put [Him] to death.). If they for instance had planned to place His grave with the wicked, then still He is with the rich in His death, because God has determined it that way (Isa 53:99His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
; Mt 27:57-6057When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.58This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given [to him].59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.). God proclaims the end from the beginning and man cannot change anything about that. On the contrary, God uses him in spite of himself, for the fulfillment of His plans.

A man may be wise in certain views and have insight and therefore give wise advice. He may have been highly educated and have experience. But if he has no fear of the LORD, he lacks the real wisdom and the real insight and his advice will appear to be foolishness. It comes down to insulting God if we want to compare human wisdom, understanding and advice with His wisdom, understanding and counsel.

Man is of “yesterday and knows nothing” (Job 8:99“For we are [only] of yesterday and know nothing,
Because our days on earth are as a shadow.
). “Jesus Christ is the Same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:88Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and forever.). He Who is God, overlooks the past, the present and the future. Man cannot look into the future. He can make predictions based on experience and assumptions, but he cannot offer any guarantees. God determines what happens. Man does well to agree with that and not to turn against Him. The so-called wise people have no foresight and have no control over the future. They claim that they do, by presenting goals for the future with pompous words, but all their claims will be shipwrecked by the LORD, for He alone has wisdom, understanding and counsel.

The ultimate success of an act or the victory in a battle comes from God and not by human efforts (verse 3131The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the LORD.
). The contrast here is between the plans and troubles for the battle on the one hand, “the horse is prepared for the day of battle”, and on the other hand the recognition of the real source of the victory, “the LORD” (Psa 20:88They have bowed down and fallen,
But we have risen and stood upright.
; 33:1717A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.
). Means may be used to achieve something, but we must never forget that if we have success we owe it to God. We are allowed to use means, but never to make an idol out of it.

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