Proverbs
1-2 Don’t Be Envious of Evil Men 3-4 Building a House and Filling the Rooms 5-6 Strength and Victory by Wisdom 7 Wisdom Is Too Exalted for a Fool 8-9 Planning to Do Evil and the Devising of Folly 10 Test of Distress 11-12 Save Those Who Are Going to Slaughter 13-14 Sweetness of Wisdom 15-16 A Righteous Man Falls, but He Rises Again 17-18 No Malicious Pleasure 19-20 The Evil Man Has No Future 21-22 Fear the LORD and the King 23-26 No Partiality in Judgment 27 Financial Independency 28-29 A False Witness and Revenge 30-34 Lesson of the Sluggard
Don’t Be Envious of Evil Men

1Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
2For their minds devise violence,
And their lips talk of trouble.

The father warns his son that he should “not be envious of evil men” (verse 11Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
). He should not desire “to be with them”, for they are bad company (cf. Pro 1:10-1910My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13We will find all [kinds] of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.
17Indeed, it is useless to spread the [baited] net
In the sight of any bird;
18But they lie in wait for their own blood;
They ambush their own lives.
19So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
It takes away the life of its possessors.
; 3:3131Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.
; 23:1717Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But [live] in the fear of the LORD always.
). The envy here goes further than only a feeling or an expression. It is about a desire to be with evil people because of their apparent prosperity. The son is not supposed to be jealous of it, nor to want it. Jealousy is a hateful and grudging notion of the prosperity of another person.

The feeling or expression of bitterness or indignation about an (alleged) dishonest treatment, can be a result of jealousy: why does the other person have the prosperity and I do not? Anyway, it is one’s dissatisfaction about his own circumstances, a dissatisfaction which is a result of comparing with others, while God is not involved in the circumstances or is kept outside the circumstances. Envy is a characteristic of men who are narrow-minded.

The word “for” with which verse 22For their minds devise violence,
And their lips talk of trouble.
begins, indicates that the reason for the warning of verse 11Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
follows. Bad people are obsessed with violence. “Their minds” devise “violence”. “Their lips” talk about what is in their mind, which is nothing else than “trouble”. They speak words that they only desire to cause trouble and disaster to others. They owe their apparent prosperity to the destruction that they have devised in their hearts and to the words of trouble which they have spoken. If the son is aware of that, he will not be so stupid to join them, will he?


Building a House and Filling the Rooms

3By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.

The verses 3-43By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
form a whole. They deal with the construction of a house, its establishment and the things the rooms are filled with. To build a good house, building it on the right foundation and to decorate it tastefully, we need “wisdom”, “understanding” and “knowledge”. At the same time, the use of these words indicates that it is not just about building a stone house with rooms that are decorated with furniture.

The house especially makes us think of a family which lives in it. “Wisdom” is necessary to start a family (verse 33By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
). The happiness of a family depends more on the mutual relationships than on the stones and the brickwork. Only by the wisdom of God, there can be good relationships between the family members. In that way a house will arise which has been built correctly.

“Understanding” is important for the foundation. This means that God’s Word is the basis of the functioning of each family member. The understanding that each member of the family is different than every other member and the kind of the differences – such as gender, age, disposition – allow the members to be themselves. There is no need for anyone to pretend to be better or to exert pressure on anyone to have things done in his or her way. In that way tensions are also prevented.

The “knowledge” of the capacity which each member had been given by God, will promote them to work with those capacities (verse 44And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
). In that way everyone can deliver his or her valuable contribution and also be stimulated to do so. In that way “the rooms are filled with precious and pleasant riches”. Precious and pleasant riches are such as love and solidarity, safety and security, acceptance of who you are and to be there for one another. Children who grow up in an atmosphere of love and security, grow up to be loving and peaceful individuals.

We can also apply this to the local church, which we can also see as a family. Wise believers with understanding and knowledge will do their best to allow each believer to take the place which the Holy Spirit has given to him or her (1Cor 12:44Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.).


Strength and Victory by Wisdom

5A wise man is strong,
And a man of knowledge increases power.
6For by wise guidance you will wage war,
And in abundance of counselors there is victory.

The building of the family that verses 3-43By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
is talking about, demands power and wisdom (verse 55A wise man is strong,
And a man of knowledge increases power.
; Ecc 7:1919Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.; 9:15-1615But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.16So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded.). In the natural life a wise man knows how to carry a burden which is many times heavier than one man can carry, with certain means. In the spiritual life it is not about physical power, but about the power of wisdom. That power is present in those who live with Christ, the Source of wisdom.

“A wise man” is also “a man of knowledge”. When it comes down to the use of the powers that wisdom gives, one needs the knowledge of the circumstances. “A man of knowledge” knows the will of God, which he wants to do. He knows how and when to use his power in the right way. Wisdom to make the right choice and the knowledge of the will of God go hand in hand (1Cor 1:9-119God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.10Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.11For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s [people], that there are quarrels among you.).

The word “for” with which verse 66For by wise guidance you will wage war,
And in abundance of counselors there is victory.
begins, indicates the significance of the power of wisdom and knowledge. We should be aware that we live in a spiritual war zone and are involved in a spiritual fight. That fight is raging especially around the families of the believers. Wise counsel for this spiritual war is needed more than ever.

A wise man is not stubborn and does not figure everything out all by himself alone. He knows the meaning and value of “wise guidance” from others, from “an abundance of counselors”. Misplaced self-confidence or confidence in his own means or power are out of the question with him. God has given us to each other as members of His people. We ask Him for guidance and we also ask our brothers and sisters who live with Him for guidance, which we see in their obedience to and knowledge of God’s Word.

After we have asked for guidance, we must “wage war” for our own sakes. In the everyday life we are not surrounded by our brothers and sisters, but by a hostile world. The world wants to take away everything from us what we desire to set apart for God, such as our family and our properties. We will face all kinds of hindrances on our way, which can cause destruction in our family by taking control over our children. This can happen by, for example, teachings at schools and/or decisions from the politics that are in opposition to God’s Word. Impulsivity, naivety and decisiveness lead to defeat. A victorious life is the result of profound counsel, good consideration and wisely combatting.


Wisdom Is Too Exalted for a Fool

7Wisdom is [too] exalted for a fool,
He does not open his mouth in the gate.

The proud, hardened fool cannot acquire any wisdom. All wisdom whatsoever, is inaccessible for him. Wisdom is far beyond his capacity. He will never be able to give any wise counsel and therefore we should not ask him for counsel ever. For that reason, he is not to be given any chance to open his mouth in the gate. The gate is the place where the town authorities discuss problems and make decisions (Pro 31:2323Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
; Rth 4:11Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down.). In that place, the fool is not to be allowed at all to have his foolishness to be heard.


Planning to Do Evil and the Devising of Folly

8One who plans to do evil,
Men will call a schemer.
9The devising of folly is sin,
And the scoffer is an abomination to men.

“One who plans to do evil” (verse 88One who plans to do evil,
Men will call a schemer.
), is doing the work of the devil, who can do nothing but plan evil. The devil can rightly be called “a schemer”. He who is not a child of God, is a child of the devil (1Jn 3:1010By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.). All the children of the devil have his nature. He inspires them to plan evil; they are “inventors of evil things” (Rom 1:3030slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,). Not everyone does it in the same degree, but the principle is in the mind of all the children of the devil. Here, it is especially about the cold, calculating person who is active in planning evil.

Not only the doing of folly is evil, but even “the devising of folly is evil” (verse 99The devising of folly is sin,
And the scoffer is an abomination to men.
). The folly of the scoffer is the summit of folly. This kind of person does not care about morals at all. Even people who do not want to have anything to do with God, though do maintain some kind of morality, will be disgusted by him at a certain moment. A scoffer is someone who not only rejects what he should believe, but he laughs at and ridicules and despises what he should believe. He does that also towards those who believe.


Test of Distress

10If you are slack in the day of distress,
Your strength is limited.

“The day of distress” is not a literal day of twenty-four hours, but every day or period of difficulties and trials that can make life difficult. People with a feeble attitude, who get discouraged and want to forsake their life with the Lord, show little strength. There is no spiritual power and the hands are limp (Heb 12:12-1312Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,13and make straight paths for your feet, so that [the limb] which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.). Precisely in a day of distress, it becomes clear whether a person has the power of wisdom (verse 55A wise man is strong,
And a man of knowledge increases power.
), which makes him to be continually focused on the Source of wisdom (Isa 40:3131Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up [with] wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
).

Solomon uses a wordplay here to emphasize the link between both lines of the verse. The Hebrew word for ‘distress’ is sarah and the word for ‘limited’ (literally: narrow) is sar. It is good for one to strengthen himself in God in the days of distress (1Sam 30:66Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.; Psa 84:66Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
). Then God’s power will be perfected in weakness (2Cor 12:99And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.).


Save Those Who Are Going to Slaughter

11Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold [them] back.
12If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider [it] who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know [it] who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?

God makes His people responsible to deliver people that are in danger (verse 1111Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold [them] back.
). It is about people “who are being taken away” and carried away to a certain death, without having any possibility to liberate themselves from their situation. The words “death” and “slaughter” indicate the gravity of the situation. These people are innocent victims of gangs of robbers or circumstances which they could not control. They are about to be killed, slaughtered. They are “staggering”, worn out, driven in the direction of death. If there is no deliverance from an unexpected side very soon, it is over with them.

The command is clear. We should do everything possible to deliver them from death. There is an imminent ‘woe’ when we remain aloof, when we turn a blind eye and do not reach out to them. The Hebrew midwives did not throw the baby boys in the Nile river, but delivered them, which was against the command of the Pharaoh (Exo 1:13-1713The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously;14and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all [kinds] of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.15Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah;16and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see [them] upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”17But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.). Esther risked her life by delivering her people that were doomed to death (Est 3:6-136But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him [who] the people of Mordecai [were]; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who [were] throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.7In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month [to month], until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.8Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from [those] of all [other] people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain.9If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the [king’s] business, to put into the king’s treasuries.”10Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.11The king said to Haman, “The silver is yours, and the people [also], to do with them as you please.”12Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and it was written just as Haman commanded to the king’s satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the princes of each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language, being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet ring.13Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth [day] of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder.; 4:13-1613Then Mordecai told [them] to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews.14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”15Then Esther told [them] to reply to Mordecai,16“Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”; 8:4-64The king extended the golden scepter to Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king.5Then she said, “If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter [seems] proper to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces.6For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people, and how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?”). They have delivered and did not turn a blind eye. Even the prophet Obadiah who was serving at the court of Ahab, had delivered prophets from death by hiding them and providing them with food (1Kgs 18:44for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.)).

The spiritual application is that we should tell the people of the world that they “are being taken away to death”. Due to sin, they are delivered to death. There is no mention here of being innocent, but there is certainly a lack of any capacity for one to deliver himself. Our responsibility is to tell the people of the world that they can escape God’s judgment by confessing their sins and believing in the Lord Jesus. If we do not do that, there is also the imminent ‘woe’ for us. Paul has understood it and said: “For woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1Cor 9:1616For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.).

We will be kept accountable for what was asked from us concerning all those cases of which we have known about the eternal death whereto the people were headed and that we did not show them the possibility to escape from it (Eze 33:1-331And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,2“Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,3and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,4then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his [own] head.5He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.6But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’7“Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.8When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.9But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.10“Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?”‘11Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’12And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, ‘The righteousness of a righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he will not stumble because of it in the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous man will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’13When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he [so] trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.14But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness,15[if a] wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.16None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced justice and righteousness; he shall surely live.17“Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right.18When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it.19But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them.20Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”21Now in the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth of the tenth month, the refugees from Jerusalem came to me, saying, “The city has been taken.”22Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me in the evening, before the refugees came. And He opened my mouth at the time [they] came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened and I was no longer speechless.23Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,24“Son of man, they who live in these waste places in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was [only] one, yet he possessed the land; so to us who are many the land has been given as a possession.’25Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You eat [meat] with the blood [in it], lift up your eyes to your idols as you shed blood. Should you then possess the land?26You rely on your sword, you commit abominations and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?”‘27Thus you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “As I live, surely those who are in the waste places will fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and in the caves will die of pestilence.28I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and the pride of her power will cease; and the mountains of Israel will be desolate so that no one will pass through.29Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I make the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations which they have committed.”‘30“But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, ‘Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the LORD.’31They come to you as people come, and sit before you [as] My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires [expressed] by their mouth, [and] their heart goes after their gain.32Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.33So when it comes to pass—as surely it will—then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst.”). We cannot say “See, we did not know this,” (verse 1212If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider [it] who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know [it] who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?
). Ignorance is not an excuse if we consciously have closed our eyes to an evil thing. It sounds like the excuse which the Germans used after the Second World War, with regard to the Holocaust, which have become winged words: ‘Wir haben es nicht gewußt’ (‘We did not know it’).

We can sometimes get away with the excuse of ignorance with people, but not with God. He is continually testing the hearts and notices without being mistaken, whether the truth is in it. He observes the soul. He sees how life is being lived and which motives are used. Heart and soul are constantly under His supervision, whereby not one single motive can escape Him. Therefore, He knows perfectly whether the claim of someone about whether he did not know it or whether it is lie.

Based on His omniscience He will “render to man according to his work” (cf. Rev 22:1212“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward [is] with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.), whereby it is impossible that He is mistaken. To render someone according to his work means that man is measured by the standard of measure he has judged other people. He who has not shown mercy, will not receive mercy. He who could have saved others and did not do it, will die.


Sweetness of Wisdom

13My son, eat honey, for it is good,
Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
14Know [that] wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find [it], then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

The father exhorts his son to eat honey (verse 1313My son, eat honey, for it is good,
Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
) because he wants to apply the eating of honey to the knowing of wisdom (verse 1414Know [that] wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find [it], then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
). What honey does to the body is similar for the soul to know wisdom.

Honey is good, for it is healthy (verse 1313My son, eat honey, for it is good,
Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
). Honey comb is the best of honey. It is the honey which without pressing, thus without human action, is released from the honey combs. Therefore it is the purest form. Of the land of Canaan it is mentioned several times that it is a land that is flowing with milk and honey. Honey is a special blessing from God to His earthly people.

“The knowing of wisdom” (verse 1414Know [that] wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find [it], then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
) has the health and sweetness of honey. It has the added mark of a pleasure which endures to eternity cf. Psa 19:1010They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
; 119:103103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
; Eze 3:33He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.). The father says to his son that he should look for it, for he needs to find it. He makes the promise to him that his efforts will be rewarded abundantly. He will now already enjoy the sweetness of it and he will have “hope for the future”. Future and hope are connected to wisdom. Wisdom gives hope which will not be cut off, a hope which will never disappoint.

Those who have tasted honey, need no further proof that it is sweet. They will in no way be convinced about the opposite, for they have tasted it themselves. The same goes for the spiritual application for those who have experienced the power of wisdom from God in Christ. All the atheists in the world with all their fallacies can in no way take that taste away and change its pleasure.

Honey is the product of bees that diligently work together and not of those who gather honey. There is a wealth related to the knowing of wisdom which is acquired by nourishing ourselves with what others have already gathered. We can enjoy the honey comb when we are directly engaged with the Source of wisdom, with Christ, by reading God’s Word. The honey that we take to ourselves when we are together with brothers and sisters and the honey comb that we take to ourselves when we read God’s Word, are enjoyed by us personally.


A Righteous Man Falls, but He Rises Again

15Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous;
Do not destroy his resting place;
16For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,
But the wicked stumble in [time of] calamity.

The wicked, probably the son with the wicked attitude, is recommended “not to lie in wait against the dwelling of the righteous” (verse 1515Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous;
Do not destroy his resting place;
). The intention of lying in wait, is to see whether he gets the chance to break into the house of the righteous and to steal, for instance when the righteous leaves his house. He can even intend to do the righteous such wrong, that he wants to destroy his “resting place”. The word for ‘resting place’ is also used for the stable of the sheep, where they lie down. It describes the righteous as a sheep that is defenseless and innocent. Whoever lies in wait against that dwelling and intends to break into it and destroy it, is a wolf, a symbol of the devil.

It is meaningless and it also results in one’s own destruction if he wants to abuse somebody from God’s people, for the righteous will always survive (verse 1616For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,
But the wicked stumble in [time of] calamity.
). The wicked on the contrary, will get killed in the calamity they cause. Attacking a righteous man is attacking God and it will always appear to be impossible to defeat Him (cf. Mt 16:1818I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.). A righteous man may fall several times, but he surely rises again (Psa 37:2424When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
; Mic 7:88Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.
; Job 5:1919“From six troubles He will deliver you,
Even in seven evil will not touch you.
). Conversely, the wicked will not survive. Without God they have no power to survive the calamity. Finally, the righteous will triumph and those who are against them will stumble in their calamity.

“Seven times” is a rounded number. God allows the righteous to experience as many chastisements as He finds necessary. Those chastisements serve to purification, not to his destruction. The righteous even survives a heavy fall, while the wicked only stumble, which causes them to get killed. Peter has fallen many times, but he always rose again. Judas stumbled in the calamity and remained down.


No Malicious Pleasure

17Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18Or the LORD will see [it] and be displeased,
And turn His anger away from him.

Solomon forbids his son to rejoice when his enemy falls (verse 1717Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
). He should not even let his heart be glad about it, which means not to have inner satisfaction about it when his enemy stumbles. It is not about personal enemies, about people who are making our lives difficult. It may be understandable for us that when something happens to our enemy, we therefore are liberated from a tormentor. But rejoicing is totally different from that. Here it is about rejoicing the fall of an enemy, accompanied by the thought that he gets what he deserves. Malicious pleasure plays a role in this. Such a joy is forbidden.

David did not rejoice in the fall of Saul and even appealed on others not to do that either (2Sam 1:2020“Tell [it] not in Gath,
Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
Or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
The daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.
). A former bodyguard of the cruel Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein who succeeded escaping from his grasp and afterwards has learnt to know Christ, said that he did not rejoice in the death of the dictator. The thought that this cruel man is in hell did not give him joy but sorrow. The Lord Jesus says that we should love our enemies and pray from those who persecute us (Mt 5:4444But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,).

In verse 1818Or the LORD will see [it] and be displeased,
And turn His anger away from him.
it is said why it is commended to us not to rejoice in the fall of our enemy. God has allowed it that our enemy harasses us, because He has a purpose through that. If He eliminated the enemy and we have malicious pleasure about that, we violate a creature of God. That is wrong in God’s sight. Then He can take away His wrath from our enemy, by which he may behave as our enemy again, probably in another form. We then will still not be liberated from him.


The Evil Man Has No Future

19Do not fret because of evildoers
Or be envious of the wicked;
20For there will be no future for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Verse 1919Do not fret because of evildoers
Or be envious of the wicked;
seems to be a quote which Solomon copies from his father David, who said the same thing (Psa 37:11[A Psalm] of David.
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
; Pro 23:1717Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But [live] in the fear of the LORD always.
; 24:11Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
). It is foolish to fret “because of evildoers” and to be “envious of the wicked”. Verse 2020For there will be no future for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.
gives the reason why, which is to be derived from the word “for” with which the verse begins. The future of the wicked is to prevent the son from getting envious of their current prosperity. Their prosperity has an expiration date. He should also realize that God in His providence still allows the evildoers and wicked people to go their way. They are under His control, although it seems that they can go their way uninterruptedly.

What they are doing, can make us angry and in other cases it can make us envious. It just depends on what they do and how we view it or deal with it. If we only look at them and their behavior, we will have those feelings. But then we give the impression of having a very short-sighted view on them. We should realize that the evil has no future, but will be condemned and forever be locked up in hell, without any prospect of liberation. The lamp of the wicked, which means the light of his life, will therefore not shine forever. His life will be put out, as what happens to an oil lamp when it is blown out. His lamp will also not be turned on again (Job 18:5-65“Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
And the flame of his fire gives no light.
6“The light in his tent is darkened,
And his lamp goes out above him.
; 21:1717“How often is the lamp of the wicked put out,
Or does their calamity fall on them?
Does God apportion destruction in His anger?
).


Fear the LORD and the King

21My son, fear the LORD and the king;
Do not associate with those who are given to change,
22For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin [that comes] from both of them?

Solomon addresses his son very directly, “my son”, in order to show him that he should fear both God and the king (verse 2121My son, fear the LORD and the king;
Do not associate with those who are given to change,
). He tells him that he should fear the highest authority in the universe, which is God’s, and the authority appointed by God on earth that represents Him, which is the king (1Pet 2:17b17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.; Rom 13:1-71Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.6For because of this you also pay taxes, for [rulers] are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.). He can do that by submitting himself to it and obey it.

The opposite of the fearing of God and the king is “being given to change”. What is meant here by ‘change’ is: not caring about the authority of God and His representative on earth anymore. It is about people who do not want to be obedient anymore to Him, who resist against His authority. They want to overthrow His authority and that of the king. Such people want to bring changes in the structures of authority given by God and suit their own purposes.

It is about people who move God’s Word to their own purposes and in that way put it aside. Certain structures of authority, such as that of man and woman, are declared time-bound. What God’s Word says about it is declared outdated and in that way outlawed. We see that in politics, in society, in families and also in churches. Authority has become a ‘dirty’ word.

Verse 2222For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin [that comes] from both of them?
gives the reason for the warning of the previous verse. We derive that from the word “for” with which the verse begins. If the son becomes involved with these rebels, the changers and innovators or illuminators that are against the authority of God and the king, he will participate in their calamity that will rise suddenly. God and the King – for with Him is meant the Lord Jesus of course – will “Both” exert authority. For the time being, it remains the question what ruin it will cause to the rebels. That makes the warning even more threatening.

The reward for those who live in peace under the authority of God in the world, is that they will escape from the disasters that will come over the rebels. Those who stand under authority and respect it, will do each other no harm. They will be kept from being envious of one another and even beat one another (cf. Mt 24:48-4948But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’49and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;). A positive effect of gratitude is the presence of rest and peace.


No Partiality in Judgment

23These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
25But to those who rebuke the [wicked] will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
26He kisses the lips
Who gives a right answer.

Here a new section begins, but clearly one that is in close connection to the previously mentioned (Pro 22:17-24:2217Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge;
18For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
That they may be ready on your lips.
19So that your trust may be in the LORD,
I have taught you today, even you.
20Have I not written to you excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,
21To make you know the certainty of the words of truth,
That you may correctly answer him who sent you?22Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;
23For the LORD will plead their case
And take the life of those who rob them.24Do not associate with a man [given] to anger;
Or go with a hot-tempered man,
). That appears from the words “these also are sayings” (verse 23a23These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
). The sayings that now follow – in the verses 23-3423These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
25But to those who rebuke the [wicked] will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
26He kisses the lips
Who gives a right answer.27Prepare your work outside
And make it ready for yourself in the field;
Afterwards, then, build your house.28Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips.
29Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”30I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, [and] received instruction.
33“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34Then your poverty will come [as] a robber
And your want like an armed man.
– “are of the wise”. So, they are meant for those who are already wise, but who want to become wiser. Wisdom appears precisely from the fact that one wants to grow in wisdom.

This section begins with condemning partiality in judgment (verse 23b23These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
). The point is that a judge will clearly make a distinction between righteousness and wickedness (Pro 18:55To show partiality to the wicked is not good,
[Nor] to thrust aside the righteous in judgment.
; Lev 19:1515‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.; Deu 16:1919You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.). He is not allowed to exchange these two and apply it to the wrong person out of partiality.

So he is not to say to a wicked person: “You are righteous” (verse 2424He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
). If he does, then not only will God judge him, but he also makes the anger of the people to come upon him. It is not just simply about an opinion, nor just someone who is saying this. Here we have someone who is speaking justice in public and does it in the Name of God. This is the most serious offence of justice and also an extreme dishonor to the Judge of the whole earth. A judge who is partial in such a way that it leads him to make such a legal decision, will be cursed and abhorred by everyone all over the earth.

When justice is done by judging the wicked and acquitting the righteous, it is pleasing to “those who rebuke the wicked” (verse 2525But to those who rebuke the [wicked] will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
). A good blessing will come upon the judges who uphold the law and upon those who rejoice in it. God finds in them the features of Himself. There is always a blessing to doing justice and defending justice.

For the maintaining of justice and for rendering the right conviction by a judge in a legal case, it is important that a witness “gives the right answer” (verse 2626He kisses the lips
Who gives a right answer.
). It may concern the judge who renders a right decision in a legal case. An answer with upright words delivers a valuable contribution to the peace and rest in the land, which we may apply to the local church. He who does so will not bring curses and abhorrence upon himself (verse 2424He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
), but will receive expressions of love.

The kissing of the lips is a recognition of the valuation of sincere answers that are given. Such answers do not lead to separation, but unite in love. A kiss is also a sign of reconciliation. He who answers with sincere words, causes reconciliation.


Financial Independency

27Prepare your work outside
And make it ready for yourself in the field;
Afterwards, then, build your house.

This verse is about making the right priorities in life. It presents to us that we should first do things that should be done first. First the one, “afterwards, then” the other. We should apply the right order in our activities. If we do not do that, our lives will become chaos and will result in a disaster.

The application can be used in the forming of a family. Before someone can start with that, he must be able to maintain his family. Therefore he should first have an income. He can get that by working for it. What he earns with work, he can use for building a house, which means forming a family and also maintaining it.


A False Witness and Revenge

28Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips.
29Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”

Verse 2828Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips.
is a warning for us about not allowing ourselves to be tempted into being a witness against a neighbor without a clear cause. We may find ourselves in circumstances where our colleagues or people from our environment ask us to give an opinion about someone’s behavior with whom we work or who lives in our neighborhood, with the intention to accuse this person. If we ourselves do not have a certain experience with the person concerned, we should not allow ourselves to be deceived and be a witness. The message is that there should be solid reasons before someone should act as a witness against a neighbor.

Nor should feelings of revenge play a role in a court case (verse 2929Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”
). Even less, no one should take the law into his own hands. When somebody has done us wrong, we could make use of one of both possibilities, but they are both wrong. We are not allowed to repay somebody with the evil that he has done to us. We should not even say it, aloud or in our heart.

In order to have this mind, it is necessary to trust God. It does not escape Him that evil is done to us. Our reaction to that does not escape Him either. He knows how we can react. If we want to repay somebody, we take God’s place as Judge (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.). We should surrender the injustice that has been done to us, “to Him who judges righteously” (1Pet 2:2323and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;), like the Lord Jesus did. This was also the attitude that David had towards Saul. He did not want to be his own judge, but surrendered Saul to God and waited for what He was going to do with Saul. In this way he has not been disappointed.


Lesson of the Sluggard

30I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, [and] received instruction.
33“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34Then your poverty will come [as] a robber
And your want like an armed man.

In verses 30-3430I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, [and] received instruction.
33“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34Then your poverty will come [as] a robber
And your want like an armed man.
the wise Solomon tells about a walk that he made and what he noticed during that walk. He connects a lesson for himself and for his son to it. It happened when he “passed by the field of the sluggard” (verse 3030I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
). He did not search for that field, but just passed by it. Yes, that field used to be a vineyard, which was the impression that he had anyway, but nothing was left of it anymore. That was, because the management of it was in the hands “of a man lacking sense”. Only such a man, without any sense of responsibility, can neglect his vineyard like that. It is not about somebody without backbone here, but about somebody without brains, without sense, literally without a heart. He did not lack power, but will.

“And behold” (verse 3131And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
), while he was passing by, he observed some things. The wise man was not daydreaming or sleepwalking, but he observed the situation around him. There was not just some weed in the field, no, “it was completely overgrown with thistles”. There was no spot of soil to be seen, for the “surface was covered with nettles”. The place where the grapes should have been growing, was covered with thistles and nettles. That does not happen overnight. The work had not been going on for a long time.

A comparable situation can happen in the life of a believer who is unfaithful to the Lord and is forgetting about Him more and more. The good fruits of the faith that rejoice the heart (of which the vineyard speaks) disappear and will be replaced by thistles and nettles that hurt and are harmful. The consequences of sin in creation have found a place in the personal life of the believer.

The wise also saw that “his stone wall has been broken down”. All protection was gone. The territory was open for everyone. If the house of the sluggard had also been there, then any burglar could have easily found his way there.

It is about a field that had formerly been a vineyard. Israel is compared to the vineyard (Isa 5:1-71Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
2He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected [it] to produce [good] grapes,
But it produced [only] worthless ones.
3“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
4“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected [it] to produce [good] grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6“I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
7For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
). The vineyard is supposed to deliver wine. Wine is a picture of joy (Jdg 9:1313But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’; Psa 104:15a15And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make [his] face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.
). God would have loved to rejoice in His people, but His people did not give Him that joy. Due to laziness, the vineyard changed into a field, on which the symbols of sins (Gen 3:1818“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
), the works of the flesh, was rampant.

We can make an application here. When we are spiritually lazy, then ‘thistles’ and ‘nettles’, meaning sinful things, will overgrow the vineyard of our lives. God can therefore not rejoice in us, for nothing in it reminds Him of the life of the Lord Jesus. And if we let the wall of separation from the world be broken down, then the world and the worldly thinking will enter into our lives and we will become victims of the destruction.

After the observation in verses 30-3130I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
, the wise also draws a lesson for himself from it and shares it with us (verses 32-3432When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, [and] received instruction.
33“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34Then your poverty will come [as] a robber
And your want like an armed man.
). He saved in his heart what he saw. It contains an admonition, one without words. One of the best methods of teaching is that we observe something, meaning that we consider something very carefully and take it to heart. Then we shall really learn from it. If we see the bad consequences of a deed or an attitude, it should be a warning for us not to do such things or take such an attitude.

What Solomon has seen and what meant an admonition to him, will keep him from falling into laziness. It begins with a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands. It is all about a little. But all those littles look like the walker who also does not walk fast, but gradually goes his way. And all those littles together are like an armed man. All the littles of sleep and slumber and lying with folding hand together, result in the suffering of poverty and lack (Pro 6:10-1110“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
).


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