Proverbs
Introduction 1-2 Do Not Forget the Teaching 3-4 To Keep Kindness and Truth 5-6 Trust in the Lord 7-8 Fear the LORD 9-10 Honor the LORD 11-12 Discipline of the LORD 13-18 The Value of Wisdom 19-20 Wisdom at and in Creation 21-26 Wisdom Gives Rest 27-30 Do Not Harm Your Neighbor 31-35 Do Not Envy the Ungodly
Introduction

When we give up an advantage, it may look like we throw away a chance of joy. But Proverbs 3 assures us that this is not the case. The path of wisdom is the path of life, even when the path of wisdom may look like it is in contradiction to common sense.

In verses 1-101My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.3Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.9Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
10So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
we have five counsels from the father to his son, each time followed by a promise of blessing if he takes the counsel to heart:
1. In verse 11My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
the counsel, in verse 22For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
the promise of blessing.
2. In verse 33Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
the counsel, in verse 44So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
the promise of blessing.
3. In verses 5-6a5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
the counsel, in verse 6b6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
the promise of blessing.
4. In verse 77Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
the counsel, in verse 88It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
the promise of blessing.
5. In verse 99Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
the counsel, in verse 1010So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
the promise of blessing.

Thereby we should consider that it is about promises here that certainly will be fulfilled, but not necessarily during our life on earth. It is also possible that they will be fulfilled in the future. We can trust that God will fulfill at His time and in His way His promises of blessing if we will do from our heart what He asks of us, even if in this life the ungodly prospers and the righteous suffers.


Do Not Forget the Teaching

1My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.

The first counsel that the father gives to his son, is not to forget his “teaching” (verse 11My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
). ‘Teaching’ is the translation of the Hebrew word torah. That word is used for the law of God, but it has more meanings. Here it refers to what we could call ‘home teaching’. The father has transferred his knowledge in teaching at home to his son. It is an indication for fathers to teach their children from the Scripture at home and not to leave it to others, for instance to those who give them bible lessons or bible study.

The father tells his son not to forget what he has learnt at home, in the education. To forget here is not so much of a weakness of the memory, but the conscious ignoring and overlooking of the teaching of the father. For us it means a warning that we may lose what we have learnt in our youth from the Word of God. The teaching will not be forgotten when the commandments are kept in the heart. One can after all obey the commandments outwardly, thus without being involved with his heart. That is not what the father wants and nor is that the will of God.

The heart is the storing place of the commandments, just like the law was stored in the ark (Deu 10:55Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me.”). In the kingdom of peace God will write down His law in the heart of His people (Heb 8:1010“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people.). The heart indicates the mind. When the commandments are kept in the heart, the deeds, which after all flow from the heart (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
), will be according to the heart. The deeds will then not be sinful deeds (Psa 119:1111Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
), and there will be no forced obedience, but joyful obedience.

The blessing which is related to this counsel is a long and good life (verse 22For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
). “Length of days” (Psa 91:1616“With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”
) refers to the reaching of an old age after a ‘large range of days’. “Years of life and peace” refers more to the content (“life”) and quality (“peace”). It is a full and rich life which is fully worthwhile to be lived. The word ‘peace’ is the translation of the word shalom and means more than the absence of war. It is victory, success in the actions that has been undertaken, full harmony, prosperity, health, happiness, salvation, a long life.

In the kingdom of peace the teaching and the commandments will not be forgotten, but will be saved in the heart (Heb 8:10b10“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people.). Therefore the years of the enjoyment of life and peace will be increased in those days instead of being taken away at a certain moment. The latter has happened in the history of Israel, time and time again, because the people did not hold on to the teaching and the commandments of God’s Word.

It does not mean that everyone who in this time pays attention to the commandments in his heart will ‘therefore’ have a long life. Just think about the believers for a moment, who are being persecuted, tortured and killed, because of their faithfulness to God’s Word, which often happens in the prime of their lives (Heb 11:36-3836and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated38([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.). Faithful prophets who had God’s Word in their hearts and also proclaimed it, have been killed (Mt 23:34,3734“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.). And what happened to the Lord Jesus Who in all things has obeyed His Father and has perfectly fulfilled the counsel of verse 11My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
? He was killed in the midst of His days. What then about the promise of a long life in peace?

The promise of a long life and peace will be fully fulfilled in the future. Life and peace will be enjoyed to their fullness and length in the millennial kingdom of peace. God fulfills all His promises, but not always here and now already. That we live in the faith that the promises will be fulfilled, we show by continuing to believe, even if it seems that the promises are not being fulfilled. That particular faith, which is the confidence of faith, has characterized all believers of the Old Testament. That very confidence in God was perfectly present in the Lord Jesus. That confidence may characterize us too.


To Keep Kindness and Truth

3Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.

Not forgetting the teaching and the keeping of the commandments in verse 11My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
is not a static occasion. Teaching and commandment do have an effect, for they form the character of the believer. Verse 33Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
connects to that. Through teaching and commandments the characteristics of the new life are being formed. Two of these characteristics are “kindness and truth”.

Those are two of the many impressive features of God. They are perfectly visible in the life of the Lord Jesus. It was a joy to God to notice those features in His Son. It is also a joy to His heart when He can notice them in us. God has shown kindness and truth to the believer and is still showing that. They should always impress the believer; he is not to forget that, the thought of that should not leave him ever. God, however, has not only shown kindness and truth, He has also given them to the believer, for they are a part of the new life that he has received.

What was not possible with the Lord Jesus, is possible with us, which is that we forget God’s kindness and truth shown to us by Him, that they leave us. The result is that these characteristics do not become visible in our lives and that they leave us in that sense. Therefore the father says to his son – and to each believer – that he ought to make sure that “kindness and truth” will not “leave” him.

The father tells him how he should do that. He should bind them around his neck as an adornment. The neck indicates the own will. A word like ‘stiff-necked’ shows that. When ‘kindness and truth’ are bound as an adornment around the neck, it means that the own will is not being followed, but that these characteristics are guiding one’s life. Both these characteristics are also to be written on the tablet of his heart by him (cf. Jer 31:3333“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.; 2Cor 3:33being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.; Deu 6:8-98You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.). Consequently these characteristics will be the motives of his actions. In this way he submits himself to the will of God.

“Kindness” is gentleness shown to others, which excludes all forms of selfishness and hatred. “Truth”, or truthfulness, is being trustworthy, having the confidence in somebody, it excludes any hypocrisy. We therefore may say that kindness and truth will go parallel with love and truth.

The first blessing of listening to wisdom, as we have seen in verse 22For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
, regards the personal life of the Godly. The second blessing has to do with the relations (verse 44So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
). If the counsel of verse 33Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
is being followed, the son will find “favor and good repute in the sight of God and man”. We see this in the life of the Lord Jesus. He has lived in kindness and truth, and has found what is written here (Lk 2:5252And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.). We see that also in the life of Samuel (1Sam 2:2626Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.; cf. 2Cor 8:2121for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.).

“Favor” is actually gentleness, which is something one cannot make a claim to. When we find favor in the sight of man, it is not because of our own achievement; we cannot make a claim to it as a right, but we will receive it if we show kindness and truth. Although Joseph was a prisoner, he found favor or mercy in the sight of Potiphar (Gen 39:44So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.). “Good repute” means ‘good respect’. Whoever shows kindness and truth, is noticeable in a favorable sense. Attention is being paid to it, people look at it and appreciation is expressed, both by God and by men. If we listen to the counsel of this father, we also will experience this.


Trust in the Lord

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

The third counsel is to trust in the LORD with all your heart and not to expect anything of your own understanding (verse 55Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
). To trust with all your heart is focusing your whole inner life – all your will, your emotions and your mind – on God. It is about an active trust in Him. That goes for every minute of our lives, wherever we are – at home, in society, at school or at work, in the church – and with whatever we do.

We should not look for any support from a creature or something of the possessions or the skills of a creature, nor from our own self (cf. 2Chr 14:1111Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help [in the battle] between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”). It is not about a contradiction here between the heart on the one hand and the understanding or the mind on the other hand, but between our own understanding or mind and the Lord. We must trust in the Lord and not on ourselves.

The father also advises his son to know God in all his ways (verse 66In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
). “All your ways” means everything that he is intended to do, what he says, all that he does and does not. It not only refers to the moments of crisis, when great and significant decisions have to be made. If we allow Him to be involved with all daily matters, we will automatically go to Him with the great matters. To know Him in all our ways means that we start everything with Him, move on with Him on our way and also complete everything with Him. That demands obedience and surrender in every territory of our lives.

It also means that He does not dictate His plans to us and impose them on us. He allows us to take the initiative and plan a route. Then He invites us to discuss our intentions with Him, so that we may be kept from planning a route which leads to death (cf. Jam 4:1515Instead, [you ought] to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”; Acts 18:2121but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus.). We do not know how the path goes. That is also not necessary if we know Him, which means that we live in fellowship with Him Who knows the path.

To acknowledge Him means that we involve Him with everything, always look upon Him, always have Him before our eye, always think of Him as the One Who is always with us. We do that by consulting His Word for all our plans and make that to be our advisor (Psa 119:2424Your testimonies also are my delight;
[They are] my counselors.

). To that belongs that we walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:1616But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.).

It is about a total devotion, all our hearts and all our ways. If we trust Him with all our hearts and acknowledge Him in all our ways, then He promises us that He will make our paths straight. He will lead us straight to the goal which we have determined in consideration with Him. Ultimately that goal is He Himself. The straight paths stand against the meanders which man goes without acknowledging Him therein. No man could make his own paths straight (Jer 10:2323I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself,
Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.
).

It does not say that the paths are easy and straight in our eyes. From our view it can be a serpentine and hardly accessible path. But we may know that every winding on that path has been anticipated by the Lord as a part of the process of His work in us. His aim is that we go a way that leads to our likeness of Christ. That is to Him, and therefore also to us, the straight path.

Here, it is just like with many other proverbs in this book, about a general truth, not about something that is always true without exception. When we for example use the saying ‘an apple every day, keeps the doctor away’, it doesn’t mean that we stay healthy if we eat an apple every day, but that an apple is healthy food. It is not a proverb that guarantees us that we will never get sick when we eat apples. Proverbs are pieces of life that show how life normally is, without saying that it is always and everywhere like that. Actually, there can be influencing factors that postpone a direct fulfillment. Those factors are often unknown to us, but God knows them and uses them for His plan with our lives.

Proverbs are no promises of God for here and now, on which we can stand. If we do think that, we draw wrong conclusions. Proverbs are pronouncements of observations that will prove their truth after a course of time.


Fear the LORD

7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.

The fourth counsel is not to be wise in your own eyes (verse 77Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
; Isa 5:2121Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
; Rom 12:1616Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.). It is a warning against self-confidence. It is in line with the thoughts that are expressed in the previous verses, though from another point of view. In the previous verses, God is seen and presented as the Source of wisdom and guidance. Now we are warned about a wisdom which is apart from God.

Our hearts are deceitful. We are able to make ourselves to believe, with smart manipulation, that we make wise choices because we are so intelligent or have a certain character. It may be that we trust in God and become proud about doing that. The Lord Jesus condemned the pharisees and rabbis of His time, not because of their prayers to God, but because the motives of their prayers were evil.

True wisdom is not the denial of our talents, but the recognition of its source. We are wise in our own eyes when we prefer our own emotions or judgment above that of the Lord. It is acting in independency of Him, of knowing it better than the Scripture. He who is wise, will consider that he has no wisdom in himself, but that he receives his wisdom from God.

The higher source of wisdom is the fear of the LORD. That is the true wisdom. When that fear is present, there is the direct consequence that the evil is being turned away from. The fear of the LORD can never go hand in hand with doing evil, but it leads to hating the evil (Psa 97:1010Hate evil, you who love the LORD,
Who preserves the souls of His godly ones;
He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
).

“A medicine” makes the body healthy (verse 88It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
; Pro 15:44A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
; Ecc 10:44If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.). Listening to the counsel of verse 77Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
has that beneficial or healthy effect. A baby in the womb receives food through the “navel” [‘body’ is literally “navel”] and grows. The navel is also the center of the body and represents the whole body. Through the “bones” the body is able to function. If the counsel of verse 77Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
is being followed, it will have a refreshing effect to the bones. They renew their strength in that way.

The word navel appears another time only in Ezekiel 16 (Eze 16:44As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths.). There is not a better example of our dependence on God than that of the fetus in the womb which receives his food through the navel cord. That happens as long as he is in the womb. That’s how the baby grows until it gets to be born. What is said in verse 77Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
, is therefore of great significance for the spiritual growth of the life from God, which the believer possesses. Without the fear of the LORD on the one hand and turning away from evil on the other hand, it is impossible to grow healthy in spiritual sense.


Honor the LORD

9Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
10So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

The fifth counsel regards the honoring of the LORD by the son with his wealth (verse 99Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
). It does not say that he should give something to the LORD, but that he should honor Him. Nor does it say something of his wealth, it says that he should do it with his wealth. It therefore refers to everything that he “owns”, his whole capital, everything he had received by earning it or inheriting it. His “produce” is what he had gained by working for it, the produce from labor.

The giving of “the first” of a crop implies the recognition that the whole crop is the LORD’s (Exo 23:1919“You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. “You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.; Num 28:26-2726‘Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to the LORD in your [Feast of] Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work.27You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs one year old;; Deu 18:44You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine, and your oil, and the first shearing of your sheep.; 26:1-21“Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it,2that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the LORD your God gives you, and you shall put [it] in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.). It is said to the son that to determining his first fruits, he should involve “all“ his produce. He is not to forget or exclude anything from the calculation. God expects us to involve everything that is His in our judgment.

The ‘first’ refers particularly to Christ, the “first fruits of those who are asleep” (1Cor 15:2020But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.). He has fully given Himself for those who are His. If we bring the first fruits, God is being reminded of Him. We only understand the truth if we have learnt to see it in relation with Christ. That’s also what makes the heart willing to respond to the desires of God.

Giving does not stand on its own. Giving by itself does not meaning anything. Giving only has a value if God is glorified by it. We can give to get a good feeling about it – then we glorify ourselves. This is how the pharisees gave. We can also give to get better. Then we ‘invest’ in God; He becomes an ‘investment object’. However, it is not about us, but about Him. We have received everything that we have from Him, in order to honor Him with it. It also applies to our earthly properties, that all things are “from Him and through Him and to Him” (Rom 11:3636For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him [be] the glory forever. Amen.).

We honor God if we give with joy to His work. We do that when we say from our heart to Him: ‘You are the Source of everything that I have. Without You I could not earn anything and I would not have anything to honor You with. By giving You the first fruits, the best, of it, I acknowledge that everything is Yours’ (1Chr 29:14b14“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.). We show that by giving Him a part first from everything that we receive, even before we have used anything of it for ourselves.

From honoring with the first, the son does not get poorer. On the contrary, it makes him to become richer. He will be blessed with an abundance which makes his barns be filled with plenty and his vats be overflowed (verse 1010So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
; cf. Mal 3:1010Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.). This is what God promises when He is acknowledged in His rights to all things of life. Here it certainly applies to that which is noticed at the introduction of this chapter, that we should bear in mind that here it regards promises that will surely be fulfilled, but not always during our life on earth. In any case they will be fulfilled in the future.

We would apply this verse wrongly if we say that, when we give money, we would get a lot more of money back than what we have given. This is how for instance some television preachers abuse this verse. They call upon their audience to give money with the promise that they will get a lot more than they have given. They say: ‘Send me one hundred dollars for my ministry and I guarantee you that God will bless your donation with a reward of one thousand dollars!’ Such a call is nothing more than manipulation.

The intention of this verse is therefore not that people should examine themselves if there could be sins in their lives that hinder the blessing if they give money to God’s work and they are not being blessed abundantly with money. They therefore do not need to try again to see if it works next time.

When giving happens from the right state of the heart, God will give more than we have given Him. Here it is about a blessing that is greater than that of money or earthly goods. This we see in the verses 13-1813How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
14For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
15She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
16Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
17Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
18She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
of this chapter. If we give up everything to follow the Lord, it does not mean that it will make us rich of earthly things. What we do get in return, is an abundant fellowship with Him with the joy that goes together with it. That exceeds all earthly possessions. We can lose earthly possessions. We can never lose what we possess in Him. It can only increase, which means the joy of it. What we win by giving, is always a lot more than what we give (cf. Mk 10:28-3028Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.).


Discipline of the LORD

11My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
12For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.

The verses 11-1211My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
12For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.
form the counterweight to verses 9-109Honor the LORD from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
10So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
. Generally, it is true that God blesses us when we give Him what He asks of us. But that doesn’t mean that He will not admonish and discipline or reprove us. They do not contradict each other, but go hand in hand. It shows the balance of God’s Word.

We see that with Job. Of Job it is written even three times that he was blameless, upright and fearing God and that he turned away from evil (Job 1:1,81There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.8The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”; 2:33The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”). Yet God takes away everything from him (Job 1-2). How inconceivable such may be to us, still it is God’s love for Job that He acts with Him like that. We need to read the whole book in order to understand something of it. This poem of four lines of the verses 11-1211My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
12For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.
may serve well as a motto for the book of Job. Verse 1111My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
describes the problem of the book of Job, and verse 1212For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.
describes the solution of that problem.

The father speaks here again to “my son”, which indicates that he speaks from the intimate relationship that he has with him. He points out to him that he should not reject the discipline “of the LORD”. It is important to consider that the discipline comes from Him. The same goes for the reproof. It is His reproof. The motive for the discipline and reproof that God gives, is that He “loves”. When God reproves, He does that because He loves us. He sees what is still missing with us in the dependence on Him or where we run the risk of becoming independent of Him. In order to make us aware of that He reproves us.

The question is how we respond to God’s reproof. In verse 1111My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
the father warns his son not to reject the discipline or reproof of the LORD and not to loathe His reproof. The reason for that is written in verse 1212For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.
. There we read that His discipline and reproof are proofs of His love (cf. 2Sam 7:1414I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,). Such expressions of love take place in the father-to-son relationship (cf. Deu 8:55Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.).

‘To reject the discipline’ means to despise it, that we do as if it does not mean anything. In that case we do not bow under the reproof, which causes that it misses the intended effect. ‘To loathe the reproof’ means that we hate it, because it is an unbearable burden and that we therefore are not willing to accept the discipline. Then we succumb under the discipline and also then it misses the intended purpose. Those are two contradicting responses. They both indicate that the intention of the discipline is not being understood and therefore are not accepted.

The verses 11-1211My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
12For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.
are quoted in the epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 12:5-115and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;6For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom [his] father does not discipline?8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [disciplines us] for [our] good, so that we may share His holiness.11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.). That proves that the proverbs have a broader application than only to the son of Solomon. In the epistle mentioned, they are presented to the Hebrew believers whose faith was severely tested. The author of that epistle presents these verses to them to remind them that tribulations are not accidentally awkward circumstances, but that they show God’s involvement with them. They forgot that and they had to be reminded of that. It is often like that with us too. It is also important to us that exactly when we go through a difficult time, we are being reminded that God is concerned with us.

The discipline and reproof come from a God Who deals with us “even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights”. This indicates what mind God has concerning us. He “delights” in us.  He is not up to do us any evil, but only the good. Satan is up to do us only evil and seeks our destruction (1Pet 5:88Be of sober [spirit], be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.). Ungodly people hate us and ostracize us (Lk 6:2222Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.). But God brings sufferings over us because He loves us (Heb 12:66For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”; Rev 3:1919Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.; cf. Pro 13:2424He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
). Because God disciplines in love, discipline or reproof will never damage us, although it is painful.

Discipline is the proof of sonship. The purpose of the discipline of God is that “we may share His holiness” (Heb 12:1010For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [disciplines us] for [our] good, so that we may share His holiness.). Discipline happens in love, by a Father Who delights in us. In “the son in whom He delights” we see above all the love of the Father to His Son. There is actually a great difference between Christ as the unique Son and us as sons. We need correction; He never needed correction. He always did please the Father. He always did what was pleasing to Him. Therefore the Father found His full joy in the life that the Son lived. It fully responded to His will. Therefore there was nothing with the Lord Jesus to be disciplined or reproved (Mt 3:1717and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”; 1Pet 2:2222who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;; 2Cor 5:2121He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.; 1Jn 3:55You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.).


The Value of Wisdom

13How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
14For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
15She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
16Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
17Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
18She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.

In order to react in the right way to the discipline that is spoken about in verses 11-1211My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
12For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father [corrects] the son in whom he delights.
, wisdom is needed. Discipline or reproof and wisdom are also related to one another by James (Jam 1:2-52Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.4And let endurance have [its] perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.). To know wisdom will lead one to happiness, even when there are tests. The wisdom of the world does not give that happiness (Ecc 1:88All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell [it].
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
). The portion of the verses 13-1813How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
14For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
15She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
16Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
17Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
18She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
deals with the wisdom as the way to happiness. This portion begins with “how blessed” in verse 1313How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
and ends with “happy are” in verse 1818She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
. Between both verses we find a series of causes that lead to this happiness, which all have got to do with wisdom.

“Wisdom” must be found (verse 1313How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
), not by accident, but by looking for it as for a treasure that has been buried somewhere. To look for it in this case, means to heed instruction, for then you will become wise (Pro 8:3333“Heed instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect [it].
). It implies that in order to become wise, it is necessary to listen to the Word of God.

“Understanding” is to be gained or obtained. Therefore we need to make an effort. It is about understanding in the way that God guides the life, especially when there are tests in life. That understanding is gained by looking upon Christ in the Scripture. In Him “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.).

When a person finds her (which means Christ), its produce is greater than ever could be possibly earned with the trade of silver (verse 1414For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
). Here it is not about an unbeliever who finds Christ, but about a believer who discovers Him as the One Who leads his life with wisdom. Therefore wisdom is the most important and her “gain is better than fine gold” (Pro 8:1111“For wisdom is better than jewels;
And all desirable things cannot compare with her.
; 20:1515There is gold, and an abundance of jewels;
But the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing.
; 31:1010An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
).

When the value of wisdom is compared to the value of silver or gold, wisdom proves invaluable. It yields so much more than the possession of the most precious metals. You realize that when you are seriously ill. You may possess all the silver and gold in the world, but you cannot buy your health with it. But how calm can your heart get, when you realize that it is God’s wisdom that’s hidden behind the illness.

Wisdom is “more precious than jewels” (verse 1515She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
). Also the preciousness of the most expensive precious stones fades into nothingness if it is compared with wisdom. You may desire whatever you want, but apart from wisdom, a fulfillment of those desires only gives a temporary and limited feeling of happiness. Solomon desired the best, when at the beginning of his reign he was allowed to make known to God his desires, by asking wisdom. God answered this desire by giving him a wise heart (1Kgs 3:5-135In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what [you wish] Me to give you.”6Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as [it is] this day.7Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.8Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted.9So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”10It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.11God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice,12behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.13I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.).

Wisdom, Christ, is the source of a long and beneficial life (verse 1616Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
). Wisdom reaches out both hands as it were, to offer what she has. You may accept it out of both hands. In her right hand she has “long life”. He who chooses wisdom above the riches of the world, chooses eternal life. In her left hand she has “riches and honor”. He who chooses wisdom above the most precious, though perishable, property on earth, chooses imperishably spiritual wealth and honor. This is what Christ offers and gives to each who belongs to Him.

Not only what she has in her hands, is of the greatest value and so totally different than what the world offers. Also her ways and paths are so totally different than the ways and paths of the world (verse 1717Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
). Her ways are characterized by ‘pleasantness’. And “all her ways”, so not one excluded, “are peace”. Do we not recognize herein the ways and paths of the Lord Jesus on earth? When we find wisdom, we shall be able to imitate Him in these ways and paths. What a testimony would that be!

Wisdom is also “a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (verse 1818She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
; Gen 2:99Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.; 3:2424So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.; Pro 11:3030The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.
; 13:1212Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
; 15:44A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
; Rev 2:77He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’; 22:2,142in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve [kinds of] fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.). In the word “take hold” lies power. He who takes hold of that tree strongly, shows the power of faith (cf. Heb 6:1818so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.). To take hold of the tree means, that there is faith that the tree gives life. And it should not stop there, for taking hold of her must be followed by “hold her fast” (cf. Song 3:44“Scarcely had I left them
When I found him whom my soul loves;
I held on to him and would not let him go
Until I had brought him to my mother’s house,
And into the room of her who conceived me.”
). Once a person has life, that life should also be fed. Wisdom gives what is necessary for the everyday life.

We find both these aspects in what the Lord Jesus says about eating His flesh and drinking His blood in John 6. In order to receive life, a person should eat His flesh and drink His blood, which is believing in His death; that His death was necessary to give him eternal life (Jn 6:5353So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.). After that it is continually necessary to eat His flesh and to drink His blood because life is in Him. That means that we are daily occupied with Him by reading His Word, which means eating from Him spiritually. Then we continue in the things we have learned (2Tim 3:1414You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned [them],).

The way to the tree of life is the way back to the point where the history of man went wrong. The way to the tree of life was cut off by sin. Adam and Eve chose the wrong tree to eat from. We have the choice to eat again from the right tree by choosing for wisdom. The reason why that tree is “the tree of life”, is because it continually gives vitality and a full, eternal life (cf. Gen 3:22-2422Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—23therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.24So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.). That is the part for each person who takes hold of and holds fast to wisdom like that.

Wisdom is knowing God in Christ. Christ is the tree of life. By holding Him fast we receive eternal life. That is more than we have lost in Adam. The cross of Christ has become the tree of life to us. The cross of Christ is the foolishness of God which is wiser than men (1Cor 1:2525Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.). He who believes that, is “happy”, for he has eternal life.


Wisdom at and in Creation

19The LORD by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.
20By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the skies drip with dew.

The wisdom that guides life (verse 1818She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
), is the same wisdom that has made the universe (verse 1919The LORD by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.
; Psa 104:2424O LORD, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
; Jer 10:1212[It is] He who made the earth by His power,
Who established the world by His wisdom;
And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.
). We see here that the LORD – which is the Lord Jesus, for He is the Creator (Jn 1:1-31In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2He was in the beginning with God.3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.; Col 1:1616For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.; Heb 1:22in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.) – Himself used wisdom in establishing the creation. From Genesis 1 we know that God has created the earth in six days by establishing something on each of those six days by His Word (Exo 20:1111For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.). Wisdom is needed to recognize the work of wisdom.

The creation is not a process, but an act of creation. We see that here, where it is written that God as the great Architect, has ”founded” the earth “by wisdom” and by “understanding … established” the heavens. It is described here as if it is about a building. He has founded the earth in the universe and established the heavens above it as an umbrella with a shining adornment of sun, moon and stars.

With “His knowledge”, the knowledge which is His own, He made the deep waters to pave a way on the earth (verse 2020By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the skies drip with dew.
). Because of that, men, animals and plants are able to live and to be refreshed. Also for that reason we have the waters in the air, which He gives as dew on the earth all over the world, wherever it is needed. Only God has the knowledge to establish and manage such a system of irrigation.


Wisdom Gives Rest

21My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck.
23Then you will walk in your way securely
And your foot will not stumble.
24When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26For the LORD will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.

In this portion (verses 21-2621My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck.
23Then you will walk in your way securely
And your foot will not stumble.
24When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26For the LORD will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
) we get the instruction to remain on the path of wisdom, together with the promises which are our part if we heed the instruction. But then we must not lose sight of wisdom for one moment (verse 2121My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
).

There is a connection between verse 2121My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and verses 19-2019The LORD by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.
20By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the skies drip with dew.
. After showing God’s wisdom in creation, the son is told that he is not to let wisdom vanish from his sight. The wisdom that God is demonstrating in creation is the wisdom which is necessary to live our lives to the honor of God. We not only admire wisdom, but we have also received it (1Cor 2:6-76Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;7but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God predestined before the ages to our glory;). The Lord Jesus is the wisdom of God in every view. He is our life and in Him we have received wisdom.

We must not let Him vanish from our sight. We must continually keep sight of Him. Then we will keep “sound wisdom and discretion”. We will always be prepared for what is ahead of us. When fellow classmates or colleagues or a brother or sister asks us to take part of something or to go somewhere, we will let ourselves be led by wisdom and discretion. We will look upon the Lord Jesus, how He would respond to that question.

If our eyes are continually focused on Him and we see how He has kept sound wisdom and discretion, that will mean “life” for our “soul” (verse 2222So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck.
). The true life is the life of Christ which is our part. That will then be seen in our practice. To Paul it was like that. He could say that life was Christ to him, he lived for Him alone (Phil 1:2121For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.).

Such a life is “an adornment to your neck”, says the father to his son and to us (cf. Pro 1:99Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.
; 3:33Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
). Wisdom and discretion are real ‘adornments’. We sometimes say of somebody that a certain characteristic or action ‘adorns’ him or her. It ‘adorns’ a person when he for example helps another person or is faithfully committed to his study or work. Wisdom and discretion are making him to do these things.

In the following verses (verses 23-2623Then you will walk in your way securely
And your foot will not stumble.
24When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26For the LORD will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
) life is represented as a journey, as a road which is to be walked on. We all are going a road, that we have never gone, of which we do not know how it goes. Thereby we are not led by our knowledge of the future, for we do not have that knowledge, but by Him to Whom belongs the future. He is mighty to keep us from stumbling and to make us “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 1:2424Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,). That is the life insurance that we need, of which the conditions are written in verses 21-2221My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck.
.

If we do not lose sight of wisdom and discretion, but continually keep them in mind, we will “walk securely” in our way and will “not stumble our foot” which could make us fall (verse 2323Then you will walk in your way securely
And your foot will not stumble.
). We will then be walking with God. Because He shows us the way, He will also protect us on our way. If we go our way with such confidence in Him, His peace will be in us (Phil 4:77And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.) and His protecting power will be around us (1Pet 1:55who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.).

The Lord Jesus showed that to us. He walked with God and went His way securely and was kept from stumbling His foot. He was tempted by satan to challenge God to realize the truth of this word, that He would not stumble His foot (Mt 4:5-75Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
and
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”
). Because He let Himself be guided by wisdom and discretion, He knew how to resist satan. Therefore He did not stumble His foot nor did He fall.

Wisdom and discretion do not only save us during the day, but also during the night (verse 2424When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
). They do not only guard us when we are on the way, but also when we are sleeping (Psa 121:44Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
). He who walks with his God, can sleep calmly, however stormy it may be in his life. That’s why the Lord Jesus slept during a storm (Mt 8:2424And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.). We also see that Peter, in imitating the Lord, was not anxious when he was in prison and had to fear his life. He went to lie down, chained together with two soldiers and had a pleasant sleep (Acts 12:66On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison.; cf. Lev 26:66I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making [you] tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.; Psa 4:88In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.
; 23:22He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
). 

That wisdom and discretion give rest and safety, doesn’t mean that nothing can happen in our lives that completely turns our life upside down. Job experienced that and we also know examples from our lives or from our environment. God doesn’t guarantee us that no evil will happen to us. He surely gives the guarantee that He will be there. Here the father says to his son that he must not be afraid for what may happen suddenly (verse 2525Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
; cf. Psa 112:77He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
).

There is a saying: ‘A man often suffers the most by the suffering that he fears and which never happens.’ To whomever that applies, has got to bear more than God gives him to bear. Fear or anxiety for what may possibly happen, paralyzes us in our faith life. The people in the world are afraid of everything that is happening and what is still going to happen, both in their lives and in the world. We know from God’s Word that indeed a lot is going to happen in the world. If we take that seriously, we will also take the reassurance of the Lord Jesus seriously when He says that we should not let ourselves be frightened by the events that are announced (Mt 24:66You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for [those things] must take place, but [that] is not yet the end.).

The believer lives in the midst of “the wicked”, who are always seeking the destruction of those who want to faithfully live after God’s Word. The fear for those is more realistic than for something indeterminate, for “also all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2Tim 3:1212Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.). But listen to what the Lord Jesus says: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:2828Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.).

The father tells his son how he could get free from the thoughts of “sudden fear” or “onslaught” that could happen to him. He makes him aware that the LORD is his “confidence” (verse 2626For the LORD will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
). When he looks upon Him, he will exceed above the threats of frightening events that could happen, which life is full of. There is not a more powerful means to liberate us from fears and to keep us free of it than to have Christ as our confidence before us. Confidence is not an insecurity, but an absolute security. When the Lord Jesus is our confidence, it means that He is our unwavering and effective support.

If we put our confidence, our expectation, in Him, He will “keep our foot from being caught”. We therefore will not get caught in one of the many traps of sin, which are laid by satan everywhere around us to catch our foot through which we stumble. Sin can easily entangle us if we do not keep our eyes focused on the Lord continually (Heb 12:1-21Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.; cf. 2Tim 2:2626and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.). The Lord Jesus is also our example in this. When He was on earth, He continually looked upon His God. By doing that, He never put His foot anywhere where a snare was hidden (Psa 16:88I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
).


Do Not Harm Your Neighbor

27Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do [it].
28Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give [it],”
When you have it with you.
29Do not devise harm against your neighbor,
While he lives securely beside you.
30Do not contend with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.

Wisdom is important for our relationship with God. The father has taught his son – and us – about that in the previous verses. But that is not the only thing. Wisdom is also important for our relationship with our neighbor. The father speaks about that with his son in the verses that we have now before us. He warns his son not to be selfish and self-centered in that relationship. Relationships can be misused in that way.

We must learn that the neighbor is not there for us, but that we are there for the neighbor. We see that in the history that the Lord Jesus tells about the good Samaritan (Lk 10:30-3730Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.31And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,34and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on [them]; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’36Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ [hands]?”37And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”). The lesson is not that I must learn who my neighbor is, how I could benefit from him, but how I can be the neighbor of the other person, what I could do for the other person.

The verses 27-3027Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do [it].
28Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give [it],”
When you have it with you.
29Do not devise harm against your neighbor,
While he lives securely beside you.
30Do not contend with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
all begin with the counsel of not to do something. That the father gives this counsel to his son means that he considers his son to be able to do what he discourages him to do. That is an important lesson for parents. There are parents who do not want to hear any evil things about their children. They are surprised, not to say indignant, when it is presumed that their child has done something which is not acceptable. ‘My child would not do anything like that’, is then often the dismissive response. It proves a great lack of self-knowledge and an unhealthy view of their ‘sweetheart’. Solomon doesn’t speak in such a naive or arrogant way about his son here.

The verses 27-2827Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do [it].
28Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give [it],”
When you have it with you.
are about the relation towards the neighbor and then in particular that he must be given what is due to him. However, it is presented negatively by the father. He does not order his son to do something, but is saying to him that he should not do something. His son is not to withhold good from someone to whom it is due, while he has the means to give it (verse 2727Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do [it].
). Therefore it is about the rights of our neighbors and not the expression of charity.

In the application we could think of honestly paying tax, for the government is entitled to that (Rom 13:77Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.). Also the payment of a debt which has arisen from a loan or a purchase, is a matter of giving to the other what he is due to. In a more general sense the father appeals to his son to do good to his neighbor with the possibilities that are available to him. We are not the owners of our goods, but stewards. “Therefore, to 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.).

We can also apply doing good, or the better, withholding good from someone to whom it is due, to the gospel and the truth of God. The people around us have the right that we proclaim the gospel to them. How will they hear about it if we do not tell them about it? We owe it to them, for they are in danger of being lost forever. The same goes for the teaching of the truth. The fellow believers have the right that we serve them with God’s Word (Pro 11:26a26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him;
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells [it].
). If we are imitators of the good, or better, of the good One, we are obliged to talk about Him.

Perhaps the son is not willing to withhold good from somebody, but that he postpones it until “tomorrow” (verse 2828Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give [it],”
When you have it with you.
). The father recognizes that danger and warns him also about that – not to do that. ‘Tomorrow’ is an expression which indicates that something is postponed endlessly; it is shifted every following day to ‘tomorrow’. In the same way “the wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning” (Lev 19:13b13‘You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob [him]. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.; Deu 24:1515You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the LORD and it become sin in you.). It is not about charity, but about paying a debt. When that is being ignored, it is evil in the eyes of God (Jam 5:44Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, [and] which has been withheld by you, cries out [against you]; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.).

The commandment not to withhold good from your neighbor is followed by the commandment not to devise harm against your neighbor (verse 2929Do not devise harm against your neighbor,
While he lives securely beside you.
). To devise harm means to think of ways, to make preparations, to harm. To think of ways to harm your neighbor, to make preparations to harm him, is a crime. It is even worse when that happens, while your neighbor thinks that he’s got nothing to fear of you, that he feels himself to be safe with you. It is a crude form of abuse of confidence. It is the crime that Judas committed against the Lord Jesus (Psa 41:99Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.
; Jn 13:1818I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but [it is] that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’). If we have been treated like that by someone, we may know that the Lord Jesus can suffer together with us in this (Heb 4:1515For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.).

The father does not consider his son to be too good for committing this evil. We also should not consider ourselves to be too good for it. It is possible that we misuse someone who trusts us, who lives with us, so with whom we have daily contact, for something that delivers us advantage.

There is not only danger for secretly devising harm, but also for accusing someone openly, without any reason, without the other person doing any harm to you (verse 3030Do not contend with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
). The father warns his son also about that form of evil. It is here about the exposing of a quarreling spirit. It can also refer to taking legal actions before a court against someone – and doing this all without a cause. Someone is only to seek to harm another person. Devising harm can be spiritual, physical, financial or even sexual.

Also herein the Lord Jesus is again the Example. He was accused without a cause, for He never did any harm to anyone. On the contrary, He did only good. He did not defend Himself against it, He did not seek His own right, but He kept entrusting Himself to “Him who judges righteously” (1Pet 2:21-2321For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,22who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;).


Do Not Envy the Ungodly

31Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.
32For the devious are an abomination to the LORD;
But He is intimate with the upright.
33The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
35The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.

A following evil the father is warning his son about, is to “envy a man of violence” (verse 3131Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.
; cf. Psa 73:3-53For I was envious of the arrogant
[As] I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.
5They are not in trouble [as other] men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
). The man of violence is the man who is violent, who illegally makes use of power. In Proverbs 1 the man of violence approaches his son. Here the son sees what the man of violence can afford, for instance, to buy expensive things and the easy life that he may seem to live. The man of violence exerts influence on other people, on both his friends and the people around him, like the son. Then it is important not to come under his influence. The father tells his son “not to envy” such a man and not choose “any of his ways”.

To underline this prohibition, the father tells his son what the consequences are if he follows this man in his lifestyle and what the consequences are when he stays far away from it. That happens in the form of contrasts. The son should not envy the man of violence, “for such a man is an abomination to the LORD” (verse 3232For the devious are an abomination to the LORD;
But He is intimate with the upright.
). He should be very aware of that when he is attracted by the life of that man and that he will want to live like that too.

You should stay as far as you possibly can from an abomination, something disgusting. Opposite to it is to stay as close as you possibly can to the LORD. That is the portion of the upright with whom He is “intimate” (Psa 25:1414The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.
). The intimate relation is to be derived from what He makes known to them. In this way He dealt intimately with Abraham and made him know what He was going to do (Gen 18:17-1917The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,18since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?19For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”). Also with His servants, the prophets, He deals with intimately (Amos 3:77Surely the Lord GOD does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
).

In verses 33-3533The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
35The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
we see on the one hand the part of the righteous (verse 33b33The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
), the afflicted (verse 34b34Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
) and the wise (verse 35a35The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
) and on the other hand that of the wicked (verse 33a33The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
), the scoffers (verse 34a34Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
) and the fools (verse 35b35The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
). The wicked do not care about God at all, the scoffers despise God, the fools reject God. We should not envy the latter ones, for they lie under the curse (verse 33a33The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
), the scoff (verse 34a34Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
) and the dishonor (verse 35b35The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
). The upright with whom God is intimate, will receive blessing (verse 33b33The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
), grace (verse 34b34Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
) and honor (verse 35a35The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
).

Whoever deviates from the LORD (verse 3232For the devious are an abomination to the LORD;
But He is intimate with the upright.
), shows to be “wicked” (verse 3333The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
). “The curse of the LORD” (Mal 2:22If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,” says the LORD of hosts, “then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them [already], because you are not taking [it] to heart.) is on the house of the wicked. Here we see that deviating has not only consequences for us ourselves, but also for all who belong to our house. The reverse applies to the upright. Their house is blessed by the LORD (e.g. 2Sam 6:1111Thus the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.). As a result of the attitude of the prime inhabitant, the children of the wicked suffer and those of the upright rejoice. We are a vessel of blessing or curse for our family.

The curse that is on the house of the wicked is not so much the robbery of all kinds of things that make life pleasant. Nor is the blessing so much the possession of everything that the heart covets. The central point of the curse lies in the continuous restlessness of the conscience, a continuous feeling of insecurity, with the end result that the house will collapse. The central point of blessing lies in the continuous awareness that God is with us, in the rest and peace of the heart which is secure of the grace and generosity of God. That house will stand fast.

Scoffers will have to do with the scoff of God (verse 3434Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
). Scoffers are people to whom nothing is sacred. They scoff at God and His truth, they laugh at Him and ridicule His truth (2Pet 3:3-43Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts,4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For[ever] since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”). They scorn the sacrifice of Christ (Pro 14:77Leave the presence of a fool,
Or you will not discern words of knowledge.
). They exalt themselves and despise and humiliate others, especially God and His Christ. Such people are sinning in an abominable way. There comes a moment that the roles will be reversed. Then He will scoff at them and humiliate them (Psa 2:44He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
; 59:88But You, O LORD, laugh at them;
You scoff at all the nations.
).

In contradiction to the scoffers we have “the afflicted”. They are the humble ones, they have humiliated themselves and have taken the right place before God. They recognize Him in everything that He says about them, whether it is in condemnation or in blessing. He will not scoff at them, but He will give them grace. That gives them power to remain meek under the scoffing of the scoffers and to not resist them.

Meekness is a characteristic of the Lord Jesus which characterized Him in His life on earth. He gives that characteristic to all who take His yoke of obedience upon themselves and want to learn from Him (Mt 11:2929Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.). They have humiliated themselves under the mighty hand of God (Jam 4:66But He gives a greater grace. Therefore [it] says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”; 1Pet 5:55You younger men, likewise, be subject to [your] elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.), while the sinners will be forced to humiliate themselves when Christ will come to reign.

When Christ comes, the wise will receive honor (verse 3535The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
). The wise are the same people as the upright and the afflicted of the previous verses. That indicates that these are not the wise of the world, but those who are wise in the sight of God. The honor that they will get is not temporary and not from the world, but it is an everlasting honor that God gives. That honor is that they will partake in the reign of the Lord Jesus.

The fools on the contrary, will get nothing else than what they themselves have done. They “display dishonor”. They have never cared about God’s commandments and have even mocked at Him. In that way they had made people laugh and received the honor of people who are just like them. At the same time they have placed themselves outside the blessing and under the shame and that forever. Their foolishness will be visible to everyone; they will be “to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:22Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt.).


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