12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Knowledge is a good thing. The more we know, the more we can do. Knowledge brings power. So, we love knowledge. But, if you love knowledge you must love discipline, and that doesn’t come naturally or easily to us. Human beings don’t like to be scolded, corrected, admonished, disciplined or punished. It’s unpleasant. It makes us look bad. It hurts our pride. But the wise man understands that all of us make mistakes. Now we only see through a glass darkly. Mistakes come from being born into a fallen world. Mistakes come from inexperience. Mistakes come from ignorance. The wise man understands that mistakes need to be corrected for progress to occur, and he wants to advance in knowledge, wisdom and power. Therefore he is willing to humble himself, and take correction. The wise man understands this, and comes to the point that he welcomes discipline.
12:2 A good man will obtain favor from the Lord, but He will condemn a man who devises evil. The Lord is real. He is not just a Supreme Being of great intellect and infinite understanding, and almighty power, but He is a God of morality. He is good, just, faithful and true. All His ways are just. He is a God of faithfulness and without any injustice. He is righteous and upright. And, He is very concerned that His creatures reflect His morality. He wants us to be like Him. That human being who becomes like Him – who does good, not bad, who is righteous, not unrighteous, who is straight, not crooked, will find that the Lord delights in him. The Creator takes pleasure in him and has good will toward him and therefore wants to do good things to him and succeed and advance more and more.
A man who devises evil, a man of craftiness, who thinks up ways to get around the laws of God, who schemes involve violations of the moral and spiritual laws that God has built into this universe, the Lord will condemn. The Almighty will declare him to be guilty. He will be declared guilty of wrongdoing, condemned, punished and rejected. Morality is essential to a truly successful life. Does your morality reflect the character of the Lord, or do your values contract who He is?
12:3 A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved. Most human beings would like to be established. They want a life that will last. They would like a life that would endure. If presented with a choice between living and dying, between eternal life and death, most would chose to live. But you can’t have a good life, a meaningful life, the kind of life that will endure by using wickedness – by rebelling against the Lord, ignoring Him and His ways, and doing what you want to do. You can’t rebel against the Lord and His commands and have a life that is successful or significant or lasting. Those who go against the Lord, disregard His ways, or defy His morality will be like a plant with very shallow roots that will be uprooted and blown away by the strong winds of reality. One day they will be gone. They will not have a place on Earth, nor a place in Heaven.
But those who have been reconciled to the Lord and are in a right relationship with the Almighty will be established. They are attaching themselves to God and committing themselves to please Him and do what is right. They are like a strong and healthy tree that sinks its roots deep into the soil. Their lives will last. Their souls will endure. The life that they are establishing on Earth will continue into the New Earth, where they will be established forever. You want to have an enduring, meaningful life? Get to know the God of Israel. Learn about Messiah Yeshua, and then follow the Lord with all of your heart and soul.
12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones. The Eyshet Chayil, the virtuous woman, is a woman of excellent moral and spiritual qualities. She knows the Lord. She is intelligent. She is wise. She conducts her life according to God’s standards. She works hard. She is a good mother. She is active for the good of her family. She is a good wife, supporting her husband. She enables her husband to accomplish the maximum he can. Just as a king needs a kingdom, and a people, and a castle and a throne and a scepter, and last of all a crown on his head to complete him and show the people his glory, so a woman of excellent moral and spiritual qualities brings honor to her husband.
But the woman who shames her husband, who has shallow values, who is not committed to the Lord, who is unfaithful, immoral, lazy, who doesn’t do enough around the house, and doesn’t properly take care of the children; the woman who does inappropriate things that embarrasses her husband, is like rotten bones in a human body. She causes him pain. She gives him trouble. She causes him aggravation. She hinders hinder him from accomplishing what together they could accomplish if only she was an Eyshet Chayil. Young woman, made a decision to be a woman of virtue. Young man, it is crucial for your well-being and happiness that you chose this kind of woman to be your wife, so commit yourself to marry someone like her.
12:5 The thoughts of the righteous are just, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The man who is genuinely right with God, and who is doing the right things, he is concerned with justice. He longs to see people treated fairly. He hates it when there is injustice anywhere. He thinks about ways to make things more fair. He thinks about what his responsibility may be to intervene in a situation where someone is being treated unfairly. He knows what is right and fair and good and prays and works toward those goals.
But the wicked, who don’t care about God or what the Lord wants, who won’t develop a proper relationship with their Creator, often will not care about those who are made in His image. Because they don’t know the Lord, and don’t understand Him and His ways, and His passion for justice, they wind up deceiving themselves and deceiving others. They might think that the advice they are giving will help, and make for a better life, but it won’t. So, they will give people advice, but often it will be bad advice.
They will tell you that if you want to be happy, you should engage in sex with whoever you want and of whatever sex you want and whenever you want. But that is deceptive advice because it ignores the terrible consequences of illicit sex – an offended Deity, broken hearts, broken homes, and diseased bodies. They may tell you that it isn’t important what you believe. They may tell you that everything is relative, and there are no absolutes, no ultimate truths, and your truth is good for you, and their truth is good for them. They may tell you that religion isn’t crucial to a successful life. They may tell you that all religions are alike, and all will bring you to the same place. They may tell you that it is good to kill a child growing in its mother’s womb but wrong to execute a mass murderer.
12:7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand. The wicked – those who are unreconciled to the Creator, and refuse to submit themselves to the King, and live the way He wants them to, will often seem to be successful. They can be rich, powerful, famous, influential and respected. The righteous, who have been reconciled to the Lord of the universe, and who are living according to His right ways, will often seem to be unsuccessful. They can be poor, weak, unpopular, and scorned. But the wicked, no matter how successful they may seem, will be overthrown. One day they will be turned upside down. The turn of events will be so thorough, so complete, so total, and so final, that Solomon says of them: “ay-nahm” – they are no more. Everything that they had, everything that they were, will disappear. Poof! Gone! What a mistake then, to continue to defy the Living God, no matter how rich, how successful and how powerful you may be! But the righteous will stand! Their deeds will be rewarded. Their sacrifices will be recompensed. Their sins will be atoned for. Their names will last. Their bodies will be resurrected. Their lives will endure.
12:8 A man will be praised according to his insight, but one of perverse heart will be despised. The one who is worthy of praise is the man who has sechel – wisdom and insight. He knows that the Lord exists, and that this is a God-designed universe. He knows that the Creator has built into the cosmos natural laws, and moral laws and spiritual laws, and he lives by those laws, and encourages others to live by them. He will be praised by those whose praise really counts – God the Father and the Messiah the Son. Can you imagine one day, after having lived an honorable life, having received little honor here on Earth, being praised by the glorious God, and hearing Him say to you, “Well done My son! I am so proud of you, so pleased with the way you conducted yourself during your short time on Earth.”
There are many others of perverse heart, who down at the core of their being are twisted and crooked. They don’t care about the Creator, and are not interested in living according to His laws. Their warped minds think it OK to contradict God’s good laws and wise principles, to place their thoughts above the Lord’s thoughts, to put their ways above His ways. They will encourage children to have safe sex, and use a condom, because children will do it anyway, and can’t restrain themselves, even though they can restrain themselves, should restrain themselves, will harm themselves if they don’t restrain themselves, and the sex activity isn’t safe. They may tell you that it is OK for an underage child to have an abortion, even without notifying the parents, but wrong for that same child to bring aspirin to school. They may tell you that tolerance of other’s thoughts is a great virtue, but attack you for your values. They may tell you that you must not violate the separation of Church and State, which they interpret to mean that you can’t pray in public, or post portions of the Bible in public, or share your faith, or bring a Bible to school, when the Word of God and the founding fathers and their writings and history don’t support those twisted concepts. The wicked may be popular, influential, praised by many of their contemporaries for a time, but ultimately they will be despised by those whose opinions really count – the Three-In-One God, the holy angels and the sons and daughters of God.
12:9 Better is he who is lightly esteemed and has a servant, than he who honors himself and lacks bread. The person who is lightly esteem is the person who doesn’t spend too much of his hard-earned money on himself in order to impress others. The person who honors himself is the one who uses too much of his money for the purpose of impressing others. He is the person who will buy or lease a car that is too expensive, will wear designer clothes and shoes. He will buy a house or take vacations that he really can’t afford because he wants others to think that he is a success. As a result, he is financially stretched. He has little savings for difficult times, and difficult financial times often come. His credit is maxed out. He is living paycheck to paycheck and is under financial pressure, which makes his life stressful and unenjoyable.
The man who is lightly esteemed yet has the servant is the one who not make a display of his wealth and doesn’t care what others think. He drives a car he can afford. He buys a house that fits his budget. The clothes he buys don’t have to be the most fashionable or expensive. He takes the money he saves and invests it and has it where it counts, where it will really benefit him. He is not financially stressed.
You want to get wealthier? Then don’t care what others think about the kind of clothes you dress in, the kind of car you drive, the size or location of the house you live in, or what kind of vacations you take. Don’t use your hard earned money on vanity purchases. Live carefully, save your money, and invest wisely. You will be better off, and able to rest and relax, buy the things you really want when you need to, and enjoy the things you have.
12:10 A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Man was given authority over the animals, but that authority should not be abused. Even though animals are lower on the scale of being, and are of less value than human beings, and we have been given dominion over the animals, and can manage them, and keep them as pets, or eat them, human beings don’t have the right to neglect, abuse, inflict unnecessary pain or torture animals. But there are human being who don’t care about what is right, and have no regard for the laws of God and have no compassion for other living creatures, and they can be cruel. However, those who are right with God act properly toward the animals that the Lord has entrusted to our care. They take good care of their cats, dogs, horses, cows, children. They treat them humanely. They honor the Creator of the creatures, who is aware when even one little sparrow falls to the ground.
12:11 He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues vain things lack sense. 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor. You want to have plenty? You want to advance at work? Work hard, improve yourself so that you are capable of more. Make sure that you have a job. Get a second job if necessary, Learn a little about money and economics and investing. Cut your spending, live frugally, invest wisely. Don’t pursue vain, empty, useless gimmicks. Don’t go for get rich quick schemes, spiritual ones or otherwise. Don’t gamble or play the lottery. The majority of those who win easy money, because they don’t appreciate it and don’t know how to manage it, wind up blowing it. Don’t send in “seed money” to ministries and expect a hundred fold return. Don’t make foolish investments.
12:13 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape trouble. 12:14 A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him. The Lord has designed the universe in such a way that your our actions and words, be they good or bad, produce consequences not only for others but also for ourselves. Good words and actions will produce good results, and will have positive consequences for us and keep us out of trouble. Bad words, lying, false teaching, blasphemy, harms others and come back to bite us. So, speak up for the Lord, for the truth, for the Word of God, for what is right. Don’t be afraid to be a witness to others about the Good News about the Messiah, and what you have learned about God. And, do good things. Work hard on the job, take care of your family, come to the congregation regularly, find some way to serve, read the Scriptures, pray. You will be helping others and it will wind up blessing you as well!
12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. The fool is the person who does not fear the Lord and will not live according to the wise principles found in the Word of God. The fool may have some knowledge, even much knowledge, but he doesn’t know how to properly apply the knowledge he has. He may have a Ph. D., but he is unable or unwilling to take his knowledge and mix it with faith and summit everything it to God and His Word. If you tell him about the Lord, and give him great arguments for Christian Faith, and the reliability of Scripture, he will come with reasons why it can’t be so. The fool rarely understands that he is a fool. He may think that he is smart, and understands the world, and his ideology and values are right, even though they are wrong. It’s not only what you don’t know that will harm you, but what you know that is not so that will also hurt you! In contrast to the fool is the chacham – the wise man, who is humble, who knows that he can always learn more, and will listen to good advice, sound doctrine, and a well reasoned argument.
12:16 A fools’ vexation is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor. 12:18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. When a fool is upset or angry, everyone knows it right away, because he responds out of anger. Because he is angry, he will say and do things that are inappropriate and harmful to others and embarrassing to himself. The wise man knows that there are things and circumstances and situations that annoy and upset him. He understands that there are “buttons” that people who know him well, particularly his family members, can push. He knows that it is not hard to lose one’s temper, and to do so makes a situation worse. He knows that it can be embarrassing or harmful to lose one’s temper. So, he takes this knowledge about himself, and the things that annoy him, and he prevents himself from losing his temper. He does not allow himself to be easily angered. He learns not to immediately respond. He slows down his reaction time. He will take his time, and think through the situation before he responds. He will overlook some things, and deal with other things later, when he is calm, in his time, in his way. He will formulate an appropriate response for the maximum benefit of all involved.