The book of Proverbs is about wisdom. Wisdom and understanding involve the proper application of knowledge. It isn’t enough to have knowledge. We also need wisdom, which is the ability to use that knowledge in the right way. Wisdom comes from applying knowledge in such a way that you live according to God’s wise principles that the Creator has designed into this magnificent universe. Wisdom is very beneficial. It results in favor and blessing and success in this life and ultimately eternal success in the Life-To-Come! We want more and more wisdom.
Foolishness is the opposite of wisdom. Foolishness is ignoring God’s wise principles and results in harm and loss, and perhaps even eternal loss. We don’t want to be foolish!
Just because you believe in Messiah and you have faith and read the Bible, means that you have some wisdom, but it doesn’t mean you have wisdom in every area of life. Proverbs help us acquire wisdom for all of the many decisions we need to make in the various areas of life.
The Importance Of Being Diligent With Work
18:9 He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. In a fallen world that is satanically controlled and is in rebellion against God and is under a curse, it is important that people work, and work hard. Life has changed from the idyllic conditions we enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. Because of the Fall, the ground was cursed. The Lord said: Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food. It takes hard work to live in a world that is under a curse. The problem is that it is part of fallen human nature not to want to work hard. But, hard work is God’s will for us. And, hard work is redemptive. And, it is good for us and produces good things and keeps us out of trouble. Idle hands are the Devil’s tools. Therefore working hard and being diligent in the areas and responsibilities that have been entrusted to us, is very important. Laziness, not being willing to work hard, inattentiveness to detail, is not a minor thing. It is a very big deal. It is very serious.
The one who destroys, who actively goes about ruining good things, like a terrorist or a hardened criminal, is a very serious threat. The one who is slack in his work is not completely unrelated to him who destroys. He is not a distant cousin to the one who destroys. He is brother to him who destroys! He is very closely related to him! He is just like him! His laziness will cause related results – ruin and destruction. Women who are married to lazy men know this all too well. Parents who have a lazy son or daughter also know this well. So, if you are wise, you will have the attitude that you are here on Earth to work, and work hard. You will have plenty of time to take it easy in the Earth-To-Come.
The Benefits That Come From Knowing The Lord
18:10 The name of the Lord (in other words, the Lord Himself) is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. We live in an unstable, chaotic, dangerous world. Maximum safety isn’t found in a nation or a political party or an ideology; the ultimate refuge can’t be found in money or human relationships or pleasures or distractions or entertainments or drugs or alcohol. Security in a insecure world is found in a Person – El Shaddai – Almighty God, who is greater than the world and its problems! So, the better we get to know the Three-In-one God and the closer we are to Him, the more pleased He will be with us and the more willing He will be to extend His protection to us; and the more confidence we will have in Him, and the more peace we will experience.
What Money Can And Can’t Buy
18:11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own imagination. Wealth can buy comfort. It can buy pleasures. It can buy a certain level of security, but it can’t buy perfect security. The very real and destructive forces of Satan and sin, and the curse on the Earth, and pain and suffering and trials and disappointments and sadness that come from living in a fallen world will penetrate the walls of that strong city that the rich man thinks his wealth is. The deceitfulness of riches will overcome the walls of that city. Finally, one of the greatest enemies – Death, will break into that strong city. Since the wise person understands that money can’t buy ultimate safety, but getting into a right relationship with the Living God and following His will provides eternal security, his priority is serving God, and not money. He wisely chooses to live for God, and not money.
18:16 A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. Money can’t buy perfect security, but it can buy good things, like opportunities and access to important people. This happens in politics all the time. I recently read that for a gift of $16,700, a person can have quail eggs and caviar with President Obama. Don’t worry! I don’t plan on making Shema or myself $16,700 poorer! This wise saying is also talking about the good that results from being a generous man. Keil and Delitzsch noted: By being generous, by giving gifts, a person doesn’t lose. He gains. He is not lowered. He rises! Generosity helps a person get beyond difficult circumstances. It brings him affection. So, if we are smart, we will want more and more to be givers, not takers.
18:23 The poor man utters supplications, but the rich man answers roughly. Money can’t buy eternal security or salvation, but it does buy social status and tolerance. The things that society would not tolerate from a poor man it will tolerate from the rich. The rich man can get away with a lot more than the poor man. For doing the same thing, the poor man is considered weird and troublesome, even dangerous. The rich man is considered to be eccentric and is tolerated. That’s why the poor man needs to ask for things he doesn’t have in a humble way, and the rich man can afford to respond to others with gruffness.
We know that all human beings, rich and poor, are made in the image of God, and are inherently worthy of respect. We don’t want to be like the world and discriminate against people based on their financial status. James warns us about that. He writes: Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you”, but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet”, have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? We are to value people, not by their level of wealth, but by different standards – by their inherent worth; by their closeness to the Three-in-One God; by their faith and faithfulness; by their righteousness; by their character; by their service to God; by their willingness to suffer for Him.
Pride Versus Humility
18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor. Human beings are deeply flawed creatures. The universe is large and complex, and there is so much that we don’t know. And, we don’t always know when we don’t know. If knowledge is power, than lack of knowledge, or false knowledge – knowledge that you think is knowledge but is actually error, is weakness and defeat. Therefore if we are wise and want to be successful and worthy of honor, we need to be humble, and realize that we are small and weak and stupid and that the Creator is great and powerful and very smart. And, we need to get closer to Him and learn from Him because His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We don’t want to be self-confident, when we need to be God-confident. We don’t want to be haughty, and think more highly about ourselves and our thoughts than we deserve; we don’t want to be presumptuous because we will make costly mistakes.
Listen Before You Speak
18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him. It is fallen human nature to want to talk more than hear, to show off our knowledge rather than receive knowledge from others. Showing off our knowledge makes us look smart; and since fallen creatures tend to not feel good about themselves, we desperately want others to think that we are smart and therefore important and worthy. Therefore people will try to show off how smart they are by finishing your sentence or thought for you. Even if they finish it correctly, or correctly anticipate what you will say, and answer correctly, that is inconsiderate, rude, selfish and foolish. It is important to be a good listener. It is important to be a patient listener. Allow the person you are listening to, to finish their thought before you respond.
The Seriousness Of Mental/Emotional Problems And Depression
18:14 The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit who can bear it? Worse than physical illness or paralysis is a broken spirit – severe depression and giving up on life’s challenges. Physical illness, even something like being paralyzed from the neck down, can be painful and debilitating and hard to endure, but with a good attitude, physical trials be endured. Our own Bob Hanner and the triumphant life of Joni Eareckson Tada are great examples of this. Life in a fallen world that is satanically controlled and is in rebellion against God and is under a curse can be painful, discouraging, depressing. This fallen world has a way of beating people down, chewing them up and spitting them out. Those who are strong and able to endure have a tendency to look down on the world’s wounded. Don’t look down on those who have been crushed by living in this fallen world. Have pity on them! Try to encourage them! They are precious, made in the image of God, still with the potential to become glorious, magnificent eternal beings! Be like Messiah, who cared for life’s severely wounded, of whom it is written: A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. Let them know that this world is full of defeats and discouragements , but they can comforted by being knowing that there is another world, a better world, a world without suffering; a world of pure happiness and victory that faith in the Three-In-One can bring them to.
The Importance Of Maintaining Good Relationships
18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel. In a fallen world that is satanically controlled and is in rebellion against God and is under a curse, it is easy to be alienated from other human beings. Our damaged relationship with God makes it much harder to maintain good relationships with fellow fallen human beings. We have been damaged by sin, and so have they. It is so easy to hurt others. Once a relationship has been damaged, and trust has been broken, it is very hard to restore that relationship. It is very hard to bring it back to the place where it was before. So, if you have an important relationship with someone – father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, wife or husband, friend or peer, cultivate that relationship. Don’t do anything to harm or betray that relationship. Otherwise you may never be able to restore it to the way it was.
The Importance Of A Good Marriage
18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. A good wife is a very good thing. She can be a great blessing. A good woman is so much better than money, wealth, power. She can be the most beneficial creature. She is made in the image of God. She is smart and loving and attractive. She is loyal. She is kind. She can produce your children and then have the patience and maternal love to raise the little darlings! She will support and encourage and help you. She will let you know when you are making a mistake – and that is a good thing. She will even let you know you are making a mistake when you aren’t. Isn’t that something?
The Lord knows the great value and worth of these beautiful, mysterious, alluring, amazing creatures, who are smaller and softer and weaker than us, and He wants to help you, husband, to take very good care of her. Therefore He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. The Lord will favor a married man; He will help you so you can help her.
So, young man, if you are smart, you will find a good wife, and treat her like she is the best thing in your life! She is! Take very good care of her, provide for her, love her and nurture her. Take an interest in her and talk to her and spend time with her and be patient with her. God will give you the grace you need to do this, and He will favor you!
The Value Of A Good Friend
18:24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. It’s good to have friends, but too many friends can damage a person. Even the Messiah only chose 12 core disciples – not 70 or 120. The man with too many friends spreads himself too thin. He will spend too much time and effort and money cultivating those too many friendships, and not enough time on his core friendships and relationships with his family. He will neglect his responsibilities. So, if you are wise, choose fewer friends, and make sure that they are good and true and loyal friends, and cultivate those friendships.