Introduction – This marvelous Book is a collection of wise thoughts that come mostly from Solomon. Other unknown sages also contributed some of them. Most are brief and to the point and traverse from one thought to another rather quickly. The starting point to have any wisdom is to have the fear of the Lord. All wisdom stems from this. Scholars believe the Book was finally completed in 180 BC. With Solomon’s marital ties with Egyptian women, he may have been familiar with the teachings of Amenemope because they seem to permeate into chapters 22:17 – 23:14. If so, any sources that ended up in this Book are totally in line with God’s standards. One important thing to realize, especially when answering the critics and scoffers, is that these sayings are generalizations and therefore can have some exceptions. For example, some proverbs say that when people live by God’s standards they will prosper in this world. Generally, this is true, but there are also examples of Job, the Apostles, many believers who have been persecuted, discriminated against, and/or martyred, and Jesus Himself who did not prosper in a worldly sense.

My Approach to Proverbs – Since many concepts can present themselves in each chapter, I plan to highlight only one or two of them or else the texts would be too long. If I can discuss each one in a chapter briefly, then I will include them all. My constant challenge is to provide helpful insight but in a brief manner. My prayer is that we all glean insights that results in increasing our sphere of influence on this earth during the short time God has given each of us.

Proverbs 1

v5 – The wise will listen more than talk – this why God gave us two ears but just one mouth. 🙂
v7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” I believe this refers to the knowledge that will lead to righteous pathways in this life as well as eternal life.
v8-9 – Kids, listen to your mom and dad!
v10-19 – When ungodly people tempt us to join their evil activities, do not join in with them. If they are violent, violence will end up killing them. Jesus said, “If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.”
v24-33 – Those who reject God will not be rescued by God. God will allow them to reap what they’ve sown in life.

Proverbs 2 – Contains this great promise: if we treasure God’s commandments, open up our minds to His wisdom, and seek it as people seek after gold, we will then discover the knowledge of God. Furthermore, we will also be able to discern right from wrong pathways in life and be able to have a great sense of justice.

Application for Today: I’ve always thought that, for the most part, fallen humans have the responsibility to seek God in order to find Him. If one does not bother doing this, then they will experience shame on Judgment Day. Merely seeking “truth” may not work, however. Guru’s have done this and claim they have truth to give others. I disagree. According to John 7:17, it is not the search for truth that finds truth, but rather an inner willingness in our hearts to obey God. A good question to ask an unbeliever is, “If the God of the Bible is Truth (forgiving, good, and Holy), are you willing to follow Him and make Him the most important thing in your life?” If their answer is “no,” then I don’t see how they can receive the truth about Jesus. If “yes,” then the Kingdom of God is not far from them. Simply share the Gospel with them. Be sure to share the Gospel with those who say “yes” to this all-important question.

Proverbs 3 – The Balance Between Intelligence and Faith

v1-2: Keeping God’s commandments in our hearts increases longevity and peace.
v5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” This does not mean to disregard human intelligence and logic, but it does mean to keep it under submission to the Holy Spirit so that it can be guided the right way. Knowledge can make us arrogant (1 Cor.8:1) and therefore it may become more difficult for brighter people to do this. Knowledge was flourishing at the Tower of Babel site but it was growing apart from its Creator – not good. I dare say this is happening in modern times again (perhaps it started with the Renaissance and the “Age of Reason”). Even when we are young, knowledge made us arrogant. Kids always say things like, “Well, I saw it first!” or “I said it first!” Adults can be just as bad. Gossipers pride themselves in knowing what many others do not know. Our fallen nature thirsts for knowledge in many ways, but unless its acquisition is guided by the Spirit, we’ll get in trouble. Therefore, God’s Word has the antidote in Proverbs. I also believe that too many scientists have become arrogant against God’s Word rather than seeing God’s hand in the design they observe.
v7-8: Fearing God and being humble may actually heal our bodies. For years the medical field has told us that our minds can make us sick. There are a wide range of psychosomatic illnesses in this life. The physical problems are real, not imaginary, but they stem from the emotions (mind/soul). Stress, for example, can be a major contributor to unwanted physical changes. I’ve always said that the Bible is the world’s best Health Textbook. It mentions many things before mankind discovered them.
v9: “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce, so your barns will be filled with plenty.”

Application for Today: This can relate to tithing. When we give God 10% of what we earn, according to this verse, that amount should come off the top. In other words, give that portion first, then pay other things after. Some Christians do not believe in tithing. They do believe in giving but not in a “church rule type of thing.” I think both sides of this issue can agree that when God sees us putting Him first (especially in a cheerful way), He will supply all our needs and then some. God, by nature, is the ultimate Giver and He is teaching us to be like Him. This is not saying God will make us “money rich,” but we’ll be “Godly rich” and have our basic needs met.

v11-12: When God reproves us it proves that He loves us just as a parent proves their love for their children by disciplining them. If God did not care about us, He would let us go our own way all the time and never intervene on our behalf.
v20: All of a sudden there is a reference to Noah’s Flood adding more credibility to the Genesis account.
v21-26: If we desire to sleep soundly and have power over sudden fears that attack us, we need to keep sound wisdom and discretion.

Proverbs 4 – Overall, this describes the value and priority of having wisdom – how it protects us from going the wrong way in life and how it blesses us with longevity. In verse 23, it says to “watch over our heart with all diligence for from it flows the springs of life.” To me, this means that our attitude must always be centered in God’s Kingdom, perceiving His perspective on life and issues as they arise. Our godly responses to adversity stem from our heart being in the right place. For example, fear that this world throws at us will not have power over us and therefore will not drive us to make wrong decisions. These actions speak louder than words and give Christianity great credibility to others.

Proverbs 5 – A strong message to all men who may be tempted to stray away from their wives and have relations with women who practice adultery. She will come on initially as sweet but will end bitter for the man. God tells men to be satisfied with their own wives and not to play around with someone who has no regard for the path of life they are on. God reminds men that He sees all that we do, therefore remain on the right path of life. Adultery is a destroyer, yet so many people get ensnared by it.

Application for Today: Since adultery is so popular, and humans are especially prone to get caught in it, a good prayer for married people to pray is, “God, do not allow a person into my life that would attract me to them.” When you think about it, there are literally thousands of people that we would be attracted to if we met them, but that doesn’t mean we should have an intimate relationship with them. The best scenario is to never meet them if you are married. It’s all part of “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Proverbs 6:

v1-5 – Don’t co-sign for someone with a poor reputation. It will harm yours.
v6-11 – Laziness will cause poverty.
v12-15 – The earmarks of a worthless person = liar, perverse heart, spreads strife, sudden calamity.
v16-19 – What God hates = lying tongue, hands shedding innocent blood (abortion doctors take heed), heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run to evil, spreader of strife among brothers.
v20-23 – Obey parents for protection against evil ways.
v24-29 – Men stay away from female relationships beyond wives…we are not to desire their beauty in our hearts! Hurt and destruction are inevitable if we go “her way.” Solomon was a good example of this.
v30-31 – If a man steals because he is hungry, we are not to despise him, but he will pay back seven-fold by giving up the substance of his house. Humanists claim that this kind of thief is not guilty of any crime but rather has been a victim of society. The truth is there are many poor people who choose not to steal. God’s Word says it is still a crime, but has different consequences. More importantly, God will feed by legal means people who trust in Him.
v32-35 – A man who commits adultery lacks sense because it always destroys something and he will be saddled with disgrace and emotional wounds. The woman’s husband will always be mad at this man. Nobody wins.

Proverbs 7 – We must see the bigger picture. This is about the importance of “marrying God’s Word to our hearts” so that evil temptations will not succeed in taking us off God’s path of life.

Application for Today: Ever since I asked Jesus to be my Boss in 1970, I have seen many fall away from Him for various reasons. The common denominator, however, is that they did not have a passionate love for God’s Word in their hearts. This is the very thing that roots us deeply in the faith – knowing and loving His Word. We cannot love Jesus if we do not love what the Bible says (for in reality, they are the same). God’s Word came in the flesh (John 1:14). The form of temptation this chapter describes is a harlot seducing a senseless man. However, “she” could represent any evil lure that this world or Satan offers us in order to destroy us. All temptation works the same:

1) It appeals to our fleshly or evil desires from our sin nature (James 1:14).
2) It has immediate reward.
3) It tries to keep our mind off future consequences.
4) Finally, it bites hard (someone gets hurt). The trap clamps shut and our relationship with God is broken and only the faith in the Blood of Jesus can restore it.

The antidote for giving in to any temptation is to take a “Holy Pause” to find that promised escape route that God has promised to provide (1 Corinthians 10:13). Depend on Him to lead us away from the temptation and He will (Matthew 6:13). We do not HAVE to sin any more, but IF we do, there remains an advocate for us (1 John 2:1 and Romans 7:14-25). Of course the more we sin, the less our relationship with Jesus will be, and our lives will be bent on destruction or vanity. No one really gets away with anything in the long run and God writes the final chapter of our lives (good or bad).

Proverbs 8 – Wisdom is depicted here as God’s “right hand man” during the creation. Everything God does or speaks is from wisdom, therefore, it is essential that mankind obtain it. In fact, wisdom beckons man to grab hold of it. If man diligently seeks it, he will find it. Nice promise. In parts of verses it sounds like wisdom is actually Jesus Christ, but verses 23-25 seem to say wisdom was created, so I wouldn’t interpret this wisdom as being Jesus Himself as the the Jehovah’s Witnesses do to justify their erroneous belief that Jesus is not God, but rather the created archangel Michael who later came to earth as Jesus. This strongly contradicts Hebrews 1:5-8 where it states that God never elevated any of His angels to the status of “His Son,” and in verse 8 God calls Jesus God! There are, however, some links to Christ in these verses about wisdom.

Proverbs 9 – The opponent of wisdom is likened to a hedonistic woman who lures naive men. In a broader sense, “she” is any worldly temptation to get people off the righteous path in life, such as having a good work ethic and trusting God for things that are needed, not necessarily wanted. The spirit of this world wants us to foolishly spend our money on frivolous things that give only temporary pleasure or satisfaction. The spirit of hedonism says, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Or, like that famous beer TV commercial said, “You only go around once in life, so grab for all the gusto.” It is brutally selfish and blinds people from unwanted consequences. If we truly want wisdom we must first respect God and have knowledge of Him. This only comes from reading His Word. Since Jesus later said, “My sheep hear My voice” in John 10:27, I believe that God’s children will know what words come from God and what words do not as long as they have a desire to do God’s will (John 7:17). When we have His wisdom we will realize that reproving a scoffer only brings more insults upon us, but a reproved wise person will love us. Verse 10 reveals that the fear (awe; respect) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It was Oswald Chambers who added, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

Proverbs 10

v1 – Wise children make parents glad.
v2 vs 22 – Ill-gotten gains do not help in the long run, while God’s blessings of wealth come with no sorrow attached.
v3- God will make sure that the upright in heart will get enough food. Therefore, the upright do not need a government program!
v4-5 – Good work ethic vs. laziness.
v7 – There can be a blessing beyond our grave if we live righteously.
v12 – Love covers all transgressions.

Application for Today: Family members should focus on loving rather than picking on faults.

v25 – This seems to speak of judgment resulting in the elimination of the wicked and the everlasting life of the forgiven.
v26-32 – Several specific comparisons between righteous and wicked people.

Proverbs 11 – This paints a sharp contrast between people who want to follow a good path in life and those who want to do evil. It is no surprise, therefore, to see that those bent toward evil cannot stand to read the Bible or try to understand it.

v1 – “False balance” vs. just weight.” In all realms of life, God delights in fairness and honesty.
v2 – Pride always leads to a fall. We must live in humility to have any chance at being honored.
v6 & 19 – Treacherous people will eventually be ensnared in their own devices.
v10 – I think this is a reference to being the “salt of the earth” as Jesus described many years after these proverbs were recorded.
v12-13 – If we have a depth of understanding, sometimes we will keep our mouths shut, especially when it comes to spreading evil reports (slander) about others.
v14 – Having more than one counselor can help.
v21 – There may be a good effect on the descendants of a righteous person.
v24 – This ties in with what Jesus said about giving – is more blessed to give than to receive. If we are freely givers by our new nature in Christ, we are not only like our Abba Father in Heaven but also we will never suffer want. That is FREEDOM!
v28 – He who trusts in his riches will fall.
v30 – Whoever wins souls for God’s Kingdom is wise.

Proverbs 12 – Wickedness and righteousness are again compared.

v4 – Women have much power to make or break their husbands. The worldly tendency is to fault-find (tear down) rather than support (build up). Both husband and wife should seek God to find out how to build each other up.
v10 – Perhaps one way to tell (with some exceptions) whether or not a person is wicked is how they treat animals.
v15 – A fool is always right in is own eyes (probably unteachable).
v16 – When a fool is insulted, he loudly cries “foul.” But when a prudent man is insulted, he does not give a “knee-jerk” reaction and stays calm.
v18 – Describes the power of our tongues – they can heal or destroy (see also James 3:5-8).

Proverbs 13:

v1 – Accepting a dad’s discipline makes a son wise whereas a scoffer never listens to reason.
v3 – Being careful with what we say preserves life.
v4 & 25 – Lazy people get nothing even though they crave for things, but diligent people get satisfaction.
v11 – Wealth obtained by fraud will wither away but hard work increases it.
v12 – Hope deferred makes the heart sick (famous quote).
v18 – Neglecting discipline in life will result in poverty and shame.
v20 – Be careful who we hang around with, we will be like them (“birds of a feather flock together”).
v24 – “Spare the rod and spoil the child” or so the worldly quote says. The actual verse, of course, says more: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

Some modern research is biased against God’s Word. When teaching high school health education, I would include the topic of “parenting.” How to discipline children had to be discussed. Many sources condemn all spanking as being abusive, and offer several alternatives such as time-outs, taking away privileges, etc. They claim that studies reveal that spanking damages the psyche of the child and causes an increase risk for drug abuse, violence, and other maladjustments. What they do NOT tell you is that these studies all involved abusive parents who went way beyond “normal” spanking. To my knowledge, no one has conducted a longitudinal study that includes “proper spanking.” Parents who believe that spanking is okay need guidelines, however. Here are some good ones that I have collected over the years that help prevent abuse:

1) Do not spank when anger is out of control
2) Do not spank so hard as to leave welts/bruises.
3) Do not use a belt or some other object that could do severe damage or marring to the body.
4) Do not use it all the time – have alternatives such as the ones cited above.
5) Do not be too quick to use it – have a warning system and be firm, fair, & consistent with it.
6) Physically embrace the child after it’s over reminding him/her of your love for them and the nature of their wrongness.
7) Do not use when child is too old (over 11-12?).
8) Keep the physical contact on a “safe” place (derrieres work well).
9) Do not jerk arms or do other physically risky moves.
10) Limit the hits to two or three.
11) Some parents prefer to use an object rather than their hand so the child somehow will transfer negative feelings from parent to the object (I’m not sure if this is true, but the Word does mention an object to be used).

A sawed-off ice hockey stick handle worked well for my wife and I. Our “system” was to count to 3 and if the behavior did not cease by then, they got the stick. We followed this to a tee and after one or two weeks, all we had to say was “One!” and the behavior stopped. When our son was about 8, I thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate the meaning of the Cross to him. So I arranged for my wife to strike me with that hockey stick in front of him so he could see me take his punishment for him. After four or five “extra hard hits” I told her to stop! I think maybe I learned more than my son – something about pent up hostilities… :-). When I shared this story with a men’s group they had a field day with it. I think they’re still laughing.

Proverbs 14

v1 – The woman of the house can either build it up or destroy it by her own doing. I think this may be saying that a woman matching the description in Proverbs 31 will be a blessing to a home and family, but a woman who is always unhappy and complaining breaks the family down.
v9 – Fools mock sin. I see this often today.
v12 – “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” This reveals the heart of secular humanism (man is the center, not God). Humans cannot omit God from life and live properly or eternally.
v14 – If we backslide from the Lord, we will revert to our old ways which will not make us happy.
v21 & 31 – If we are gracious to the needy people of this world, we will be happy and honor God at the same time.
v30 – Inner peace (good mental health) promotes good physical health while envy rots the bones.
v34 – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

Proverbs 15 – Many of these verses repeat what others have said. Verse1, however, says that a “gentle answer turns away wrath.”

Application for Today: About 90% of the meaning of what we say stems from HOW we say it. So it is not so much WHAT we say but HOW we say things that has the power. I’ll never forget the day that a friend and I were paddling my canoe in the Erie Barge Canal in Spencerport. The dike was high at one point and we were not sure exactly where we were in relation to my parked car. So we guessed, got out and began carrying the canoe over the dike and then we saw my car just about 60 yards away. Suddenly an elderly woman came out of her house yelling at us for walking across her property! I had no idea we were even on her land because we were between the canal and the road, and her house was across that road. In any case, she was so mad that “fire was coming out of her eyes” and “smoke from her mouth!” When it was my turn to speak, I simply and gently said, “I am very sorry ma’am, I will make sure I will never do it again.” Well that took all the wind out of her sails and there she stood, suddenly speechless. She turned and went back inside her house. Proverbs 15:1 in action.

Proverbs 16 – Dice Determination for Today?

v2 – Man can justify many actions but God knows the motives, so not all that looks good on the outside is good in God’s view.
v3 – If we commit our work to God it will do well.
v9 – Even though people make plans, God is still sovereign and intervenes to direct our steps.
v18 – Pride goes before a fall (famous quote today).
v20 – Anyone who gives attention to the word (I think this means the Word of God) will find good. Nice promise.
v25 – The lie of humanism revealed here.
v31 – Finally, something good about gray hair!
v32 – If we can be slow to anger and control ourselves in pressure or tempting situations, we are better than a person to conquers in battles.
v33 – When lots are cast, God controls each outcome.

Application for Today: If a person takes verse 33 out of the context from the entire Bible, all sorts of occult ways of thinking can emerge. In the OT times, the Hebrews did cast lots to determine God’s will. Today’s equivalent to lots would be dice. They did not use this method often, but seem to save it for big decisions. This practice did not come by direct order from the Lord, in fact, Roman soldiers used it to determine who would get Christ’s seamless robe at the crucifixion site, so pagan cultures practiced this. In NT times, however, we now have access to the Holy Spirit in a way that was not afforded to all people previously. Furthermore, we have the complete Word of God as well. Therefore, in my view, Christians should not use dice tossing-type methods to determine God’s will. If we do, the method itself can become addicting, and we’ll be using it too much and letting it determine everything. It would be like reading the astrology section in the newspaper (just to see what happens). Over time, it can become THE way we find out what to do in life. Not good. I just can’t perceive God blessing it in this case. If the Bible does not give an answer, then we have access to counseling by pastors and elders who “watch over our souls.” God created local churches (and positions within) for many reasons, spiritual protection is just one.

Proverbs 17:

v3 – Man can refine physical things like gold but God refines our hearts. I think this is one of many purposes in life on earth. Not only to discover and experience how great God is, but we all need mega surgery on our corrupt hearts and our responses to life’s situations. Our acceptance of God’s grace, we can allow Him to do this. I view our personal salvation as a ticket to be vaulted into the new ages to come while our degree of selfless service to Him will be the determinative factor of how He will use us throughout eternity.
v8 – God is not endorsing bribery here, but simply saying that money talks in a corrupt world.
v16 – This is saying that it is foolish for a fool to try to buy wisdom because he would have no intention of using it.
v19 – This means that a person who loves to display his wealth will be in ruin later. Hezekiah was probably guilty of this in 2 Kings 20.
v24 – This means that a fool cannot concentrate on thoughts of wisdom; he will not focus on it enough to take some in.

Proverbs 18 – Living Single for Christ?

v1-2: A person who separates themselves from others seeks their own desire and therefore will quarrel with sound wisdom. If they are so reprobate as to be a fool, they delight only in espousing their opinions and ideas rather than receiving good instruction (unteachable).

Application for Today: Some people leave churches because of this. If they do not repent of self-centeredness, it is good for that church that they left. This type of person will push their own ideas and agendas that often conflict with the group’s consensus. Inevitably, they will cause dissension.

v9: Poor work ethic condemned.
v17: Hearing only one side of an account is not enough, even though it will seem accurate. For truth and justice to prevail, that testimony must be examined by another person. Lawyers would love this verse.
v22: Three cheers for women! If a man finds a wife, it is not only a good thing, but he also obtains favor from God. Longevity studies show that married men live longer than single men. So I guess this throws out the old saying that, “Women drive men to an early grave” [but husbands usually die before wives] :-). My theory is that opposite genders have the ability to make each other feel complete, and that reduces the stress of living a solitary life. Now I can hear the men counter with, “But my wife causes me stress!” It is true that both people from “Mars and Venus” cause each other stress, but hopefully they learn to communicate, understand, respect, and forgive which would alleviate that stress. Living a solitary life is more challenging to rid oneself of that kind of stress. Some people have a gift from God to be single so that they can more fully concentrate on the things of His Kingdom and not be weighed down with earthly considerations of married life (Matthew 19:10-12). In any case, I strongly recommend any adult who is single should live with one or two best friends (of the same gender of course) with whom they can confide and do things and also be committed to a thriving church that loves Jesus, loves others, and has sound Bible teaching.

Proverbs 19 – Ben Franklin or the Bible?

v2: Ben Franklin’s famous quote of “haste makes waste” may have been inspired by this verse.
v3: The foolishness of man subverts his way and his heart rages against the Lord. I think some foolish people have this rage but are ignorant about who it is against.
v13: Trouble within families: if a son is foolish then it destroys his dad, and if a wife is contentious then there is constant stress.
v15: If someone is known to be lazy then there seems to be spiritual power behind it that “casts them into a deep sleep.” This implies that they might need supernatural power to “break that spell” and change their personality.
v17: This verse ties in with what Jesus said about “doing it to the least of these you are doing it unto Me.”

Proverbs 20:

v1: Alcohol has the potential to mock us and to stimulate violence through us. I think the mockery is that booze can convince ourselves that we are somebody we are not. For example, many people assert they drive better after a few drinks, but the truth is they may drive more relaxed, not better. An alcoholic is the last person within the family to recognize his/her problem. Why? They think they are not THAT bad yet. The spirit voices of alcoholism constantly invoke lies into the addict’s mind. These voices inject blaming, self-pity, rejection, self-condemnation, feeling of being a failure, and bitterness. To be set free from the demons of addiction, we usually need to deal with and cast out these other voices that have “hitched a ride” into the person’s soul (or thought-life). There are literal spirits within alcoholic spirits that vie for our personality, and they desire to completely take over the real person. The end result is always horrifyingly sad. As long as we do not drink to excess, this will not happen. For this reason and others, some believers choose not to drink alcoholic beverages at all. Others believe it is okay if kept within a proper context and never taken in excess. While I do not condemn the latter opinion, I think it is always safer to not drink at all, as long as I do not look down upon those who choose to drink a little at proper times. Some Christian teachings assert that the wine Jesus drank was mere grape juice and not fermented spirits. The Greek word for wine is “oinus” and it refers to fermented alcohol. In addition, Jesus made real wine at Cana, not grape juice. This verse also describes alcohol’s potential to make us into brawlers. A brawler is a person who has abandoned reason and is, at that point, unable to listen to it. A brawler childishly thinks that accosting people physically will solve the so-called problem. There is an old saying – “Never argue or fight with a drunk person.” Herein lies wisdom.
v7: If a dad wants to bless his sons, then he needs to walk with integrity.
v9: No one can say they are pure in heart. I know Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” I think the difference here is that in one case the sinner thinks they are righteous and pure in all their motives while the other case is allowing God to form the pure heart after salvation.
v13: Do not love sleep. If we do, we will be poor.
v17: This ties in with Galatians 6:7 about reaping what we sow. In other words, what goes around comes around, or, nobody really gets away with anything.
v19: We are not to associate with a gossip. Gossipers often justify their gossiping by saying that they are just telling the truth. Well, that is slander. What they fail to perceive is the MOTIVE behind saying it. Whatever the motive is, it will be evil, and they do not want to hear that. Next time a gossiper starts, ask them if they have talked to the person yet and have they prayed about it yet. Also ask them why are they telling you this. That’ll stop ’em. Look, we’ve all done this from time to time, and it was wrong. Some people, however, have a big problem with it. It can be a compulsion like drinking excessively. While the average person is guilty of gossiping from time to time just like many people are guilty of becoming drunk from time to time, this history does not necessarily make us a compulsive gossiper or drinker. Of course if this type of person is open to truth and wants to change, we are not to shun them. I think this verse refers to people who practice gossip and will not change.
v22: This ties in with Jesus’ teaching about not avenging wrongs done to us but rather let God deal with it. By taking revenge into our own hands, we demonstrate that we will not trust God to deal with it…or, perhaps worse, we think we can do it better than Him.
v25: I think this means that we should not make a promise to God without first counting the cost.
v27: I think this means that a person’s conscience is God’s conduit into reading the inner most thoughts/motives of any human being.

Proverbs 21

v1 – God can and will influence kings. The most powerful humans on earth are still mere putty in God’s hands.
v3 – Doing right things and being fair is more important to God than sacrificing.
v6 – Gaining worldly wealth by deceitfulness will quickly end in nothingness and death.
v13 – If we ignore the cry of poor, we will not be helped in our time of need.
v17 – If we love the pleasures that this world offer (money, intoxicating drugs, sex, etc.), we will not be rich.

Note: God’s Word to us consistently emphasizes that everyone will get what is deserved in the end, whether it be in this life or in the life to come.

Proverbs 22 – Parents Take Note

v1 – We need to take great care in maintaining a good name. It is more valuable than gold. It will bless us with favor among others, thus we can have a positive impact on everything.
v6 – A great promise to parents = if we train a child in the right way, he/she will not depart from it even in older age. Of course, the difficult piece here is “what is the right way to train?” Scripture gives us some guidelines, plus some gems I’ve picked up along the way:

1) Parents must love and respect each other – I believe this instills emotional security in youngsters when they know mom and dad love each other and treat each other well.
2) Parents are not to provoke their children to anger (Eph. 6:4) – I believe this includes avoiding nit-picking at every little thing they do or think wrongly. Remember – love overlooks a multitude of sins and God does not nit-pick at us. It would totally exasperate us if He did. So if He does not do this, why would some parents do this? Lots of reasons – control, keep family reputation good, thinking that by telling someone they are wrong it will fix it (not!), poor control over our anger, unhappiness within ourselves, no knowledge of God’s guidelines (few people read the Bible today). We need wisdom to “pick our battles.” This is what our Abba Father does with His kids.
3) Confess sins to one another – parents, admit when you are wrong to your children. They’ll usually forgive you and you’ve just given them the best chance to do the same in their lives with others.
4) Teach them God’s Word (Ps. 78:4-7; Deut. 11:19; – but make it interesting, not boring). Take advantage of “teachable moments” when kids are open to truth due to circumstances.
5) Have rules and standards, but not too strict.
6) Be firm, fair, and consistent in implementing rules and carrying out consequences. Show mercy at times.
7) Should parent force their children to attend church? Yes, when they are young. Hopefully it will not have to be forcing though. When they are older (18, or moving out of your house??), then let them decide themselves. It is reasonable for parents, if they are paying the bills for food, shelter, and clothing, that those beneficiaries (children) conform to a few reasonable expectations.
8) As children mature, give them more opportunities to decide things for themselves and give more freedoms, but saddled with the idea of responsibilities. Here, I believe we must allow them to fail sometimes rather than striving to control all circumstances that would give them the best chance to succeed. We are supposed to be preparing them for the real world, and the real world can be a nasty, unfair place. The sooner they are able to perceive and deal with this, the better. Most of us have to “experience things ourselves” to really learn something of deep value. No doubt, however, this is one of the most difficult and painful things a parents will go through. There is a delicate balance between being and enabler and a good parent, and I have often struggled with it. Then I just ask God for the wisdom that comes from above (James 1:5-6).

I’m sure I’ve left out some good ones, but this is what I’ve come up with off the top of my head.

v10 – Sometimes it is necessary to tell a person to leave (a group, a meeting, even a church) because they are a scoffer. It results in eliminating contention, strife, and dishonor.
v13 – Lazy folks make up lame excuses for not doing anything.
v15 – Children naturally have some foolishness in their hearts and parents must use discipline to get it out of them. How this discipline is meted out was discussed earlier.
v24-25 – Do not hang with people who are given over to anger because we might “catch” it.
v28 – Possibly referring to the moving of land boundaries, which may have been done in small increments so that someone gained land by this deceit.

Application for Today: This is why lawyers review the accuracy of property boundaries before agreeing to a house sale. Everything must be documented to maintain fairness to owners. Lawyers must be ever grateful for dishonesty in the human race!

Proverbs 23:

v4-5 – We should not work hard to gain the riches of this world because they will disappear quickly. There are more important things to gain from our life experience on earth. The big one that Solomon is advocating (and he was extremely wealthy) is wisdom from God. Perhaps by this time in his life he was beginning to understand the vanity of what this world offers compared to knowing God. If so, it may have planted the seeds for him writing the Book of Ecclesiastes.

v17 – Do not envy sinners, but live in the fear of God always.

Application for Today: When we see people without God in their life enjoying the things of this world, do not allow your heart to want to be in their place, keeping in mind the great eternal reward Jesus will give you after all the things of this world are burned up forever. Wherever our heart is, that’s where our treasure is. Guard your heart by recalling Holy Scripture given to us by our Creator (1 John 2:15-17).

v26-27 – God is vying for our hearts. He desires for us to love Him out of our free will given to us. Love does not force its way (1 Cor. 13:5). He becomes so pleased with us if His ways delight us! I believe “the harlot” mentioned in v27 represents all things that try to woo us away from our love relationship with Jesus. To “play the harlot” in the Bible simply means being unfaithful to someone. If we allow the attractions of this world to capture our hearts, then we have “played the harlot” with our Maker.
v29-35 – These verses describe the many experiences of alcoholics: woe, sorrow, complaining, wounds without cause, redness of eyes, seeing strange things (“the DTs” – Delirium Tremens), and perverse thoughts.

Proverbs 24:

v11-12 – “Deliver those who are being taken away to death…if you say, ‘we did not know this’…..” I interpret these verses to mean that people have an awareness of injustice but pretend not to “see” while God knows that they do see.

Application for Today: Abortion. There are many ways we can oppose the murder of innocent human life. Doing nothing is playing the role of the ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

Proverbs 25:

v6-7 – Jesus spoke this very thing in Luke 14:7-11. The whole idea is that we need to humble ourselves in this life in order to obtain true honor in the life to come. If we refuse and stay proud or self-righteous, then we will be embarrassed later. Let God bring us forth for compliments rather than striving to compliment ourselves.
21-22 -This ties in with what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:44 and Paul quotes these verses word-for-word in Romans 12:20. It is all about treating our enemy in a nice way so that they will feel guilty the way they have treated us. “Heaping burning coals on the head” was a generous favor done in the old days. Many people had to move from place to place and it was difficult to start a fire from scratch. Women would often place hot coals on their heads and carry them to the next camp site in order to start the fire easily. To give someone hot coals was looked upon as an act of kindness. I’m sure the women had some sort of head protection.

Application for Today: If we have a person who “is our enemy,” we should pray that God would give us an opportunity to do something kind for them. The results can be amazing.

Proverbs 26 – This chapter describes fools, sluggards, and whisperers.

v4-5 – Arguing with fools? This is not contradictory. Hebrew language makes this more clear than the English translation. The meaning is that if we do not answer fools then we look like them and if we indicate how wrong they are with common sense and/or wisdom (by revealing their assertions’ logical conclusions), they will have to face the fact that they are not as wise as they thought. So if we take verse 4 out of context, we might erroneously conclude that we should never refute a fool’s statement.
v11 – A fool will repeat his folly. This is quoted in 2 Peter 2:22 and the concept is applied to a person who embraces the Gospel of Jesus Christ but then turns totally sour against all decency.
v12 – With all the negative characteristics listed in the Book of Proverbs about a fool, the writer asserts that there is more hope for a fool than for a man who is right in his own eyes. Ouch!
v16 – The sluggard is one who is wise in his own eyes.
v17 – Do not meddle with the strife that’s none of our business.
v22 – The words of a whisperer (gossiper) penetrate deep into the heart of us. There is much power in the tongue.

Proverbs 27 – Humble Attitude Makes Us Less Vulnerable

v1 – Do not boast about our future because we cannot control it.
v2 – Let other people praise us, not ourselves.
v14 – Do not address your friend with a loud voice early in the morning, they won’t like it…unless they’ve had their coffee” – Book of Opinions 2:5, NSV (New Scheer Version).
v17 – Iron sharpens iron – so one person’s strength helps another person’s weakness. People and couples do better when they work together in a spirit of love. Some “rough edges” in personalities get “sanded down” as a result of being with others.
v19 – The substance of a person is not what they look like on the outside but rather what is in their heart. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 says “we recognize no man according to the flesh…he is a new creature…old things passed away….” I also believe that when we see people in heaven that we knew on earth, we will not see those same preconceived ideas and prejudices or labels we had about them.
v21 – People are tested by praise given to them. Can they remain humble before God? This is a most difficult test – to remain humble when everyone around us thinks and tells us we are great. When God gives us ability or orchestrates circumstances to bless us, it is easy for us, over time, to forget where it all came from. So let us be on guard against this vulnerability. That will make us less vulnerable.

Proverbs 28:

v1 – The righteous are bold as a lion and the wicked will flee when no one is pursuing them. This may refer to the manner in which God gives victories to His people over their enemies. He often confuses them and they back off even though no physical force is making them do so.
v6 – Better to be poor with integrity than crooked and rich.
v13 – Hiding our sins vs. confessing and forsaking them.
v20 & 22 – An evil-hearted person goes after get rich quick schemes and does not realize that they will always suffer want and never be satisfied.
v27 – If we never want to suffer from want then give to the poor.

Proverbs 29:

v7 – The righteous are concerned about the poor while wicked men do not understand why anyone would care for them. The Bible in both Testaments says we should help the poor, but it never says that a government should play this role. Individuals? Yes. Churches? Yes. Not governments. I think this is because with governments, people are FORCED (by their tax dollars) to care for the needy. I think giving to the poor with proper motives in the spirit of God has better results on a community and a nation rather than programs run by politicians with selfish (partisan) motives. With Biblical giving, there is a personal attachment to the people in need causing them to be more responsible and accountable with what they’ve been given. Therefore, discerning between those who truly are in need and those who want to be lazy and milk the system becomes more effective than a “distant” government.
v12 – If a ruler embraces falsehood, all his staff becomes corrupt.
v15 – If we let children have their own way all the time, they will bring us shame.
v18 – When the people have no revelation about life (vision) they will become unrestrained. This is the big problem in today’s corrupt society. Most people do not read the Bible because they do not believe it is God’s Word or they do not want to submit to a higher authority. Practically every facet of society tells them ignore or reject the Bible overtly or covertly. Therefore, they just do what they want and with no real vision (purpose of life). Scary.
v25 – The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in God will be exalted.

Application for Today: Fear of man is one of the “Goliaths” facing Christians. Most of us sweep this under the carpet. I did this for years as a Christian until God allowed a personal attack on me (a parent tried to get my district to fire me). When I confessed my fear of man to Him as sin and to remove it, He did. Then I asked Him to fill that gap with something from the Holy Ghost that would stick. He did. One thing I’ve learned about our Abba Father – all He wants us to do is be honest with Him about our sins and shortcomings, confess them as sin not trying to make up for them with good works. Let Him do all the work (He already has on Calvary – this gave Jesus all power and authority). BTW, I never got fired.

Proverbs 30:

v2-4 – This writer named Agur does not claim to have lots of knowledge but does claim to have God’s Word. He seems to realize that no man can fully grasp God and wonders if some extension of Him (Son) has come forth to explain Him in more detail. At least that’s my take on this verse. Of course, at the right time God sent His Son to reveal His character and nature more completely than anyone (Heb. 1:1-2). Historical Note: by 367 A.D. all Books of the Bible were canonized and closed. No written work since has been added to the level of being “God-inspired.”
v6 – Commands us to not add to God’s words. At the end of the Book of Revelation, it says the same. The context of this one, however, seems to me to be referring only to the Book of Revelation and not the whole Bible since the whole Bible was not put together yet at that time of John’s vision and writing.
v7-8 – Two wise things this man desires in this life: 1) immunity to deception, and 2) modest means to live on.

Application for Today: An important prayer for us is to ask God to fill us with His Spirit so that we will never be fooled by a “stranger’s voice.” Today, there are many voices that seek to lead us off God’s narrow path. We need to recognize those voices. Secondly, we need not to get caught up in America’s thirst for materialistic things. We can be fully satisfied with modest means.

v12-14 – Three kinds of groups of people are described here: 1) self-righteous who cannot see their sin, 2) arrogant, and 3) violent and merciless (common theme in secular heavy metal music).
v25 – When it says that ants are not strong, I think it means in relation to what a human can do due to size difference. We, of course, know that ants are very strong for their size.

Proverbs 31:

This was written by King Lemuel. Not much is known about him. Rabbinical commentators link him with King Solomon. Others think he may have been the older brother of Agur who wrote Chapter 30.

A tremendous view of women who are godly wives is given. Some modern thinkers would most likely find fault with these verses thinking they are confining roles, but if one takes time to meditate on each description, one can conclude that God is saying that women can do a wide variety of things just like men. But I especially appreciate verse 30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who reverences the Lord shall be praised.” This actually liberates females from worrying about and emphasizing physical appearances. It also reveals the lie of beauty equaling happiness and it addresses ALL females, not just some.

So many females are pressured to look attractive. Some carry this notion so far as to think they cannot ever get married and have a loving husband if they do not “measure up” physically (face & figure). Many TV commercials are selling products to enhance beauty for the female gender and this consistently sends the wrong message to females, especially the young ones. It is no surprise that most people with eating disorders are females. There is more pressure from society on females to look good than on males. But the Word of God has great news for females – it will be their inner beauty that will count forever in His Kingdom long after this crazy world, along with all of its lying priorities, are gone forever! Charm can hide deceit and beauty will not last, therefore it is vanity. Many women (and men) need to seek the Lord’s spirit to fill them with the proper attitude toward their appearance. This temporary world will always cater to and worship good-looking people, but that is NOT what God does. Just knowing this can liberate those who have been deeply affected by the spirit of this world.