Proverbs 10: wise and foolish

Proverbs 10 seems at first glance to be a mish-mash of teachings and disjointed. The recurring theme, however, is the contrast between wise, righteous, blessed and a foolish, unwise person. It also divides itself into three themes: speech, business practices, and general behavior.

The first verse is about parenting. It begins with the author’s name: Solomon, the king whose name is synonymous with wisdom. And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt (1 Kings 4:29-30).

This parenting statement is a curious one. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother (verse 1). Why does it say the father is glad and the mother has heaviness? Because it’s true. Have you ever seen a proud father of a wise son or daughter? My! He sticks out his chest and almost pops buttons with pride. He loves that his child is wise. In contrast, when a son or daughter is foolish, who sorrows the most? Who blames herself? Who takes it to heart? The mother.

I’m going to divide the rest of the verses into the three categories we mentioned above:

1. Speech

What does this Proverb have to say about one’s speech? We have wise persons’ speech and fools’ speech. Let’s start with the fools and end with the wise.

  • Violence covereth the mouth of the wicked (9).
  • A prating fool shall fall (10).
  • Violence covereth the mouth of the wicked (11).
  • The mouth of the foolish is near destruction (14).
  • He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool (18).
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin (19).
  • The froward (perverse) tongue shall be cut out (31).
  • The mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness (32).

Wise speech:

  • The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life (11).
  • In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found (13).
  • He that refraineth his lips is wise (19).
  • The tongue of the just is as choice silver (20).
  • The lips of the righteous feed many (21).
  • The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom (31).
  • The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable (32).

2. Business practices. In this section, we have the contrasts between good and bad, wise and foolish. I will leave the sentences intact, as I think they are easy to understand this way. You will read what God thinks about laziness, taking advantage of the poor, and how He provides for His own.

  • Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death (2).
  • The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked (3). God is always the Perfect Judge.
  • He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich (4). Several of the verses in this chapter are about laziness.
  • He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame (5).
  • The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty (15). This verse is sad. The rich person has wealth, and that’s all he has. The poor are brought down by their poverty. I know you’ve seen this in society.
  • The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin (16). I like that a righteous person’s labor is for life. I think of 1 Corinthians 15:58, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
  • As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him (26). Vinegar on the teeth and smoke in the eyes—two powerful uncomfortable feelings that everyone can relate to. One thing about the Bible that is so cool is how God uses illustrations that anyone in any culture worldwide can understand. Who likes a lazy messenger or worker? No one. The meaning is clear.

3. General behavior

  • The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot (7). This is a strong statement, but it’s true. What do we think of when we hear the names David Livingstone, Charles Spurgeon, and Isobel Kuhn? We smile, remembering their faithfulness and example. How about Charles Branson, Billy the Kid, and John Dillinger? We remember them for their crimes, their evil, and their lust for killing. Their names actually rot.
  • He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known (9).
  • Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (12). This last phrase doesn’t mean that we ignore sin. It means we don’t keep drudging up old faults. Once sin is dealt with, we forget it in love.*
  • He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth (17).
  • The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich,* and he addeth no sorrow with it (22). This is talking about an enriched life, not material riches.
  • It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom (23).
  • The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted (24).
  • As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation (25).
  • The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened (27).
  • The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish (28).
  • The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity (29).
  • The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth (30).

Isn’t it fascinating to read God’s practical Word? I know I want to be on the wise, righteous, and blessed side of things. Don’t you?

God bless you today!

*William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary.

A tale of two women, Proverbs 9

For many years, I used the One Year Bible for my devotions. It has portions from Old and New Testaments, a Psalm (or part of one), and a few verses from the Proverbs for each day. I love my One Year Bible, and I’ll surely go back to it in the future, but a few years ago, I felt a need to change things up.

For about two years, I did quite a few guided Bible studies and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Some time ago, I began this study in Proverbs. (It’s always good to study wisdom.) As I did, I began to see the Proverbs in groups of verses, and it has provided me with a fresh appreciation of this book.

This ninth chapter is a fine example. It’s divided into two parts. The first part (verses 1-12) is the personification of Wisdom as a woman. Wisdom is described and then “she” has a divine message for all mankind. The second part (verses 13-18) describes the foolish woman.

Let’s study these two polar opposite women.

Wisdom prepares her house for guests (1-2). Then she sends out an invitation: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding (4-6).

The theme shifts a little bit. Now she’s talking about a scorner—someone who mocks truth and will not seek wisdom. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee (7-8). To me, this is good advice for a counselor. Don’t waste your time on someone with a contrary attitude. Give good advice to someone who will listen and heed—the wise person. There’s more about teaching and students in this next verse. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (9).

This is the theme verse of this chapter: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (10). It’s helpful to think of the fear of the LORD as respect for God. It isn’t exactly trembling and being afraid, but it’s the great recognition of God’s perfection and authority—and wanting to please Him.

Do you remember when you were a child and you had a fear of your parents? If they were decent parents, your respect was borne out of your position as a child. You wanted to please. You knew you needed to obey, or there might be some adverse consequences. This illustration isn’t perfect, since we are so much lower than God, but maybe it will help with an understanding of the kind of respect we are talking about when we see the phrase, the fear of the LORD.

This respect for God is the beginning—starting point—for wisdom. It’s the foundation. We build understanding upon our respect for God.

The next clause, the knowledge of the holy is understanding, is truly profound. What’s the only holy thing in the world? God. As we get to know Him, we will obtain understanding.

How can we know God? Through Jesus. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

Wisdom resumes speaking. For by me (Wisdom) thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it (11-12).

Now, we encounter the second woman, the foolish one. If you’ve been following our study of Proverbs, you’ll know that we have already met a strange woman. This one will sound familiar.

She is: clamorous, simple, and knoweth nothing (13).

We find her sitting at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

To call passengers who go right on their ways (14-15). At the beginning of this chapter, Wisdom was in the high place calling people to her home. But, the foolish woman says, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant (16-17).

At the end, as we’ve seen before in Proverbs, there’s a warning of the sad consequences of sin: But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell (18).

So, here we have two women and two outcomes. Heeding Wisdom: thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. The person who goes in to the foolish woman knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

What I saw outside my window: Proverbs 7

Proverbs, Chapter 7 surprises because of its detailed description, as well as a few hidden extras. Let’s study!

Again, this Proverb begins with “My son”—a father instructing his son in wisdom. This is actually God teaching us, as well. He says, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee (verse 1). Not only keep my words but store them up as well. Remember them.

You’ve heard the saying, “apple of my eye,” which means something precious. Verse 2 says that the Father’s law is the vital apple of the eye. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Many times we think about God’s love, mercy, kindness, etc. as precious, but here, it says His law is special. Value God’s law.

Verse 3 continues this theme, saying the son should bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Verse 4 is a little bit different. It personifies wisdom—as his sister or kinswoman. Verse 5 says this kinswoman will keep the son from the strange woman—whom we already know is an adulteress or prostitute. It’s an interesting metaphor: a sister. Sisters care. They want the best for us. They stick with us through thick and thin. Wisdom is like this.

The Father looks out his window, and lo and behold, he sees young men, among them one who isn’t wise at all. He’s on his way to her house (7-8). I think it’s worth pointing out that the young man in this passage has already made a bad decision and is on his way. What should we teach our sons? Avoid making bad decisions in the first place. When you’re already on the path towards wrong, it will be hard to resist.

It’s night and very dark (9). Should we be surprised? Remember, Proverbs often makes the comparison between light (God, righteousness) and darkness (evil).

How’s the woman dressed? In the attire of an harlot (10). Unfortunately, many Christian young women come very close to dressing this way. Think of what a harlot wears. Modesty never looks anything like that.

She’s also subtle—tricky (10). There’s more. She’s loud, stubborn, doesn’t stay at home, and goes out to lie in wait for some poor guy—to trap him (11-12). Contrast this woman with a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:4b).

She catches him and kisses him (13)—physical first, talk later. This is always the wrong order. If your date comes on physically and refuses to truly communicate and doesn’t wait for marriage for all intimacy, you need to run. This is the wrong order of things.

With an impudent face, she pours on the seduction, “I’m free; I searched for you; I came to find you. My bed is ready, and it’s beautiful and comfortable and smells wonderful. Come, make love with me all night.” (14-18) It’s embarrassing even to read this. How can any woman be this forward? But, this same scene happens over and over in every city in the world. “I thought I might find you here” is the oldest come-on line in the book.

Years ago, we were part of a tour with a group of young people. A few of us parents went along. In a major European city, we were going out to get into our bus after breakfast. Would you believe that there were prostitutes on every single street corner—four at every crossroads? Strange women, trying to entrap men of little understanding.

Verses 19-20 give the detail that this harlot is actually married, but her husband’s away, and she knows he’ll be gone for a while. Do women do this today? Oh, yes. (And, so do men.)

With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him (21). By the way, she didn’t have to do much forcing. He was already on his way to her house when we first saw this man. He wanted to be seduced. The fault for his sin was all his. The adulteress was personally responsible for her adultery, as well.

The next part of this Proverb shows the consequences of adultery and fornication: He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life (22-23). Look at this carefully: slaughter, stocks, a dart through him, he doesn’t know he’ll die. The consequences of sexual sin are extremely serious.

The end of this Proverb broadens its warning to children, not only the son. The warning is clear: Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death (25-27).

“Oh, but Mrs. Keiser, I would never go with a prostitute” Or, “I would never sleep with someone else’s husband.”

Did you know that many Christian women watch dirty movies, read risqué novels, and view porn on a regular basis? They have gone down the path towards that house.

Many strong men (and women) have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death (26-27).

If you view anything that distracts you from having a pure mind, quit and get help. If you have a porn addiction (viewing or script), get biblical counseling. If you enjoy reading descriptions of immorality, quit and get help—and substitute squeaky clean Christian reading for it. These activities are addictive, just like gambling and drugs, and you may need counseling. Find your nearest Reformers Unanimous meeting place.* Get the help you need.

Wisdom is your sister. She wants the best for you.

God wants you to enjoy a clean, happy life.

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

*Reformers Unanimous, also called RU Recovery Ministries, is a faith-based organization for people battling any kind of addictive behavior. Its program includes group Bible studies, accountability, and support. For more information and finding a group near you, access their website here.

** For a post about Christian girls and modesty, you might enjoy “Why do some girls who truly love the Lord dress immodestly?”

Proverbs 6, Part 2: Don’t get burned!

What advice would parents give to a grown son? Some of the best advice in the world is found in this second part of Proverbs 6. (If you missed the first part, you can access it here.)

First, the son is reminded to keep his father and mother’s commandments. Every child should know to obey his mother and father. They are a protection for him. Although this son is obviously an adult, he’s admonished to heed his mother and father’s wise advice.

Proverbs 6:20-23 says, My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

The sentence hasn’t ended. Good parental advice continues: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids (verses 24-25). I think this is such an accurate picture! She flatters. “Hey, Handsome. Love your muscles. You are such a wonderful man.” Or whatever. She appeals to him with her words. Plus, she’s pretty. This woman bats her eyes and knows how to use body language to her advantage. Her aim? To entrap. Notice she’s called evil and strange—which is biblical code language for promiscuous.

If anyone was in doubt about her character, it’s explicit in the next verse: For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life (26).

The next section addresses the way fornication affects the man. There are some profound teachings here, and I believe it’s important to understand the consequences of “playing around.” First two rhetorical questions: Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (27) Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? (28) The answer to both, of course, is no.

Application time: So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent (29). This goes for women, too, by the way. I read on social media a sign that says, “Ladies, God will never send you another woman’s husband.” The sin of adultery isn’t innocent.

The next statement needs to be taken in its context. It is not teaching that it’s quite okay to steal if you’re hungry. We know from the Ten Commandments; Thou shalt not steal couldn’t be clearer. This is in the context of “stolen bread” as in adultery. Notice that for the thief, there are serious—sevenfold—consequences. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house (30-31).

Now, the consequences of adultery are spelled out. The person who does it:

  • lacks understanding (32)
  • destroys his own soul (32)
  • will be wounded and dishonored (33)
  • His reproach shall not be wiped away (33)
  • He might become the brunt of the wronged husband’s anger, vengeance, etc. (34)
  • There’s no way the adulterer could pay the wronged husband (35).

Maybe you wouldn’t be tempted by an adulterous person. I have no idea, but the Bible advises all of us to be wary. It doesn’t matter how old you are or if you’re a man or a woman, you can be tempted in this way given the right circumstances. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

When I was a teen, I was working in a summer camp. One of the co-directors was a drop dead handsome young man a few years older than I. He said he was a Christian, and he smoked. I didn’t. I never had any desire to smoke and never even gave it a thought.

One evening, the counselors were sitting around after the campers were in bed, and some of the counselors were smoking. This good-looking man offered me a cigarette. Now remember, I had never even entertained a thought towards smoking. None. But, for a split second, when this gorgeous guy was offering me the cigarette, I was tempted to take it … to fit in … to impress. Thankfully, the temptation was momentary, and I said no, thank you.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson. Though I thought I would never have any inclination to smoke, I did entertain the idea for a moment.

Though you might think you will never be tempted to commit fornication or adultery, take heed. You might.

When the time comes—and it probably will—remember that the Scripture guarantees that one’s reproach shall not be wiped away. Once a sexual sin is committed, it has already happened. Its reproach and destruction are present. Can a man (or woman) take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? No.

Listen to wise advice. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

Proverbs 6, Part 1

In our study of Proverbs, we get a lot of practical advice. Remember, this is both a message from father to son and the inspired Word of God. When we read any book of the Bible, we need to see what’s there for us—which is, frankly, all of it. What is God saying to us? How can we learn from this passage? How can I put what I’ve learned into practice? All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In Proverbs 6, there are two distinct sections. One (verses 1-19) is a collection of various items of good, practical advice. The other is a warning about fornication and adultery (verses 20-35). So, let’s see what we learn.

The first five verses are about promising to pay exhorbitant interest rates on a loan. Some say that it permits cosigning for relatives but not others, and there are all kinds of interpretations. Some even believe that this first verse means that one cannot biblically take out a loan of any kind. Most commentators disagree. The consensus seems to be that signing a note demanding high interest rates is not wise. The Bible says to get out of it as soon as you can: Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler (verses 3-5). For us, it probably would apply to credit card debt and taking on other kinds of foolish debts where the interest could ruin us financially. The Bible is so practical!

Verses 6-11 express a powerful teaching against laziness. Part of this section goes like this: How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man (9-11). In the New Testament the Apostle Paul instructs, For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12). This isn’t about someone who cannot work for some reason; it’s about people who choose not to work out of laziness. In the Thessalonians passage, it goes on to say that those with too much time on their hands stuck their noses into other people’s business and made trouble in the churches. It also admonished against working too hard. I love how the Bible urges balance in every part of our lives. Basically this Proverb along with 2 Thessalonians 3 teach not to be lazy, but also not a workaholic.

Verses 12-15 describe a wicked person. He has a perverse mouth (verse 12). Isn’t it interesting that the first thing we learn about this person is the way he speaks? Jesus said, O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matthew 12:34). As Christian women, our speech should be like the Virtuous Woman, who openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).

The wicked person winks with his eyes, speaks with his feet, and teaches with his fingers. I read two commentaries that said that these actions of body language might be signals to his evil cohorts. I’m not sure. My experience is that wicked people seem to be friendly on the outside. They might wink and do the right things outwardly, yet they are rotten inside, because of a wicked heart. Whether signals or false appearances, Frowardness (Perversity) is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. His reward isn’t pretty: Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy (Proverbs 6:14-15). Do you know anyone like this? It’s sad, indeed. This is someone who doesn’t respect others. He’s all about his own agenda—which is to disturb and sow discord, maybe even commit crimes. When a woman is wicked, she may have some of the characteristics of the next section.

We could call verses 16-19 “The Abomination List.” These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

  1. a proud look
  2. a lying tongue
  3. hands that shed innocent blood,
  4. an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
  5. feet that be swift in running to mischief
  6. a false witness that speaketh lies
  7. he that soweth discord among brethren

In the Bible, God calls other things abominations, as well, but this list is the longest and contains the majority of them.

Which one is mentioned twice? Lying. Isn’t that food for thought?

This Proverb is long, and I’m going to divide it into two posts for its two parts.

I am always in awe of the practicality of the Bible. In this section, it has taught us about loans, laziness, and the characteristics of a wicked person. We also have a list of abominations, which includes: pride, lying (twice!), murder, scheming, willingness to commit crimes, and sowing discord among believers. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of two of them. How about you?

I think this list helps us with God’s perspective. Can we gloss over sins? I don’t think so—especially when the Lord puts them in the category of abominations. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).

Since we’re all guilty, we can be so very thankful for God’s provision of salvation through Christ: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Have you asked Jesus to save you? For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).