It’s a good thing this chapter begins as it does, as the first verse sets the tone for the whole chapter. Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish (verse 1).
Do you like to be told what to do?
During this whole pandemic, the powers that be tell us not to leave our houses and not to do this or that. If we go this place, we must wear a mask. We must social distance. In order to open our church, we needed to check all the boxes—which we did, by the way.
Did I enjoy not being able to leave home for more than eight weeks? No.
But, this Proverb tells us we can choose between liking instruction and knowledge—which is wise—and hating reproof (correction) and being a brute.
What is this instruction we’re supposed to enjoy? Godly instruction.
Do we bristle when God tells us what to do? If so, we might want to discontinue reading this chapter, because, trust me, it is full of instruction.
Do we hate being told we’re wrong? Yes. But, this is God’s discipline, not just anybody’s criticism.
Should we care what God thinks? Of course.
Verses 2 and 3 present a good man. He has God’s favor and is rooted in righteousness. Sounds like Psalm 1 to me: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).
For the Christian, rooting and grounding looks like this: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). See how this instruction and knowledge bear themselves out in manifestations of God’s love?
Verses 2 and 3 also address the bad man—wicked—who suffers from his own devices.
Verse 4 turns to women. A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband. What an image! You can just see the guy, his head held high. He has a wife who loves him, believes in him, helps him, and makes sure he succeeds. She’s his crown. Gold, perhaps? For sure, she’s precious and valuable. She makes him proud.
The bad wife—she that maketh ashamed—is as rottenness in his bones. The Greek word for “rottenness” means riddled with termite holes. This guy is literally weakened and ruined by his wife. Sad, indeed!
Wives, would you rather be a gleaming crown or a termite? You choose.
In verses 5 through 9, we see the contrasts between the thoughts and actions of righteous people—those who care what God thinks—and wicked persons.
Righteous people have: good thoughts, safe words, secure homes, wise thoughts, and commendation.
The wicked deceive, murder, and are defeated and despised.
Verse 10 reveals a person’s heart. In general, a cruel person is cruel to animals. A good person is kind to animals. My husband and I felt it was important to teach our children to be kind—to animals, even insects—and not to tease and torture them. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.
From verse 11 to the end of the chapter, we have the principle of sowing and reaping in two ways: speech and work ethic.
He who speaks truth, uplifts, puts in a good word, etc. will be known as a good person. Truth will ultimately prevail. This goes for women, as well. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
The person who works honestly will have his needs met. Verse 11 says, He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread.
On the flipside, the foolish, wicked, evil person thinks up mischief, is covered with shame, has nasty and untruthful words to say, and is snared by his own plans. He doesn’t do honest work, and therefore he either has ill-gotten gain or suffers great need.
The lesson for women, of course, is the same as for men, and it’s echoed in Proverbs 31, about the Virtuous Woman. After extolling the things she does with her hands, the way she provides for her household, etc., the passage concludes with this verse, Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates (verse 31).
Let’s sow kindness, truth, and good, hard work.
May the Lord bless you.