Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”
Proverbs 14:32, “The wicked is banished in his wickedness, But the righteous has a refuge in his death.”
The contrasts are pronounced in this chapter! They underscore two different people who are on two very different roads leading to two very different destinations. Let’s observe several:
- BUILDING OR PULLING DOWN (Prov. 14:1)?
- Solomon begins by contrasting two women. One is wise. The other is foolish. One builds her house up. The other tears her house down with her hands. This is a deliberate action with no middle ground. One is either building or tearing down. Even the neglect of duty is a destructive deliberate act (Jud. 5:23; Matt. 7:26; Lk. 12:47; Jas. 2:14; 4:17).
- This is good practical advice for women today where domestic duties are often shirked, scoffed at, or completely ignored. Houses are also destroyed by unfaithfulness and pride.
- Identify some constructive duties (and destructive behaviors) addressed to women from Titus 2:3-5. __________________________________________________________________________________
- PERVERSE OR PRESERVE (Prov. 14:2, 3)?
The one walking to death is the one who doesn’t practice what he preaches. The upright fears the Lord while wicked is perverse. The fool speaks from pride, but the message of the wise preserve. It does matter how we “walk” and “talk” (2 Cor. 8:7; Col. 4:6; Titus 2:6-10).
- EMPTINESS DOES NOT YIELD INCREASE (Prov. 14:4)!
Where the feeding trough is clean, empty, or unused, it only proves inactivity—no oxen are working. Oxen eat a lot, but they also bring great increase through their great strength. The point is the road to increase is never found on the road of ease (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).
- FAITHFUL OR FALSE (Prov. 14:5)?
A faithful witness will not change his testimony or be persuaded to cover up what he saw. However, a false witness will conceal the truth or lead others to reach false conclusions. A false witness will not find refuge in his death.
To circulate a false report is to join hands with who (Exod. 23:1)? _____________________________
What is mentioned as an abomination to the Lord in Proverbs 6:19? __________________________
What is a false witness described as in Proverbs 25:18? ________________________________________
Describe the pain of confidence wrongly placed (Prov. 25:19). _________________________________
- WISDOM OF THE PRUDENT OR THE FOLLY OF FOOLS (Prov. 14:6-9)?
The scoffer seeks wisdom and yet never finds it. Why does he not find it? Solomon previously taught that scoffers delight in their scorning (Prov. 1:22). We also have learned that a scoffer cannot be corrected (Prov. 9:7, 8; 13:1). Next, we read that fools “mock” (scoff) at sin (14:9). They make light of sin and therefore make light of the one who judges sin. It is no wonder that such a person cannot find understanding. God gives wisdom to the humble and the spirit of a man must desire to “do” God’s will in order to know and understand it.
Fill in the Blanks:
"If anyone ____________ to ____________ His will, he ____________ ____________ ____________ the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (Jn. 7:17).
This explains why some are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7). Scoffers choose to forget understood and obvious truths (2 Pet. 3:3-6).
- THE HOUSE OF THE WICKED VERSUS THE TENT OF THE UPRIGHT (Prov. 14:10-14)!
THE HOUSE OF THE WICKED
THE TENT OF THE RIGHTEOUS
Although the fool mocks at sin, it doesn’t mean his heart is without bitterness (v. 10). He may express laughter and at the same time have sorrow (v. 13). Insecurities can exist within although he doesn’t reveal them. In contrast, the tent of the righteous may not look like much, but he dwells in confidence and with the satisfaction from what is above (Col. 3:1, 2; Heb. 11:13).
The pathway of death is filled with wrong thinking. The refuge in death is founded on right understanding from the Rock, the Son of the Living God, who came from above so that we can one day live with Him.
—Steven J. Wallace
Zeal and knowledge are two qualities that some pit in opposition to each other, but in reality, Christians are to have both. On the one hand, the church in Laodicea was lukewarm, neither cold nor hot (Rev. 3:14-16). They thought they had everything they needed in life but were wrong (v. 17), so Jesus told them to "be zealous and repent" (vv. 18-19, NKJV). Without zeal to do God's will, anything else about them was meaningless.
On the other hand, the apostle Paul shows the need for knowledge. Because of his misdirected zeal, he said, "I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). He wrote to the Romans in chapter 10 how Israel suffered a similar problem. "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" (v. 2). This was insufficient. "For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (v. 3).
Where do you find yourself in relation to God? May we all be zealous FOR the knowledge of the truth, "for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
KEY PASSAGE: Proverbs 11:31, “If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, How much more the ungodly and the sinner.”
The dominant key features of chapter 11 are righteousness (what is just and upright) and wickedness (what is perverse and unfaithful).
- THE BLESSINGS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Prov. 11:1-11)
Name the benefit associated with being upright or the trouble associated with wickedness.
- A just weight brings delight to whom (11:1)? __________________________________________________
- What follows pride (11:2)? ______________________________________________________________________
- The integrity of the upright does what (11:3)? _________________________________________________
- Righteous delivers from what (11:4)? ___________________________________________________________
- The righteousness of the blameless will do what (11:5)? _______________________________________
- Where the unfaithful will be caught in their lust, what does righteousness do (11:6)? __________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What perishes with a wicked person’s death (11:7)? ___________________________________________
- What will the righteous one be delivered from (11:8)? _________________________________________
- By what can the righteous escape the destroying mouth of the hypocrite (11:9)?
- Name two things that cause joy (11:10). _______________________________________________________
- What is so powerful to overthrow a city (11:11)? _______________________________________________
In the beginning of this chapter the two vices identified to source so much trouble are greed and pride (11:1, 2). Riches prove feckless in the day of wrath (11:4; cf. Lk. 6:24, 25; 12:16-21; 16:19-25). The wicked lose their expectation and hope at death because all their dreams were tied to the things of this life. The righteous have a glorious hope and expectation that extends beyond this life and is anchored in heaven itself (Col. 3:1ff; Heb. 6:19).
“…godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8).
- LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR (Prov. 11:9-15)
This theme overlaps the previous section. The hypocrite destroys his neighbor (11:9). What he finds fault with he likely practices in another form. The one devoid of heart despises his neighbor while the righteous one holds his peace (11:12, 13; cf. Rom. 13:10).
- SOWING AND REAPING (Prov. 11:16-31)
At the outset of this section is the contrast between a gracious woman (11:16) and a man of mercy (11:17) versus a ruthless and cruel man. In her compassion, she gains and retains honor, likely from others. However, the ruthless man’s pursuit of gain and “cruel” schemes troubles his own flesh (11:17). He may be rich with wealth but is a pauper when it comes to friendship. Remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge? Mercy and ruthlessness are different seeds that can be sown and each will bring forth their own unique field to be reaped.
A wicked man does (produces) deceptive work (translated wages in Leviticus 19:13). If you work deception, you will be deceived. The righteous, on the other hand, sow seeds of righteousness and have a sure (firm, reliable) reward or wages (11:18). One kind of seed leads to life and the other to a deceptive and destructive death (11:19).
There is also the teaching of sowing bountifully in Proverbs 11:24-26. People typically despise proud and selfish people. The irony is that greedy and stingy people eventually lose what they are so energetically hoarding while the generous receives more than he scatters or gives away.
In the end, every person is sowing seeds of wickedness and deceit or seeds of righteousness and eternal life. One person will trouble his house by the decisions and goals he sets before him (11:29). Another person will build his house up.
“Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner” (Prov. 11:31).
What a conclusion to this chapter! If the righteous will be rewarded on earth, how much more the sinner? The apostle of our Lord also referenced this passage to show that judgment can come upon the house of God in this life through trials suffered. If a righteous man is permitted to face such persecution from the wicked, what must the end of the ungodly be like (1 Pet. 4:17, 18)? It’s a sobering thought. Let us commit our souls to God as a faithful Creator in sowing good seed (1 Pet. 4:19; Prov. 11:19). The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life and he who wins souls is wise (11:30)!
—Steven J. Wallace
Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
KEY PASSAGE: Proverbs 10:25, “As the passing by of a hurricane, So the wicked is not, And the righteous is a foundation age-during” (YLT).
Chapters 10-15 are largely filled with proverbs that are framed as contrasting parallelisms. These proverbs state something which is sharply contrasted with the word “but.”
“The Proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Prov. 10:1, emp. added).
Chapters 16-22 primarily have synonymous parallelisms. Clause one is restated in another form in clause two. Although it is not always the case, these are often joined by the word “and.”
“In the light of the king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain” (Prov. 16:15, emp. added).
“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18, emp. added).
Additionally, progressive parallelisms are found at times where clause one is further developed in clause two. For example, Proverbs 16:25 reads,
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”
Proverbs 10-15 has more contrasting sayings. Proverbs 16-22 has more synonymous maxims.
For our study, let us appreciate from chapter 10 some moral virtues that can sustain us while noting the contrasting destructive traits.
- RIGHTEOUSNESS (Prov. 10:1-3)
The righteous man:
- Brings joy to his parents (10:1).
- Delivers himself from death (10:2). The fears of the wicked will not be upon the one who is honest in his dealings.
- Will not starve (10:3). God always provides the necessities to His people (see Psa. 34:9, 10; 37:3, 19, 25; Matt. 6:30).
Contrast the above facts with the foolish person in Proverbs 10:1-3. *Compare also the treasures of wickedness with 1 Timothy 6:9, 10. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- DILIGENCE (Prov. 10:4, 5)
The hand of the diligent makes rich—he gathers in the summer. He takes advantage of the opportunities and will be able to provide for his family.
The object in this text is “the hand.” The hand is designed to grab, to build, to work, to create but can also be used to destroy, and can be given to idleness. The wicked “has a slack hand.” The wicked are slothful and spurn good opportunities for sleeping while the diligent succeed. What a man uses his hands for will be revealed in the life he lives.
- A CONTROLLED TONGUE (Prov. 10:6-14)
The one who controls his tongue will find blessings on his head (10:6), leave behind a blessed memory of his example (10:7), own a heart blessed to receive commands (10:8), walk a walk that is blessed with security (10:9), possess a mouth that is viewed as a wellspring of life that covers all sins (10:11, 12). Like Jesus in the New Testament, Solomon places a direct correlation between the heart of man and his use of the tongue (Matt. 12:34; Lk. 6:45).
On the other hand, a person who does not control his/her tongue will have a mouth that is
- Covered by violence (10:6). The fool will not conceal a matter but will indiscreetly publish the errors of another to cause strife. This person will not talk to the person about his error but is happy to talk about the person.
- Near destruction (10:14). When people use their words as swords to cut people up and down, they are also slicing to pieces their own reputation and leaving their own name to rot before men (10:7). The tongue that cuts up will be cut out (10:31)! The one who brings slander to you will often bear forth slander about you. Hence their mouth is near destruction as they use it to destroy others. As a man sows, so he will reap (Gal. 6:7, 8).
Why are these morals to be sought for? The balance of Proverbs 10 answers. One, righteousness leads to life (10:15-17). Two, the training of the tongue is as choice silver and with it, many are fed (10:18-21). Three, security is found in life (10:22-32).
—Steven J. Wallace
Bible Recall: POINTS IN PROVERBS
Chapter 9 places two contrasting invitations before the reader. Proverbs 9:1-6 calls the passerby to turn in and feast on the banquet of understanding. Proverbs 9:13-18 portrays folly seeking to seduce bystanders to turn in.
WISDOM’S INVITATION (Prov. 9:1-6)
- Wisdom builds her house with strength—seven pillars (9:1). This is similar to the Lord’s call, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:” (Matt. 7:24). The sayings of Jesus are the pillars of a strong and healthy life! In Proverbs, the woman of wisdom is contrasted with the foolish woman. “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Prov. 14:1).
- Wisdom prepares her table with the best food to fill those who are hungry for knowledge (9:2). Similarly, Jesus called out to others saying, “Blessed [are] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
- Wisdom sends out her maidens (9:3). They cry out from the highest places of the city to enlighten others. The invitation is for everyone! This should remind us of the Lord’s teaching of the wedding feast that a king prepared for his son in Matthew 22:1ff. He sent out his message but sadly, it was ignored and made light of by some (Matt. 22:3-5). Some even became violent against the heralds of the feast (Matt. 22:6)!
- Wisdom calls the naive (9:4-6). This call is not to take advantage of the simple, but to educate them and communicate to them the way of understanding. Her bread and wine satisfy. In the New Testament, we can reflect on how Jesus is the bread from heaven (Jn. 6:32-35). He provides nourishment for the soul. We can think of how in Cana of Galilee, He took water and turned it to sweet unfermented wine at a wedding (Jn. 2:1-12). Jesus took what was good and made it better. The world takes what is good and makes it evil. Their intoxicating drink mocks man, and dulls his senses, and turn gentlemen into brawlers (Prov. 20:1).
Similarly, God’s design of marriage makes a man and a woman better (Heb. 13:4). Yet the world takes it and defines it as a ball and chain relationship. The world establishes their own views of marriage and relishes in forbidden pleasures and uncommitted love: “Stolen water is sweet, And bread [eaten] in secret is pleasant” (Prov. 9:14).
TWO KINDS OF INVITEES (9:7-9)
The scoffer, when corrected, only makes a bad situation worse. He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself; he harms himself. The scoffer hates the corrector (9:8). He counts him as his personal enemy. Remember Ahab’s view of Elijah?
“So Ahab said to Elijah, ‘Have you found me, O my enemy?’ And he answered, ‘I have found [you], because you have sold yourself to do evil…” (1 Kin. 21:20).
Question: “How do I respond when I am corrected?” Is my pathway self-justification? Is it in a direction that attacks the messenger and shifts the focus to a perceived flaw? Is it in hatred? The wise respond in humility and sober thinking?
Jesus commanded His disciples to not throw the pearls of the gospel toward the dogs and hogs or unreasonable men (Matt. 7:6). The reason, they will trample the pearls under their feet and they will turn against the bearer of these pearls, tearing him to pieces. Because of their attitude, they prove themselves unworthy of heaven’s riches. This is seen in the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:8 and in the lives of the apostles. “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles’” (Acts 13:46). “Attitude,” not “intellect,” is what makes men worthy/unworthy of heaven’s message.
Unlike the scoffer, the wise man loves the one who corrects his misunderstanding (Prov. 9:8, 9). He loves; he becomes wiser; he increases in learning.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY (Prov. 9:10-12)
The knowledge of God results in gaining a good understanding and length of life. The place for learning can be well prepared, well researched with a message that is true but it requires an individual's will to take advantage of it. Gospel preaching will not benefit anyone where it falls on deaf ears. Proverbs 9:12:
“If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”
FOLLY’S INVITATION (Prov. 9:13-18)
- Where wisdom calls out to the simple ones to come in and gain understanding (9:4-6), folly cries out to those who are going straight on their way to detour (9:16). Folly doesn’t want to improve, but rather it seeks to exploit and destroy. Rather than providing “my bread” (9:5) folly takes delight in stolen water and bread eaten in secret (9:17). Such a course of life is observed by the multitudes. Adam Clarke observed, “illicit pleasures are sweeter than those which are legal.”
- The contrast is real!
- The woman of folly is clamorous, simple, and knows nothing (cf. Prov. 7:11a). The wise woman imparts understanding.
- The woman of folly seeks to be noticed by sitting on the highest places of the city. Even her feet do not stay home (7:11b). The woman of folly seeks to distract those who “go straight on their way.” Impudently she hunts and catches the passersby with kisses (7:13).
- The woman of wisdom offers legal pleasures of her bread and wine where the woman of folly delights in stolen water—come let us take our love until morning…for my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey (Prov. 7:19).
- The woman of wisdom cries out to impart knowledge in the fear of God that adds life and length of days. However, the woman of folly has an enticing message built up with flattery that is, at last, a place for the dead to gather (7:21-23, 26, 27; 9:18).
Life is filled with decisions and differing invitations. The invitations we accept or refuse will have an impact on our eternal dwelling place. What will your answer be when folly or wisdom calls out for your name?
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He [is] your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.
—Steven J. Wallace