Read Proverbs 22:17-29
We now begin a section that might be titled 30 sayings of the wise. It crosses over a few chapters and is followed by what might be titled, more sayings of the wise.
The enumeration does not mean that this wraps up the book of Proverbs with some sort of order to all of the other wise and pithy sayings we have explored so far. It just says, pay attention and you will learn something about godly wisdom and human behavior.
Keep those two factors in mind: Godly wisdom and human behavior. Most of what is offered in the Proverbs falls into one of these two mega-categories. The proverb either expounds on how God sees something or on how most people will react.
The first saying deals with truth and trust. It says apply this wisdom and knowledge with all your heart. It challenges us on the order of saying, “Have some of these bits of wisdom readily available by keeping them in your heart and speaking them with your lips.”
I think many of you have this favorite on call at any time:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
When people ask me what I think about the Sports Illustrated series on Oklahoma State football, I don’t even give them the words, just the citation: Proverbs 18:17.
Wisdom and knowledge should increase the trust in God of the believer. Some people think that when we send our kids off to college they will lose their faith, but if we have followed the counsel of Proverbs 22:6, we know that the foundation that we laid for them will endure whatever world-based theories they will encounter.
If we bring up our children in the way they should go—in God’s ways—then we know they will be ok later in life.
Saying 2 hits some very familiar ground. It says don’t take advantage of the poor. God will settle all accounts so whatever gain you might manipulate out of such a lopsided encounter will be exacted from you at some point. When dealing with the poor, just be content to count your own blessings.
Saying 3 says be careful about who you call friend. A hot tempered person is more likely to teach you his or her ways than the other way around. The person who flies off the handle too easily is not practicing God’s wisdom.
Don’t think about developing a friendship until their anger is under control. Remember the words of James:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Quick to listen—wise.
Slow to speak—wise.
Slow to anger—wise.
Quick to make friends with an angry person—not wise.
Saying 4 says; master your money and your impulses. How do we fall into this trap these days?
We have explored this area before, especially with regard to putting up security for a stranger; however, this seems to be broader counsel.
It cautions us again debt in general. It is sort of like the counsel that I give people when they ask me if gambling is wrong. Is going to the casino ok?
I tell them that if it is for entertainment and you only put at risk what you are willing to spend on entertainment, then it’s just entertainment. When the week’s paycheck that was going towards the rent or the water bill comes out and gets put on the table, you have put your very household at risk.
The local counsel would be, “Don’t bet the farm.”
Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose. That applies to the casino, credit cards, and even the price tag on that new smart phone.
Master your money and your impulses.
Saying 5 is a little more abstract.
Do not move an ancient boundary stone
set up by your ancestors.
You might think that such counsel doesn’t apply today. Today every boundary seems to be registered by survey or recorded in GPS coordinates. But this is less about real estate and more about the state of our culture.
Respect the good things that have taken generations to engrain in your customs and traditions.
What are some of these boundaries that seem to be at risk these days?
Solid work ethic.
The concept of making life better for your kids than it was for you.
There are others. They vary throughout the world.
This proverb challenges us to keep what is best in our customs and traditions. That doesn’t mean that nothing changes or that new ways are sometimes not better, it means that some things are rock solid cornerstones and endure time. We must hold on to these.
Saying 6 tells us that we are rewarded for applying our skills with persistence and perseverance. If you have a front row seat to watch a master craftsman apply his trade today; next year you might have to buy a ticket just to sit in the back row.
There is reward in this life for taking your God-given talents and abilities, practicing them, honing them as skills, and wisely putting them to use.
Likewise, the skilled person will not be engaged in pedestrian efforts. Uncommon skill will not be relegated to the common task.
Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.
In today’s world this equates to promotion or having a top rated business because the right people know that you are good at what you do. It also equates to using your skills for the Body of Christ. The only thing that tops serving before kings is serving the King of kings.
So as we begin these 30 sayings, remember:
· Truth and trust. Trust in the Lord and speak the truth.
· Don’t take advantage of the poor.
· Don’t make friends with someone who can’t control their anger.
· Master your money and your impulses.
· Know what customs and traditions are good and hold on to them.
· Your knowledge, skills, and abilities used properly will lead to your advancement.
Six down, twenty-four to go.