A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
Despite what some authorities in today’s world might say, discipline is good. The prudent application of discipline or lack of it will be evident in the child.
The fruit of parenting is evidenced in the child. If we skip over one verse, the wise teacher explains:
Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
they will bring you the delights you desire.
The fruit of good parenting that includes a healthy dose of discipline is peace and joy.
Now to the skipped verse. As we noted several times in the first half of this chapter there is a price to pay when the wicked prevail in the world.
When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.
Solomon reminds us that the wicked are digging their own grave and the righteous will still be around when these evil doers bite the dust.
The next verse is sometimes misapplied and used in its worldly context as a prompt to write church visions and mission statements.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
The Hebrew word for vision or revelation here is ḥā·zō·wn and it is derived from chazon. These terms speak less of writing human inspired vision and mission statements than they do to divine revelations.
These often came in the form of dreams in the Old Testament, but today we enjoy the benefit of those prophecies as well as the revealed wisdom of the Proverbs and other biblical texts.
This proverb does not so much lead us to draft a vision statement as it beckons us to desire and seek a divine vision.
James would put it this way. Instead of figuring out exactly what you will do tomorrow ask the Lord to set your course.
Instead of coming up with the perfect vision for your church, listen for where God is calling you and accept his vision as yours.
This doesn’t mean that we just sit on our hands until God reveals something to us. It means that we take what God has revealed to us and follow that vision until he sends new directions.
I compare this to my own prayer life. Early in my ministry, I would ask God to help me prepare my messages for the week, give me strength to deal with people in difficult situations, and to somehow have time to accomplish all the other stuff that would come along.
I felt like I had to lay out a plan for God to approve and in order for God to understand what needed to be accomplished, I felt many details were in order. I at least needed to give God a concept of the operation to work with.
As I have grown in faith and in ministry, my prayers begin with thanksgiving and praise, and then I just shut up and listen. I say, “What do you have for me today? I am listening. You have my full attention.”
And as if he were providing Manna in the desert, he reveals what I am to do.
When we don’t actively listen for what God wants to reveal to us, things go awry. When we don’t seek God’s direction and accept his inspiration, we make a mess of things.
And when God reveals his wisdom to us, we are blessed to heed it and claim his vision as our own.
Once again Solomon returns to the topic of discipline, though he doesn't mention the word in the following proverb.
Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
though they understand, they will not respond.
We could see only the negative side here. When someone needs correction, it must come with some sort of sanction. In Solomon’s time, that might just be a beating.
But we should also remember that much of the wisdom of the proverbs has to do with training. The master shows his servants how to do things the right way.
He may do this by demonstrating a specific task thereby conveying that it is important enough for the master to take his own time to show his servants the proper way.
It may also be the good example of the master. Do as I say, not as I do doesn’t carry the same weight as leading by example.
One good example that we should all consider is to consider our words.
Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
In the wisdom of the New Testament, James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
If the child is about to run out in front of the bus, we shout, “Stop. Look out. Get back!” In just about everything else, we should give consideration to our considered opinion.
If people really want to know what you think, then they will afford you the time to think before your respond.
The instant response is the expectation of this modern time and a society of immediate gratification, and not one required by God’s wise people.
Solomon again returns to the discipline of servants.
A servant pampered from youth
will turn out to be insolent.
Every commanding officer knows that upon being placed in command, all of the men and women under him are his trust. He loves them as if they were his own children, and from the beginning, he sets the bar high.
There is respect, love, discipline but there is no pampering.
It is far easier to cause those whose service is entrusted to you to live a demanding lifestyle and later on give them a little well deserved pampering than to attempt this the other way around.
You don’t build up to demanding standards. You begin there.
Solomon brings us back to another opportunity to use the phrase firebrand of discontent. He says:
An angry person stirs up conflict,
and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
He gives no counsel as to what to do with this person, but we have previously discussed disengaging from those who live only to stir up trouble.
And once again we come back to pride and humility with the latter being the wise disposition.
Pride brings a person low,
but the lowly in spirit gain honor.
Consider the humility of a young maiden named Mary. She was honored as no other woman was or ever will be. She was entrusted with bringing the Savior of the world into the world. She was the Lord’s humble servant and she was exalted by God.
I am convinced that Solomon had many women in his court and structured his presentation style to suit them. You know what I am talking about.
Men think A then B and then C and on an ambitious day will combined D and F into the conversation being careful to skip over E because you can’t have too many vowels in a logical thought process.
Women on the other hand go from A to 12 to C, X, Y to purple hippopotamus to 9 & 7/8ths and consider themselves within the same train of thought.
Solomon is all over the place as well. He goes discipline, wicked people, discipline, children, servants, slow to speak, humility, and back to wickedness again. Oh well, he was the wisest man the world has ever known, so we take them as they come.
The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
they are put under oath and dare not testify.
The wicked have no recourse in this world. We talked about the clean hands doctrine before. If you are up to no good then there is no good place for people up to no good to find justice.
Just because you are not the main actor in whatever fiendish plot is afoot doesn’t mean that you escape the demise of the wicked.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
The next proverb follows as something of a corollary.
Many seek an audience with a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.
If it is justice that we desire, then we should just begin by seeking it from the supreme court of the Lord.
For all of the places that this half chapter has taken us, it ends up on Facebook.
The righteous detest the dishonest;
the wicked detest the upright.
The righteous don’t like the pages of the dishonest and vice-a-versa. Solomon says choose which side of the line you are on. For us it is the side of being right with God, so don’t think the grass is greener on the other side. Show some loyalty to God by detesting the things that God detests.
This concludes the proverbs uniquely attributed to Solomon.