IV. Words of the Wise and Sayings of the Wise (Proverbs 22:17–24:34)


IV. Words of the Wise and Sayings of the Wise (22:17–24:34)

22:17-21 Proverbs continues with the words of the wise (22:17) and “sayings” that “belong to the wise” (24:23), which Solomon apparently collected. They are true and reliable (22:21). You can bank on them. Moreover, they are pleasing when they are within you and on your lips (22:18). God’s wisdom satisfies whether it’s going in or coming out.

Receiving wise instruction is essential so that your confidence may be in the Lord (22:19)—not in people. The wise therefore exhort you: apply your mind to knowledge (22:17). This is the process by which the Word of God gets off the page and into our lives. A disciple of Jesus Christ is one for whom regular interaction with the Word of God is as necessary and desirable as obtaining food for the body. Scripture equips us to live the Christian life.

If you’ve got a messed-up mind, you’re going to have a messed-up life, which is why our minds need to be renewed so our lives can be transformed (see Rom 12:2). When you try to change your actions without changing your thinking, you only do a temporary, patchwork job. If you want to fix what you do, you must first fix how you think about what you do. A transformed mind comes through the study and application of the Word of God.

22:22-23 See 13:23; 17:5.

22:24-25 See 29:11.

22:26-27 See 6:1-5.

22:28 To move an ancient boundary marker was an attempt to acquire land dishonestly. But God sees when no one else does. Nothing is truly done in secret. See 15:3.

22:29 Because they represent the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians should be known as those who work with excellence at whatever they do (see Col 3:23). “Good enough” doesn’t cut it. Whoever does quality labor will be recognized.

23:1-3 Beware of indebting yourself to the rich and powerful. Their extravagant gifts are often motivated by a desire to get more from you than they give.

23:4-5 Riches are hard to come by. If you give all your attention to generating wealth (23:4), you’ll forsake relationship with the Lord and your riches will easily disappear (23:5).

23:6-8 Like the rich man (23:1-3), the stingy man may also have ulterior motives for his gifts. Be discerning.

23:9 See 9:7-9.

23:10-11 See 22:28.

23:12 Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge. Many believers suffer from spiritual Alzheimer’s. This malady manifests itself in a deterioration of the proper application of the mind of Christ—a kingdom mind—that should be operating in every believer’s life. A Christian who suffers from spiritual Alzheimer’s loses the ability to apply a spiritual mind to his daily interactions. He or she forgets how to think in terms of God’s kingdom agenda. Such believers default to a secular way of thinking. Often our greatest problem is not what we do; it’s the way we think. In order to transform what we do, we must transform our thought patterns and discipline our minds to focus on the realm of the Spirit.

23:13-14 See 13:24; 22:15; 29:15, 17.

23:15-16 Wisdom in children brings joy to their parents. See 10:1; 22:6.

23:17-18 See 3:31-35; 24:1-2.

23:19-21 See 20:1.

23:22-25 See 10:1; 22:6.

23:26-28 See 5:1-23; 6:20–7:27.

23:29-35 See 20:1.

24:1-2 Choosing friends will lead us down either the wise or the foolish path. Relationships are critical to our walks with God; the people in our lives can encourage wise, kingdom living or be a stumbling block to it. Solomon is thus very straightforward on this matter: Don’t envy the evil or desire to be with them, for their hearts plan violence, and their words stir up trouble. The righteous and the wicked have two very different futures set out for them, so we can’t expect to hang out with evil people without suffering the consequences.

24:3-4 The family was God’s idea and invention, so he knows how it ought to function. If your family is built upon wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, your home will be filled with beautiful treasure regardless of your income. Such a family is prepared to extend God’s kingdom rule into the world.

24:5-6 See 11:14; 20:18.

24:7 At the city gate, leaders gathered to discuss important matters. The fool has nothing to offer, and no one wants to hear from him; thus, he has no business there.

24:8-9 A good reputation can’t be purchased, but it’s worth its weight in gold (see 22:1). The one who plots evil and mocks wisdom, however, is known by his deeds (24:8) and hated for them (24:9).

24:10-12 Kingdom men and women do not sit by and do nothing in difficult times (24:10). To love your neighbor doesn’t merely mean to avoid doing him harm; it means to intentionally do him good—especially when he’s in distress or danger. God’s people are called to rescue those being led to death and slaughter (24:11). One example of how this principle can be applied regards the wickedness of abortion. For Christians to say, But we didn’t know about this (24:12) is to be like the priest and Levite in Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan who essentially stuck their heads in the sand to avoid helping their neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37). God will repay a person according to his work (24:12). So do what you can to help fight such wickedness and love those around you.

24:13-14 God doesn’t command us to become wise simply because it’s the right thing to do. Just as people eat honey because it’s sweet (24:13), so we should choose wisely in life because doing so brings pleasure. When you access and act on divine wisdom, you will have a future, and your hope will never fade (24:14).

24:15-16 Though a righteous person falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin. The foolish and wicked are stumbling through life without hope. God’s people stumble too, but he helps them up (24:16)—often with the aid of the godly people we have gathered around us. Though the wicked seek to harm the righteous, they will not ultimately succeed (24:15).

24:17-18 Don’t gloat when your enemy falls. In other word, as Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44).

24:19-20 See 3:31-35; 24:1-2.

24:21-22 See 19:12; 20:30.

24:23-25 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15; 19:12.

24:26 Giving an honest answer—making sure your words match reality—is an act of kindness and love.

24:27 See 20:18.

24:28-29 See 12:17, 19, 22; 24:17-18; 25:18-19.

24:30-34 See 6:6-11; 10:2-5; 12:24; 18:9; 26:13-16.