V. Proverbs of Solomon Copied by Hezekiah’s Men (Proverbs 25:1–29:27)
V. Proverbs of Solomon Copied by Hezekiah’s Men (25:1–29:27)
25:1-3 These chapters contain more proverbs of Solomon that were collected by King Hezekiah of Judah (25:1). God has concealed his wisdom in the world, and it is the glory of kings to investigate and discover that wisdom (25:2). That is what Solomon and Hezekiah did. By contrast, the hearts of kings cannot be investigated (25:3); this means rulers keep close counsel.
25:4-5 As a silversmith must remove impurities from silver (25:4), so a king must remove the wicked from his presence (25:5). This implies that just government requires just officials. See 14:28-35; 16:10-15; 19:12.
25:6-7 As Solomon will say in 27:2, “let another praise you, and not your own mouth.” No one likes to hear a braggart. Jesus told a parable that similarly condemns pride and praises humility (see Luke 14:7-11), so let the Lord exalt you. See 6:16-17; 13:10; 27:1.
25:8-10 Don’t be quick to sue someone. You might be overestimating your chances of winning the case and end up humiliated. Make every effort to settle out of court.
25:11-12 Most of us don’t like to be corrected, or have to correct someone else, even when such is needed. One reason may be that we don’t know what to say, or we’re afraid our words will be taken in the wrong way. But for our encouragement, Solomon reminds us, A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings. A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring. Even a wise word spoken at the wrong time can stir up flames of anger and cause pain, but the right word at the right time brings healing.
25:13-14 Few things are as highly valued as being trustworthy. Employers want employees whom they can trust to work diligently and with integrity. People want friends whom they can confide in without risk of betrayal. Add trustworthiness to your character, then, and watch your usefulness to God expand. You’ll be like the coolness of snow on a harvest day (25:13). By contrast, the one who boasts is like clouds and wind without rain (25:14)—all hot air and empty promises.
25:15 This proverb reminds us of Jesus’s parable of the persistent widow (see Luke 18:1-8). Patient persistence pays off.
25:16-17 It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. A sweet treat tastes great, but overindulgence will make you sick (25:16). In the same way, it’s good to be a friendly neighbor. But if you darken your neighbor’s door too often, he’ll get sick of you (25:17). Don’t be high-maintenance.
25:18-19 Solomon has praised trustworthiness. So to what does he compare an unreliable person? A club, a sword, or a sharp arrow . . . a rotten tooth, and a faltering foot. In other words, a person whose words are false inevitably brings harm to others.
25:20 If we want to bless others with our words, we need to discern not only what is appropriate to say but also when it’s appropriate to say it. A troubled heart needs somber comfort, not lightheartedness. See 25:11-12.
25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Solomon gives us another dose of godly advice that runs contrary to worldly thinking. Paul drew on this passage in Romans 12:19-21 to remind believers to conquer evil with good. Do good to those who hate you and leave their judgment to God.
25:23-28 These verses graphically demonstrate that our actions can either bless others or wear them out. Solomon condemns the backbiting tongue (25:23), the nagging wife (25:24), the glory seeker (25:27), and the person who does not control his temper (25:28). Do any of these describe you? If so, it’s time to change course. Do you want people to think of you as cold water to a parched throat (25:25) or as a polluted well (25:26)?
26:1-3 A fool’s mouth spews an undeserved curse rather than a gracious blessing (26:2). Clearly, honor is not fit for him (26:1). The only thing he earns for himself is punishment (26:3).
26:4-5 Sometimes, when dealing with a fool, the best policy is to ignore him so that you don’t entangle yourself in his ways (26:4). At other times, the wiser choice may be to respond to the fool using his own argument to demonstrate how silly he is (26:5). Paul followed the latter course in 2 Corinthians (see 2 Cor 11:16-27). The false apostles boasted in themselves. Paul did too—but he “boasted” in his weakness so that God got all the glory.
26:6-12 Solomon makes clear that a fool—the one who rejects the wisdom God offers—has no redeeming value. He’s pathetic and has nothing to offer. Why would anyone choose his way? Yet young people do so every day. Parents, love your children enough to teach them—and model for them—that life lived from the divine point of view will bring them blessing and joy.
26:13-16 Lazy people who refuse to work were around in Solomon’s time too. Avoiding labor is the slacker’s priority, so he’s never lacking for excuses—no matter how preposterous they are (26:13). A door turns on its hinges, and a slacker, on his bed. The slacker buries his hand in the bowl; he is too weary to bring it to his mouth! (26:14-16). Some of Solomon’s descriptions of the lazy man are quite humorous—anything to get out of honest work. But there’s nothing funny about Paul’s prescription for the lazy in God’s kingdom: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat” (2 Thess 3:10).
26:17 Solomon isn’t talking about someone who’s trying to bring reconciliation to those at odds with each other. He’s talking about a busybody who’s sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.
26:18-19 Harmless humor is one thing. But don’t assume you can deceive others, claim you were only joking, and escape the consequence of people hating you for it in the end.
26:20-22 Some people love to gossip and quarrel like they’re eating choice food (26:22). But gossip and quarreling are sins that plague our world and, unfortunately, many churches. Both serve as wood for the fire of conflict (26:20-21). Some have started gossip fires that burned up another’s reputation entirely. Remember, a person who will gossip to you will certainly gossip about you. It’s not the things that go in one ear and out the other that do the harm, but the things that go in one ear, get all mixed up, and come out of the mouth. When gossip is eliminated, conflict is snuffed out. See 11:13; 17:9.
26:23-28 See 12:17, 19, 22; 25:18-19.
27:1 We don’t know what tomorrow holds, the Bible says, but too many people strut around talking boldly about what they’re going to do with it. What does God say about such arrogance? Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring. It’s a sin, then, to brag about all the deals we are going to cut without a thought to what God’s mind is on the subject. The hospital emergency room is full of people who had plans for tomorrow. So is the cemetery.
27:2 See 25:6-7.
27:3 See 26:6-12.
27:4 Solomon says jealousy is more relentless than anger. Don’t foolishly make yourself its target (see 6:32-35).
27:5 Don’t claim to love your Christian brother or sister if you won’t demonstrate your love by your actions. Concealed love is worthless. Better to speak the truth in love and give a straying brother or sister an open reprimand when needed.
27:6 The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive. In other words, better the friend who will, with love, wound us for our good, than someone who excessively kisses up to us and never tells it like it is. After all, didn’t Judas betray Jesus with a kiss? A true friend corrects you when you’re wrong. A legitimate friend will never absolve you of the evil you do.
27:7 Don’t take the things you have for granted. Someone, somewhere would be grateful to have them.
27:8 The wandering man Solomon describes is not merely out for a stroll. He’s wandering away from responsibility and into trouble. Like a bird wandering from its nest, he’s abandoning his own protection.
27:9-10 Few things bring joy and blessing like a trustworthy friend. A faithful friend will speak godly counsel into your life (27:9) and is always willing to come when needed (27:10). Seek out such a friend and become such a friend.
27:11 See 10:1.
27:12 Avoid danger and punishment; be sensible and take cover within God’s covenant and agenda.
27:13 See 6:1-5.
27:14 Being a morning person can be a blessing—unless you force it upon others until they curse you!
27:15-16 The nagging wife needs to spend some time with the “wife of noble character” described in 31:10-31. See 12:4; 25:24.
27:17 Friends can make us better Christians. We need friends who will challenge and sharpen our thinking, help us make good decisions, and help us hone our spiritual lives until they are razor-sharp: Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another. Good friends work to rub off dull edges and make each other better. That’s why we need ministries and churches that are full of men and women talking about more than work, the weather, and sports. See 17:17.
27:18 Be a faithful employee. A wise employer will recognize your value and honor you.
27:19 What’s in your heart reflects who you are. See 10:31-32; 12:16-23.
27:20 A heart controlled by greed will never have pleasure. Just as the grave is never satisfied but always claims more and more corpses, so also the greedy person never has enough. The cure for the cycle is a heart that regularly expresses gratitude to God.
27:21-22 When trying circumstances shake a person up, what’s inside him will inevitably spill out (see 27:19). When an honorable man is placed in the crucible of life, the godliness stored up in his heart will be seen, and people will praise him (27:21). Likewise, when hard times grind a fool, you’ll see the foolishness that was within him all along (27:22).
27:23-27 Some people think financial planning is pointless because they have no money. But often the lack of planning is the problem. Know where you are; pay attention to what you have (27:23). Then plan for where you want to go. Wealth is not forever (27:24)—especially when you make no plans for it to grow. Look after what is placed in your care, though, and it will provide for you (27:25-27).
28:1 A wicked person has a guilty conscience and is always looking over his shoulder. The righteous can live with godly boldness.
28:2-5 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15; 19:12.
28:6 See 19:1; 22:1-5.
28:7 See 10:1.
28:8 See 13:23; 17:5.
28:9 See 15:8-9; 21:2-3.
28:10 Whoever leads others into evil won’t escape judgment. He’ll fall into the pit he himself dug.
28:11 Proverbs reminds us that things on earth are not always as they seem. Sometimes people see things the way they want to see them. Solomon speaks to the self-deception to which we are all prone. The person who is wise in his own eyes, which is an easy trap to fall into—especially when the person fooling himself has all the outward markings of success—can be completely without wisdom. The discernment spoken of here is a valuable tool because the Holy Spirit helps us see things clearly.
28:12 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15.
28:13-14 “Confess your sins,” James says, so that “you may be healed” (Jas 5:16). Solomon agrees (28:13). But the one who hardens his heart against God—like Pharaoh (see Exod 8:15, 32; 9:34)—falls into trouble (28:14).
28:15-16 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15; 19:12.
28:17-18 The murderer has no one to help him (28:17), but the man of integrity will be helped (28:18). Your treatment of others will either bless you or curse you.
28:19 See 6:6-11; 10:2-5; 12:24; 18:9; 26:13-16.
28:20 The typical route to wealth is to earn it little by little, through honest labor. Participating in a get-rich-quick scheme is the fastest route to ruin.
28:21 Some people can be bought cheaply, but bribes are wicked. See 15:27.
28:22 See 28:20.
28:23 Although rebukes sting while flattery praises, the former offers truth while the latter offers deceit. A loving rebuke is always better than empty flattery.
28:24 See 19:26.
28:25 See 27:20.
28:26 The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: “In whom do I really trust?” If we trust God, we’re kept safe from the pitfalls the world and the devil put in our paths. And while this is no guarantee that misfortune won’t befall us Christians, it is a promise that God will watch over us no matter our circumstances.
28:27 See 13:23; 17:5.
28:28 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15.
29:1 The fool is not open to learning from God, from others, or even from his own mistakes. He plunges straight ahead, trusts in himself, and heads for ruin. One who becomes stiff-necked, after many reprimands will be shattered instantly—beyond recovery, so we need to develop a humble spirit that enables us to receive warning, correction, and discipline. Falling into ruin because of your own foolishness is pitiful. But how much worse is it to fall into ruin after you’ve received many warnings to change your course? See 1:22-33; 3:11-12; 9:7-9; 10:17; 25:11-12.
29:2 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15.
29:3 See 10:1; also 5:1-23; 6:20–7:27.
29:4 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15.
29:5 See 28:23.
29:6 Sin promises freedom and then enslaves the one caught by it.
29:7 See 13:23; 17:5.
29:8 See 29:11.
29:9 Avoid a dispute with a fool. He’ll rant and rave, but you’ll go nowhere except in circles.
29:10 Do you love those who honor God? When we see people operating with honesty and integrity, our attitude toward them reveals the condition of our own hearts.
29:11 Controlling your anger is one of the most valuable expressions of self-discipline. A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person holds it in check. It takes discipline to hold our anger in, and training a person to do this has to start in childhood. How many times do we utter words in a rage only to wish later that we could reel them in? A wise man guards his mouth, knowing that he can bring endless grief upon himself if he doesn’t.
29:12-14 See 14:28-35; 16:10-15.
29:15-17 As discussed earlier, applying loving, biblical discipline to children imparts life to them. Solomon speaks to this and to the disaster looming ahead if children are left to figure out life on their own: A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother. . . . Discipline your child, and it will bring you peace of mind and give you delight (29:15, 17). It’s easy to wimp out, be passive, and withhold discipline. But doing so will eventually bring you sorrow and disgrace. So if you don’t want to see your children join the ranks of the rebellious, discipline them for their own good, for eventually the wicked will experience downfall (29:16). See 13:24; 22:15.
29:18 Why do we need wisdom and discipline? Because without revelation people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy. Without the wisdom God’s Word gives, people are prone to throw off all restraint. This, in fact, is a description of our culture today: people are running into walls and down blind alleys for lack of truth. The remedy to the problem is found in receiving biblical instruction. The one who does this is happy, and true happiness is a result of God’s blessing.
29:19-22 Just as one must properly govern his servants (29:19, 21), so also one must learn to properly govern himself (29:20, 22). Speaking too hastily or giving vent to a hot temper can be irresistible urges, but indulging them brings nothing but grief.
29:23 . See 6:16-17; 13:10; 27:1.
29:24 Beware whom you take as a partner. See 1:17-19.
29:25 Repeatedly in Proverbs, Solomon urges us to fear the Lord. Doing so is the gateway to wisdom. The fear of mankind, however, is a trap. If you live your life as a people-pleaser, you’re not pleasing the Lord.
29:26 This verse is a reminder that although rulers are responsible for administering justice in the world, ultimately justice comes from a sovereign God.
29:27 An old saying points out that birds of a feather flock together. The righteous and the wicked are like oil and water; they don’t mix. Each hates the actions of the other.