1The proverbs of Solomon
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.
Some parents actually think it’s funny when their kids do bad things, but the reality is that parents who have any sense whatsoever pertaining to the wisdom of God will rejoice in children who walk in wisdom and sorrow in those that do not. For those who love wisdom, it should be a godly ambition to long to see one’s children grow up to follow God with all of their hearts. This should bring parents great joy.
2Ill-gotten gains do not profit,
But righteousness delivers from death.
Making money by stealing, cheating, or taking advantage of people does create a cash pile at least as long as one doesn’t get caught or brought to justice, but in light of eternity that cash is trash. There is no profit to evil because God will render to each according to his deeds (Romans 2:6). There is also no satisfaction in a dishonest living, but earning money by honest labor and doing it for God’s glory is actually meaningful to the soul (Colossians 3:17, 23). Righteousness is what matters and what has value when the judgment comes. Righteousness is only found by grace through faith in Christ, and this profits abundantly in terms of eternity. Even now, the pursuit of righteousness satisfies.
3The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.
The righteous will never have to hunger again because their souls will be satisfied with the Bread of Life. Their thirst will be quenched forever having drunk of the Living Water. The Lord meets the deepest desires of the soul, and He is also faithful to supply our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Psalm 37:25, Matthew 6:31-32, Philippians 4:19). The church must see to it that they do all that they can to care for their own (2 Corinthians 8:14, Galatians 6:10), especially when it comes to getting enough food. But the emphasis is on spiritual food, for that is what Jesus was most concerned about, even after feeding the five thousand (John 6:28-29). The wicked crave many things such as money, fame, fortune, and all kinds of evil deeds. But their hearts will never be satisfied, and their souls will languish and eventually end up in eternal anguish. While on earth, they might have their fill and find satiation with their sin (Luke 16:25), but satisfaction will elude them. The Lord will see to it that they are also empty inside, and in eternity they will crave and never have their cravings satisfied. Like the rich man in the story of Lazarus, the thirst he felt while in the flames of hell would never be quenched (Luke 16:24). Such is the destiny of the wicked.
4Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Those who do not do their fair share of work and labor can expect to struggle financially in life. Those who do not work tend to find it tough going to find food to eat. Getting rich quick typically requires taking advantage of people or gambling, which is not desirable. But one can gain wealth by hard work, and honest labor honors God.
5He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.
Harvest time is a time to work and take in the crops that the Lord has provided. But those who fail to do the labor required waste food, will lack what they need, and act shamefully. It is a dishonorable thing to waste, and it is disrespectful to God to fail to use the time, energy, and gifts that God has given us. We will be held accountable for how we invest the talents which Christ has entrusted us with. The Lord wants laborers sent out into His harvest, not those who sleep on the job (Luke 10:2).
6Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
7The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.
God will honor the righteous, and he will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13) and in heaven. The righteous person lives to demonstrate the love of Christ to others, and thus it is he who brings good news of hope and healing to the world (Romans 10:15). In stark contrast is the wicked person, who might say he brings peace while concealing violence and treachery. His legacy will be one that most often brings derision, whereas the name of the righteous and the memory of a good person typically ends up being a source of blessing and joy. God knows all and will settle all accounts, and it is one’s legacy according to God that ultimately matters.
8The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.
The wise prove their wisdom by receiving instruction from God’s Word. They are willing to listen, absorb, think critically, and apply the truths of Scripture. A fool, on the other hand, is too busy running his mouth to listen and grow in truth and wisdom. He speaks nonsense, even if he attempts to wax eloquent with the faulty wisdom of man. God’s wisdom may be foolishness to fools, but it is life to the righteous, bringing blessing. The fool will be ruined by his own folly.
9He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.
10He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.
11The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Those who walk in integrity and aren’t busy lying and deceiving and exploiting people don’t have to live in fear that somebody will seek vengeance on them. There is peace and security that comes from living humbly, quietly, peaceably, and honestly. Those who have integrity also don’t have to live in fear that one day somebody will find out about their deceit and treachery and wreck their lives and legacy. God sees all, and even if a person gets away with sin for a time, he will eventually pay. We should watch out for those who aren’t straight up with others and who like to make shady underhanded deals and communicate contrasting messages with hidden signals. Those relationships lead to trouble, for these people babble nonsense and not wisdom. Ruin is the endgame in said relationships. The righteous speak truth, and their words are like a fountain that gives life. The wicked, on the other hand, have a hidden agenda, a violent motive, and a will to destroy others.
12Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
Those who hate enjoy creating division and destruction. They delight in seeing relationships go awry. Love, on the other hand, is willing to bear with others (Colossians 3:12-13), to be patient, to be compassionate, to forgive, and to seek restoration in relationships. By being willing to forgive sin and not keeping a record of wrongs, love covers all transgressions (1 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Peter 4:8). As Christ has forgiven us, so we should forgive others (Ephesians 4:32). (see also Proverbs 19:11)
13On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.
14Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.
15The rich man's wealth is his fortress,
The ruin of the poor is their poverty.
16The wages of the righteous is life,
The income of the wicked, punishment.
17He is on the path of life who heeds instruction,
But he who ignores reproof goes astray.
18He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
Solomon expands upon the contrast between the wise, righteous person and the wicked, foolish person. The wise speak discerning things that can edify and encourage others, whereas the fool needs discipline, instruction, and training in righteousness. Those who love wisdom continue to value truth and to grow in knowledge, but the fool does more worthless talking than humble thinking, bringing ruin upon himself. Those who operate by wisdom principles tend to store up savings that they can invest in the kingdom of God, but the fool wastes his life. Through his laziness, he can expect to suffer from lack of the necessities of life. The rich man should not boast in his riches as if his riches can save him in the day of judgment, but he should recognize and bow to the Giver and true Owner of all things. Those who heed wisdom’s call and walk righteously before God by faith will gain an inheritance of eternal life, but the wicked store up God’s wrath and punishment for themselves. The wise are humble enough to admit when they are wrong and to learn from the wisdom of others, but fools ignore sound teaching and reproof and are led astray into destruction. The righteous speak truth and avoid lies, but the foolish hate in their heart, do nothing to restore relationships, lie about others, and speak ill of others, slandering them and gossiping.
19When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
21The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.
There is nothing inherently wrong with being more verbal than others, and there is nothing inherently wrong with being less of a talker than others. But what does tend to happen is that those who get in the habit of running their mouths at warp speed are prone to not doing quality control on what comes out of their mouths. There is wisdom in limiting what we say or at least being exceedingly careful to evaluate what we say before we say it. The looser we are with our mouths, the more we can say something we will regret, even if by accident. Sometimes the best policy is just to keep our mouths shut and our thoughts to ourselves. The righteous speak words that encourage and edify others, and their speech is wholesome and undefiling (Ephesians 4:28). The wicked demonstrate the evil in their hearts by the words that they say, for it is what comes out of a man that defiles him (Mark 7:20). Wisdom, needed reproof, correction, and training in righteousness come from those whose minds and hearts are saturated in the Scripture and driven by the glory of God. Others will be pointed to worship God and know Him more by what the righteous say. Fools, on the other hand, have nothing of value to impart to others, their lives bear that out, and they will die with no understanding to their credit and even because of their own lack of wisdom.
22It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.
23Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.
24What the wicked fears will come upon him,
But the desire of the righteous will be granted.
25When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
Sometimes it may seem like the wicked get away with their evil, but God will settle all accounts in eternity. Thus, getting ahead in life through evil and deceit will bring with it eventual sorrow and emptiness along the way. But God’s provisions, gifts, and blessings in life, financial or otherwise, are true riches to the soul (Ephesians 1:3, 3:20). There is no sorrow, grief, fear, or regret when doing things God’s way. Fools find wickedness to be a sport because they scoff at God and view life as a cosmic joke. The righteous stand in stark contrast, finding great fun, fulfillment, and excitement from following God and seeing the devil flee. The wise enjoy gaining ever more wisdom. The wicked must live in fear because violent people beget violence and because they have no hope of life after death. They don’t know when calamity will strike, and eventually sin’s devastating effects catch up to them. One day the wicked will die and face the judgment, and they will be cast into the lake of fire. The righteous have the hope of God’s help and provision in life along with the promise of answered prayer. The righteous have great hope and confidence because their lives are built upon an eternal foundation of salvation through Christ.
26Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy one to those who send him.
Vinegar by itself is repulsively bitter, and smoke in the eyes is a stinging pain. So is the one who is sent and relied upon to accomplish a particular task, but, who, because of his laziness, doesn’t do it. It brings loathing and grief to the one who counted on him for help.
27The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
28The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes.
29The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.
The righteous fear God, and doing things God’s way avoids a lot of needless pain and even possibly a premature death due to a dangerous, destructive lifestyle of evil. The righteous have joy in the depths of their hearts that brings them hope anew everyday thanks to the new mercies of God every morning. The wicked have no God to renew their strength and to show them compassion, for, in their vitriol against God, they incur His judgment. They love darkness and put their hope in the passing pleasures of sin, but their hope in sin as a means to satisfaction and life will fail. They will face God’s wrath when they die. Doing things God’s way is a protection for the righteous and a source of strength in which they draw confidence and hope. But because the wicked are at enmity with God, their iniquity will bring them eternal ruin.
30The righteous will never be shaken,
But the wicked will not dwell in the land.
31The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.
32The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.
Nothing can take the believer out of the hand of God because God will never forsake His own. By being strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10), the righteous can stand firm against whatever the devil may throw his way (1 Corinthians 10:13, James 4:7). Believers are inheritors of an eternal kingdom, but the wicked are part of the devil’s failed pseudo-kingdom. They will not dwell in heaven with the righteous. The righteous speak forth wise words, for out of the heart the mouth speaks. But evil people with perverted hearts will suffer God’s wrath in eternity, for God hates evil speech, a lying tongue, and especially leading the innocent astray. Righteous people will say righteous things, and evil people will say evil and deceitful things. This is expected based upon the state of each heart. We can know the righteous from the wicked based upon their fruits, including what they say or don’t say (Matthew 7:20).