1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
2 A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family.
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.
4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
8 A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it; they think success will come at every turn.
9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool.
11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God; the messenger of death will be sent against them.
12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.
13 Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both.
16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?
17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge and puts up security for a neighbor.
19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.
21 To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.
24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right.
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
My daughter recently asked my wife an interesting question: “Mom…is the black box on an airplane indestructible?” “Yes honey, I believe so” “Well…why then isn’t the rest of the plane made out of a black box?”
The question isn’t new but it illustrates a stunningly practical perspective and reveals the genius of her childlike simplicity. My immediate inclination was to provide a sophisticated answer – to bring her perspective in line with my own. Its way too obvious, “they” must know better than we do. But sometimes the best answers are sitting on the front row waving their arms and we barely, if ever, take notice. Probably the answer IS complicated but the question reminds us to reassess the obvious. It gives us a poke to revisit things we’ve automatically assigned less value because they are obvious or simple or familiar.
It’s a question and perspective that also applies uniquely to the Proverbs, another type of black box containing the basics, the indestructible and simple truth of God’s wisdom. Is it possible for us (our heart) to be recreated from the same unbreakable material? If the point of wisdom is to protect our well-being, isn’t this a legitimate consideration? But it’s a well-worn path with a smooth ride very seldom appreciated by me. I have to concede that overlooking the obvious is where I begin more often than not – what about you? I can just hear the zeal in my daughter’s voice as she tells me about her recent discovery of something I’ve known for thirty years.
Certainly we are savvy enough to admit we need the Proverbs, but are we ignoring them on a deeper level, aiming instead for the more sophisticated stretch of roads less traveled? I love the ease of Proverbs but seldom ever read them because I should already know the material – not saying I do, just being honest about my rationale. What about you? Maybe it’s time to reconsider what God has placed at our fingertips – that the simple and well-worn are still indestructible building blocks for daily living. And the price is only 15 minutes a day, a fraction of the time spent on “sophisticated” things that likely disconnect us from God.
The Proverbs are laid out in elementary bullet points that need little investment, no deep thinking or deep conversation. They are simple, separate and singularly meditative thoughts that a mind can literally absorb one-at-time. They need no commentary or attempt at rewriting. However, the opportunity has arrived to write specifically on Proverbs chapter 17, so it may be worth a quick summary to remind us of what’s there or what we miss on the 17th of each month by ignoring it. That said… Let’s take a quick look at Solomon’s inspirational comparison between seeking justification and seeking justice.
Which master would you rather serve?
Self (seeks justification)
Listens to evil as if it were poetry
Mocks the poor as if it were theatre
Perpetuates rebellion and calls it leadership
Perverts justice with bribery and calls it wisdom
Condemns the upright to please and enable foolish sons
Relentlessly pursues strife and calls it perseverance
Gives back only grief and bitterness and calls it fairness
Selfless (Seeks what is just)
Sets his eyes on wisdom desiring a God tested heart
Loves people in the midst of adversity with everything he has
Restrains words by rebuking only those willing to listen
Never tries to buy what God freely and willingly gives
Glorifies God generationally by wisdom that is thicker than blood
Seeks peace over the luxury of temporary pleasures
Offers good in return for evil, without condemnation
Read the Proverbs daily because we all walk away from the mirror and forget what we look like. And most importantly, read the scripture itself because God’s word has no substitute. There are exponential blessings for those willing to invest their time in this way.
In the fall of 2008, after a decade of hard work, I had a successful business, high income, great investments and no bad debt. By January 09, within 100 days, I’d lost it all, was in overwhelming debt, and my entire financial structure had collapsed squarely on top me and my family. It’s a common story these days, but still uniquely and personally devastating. Ten years of effort left me with nothing it seems but guilt, fear, and shame.
18 months has past and my journey continues to unfold. Day by day we press through new obstacles, new threats of lawsuits, foreclosures, and various other collection tactics. And with little income, nothing regular, despair is sometimes only inches away from devouring me.
As a way to remind myself each day, I wanted to express in writing what has sustained me, kept me from suicide, and still encourages me to press on with confidence. My aim is that it may also encourage you or anyone who is under the heavy oppression of dark circumstances. There is good reason to hope – I promise you!
Kevin Adams is on Twitter @wakeupmyfaith and has a blog Wake Up My Faith http://wakeupmyfaith.wordpress.com/