The overall theme of this chapter seems to be respect. This chapter tackles a plethora of topics including self-worth, money, anger, child rearing, adultery, the wealthy, the poor and purity. Regardless of the topic, it is all about respecting yourself, your children, others and most importantly your God. This chapter also talks about the dangers of disrespect and the consequences for being disrespectful.The best way to handle this chapter however is to look at it verse by verse.
1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Straight forward in its delivery, verse one tells us that it is more important to have a good name and be well-respected, than it is to be rich. In other words it tells us that money does not make you respected. Earning respect makes you respected.
2 Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.
Another verse about riches, verse two picks up on the theme of the first. Everyone is equal in God’s eyes. He made everyone, rich or poor. Again, you are not special because you have money but because you are made by God.
3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
The dictionary describes prudence as “Acting with or showing care and thought for the future”. Verse three is simply about the importance of preparing for the future or seeing what is ahead. Those who prepare for and respect the future can see danger ahead and prepare for safety. Those who do not look ahead of them will walk right into danger and suffer the consequences.
4 Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
No one respects a braggart. Those who are humble show their respect for God. Those people, the humble, will be rewarded with riches, respect themselves and life.
5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.
Respect for your own life is important. Those who choose to disrespect themselves by living an immoral or “wicked” life will find themselves in all kinds of trouble, but those who choose to respect themselves will stay away from trouble.
6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Probably the most famous verse from this chapter, Proverbs 22:6 speaks of the importance of raising your children well. When looked at in the context of the rest of the chapter though it is more about teaching your children to be respectful. How can that be? Looking back at the preceding verses we see different ways to be respectful. Respect is about morality and teaching our kids to be moral is teaching them respect. When we do teach them respect, they will remain respectful and respectable for the rest of their life.
7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
This is interesting because at first glance it appears that verse seven says that the poor are to respect the rich. At closer look this verse is more about the importance of respecting those to whom you owe money. Paying your debts is important as well as respectful. This verse basically says that if you borrow money from someone that you owe them the respect of paying them back until the debt is settled.
8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.
If you are unfair to others, certainly a form of disrespect, your life will be disastrous. the second half of the verse makes it clear that your unfairness will come to an end.
9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
Respect through generosity reaps blessings. Plain and simple, those who give to those who are in need shall receive. What is to be received is unclear. What is clear is that they will be blessed. Blessings are never a bad thing.
10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.
Verse ten tells us that the best way to end insults and arguments is to remove those who disrespect with their words. Those who tease and disrespect are the cause of strife.
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.
This is verse about choosing your friends wisely. People who seek moral friends and give credit to those who are moral will find friends that are are well-respected.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
God respects those who seek knowledge of Him. Those who don’t bother simply become frustrated. Some think that this verse speaks to knowledge in general, but it just doesn’t make sense that we should try to obtain general knowledge. The fact that it says that the Lord “frustrates the words of the unfaithful” says to me that this is more about the knowledge of the things of God.
13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!”
You are lazy if you don’t take action. You can also take this verse to be about selfishness. If there is a lion outside then you are not the only one in danger. Taking action shows that you not only respect yourself, but that you respect the other people in the village.
14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit; a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.
A woman who does not respect herself and her marriage enough to remain faithful is like a magnet to those who disrespect God. This verse may not just be about adultery, as it seems to be applicable to anyone who is living in sin.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
We can respect our children by disciplining them. Folly is defined as foolishness or a lack of good sense. Children are often unable to discern right from wrong and make foolish choices. Disciplining them when they are foolish will teach them to make the right decisions.
16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Respecting those who are less fortunate than ourselves is spoken about throughout this chapter. This particular verse speaks out against taking advantage of the poor for your own monetary gain or giving to the rich instead of the poor. Both of these activities will make you poor yourself. This may be speaking of a spiritual poverty but some take it to literally mean that taking advantage of the poor will be cause to lose your own riches.
Thirty Sayings of the Wise
17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?
Verse 17 of Chapter 22 begins what is often referred to as the “Thirty Saying of the Wise”. The first six of these sayings are contained in chapter 22 as they all deal with respect. Verses 17-21 set up these thirty sayings by asking us to pay attention because to do so will teach us to be honest and to speak truthfully. These verses also tell us how pleasing to the Lord it is when we put these thirty sayings into practice. Some consider them as an additional thirty commandments to go along with what we currently know as the Ten Commandments. Verses 17-21 are considered to be the first of the thirty.
22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.
Again we see in Chapter 22 the importance of not taking advantage of the poor. This is also the second of the thirty sayings. These verses state that we are not to take advantage of the poor because they are poor. The most important thing about this saying is that we are told not to ask more of the poor in court than they are able to pay. This means if we are suing someone who is poor that we are to be respectful of their ability to pay their judgement. This could also apply to someone needy in another way such as someone who is disabled. This saying says that the consequences for this action is that the Lord will match your punishment of the poor with the same punishment for yourself.
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.
The third saying is about self respect. We are not to make friends with a person who is or easily become angry because it may rub off on us. If we respect ourselves then we will not put ourselves in a position to become ensnared by such a person.
26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.
Do not borrow if you do not have the means to repay. This is a lesson that could be learned by our society as a whole. Saying four tells us that if we go into debt and can not repay that we will become impoverished. Seems like common sense. This a matter of self-respect as well as respect for the lender just as is verse seven of this same chapter.
28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors.
The fifth saying has a meaning that is two-fold. First, we should respect our ancestors, but second we should not be dishonest and misrepresent our property to try to obtain more than what is ours. This is a matter of respect for those who are our neighbors.
29 Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.
Respecting those that we work for is important. Respecting those who work for us is even more important. The sixth and final saying in Chapter 22 is clear that if we see someone working for us that is good at what they do that they should be rewarded.
Proverbs 22 is an amazing chapter. Although it is all over the map topically, the overall lesson that I learn from it is that I am to treat everyone, every situation with respect. This is what is pleasing to God. This is what will earn us respect ourselves. Respect is what will make our lives profitable and will bring blessings. Lack of respect will bring us heartache, poverty and the wrath of the Lord.
Chris Hale is a coffee lover, single father raising three kids (three, five and seven), recovering drug addict (
twothree years sober), survivor of Paternal Post Natal Depression, dog owner, unapologetically Christian, IT Guy with Attention Deficit Disorder. You can probably imagine the trouble might get himself into. Follow Chris on Twitter @DaddysDown Check out his Blog Daddy’s Down http://www.daddysdown.com where he provides a place you can read about his life, family, public opinion about fatherhood and issues facing Dads today.