A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

Wisdom Provides Stability

Proverbs 28 SCC 1/17/16

 

A by-product of wisdom is stability in life. This does not mean that life for a wise person is problem free. What it does mean is that a wise person is applying wisdom to his or her life and this in and of itself makes life stable. Wisdom understands how things actually are in life and so acting in conformity to that knowledge. Solomon wants his sons to avoid the chaos of a foolish life.

 

STABILITY IN LIFE RESULTS FROM THE ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND

Understanding is a process of comprehension. It is a combination of discernment and enlightened intelligence. Stability is the fruit of understanding.

Understanding contributes to political stability v 2.

Political stability is the result of discerning leadership while unrest and rebellion in a nation results in turnover of leadership. The Northern kingdom had 20 kings but was entirely unstable.

Understanding produces a keen sense of justice v 5

First are those who pervert justice through evil. Their sense of right and wrong is perverted impacting the application of justice. They lack the understanding required to apply justice. Second, the righteous who seeks the Lord can apply justice to life accurately and appropriately.

Understanding is expressed by obedience v 7

A son who obeys teaching and instruction is wiseóhe has insight and understanding. A fatherís instruction would harmonize with Gods law and unfortunately a son who spurns it by becoming a companion of gluttons dishonors the instruction.

Understanding provides the ability to perceive reality v 11

Even the poor one who would not be expected to perceive reality can see through the flaws of the rich manósee through his pretensions. Having money does not mean a person is wise. A lack of it does not mean one has no understanding of things.

Understanding refuses to abuse power v 15-16

Political tyrants are dangerous and destructive v 15. A leader who tyrannizes lacks judgment or good sense by abusing his power for personal again v 16. Rehaboam was unwilling to listen to the people and instead to his advisers destroying his right to rule. In contrast, one who refuses to use his or her power for personal gain enjoys the fruit of that reign or power and authority.

NB: It is the one who has understanding that usually makes the difference. Solomon says that is so for effective political leadership. It is necessary in the application of justice. Itís essential for making oneís life decisions. Its required if one is to perceive how things really are. And it tempers how one appropriates authority over others. Contrast these scenarios with one who has no understanding. It only leads to chaos, disorder, injustice, and abuse.

 

STABILITY IS THE OUTCOME OF THE APPLICATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

A righteous life is a stable life. An unrighteous life is a chaotic life. Solomon wants his sons to be prepared for life in the street. That requires the application of a righteous life.

Develop your character v 1

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them because they are afraid someone might be after them. They are always thinking that someday they will get caught. By contrast, the righteous are bold. Bold is probably a good translation for this context, but it doesnít capture the main idea of the word. The righteous are confident trusting in their righteous ways as a young lion trusts in his strength. The point is, positive personal character makes a person confident. Maintain your personal and spiritual integrity.

Resist wicked lawbreakers v 4

Verse 4: When people turn from obeying Godís commands they usually begin to commend or praise or side with the wicked. Instead, law keepers resist the wicked and seek to uphold justice. Without this people cannot expect justice to prevail. We should resist and not side with or sympathize with them. Paul says sinners give hearty approval to those who practice unrighteousness (Romans 1:29-32).

 

Be exemplary v 6

Honest poverty is better than dishonest wealth according to Gods way of thinking. This is the double wayed person who is a double dealer and hypocritical. Being crooked is perverting that which is right. The righteous would rather have integrity than perverted wealth. Here a righteous one is motivated by virtue rather then greed. Have integrity.

Donít become greedy v 8

Charging exorbitant interest is a form of greed. Prudent measures guaranteed benevolence to the poor rather than taking advantage of their plight to aggrandize another. Donít try to get ahead on the backs of those God says you should serve. Justice eventually overtakes injustice.

Donít turn from Godís Word v 9

God will not listen to the prayers of those who do not listen to him. The prayers of those who refuse to obey the Bible are an abomination to God. The law is Solomonís Scripture. For us, that would be the Old and New Testaments. If we refuse to obey the revealed Word of God, then our prayers are an abomination to God. Attempting to get the Bible to agree with your lifestyle is a form of abomination. Prayers that attempt this are an abomination to God because you are requesting God to agree with something contrary to His stated will. He wonít do that.

Donít corrupt others v 10

Judgment is certain for those who the upright into evil. The wicked will end up caught in ones own devices. This is called talionic justiceówhat goes around comes around. This reveals that the righteous are corruptible. But rewards await those who have integrity.

Donít hide your sin v 13

Hiding sin does not pay off. Dealing with sin by confessing and renouncing it rather than advocating for it, like being a gay-friendly Christian, is the way to Gods compassion. Confession results in compassion. We all sin. We all have sin natures, which will entice us to commit transgressions against God (Romans 3:10-23). Those sins will cause trouble for us and those close to us. But if we conceal our transgressions, which we usually do, then we will have some additional problems. (1) We will suffer the consequences of two sins. (2) We will destroy our long-term prosperity. (3) We will not find compassion either from our friends and family, or from God.

Donít be dishonest v 21

It is true that one can be bribed for a very small priceóhere a piece of bread. Justice can so easily be perverted. It is shameful how a justice system can be infiltrated so easily by greed and bribery. Dishonesty often has short-term advantages. The whole motivation for dishonesty is short-term gain. Bribes, lies, showing partiality, cheating, all offer short-term value. They mortgage the future for the present. Dishonest people either: (1) do not think about future consequences at all, (2) believe they will not be discovered, or (3) assume it will not matter. But every action has consequences (Galatians 6:7), and there are no secrets, which will not be revealed (Luke 8:17).

Walk wisely v 26

The application of trusting the Lord is walking wisely in life. Only a fool would trust in himself. That is a sure way to chaotic destruction. The fool here is the stupid fool. His problem is he trusts his own heart. Interestingly, this is very common advice given in our culture today. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is told to trust his feelings as a way to tune into The Force. In everything from romance to religion, we are told to trust our feelings. The idea is we are spiritually morally independent creatures who can decide for ourselves what is right. And that, by definition, is right as long as it does not hurt anyone else. Solomon says that will make you into a fool because instead of learning wisdom, the way things actually are in the real world, you make decisions based on your feeling and desires. Unlike our postmodern thinkers, Solomon believes in a definition of truth, which describes the way things actually are. Truth for Solomon is not an individual, subjective, relative thing, but a general, objective, absolute thing.

NB: It is difficult to apply righteousness to our lives. That means we must go against the grain of our sinful nature. Thatís hard because we believe we know better what is in our bests interests. God says the path to stability is a righteous one. One cannot expect to manage life well if sin is always an alternative. If so, your life will reap the consequences you sow. Chaos will disrupt and destroy. Be wise.