A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
The Values Produced by Wisdom
Proverbs 13:1-15 SCC 9/18/15
THE VALUE OF PARENTAL LOVE
Accepting Parents Discipline
13:1: The wise listen to instruction and respond properly to discipline. It’s also possible to raise scorners who think they know what is best and not teachable through discipline. In Proverbs, and throughout the Bible, parents have the responsibility for raising their children, but they are not responsible for the character of their children. You might think, “What did I do wrong? What sin did I commit? What mistake did I make?” If one committed sins, they should repent. If one made mistakes, they should learn and change. But just because things are difficult does not mean we sinned or made mistakes. There are two other significant factors—the sovereignty of God and the character of other people. Parents have responsibilities and children have responsibilities, but neither is responsible for the character of the other. Parent’s discipline and children must respond to that discipline—their response is crucial.
Leaving an Inheritance
13:22: Solomon says one helps his or her grandchildren by including them in the will. In Israel blessing extended to the righteous who would have something to pass on while the sinner would have nothing to bequeath. The responsibility of a parent is to leave an inheritance for the next generation. One’s responsibility to his or her children is not over when we are older and they are on their own. We should leave behind something, which can help them financially. Wealth, be it small or large, should flow through the generations. It is not something any generation should use up or spend on themselves. The amount we should pass on is dependent on our life situation and how much God has given us. But there is no biblical rule, which says each child, should start from scratch. A child is to be responsible for what he has but not necessarily to start over.
13:24: A responsibility of a loving parent is to discipline his children. There are two significant issues:
The Nature of Discipline
Parents are called upon to discipline their children, not punish them. Punishment is the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retaliation for an offense. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior. Punishment is paying back a person for what they have done. It is an attempt to balance the scales of justice. Discipline has nothing to do with justice or pay back. Discipline is about getting someone who has wandered off the path back on the path, or keeping them on the path. It is corrective not punitive. So parents should never punish their children but discipline their children.
The Role of Spanking
(1) Spanking should be part of a parent’s disciplinary process. If you do not spank at all, you will not be able to deal with some disciplinary issues. Most children some of the time, and some children most of the time, respond to spankings. If you refuse to spank your child, you will probably be neglecting some aspect of his or her development.
(2) Some issues require spanking because spanking can force a child to abandon his or her own value system, which is usually based on selfishness. Spankings are helpful when a child doesn’t get it. When he or she doesn’t understand right and wrong, he can understand pain.
(3) Spanking should not be your only disciplinary tool. In Proverbs, children were disciplined with instruction, restriction of activities, and scolding. Also the rod of correction in Proverbs is sometimes metaphorical for discipline in general. And some children seem to have a cast iron bottom, and spankings are not very effective. Things like age, sex, physical condition, and the personality of the child determine the effectiveness of spankings. The parent who just spanks a child for every offense is not communicating very effectively.
THE VALUE OF HAPPINESS IN LIFE
Happiness is a result of fulfilled desire
13:12: It is invigorating to realize one’s hopes and to fail to do so can be discouraging—even depressing. In a sense, it is a cure for the sluggard. The sluggard is lazy because he has no hopes and desires v 4. The solution for the sluggard is to find some. A person without desire is incapable of happiness. Fulfilled hopes and desires are the honey of life, which should be eaten for it is good. Perhaps believers should make it part of their task to help others realize their hopes whenever possible. We cannot live without having some future desires, which I expect, will happen.
Happiness is related to a true sense of satisfaction
13:19: Satisfaction and joy come when a hope is realized. Yet fools continue on in their sin implying that their hopes are unfulfilled. Their chaotic lifestyle prevents genuine joy from fruitful hopes. Solomon is only discussing happiness on earth. There is no consideration in Proverbs of eternal life, salvation, or life with God in heaven. So any New Testament directives concerning our eternal state would trump these principles of earthly happiness. Nonetheless, we all currently live on earth, so these principles are still very timely. Proverbs teaches people to make their desires good so that fulfilling them is a cause for pleasure and joy during one’s lifetime.
THE VAUE OF POSITIVE CHARACTER QUALITIES
1. A wise man does not always say what he thinks v 2-3. He is able to restrain his lips, conceal matters that don’t need to be said, and ponder his thoughts without speaking. He allows his heart to instruct his mouth, considers how to be persuasive in what he says and then and only then does he speak.
2. The righteous hates falsehood and avoids acting shamefully v 5-6. The idea is that the righteous’ gains perspective about what god hates v 5. That begins to shape his or her soul. They avoid the shame of scandal, which the wicked can never quite shake. It follows them. It marks them. Additionally, righteous living is a form of protection v 6. The integrity it generates is like a fortress protecting the person. By contrast, perverse and malicious activity plunge one into a sinful tailspin.
3. The righteous are honest and unpretentious v 7. People may not be what they seem to be on the surface. Some, Solomon says, who are poor pretend to be rich, perhaps to save face, and others pretend to be poor concealing otherwise possibly to get more out of the charade rather than using what they already possess. An empty display either way is dishonest, smacks of insecurity and deceit.
4. The righteous increases wealth by steady wise investment v 11. Here is a warning against wild speculation. If riches come quickly through some unfounded means it can be lost just as easily. The diligent gradual growth of one’s investment is accumulated honestly little by little and can avoid the pitfalls of dishonest gain.
5. The righteous listens to instruction rather than despise it v 13-14. Safety lies in obedience to and application of proper instruction v 13. That is its reward. The teaching of wisdom is life-giving v 14. It gives life but it also turns form the snares of death. However, instruction despised is paid for by the unavoidable consequences that will be created. Those consequences are death dealing not life-giving.
6. The righteous are discerning about life situations v 15-16. Wisdom and intelligence adds to ones social esteem v 15. Their capacity for sound judgment, good sense, and wise opinions gain them favor. The prudent knows the circumstances, dangers and pitfalls and such knowledge makes one cautious
v 16. In both cases, he or she is unlike the treacherous whose ways are not lasting or the fool who exposes his folly by his or her decisions. Being teachable is a valuable thing, but only in the context of discretion and knowledge. A fool may be teachable in the sense of being open to the foolishness of his subculture. So there is value in being teachable in the ways of wisdom and righteousness.
7. The wise will find others of positive character to associate with v 20. Actually, Solomon indicates here that a major source of wisdom is walking with the wise. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Those who walk with fools will suffer the harm fools bring upon themselves. The problem with a fool lies in his inner spiritual nature. Therefore, he is not correctable with external discipline.
Wisdom adds virtue to a parents love, happiness in life, and positive character qualities. A lack of wisdom hinders parental love, happiness in life, and positive character and possibly corrupting these.