A STUDY OF WISDOM FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Character and Conduct Impacted by Wisdom
Proverbs 25 SCC 12/27/15
Here are additional proverbs attributed to Solomon collected by the men of King Hezekiah—715 or so BC v 1. This was 250 years after Solomon grouping these proverbs in units of similar thought perhaps copied from one book or scroll onto another.
WISE BEHAVIOR (ones CC) BENEFITS LEADERS AS WELL AS THOSE BEING LED
Leaders provide vision that includes knowledge and understanding 25:2. God’s government of the universe is beyond human understanding—humans cannot fathom the divine intentions and operations. Human government cannot claim divine secrecy but has to investigate everything and then make things open and intelligible to their subjects.
NB: Good leaders provide vision that includes knowledge and understanding. God, being infinite, provides us with mysteries. We do not know much about the nature of the Trinity, the details of God’s eternality, what heaven is like, or how God can be sovereign and yet offer us real free will choices. The glory of God conceals matters. But this is not to be so with human leaders. They search out a matter, and give as good an explanation as is reasonably possible. But our search has to be based upon understanding and knowledge. This vision provides laws, or reasonable principles, which people can follow.
Leaders are resourceful enough to anticipate decisions 25:3. Government decisions are beyond the knowledge of the people perhaps because of superior knowledge of events, possibly caprice, or necessity to maintain confidentiality. Comparing to heavens height and earths depth, the king must be resourceful, always one step ahead to keep a firm grip on his power and enhance his perception by the people.
Leaders ensure they receive enlightened counsel 25:4-5. The illustration of v 4 possibly conveys material left over to forge something while v 5 applies this to mean remove the wicked and the throne is established in righteousness. Purging corrupt courtiers leaves righteous counselors for the leadership.
NB: Good leadership includes the removal of wicked people. Wicked people should not surround the leader or the people he leads. If wickedness is allowed to continue unchecked, others will suffer, because wickedness tolerated is wickedness approved. Unrepentant sinners must not be permitted to influence those they lead. But neither should they influence me.
Subordinates do not pursue promotion 25:6-7. It’s wiser to wait to be promoted than to risk demotion by self-promotion. Promoting oneself risks public humiliation but it’s an honor to have everyone on court per say hear the promotion from the leader himself.
WISE BEHAVIOR (ones CC) HONORS DUE PROCESS IN DISPUTES
One must not be too eager to testify lest he be put to shame publicly v 8. The case may have no valid claim and then one ends up in public disgrace. The warning then is about divulging information. Do not go out hastily to argue your case; otherwise, what will you do in the end, when your neighbor humiliates you?
Its best to keep personal quarrels personal and private to avoid public shame v 9-10. The point is not to divulge secrets in order to exonerate oneself. Argue your case with your neighbor, and do not reveal the secret of another. Or he who hears it will reproach you and your reputation will be ruined.
NB: Character and conduct impacts dispute management. Who you are when facing conflict says plenty about who you are. God says honor due process when managing your conflicts.
WISE BEHAVIOR (one’s CC) IMPACTS THE TOTALITY OF ONE’S LIFE
Here we have a series of similes—direct comparisons—between inanimate and living to make a case:
1. The point is use words skillfully 25:11. The illustration speaks of beauty and value and the point is of the immense value and memorable beauty of words used skillfully in the right setting.
2. The point is the benefit of receiving rebuke 25:12. Ornamental jewelry complements the outfit and the occasion for it. So too is the ideal combination of a wise teacher and willing student. A wise rebuke that is properly received is of lasting value to the hearer.
NB: So the lesson of v 11-12 is the attractiveness and value of timely speech in the form of rebuke, which contributes the appropriate insight necessary for the occasion.
3. The point is the value of faithfulness 25:13. The presence of snow seen in the mountains, combined with a faithful messenger, is one who lifts the spirits of those sent with a mission and message. A trustworthy messenger is refreshing to both the sender and receiver.
NB: So the lesson is of the reliability of someone asked to deliver something of value needed to be carefully carried and truthfully dispensed.
4. The point is not boasting about oneself 25:14 25:27. The simile of clouds and wind but no rain reveals expectation unrealized. The elements get one’s attention but prove disappointing. The promises of a boaster are empty like clouds and wind without rain. In v 27 to seek one’s honor is dishonorable—glory is good but like honey, too much of a good thing becomes bad.
NB: So Never praise yourself. We tend to tell our life stories in such a way that we are the heroes, or at least we were right. Subtle boasting is still based in pride. Praise should come from others, not ourselves.
5. The point is not to be a false witness 25:18. False witness can cause the death of innocent people. False witnesses are deadly to society like clubs, swords, and sharp arrows—all deadly weapons. A false witness does not contribute to justice but injures people’s lives. Lying can wound by crushing, dividing or piercing.
NB: Your enemies are usually former friends. Solomon discusses several aspects of conflict with your neighbor. Most of the particulars are dealt with elsewhere. But notice the general principle. Conflicts are usually not with strangers, and when they are, they are usually not significant. So significant, long-term, life-changing conflicts are usually with your friends and neighbors, those you are physically and personally close to. Actually, many people cannot tell their friends from their enemies who are usually former friends.
6. The point is people who cannot be trusted are useless 25:19. A bad tooth is painful and a lame foot is ineffective making both incapable of performing. A person relies on them for the basic needs to eat and walk. An unfaithful person is useless and painful like a decaying tooth or lame foot. The outcome will be painful and troublesome.
NB: So the lesson is of the crushing effect of being untrustworthy. It’s a basic component of humanity and when violated it has an obvious and painful effect like a decayed tooth and lame foot—basic essentials.
7. The point is to develop sensitivity 25:20. Removing garments when cold outside or neutralizing carbonated drink, illustrate irresponsible attempts to cheer people up which only makes matters worse. Singing songs to a heavy heart may only irritate the grief. Developing sensitivity is required.
NB: So the lesson is that being insensitive and unsympathetic is inappropriate and can bring a lot of destructive harm to another.
8. The point is the value of good news 25:25. The difficulty of getting news from a distant place heightens the refreshment of good news for a weary soul. This reminds us of cultural considerations.
NB: So the lesson is that good news eventually delivered brings relief especially because it bridges the gap between fear and knowledge.
9. The point is expecting evil plots that destroy the righteous 25:26. The picture of a muddied spring and polluted well suggests an unforgivable action. Ruining a righteous man by evil plots or schemes shows wickedness spoils righteous people without conscience. It’s ruinous.
NB: So the lesson is that the righteous will not always be appreciated. Sometimes they will get in the way of those plotting evil making the righteous expendable by any means.
10. The point is the need for self-control 25:28. Like a broken down city incapable of defending itself from intrusion is one who is vulnerable without self-control. He has no defenses.
NB: So the lesson is that an undisciplined person is vulnerable to all kinds of trouble which, when it arrives is capable of destroying his or her life.
1. You may find yourself a subordinate or a superior in life. In either case wisdom should be applied to both spheres.
2. You may find yourself in disputes—some surprising and unanticipated, others of your own making. Ensure due process as the best means of exonerating yourself or explaining yourself.
3. You may find yourself in a variety of scenarios through out life that are the result of circumstances, relationships, or opportunities. When you do, apply wisdom to these every time so the cumulative effect will be a life free from chaos and damage control built on order and knowledge of the regular patterns of life.