There were no verses at the end of this chapter which jumped out and demanded “preach me!” There are no verses of deep theological significance. They are all typically practical in Solomon’s style. One verse would make a good evangelistic text, but that would be better for a Sunday morning than a Wednesday evening. But rather than just skip right over into chapter 20, I’ve decided to offer a few comments on each of the remaining verses. I pray that they will be a blessing to us – and instructive as they remind us of obvious truth.
“The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.”
Gill suggests that there are two ways to understand the first half of this statement. He says that “HIS kindness” refers to the Lord – The desire of a man is to receive God’s kindness. But not even Gill was excited about that interpretation. When looking for an antecedent for the pronoun, we can’t find the Lord in the context. Second, the desire of the average man usually has nothing to do with God – it is more secular. And third, wouldn’t the Holy Spirit first speak about God’s grace or mercy before His kindness? This isn’t talking about God’s kindness, but the kindness of certain kinds of people. But then again, we have problems. Grammatically, this doesn’t make much sense.
The best solution comes by starting at the end and working forward. A man who refuses to cheat or lie, is better than the average rich man. It is better to earn respect and to retain honor than to become comfortable among the wealth of sinners.
And it is that kind of person who would like to be a blessing to others, showing kindness to them. He may be poor and unable to actually help to any great degree. But his heart is there; he has BEEN blessed with the grace and mercy of God, so he would like to bless. It is the DESIRE of good people – of regenerated people – to show kindness. But sometimes the only thing he can do is pray for those in need around him; so that is what he does.
“The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied;
he shall not be visited with evil.“
This is the verse which would be a good text for a Sunday morning. The fear of the Lord is a gift from the Lord, like faith and repentance. And this fear tendeth to life because it is nurtured by God into humility, and it develops into repentance. It tendeth to life in the sense that is where it ends – even in eternal life.
The fear of the Lord, UNLIKE the fear of the law, the fear of death, the fear of anything else – ends in peace. “He that hath it shall abide satisfied” – satiated – full. Will that person have problems in this world? Absolutely. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” as well as other common difficulties. But ultimately, the man who fears the Lord will not be visited by the evil of eternal death.
“A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.”
This is about as proverbial as Solomon’s proverbs can get, and its meaning is obvious. There are people who look for excuses not to become involved – in some things – in anything. They hide their perfectly capable hands, lest someone think they can actually do a little work. There are thousands in this country who are so entangled in this problem, they bring themselves to the point of starvation.
ut isn’t there also a spiritual application? “Oh, there isn’t anything that I can do to serve the Lord.” The man buries his talent in the earth, as he buries his hand in the bosom of his shirt. “I expect the preacher to do all the work over at the church; after all that’s why the others pay him.” “I don’t have time to feed myself the word of God every day. “I attend church to be spoon fed the sincere milk of the word.” No wonder the man’s soul is as skinny as a rail.
“Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding,
and he will understand knowledge.”
It is argued today that it costs more to execute the murderer than to care for him in prison for 50 years. And with the corruption of the justice system, that is a generally true statement. But the accountants and statisticians rarely include one outstanding fact: Adequately smite the scorner, the murderer, the thief and a few people will fear to duplicate that crime. Execute a few murderers as God commands, despite the cost, lives will ultimately be saved. The Bible clearly declares – that is the purpose of responsible government. Kings and governors are “sent by (God) for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” – I Peter. 2:14.
Unfortunately, it takes a little initial understanding before that additional understanding can be received. And the way children are raised and families are destroyed, many young people don’t have the understanding to learn from the mistakes of others. Add the use of brain-destroying drugs, numbing entertainment, and misdirected education and the ability to understand evaporates from the social landscape like morning dew.
“He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother,
is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.“
How do children waste their fathers and chase away their mothers? By wearing them down over time with their scorn and rebellion. By ignoring their instruction and laughing at their godly values, until their fathers give up in despair. How to they waste their fathers? As the Prodigal did – wasting his father’s substance in riotous living.
I wonder to what degree the prodigal’s father felt shame at his son’s behavior? Maybe it was so far to that far country that the neighbors didn’t really know what was going on. But Dad knew. Did his love and faith keep the shame and reproach confined to a small corner of his heart?
“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”
This is perhaps the most substantial and practical verse in tonight’s set of proverbs. This world has never been “a friend to grace, to help me on to God.” But it seems to me that there are more voices out there causing people to err from the words of knowledge than ever before. Case in point: 30 million people watched the presentation of the Oscars ten days ago. From the comments I have read, there was a flow of constant promotion and praise of various forms of ungodliness. There was praise of homosexuality and even homosexual men dressed in evening gowns. There was ungodly music; criticism of godly morality, lawfully elected government and so on. And that was before the ungodly movies themselves. I hope that none of you tuned in to the Oscars. But that is not the only place where the Bible and Godly Christianity is demeaned and slandered. Everywhere we turn there are words of attack against truth, morality, sanity. Listen to Solomon; listen to David – “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”
“An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.”
Perhaps you pay attention to such things, and I won’t fault you for it. But I cannot listen to national news and all the talk about Senate hearings, judicial inquiries and Washington City shenanigans. It turns my stomach to hear all the charges and counter charges. And what sinks to the bottom of it all for me are what appear to be blatant liars on both sides. They lie, change their stories, and then lie again, scorning the potential judgment against them. Because they hold some degree of power, they think they are immune from judgment and justice.
So many people these days seem to have a hunger for iniquity; they feast on it.
But …. “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”
What if the government and judicial system is so corrupt there isn’t much judgment for those who scorn the truth? Our children and grandchildren may come to think that there is no justice in this world. And we may come to think that ourselves. But keep in mind and teach the young – God has prepared judgment for the scorner. It may NOT come in what we think is a timely fashion, but it is prepared and guaranteed by the eternal God.
Oh, and by the way kids, it’s not just for adults or away off in the future at the Great White Throne. The rules of godliness, honesty and morality apply to all of us. Step out contrary to the Lord, and expect to feel the Lord’s whip.