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    915 verses
    14,532 words
    Wisdom Genre

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Daily Reader for Day 305: Proverbs 22 - 25

by Dave Moore

I’ve already cautioned you on drawing blanket applications from individual Proverbs, and a few samples from today’s reading reinforce that advice.  Here’s one: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”  One interpretation of this could be prescriptive: this is the way things should be… or this is the way God has ordered things.  But it doesn’t have to be prescriptive; it could be descriptive: this is the way things are. 

Compare this with what you hear just a few verses on, where the oppressor is warned that: “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.”  Put aside the implications for a second: in terms of their tenor and structure, is there any difference between these two?  Is one a warning while the other is an observation?  Are they both simply descriptive?  Or are they both instructive?  How do you know? 

I call attention to this not to confuse, but rather to draw your attention to the very nature of wisdom.  It is meant to be chewed on, mulled over, contemplated, and held in the full context of the Bible.  Given what we’ve seen in the law and the prophets, it’s hard to believe that God would condone a system where the rich rule over the poor, simply because they are rich.  But there is nothing in the style of the individual proverb that directs this application.  This – and all proverbs – must be held in the full context of the book of Proverbs, and indeed all of Scripture, to be faithfully applied.

There is a break in the middle of chapter 22 that reminds us of one of the most reaffirmed ideas in Proverbs: Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.  That your trust may be in the LORD, I have made them known to you today, even to you.  Remember the thesis statement from chapters 1 and 9: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.  Often in these chapters the author reminds us that it is not simply healthy living that they are advising, but to fear the LORD, and to “not join with those who do otherwise.”

Our verse for this week is Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 22 through 25.  Now let’s read it!

Proverbs 22 - 25

22:1   A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
    and favor is better than silver or gold.
  The rich and the poor meet together;
    the LORD is the Maker of them all.
  The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
    but the simple go on and suffer for it.
  The reward for humility and fear of the LORD
    is riches and honor and life.
  Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
    whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
  Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.
  The rich rules over the poor,
    and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
  Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
    and the rod of his fury will fail.
  Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
    for he shares his bread with the poor.
  Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
    and quarreling and abuse will cease.
  He who loves purity of heart,
    and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
  The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge,
    but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
  The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
    I shall be killed in the streets!”
  The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
    he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it.
  Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
  Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

  Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
    and apply your heart to my knowledge,
  for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
    if all of them are ready on your lips.
  That your trust may be in the LORD,
    I have made them known to you today, even to you.
  Have I not written for you thirty sayings
    of counsel and knowledge,
  to make you know what is right and true,
    that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?
  Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
    or crush the afflicted at the gate,
  for the LORD will plead their cause
    and rob of life those who rob them.
  Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
    nor go with a wrathful man,
  lest you learn his ways
    and entangle yourself in a snare.
  Be not one of those who give pledges,
    who put up security for debts.
  If you have nothing with which to pay,
    why should your bed be taken from under you?
  Do not move the ancient landmark
    that your fathers have set.
  Do you see a man skillful in his work?
    He will stand before kings;
    he will not stand before obscure men.
23:1   When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
    observe carefully what is before you,
  and put a knife to your throat
    if you are given to appetite.
  Do not desire his delicacies,
    for they are deceptive food.
  Do not toil to acquire wealth;
    be discerning enough to desist.
  When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
    for suddenly it sprouts wings,
    flying like an eagle toward heaven.
  Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
    do not desire his delicacies,
  for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
    “Eat and drink!” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.
  You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten,
    and waste your pleasant words.
  Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
    for he will despise the good sense of your words.
  Do not move an ancient landmark
    or enter the fields of the fatherless,
  for their Redeemer is strong;
    he will plead their cause against you.
  Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ear to words of knowledge.
  Do not withhold discipline from a child;
    if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
  If you strike him with the rod,
    you will save his soul from Sheol.
  My son, if your heart is wise,
    my heart too will be glad.
  My inmost being will exult
    when your lips speak what is right.
  Let not your heart envy sinners,
    but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
  Surely there is a future,
    and your hope will not be cut off.
  Hear, my son, and be wise,
    and direct your heart in the way.
  Be not among drunkards
    or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
  for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
    and slumber will clothe them with rags.
  Listen to your father who gave you life,
    and do not despise your mother when she is old.
  Buy truth, and do not sell it;
    buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
  The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
    he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
  Let your father and mother be glad;
    let her who bore you rejoice.
  My son, give me your heart,
    and let your eyes observe my ways.
  For a prostitute is a deep pit;
    an adulteress is a narrow well.
  She lies in wait like a robber
    and increases the traitors among mankind.
  Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaining?
  Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has redness of eyes?
  Those who tarry long over wine;
    those who go to try mixed wine.
  Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
  In the end it bites like a serpent
    and stings like an adder.
  Your eyes will see strange things,
    and your heart utter perverse things.
  You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
    like one who lies on the top of a mast.
  “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
    they beat me, but I did not feel it.
  When shall I awake?
    I must have another drink.”
24:1   Be not envious of evil men,
    nor desire to be with them,
  for their hearts devise violence,
    and their lips talk of trouble.
  By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;
  by knowledge the rooms are filled
    with all precious and pleasant riches.
  A wise man is full of strength,
    and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
  for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
  Wisdom is too high for a fool;
    in the gate he does not open his mouth.
  Whoever plans to do evil
    will be called a schemer.
  The devising of folly is sin,
    and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.
  If you faint in the day of adversity,
    your strength is small.
  Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
  If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
  Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
    and will he not repay man according to his work?
  My son, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
  Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
    if you find it, there will be a future,
    and your hope will not be cut off.
  Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
    do no violence to his home;
  for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
    but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
  Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
    and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
  lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
    and turn away his anger from him.
  Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
    and be not envious of the wicked,
  for the evil man has no future;
    the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
  My son, fear the LORD and the king,
    and do not join with those who do otherwise,
  for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
    and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

These also are sayings of the wise.

  Partiality in judging is not good.
  Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,”
    will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,
  but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
    and a good blessing will come upon them.
  Whoever gives an honest answer
    kisses the lips.
  Prepare your work outside;
    get everything ready for yourself in the field,
    and after that build your house.
  Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,
    and do not deceive with your lips.
  Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
    I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
  I passed by the field of a sluggard,
    by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
  and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
    the ground was covered with nettles,
    and its stone wall was broken down.
  Then I saw and considered it;
    I looked and received instruction.
  A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
  and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

25:1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.

  It is the glory of God to conceal things,
    but the glory of kings is to search things out.
  As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth,
    so the heart of kings is unsearchable.
  Take away the dross from the silver,
    and the smith has material for a vessel;
  take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
    and his throne will be established in righteousness.
  Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence
    or stand in the place of the great,
  for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
    than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
  What your eyes have seen
    do not hastily bring into court,
  for what will you do in the end,
    when your neighbor puts you to shame?
  Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
    and do not reveal another's secret,
  lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
    and your ill repute have no end.
  A word fitly spoken
    is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
  Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
    is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
  Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
    is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
    he refreshes the soul of his masters.
  Like clouds and wind without rain
    is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.
  With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
    and a soft tongue will break a bone.
  If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
    lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
  Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house,
    lest he have his fill of you and hate you.
  A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
    is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.
  Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble
    is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
  Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
    is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
    and like vinegar on soda.
  If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
    and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
  for you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the LORD will reward you.
  The north wind brings forth rain,
    and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
  It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
    than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
  Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
    so is good news from a far country.
  Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain
    is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
  It is not good to eat much honey,
    nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.
  A man without self-control
    is like a city broken into and left without walls.


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