These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.
I'm sure you noticed this heading at the beginning of chapter 25, illustrating again that the book of Proverbs is a compilation of many works which were produced over the centuries. It is not surprising that Hezekiah, as the king who brought Judah back to worshiping the LORD, would have commissioned Solomon’s proverbs to be copied and preserved.
As there is no other boundary marker, we can assume that today’s chapters are all part of the Hezekiah compilation. In the first chapter, there are three distinct sets of proverbs, each built around a keyword. They are so obvious that you will notice them immediately. It is also obvious that there is no real consistent theme in the proverbs’ observations. As is often the case throughout this book, you’ll need to look well beyond these few verses to properly develop context for any one individual remark.
The power of the tongue and the nature of friendship are the themes of chapter 27, rulers are a recurring topic in chapter 28, and the effects of wisdom and folly are catalogued in chapter 29. Some of the sayings are obvious and feel timeless, such as “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Others are more cryptic, as with: Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.
Remember that these proverbs are born of a context: culture, time, and place. Read the text gently, and often. Take a verse you find striking today and meditate on it, for you never know what life, experience, and the Author will draw your attention to tomorrow.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Proverbs 26 through 29. Now let’s read it!
Proverbs 26 - 29
26:1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.
Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
Like a lame man's legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.
Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty,
but a fool's provocation is heavier than both.
Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend,
and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him who reproaches me.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.
Take a man's garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress.
Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
rising early in the morning,
will be counted as cursing.
A continual dripping on a rainy day
and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
to restrain her is to restrain the wind
or to grasp oil in one's right hand.
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who guards his master will be honored.
As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man.
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and a man is tested by his praise.
Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle
along with crushed grain,
yet his folly will not depart from him.
Know well the condition of your flocks,
and give attention to your herds,
for riches do not last forever;
and does a crown endure to all generations?
When the grass is gone and the new growth appears
and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered,
the lambs will provide your clothing,
and the goats the price of a field.
There will be enough goats' milk for your food,
for the food of your household
and maintenance for your girls.
28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.
When a land transgresses, it has many rulers,
but with a man of understanding and knowledge,
its stability will long continue.
A poor man who oppresses the poor
is a beating rain that leaves no food.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law strive against them.
Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.
Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding,
but a companion of gluttons shames his father.
Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit
gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer is an abomination.
Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way
will fall into his own pit,
but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.
A rich man is wise in his own eyes,
but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.
When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
If one is burdened with the blood of another,
he will be a fugitive until death;
let no one help him.
Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.
A faithful man will abound with blessings,
but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.
To show partiality is not good,
but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.
A stingy man hastens after wealth
and does not know that poverty will come upon him.
Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
than he who flatters with his tongue.
Whoever robs his father or his mother
and says, “That is no transgression,”
is a companion to a man who destroys.
A greedy man stirs up strife,
but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched.
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
When the wicked rise, people hide themselves,
but when they perish, the righteous increase.
29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.
An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
Scoffers set a city aflame,
but the wise turn away wrath.
If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless
and seek the life of the upright.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.
If a ruler listens to falsehood,
all his officials will be wicked.
The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.
If a king faithfully judges the poor,
his throne will be established forever.
The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands, he will not respond.
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
will in the end find him his heir.
A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.
One's pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
The partner of a thief hates his own life;
he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.
The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.
An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.