Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Proverbs (Proverbs 10-12)|
Chapter: Proverbs 11
Passage: Proverbs 11:2-4
A. Find Out:
1. When does disgrace come? v.2a
2. When does wisdom come? v.2b
3. What guides the upright? v.3a
4. What happens to the unfaithful? v.3b
5. When is wealth worthless? v.4a
6. What delivers from death? v.4b
Pride versus Humility (v.2). Pride is that puffing up of self that deceives one into thinking greater things about self than are true. Genuine humility sees self as it genuinely is. Humility recognises what is good in oneself but also realises the weakness and vulnerability of self to stupidity or the tendency of self towards failure. Pride therefore, is deception, while humility is facing reality. Pride foolishly exalts a person and so eventually there comes a fall when reality strikes. Disgrace comes to reveal the person as they truly are. Humility, on the other hand, sees life as it truly is and knows the self, and this is wisdom.
Integrity versus Duplicity (v.3). Integrity is that attitude that will not countenance untruth or deception in behaviour. Integrity is utter honesty in dealings. For the person whose heart is upright and true, integrity is a guiding star, that attitude that keeps them from falseness and instead seeks goodness, faithfulness, truthfulness, justice, rightness. With this attitude the upright heart is guided to avoid the marshy areas of temptation in dealings with other people that can suck in and destroy. The person who is not true to such an ethic is unfaithful and cannot be trusted because they will not bind themselves to truth. They weave webs of untruth and eventually are snared by them. Such a way is not only foolish, it is dangerous if not fatal.
Riches versus Righteousness (v.4). Wealth or riches can be deceptive. They give one the feeling of security. Riches can be used to protect against other people, and thus create a false sense of security that can lead the rich person to believe they can do what they like and get away with anything. Yet there will come a day of accounting for every single human being and on that day, the rich but careless man will find his riches do nothing to protect him from the wrath of God. What will deliver from that day? Only a righteous life, a life lived in the way God decrees, for that is righteousness.
Chapter: Proverbs 11
Passage: Proverbs 11:5-7
A. Find Out:
1. What effect does righteousness have for a blameless person? v.5a
2. How are the wicked brought down? v.5b
3. What delivers the upright? v.6a
4. What happens to the unfaithful? v.6b
5. What happens when a wicked man dies? v.7a
6. What happens to his power? v.7b
Righteousness versus wickedness (v.5). Righteousness and a blameless person are linked in a powerful way. A person who is blameless will be a person with righteous behaviour. In seeking to avoid fault of any kind as they follow the ways and laws of God, this person will find life is simple and straight forward and the path ahead clear and direct. The wicked person is the one who does what is wrong, and wrong can only be defined as wrong defined by God, actions that go in the opposite direction to the ways decreed by God. This person is ‘wicked' for they make a deliberate decision to go that way (we all do in some degree!) and this lifestyle means we bring things down on our own heads by our foolish ways.
Then Solomon seems to amplify this in verse 6. He now calls the blameless person upright . There is nothing crooked about them. Their righteousness will deliver them when things go wrong, as they often do in this Fallen World. The good and godly behaviour of this person will speak for them and will be the means of delivering them. The contrasting person is the unfaithful person, the one who does not stick with God but wanders their own way. Their behaviour will also be ‘unfaithful' and they cannot be relied upon, they vary too much by whim or fancy. Their behaviour is directed by their desires and their wrong desires lead them into wrong things which trap them.
Finally here (v.7), Solomon makes a simple pronouncement about the wicked man and his death . We all of us live in hope of something and the wicked live in the hope that their life will go on and on and they will get away with their wickedness. Over the course of time they devise wicked schemes to obtain power and they rely upon that power. However there will come a day when all of that will be stripped away and the wicked deeds, the money accrued, the power obtained, all fall away and they are left naked and helpless before God.
Chapter: Proverbs 11
Passage: Proverbs 11:8-10
A. Find Out:
1. From what is the righteous rescued? v.8a
2. On whom does it come instead? v.8b
3. How does the godless destroy his neighbour? v.9a
4. How does the righteous escape? v.9b
5. What happens when the righteous prospers? v.10a
6. What happens when the wicked perishes? v.10b
Trouble (v.8)! One word that means bad news, problems, difficulties, pain, upset, anguish, and it comes on every human being at some time in their life. When it comes, says Solomon, the righteous are ‘rescued'. Do you see what that means? It means some one gets them out of the mess. That someone, of course, is the Lord, who the Proverbs tell us, looks after the righteous. He doesn't want the righteous to have to put up with trouble, but He wants the wicked to know that wickedness breeds trouble, so He ensures that they have it!
Even more trouble – destructive words (v.9)! This times it comes from the mouth of a godless person and destroys those close to him. Why the godless person? Because such people (having rejected God for themselves) say things that are self-centred and wrong, and part of that self-centredness involves the pulling down or destroying of others – especially those that are close to them. Now the interesting thing is that when that ‘neighbour' is a righteous person, knowledge enables them to escape to consequences of that godless man's words. How? Because the knowledge in question is the knowledge of what to do and how to avoid destruction, i.e. wisdom! Wisdom comes to those who seek the Lord (Jas 1:5).
When the righteous prosper (v.10). Trouble comes, the righteous escape and prosper and the wicked go down under it. What then happens? It is seen for what it is, the truth is known and the onlookers respond accordingly. Righteous people are actually applauded because deep in their hearts every person knows that this is a good man here, and applaud him, even begrudgingly sometimes. When they see the wicked go down, they rejoice, because all the way along we feel frustrated when the wicked seem to get away with it and we feel justice ought to sort them out. When the trouble brings them down, we are glad, for we sense they are getting what they deserve and there is even a sense of relief when their wrong doing is brought to an end.
Chapter: Proverbs 11
Passage: Proverbs 11:11-13
A. Find Out:
1. How is a city exalted? v.11a
2. Yet how is it destroyed? v.11b
3. Who derides his neighbour? v.12a
4. Who holds his tongue? v.12b
5. Who betrays a confidence? v.13a
6. Who keeps a secret? v.13b
The welfare of the community (v.11). How can we bless the community in which we live? By being upright. How does that bring blessing? Because this is another way of saying be righteous, and God blesses the righteous, and if He blesses this person that blessing will rub off on the community (city) and they will be blessed and will be lifted up.
Meanwhile the opposite is true: when the unrighteous or wicked person operate it brings down the city. How will they do that? With their mouth. Unrighteous people do most damage with their mouths. The words they speak undermine others, demean and pull down, weaken resolve and generally bring harm and destruction. What contrasts!
Further use of the tongue (v.12). A foolish man who lacks understanding and wisdom speaks out against his neighbour and derides or demeans him. Why is this foolish? Why does this lack judgement? Both in its basis and in its effect! In its basis it is wrong. If our neighbour is lacking, there is a reason and they need our help. More than that, we ourselves lack and are not perfect. But words like that spread and are heard by the neighbour and only cause greater division and hostility. However, the man who understands all of this will realise the truth and the effects and will keep quiet.
Confidences (v.13). When someone shares something with you and you then share it, what does it say about you? it says you are a gossip. What is a gossip? Someone who chatters things about others to others, simply to build up self. How does it do that? Knowledge is power and power gives the impression of importance. A gossip seeks to show how important they are by giving information about others, and (usually) discussing the details of the lives of others, normally in a derogatory way. A trustworthy person, by contrast, when things of a personal nature are shared with them, respects the giver and keeps silent about those things. Which are you?
Chapter: Proverbs 11
Passage: Proverbs 11:14-16
A. Find Out:
1. Why does a nation fall? v.14a
2. Who make victory sure? v.14b
3. Who will surely suffer? v.15a
4. Who is safe? v.15b
5. Who gains respect? v.16a
6. Who gain only wealth? v.16b
Success of a nation (v.14). There are possibly many things that make a nation great and in their absence the nation falls. Proper guidance is one such thing. In its absence a nation will fall. There is need for godly wisdom to lead a nation and where it is missing there is only confusion and unset, or even just a drifting downwards. A nation needs a number of people with godly wisdom to act as advisors for it to be successful. How many leaders of the nation do we have who could be considered wise and godly?
Acting as security (v.15). Solomon is sure that the practice of putting up security for another is fraught with dangers. If you do it you'll suffer is his dictum. Some versions say security for a stranger, which adds to the sense of it here. Can you be sure of this other person? If they are moving in areas of finance where they need another to speak up for them, is it not an indication of a risky proposition, especially if it is someone you don't know. Now if you want the path of safety you will avoid getting caught up in such agreements.
Kindness versus ruthlessness (v.16). Solomon portrays these two characteristics through a woman and an obvious business man. A kind hearted woman gains respect. Why? Because her kindness is seen and is known to be good. It blesses people and it draws out good responses in others. Such a woman earns the respect of those around here. But then there are men (and it tends to be men) who get involved in business and they go all out for profit. What happens? At the end of the day they have gained their wealth but nothing else. They don't have the respect of the community around them, only the fear or resentment of that community, for they have gone out for their wealth without respect of persons and have trampled on people and left people feeling abused and done down! What a contrast: one who treats others with care and consideration and the other with disdain. Who will we be?
Chapter: Proverbs 11
Passage: Proverbs 11:17-19
A. Find Out:
1. Who benefits himself? v.17a
2. Who brings trouble on himself? v.17b
3. Who earns what? v.18a
4. Who reaps a sure reward? v.18b
5. Who attains life? v.19a
6. Who goes to his death? v.19b
Kindness and cruelty (v.17). Kindness, that ability to convey good through a caring and compassionate heart. Kindness is always outward going; it always seeks to bless others, which is strange because this verse says it benefits the kind man. Why? Because God has designed us to be those who give out and so when we're living as God designed us to be, we're functioning at our best and that feels good. Cruelty is the exact opposite. It is getting perverse personal pleasure by inflicting pain or unpleasantness on others, causing them pain, anguish or suffering. It is not surprising that such acts rebound on this person!
Earning or sowing (v.18). Wickedness and righteousness. Getting and giving. The wicked person is out to get, and the reward he gets for his activity, his wages, are deceptive. They appear at first sight to be good, but they don't last and indeed they turn sour on him. By contrast the good person, the person who seeks to be giving out goodness (righteousness), will bless others and will receive the blessing of God, and thus blessing will return on him. The same message comes through as in the previous verse: Give out goodness and receive God's blessing. Try to get for selfish reasons and it goes sour.
Righteousness and evil (v.19). Life and death. The truly righteous man? The one who responds to what God says and believes God and lives in relationship with God. This is a truly righteous man, and this man attains or reaches or is given by God, “life”. Life here means the fullness of living in God's world, in God's way and receiving all of God's goodness, all of God's blessing. This is “life”. Then there is the one who pursues or goes after evil. What is evil? That which is profoundly wrong in man's and God's sight, that is destructive, that is self-centred, and harmful. Is it any surprise that the end for this person is death? “Death” here means physically, morally and spiritually. In every way it is the exclusion of life.
A. Find Out:
1. Who does the Lord detest? v.20a
2. In whom does He delight? v.20b
3. What WILL happen to the wicked? v.21a
4. But what will happen to the righteous? v.21b
5. Who is then described how? v.22
The Lord's feelings towards men (v.20). The Lord detests? That sounds awful! What does detest mean? It means to hate or abhor. Older versions says such people are an abomination to the Lord, meaning a disgusting or loathsome thing! Who warrants these sorts of descriptions? “Men of perverse hearts”, or those whose hearts are deliberately turned away from God and towards doing wrong. Why are such people so objectionable to God? Because they are such a distortion of the human beings they were designed to be and as such they distort or spoil and harm God's creation. They are a blot on His wonderful Creation, and it is their choice or self will that does it! By contrast the Lord delights in the one who is blameless, who seeks to follow God and His ways, and who therefore only blesses, not harms, God's world.
Consequences (v.21)! As soon as we start thinking about the wicked, we cannot but help think about how they so often seem to “get away with it”, so Solomon follows this up with a strong word: “Be sure of this”. In other words, don't have any doubt, they WILL get what is owing to them! God will have a sorting out time and they will get their dues and the righteous will be acknowledged and will walk freely without fear of punishment, for none is due. For Christians that is true because Jesus has taken it all.
Unfortunate inappropriateness (v.22)! A beautiful woman who shows no discretion, or who speaks out foolishly and inappropriately, is to Solomon an anomaly. One would expect, he is saying, that beauty would be accompanied by wise words. You come across a beautiful woman and then out of her mouth come awful things. How tragic, what a shame. It shouldn't be so. Look, says Solomon, it's as bad as coming across a pig that has a gold ring through its snout. He reverses what we might expect to emphasise the analogy. It's not a beautiful creature with some awful impediment; it's a dirty creature with a beautiful ornament. It just emphasises the point!
A. Find Out:
1. What happens with the desire of the righteous? v.23a
2. What happens with the hope of the wicked? v.23b
3. What happens when one man gives freely? v.24a
4. What happens when another withholds? v.24b
5. Who will prosper? v.25a
6. What happens when a man refreshes others? v.25b
Hopes and outcomes (v.23). We all have thoughts about the future. We may desire or wish for something to happen, we may live in hope of something happening. Solomon say that when a righteous man desires, good is always the outcome. Why will that we? Because if he is righteous he will always be wanting for and working for good, and God will bless that, so good WILL be the outcome. The wicked hope for things for themselves, and go about trying to achieve it through wrong or bad means, and so the outcome is wrath or anger in others responding to them, or even in themselves, as the expression of frustration as God hinders the bad coming about.
Giving or withholding (v.24,25). The natural man within us wants for self. In the old nature it is natural to want to get rather than give, yet the truth is that giving is better and these two verses highlight that. When you give away, you get back. It is a law, a law where God blesses. Naturally you might say that when you give to others and create a “giving environment” they give back. It often works but not always. But the reality is that when you give you do get back, and that's because God is working on your case. Someone else works on the purely human philosophy that, “If I don't look after me, no one else will!” and so constantly tries to build up their resources and never give.
Actually that misses the blessing of God and therefore it is probable that this lifestyle will result in folly and poverty. It's the generous man who will prosper, Solomon goes on, and the one who seeks to bless and refresh others will be blessed and refreshed themselves. Why is this? Because that's how God works. When you give out of His love and His Spirit, He gives you more so that you can carry on doing it. His desire is more blessing for more people, so when you bless He blesses you, so that you can be an even greater source of blessing to others. Can we learn that God is a God of goodness and blessing? Don't hang on to it – give it.
A. Find Out:
1. Who is cursed? v.26a
2. Who is blessed? v.26b
3. Who finds goodwill? v.27a
4. Evil comes to whom? v.27b
5. Who will fall? v.28a
6. But what will happen to the righteous? v.28b
Market control (v.26). Here, at first sight, is a Proverb that we may think is beyond our day because it is agricultural, but the meaning behind it has far wider implications. The picture is of a farmer who hoards grain in his barn. Why is he cursed? For two reasons: first because he has the food that others need and seems unwilling to share it and second, because him hoarding the grain will push the price of grain up. In both ways, his control of the market harms the community. Thus those who control the markets for personal profit, should not be surprised that they incur the wrath of the community. The man who has and is willing to make it available is blessed. He is there as a supplier of good to the community, and the way he does it blesses the community, and so he in turn is blessed. Do our activities bless the community or simply produce personal gain and hostility from the community?
You get what you look for (v.27). If you look for and work for good, that good will bless others and that in turn will generate good will. The person who looks for evil or wrong, does wrong which inevitable does harm to others and the evil bounces back on him. It's simple and obvious, but still true!
Source of security (v.28). Our security can be real or superficial. Superficial security is that which comes with wealth. When we are well off we feel secure, for we have plenty. But that security is illusory. Finances can fail so easily, health can fail so easily, accidents can happen too easily! The righteous however, who by definition is one who has a relationship with the Lord, places his trust in the Lord and the Lord looks after him and provides for him. This is security. This man will have a continual flow of real ‘life' and he is the one who will remain like a green leaf, flourishing. Remember, there is a very real difference between illusory security with wealth, and real security with God.
A. Find Out:
1. Who will only inherit the wind? v.29a
2. What will happen to the fool? v.29b
3. What is the fruit of the righteous? v.30a
4. Who is wise? v.30b
5. Who first will receive their due on earth? v.31a
6. Who else will also? v.31b
Folly (v.29). This verse is a double warning. It does not give a blessing and a warning, simply two warnings. The first warning is for the child or younger person who brings trouble to their family. The warning is that they will lose their inheritance. Why? Probably because they will upset the family, and thus the ire of the father, and be dispossessed for their folly. It's a very simple warning that consequences follow folly.
The second warning is that a fool will become the servant of the wise. Why? Because the wise will prosper and the fool will only get into trouble and end up serving another. These are very simple warnings of the natural way that consequences follow our attitudes and our actions.
Fruitfulness (v.30). This proverb is a double blessing one. First it tells us that the life of a righteous person will bring forth fruit that is a source of ongoing life to others. Why will that be? Because that is how God has designed us, so when a person is living in relationship with Him and is following the ways God designed them to live, blessing will follow and that will be in the form of blessing from God, or life, for all who are touched by that person's life.
The second blessing is a simple declaration about the person who “wins souls”. What does that mean? It means winning people back from sin and into relationship with God. A person who does this is wise, because they know where the source of all life is – in relationship with God – and they know that when others come into that relationship goodness and blessing follow.
Consequences (v.31). Gal 6:7 simply says that a man reaps what he sows. This proverb says the same thing. The righteous get what has been promised to them – the blessing of God, which means goodness here and now on the earth. In the same way Rom 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. In other words, the ungodly sinner will bear the fruit or earn the wages of their lack of relationship with God and of their wrong behaviour. They will get what they deserve. God has declared it.
SUMMARY - Proverbs 11