Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Proverbs (Proverbs 13-15)|
If you have already used the first two sets of Studies in Proverbs (Ch.1-9 & 10-12) you will know the basis of these individual proverbs, and as 10:1 tells us, they are the Proverbs of Solomon, the wisest man in the world.
If you have used the previous set of Studies you will know that with the individual proverbs, we are using a slightly different approach to the Study style we usually adopt.
What we will do therefore is simply take three verses for each study with a comment. The notes provided here are, therefore, purely starters to stir your thinking.
Again, because of their nature, it is impossible to provide a “Recap” as we usually do in these studies, and so instead we will simply provide a few words summary at the end of each chapter, just to jog your memory.
Just a brief word for those who are very gender conscious. Again and again Solomon speaks about the ‘man' and ‘he'. We'd like to take this as the Law used to take it – for ‘man' read man or woman, and for ‘he' read he or she. We're not going to write that every time, it becomes too wordy.
The Challenge of these proverbs
As we said in the previous studies in Proverbs, in a day when pluralism says all views are equally right, Solomon's proverbs scream into the market place, “No they aren't!!” Some things are right, and the opposite are wrong! Certain attitudes an actions are good, and others are definitely bad! When we meditate on the proverbs we see that in God's eyes there is black and white, bad and good. This is the major challenge of these timeless verses which, although written nearly three thousand years ago, are still as relevant to us today as they were to the people of Solomon's day. We hope you don't mind us repeating ourselves but these are vital things when we come to look at this particular part of the Scriptures.
Chapter: Proverbs 13
Passage: Proverbs 13:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. A wise son does what? v.1a
2. What does a mocker not do? v.1b
3. What comes from the fruit of a man's lips? v.2a
4. What do the unfaithful have? v.2b
5. Who guards his life? v.3a
6. Who comes to ruin? v.3b
Listening to instruction (v.1). In one short proverb Solomon exposes our attitudes to instruction. He cites a father and son relationship, as he so often does, and says it is a wise son who will listen to what his father tells him. With this must come humility and a willingness to recognise the need to be corrected, as well a need to recognise a greater authority than yourself. Such a son who does this is indeed wise. This is contrasted with a ‘mocker', someone who derides authority and considers they know it all. Although it is not stated, such a person will grow up woefully ignorant and liable to folly at every turn. Wisdom is absent in a large measure!
Goodness or a violent nature (v.2). The first half of this proverb is almost a repeat of 12:14 . How we speak determines the things that happen to us, and the things that happen to us determine our well-being. So, if we are careful about the way we speak and seek to speak only good and for the welfare of others, the fruit of that will be goodness for ourselves. Now, however, Solomon contrasts this with the life of “the unfaithful”. Why unfaithful? An unfaithful person cannot be relied upon; they are changeable and they have no sound moral base that creates reliability. They are out for themselves and adjust their standards to suit themselves. In fact their domineering spirit is aggressive and will come against any one who might oppose them. More than that, they seek to dominate by violence. At best we would call them bullies.
Circumspect speaking (v.3) This reflects the teaching already found in 10:13 , 32, 11:12b, 12:23 . A careful person thinks before they speak for they know they have the power to inflame the unrighteous and they hold back. In such a way they guard or protect their life. The person who cannot hold back but who speaks out thoughtlessly and rashly, will incur the wrath of others and, one way or another, will bring ruin upon themselves. Learn to hold back!
Chapter: Proverbs 13
Passage: Proverbs 13:4-6
A. Find Out:
1. What does the sluggard get? v.4a
2. How are the diligent satisfied? v.4b
3. What do the righteous hate? v.5a
4. What do the wicked bring? v.5b
5. What guards the man of integrity? v.6a
6. How are sinners overthrown? v.6b
Laziness versus diligence (v.4). The sluggard is a lazy person, yet such a person still has desires, but the problem is that they don't DO anything and so those desires don't get fulfilled. For a variety of reasons we can be ‘lazy'. It may be that we simply don't believe we're capable of changing things and so we dream dreams or even get visions, but we don't actually DO anything to bring them into being – and so nothing happens! The diligent is the careful person, the person who is careful to DO what is necessary. They see the vision and painstakingly work through the details to achieve it – and achieve it they do, and so are fully satisfied when the vision has been fulfilled. What are we?
Deception and Shame (v.5). So many of these proverbs are concerned to compare the righteous with the wicked. Here is another expression of the righteous: they hate what is false. Jesus came full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14 ). Truth is being real and being real is being what God has designed us to be. The righteous person therefore, intensely dislikes deception and unreality. The wicked person rejoices in it (implied by comparison) and their activities and words eventually bring their deception and falseness to be seen and as a result they are shamed and disgraced. These things will eventually be seen for what they actually are!
Consequences (v.6). Here is a man of integrity, a man who is concerned about having a right moral attitude in all his dealings. This man, and all his dealings, is righteous and that righteousness acts as a guard or protection for him. Righteous behaviour means you will not be judged or called to account for wrong. To the contrary, you will be praised for your right dealings. The sinner, by contrast, is involved in wrong dealings and those wrongs will eventually rebound on him and he will be judged and thrown out of that role in life. Yes, there are consequences to the way we have, they will come!
Chapter: Proverbs 13
Passage: Proverbs 13:7-9
A. Find Out:
1. What may be the truth about an apparently rich person? v.7a
2. What may be the truth about an apparently poor person? v.7b
3. What may happen to a rich person? v.8a
4. How does a poor person differ? v.8b
5. What shines brightly? v.9a
6. What is snuffed out? v.9b
False appearances (v.7). Pretence. Everything is not always as it seems, is the simple message of this proverb. Sometimes people pretend to be great, but actually have nothing. Others pretend to be nothing but in fact have much. Solomon doesn't go into the reasons why people pretend like this; he simply states it as a fact of life. We're almost left wondering why he wrote this proverb. Another proverb from the world simply says, “All that glitters is not gold”. Perhaps Solomon is simply saying, don't be taken in by outward appearances, which is the same as the warning that the Bible gives (1 Sam 16:7).
The downside of riches (v.8). Riches can draw the attention of the wicked and so kidnapping can produce a ransom demand. It is always a threat in the background, something that might happen, to those with much wealth. The poor person has no such fear for there is no point in anyone demanding a ransom from them. But is there a spiritual dimension to this? Riches can certainly threaten the spiritual life, the relationship a person has with God. Riches can give us a false sense of security that makes us feel we don't need the Lord, and little by little the enemy can entice us out of relationship with God. Our life certainly comes under threat. The poor person has no such enticement; he knows that he is in need and that need might make him lean on God.
Inner light (v.9). Again we come back to the ‘righteous' person, this person who has placed their reliance in God and who seeks His ways and His will in every aspect of their living. It is like there is a light shining in this person and as they walk with the Lord it shines brightly. Inside the wicked, any good desires are snuffed out by the overall heart intention to be self-centred, godless and unrighteous. The darkness of these things snuffs out all good intentions. Their only hope is that the Lord will come and draw them by the working of His Spirit in ways that defy our understanding. Otherwise there is no hope.
Chapter: Proverbs 13
Passage: Proverbs 13:10-12
A. Find Out:
1. What breeds quarrels? v.10a
2. Where is wisdom found? v.10b
3. What dwindles away? v.11a
4. Who makes his money grow? v.11b
5. What makes the heart sick? v.12a
6. But what proves to be a tree of life? v.12b
Proud or teachable? (v.10). Pride breeds quarrels. Why? Because pride is simply an expression of self-centredness, and self is opposed to the views of other people that do not bolster up self. If others dare speak words that run contrary to the beliefs of the proud person, he rejects them and is angry. A wise person, by contrast, is open to the views of other people and is able to take their advice if their experience is greater perhaps. Indeed openness to others is an expression of wisdom that respects and honours the viewpoints of others and is open to learn from them (that doesn't necessarily mean to accept them!).
Gathering Money (v.11). Solomon is remarkably worldly wise. He knows people and he knows that a dishonest person is also a careless person, and so that which a dishonest person gains dishonestly will be used carelessly and will just fritter away. There is no wisdom in such behaviour – the getting or the spending. The dishonest person is also usually impatient and cannot persevere with hard work; that is why they resort to dishonest means. The honest worker, who is wise, simply gathers bit by bit and builds up his wealth. It is said that many millionaires are millionaires simply because they held onto what they earned and did not spend it! Such a person is willing to put in hours and hours to achieve their ends, and build gradually, bit by bit.
Hope fulfilled (v.12). Hope is looking to the future with eager expectation. Hope, very often, is the instrument that keeps us going. The only trouble is that when that hope is never being fulfilled, we become cynical and weary. In other words, our heart becomes sick. However, when that long held hope is finally achieved, it is like there is a tremendous reward – a joy that lifts us and sets us going again. It is like a whole new stream of life is released within us that gives us fresh strength to go on to new things. Perhaps sometimes we should set more realistic day to day attainable goals, to achieve daily refreshing.
Chapter: Proverbs 13
Passage: Proverbs 13:13-15
A. Find Out:
1. What will happen to the one who scorns instruction? v.13a
2. What about the one who respects a command? v.13b
3. What is a fountain of life? v.14a
4. What does it also do? v.14b
5. What does good understanding do? v.15a
6. What is hard? v.15b
Responses to Instruction (v.13). The sort of person we are is revealed in the way we heed instructions. People joke about “in the last resort follow the instructions” when it comes to putting together DIY furniture etc. But there is a bigger issue here: whether we have a teachable spirit and can learn. Solomon simply warns us that if you ignore instructions you will pay for it – things will go wrong. Why? Because the whole point of instructions is that they are supposed to help and guide us and so the person who respects of follows the instructions given will be rewarded by success, whether it be in DIY or at work or wherever. What is it in me that rises against instructions?
The teaching of a wise person (v.14). The fact that a person is wise means that they have learned true truth and understand how life works. When they share their wisdom they are sharing life and those who listen and heed it, receive life. Such wisdom will turn others from folly and the snares that go with it, which can even lead to death. The lesson must surely be that we must learn to listen to the wise, and in listening and responding will become wise ourselves.
Understanding and faithfulness (v.15). This appears a strange proverb at first sight. How are understanding and unfaithfulness contrasts? Good understanding wins favour? This means that a person who understands and follows truth will bring blessing to others and that will win favour in the eyes of others. When you understand how life really works (how God has made it to work), you will bring blessing to yourself and those around you – and that will lead them to have good feelings about you. The unfaithful person is a person who is unfaithful to truth, the way things are, and who therefore wanders from the truth and tries all sorts of weird and wonderful ways of living, but because they are off the right path, God's path, they are continually getting into difficulties, and life seems hard.
Chapter: Proverbs 13
Passage: Proverbs 13:16-18
A. Find Out:
1. How does a prudent man act? v.16a
2. What does a fool do? v.16b
3. Who falls into trouble? v.17a
4. Who brings healing? v.17b
5. Who comes to poverty and shame? v.18a
6. Who is honoured? v.18b
Origins of actions (v.16). When we act it isn't an isolated incident; it is an action that results from what is in our heads. There may be wisdom and knowledge or folly. A prudent man is someone who is discretely practical, i.e. they are careful and wise in the way they act, with the intention to create a good outcome. Their actions are based on the knowledge that they have accumulated and the understanding that they have achieved, so they use it wisely to a good end. The fool is someone who gives little thought to life and to what he does. So his actions are often foolish and are seen to be so. He exposes who he is.
Bringers of news (v.17). Have you ever noticed the different ways people convey news or information? Two different people hear a weather forecast and when they pass it on you can get two entirely different views of what is likely to happen. One focuses on the bad aspects of the forecast and conveys that which distorts the forecast. Another only picks up the good bits. Both distort what they have heard. So it can be with messengers generally. The message conveyed comes with the slant of the heart of the person! A person who can be trusted because they are honest and true conveys good news well and brings healing and restoration. How do we pass on information?
Responsiveness to Correction (v.18). How we respond to teaching determines the outcome of our lives. Discipline is correction and training for a purpose. The outcome is a ‘disciplined life', a life that is sure and steady. The person who ignores discipline never brings order and discipline to their life and so is casual and sloppy about what they do. The result is that they never succeed or develop in what they do, and it is a downward spiral to things going wrong constantly, and poverty and shame are then the end outcome. The person who listens and responds to correction becomes wise and improves what they do and has success, which in turn brings honour. It is as simple as that!
A. Find Out:
1. What is sweet to the soul? v.19a
2. What do fools detest? v.19b
3. Who grows wise? v.20a
4. Who suffers harm? v.20b
5. What follows the sinner? v.21a
6. What is the reward of the righteous? v.21b
The outworking of desire (v.19). We have a longing or a desire, something we really yearn for. When it eventually comes something in us rises and is blessed. There is a real sense of how good this is. It's interesting that there is no moral slant on this; it is just a statement of how things are, but it does have a good feeling about it which is then contrasted with the desires of an evil person. This person is a fool and they yearn after doing wrong. There is such a strong desire in them that everything in them rejects turning away from that evil. The implication (with the word ‘But”) is that the first part of the proverb contrasts with the second part. It is legitimate there to suggest that it is “a good longing fulfilled”. When goodness works out, it brings a good feeling to us. We need to work for more goodness!
The company we keep (v.20). The sort of company you keep, both says something about who you are and what will happen to you. So, if you mix with wise people, you will learn wisdom from them. If you keep the company of fools, you will do what they do and harm will follow. The consequences of the two paths are clear and obvious.
Consequences (v.21). If the previous verse didn't shout about consequences loud enough, this one shouts even louder. Again and again these proverbs keep on telling us that there will be consequences flowing from the way we act. A sinner, because he is doing wrong things and stirring up the lives of others, will find that his actions rebound upon him. It's going to go wrong and it's going to cause harm, as clearly as day follows night! The righteous person, by contrast, who leads a good life, who seeks after honesty and integrity will find that those things bring the fruit of good responses from others, and those responses will mean good business and good business means prosperity. In the midst of it all the Lord will honour and reward the righteous person. It isn't only common sense, it is also the blessing of the Lord.
A. Find Out:
1. A good man leaves what? v.22a
2. What happens to a sinner's wealth? v.22b
3. What might a poor man's field produce? v.23a
4. Yet what may happen to it? v.23b
5. Who hates his son? v.24a
6. But what does the father do who loves his son? v.24b
Our wealth after death (v.22). What happens to what we manage to accumulate in our lifetime? It is left so those who follow us; we can't take it with us. Now, says Solomon, where it goes depends on the sort of person we've been. A good person will leave his money to his children and because he has lived his life honestly and with integrity, there will be no problem about it. More over he will have taught his children to be like him and they will use it wisely and thus be able to pass it on to their children. For the wicked person it is exactly the opposite: the way they accumulate it means there will problems after their death and it will be taken back. Again, consequences. Will we be those who bless the next generation or cause problems for them?
Injustice and the poor person (v.23). A poor person might work very hard and actually manage, by natural means, to achieve something, yet because they are poor and thus have little power, they are vulnerable to being preyed upon by others and losing what they have. Solomon is simply pointing out an injustice of life that should not be. Some times these proverbs simply state an obvious truth and we are left to wonder what we will do about it. Answer here, protect the weak.
Discipline (v.24). A number of the proverbs are about discipline or correction. This one is specifically about fathers and sons. Whether we specifically mean discipline by beating or discipline by any other means doesn't especially matter. The point of the proverb is that if you love your child you will discipline them. The writer to the Hebrews reiterates this, that God disciplines is like parents' discipline because He loves us (Heb 12:5-11). The purpose of discipline is to bring a halt to wrong behaviour and train in right behaviour. Any loving parent will, therefore, discipline their child because they know that some behaviour is harmful or anti-social and if not attended to, this behaviour will only get worse. Correction is a vital part of learning and one of the roles of the parent is to bring learning.
A. Find Out:
1. How do the righteous eat? v.25a
2. But what happens to the wicked? v.25b
3. What does the wise woman do? v.1a
4. What does the foolish one do? v.1b
5. Who fears the Lord? v.2a
6. Who despises the Lord? v.2b
Righteousness and security (v.25). This is yet another proverb about consequences. Again and again Solomon is saying (or at least implying) that if you are righteous the Lord will bless you in a variety of ways. Here he is saying that righteousness is accompanied by sufficiency and well-being. He is saying that the righteous man will always have sufficient and be able to eat to his heart's content (which, because he is righteous, doesn't mean gluttony), i.e. will eat to the extent of his need. The wicked cannot expect the Lord's blessing and so his own dealings are likely to go wrong and he is likely to end up hungry. It is a simple warning of consequences.
The effect of a wise woman (v.1). A woman who has wisdom knows what is right and does it. In this way the Lord will bless her and she will be building her home. It probably doesn't mean literally building the house but more that she builds the family, creating a group of people who stand strong and secure in life. The foolish woman is likely to be self-centred, ungodly and therefore lacking this wisdom. What she does will thus be destructive. There will be tensions, upsets, dissension, rows, arguments, nagging. All of this have the effect of pushing the family apart rather than building it up and together. The wife in the family is likely to have much greater capabilities in this respect, for good or bad, than the husband.
Attitudes towards God (v.2). An upright person? One who's walk in life seeks to be morally correct, who seeks for integrity and justice. Such a person is aware of the frailty of mankind, aware that they themselves fail, and such a person recognises by comparison, God's holiness, and they have a reverential respect for Him, knowing they need his mercy and grace. The twisted person is defensive and in that defensiveness despises the Lord, trying to create reasons why God shouldn't judge them. They are foolish.
SUMMARY - Proverbs 13