Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Proverbs (Proverbs 13-15)|
Chapter: Proverbs 15
Passage: Proverbs 15:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. What does a gentle answer do? v.1a
2. What does a harsh word do? v.1b
3. What does the tongue of the wise do? v.2a
4. What does the tongue of the fool do? v.2b
5. Where are the eyes of the Lord? v.3a
6. What are they doing? v.3b
The effect of words (v.1). Many of the proverbs are about the mouth and what we say. These first two are in this category. First of all Solomon speaks about the possible effects of our words, and the effects will reflect the nature of the words. When someone asks, challenges or queries something, how do we answer? A gentle answer will take the steam out of the question, challenge or query and will sooth the other person. Anger is averted. On the other hand, when there are harsh and probably unkind words, that only inflames the other person and anger erupts. Oh yes, there is no doubt, that the way we speak has the potential for bringing peace or upset.
The direction of words (v.2). Words can also guide others, they can suggest things, not specific things but whole courses of action. The words that come from a wise person come from wisdom and knowledge. The knowledge that they bring encourages or commends the other person to consider further and gain knowledge. Words born out of knowledge encourage knowledge. On the other hand when a fool speaks, all that comes forth is folly. Empty words with empty meanings. Wrong words with wrong meaning. The words and the effect they have depend on the heart they come from.
The eyes of the Lord (v.3). The Lord sees everything, yes absolutely everything! He sees what the wicked are doing and what the righteous are doing. Nothing escapes His notice. It is at this point that the unbeliever says, “So why doesn't he do something about it if He sees it all?” Interestingly that is an acknowledgement that the world needs something doing to, but the Lord will not take away the free will He's given to men. Yes He does see and He is moved and yes He does come down to do something – as with Moses (Exo 3:7-9) – but as with Moses He sends us to do the changing by His empowering. The Lord sees and He does move, but not in the way we sometimes think!
Chapter: Proverbs 15
Passage: Proverbs 15:4-6
A. Find Out:
1. What brings life? v.4a
2. What crushes the spirit? v.4b
3. What does a fool do? v.5a
4. Who shows prudence? v.5b
5. What contains great treasure? v.6a
6. What brings trouble? v.6b
The impact of the tongue (v.4). Yet again Solomon refers to what we say with our mouths. First of all it is possible for our tongue to bring healing. How? By speaking words of peace, reconciliation, restoration, wisdom, gentleness, goodness. In all these ways we can bring help to hurting people. It is like a tree of life where the fruit that is picked is like each of the words we just listed. Yet it is also possible for words to be deceitful, lying, untrue (it all depends on the heart!). Such words eventually pull down other people, they weigh down on people and crush them on the inside.
The wisdom of receiving discipline (v.5). Listening to instruction is another of Solomon's favourite topics. Where should discipline or correction come from? Out of relationship, a family relationship, from the father, for that is God's order. Because it is God's order, the child who disregards their father's discipline is a fool, stupid! This is God's way of bringing security and strength and so to disregard it is folly. It is the wise person who receives correction for that keeps them from harm.
The ways of the household (v.6). Remember, the righteous is the person who is in relationship with the Lord, who has submitted their life to God and is led by Him. In this person's home there is treasure. Does that mean material wealth? For some it might be, but for every righteous household there is treasure that is more valuable than mere riches. It is the treasure of real love, of real security, of acceptance, of being cared for. These things which are missing from so many homes are the real treasure of life. What does the unrighteous or wicked person have? Income. Just income. Money that comes and does them no good. In fact that money because it will be gained by dubious means, will only cause them trouble. More than that, the way they use it is likely to cause them trouble as well. It's just “income”!
Chapter: Proverbs 15
Passage: Proverbs 15:7-9
A. Find Out:
1. What spreads knowledge? v.7a
2. But what doesn't? v.7b
3. What does the Lord detest? v.8a
4. What pleases him? v.8b
5. What also does the Lord detest? v.9a
6. Who does He love? v.9b
Speech effects again (v.7). Yet again Solomon picks up on the effects that we can bring through the use of our mouths or tongues. How important speech is! First of all the positive possibilities: the person who is wise imparts knowledge to others because the wise wants others to also be wise. Wisdom starts with knowledge, goes onto understanding and finishes up with wisdom. This may sound obvious but when you consider a fool, you realise it isn't. The fool fills their life with meaningless, trivial chatter which helps no one. The fool isn't concerned to learn or to help others, so their words have no impact; they are like puffs of air that quickly disappear.
A right heart towards God (v.8). Even the wicked can sometimes try to make themselves look good to God. A crisis comes along and they offer God a bribe (sacrifice) if only He will help them, but the Lord detests such attempts to manipulate Him. But then he turns to the person whose heart is upright, the righteous, and He hears their prayer that comes out of concern for God's name or concern for others, and He is pleased.
A right walk through life (v.9). If the Bible says God “detests” something that means it must be pretty bad! This is the second verse here where it says, “The Lord detests…” The first one was about people trying to hang on to their unrighteousness while seeking to manipulate God for their own means. The second one is about the way or path of the wicked person. They are not how God designed them to be, they have strayed from the right path, they have wilfully gone their own way and they do wrong. God is against them! But then He turns and sees the heart of the person who seeks to ensure they have a right relationship with God, who seek to walk in His ways and live a life pleasing to Him, and His heart is warmed. Here is a person who is living according to God's design, here is a blessed life, and that is pleasing to God.
Chapter: Proverbs 15
Passage: Proverbs 15:10-12
A. Find Out:
1. What awaits you if you leave the path? v.10a
2. What happens if you hate correction? v.10b
3. What lie open before the Lord? v.11a
4. So what else will as well? v.11b
5. Who resents correction? v.12a
6. What will such a person not do? v.12b
Discipline & Correction (v.10). Every now and then in the proverbs, comes something about discipline or correction. Solomon is aware that we have a tendency to fall of the rails or wander off the track. What is the track (or path)? It is God's design for human lives and so, because he loves us (Heb 12:5-8), if He sees we are going astray, He will take action to get us back because He knows it will harm us and, possibly, even lead to death. We may be casual about such things but God can see the potential harm ahead if we are not restrained. The person who rejects God's correction is putting himself in a very dangerous position, potentially lethal!
God knows our hearts (v.11). Death and Hades are things that we cannot see through and into, but God can. There is absolutely nothing, is what Solomon is saying, that is hidden from God's eyes, and that includes what goes on inside you. God knows our thoughts, our feelings, and our intentions. We may try to look good, but God knows when we are starting to move from the truth. This verse sandwiched between two about discipline and correction is a timely warning. You want to avoid correction? Remember God sees what is going on inside you, so it's better that you take remedial action before God does!
A mocker's folly (v.12). The person described as a ‘mocker' often occurs in the proverbs. A mocker is someone who has got to the place, not only of rejecting God and His ways, but actively speaks out deriding the things of God. Their heart has fallen to this low point. Proverbs picks up a number of points about mockers. Here it is that a mocker doesn't like correction. A mocker has become set in his foolish ways and so if someone should dare to stand against him and seek to correct him, that mocker will resent and object to that. He is set on a foolish downward path and would be wise to go and talk to those who are wise, but because he isn't, he won't! This is his folly!
Chapter: Proverbs 15
Passage: Proverbs 15:13-15
A. Find Out:
1. What makes a cheerful face? v.13a
2. But what does heartache do? v.13b
3. What seeks knowledge? v.14a
4. But what does a mouth of the fool do? v.14b
5. Whose days are wretched? v.15a
6. But what does a cheerful heart have? v.15b
The state of heart (v.13). We have commented before that when the Bible speaks about “the heart” it means far more than the muscle that pumps blood around the body. It refers to the inner person, our personality, our feelings, our inclinations, our character, the very person we express. Here we have two aspects of the heart that affect our lives. Very simply when you are happy on the inside, it will be expressed on the outside (v.13a). But there is also another aspect to us – our spirit. Our spirit is that inner part of us that communicates with God, but the word is also used to mean the very centre of our life force. What Solomon then says is that when there is an inner unresolved ache, it crushes that inner life force, it pulls us down.
Truth and Foolishness (v.14). The person who is discerning, who distinguishes between good and evil, will always be wanting to know the truth, they will be seeking out knowledge which feeds their understanding, which helps them make wise and right decisions. The fool on the other hand likes to be heard and because he is a fool feeds on anything but the truth, so what comes out of his mouth is foolishness founded on untruths, on folly.
Life experiences (v.15). The experiences of human being are so varied. In a Fallen World sin means people are oppressed by others. The life of the person who is being oppressed is truly wretched (and our hopes, desires and activity should seek their release). But oppression can also mean being put down by Satan, so this comes in the form of dominating worry and anxiety. Such a dominated person is wretched. But then there are those who have a cheerful disposition and life, which is what the Christian's life is supposed to be. Life for them is a continual feast, a continual pleasure, receiving from the good hand of God. Is that our experience as a Christian, or do we let other people or the enemy dominate and spoil our lives?
Chapter: Proverbs 15
Passage: Proverbs 15:16-18
A. Find Out:
1. What is the first option presented? v.16a
2. What is the contrasting option? v.16b
3. What is the next first option presented? 17a
4. What is the next contrasting option? v.17b
5. Who does what? v.18a
6. But what does a patient man do? v.18b
Our first two verses here are contrasts and they are both about having a peaceful life.
Peaceful poverty versus anguished affluence (v.16). It's better to have little and know the Lord, says Solomon, than to have great wealth but turmoil and upheaval in your life. The implication is that when you have that awesome respect for the Lord, you will also have peace. The other inference is that when you have riches you will tend to reply upon yourself and not on the Lord, and upset will follow. That IS how it is very often, but it doesn't HAVE to be like that. It is possible to have a wise rich man who knows and relies upon the Lord but that IS difficult!
Simple food with harmony versus feasting with fighting (v.17) This is the second contrast. The first one was about having peace with the Lord, the second one is about peace between people. A simple meal with love shared between the eaters, says Solomon, is far better than a major meal where there is hatred between those at table. Perhaps implied here is the reality that very often there are better relationships with simplicity of life, as against the stresses and strains that come with affluence. How terrible to have great riches but to know that the people you sit down with despise or even hate you. It doesn't have to be like this but it often is.
Restraint (v.18). When there is conflict, the sort of person we are is revealed. The person who is hasty in their reactions very often is a hot tempered person, one who reacts over strongly and all they do is just create dissension. However, by contrast, the patient person is likely to be one who has learnt things about humanity and understand their own frailty and that of others. Thus they are willing to give other people time and space when there is upset, and are likely to be those who thus calm down a hostile situation. Looking to see WHY people are hasty or patient, reveals much about them (and us?)
A. Find Out:
1. Whose way is blocked how? 19a
2. How is the path of the righteous different? v.19b
3. Who brings joy to his father? v.20a
4. What does a foolish man do? v.20b
5. Who does folly delight? v.21a
6. What does a man of understanding do? v.21b
The Path Ahead (v.19). Philosophers may talk about history as either linear or cyclical, but the more important issue is the effect we have in creating history, because Solomon indicates that the path ahead is determined by us, the the type of person we are.
The way of the lazy person (sluggard) seems like it is blocked by thorns. Note two things here. First, it is blocked which means this person will not go ahead, will not develop, will not achieve things. This person is stuck in one unchanging place. Why? Because of their laziness. Second it is blocked by thorns. Thorns are natural things that grow, that are unpleasant. They are negatives that the lazy person allows the enemy to sow in their mind that grow and block progress. They are vulnerable to these things being sown, because they are lazy .
But this is contrasted by the upright, straight, or righteous person, whose path is a highway. A highway is a straight even road where progress is rapid, where the way ahead is clear.
Wise & foolish sons (v.20). These proverbs started off with the comparisons between wise and foolish sons (10:1). Fathers have ambitions for their sons. They hope they will achieve things and succeed. Wisdom, we've seen, brings success, and so a father feels really good when his wise son succeeds. Mothers tend to worry and fuss over their children. The son with a bad heart despises (as he sees it) his mothers weakness, failing to realise it is love.
A straight life (v.21). A man who ‘lacks judgement' is one who can't assess things truly. He doesn't know wisdom and he doesn't know folly, so he delights in folly. He needs to learn to assess truly! A man of understanding is one who knows the significance of things, knows and distinguishes between good and bad and their effects, and this helps him keep on a straight path, instead of wandering all over the place in uncertainty.
A. Find Out:
1. Why do plans fail? v.22a
2. How will they succeed? v.22b
3. What does giving an apt reply do for you? v.23a
4. What is good? v.23b
5. Where does the path of life go for the wise? v.24a
6. What does it stop happening? v.24b
Making Plans (v.22). You might think the wisest man in the world would be up to making plans on his own, and succeeding, but actually that wisdom has made Solomon realise that he doesn't know everything and his perspective is limited. He knows that when it comes to planning you need many perspectives and so if you do it on your own you will probably go wrong because you've only seen one side of the possibilities. No, he says, if you have many advisors, many views on it, then you will be more likely to succeed.
Appropriate words (v.23). It's perhaps something we don't think about much, but when we are questioned and we give a good reply it leaves us feeling good. When we realise this we might ask, how then can I give apt replies more often? An apt reply is a truthful one which sometimes says, I'm sorry, I really don't know the answer to that. An apt reply satisfies the listener and helps them in some way. When we give these sorts of replies, they and we will feel good.
Being able to speak ‘a timely word' is also good, a word spoken at the right moment that enlightens, claries, helps, strengthens, and encourages. When it achieves all these things it was a timely word, a word that came just at the right time to achieve a good end.
The Path of the Wise (v.24). Verse 19 had us thinking about different paths in life. This verse now focuses on the path of the wise person, that one who is in right relationship with God and who follows His ways. Ultimately any path in life either leads us upwards and towards God and heaven, or downwards and towards hell. The upward path to God and eternity with Him in heaven comes when a person faces themselves, sees their need, calls out to God, and receives His salvation through Jesus Christ. Such a person is described by the Bible as wise. When this happens to a person, the path leads them to heavenly eternity and away from the godless isolation of hell.
A. Find Out:
1. The Lord does what to whom? v.25a
2. And what also does he do for whom? v.25b
3. What does the Lord detest? v.26a
4. What are pleasing to Him? v.26b
5. Who brings trouble to his family? v.27a
6. Who will live? v.27
The Lord & the vulnerable (v.25). Solomon now contrasts how the Lord responds to the self-sufficient and the vulnerable. First there is the proud man, the man who is self-sufficient. Yes, that is what pride does for you. It elevates self so that it is above all others and therefore the proud person needs no one – including the Lord. Why does the Lord ‘tear down his house'? Because the Lord loves every person and his house is the constant reminder of this man's self-achievement, the thing that perpetuates his pride and keeps him from the Lord. It is not out of spite that the Lord pulls the rug out from under the proud, but in His love, His desire for this person to come to know Him. The widow? Here the Lord is seen to see and care for the weak and vulnerable. It is as simple as that!
Thoughts (v.26). The Lord can detest (or hate) thoughts or enjoy them, and thoughts are the inner expression of the heart. If a heart is wicked, the thoughts will be perverse, harsh, deceitful, hateful etc. etc. and these things the Lord detests because they run so contrary to the way he has designed us to be – good! The person who is ‘pure' will have pure thoughts, good thoughts, and these please God, because that is how He's designed us to be.
Greed & Bribes (v.27). Bribes are the tool of the greedy man. The greedy man is constantly trying to get more, by whatever means possible, often wrong means. Those wrong means often bring that person into trouble and that trouble reflects directly or indirectly onto his family. Wrong business ethics can continue for a while but eventually they will backfire on the greedy man and even destroy him. By contrast the man who refuses to go anywhere near anything ‘shady' in business will receive the blessing of the Lord and will live and prosper. It all starts in a persons heart. Good or bad business ethics don't just happen, they are the expression of the heart of the man.
A. Find Out:
1. What does the heart of the righteous do? v.28a
2. What does the mouth of the wicked do? v.28b
3. What does it say about the Lord and the wicked? v.29a
4. What does it say about the Lord and the righteous? v.29b
5. What does a cheerful look do? v.30a
6. What does good news do? v.30b
Speaking (v.28). Yet again Solomon draws our attention to the use of our mouth. Again the mouth is linked to the heart. What comes out of the mouth is a reflection of the heart. The righteous person is righteous because he has a righteous heart, and this governs the way he speaks. In fact it makes him pause before he speaks, because he is careful to utter only what is true and good. Therefore when people say things to him, the righteous man pauses and thinks about what has been said and what is fitting as an answer to it. By contrast, the ‘wicked' person, the person who is unrighteous, because he is not concerned with truth and what is good and right, just pours words out of his mouth without any thought for their truth or their effect. He doesn't care what effect they will have. They come from a wrong heart and they are wrong.
Closeness to the Lord (v.29). The Lord is holy and righteous and distances Himself from all forms of evil. If a person is clearly unrighteous, is self-centred and does wrong purposefully (the wicked), the Lord stands off from him. He leaves that person to their own folly. By contrast the Lord delights in the righteous and is near to them. Thus He hears and listens to the prayers of the righteous, because He is concerned for him.
Appearance (v.30). This is one of those very obvious proverbs but one we don't think much about. Put very simply it means when someone comes to us, their appearance and their words can have great effect in lifting us up. Think about how you feel when someone who is always grumbling or moaning approaches you with a black look on their face. “Oh no!” Contrast that with the person who comes with a smile that is warm and welcoming and comes saying good things for you. You are blessed, you are built up you are strengthened. Oh yes, good looks and good news can even affect your health!
A. Find Out:
1. What is worth listening to? v.31a
2. With whom will you then be at home? v.31b
3. Who despises himself? v.32a
4. Who gains understanding? v.32b
5. What does the fear of the Lord do? v.33a
6. What comes before honour? v.33b
Correction by Rebuke (v.31). There are a number of proverbs about correction or discipline and this one has an interesting and different aspect to the subject. Correction here is called ‘a life-giving rebuke'. A rebuke is a telling off for a wrong action or attitude and this rebuke indicates that it has the capability of saving a person's life. This suggests that rebukes are to be given when the person in the wrong is on a downward path that leads to destruction. Correction can often come as a gentle suggestion of an alternative course of action to that being proposed, more as en encouragement to take positive action rather than negative. However, when the negative action is clearly one that is on a downward progressive path that will ultimately lead to destruction if followed, then a strong rebuke is needed to save that person's life. The person who listens to and responds to (implied) such a rebuke is seen, in God's eyes as a wise person, a person who receives the truth of how to live in His way.
Receiving Discipline (v.32). Both of these two verses are about receiving correction. This verse says that how we respond to correction indicates the sort of person we are. The person who ignores correction actually thinks little of himself. In fact he despises himself, he looks down on himself (but probably doesn't realise that this is what he is doing!) If he cared about himself he would want the best for himself; he would think about himself and assess himself – but he doesn't, so he ignores the correction that comes. If he heeded it he would realise that it was trying to help him, trying to save him from hurt, upset and even possible destruction. That was what listening to correction does.
The fear of the Lord (v.33). Having that awesome reverence for God opens the door to learn how to live rightly (wisdom). It is humble, putting this before all thoughts of self-glory (honour). This is what it means to have right priorities in life.
SUMMARY - Proverbs 15
As we conclude this set of studies, rather than try and pick out particular themes from these chapters, we'd like instead to suggest to you that YOU scan over these three chapters and see which particular proverbs stand out to you.
As an additional exercise, and we're still trying to encourage YOU to do more, you could go through these chapters and pick out what they say about:
An alternative set of studies that you might find fruitful would be to look at references to
If you do take up this challenge, choosing any of the above for study subjects, your approach probably needs to be as follows:
Scan the 3 chapters and note verses that apply.
Write your own notes on what they say about your subject.
Summarise or draw conclusions from your notes.
Ask God to help you apply those truths to your own life.
Conclusion? These studies have only just been a starting place for your adventure in becoming a wise person with the help of Solomon's proverbs. Have a good time!