Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Proverbs (Proverbs 16-18)|
Chapter: Proverbs 17
Passage: Proverbs 17:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. When is it better to put up with a dry crust? v.1a
2. When is a house of feasting not good? v.1b
3. Who will rule over who? v.2a
4. How will he share in the inheritance? v.2b
5. What do we use for testing precious metals? v.3a
6. But how is our heart tested? v.3b
Peace or strife in the home (v.1). This is a strong contrast between a home where all is peace and quiet, and a home that is full of strife. The contrast is added by the extremes suggested. The dry crust suggests a poor home, the feasting (or sacrificing) suggest a wealthy home. So, says Solomon, it's far better to live in a poor house with peace in it, that in a rich home where it's constantly strife. The challenge to us must be, what causes a home to be a place of strife? Not taking time to work out your relationship with your partner, or doing things with your children to bring them both parental pleasure and discipline. Beware!
Wisdom and folly in the roles of life (v.2). Being a servant or a master isn't the issue; the issue is what you do in your role. The picture given is of a disgraceful son who (implied) lives a life of dissipation and squanders his life and makes nothing of it. He is contrasted with a wise servant who, in his role, exercises wisdom and discretion (implied) and thus earns a position of influence. In fact, so influential does he become that he enjoys the benefits of the family (inheritance) as much as the son does. He might as well be a brother. It's what we do with life that is important, not the role that seems assigned to us. What are we doing with the role that is ours today?
A matter of testing (v.3). It is well known that we test and purify precious metals by putting them in a furnace to be melted so that the impurities come out. What many of us are not so aware, is that the Lord does the same with us. He ‘tests' us by ‘trials' that we go through in life, to reveal what we're like on the inside. Every time we go through such a trial the bad, poor or weak side of our nature comes out. In fact the more we go through such trials, the more it comes out and the more we learn to cope and the more we are purified. The writer to the Hebrews said, “the Lord disciplines those he loves” (Heb 12:6) and discipline here means to train – and purify! How do we respond?
Chapter: Proverbs 17
Passage: Proverbs 17:4-6
A. Find Out:
1. What does a wicked man do? v.4a
2. What does a liar do? v.4b
3. What is a mocker of the poor doing? v.5a
4. What will happen to he who gloats over a disaster? v.5b
5. What is a crown for the aged? v.6a
6. What are parents? v.6b
Listening to evil (v.4). Very often these proverbs focus on what is spoken, but this proverb focuses on who we listen to. Perhaps we think wrong is done only by the speaker, but this proverb warns to the contrary. There are two ‘bad speakers' identified here – a person who speaks evil generally, and a person who speaks maliciously. Both speakers are clearly identified by the way they speak and what they speak about, but the focus is more on the listener. Essentially Solomon is saying that if you are a righteous person you won't countenance listening to these sorts of people. You've got to be a wicked person to go along with words of evil, and you've got to be a liar if you will countenance words that are untruthful and destructive. Beware your responses to what you hear!
Responding to what is not good (v.5). There is a similarity here to the previous proverb; it is about responding. Previously it was how you respond to what you hear. Now it is how you respond to what you see. If you see the poor and you mock or deride them, it shows you do not have a compassionate heart, and as the Bible tells us that God has great concern for the poor, we are actually saying we don't care about God and we are being contemptuous of Him. Similarly if we observe a disaster and look down on those who are suffering, we again are flying in the face of God's concern for the needy and are showing complete lack of care and compassion, and as such we put ourselves in the place where God will act against us. Beware your responses to what you see.
The blessing of being a grandparent (v.6). The presence of grandchildren is an indication of blessing on family life, and as such grandchildren are a reflection on the way they have brought up their children. Similarly parents are the pride (or the shame) of their children. How we bring up our children is something that will be seen and commented upon in the years to come.
Chapter: Proverbs 17
Passage: Proverbs 17:7-9
A. Find Out:
1. What are unsuited to a fool? v.7a (see Note)
2. What are worse for a ruler? v.7b
3. What is a bride like for the one who gives it? v.8a
4. What does it appear to give him? v.8b
5. Who promotes love? v.9a
6. Who separates friends? v.9b
Wrong words again (v.7). The linkage in this proverb is between the sort of person and the sort of words you would expect from them. The alternative (see Bible page note), ‘eloquent' is more apt. Solomon is contrasting words with the person. You don't expect a fool to be speaking eloquent or apt words, they just don't go. Similarly when you look at a ruler, anyone in authority, you don't expect them to lie. Once lying comes into administration it brings with it injustice and loss of integrity. You just don't expect it. The question that arises is, what sort of person are you known to be and what sort of language do people expect from you? Perhaps it is the things you say that reveal the sort of person you are. So what sort of person are you revealed to be?
Bribery (v.8). We sometimes have to be careful with the Bible; it sometimes simply describes life as it is and doesn't make a judgement. This is one of those cases. Having just been warning about a ruler who goes off the rails, his mind goes to other areas of public life where there are questionable practices. A bribe seems like a magic charm that opens doors for the person who gives it and so whatever he does seems to succeed. That is the simple truth; that's how it seems to be. Solomon simply leaves us thinking about it. The reality is that a bribe creates many undercurrents which in the long term often create a backwash which confirms that bribery is wrong. Watch the long term!
Responding to errors (v.9). This is another proverb about how we respond to what others do. When someone we know makes a mistake, gets it wrong or generally blows it, what is our reaction? A bad reaction is to tell everybody else about it, to spread it around. That only causes further dissension. If the person was a close friend that only pushes you apart. No, the far better approach is to cover over their mistake and minimise it. It might have been us and so how would we have wanted others to have responded. Do likewise!
Chapter: Proverbs 17
Passage: Proverbs 17:10-12
A. Find Out:
1. What impresses who? v.10a
2. What does it have far more effect than? v.10b
3. Who is only bent on what? v.11a
4. Who will come against them? v.11b
5. What is it better to meet? v.12a
6. Than what? v.12b
Correction (v.10). The subject of correction comes up a number of times in Proverbs. The reality is that because of sin, we are prone to getting things wrong and therefore we do need putting straight or, if you like, we do need correcting, telling off, rebuking. This particular proverb indicates that correction will be as effective as the person receiving it. The second part indicates that there are people who can receive the harshest of censures but it will still have no effect. Such a person is the fool. But the force of the proverb is focusing on the man of discernment, the person who distinguishes between good and evil. This person will also be righteous, will seek to follow the good and avoid evil. This person will have a tender and sensitive heart and spirit and so it won't take much to touch this person. The closer we walk with God, the more sensitive we will be to personal failure.
Evil means rebellion (v.11). God is good, holy, and righteous. Everything about Him fits these descriptions and therefore His design for mankind, His laws and His plans fit these descriptions. Evil is being and doing exactly the opposite. An evil person has rejected God, has rebelled against the King of Kings, and the things he does are harmful and destructive. Against him there will come severe correction. It will happen. That's how God has decreed it (Gal 6:7)
Avoiding a fool (v.12). Again Proverbs says a lot about “the fool”. A fool is someone in whom there is an absence of wisdom and because of that the things he says and does are stupid! These things cause upset, chaos and confusion. Frankly, says Solomon, you'd do better to be in the ring with a wild mother-bear who's on the rampage because of her cubs being stolen. That's pretty awful but if you compare a fool on the rampage of stupidity, it's even worse. You're likely to receive even more harm from his antics than you would from that mother bear. And we think a fool is harmless!!!!
Chapter: Proverbs 17
Passage: Proverbs 17:13-15
A. Find Out:
1. Who is spoken about doing what? v.13a
2. What will happen to him? v.13b
3. What is like what? v.14a
4. So what are we exhorted to do? v.14b
5. What two bad things are next considered? v.15a
6. What does the Lord feel about them? v.15b
Bad repayment (v.13). The comment about doing evil for good , leaves us pondering. Evil for evil is pure revenge, but evil for good means that when someone has done good towards you, you are just being thoroughly unpleasant. There is an expression that talks about “biting the hand that fed you” meaning doing harm to one who has blessed you. It means you are unthankful, ungracious and spiteful. This sort of behaviour incurs the Lord's displeasure and so evil will always be in the home of that man. What you give you will get. Give evil and you'll get it. It's a simple warning!
Quarrelling (v.14). Sometimes Biblical pictures are very graphic. That's what you have here. Have you ever seen, or simply seen pictures of a big dam? Have you ever seen the water being released through it? Hopefully you've never seen it breached so that water pours through uncontrollably. That's what happens when it is breached – the outpouring is uncontrollable, and that's the point that Solomon is making here. If you start a quarrel with someone, very soon it spirals out of control, getting more and more bitter; you can't control it. You say something, they say something, you do something, they do something and it's impossible to take it back. No, says Solomon, realise this and step back from it, drop it, before it all gets out of hand. It's not worth it!
Injustice (v.15). There are two forms of injustice mentioned here. Injustice is making wrong moral judgements. The first one given here is acquitting the guilty, letting off and dismissing the wrong-doer. We know he has done wrong but just shrug it off. That is unjust and it distorts truth. The opposite that is then given is condemning the innocent, saying that the innocent person is guilty. That equally is a perversion of the truth. Now God cannot stand untruth. He is utterly real in everything He says or does and when He sees or hears untruth (or in this case injustice). He detests it.
Chapter: Proverbs 17
Passage: Proverbs 17:16-18
A. Find Out:
1. What is of little use to whom? v.16a
2. Why? v.16b
3. Who loves when? v.17a
4. Why are we given a brother? v.17b
5. What does a man lacking in judgement do? v.18a
6. What does he do? v.18b
Money and a fool (v.16). Money is often a source of not only buying things, but achieving things. Money can help us achieve our goals, but what is the goal of a ‘fool'. A fool is shown up and to do many things in Proverbs but here they are a person who has not desired to obtain wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of ‘how to', specifically, how to live a good life in relationship with God. But a fool doesn't have this goal and so whatever they do with money will be doomed to just evaporate away. It won't achieve any lasting goal, so what's the point of a fool having it?
Friends and support (v.17). Life is often difficult and we need support and encouragement. The point about a friend is that they are knitted to us by love and so they will be there for us at all times. In the natural family structure, when the family is working as God designed it to, a brother (or sister) is surely supposed to be one of the closest relationships we can have. There is a natural love and support that comes from such a relationship and so whenever adversity strikes, our brother or sister will be there for us, standing alongside us, supporting us, encouraging us and blessing us, and generally helping us overcome. That's how it is supposed to work!
Unwise loans (v.18). Getting into debt is an unwise business. We are a society that spends more than it has. A pledge is simply Old Testament language for a promissory note, a note to promise to repay the debt. In those times it was probably a neighbour who would loan the money, but of course it was only given if some form of security could be put up for it. Then, of course if you get further into debt, as so often happens if you can't manage your money properly, that which was given as security is forfeited. The modern equivalent is people whose homes are taken because they can no longer pay their mortgage. It is a warning against overstretching yourself!
A. Find Out:
1. What loves sin? v.19a
2. Who invites destruction? v.19b
3. Who does not prosper? v.20a
4. Who falls into trouble? v.20b
5. What brings grief? v.21a
6. Who has no joy? v.21b
Attack and defence (v.19). God has designed us to be people of peace. Now Solomon points us to a person who likes to cause upset and dissension, a person who likes to quarrel. To quarrel is to find fault with and contend violently with someone over some issue. Such upsets may come upon us but the person who loves such things and stirs them up is a person far from the heart of God, and is, in fact, a person who loves to sin; they love to attack others. On the other extreme is the person who feels constantly defensive who puts up security gates and high walls. This person is shouting, ‘I have something to be protected' and that invites marauders who steal and destroy.
Perversity & Deception (v.20). A perverse person is one who is constantly looking to criticise or challenge, who is constantly putting forward unreasonable arguments. This person we might say is a pain in the neck! Is it surprising that Solomon says this person will not prosper or do well? This person is constantly going to get others' backs up, upsetting them and certainly not being able to get along with them. Of course they will not prosper. And of course the person who speaks deceitfully will likewise not do well. In fact their deceitfulness will lead them into trouble. There's nothing out of the ordinary in this; it is fairly obvious. Get on with people, and speak truthfully and you will succeed.
Unhappy family relationships (v.21). Fathers, as we've commented before, have high hopes for their sons. To have a son who is patently a fool – because of the foolish way he speaks and acts – is clearly something which will grieve a father. Whereas children are supposed to be a joy to their parents, this son simply brings worry and shame to his father. Not all children are intellectual geniuses but a father should train up his son in wisdom, teaching him to walk righteously. A father does have a say in his son's outcome. He can alleviate the grief he mighty feel in the future, by present teaching.
A. Find Out:
1. What is a good medicine? v.22a
2. But what dries up the bones? v.22b
3. A wicked man does what? v.23a
4. For what purpose? v.23b
5. What does a discerning man do? v.24a
6. But what do a fool's eyes do? v.24b
Health Factors (v.22). It has long been known that how we feel on the inside affects our outward health, and Solomon simply reiterates that. He knew that all that time ago. A cheerful heart – if you feel good on the inside, it does things for you generally. Modern researchers have suggested that laughter is good for your health. That's what Solomon said long ago. But he also speaks of ‘a crushed spirit', about when things have happened to you that have utterly put you down. You feel like life is hardly worth the effort, you are a failure, weak, inadequate and a waste of time! When you feel like that it ‘dries up the bones', a quaint way of saying it makes you feel dry and arid and lifeless. Oh, yes, what goes on in the mind definitely affects the body.
Corruption (v.23). This is a simple and straight forward statement of a proverb. Observe the sort of man, his activity and his purpose. The man – is wicked. Let's not have any nice sounding language about whoever does this, let's not soften this in any way. This person is a wrong-doer. Their heart is corrupt and they are set on wrong doing. They have no scruples about what is right or wrong, they are happy to make money by whatever means, and the means here is a bribe to change their mind. They are happy to corrupt their mind and their actions for the sake of money. They have no great feelings about honour or justice or things like that. They are just happy to pervert justice for the sake of money. Thus they undermine society, they undermine the law and they promote wickedness – because they are wicked.
Discernment and folly (v.24). We've seen the discerning person before ( 10:13 , 14:6,33, 15:14 ). They are the person who distinguishes between good and bad, right and wrong. This person holds onto wisdom because that helps them be discerning, while a fool lets his mind wander to anything and will thus be led astray. A discerning person focuses on right, while a fool accepts anything.
A. Find Out:
1. Who brings grief to whom? v.25a
2. What also does he bring to whom? v.25b
3. What is it not good to do? v.26a
4. What else is it not good to do? v.26b
5. What does a man of knowledge do? v.27a
6. And what is a man of understanding? v.27b
The Grief of Parenting (v.25). Verse 21 of this chapter spoke of having a son who is a fool and Solomon comes back to this subject again now. A child has the potential for causing joy or heartache. The foolish child says and does silly things and in that they bring embarrassment, at the least, to their parents. But folly causes harm and upset and when a son (or daughter) fall into wrong ways then that only brings heartache and grief to the father who has such high hopes for them, but also bitterness (deep anguish) for the mother who always feels so much for her children.
Unjust punishment (v.26). Justice has a high profile in Scripture and here Solomon comments on the wrong of punishing an innocent person. That is at the very heart of the meaning of justice: wrong doers get punished but the innocent don't. When it comes to officials in society, it is even more important to ensure justice is done and seen to be done and ensure that the innocent are not punished, for if they are it undermines all authority. When a man has been serving the people in public office, and has been serving with integrity, to wrongly punish him not only undermines authority, but it will bring a sense of injustice to him which will act as a temptation to no longer maintain integrity in that public office.
Wise speech (v.27). Speech is referred to many times in proverbs but here it is the absence or restraint of speech that is high lighted. The man of knowledge realises the extent or limitation of his knowledge and limits what he says. He also realises that conveying knowledge to others is a difficult thing and sometimes it is better to say a little that is received, than a lot that makes people bored. The man of understanding realises the frailty of human beings, and their tendencies to getting it wrong, and so, in his understanding, he doesn't get stressed by them. He sees that anger is pointless.
SUMMARY - Proverbs 17