Proverbs 18 and 20
This Chapter begins by describing a person who seeks to isolate himself/herself, vs 1.
It is never God’s will that we live in disharmony, but that we seek to settle matters with those who don’t see eye to eye with us, even at the cost of humbling our pride, for where there is unity with purity as its foundation, James 3:17, there God commands a blessing, Psalm 133:1-3.
Such people who tend to separate themselves because of some dispute with another person, are usually unwilling to understand the other person’s point of view, but are only interested in argument, vs 2 and tend to show contempt for others, vs 3. They do not trust in the Lord, or make the Lord their refuge, vs10, but rather, trust in their wealth and take refuge in the same, vs 11. This proud attitude ultimately leads to destruction, vs 12.
They are undiscerning and unwise, for they neither seek knowledge nor acquire it, vs 15 but instead, prefer to be wise in their own eyes, being unwilling to hear and consider the other person’s point of view, so as to facilitate reconciliation vs 17, or even, the ‘tossing of a coin’ in order to settle the dispute, vs.18. Their offended spirit makes them harder to reach than a strong city and their contentious spirit serve as ‘barred gates’ that leave no room for a settlement, vs 19. They are rich in spirit, which is seen by the harsh way in which they respond to those who question them, vs 23.
This Chapter also speaks a lot about our speech. Our words should be like deep waters and a flowing brook that refresh and bless, vs 4. They should not be used to show partiality or deprive a righteous man of justice, vs 5. Further, they should not spread strife or provoke people to anger, or lead to our ruin or unnecessary death, vs 6,7.
Words that promote gossip, even though they seem appetising to the hearer are sinful, destructive and seen in people who, inevitably, slack in their work vs 8,9. It is folly to vocalise our judgment on a matter, without hearing both sides of the story, vs 13. Our ability to earn a living is connected to the way we speak, vs 20 and death and life are in the power of our tongue, vs, 21. So, if we are wise we will choose life by the way we speak and seek reconciliation with our neighbour at all costs, as far as it lies in us. May God give us grace to do so.
Once again, this Chapter highlights many things recorded in the previous Chapters.
This emphasis serves as a reminder and should not be taken for granted. Verse 1 tells us that wise people take care not to get intoxicated with even wine or beer, that most people consider harmless to drink! A king or ruler is expected to be discerning enough so as to separate good from evil, vs 8. Provoking his anger would then prove sinful and fatal, vs 2.
A wise ruler will not support or tolerate evil for only by love and truth will his throne be established, vs 26,28. We must never take our own vengeance, for it is only a fool who rushes to quarrel, instead we must make room for the Lord to vindicate us, vs 3,22. Laziness leads to poverty, hunger and many missed opportunities, vs 4,13. Only a person of understanding can draw out counsel from God’s Word so as to make wise plans, vs 5,18.
It is easy to profess our loyalty with our words, but our true worth is seen by how we behave, vs6! Integrity is found in a righteous person and his children learn from his example, vs 7,9. The Lord hates dishonesty in business or otherwise, vs 10,23. Our actions show us and others who we really are, and God has given us eyes and ears so that we don’t miss seeing and hearing our ‘hour of opportunity’ vs 11,12.
It is foolish to give security for a stranger and make a vow without careful consideration, vs 16,25. Business done deceitfully will eventually backfire, vs 17,21, and leave us with a defiled conscience, vs 17,27. If you keep associating with a gossip, your secrets will eventually be made known, 19. Cursing our parents will reap severe consequences, vs 20, and our lamps will lack oil when Jesus returns.
A young person is expected to be an overcomer because the Word of God dwells in him, and an older person should have gained this wisdom when he was young because He walked intimately with God, or else the young person’s physical strength and the ‘greying of the hair’, of the old person, will prove useless, vs 29, 1John 2:14!
Finally, wounding and flogging a child , when done rightly, in love and without anger, can help him/her keep his/her heart clean, vs 30.
Let us take heed to these simple truths and see ourselves being entrusted with much as we prove faithful with a little!