Proverbs 3:13-35

Proverbs 3:13-35

3:13-15 — 13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, 14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Again, we are encouraged to seek wisdom. When we find her, we’ll be rich! “That is, wisdom makes you a richer man than money ever will.” (Kidner) Two key points should be observed from these verses.

1. True happiness is defined. We think many different things can make us “blessed” or happy. More wealth, prestige, material items or that one thing we imagine will really make us happy. A man finds blessedness when he finds wisdom. How? Does he not see life as it truly is? Does he not fear God and see that all is chimera without Him? In knowing God, in possessing wisdom, he recognizes how blessed he is.

2. True riches are also defined. Admittedly, monetary riches are desirable but they cannot make us blessed. Here, God defines riches in terms of wisdom. To be able to estimate life this way is real insight and wisdom. Haven’t we often wanted to look at life that way? George Lawson says, “…he has no true judgment of the real value of things, who would give a grain of true wisdom for a mountain of diamonds.”

 

3:16-18 — 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.

Solomon describes the blessed estate. Verses 16-17 is the pinnacle of the way OT describes a blessed life (in material terms though not limited to that). True shalom with length of days will be enjoyed. “The heedless may live long and in high regard (Ps. 49:16-20), but theirs are stolen blessings, without value.” (Kidner) Verse 18 is just like what is written in Ps. 1. Wisdom is a life giving tree.

We must note that wisdom will indeed give us a pleasant life. Some perpetuate the lie that godliness and wisdom will only bring sorrow. Solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know. “The pleasures of the world are like the gleams of a wintry sun, faint, and feeble, and transient. The pleasures of religion are satisfying and eternal. The calamities of this life are not able to interrupt, far less to destroy them. This is verified in the experience of every one whose soul is under the lively influence of that faith which constitutes an essential part of religion.” (Lawson)

 

3:19-20 — 19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; 20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.

So important is wisdom, we are reminded that Wisdom played a fundamental role in the creation. The world is orderly because God’s wisdom, understanding, and knowledge served to establish it. Some may wonder if the promise of wisdom is really true. At times, wisdom does not seem to yield blessedness. This is a fatal mistake. Wisdom is in creation; God used wisdom to establish and order the world — if she is that important to God, then how much more for mortal men? “The argument is clear: if Yahweh with wisdom as His tool could accomplish the wonders of the various phases of creation—settling the “earth” on its foundations, setting the “heavens” in their appointed place (v. 10), breaking up the “depths” to irrigate the dry land through the wells, springs, and streams, and watering the earth with “dew” from the clouds (v. 20…) — think what wisdom will do, better, what Yahweh will do through wisdom in the lives of those who find it.” (Hubbard) “We cannot pretend to make or govern a world, but we are enjoined to manage our own concerns with wisdom.” (Lawson)

 

3:21-26 — 21 My son, do not lose sight of these- keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. 23 Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. 24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, 26 for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

We are exhorted again to retain sound wisdom as it will serve as our adornment and life. The wise will live securely and not fear; they will be able to lie down and sleep in peace. “Refreshing sleep is denied addicts (Prov. 4:16) and the rich (Eccl. 5:12[111]). Sweet sleep (cf. Jer. 31:26) is the fruit of faith in God (Pss. 3:5, 6; 4:8 [9]) and of wisdom (Prov. 6:22; 19:23).” (Waltke)

The point is not that only the godly sleep well and that all insomniacs are wicked but rather, only the wise ones have a reason to sleep well with a clear conscience and in safety. Why? Because God will protect us (v. 26) from ultimate harm. “The promised serenity of such a life as meets us here comes, at one level, from sheer good management on God’s sound principles (22, 23 are the consequence of 21), and at a deeper level, from the Lord’s personal care (26).” (Kidner) Remember Noah and Lot (SEE 2Pet. 2:5-9); the same principle is maintained in the NT.

Verse 26 teaches us that sound wisdom and trusting in God are the same things. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and trusting in him through life is the expression of wisdom. There is no true wisdom without this confident faith in the Lord. The young wise man has heeded God’s words of wisdom and is now content and confident in the Lord’s way (not his own). He need not fear because his confidence is in the everlasting God. “The Lord is a sure confidence in the worst of times.” (Lawson)

 

3:27-31 — 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”- when you have it with you. 29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. 30 Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. 31 Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways,

How do these verses relate to the previous section? “The security and protection offered by the Lord of wisdom put us under obligation to be generous to others.” (Hubbard) As God takes care of us, we must respond to our neighbors in return. “…the wise are attentive to the needs of their community, particularly those who live near them.” (Longman) It is conveyed in terms of FIVE prohibitions.

Verse 27 does not limit the “good” to mere money; it is more than that. It may mean money, action, tools, aid, speech, etc.[1] “The identity of the ‘good’ is left unspecified because it could refer to any number of things in real life.” (Longman) We are not to withhold from our neighbors the good that we can do when it is in our power to do so. Verse 28 applies the maxim bis dat qui cito dat [he gives twice who gives quickly] (cf. Kidner). Lawson says, “What is in the power of our hands to-day, may not be in our power to-morrow, and therefore we ought not to delay the performance of any good work.”

Something like this is found in these two passages:  Leviticus 19:13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. Deuteronomy 24:14 “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.” “If we have no legal debt to any, we have a Gospel debt to all. (Rom. xiii. 8).” (Bridges)

Verses 29 calls us against anti-social behavior. Not only should we not withhold the good needed but we must not devise evil against them. Our hearts must not wish or devise such evil. “It is criminal to devise evil against any person; but it is double iniquity to hurt those that dwell securely by us, for this in effect is a breach of trust, and an indication of a heart base and depraved beyond the common pitch of human wickedness. The meek and the quiet of the land are the person who dread no injury from us, and they plot none against others; and the Lord Jesus, to whom all judgment is committed, is the Redeemer of all such persons.” (Lawson)

Verse 30 teaches us that our words and conversations with them must not be contentious. Our speech should encourage peace and harmony and it should not stir up strife. The language suggests a legal situation; an accusation against a neighbor for personal gain. Lawson says if he has done us harm, we ought to forgive him. Wise godly people ought not to be contentious with other people. “Irritable people strongly insist upon their rights, or what they conceive to be due to them from others. ‘Is there not’ — say they — ‘a cause?’ But impartial observers frequently judge it to be striving without cause; that no harm has been done; none at least to justify the breach of love; that more love on one hand, and more forbearance on the other, would have prevented the breach; that ‘there is utterly a fault — Why do ye not rather take wrong?’ (1 Cor. 6:1-7).” (Bridges)

Verse 31 tells us not to do what others do. Wisdom calls us to do good to our neighbors, to not plot against them or to contend with them. Some however do practice those things; they may have figured out a way to capitalize on others and we may be tempted to do likewise (Isn’t our society a litigious one?). No, wisdom instructs us not to envy them or to follow their ways. “Envy or admiration of his success, might lead us to imitate his unrighteous behavior.” (Lawson)

 

3:32-35 — 32 for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence. 33 The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. 34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. 35 The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.

These verses remind us why we are not to follow those who manipulate their neighbors to get gain. They are abhorrent to the Lord (v. 32) and His curse is on their house (v. 33) and He curses them (v. 34) because they will inherit disgrace (v. 35). “As the wicked drove the needy out from their presence, so now the LORD drives them and all they own out of his life-sustaining presence.” (Waltke)

On the other hand, the wise will be taken up into His counsel, that is, “The guidance of this wonderful counselor (15:22; cf. Isa. 9:6) guarantees their protection, success, and eternal life in its fullest dimensions. The upright experience his counsel because his wisdom has entered their hearts (Prov. 2:6, 10).” (Waltke) Or it could simply mean that God will take the wise ones into his confidence (cf. Hubbard). “They enjoy a fellowship with God unknown to the world. He discovers to them the secret mysteries of grace, refreshes their souls with the manifestations of his special love, and blesses their substance by the unperceived workings of his gracious providence. God not only enriches them with his goodness, but treats them as friends, and to them all his paths are mercy and truth.” (Lawson) “The friendship [secret] of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Ps. 25:14)



[1] “When we owe money to our neighbors, which they require from us at present, and we, though able, defer payment till afterwards, we are plainly guilty of injustice; for a man has the same right to his property now, that he will have a year hence. We find men reproved and threatened for keeping in their own hands the hire of the laborer. The same censure may be applied to those who refuse to pay just debts, or to restore to its rightful owner any piece of lost property which they have found; for we are not to do what we will with that which is not ours, nor are we to owe to another any thing but love.” (Lawson)

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