Proverbs 17 continues to offer advice on seeking wisdom and directions on how to live in a way that pleases God. This chapter includes more mentions of the tongue, the ear, money, friendships, justice, reward, and discernment. Let’s look at a few of the proverbs focusing on godly actions and attitudes.
The value of wisdom: The wise and discerning will ultimately receive more honour than the reckless son, even though they may be a servant (v. 2). This comparison was especially significant in those times, when servants rarely progressed beyond their station in life. This proverb shows that wisdom and ability are better than inherited privilege, which can be forfeited. Solomon himself recognised the value of one of his officials, Jeroboam, and promoted him; in the end, Jeroboam would rise to prominence over Solomon’s own son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:28-31).
How God purifies: Just as fire refines gold and silver by removing the impurities, the Lord purifies His people, improving and developing their character by allowing difficulties to take place in their lives (Proverbs 17:3). How often we can testify that times of pain and testing were also times of growth and advancement in our godliness! God uses such times to bring grace into our lives.
The sin of bribery: A bribe is thought to be effective by the one who gives it; it may actually open doors (v. 8). But does God approve of bribery? Verses 15 and 23 make it plain that corruption works against justice, and is detested by God. Both the person who gives the bribe and the one who receives it are acting against God’s will.
The danger of quarrels: Like a small hole in the dam that leads to disaster, a quarrel may be a little thing, but once started is hard to control, and may develop into a long term feud (v. 14). This proverb advises restraint in an argument, noting that it is better to ″drop the matter″ than to risk turning it into a full-blown dispute. Beware arguing over a minor issue-a little leak can collapse a dam!
Verse 19 gives another warning on quarrelling, comparing those who love a quarrel to those who build a high gate. The common element here is arrogance. Those who love disputes are often full of pride, just like those who build a high gate to show off their wealth. Both also believe they will remain safe behind their arguments and their tall defences. But verse 19 makes clear that such arrogance will result in catastrophe.
What have you learnt from the times of difficulty in your life? How do you think God is purifying you in such times ?
What strategies could help you ″drop the matter″ in an argument? How can you avoid letting quarrels turn into full-blown disputes?