The atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell once observed that most people would rather die than think-and that most people do!
Today, let’s look at 4 of the 30 sayings of the wise, starting with the introduction in Proverbs 22:17-21, which contains the appeal to listen carefully, to keep the 30 wise teachings in our hearts and on our lips, and to apply them (vv. 17-18). This means paying close attention to them, taking time to reflect on them, and thinking about how we can share and apply them.
This takes intentional effort. The wisdom contained in these 30 sayings is not to be stored away, but applied in our own lives as well as shared with others to encourage them (vv. 17-18), with the aim of growing our trust in the Lord (v. 19). As we meditate on these wise sayings, it will lead to sound and truthful speech (v. 21).
Saying 5 (22:28): During the time of Solomon, the limits of people’s property were often marked by boundary stones. Moving these stones amounted to stealing property, since a person would effectively increase his property and reduce that of his neighbour. This could have a great impact on people’s lives, because land was a source of livelihood and security to farmers (see Job 24:2), as well as an inheritance to be passed on to the next generation. Stealing property was considered a sin against God because land in Israel was owned and apportioned by Him (see Deuteronomy 19:14).
Saying 15 (23:17-18): Sometimes the wicked seem to be successful in life, which can make us envious or prompt us to question the justice of it all, as the writer of Psalm 73, Asaph, did. But the Bible reminds us that the wicked are ultimately like chaff (Psalm 1:4); what they accumulate are only trifles. We are to take the long-term view, knowing that the eternal security of those who fear the Lord is assured (Proverbs 23:18). How much better it is to revere God and be assured of a future!
Saying 17 (23:22-25): Without our parents, we would not have life. They have our best interests at heart, we are not to despise their advice and instruction (v. 22). Instead, we are to prize and hold on to truth and wisdom (v. 23) so that we will be wise and righteous, and thus bring joy and delight to our parents (v. 24). The fifth of the Ten Commandments directs us to honour our parents (Exodus 20:12), and Proverbs encourages it by showing us the joys and blessings that a wise child brings to his parents.
Saying 27 (24:15-16): It is futile to raid or rob the righteous, because they will not allow any setback to keep them down and will rise again (v. 16). They know that evil will never triumph and will ultimately be punished (v. 16). The righteous trust in God, knowing that He is the defender of the righteous, the fatherless (see 23:11), and the poor (22:23), and will therefore act on behalf of those who belong to Him (see 14:31).
And though they take our life,
Goods, honour, children, wife,
Yet is their profit small;
These things shall vanish all
The city of God remaineth.
What goes through your mind when you see the wicked prosper? How can you draw encouragement from Proverbs 23:17-18? How can you respond in a godly manner?
Proverbs 24:16 notes that the righteous will ″rise again″ even though they may fall seven times. Why are they able to do so? What would give you strength to rise again even when afflicted?