You see that I am still on the same path in this bible study.  I didn’t plan this chapter to match today’s headlines but it does.  God knew where were going long ago and offers his word as a demonstration of what happens when we lack wisdom.  This is the opportunity to grab wisdom and change your path before it causes pain.  Our leaders really need it.

Proverbs 14:23-35

23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

Oh King James is still a little obtuse with words that are out of use now.  But it isn’t hard to confirm online or in other translations.  This just says that work pays off but talking leads to poverty.  Today it seems like honest work should pay, but mostly leaves us struggling with poverty.  At the same time the politicians talk endlessly and get rich on our ignorance.  But that contradicts the word of God, so you should expect God to make some adjustments shortly.

24 The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.

Well prosperity could be a crown, but wisdom is a crown in itself and it is a treasure.  If you are wise you know that is its own reward.  The next wordplay is redundant foolishness because it is self-replicating.  One bad decision rarely turns away from foolishness until it harvests abundant pain and sorrow.

25 A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.

Our truth is based on a relationship with a living God.  He can answer without our help so we can encourage friends without making rules.  A true witness delivers souls to a real God who gives them the good answers that we can’t.  The world is full of advice, but most is not godly.  Where there is intent to deceive it is more than unwise, it is a hostile lie that leads to death in sin.

26 In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

There is no greater confidence than the Lord and that is wisdom.  He delivers his promise of refuge to those who remember that the fear of God is the source of peace. 

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Knowing that God’s judgment is eternal it can move us to brave the dangers of life.  But Godly choices make this life better and promise even better rewards to follow.  The life to follow has both great rewards and the most horrible consequences for sin.

28 In the multitude of people is the king’s honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.

Even kings needed the support of the people.  When the kings of Israel became tyrants the nation was divided and thrown into wars.  In the modern world elected officials have to reflect the needs of their voters.  When that breaks down the voters gradually become aware of the problems and target the source.  If they find greed and corruption they may find ways to burn those out.

29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

Take time to fully hear out ideas and investigate actions because there may be good reason waiting to be discovered.  Others see the opposite side of events and can fill you in on more details that you might miss.  But a quick temper can lead to quick destruction if you are found to be in the wrong.  Even if you are in the right your friends and enemies may be offended and walk away from your cause.

30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses should fortify your efforts in life.  Holding a clean conscience is strength for your work.  But coveting the strength of others disrespects the gifts that God has given you.  There is no victory in feeling inferior and your frame is weakened by envy.

31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

No one openly oppresses the poor today right?  Of course we do read about corporations polluting neighborhoods with industrial poisons at times.  But those corporations may not be breaking the law because they PAID YOUR CONGRESSMEN to make the laws fit their business needs.  And these often PAY NO TAXES to help the employees whose jobs have been sent to China.  Well what will they expect when they take their conservative values to the judgment?  Will they be surprised to find LIBERALS taking their place in heaven?  Surely their $25 offering to benevolence should make the unemployed man feel better right?  Some will find the assets to make these changes and honor God.  But not even with millions of dollars offered to the “charities” that ignore real needs.

32 The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.

Life is shorter than we think.  The pursuit of evil brings pleasure and enemies who make that pleasure bitter to the end.  Crime will be discovered in time and the guilty are removed.  But those who trust God and do good cannot be defeated even in death.  There is a reward in eternity for those who are obedient in this life.

33 Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.

Knowing the rewards of wisdom calms our heart against the anxieties of life.  There are answers for the challenges in the knowledge of God.  But fools have no answers for the revelation of their weakness and their failures are public knowledge.

34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

This nation was a new experiment in the wilderness, but stepped in to deliver the nations in two world wars.  There were clear threats and honest wars in those days, clear good and bad.  But we can become a different force if we join evil nations for material gain.  If we displace native populations by violence for land or ignore the evil of allies to gain oil or are we still respected?  Are we the honest people of Abraham Lincoln or the slaves of rich corporate lobbyists?

35 The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.

We have political leaders, but God has placed a king above all kings and presidents.  He pointed out the good that a Samaritan could do, and honors good works even when they come from supposedly evil people.  Those who rebel against God produce much damage to themselves and others.  God has anger for these, but even more for those who bring shame to his name.  Evil done by false Christians will have a special wrath.