Proverbs 17:26-27 “It is terrible to punish a righteous person, and to flog honorable men is wrong. The truly wise person restrains his words, and the one who stays calm is discerning.”
The role of government is to punish evil and reward good, not the other way around! It’s horrible when officials are corrupt and punish the righteous. And while we can certainly think of situations in our own country (USA) where the righteous are punished, the problems in some other countries make our concerns almost trivial.
1 Peter 2:13-14 “Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good.”
Wise people know when to keep their mouths shut, in part because they keep themselves calm. What happens on the inside works itself out. If you allow yourself to be upset and agitated all the time, then your spirit won’t be calm, and you’ll say things that you shouldn’t. Being discerning in speech is a hallmark of the righteous. And if you really want to be concerned, consider the words of Jesus:
Matthew 12:36 “I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak.”
Proverbs 17:24-25 “Wisdom is directly in front of the discerning person, but the eyes of a fool run to the ends of the earth. A foolish child is a grief to his father, and bitterness to the mother who bore him.”
Verse 24 is probably satire. Wisdom is right in front of us; we just have to reach out and grab it. The foolish person doesn’t even see it!
Proverbs 1:20-23 “Wisdom calls out in the street, she shouts loudly in the plazas; at the head of the noisy streets she calls, in the entrances of the gates in the city she utters her words: ‘How long will you simpletons love naiveté? How long have mockers delighted in mockery? And how long will fools hate knowledge? You should respond to my rebuke. Then I would pour out my thoughts to you; I would make my words known to you.'”
Gaining wisdom is as simple as reading a Bible. How hard is that?!?!?
Verse 25 is a restatement of verse 21. Parents generally are devastated when their children engage in foolish behavior, especially when their behavior has horrible consequences.
2 Samuel 18:33 “The king then became very upset. He went up to the upper room over the gate and wept. As he went he said, ‘My son, Absalom! My son, my son, Absalom! If only I could have died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!’”
“Jesus as Savior and Judge”
I) The _________________ of Christian proclamation
A) A _______________
C) Communicating ___________ and peace
II) ___________ do grace and peace come from?
A) The _____________
B) The _____________
C) And the ________
1) Who is ___________
3) And __________
III) Jesus ____________ grace and peace to us
A) He __________ us
B) He __________ us!
C) And gives us a ______________
D) So we ______________ Him!
IV) One day it will be _____ _______ to experience grace and peace
A) Jesus will return ______________!
B) He is revealed as _____________
C) But He is coming as ____________
V) It will happen because God has ____________ it!
A) He is _________________
B) He is ___________________
C) He is _________________
D) And it is _____________!
Proverbs 17:22-23 “A cheerful heart brings good healing, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. A wicked person receives a bribe secretly to pervert the ways of justice.”
Officials are in mind again in verse 23. Leadership should be honest and upright. Listen to how Samuel defines his ministry before the people:
1 Samuel 12:3 “‘Here I am. Bring a charge against me before the LORD and before his chosen king. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I wronged? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I taken a bribe so that I would overlook something? Tell me, and I will return it to you!’”
Verse 22 reminds us of the power of the inner being. What we are on the inside defines us. Joy shows. Depression shows. We take this verse to be personal, but we are also affected by the bearing of others. We have an important reminder about joy from the book of Ezra:
Nehemiah 8:9-12 “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priestly scribe, and the Levites who were imparting understanding to the people said to all of them, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping when they heard the words of the law. He said to them, ‘Go and eat delicacies and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ Then the Levites quieted all the people saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy. Do not grieve.’ So all the people departed to eat and drink and to share their food with others and to enjoy tremendous joy, for they had gained insight in the matters that had been made known to them.”
When the people read the law after their return to the promised land, they were grieved. But Ezra encouraged them to have joy, because they were able to know, follow, and worship God. Are you struggling today? One way to get through it is to focus on God, His love, His will, and His Word. He has revealed Himself to us; He has saved us; He has given us hope. All of this should help us to have cheerful hearts, rather than crushed spirits!
Proverbs 17:20-21 “The one who has a perverse heart does not find good, and the one who is deceitful in speech falls into trouble. Whoever brings a fool into the world does so to his grief, and the father of a fool has no joy.”
By now we should all understand the trouble that lying, gossip and slander can bring to a person. When you try to “overthrow” with your speech, trouble will find you! It all stems from a “twisted” heart. A twisted heart can’t see good and seeks to do harm. There is always a connection between the heart and the tongue, because what happens inside works its way out. We need to be good on the inside if we want our attitudes and our actions to be godly. And, if we are parents or teachers, we have a responsibility to teach our children/students to be good, wise, and godly. If our pupils turn into fools, grief and sorrow follow, even if we’ve done our best. This proverb reminds us of how difficult it can be when we are in a position of authority over another!
Proverbs 17:18-19 “The one who lacks sense strikes hands in pledge, and puts up financial security for his neighbor. The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction.”
There is a limit to the love we read about in 17:17! You don’t do something stupid just to show how much you care. The underlying assumption here is that you have others who are depending on you. Don’t mortgage your families future just to help out someone else. Be discerning!
It’s important to understand verse 19 properly. Is all quarreling sin? Well, the word order in the Hebrew suggests this translation: “the one who loves transgression loves a quarrel.” A fool loves disagreements. The sinful love to get in a fight. That same sinful, foolish attitude leads a person to build a high wall to keep others out in an attempt to guarantee peace and isolation. Here’s an idea: we should try to get along with our neighbors instead of fighting with them! A large wall and gate will only cause more dissension. Another possible understanding is that a person shows off their wealth and pride by making their home more impressive than anyone else’s, and thereby alienating everyone around them.
Proverbs 13:10 “With pride comes only contention, but wisdom is with the well-advised.”
Proverbs 17:16-17 “What’s the point of a fool having money in hand to buy wisdom, when his head is empty? A friend loves at all times, and a relative is born to help in adversity.”
Either a fool is so foolish that he thinks wisdom is a commodity that can be bought with money, or a fool, because he has no sense, would refuse to buy wisdom even if he could!
Verse 17 shows us what true friendship is like. Is brother (the literal translation of “family”) literal (really a family member, as the NET translation implies), or figurative (a loving friend is like a brother)? Both are probably true. A true friend or a loving family member is someone you can count on regardless of the circumstances. It’s not quite, “I’ll help you bury the body,” since that would be wrong! But the idea is that you are there through thick and thin. The best example of this type of friendship in the Bible is probably the relationship between Jonathan and David.
1 Samuel 18:1 “When David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan and David became bound together in close friendship. Jonathan loved David as much as he did his own life.”
1 Samuel 20:32-34 “Jonathan responded to his father Saul, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ Then Saul threw his spear at Jonathan in order to strike him down. So Jonathan was convinced that his father had decided to kill David. Jonathan got up from the table enraged. He did not eat any food on that second day of the new moon, for he was upset that his father had humiliated David.”
2 Samuel 9:1 “Then David asked, ‘Is anyone still left from the family of Saul, so that I may extend kindness to him for the sake of Jonathan?'”
Proverbs 17:14-15 “Starting a quarrel is like letting out water; abandon strife before it breaks out! The one who acquits the guilty and the one who condemns the innocent— both of them are an abomination to the LORD.”
Think of cracks in a dam here. Once the water starts to come through, look out! The same is true about quarreling and strife. Don’t start a fight unless you want it to careen out of control.
Proverbs 17:9 “The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends.”
The picture in verse 15 is of a judge who is morally corrupt. Perhaps she is taking bribes. Perhaps he is morally perverse. It is an abomination before God both to let the wicked go free and to imprison the righteous. Judges are supposed to be honorable!
Deuteronomy 25:1 “If controversy arises between people, they should go to court for judgment. When the judges hear the case, they shall exonerate the innocent but condemn the guilty.”
Since we have the ability to influence some of these decisions in our culture, we should vote to elect individuals who have a moral compass. We should also make sure that we hang around people who have a moral compass!
Isaiah 5:20 “Beware, those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.”
Proverbs 17:12-13 “It is better for a person to meet a mother bear being robbed of her cubs, than to encounter a fool in his folly. As for the one who repays evil for good, evil will not leave his house.”
Proverbs is exaggerating to make a point. It’s certainly dangerous to encounter a bear trying to get to her cubs! But imagine walking into a room where a person is going to test for a gas leak with a match. Or crossing a bridge designed by an engineer who doesn’t understand math. Or being asked to lie for someone to cover up an immoral or an illegal act. Each one of these is destructive in a different way, and the consequences are deadly. Foolishness destroys. We need to be wise, and we need to make sure that we aren’t caught up in the foolishness of others.
One way we embrace wisdom is by being kind to others, especially those who have been kind to us. But it even goes beyond that. Jesus challenges us to be kind to those who aren’t kind to us!
Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Proverbs 17:10-11 “A rebuke makes a greater impression on a discerning person than a hundred blows on a fool. An evil person seeks only rebellion, and so a cruel messenger will be sent against him.”
While this reflects a different time, the underlying premise is the same. A wise person will listen to correction, but a fool won’t. We need to be wise, and we need to discriminate. If we have advice to give, we’re better off giving it to someone who will listen, not someone who won’t! They type of person who won’t is like the type of person who will foster rebellion. Watch out! The government won’t tolerate it for long. A “cruel messenger” will be coming to put down the attempt!
Proverbs 16:14 “A king’s wrath is like a messenger of death, but a wise person appeases it.”
We should probably remember the context here. This is talking to those who are God’s chosen people in God’s chosen nation. Rebellion wasn’t considered a righteous action, even by someone designated as the next king!
1 Samuel 26:23 “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed.”
Even if there are mitigating circumstances in our own cultures that would encourage us to consider rebellion a right course of action, this Proverb reminds us that we will face a “cruel messenger” in our attempt.
Romans 13:4 “…for he does not bear the sword in vain…”
*** You might want to check out the entirety of Romans 13:1-7 to get a perspective on how God views even unjust governments (like the Roman empire).