Proverbs 14:1-2 “Every wise woman has built her household, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. The one who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, but the one who is perverted in his ways despises him.”
Wisdom works hard. Wisdom disciplines. Wisdom encourages. Wisdom helps. Wisdom is kind and compassionate. Wisdom builds up! If we don’t do any of those things, we end up tearing down those around us and ruining our households. We show that we are wise and upright if we respect God and want to please him. Another way of describing unrighteousness is perversion, which here means to go the wrong way. When we go the wrong way we show that we despise God.
Proverbs 13:24-25 “The one who spares his rod hates his child, but the one who loves his child is diligent in disciplining him. The righteous has enough food to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked will be empty.”
The righteous will be taken care of either because of their good morals and habits, or because God is the one taking care of them. The wicked come up empty!
Without getting into a big discussion about corporal punishment, the issue in verse 24 is discipline, which is made clear in the second half of the verse. If we aren’t willing to discipline our children, we don’t love them, because we aren’t helping them prepare for life. When we discipline our children we show them the difference between right and wrong, and the fact that there are consequences for actions. Hebrews even uses the issue of discipline to show that God is our Father and that He loves us!
Hebrews 12:5-11 “And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? ‘My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.’ Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.”
Proverbs 13:22-23 “A good person leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren, but the wealth of a sinner is stored up for the righteous. Abundant food may come from the field of the poor, but it is swept away by injustice.”
There are multiple ways these proverbs could be understood. The first proverb probably isn’t simply referring to the idea that we should make sure that we leave something for our children. The principle behind it is probably the idea of industry again. If you work hard, all things being equal, you’ll do well and end up leaving an inheritance. Those that don’t work, or perhaps engage in illicit activities, won’t have anything to leave behind, or will end up with what they do have being taken away.
Unfortunately, all things are not equal. A poor person could work hard, be righteous, and someone could come along who is unjust and take it all away. That’s why proverbs are probabilities. They even warn us that things don’t always work out in this life.
An alternative view is that, if you work hard, you end up with abundant food. However, the evil person may find that God takes his away. And, as part of the retribution, God gives it to those who are righteous.
Finally, there may also be a spiritual component at work here. A good person leaves a moral inheritance to their children and grandchildren. An evil person doesn’t, and the lessons that are supposed to be learned by their offspring are never learned. That “inheritance” of learning goes to the offspring of the righteous!
Proverbs 13:20-21 “The one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Calamity pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous.”
We become like those we hang around, which is why we have to be careful. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be a witness to others, but we have to be sure that we are influencing them, and not the other way around! We want to experience good (prosperity), not evil (calamity).
Could more be implied here too? Since hanging around with the wise makes you wise, it seems logical that hanging around with fools makes you foolish. But the way it’s put, that the “companion of fools suffers harm,” probably means more. Sometimes, even though you might not be the one doing anything wrong, you get into trouble because you are with those who are caught. Simply being around fools may bring harm. Be careful!
Proverbs 13:18-19 “The one who neglects discipline ends up in poverty and shame, but the one who accepts reproof is honored. A desire fulfilled will be sweet to the soul, but fools abhor turning away from evil.”
If you accept advice and instruction you are much more likely to end up with a life that is honored and blessed. If you don’t, you’re going to end up in trouble!
The first part of verse 19 repeats the same thought we read in 13:12: “a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.” But why is it coupled with “fools abhor turning away from evil” here? I think that the best understanding is that the righteous desire what is good, and the blessing that follows is “sweet to the soul.” A fool won’t listen, won’t follow, won’t turn away from evil, and will never experience that sweetness. In fact, a fool is so warped in their thinking that they actually abhor turning away from evil. What an indictment!
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the LORD is good. How blessed is the one who takes shelter in him.”
Proverbs 13:16-17 “Every shrewd person acts with knowledge, but a fool displays his folly. An unreliable messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing.”
The Hebrew word underlying “shrewd” means to be cunning or clever. If you gather wisdom and act on it then you’ll look smart. However, it’s very easy to tell when a person is unwilling to listen to good advice or act upon it. They do dumb things!
Imagine a ruler sends a message, only to have the wrong message arrive or to not have a message arrive at all. Disaster! A faithful messenger makes sure the correct message gets there, which is vital for the health and well being of the community. In our own lives it speaks to the importance of making sure we pass on correct information. It is also a reminder of the importance of being a faithful envoy for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We need to live the way He wants us to live, and speak the truth He wants us to share.
Romans 10:14-15 “How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.’”
Proverbs 13:14-15 “Instruction from the wise is like a life-giving fountain, to turn a person from deadly snares. Keen insight wins favor, but the conduct of the treacherous ends in destruction.”
When you give wise advice, people appreciate you. When you listen to good advice, it makes your life better. When you follow bad advice, watch out!
The Bible is our best source for wisdom:
2 Timothy 3:16 “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”
And Jesus is the true life giving fountain that we need to drink from!
John 4:13-14 “Jesus replied, ‘Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.’”
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7x3OX6v5_o
Proverbs 13:12-13 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life. The one who despises instruction will pay the penalty, but whoever esteems direction will be rewarded.”
Hope is powerful. Hope makes is possible for us to carry on, even in difficult circumstances. Thank God that we have hope because of our relationship with Jesus Christ! We know that there is greater and better to come.
Ephesians 1:11-14 “In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”
And the hope that we hold on to is given to us through the Word of God. Without the Word we wouldn’t know about Jesus. Without the Word we wouldn’t know the promise of our future inheritance. Without the Word we wouldn’t have hope! We need to read the Word. We need to love the Word. We need to obey the Word. Without it, we face despair and destruction.
Proverbs 13:10-11 “With pride comes only contention, but wisdom is with the well-advised. Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little will become rich.”
You’re smart if you listen to and are willing to take advice. You’re dumb if you don’t. And it’s worse than that. If you refuse to listen to others it often leads to discord and dissension.
How many lottery winners do you know that continue to grow a fortune and end up business tycoons? Most stories revolve around how a person won millions of dollars and ended up squandering it. Riches gained quickly are often lost, but money earned slowly can be easier to hold on to, most likely because of the work that went into gaining it!
Proverbs 13:8-9 “The ransom of a person’s life is his wealth, thus the poor person has never heard a threat. The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.”
There are some advantages to being poor – you’ll never have to worry about being kidnapped! The underlying idea is that rich people have problems too, sometimes even greater problems than the poor. Wealth doesn’t solve everything. That’s why righteousness is so important. When we have a right relationship with God it leads to wisdom, peace and joy. Wickedness leads to darkness, both literally (perhaps through idleness) and figuratively (because of the end result of refusing to follow God).
Ephesians 5:14 “Awake, O sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!”