Proverbs 17:6-7 “Grandchildren are like a crown to the elderly, and the glory of children is their parents. Excessive speech is not becoming for a fool; how much less are lies for a ruler!”
Why is it that grandparents love grandchildren so much? Because they feel that they can spoil them rotten? Because they don’t have to be the primary disciplinarians? Because they see the family name being carried on? Because they can send them home?!?!?!? Whatever the reason, we see it every day. And we also see younger children adoring their parents. It’s natural and right, although sometimes parents don’t deserve it. Sometimes a child doesn’t display that adoration, and it’s because of something wrong that the parent has done. Children also lose some or all of that adoration about the time they reach the age of 13! However, honor and respect often returns when a child reaches adulthood. Hopefully that can remain even as the parents age. It can be difficult, as memories dim and physical ability diminishes, but our parents are still are worthy of honor and glory.
Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is like a crown of glory; it is attained in the path of righteousness.”
Verse 7 reminds us that fools should be quiet, because everything they say shows how foolish they are. That’s especially true when they try to tell others how important or wonderful they are. Unfortunately, they are the ones least likely to take that advice! As wrong as it is for a fool to be arrogant, it’s even worse for a ruler to lie and be unjust. Rulers are supposed to promote truth and justice.
Proverbs 16:12 “It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.”
Proverbs 17:4-5 “One who acts wickedly pays attention to evil counsel; a liar listens to a malicious tongue. The one who mocks the poor has insulted his Creator; whoever rejoices over disaster will not go unpunished.”
A person who acts or speaks wickedly is more likely to listen to those encourage those actions. The opposite is probably true as well. A person who listen to gossip or to those who encourage evil deeds is much more likely to do those things themselves.
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.'”
Some examples of evil speaking are mocking those who are less fortunate than we are, or rejoicing when something bad happens to someone else. Aren’t we allowed to rejoice when the ungodly are judged? Is there a difference between feeling vindication and rejoicing? At the heart of the matter is probably the realization that “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” The saying is probably about 500 years old, but is perhaps inspired by Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain.”
There is also the reminder from Jesus that by ministering to the poor who are believers, we are ministering to Him:
Matthew 25:40 “And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’”
And Obadiah reminds us to never rejoice over the misfortune of believers:
Obadiah 12-15 “You should not have gloated when your relatives suffered calamity. You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed. You should not have boasted when they suffered adversity. You should not have entered the city of my people when they experienced distress. You should not have joined in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress. You should not have looted their wealth when they endured distress. You should not have stood at the fork in the road to slaughter those trying to escape. You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity. For the day of the LORD is approaching for all the nations! Just as you have done, so it will be done to you. You will get exactly what your deeds deserve.”
We see here how the gloating turns into evil actions, and that the just recompense of their evil deeds is waiting for them.
Proverbs 17:2-3 “A servant who acts wisely will rule over an heir who behaves shamefully, and will share the inheritance along with the relatives. The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the LORD tests hearts.”
Remember how we talked about how these are often probabilities, not promises? Verse 2 should always be true, but often isn’t. We sometimes see people rewarded not because they deserve it, but simply because they are family. The reminder here is that we should reward hard work and wisdom, without regard to position!
Verse 3, however, is a promise. We often face things in life because God is working on refining us. He wants to drive out the impurities so that we are like gold or silver. Are we thankful for that, or do we resent Him because of it?
1 Peter 1;6-7 “…you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
James 1:2-4 “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.”
Proverbs 17:1 “Better is a dry crust of bread where there is quietness than a house full of feasting with strife.”
We often think that things will be better if we just have a little more money. Unfortunately a little more never seems to be enough! Proverbs continually reminds us that there are a lot of things more important than riches. Righteousness. Contentment. Peace. Is there a hint here that riches can cause contention? We probably don’t have to think very hard to come up with some examples that prove the point! But our passage should teach us that contentment comes from within, not without. Having everything we want doesn’t guarantee peace. The heart needs to be at peace in order to experience peace.
Proverbs 16:33 “The dice are thrown into the lap, but their every decision is from the Lord.”
We sometimes find dice casting in the Bible as a way of determining an outcome. The best example of what we have described here might be in the book of Jonah:
“The sailors said to one another, ‘Come on, let’s cast lots to find out whose fault it is that this disaster has overtaken us.’ So they cast lots, and Jonah was singled out.” (1:7)
They did it because they believed that divine forces would ordain the outcome. We should also understand that there is no chance! The way we explain it today is like this: what God doesn’t ordain, He allows. He controls and uses all things.
Proverbs 16:31-32 “Gray hair is like a crown of glory; it is attained in the path of righteousness. Better to be slow to anger than to be a mighty warrior, and one who controls his temper is better than one who captures a city.”
Proverbs presents the most likely way to grow old: do what is right! When you do that you avoid trouble, you avoid stress, and your gray hair becomes a testimony to your righteousness.
The path of righteousness also avoids the angry spirit that seems so prevalent in this age. Anger can be the death of us, our relationships, and our witness. We need to keep ourselves in check if we truly want to be mighty in God’s kingdom!
Proverbs 16:29-30 “A violent person entices his neighbor, and then leads him down a path that is terrible. The one who winks his eyes devises perverse things, and one who compresses his lips has accomplished evil.”
Violence doesn’t just have to refer to the physical. Violence comes from anger and hatred in the heart, which can reveal itself in multiple ways. A violent person can encourage someone else to be dissatisfied and angry, which can lead them down a dark path that is ultimately self destructive.
Proverbs 22:24-25 “Do not make friends with an angry person, and do not associate with a wrathful person, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
Verse 30 could be interpreted in different ways. Winking could also be squinting the eyes. Squinting the eyes and compressing the lips could be signs of deep thinking, perhaps to commit evil deeds. However, it seems more likely that these are non verbal clues that show when people are conspiring with one another. Either way, the warning is to steer clear of those who plot evil.
Proverbs 16:27-28 “A wicked scoundrel digs up evil, and his slander is like a scorching fire. A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip separates the closest friends.”
Our mouths get us into trouble all the time, but it’s not really our mouths that are the problem! Sin starts from within. A wicked and ungodly person will have hatred and evil in their heart, and it will eventually come out. They’ll spread lies, gossip, and even try to alienate people from one another. They delight in spreading misery. That is not the way we are supposed to be!
Proverbs 26:20 “Where there is no wood, a fire goes out, and where there is no gossip, contention ceases.”
Proverbs 16:23-24 “A wise person’s heart makes his speech wise and it adds persuasiveness to his words. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
If your heart is right with God, you’ll study His Word and want to follow Him. The end result is that your speech will be gracious and persuasive, and provide guidance and joy!
Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.”
Proverbs 16:21-22 “The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.”
There is an old proverb found in English that seems to have originated in Italy: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” My belief is that it actually originates from Proverbs 16:21!
Since “wise of heart” is coupled with “sweetness of speech,” the implication seems to be that we are discerning and wise when we use our speech to influence others in a positive and moral manner. If you do that you have good sense, and it will take you far in life! Fools, however, just instruct others in foolishness, and cause destruction.