Archive for January 10th, 2019

Proverbs 14:29-35

In Proverbs 14:29-35, Solomon reminds us that anger and a temper are a characteristic of foolishness. There is great wisdom in the ability to control one’s response to provoking situations. Being quick to get angry brings many regrets. “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly”. But contrast that with a tranquil heart – one that doesn’t react, but chooses to carefully and correctly respond. “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot”. Solomon had in mind heart as a metaphor for our innermost being. When we are sound on the inside, it brings health and life to the whole body.

Solomon warns us again not to oppress those less fortunate. To oppress the poor is to sin against them, but it is also to sin against and to insult God Himself. To oppress and despise the poor is to despise his Maker, the one in whose image all humanity was made. “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him”. The one who honors and loves God will reflect God’s own mercy on the needy. He goes on by reminding us yet again of the plight of the wicked. “The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing, but the righteous finds refuge in his death”. Godliness and wisdom are useful for many things, and one of their great benefits is the way that they make for good community.

Solomon shares the idea that wisdom finds a suitable home in the heart of those who have understanding. It isn’t like a temporary visitor; it comes and rests in the heart. “Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding, but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools”. True wisdom takes up residence in the heart. The wisdom of a wise man’s heart will be revealed; so will the folly of the fool’s heart. What we are is eventually evident in what we do. That certainly shows when it comes to righteousness. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”. Righteousness means to follow God’s will and do things God’s way. It will always exalt a person, a family, a neighborhood, a city, a state, or even a nation. This is because of both  the natural consequences of righteousness and because of God’s active response of blessing on the righteous.

Solomon reminds us that on a human level, there is nothing greater than the favor of those in places of power and prestige such as kings. Having that favor is one of the rewards of wisdom.  It doesn’t just happen though – we have to live wisely with those who lead. “A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully”. When we live in folly, shame happens and we fall quickly out of favor with the king. We are forever grateful that the King of Kings, Jesus Christ Himself, did not despise the shame of our sin, but carried it Himself on our behalf to the cross. He should have looked at us with shame, but love caused Him to give us the opportunity for eternal life through His sacrifice.

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