Proverbs 15:17-20

Solomon begins Proverbs 15:17-20 tackling the topic of love. The presence of love makes up for a lot. We can live on a humble diet but can never flourish without love. Love really is what we need. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it”. Some may try and convince you that love is not that important, or not necessary for a full life. They may very well say that love can be replaced by enough ‘stuff’ in life. One may enjoy the extravagant abundance of a fatted calf, but hatred will spoil it all. Nothing really makes up for a lack of love. Not money, not stuff, not others who have money and stuff.  We all need love to live a full life!

And what is the opposite of a peaceful and loving life?  Anger and strife passed around by a person with a temper. When strife is stirred up, it doesn’t happen by accident. Usually the cause is a wrathful individual filled with anger who stirs up strife. A bad temper causes much pain. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention”. How should we respond when things are difficult and our temper begins to boil?  We should take a deep breath and pause. A wise person is slow to anger, and they have a way of bringing peace and smoothing over contention instead of stirring up strife.

Solomon returns to a very familiar area around sluggards – those who are not hard workers. Those who are lazy may not see it in themselves. Often they may more easily see the result of their laziness, which is a life filled with constant trouble and irritations (like a hedge of thorns). “The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway”. Guzik reminds us of these traits of laziness:

  • Laziness is theft – you live off the work of others.
  • Laziness is selfishness – you live for yourself and comfort.
  • Laziness is neglect of duty – you don’t do what you should.

The wise person – upright and hardworking before the LORD – does not know the same constant troubles and irritations of life that the lazy man must endure. Life for the upright is much more smooth and efficient in its progress.

Solomon then relates wisdom to parenting. A father has gladness in the wise son, both for the blessing of knowing there is good for the son, and glad because it vindicates the father’s trust in God and training of the son in wisdom. It is Proverbs ‘train up a child’ in outcome. “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother”. The foolish person brings disgrace to his parents, and the rejection of the parent’s wisdom shows they despise their mother and father.  Want to truly honor you parents?  Live a life based on God’s truth and wisdom.  That is the best outcome any parent can hope for.

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