Proverbs 16:16-19

In Proverbs 16:16-19 Solomon begins by telling us that wisdom is one of the most valuable things we can ever receive. The money of this world has its use, but it is better to have wisdom than gold. Wisdom is much more helpful and useful in this life, and it is far more profitable for the life to come. “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” One should make the main pursuit of their life to gain wisdom and understanding in the fear of the Lord. This has value far more than gold or silver, but it also often leads to material prosperity as it did for Solomon. Wisdom and wealth are not incompatible; but this comparison is between wealth without wisdom and wisdom without wealth.

He guides us to be careful to turn away from sin.  God cares how we live, and what we do when presented with a temptation. The upright knows that the path of their life – their highway – should move away from evil, not towards it or with it. We need to flee from all evil. “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.” This is a matter of eternal life and death. The one who walks in the right way will find his life preserved. He will stay away from evil that may cost him his life and more importantly his soul.

Solomon again addresses pride, which turned out to be one of the things that brought himself down.  He realized the power of pride toward evil, yet it still caught him. Scripture is clear that God opposes the proud. With God so set against the proud, no wonder that pride goes before destruction. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” One of the many ways that pride is evident is in a haughty spirit – an attitude that communicates superiority over other people. Those who think themselves higher than others are set for destruction and ready to fall under the judgment of God.

Because pride is an abomination to God and leads to destruction, Solomon tells us that it isn’t so bad to live among the lowly and to have a humble spirit. The opposite of pride is humility which is another way to describe a lowly spirit.  It’s not a feeling of being worthless or becoming a doormat for others to trample, but rather a healthy understanding of who God is and where we fit in relationship to Him.  “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” A humble life among the lowly is better than having reward among the proud. This is because proud people are not pleasant company, and because it is never good to join those whom God is set to destroy.

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