Proverbs 19:9-12

In Proverbs 19:9-12 Solomon goes after some characteristics that need to be managed. He begins by taking on those who give false witness and lie.  That’s not something that God tolerates. It’s the second time in this very chapter that Solomon has addressed it. The repetition reminds us that this is an important principle. In the law court and in daily life, God wants us to be people of the truth and so He promised that a false witness will not go unpunished. “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” God’s serious about it – it won’t sneak past and go unnoticed. There is certainty of God’s dealing with those who lie.

Next he addresses the fool again. The sense is that there are some wisdom-rejecting fools who enjoy luxury, but it doesn’t seem right. It isn’t fitting for a fool to live in luxury. So while it can happen, it is somewhat of a contrast to the norm. “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes.” In his time, Solomon spoke according to the wisdom of natural man, which places great trust in nobility and family lineage. This is one of the proverbs that the gospel and the new covenant turn on its head, where those who would be great should be as servants and not as princes. The greatest of all is the servant of all.

If we have good sense, we consider all things before reacting or even acting.  There are no quick responses and certainly not any filled with immediate anger or rage. It isn’t necessarily weakness of lack of courage that makes a man slow to anger. It may be wisdom, here described as discretion. “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” But that good sense is taken further when he tells us that sometimes it is best to overlook an offense – something done wrongly to you. A wise man knows that they have been forgiven much, and this shapes how they deal with and respond to others. They don’t act as if they must hold everyone accountable for every transgression, but know when to turn the other cheek.

The next area he covers is the wrath of one who is in charge. The roar of a lion can be terrifying, not only for the sound itself but also for the understanding that it means destruction may swiftly follow. The same is true for the wrath of a king or any other influential person. It is much more true regarding the wrath of God than any other, but wrathful leadership comes across as harsh and severe. “A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.” Contrast that with having favor which is refreshing and life giving; it also means that it is fleeting, as the dew on the grass. The favor of God is certainly refreshing and life giving, but it is not fleeting, as if God were an impossible to please tyrant.

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