Proverbs 20:17-20

In Proverbs 20:17-20 Solomon continues his guidance around character.  He reminds us that how we get things is more important than what we get. Sin is attractive. There is something in the nature of rebellion and things forbidden that can make bread gained by deceit even sweeter. It satisfied our desire to rebel, our desire for adventure, and our love of forbidden thrills. We might imagine that the forbidden fruit of Eden was delicious. “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.” But there is always a price to pay.  The sweetness is short lived and soon it will taste like gravel.  Obedience is the only way to a lasting good taste!

Solomon again brings up the importance of planning. And the guidance he gives is to not do it by oneself, but to get counsel. There is help and wisdom in realizing our own limitations and seeking counsel. Individually, we are not the ultimate authority on anything.  All of us is always smarter than one of us..  When we include wise people around us, it leads to our plans getting done. “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” This shows that wise counsel is even more important when great matters are involved, such as life and death in war. By spiritual analogy, we can also say that we can only wage the spiritual warfare we must fight as believers against the enemy with the wise counsel of God’s word and other believers.

There is a strong warning against one who gossips. They love to reveal things that should be concealed. There are certainly some things that should be revealed but many things should be concealed out of love. Wisdom will know which is approach is appropriate in each situation. Often keeping what someone knows to themselves is the right response. “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” Solomon’s warning to stay away from those who gossip is because they will quickly turn against you if there is something juicy to share, even if it is not true. It is just better to stay away from a gossip.

Solomon reminds us yet again of the importance of honor in our families.  It’s not a suggestion. The Bible commands us to honor our father and mother. To curse one’s parents is to do the opposite of this command. And from that will come a negative outcome. “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.” God promised to bless those who keep the command to honor father and mother but there is a corresponding principle that those who disobey and curse their father or mother will face the judgment of God. It is again not a mere suggestion, but a command that we honor those who brought us life.

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