Proverbs 19:15-22

Proverbs 19:15‑22  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Dangers and helps are plainly pointed out; for the fallen earth is full of the one, and Jehovah fails not for the other. There is a great need of vigilance, and man is shortsighted, to say the least.
“Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and the idle soul shall suffer hunger.
He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his soul; he that despiseth his ways shall die.
He that hath pity on the poor lendeth to Jehovah; and his bestowal will he pay him again.
Chasten thy son, seeing there is hope; and let not thy heart cause him to die.
A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment; for if thou deliver [him], thou must do it yet again.
Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
Many thoughts [are] in a man's heart, but the counsel of Jehovah, that shall stand.
The charm of a man [is] his kindness, and a poor man [is] better than a liar” (vers. 15-22).
Even when man was unfallen, he had responsibility. He was called to till and keep the garden, planted exceptionally by Jehovah Elohim with every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. When fallen, as the ground was cursed on his account, he had to eat of it all the days of his life with toil. Thorns and thistles it yielded unbidden; so that man had to eat bread in the sweat of his face all his diminishing life. Slothfulness therefore ill became his position, and all the more when he faced adversity through his own fault. The sun arises, and, the wild beasts get them away to their dens, but man goeth forth to his work till the evening; and, as he is it is well ordered for him. But slothfulness traverses all, and casts into a deep sleep while it is day, and pays the penalty. If any will not work, neither let him eat. The idle soul shall suffer hunger.
Man was made in God's image after His likeness. He had dominion given him over fish and fowl, cattle and reptile, and over all the earth too. Yet was he put under commandment. And “he that keepeth the commandment keepeth his soul; as he that despiseth,” or is reckless of, “his ways shall die.” So Adam proved, and no less Adam's race.
Even when no open sin was, man must bow to God. To seek independency of God is his ruin. To look up in gratitude and obey Him is not only the first of human duties, but vital to man whose breath is in his nostrils, and his life but a vapor. When sin entered and death through sin, how very evident and urgent it was that he should be dependent on that God who forthwith held out a Deliverer from the power of evil before banishing him from the paradise he had lost by his disobedience!
In such a world of disorder, of violence and corruption, we have always with us the poor, whom no man that has eyes or ears can fail to meet. This tests the heart practically; for to say, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled, and to give them not the things needful for the body, is to cheat ourselves quite as much as them. Man was to represent God who loves a cheerful giver in a wilderness world, and here encourages the man to pity those that have not. “He that pitieth,” or is gracious to, “the poor lendeth to Jehovah,” as He deigns to count it; “and what he bestoweth He will pay him again.” What security can match this? Think too of the honor of being creditor to Him
But there is also another duty in which a parent ought to resemble Him, care for his offspring. “Chasten thy son, seeing there is hope.” The young twig is pliant, and may be bent aright or pruned to bear fruit. Love is not indifferent but takes pains; and chastening is a greater sorrow to a father than to the son that needs it. To allow evil, whatever the plea, is to set one's soul on causing “him to die.” We, Christians on earth, endure for chastening; which, though painful for the moment, yields afterward peaceful fruits of righteousness to those exercised thereby.
Look next at one not accustomed to bear the yoke in his youth. He is “a man of great wrath,” overcome by any word or work which does not please his rash mind: what is the result? He “shall suffer punishment “; and the sad thing is that neither he nor anyone else can say what may come next. Love him as you may, his hasty temper is a constant danger. “For if thou deliver, thou must do it yet again.” Christ is the sole adequate Deliverer, and this not only by His redemption but by the virtue of abiding in Him. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall come to pass for you.”
Very fitting accordingly is the next word: “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in the latter end.” What counsel can compare with that which God gives, what instruction equals the scriptures! Speculative men talk of the Bible as fragmentary and occasional; but under such an appearance there is the completest provision, and suited to every need that ever did or can arise. Men of faith find it out to their everlasting comfort, and are responsible to show its treasures to those who fail to see; but they reap the blessing in wisdom from the first to their latter end, as every believer proves.
Outside the field of divine teaching is the perplexity of man's thoughts, let him be ever so abundant in ideas or devices. “Many thoughts are in a man's heart, but the counsel of Jehovah, that shall stand.” This is what makes wise; and firm as well as happy he who learns and cleaves to His counsel. It is the great lie to deny the truth; and Christ the Personal Word, scripture the written word, is the truth, which the Holy Spirit makes a living thing to the believer.
Nor is this all the comfort he enjoys. “The charm of a man (or that which maketh a man to be desired) is his kindness.” There too he is privileged to follow in the wake of God, who is good and doeth good. For this reason its claim too often is substituted for the reality; and good words usurp the place of good deeds. Nor do any fail more than those whose large purse accompanies a narrow heart and a polite tongue. Hence we have the pithy adage that “a poor man is better than a liar.” It is God's word which strips. men of their robes and lays bare their true character. May we have grace to be truthful and loving, without pretension.