Proverbs 19:8-29

Proverbs 19:8‑29  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The value of right feeling ("heart" literally, or sense) is enforced and contrasted with the folly and evil of deceit, both for the life that is, and for that to come; the uncomeliness of self-indulgence, and the admirableness of forbearance; the comfort of royal favor, as against the fear of its displeasure; the grief where family relationship is in disorder, and the manifest blessing where she who shares the guidance walks and judges wisely.
It is not only lax and dissolute ways that lead to ruin. How many perish by the indifference which gives a loose rein to folly! There is no fear of God in either; and where this fear is lacking, all must be wrong. Before, we were told that the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, as it also tends to life. This may be even now before peace with God is enjoyed; for such peace comes only through the faith which rests on Christ and His work. But it remains true, that he that heareth reproof getteth sense; and he that getteth sense loveth his own soul. The other word that accompanies this is of great value-"he that keepeth understanding shall find good," and good better than silver or gold. It is well to get, and better still to keep, what is so excellent.
Those who hear and say much have to lay to heart the next solemn warning: "a false witness shall not be held innocent, and one uttering lies shall (not merely be punished, but) perish." It is most hateful to God and most injurious to man. No one can say where the evil may spread, or how it may end here; but we do know how the Lord judges it forever.
Luxury is good for none; but it is above all unseemly for the fool who makes it his enjoyment and his god. The wise man was given to add that worse still is it for a servant to have rule over princes: who so vain and tyrannical?
To indulge in anger hastily is ever a danger, as it is true discretion to be slow in yielding to it. Better still is it to pass over an offense however real. It is his glory. He that is higher than the highest sets the pattern of grace.
On kings it is peculiarly incumbent how they dispense their censure or their favor. If they mistake either way (and there is no small danger of it), the effect is pernicious beyond measure. How happy for the believer to have to do readily and directly with the Highest who never errs, though we are so prone to make mistakes.
The next words take up the afflictions of family life, and give us salutary judgment. It is not merely a fool here, but "a foolish son," and he surely is "the calamity of his father." There is another who brings the calamity nearer still and more constantly, a contentious wife. Her cross and fractious spirit is a continual dropping. Not a spot in the house is safe from her turmoil.
Hence the importance of so looking to the Lord for a gracious and faithful counterpart. If house and wealth are an inheritance of fathers, as it generally was in Israel, a prudent wife was from Jehovah. What were the rest, however choice or abundant, where the meekness of wisdom failed in her who shared it all? If all else materially lacked, what comfort and happiness in having one from Jehovah who had His light within and around her!
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.
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 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, afterward yields 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 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 thy 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 is 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.
As it has been already laid down that the fear of Jehovah is the beginning and the discipline of wisdom, so does it prolong days, whereas the years of the wicked shall be shortened. Here (vv. 23-29) we have more said of its virtue.
Now that we know the manifestation of life eternal in Christ and its gifts to the believer, how greatly is the maxim enhanced! What satisfaction can there be outside Him? "He that hath the Son hath life"; and Christ is the food of that life, both as the true bread out of heaven, giving life to the world, and not to Israel only, by faith, and in raising up at the last day. But there is the further privilege since His death, even to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and thus to dwell with Him, as He dwells in the Christian. He is the Deliverer; what shall man or Satan to do hurt? How shall not God also with Him freely give us all things?
The faith that fears Jehovah is earnest. The sluggard on the contrary is so besotted to self as to bury his hand in the dish, and will not so much as raise it to his mouth again. So he lives, dies, and perishes.
To smite a scorner may and will be lost on him; but the simple take heed, gather profit, and become prudent. The man of intelligence lays admonition to heart, and apprehends a knowledge before unknown. Thus simple and wise are gainers.
As a scorner is worse than a sluggard, more guilty still is the son that plunders a father and chaseth away a mother and her loving appeals. What shame and dishonor he brings!
In such a world of sin the enemy finds no lack of mischievous men and women, who not only stray away from the words of knowledge, but take pleasure to misguide the unwary. Cease, my son, to hear such fatal instruction.
Still more daring a witness of Belial is he that mocks at judgment; and the mouth of the wicked drinks down iniquity. But soon or late God is not mocked, if man is deceived; for whatsoever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap.
Therefore it is true that "judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of the foolish." It is not that God desires any man to be reprobate; but what if He, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction? They gave themselves up to their own will, which is nothing but sin, and had a ready helper in the arch enemy who makes them his slaves. But that God might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, He in His grace prepared them before for glory. All the sin is in and of the creature; all the good is of God. This is the truth as to both God and man, whose only resource is by grace in Christ.