The Word Made Fresh
1Wise sayings of Solomon:
Wise child, proud father;
foolish child, grieving mother.
2Wealth gained through wickedness is not profit;
but right living overcomes even death.
3The LORD will not allow good people to go hungry,
but will block the cravings of the wicked.
4Lazy hands lead to poverty,
but busy hands make wealth.
5Those who stay busy during the offseason are wise,
but those who rest during the harvest are fools.
6The righteous will be rewarded,
but the wicked counsel violence.
7It is rewarding to remember the righteous,
but the name of the wicked will be forgotten.
8Those who are wise obey God’s commandments,
but fools will come to a bad end.
9Those who live with integrity are secure,
but those who pursue the wrong path will be found out.
10Don’t trust those who wink the eye.
Those who have the courage to rebuke evil are peacemakers.
11The words of the righteous give the blessing of life;
the words of the wicked cover violence.
12Hate causes enmity;
love smooths over every offense.
13Wisdom is found in the words of those who understand,
but punishment awaits those who are foolish.
14Those who are wise store up knowledge,
but fools create danger with their babbling.
15Wealth is the strength of the rich.
Poverty is the ruin of the poor.
16Life is the reward of the righteous.
Sin is the wage of the wicked.
17Those who are willing to be taught are on the path to life.
Those who turn a deaf ear to instruction will go astray.
18Hatred is concealed by lies,
and the one who slanders another is a fool.
19Wrongdoing is concealed by many words,
but wisdom is restrained in speech.
20The words of the righteous are like the purest silver,
but the thoughts of the wicked are worthless.
21When the righteous speak many are fed.
Fools perish by their ignorance.
22The LORD’s blessings are true wealth,
and no sorrow accompanies it.
23The fool behaves badly for fun.
The wise behave well for the joy of understanding.
24The wicked will suffer from the very things they fear.
The righteous will be rewarded with the things they desire.
25When the storm passes the wicked are gone,
but the righteous remain.
26Just as vinegar stings the tongue and smoke burns the eyes,
the lazy are a bane to those who hire them.
27Respect for the LORD prolongs one’s life,
but the wicked will pass quickly.
28The righteous are rewarded with joy,
but what the wicked desire will be withheld.
29Obedience to the LORD is a like a strong fortress,
but the wicked are destroyed by their disobedience.
30The righteous will never be displaced,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.
31The voice of the righteous utters wisdom,
but perverted speech will come to nothing.
32The righteous know what is right and good.
The wicked are perverse and foolish.
1-32: This chapter begins a long section labeled “the proverbs of Solomon,” which extends through 22:16. Each of the 32 verses in today’s reading can stand alone, but there are common themes. Most of the proverbs here attempt to teach concepts by contrasting the thing desired with its opposite.
Fully half of these verses (2-3, 6-7, 9, 11, 16, 20, 23-25, 27-32) draw a contrast between the wicked and the righteous. Clearly, it is desirable to have a community of righteous people! For one thing, they are the ones who can be trusted. Beyond that, they also are the ones God blesses with long life, prosperity, and the respect of others. Yes, this is a little naïve, but I think we can agree it is what God would desire for the righteous.
Other contrasting pairs are wisdom vs. folly (verses 1, 8, 13-14 and 19); diligence vs. laziness (4-5, 26); deceitfulness vs. honesty (10, 18); hatred vs. love (12); rich vs. poor (15); and obedience vs. disobedience (17). Verse 22 seems a bit out of place, but it is a reminder that everything belongs to God, and the rich have no grounds upon which to hoard what they have.
This chapter is a simple statement of faith that God will reward and bless those who love and obey the LORD. Rewards and blessings are not necessarily guaranteed in this life, but they are guaranteed.