‘’Verses 17-21: These verses form an introduction to the thirty sayings that follow. The young person or disciple is again encouraged to take these sayings to heart and apply them (see Proverbs 1:1-6, 8 – 9). These are not merely clever statements with which to impress one’s friends; these sayings – in common with all Scripture – are God’s word, which must be obeyed. When one has committed himself to obeying God, he will fully realise that these words are indeed from Him (John 7:17). With God’s Word impressed on his heart, the disciple will be able to give sound answers to those who sent him for teaching – perhaps a parent or guardian (verse 21).’’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.936.
‘’I’m giving you thirty sterling principles – tested guidelines to live by. Believe me – these are truths that work.’’ The Message.
The last third of ‘Proverbs’ comprises five further separate collections of wisdom material of various kinds: two collections of the sayings of the wise (22:17-24:22 and 24:23-34), a similar collection ‘’copied by the men of Hezekiah’’ (25-29), and the sayings of Agur (30) and King Lemuel (31). It’s been pointed out that the thirty sayings are closely related to a thirty-chapter Egyptian work, the ‘Teaching of Amenemope.’ This work seems to belong to a period some time before Solomon was on the scene, and it is usually thought that Proverbs has drawn from this book rather than vice versa. ‘’The openness to learning from the wisdom of other peoples reflects the theological conviction that the God of Israel is God of all nations and of all life. It is not therefore surprising when other peoples perceive truths about life which the people of God can profit from. The thirty sayings encourage us to use our common sense in our service of God. God’s service does not always require ‘a word from the Lord’ in order for us to see what needs doing! The Teaching of Amenemope was designed to offer advice to people in public service. The thirty sayings have much to say to such people too.’’ John Goldingay: ‘The new Bible commentary’,p.602.
- Verses 22, 23 (see 16): Some years ago a book was published entitled ‘Bias to the poor’. I believe it highlighted many verses in the Bible that show that God is on the side of the poor in their vulnerability. It’s not that God doesn’t love the rich people as much as the resource less, but He clearly has a special concern to stand with the weak and powerless in this world system that is heavily tilted towards the rich and powerful.
- Verses 24, 25: This is a reiteration of the principle that you tend to become like those you get close to (That’s why it’s important to stick close to Jesus!) See also Proverbs 12:26 and 14:29. ‘’Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious – don’t get infected.’’ The Message. Although we shouldn’t cultivate close ties with the wrong sort of people, it is still important to be kind to them and show them the love of Christ.
- Verses 26, 27 (see also 6:1-5). Whilst we should not oppress the poor, there is a balancing act to be performed. Neither should we be recklessly indulgent with people in financial difficulties.
Prayer: Lord help me to grasp that ‘all truth is God’s truth’, and give me a teachable spirit, always wanting and willing to learn. Please strengthen me to apply my heart to all your teaching; to keep it in my heart, and be ready to speak it with my lips.