Proverbs 22:12 – 16
Yesterday we saw the importance of good talk (11): ”God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship.” The Message. The next proverb (12) deals with its opposite: ”God guards knowledge with a passion, but he’ll have nothing to do with deception.” The Message. What this proverb seems to mean is that the Lord will ensure that the truth will prevail over the words of the false. He will vindicate the truth. That is good to know. Come to think of it, that is exactly what God did in the resurrection of Jesus. In raising Jesus (”the truth” Jn.14:6) He was vindicating Him in the face of the irregular human verdict based on lies. The truth will out. It will prevail. It is self-evident that lying is a mug’s game. Liars get caught out. They have to tell more and more lies to cover their earlier lies, but they always get exposed in the end. So stay with God on the side of truth. Indeed determine, with God’s almighty enabling, to be scrupulously honest.
The lazy person always has an excuse for not working; for staying in bed (13). These are often hollow and ridiculous excuses. ”The loafer says, ”There’s a lion on the loose! If I go out I’ll be eaten alive!” ” The Message. As someone observed, they talk about the lion outside, but forget about the ‘lion’ within (1 Peter 5:8) who will surely ”devour” them if they don’t change their ways. In church life we need to ensure that we are not making empty excuses for failing to do pressing work that we really ought to be getting on with.
Proverbs has a lot to say about the danger of adultery. If we heed it, we will do our utmost to stay far away from even the possibility of temptation. Here is another aspect (14). It is one way God’s judgment on a life is worked out. As Paul shows in Romans 1: 18-32, when men give God up, God gives men up; He gives them up to things like adultery. He allows them to reject Him and choose their own way down an ever more slippery path. He takes off the ‘handbrake’ and allows them to start rolling downhill.
Children, left to their own devices, will incline towards folly because of their inherent sinful nature (15). Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can this be properly subdued, but parents also have a role, under the influence of God’s Spirit, to correct and train their children in God’s ways. ”Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.” The Message. It is a sad thing to read that the old priest, Eli, did not discipline his boys as he should have done, with disastrous consequences (1 Sam.3:13). May God help us as parents, for we surely need all the aid we can draw from him. To raise children well is probably the greatest, and hardest, calling in the world.
The people who extort money from the poor, or who try to bribe the rich will ”both come to poverty”. God will punish the oppressor. Sooner or later he will lose his ill-gotten gains (Jas.5:4, 5). On the other hand, the briber will end up squandering his wealth for nothing. We have been warned!
Prayer: Lord, I can see that your way is best. Sometimes the way of the world is appealing, but I know that it is wrong. Help me to always walk in the road of heavenly wisdom rather than being diverted down the pathway of human folly.