Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
..[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 15 ESV”] 1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
5 A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but he loves him who pursues righteousness.
10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die.
11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord;
how much more the hearts of the children of man!
12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise.
13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
18 A hot- tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
19 The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the upright is a level highway.
20 A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.
22 Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed.
23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent,
that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.
25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud
but maintains the widow’s boundaries.
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
but gracious words are pure.
27 Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
and good news refreshes the bones.
31 The ear that listens to life- giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.
32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.
Solomon: Being Intentional
Proverbs 15:24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.
A concept revisited over and over in Proverbs is that of seeing life as going somewhere, not just being lived. The Bible never sees mere existence as legitimate for human beings. We are meant to be people of purpose.
The naturalistic worldview posits that all of human life – indeed all of life period is nothing more than a cosmic accident. That there is no rhyme or reason to anything existing, let alone human life as distinct not only from other organic life – but any other substance. We are simply an animated substance and that, by chance.
It was Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays – 1849) who wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” And if the naturalistic worldview is correct, there is no other way to live life. It began without purpose, prattles along without purpose, and ends without purpose. Even Thoreau’s “song” has no purpose, other than meaningless self-expression. Little more than the belch from a well fed stomach.
How far from this is the Biblical worldview.
The “prudent” live a life that is leading “upward.” It is the picture of one on a journey with a deliberate termination point – and that, beyond “Sheol” or the grave. The one who has had their eyes opened to the reality of the living God and our relationship to Him first in creation and then redemption in Jesus Christ – has set their sights on arriving in His presence as their goal.
Nothing ought to be quietly desperate about us – but every moment infused with hope and the knowledge that having been created in God’s image, and for those in Christ, in the process of being re-created in that image – this is but one stage of the journey. Determinative certainly, but final – never.
There was an old poem later put into song which carried the refrain:
There’s a Heaven to gain, and a Hell to shun;
The way is still straight, there’s a race to be run.
You can live as you please, but you must pay the cost;
And the highway to Heaven still goes by the cross.
That’s true. And the Prudent live their lives knowing it.
Let me ask you, are you deliberately going to Heaven? Living your life on purpose, or just existing?
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.