Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 17 ESV”]
Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.
4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
7 Fine speech is not becoming to a fool;
still less is false speech to a prince.
8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.
9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12 Let a man meet a she- bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly.
13 If anyone returns evil for good,
evil will not depart from his house.
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
16 Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
18 One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
19 Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.
20 A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the ways of justice.
24 The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.
26 To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Solomon: Guard our lips
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Heavenly Father, guard my lips in this matter. Make me compassionate over the sins and failings of others, rather than indulging my flesh in repeating their errors to others. Let me love them better. Let me learn to cover their sin. Let me obtain your heart – you, who keeps our confessions in the deepest of confidences, and though you witness my sins a thousand times a day, do not run off to tell others, but cover it in love. Make me more like Jesus.
Proverbs 17:10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
1. This is a good test for us to find out whether or not we are men of “understanding” – i.e. not fools. Do rebukes hit us hard? Or do we ignore them? We are fools if they do not take their toll on us. This does not mean we crumble under every criticism. It DOES mean we listen to criticism and weigh it. If there is something of truth in it, we had better listen and learn. If it is a false accusation, we can toss it aside. But wise men are not impervious.
2. It is good for leadership to be careful not to be excessive in rebuking those who otherwise show themselves to be “understanding.” The danger here is that we can wound the tender heart and mind needlessly. Some who are very sound and good can be dealt severe and scarring blows when our criticisms make them wither and shrink back. Bear in mind how these things often pierce others very deeply.
3. How difficult it is to make any worthwhile impact on a true fool. He does not respond even to a hundred blows. In comparison, how easy it is to impact those who are men of understanding. Do not waste your time with fools. Those who will not listen, will not even if accosted by the truth in drastic measure. “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:10
Proverbs 17:12 Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.
Remember, the fool is the one who has said in his heart “there is no God.” The one who thinks and lives like this, is the most dangerous man in the world. Let history testify to the wicked debacles of religious men gone mad and perverting Christ to seek earthly riches. It is a grotesque picture. But let history also testify to the unspeakable savagery of “fools” in their “folly. Nothing compares to the bloodshed of the godless. The Mao Tse-tungs, Stalins, etc. exterminated multiplied millions. The view of man as without true value in a godless mindset is frightful indeed. Rather to meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs. At least there is no conscious disdain for human life in general, and no extension of rage beyond the immediate perceived danger of her young.
Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Sorrows, trials, woes and difficulties come to all in life. None are exempt. The foolish, fix upon their woes, setting their eyes upon their cares and constantly mulling over their disappointments. Rehearsing their griefs and never letting go of their heartaches. And soon enough there is nothing but dryness to the core. The wise suffer the same, but set their hearts and minds on the good hand of their God. Seeing His wise providence in all, they trust their sometimes dark and painful course to the hand of their loving Master. So their joy, refreshed at the fountain of Calvary’s cross is like medicine to the whole man. Giving strength to endure, patience to wait, and hope for the expected end of their faith.
What a glorious Savior we serve!
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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.