Paul's Letter to the Romans

Prudence

Text: Proverbs 22:1-16

Prudence in behavior

(Proverbs 22:1-5)

To have a good reputation has more value than wealth (Ecclesiastes 7:1) and to have the favor of other people is also more valuable that silver and gold (Philippians 4:18-19).

Both the rich and the poor are children of God (Job 31:15; 34:19; Malachi 2:10). They are in their situation by God’s decision (Proverbs 10:22; 14:31; 17:5). Neither group should treat the other with contempt, nor should they think they are different (James 1:9-11). No one is unneeded (I Corinthians 12:21).

A prudent man doesn’t ignore the danger of evil but avoids it. Those lacking experience don’t realize the danger and continues on to his own harm. An example is the reaction of the Egyptians to Moses’ warning (Exodus 9:20-21). Or consider Noah, who was warned of the destruction of the world. He warned others but only his own family listened to him (Hebrews 11:7). Similar proverbs are Proverbs 14:16; 27:12.

True riches, fame, and life are gained by humility and fear of God (Psalms 112:1-3; Matthew 6:33; I Timothy 4:8). It is only through humility and fear that a person sees the need to learn and is willing to learn. Similar proverbs are Proverbs 3:7-18; 15:33; 21:21.

The perverse (crooked or deceitful) have a difficult way through life, so if you want safety for your soul, you will avoid the snares of perversity (I John 5:18). This adds to the collection of things that make life harder: wickedness (Proverbs 11:6; 16:17) and laziness (Proverbs 15:19).

For discussion:

  1. What can we do to improve our reputation?

Preparing for the future

(Proverbs 22:6-9)

Teach a child, when he is young, the proper way to live, and it will remain with him the rest of his life (Lamentations 3:27; Proverbs 19:18). Other proverbs on training children are Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 20:11.

Those with money end up with control over those who don’t have it. Therefore it isn’t wise to give up control of your life by borrowing. An example is found in Nehemiah 5:4-5. God actually wanted His people to be lenders and not borrowers (Deuteronomy 28:12).

You only harvest what you sow. Sin produces sorrow and loss of abusive power (Galatians 6:7-8; Hosea 10:13). An example of the loss of abusive power is found in Isaiah 10:24-25. Interestingly, "iniquity" means acting without authority and the rod is a symbol of forced authority on others.

In contrast to the previous verse, generosity produces blessings (II Corinthians 9:6-11; Proverbs 11:25; 19:17; Isaiah 32:8). The Hebrew literally says, “good eye;” in other words, this is a person who looks for opportunities to do good.

For discussion:

  1. Does Proverbs 22:6 mean a child will never stray if properly trained?

Prudence in words

(Proverbs 22:10-14)

Getting rid of the source of the problem will solve the issue. A scoffer is the source of contentions, strife, and reproach (Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:10-11). An example was the removal of Ishmael from Abraham’s home (Genesis 21:9-12).

In contrast to the prior verse, a person who loves pure hearts and speaks graciously will find friends even in the highest levels of government. This is a person who is honest in his dealings and speaks well to others. It is a characteristic that should be desired in government. Similar to Proverbs 16:13. An example is Daniel (Daniel 6:20-23).

God has always preserved His word (the truth) (Isaiah 59:21; Luke 21:33; Mark 13:31; Matthew 24:35), but the words of the faithless disappear. An example is what happened to Herod (Acts 12:23-24).

The lazy will always find an excuse not to work. He imagines dangers that keep him from acting. An example would the be ten spies (Numbers 13:32-33).

The words of an immoral woman are like a deep pit – easy to fall into but very hard to get out of. Interestingly, the wicked are more easily ensnared by such women (Proverbs 2:16,19; 5:3; 7:21).

Prudence from experience

(Proverbs 22:15-16)

Children tend to be foolish, whether because of inexperience or rebellion, but discipline, such as spankings, drives away the foolishness (Hebrews 12:6–7). Similar to Proverbs 13:24; 19:18.

Two sure ways to poverty are oppressing the poor to gain wealth (Micah 2:2-3; Zechariah 7:9-14; James 5:1-5) and giving money to those who don’t need it. Jesus tells us that we should do the opposite and give to those who cannot repay you (Luke 14:12-14).

For discussion:

  1. Is spanking the only way to discipline a child?