What You Should Not Do

What You Should Not Do

Text: Proverbs 22:17-28


Listen to the Words of Wisdom

(Proverbs 22:17-21)

            Beginning with Proverbs 22:17 there is a change in the style used since chapter 10. The use of mostly two line proverbs gives way to a variable number of lines. Most not only give advice, but also give reasons why the advice is sensible.

            Because these are called “the words of the wise,” some believe these are a collection of proverbs written by other authors, beside Solomon.

            The reader is urged to:

  1. Incline his ears – be willing to hear what is about to be said
  2. Hear the words – understand what is being said
  3. Apply your mind – think about what is taught

The resulting benefits is also threefold:

  1. Pleasant thoughts, if they are kept in mind
  2. Ready on the lips – you will know how to respond
  3. You will trust in God, since these teachings are God’s word            

The benefits are also presented as a inverted list:


For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
            That they may be ready on your lips.
                        So that your trust may be in the Lord,
                                    I have taught you today, even you
                                    Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge
                        To make you know with certainty of the words of truth
            That you may correctly answer him who sent you?

Going into the list, the statements are presented as future results. Exiting the list is a series of rhetorical questions regarding what has been accomplished. The core point of the list is the first line – these benefits only come if you keep the teachings within you. 

Do Not Take Advantage of the Poor

(Proverbs 22:22-23)

            The first proverb is direct primarily to legal situations, since it mentions the gate where legal decisions were rendered by the elders and the fact that God would plead the case of the poor and afflicted. Those who are at a disadvantage economically or because of hardships are not to be taken advantage of because God will support them and will inflict punishment (death) on any to abuse them in court.

Stay Away from Angry People

(Proverbs 22:24-25)

            The people we associate with will influence us. Staying around an angry man will cause you to tend to pick up his characteristics and trap yourself in the same outcome that he will face.

For discussion:

  1. Why can’t a calm person influence an angry person and cause him to become calmer?

Do Not Guarantee Loans

(Proverbs 22:26-27)

            You don’t want to be numbered among those who co-sign loans. The loan comes due because the person did not make his payments, then you will be responsible for the debt; and if you don’t have the money, you will lose your personal property to make the payment. Even if you have extra money at the time you co-sign the loan, given the uncertainty of life, you don’t know if you’ll have the funds at the time the loan comes due. Similar warnings are given in Proverbs 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18.

Do Not Move Boundary Markers

(Proverbs 22:28)

            Boundary markers were used to determine the edges of a person’s property. Moving those markers was a way of stealing land from your neighbors (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17).

For discussion:

  1. Unlike the prior warnings, Proverbs 22:28 does not give a reason for the prohibition. Why do you suppose it is different?