Text: Proverbs 22:29-23:21

The Value of Skill

(Proverbs 22:29)

            When a person is particularly skillful in his work, he will not live an obscure life. People will noticed him, even the rich and powerful. This sets the proper standard in contrast with the section that follows, which involve things we should not become “skilled” in doing.

Do Not Desire Delicacies of the Rich and Powerful

(Proverbs 23:1-3)

            When someone rich or powerful does you a favor, consider carefully the motivation behind the honor. Restrain yourself so you don’t get distracted. Mostly likely the reason a powerful person invites you over to dinner is because he wants something from you and the dinner is to soften you up so you are more likely to given him what he wants. An example of this was Haman’s invitation to eat with the king and queen (Esther 5:12). He had no clue that he was being set up for a trap.

Do Not Overwork for Wealth

(Proverbs 23:4-5)

            People are mistaken to think there is security in wealth. Even if we are currently enjoying a comfortable life, we must be mindful that wealth and prosperity are flighty things. Worrying about something that may or not be there is not worth your time. Solomon is not against wealth, especially when it is gained by hard work (Proverbs 12:27; 14:23). But at the same time wealth should not be the primary concern in life.

Do Not Desire Delicacies of the Selfish

(Proverbs 23:6-8)

            The miser (literally a man with an evil eye), doesn’t like seeing others benefit from him. He plays the role of a gracious host, but all the while he is counting the cost of every bite you consume. Ultimately, his hypocrisy will make you sick. Your compliments will be wasted. Thus, the warning not desire his delicacies (Psalms 141:4).

For discussion:

1.         What better defines a person: what he does or what he thinks?

2.         What additional warnings can be derived from these verses?

Do Not Try Teaching a Fool

(Proverbs 23:9)

            If a person refuses to learn, trying to instruct him is a waste of time and only will result in the fool despising what you offer. Since he cannot understand words of wisdom, he makes a mockery of them (Matthew 7:6).

Do Not Take Advantage of the Weak

(Proverbs 23:10-11)

            Where Proverbs 22:28 gives the command without reasons for obeying the command, here the same command is repeated and an explanation is given why it is important to heed the command. Moving boundary markers is a form of stealing. Trespassing on the property of those who are weaker than you is a form of intimidation. With no father, orphans don’t have someone to defend them, but God’s response to such tactics is that He will acts as their personal lawyer (Exodus 22:22-24; Proverbs 22:23).

Be Disciplined

(Proverbs 23:12)

            To behave properly, a person must first discipline his heart. Thoughts and desires must be kept under control (Mark 7:21-23). A person must also apply himself to learning (in contrast to the fool in Proverbs 23:9).

Do Not Hold Back Discipline

(Proverbs 23:13-14)

            As a parent, discipline also must be imposed on your children. Some parents avoid hurting a child’s feelings or out of a fear that some harm will come to the child. They become overindulgent of their whims. We are not talking about abuse, but even corporal punishment will not harm a child; instead, it will benefit the child by keeping him from an early death (Proverbs 19:18). Thus, discipline is a sign of love for the child’s well being (Hebrews 12:8; Proverbs 13:24; 21:5; 22:15).

Be Wise in Heart and Word

(Proverbs 23:15-16)

            When a child is wise in thoughts and words (because he has properly disciplined himself – Proverbs 23:12), then his father’s thoughts will be joyful. Notice that these verses create a four line inverted list.

            My son, if your heart is wise,

                        My own heart also will be glad;

                        And my inmost being will rejoice

            When your lips speak what is right.

Do Not Envy Sinners

(Proverbs 23:17-18)

            It may appear that the wicked get their way, but we should not envy them. Instead we should fear God and know that we have a future. There are other passages that tell us not to envy the wicked because they will face ruin (Psalms 37:1-3; 73), but this proverb focuses on the positive. We are in a better position than they are.

Do Not Overindulge

(Proverbs 23:19-21)

            This section starts with a wake-up call to listen, be wise, and direct your heart in “the way” (Proverbs 9:6). “The way” is the direction we should take our lives (Psalms 25:12; 32:8). It is the way of God’s teachings (Psalms 119:27,32,33). “Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul” (Psalms 143:8). Once again, it indicates that the topic that follows is of critical importance.

            Hanging around those who are heavy drinkers, overeaters or lazy will cause your ruin. They become poor because they overspend on things that do not last. If you closely associate with them, then you too will become poor, either by picking up their habits or by paying for their habits.

            It is gluttons who are being described. Gluttony is not just overindulging in food. The Hebrew word zalal refers to a person who has not restraint or no self-control. Thus, there is a broader application. The law required that a person without restraint, doing what he pleases, was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

Buy the Truth

(Proverbs 23:22-23)

            Again there is another wake-up call. Don’t neglect advice just because it from your parents or because you think they are too old to understand. What is important is truth. Its value is such that you should never give it up. Thus, do not lie.

            And it is not truth alone. Gain truth that is truth combined with wisdom, instruction, and understanding. Truth is valuable (Psalm 119:72, 127; Matthew 13:44; Hebrews 11:25-26), and it is free! (Isaiah 55:1).