As one considers the proverbs of Solomon, much wisdom is presented to the reader. Wise and foolish people and actions are portrayed. God’s people should be the utmost examples of the wise. The use of strong drink brings out the foolishness of man. His senses are dulled and being deceived, he thinks that he is wise, but shows himself to be a fool. Solomon warned his readers against its use.
Laziness is another characteristic of foolish people. They use poor excuses to avoid work and at harvest or pay day, they have nothing. Wise people are industrious and peaceable. They seek counsel from others when making important decisions. Deceit and dishonesty are condemned by the wise man as abominations to the Lord.
It is difficult to categorize all of the proverbs that were written by Solomon. A fool refuses to accept truth as he insists in talking instead of listening. Solomon again states the emptiness of a fool’s behavior and the dangerous uses of the tongue. The attributes of the wise are contrasted to the follies of the foolish. Pride is an abomination to the Lord, but the humble are pleasing to Him. The wise man stressed the importance of avoiding partiality in judging between wickedness and righteousness. There are numerous blessings in having a happy home and close friends. When all others forsake us, home, family and friends are our refuge. However, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”
Solomon continued his thoughts regarding the poor, rich, wise, fools, laziness, justice and the use of the tongue. Instructions on child rearing and treatment of parents were included in this series of proverbs. As undesirable as poverty is, it is more honorable than corrupt riches. The goal of everyone should be to fear/respect God and heed His counsel.
Man usually places himself first before others and God last, if at all. However, the following writings of Solomon stress the importance of placing God first and ourselves last in our relationships. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” One may have difficulty understanding or accepting the concept that God’s ways are ALWAYS better than man’s ways. BUT, if we cannot conform to His will, the end result is spiritual death.
The wise man continued to express the exaltation of the wise and the downfall of fools. A wise man recognizes that adversity in one’s life serves as a refining process to strengthen the soul; whereas, fools rejoice at the calamities of others.
A person’s tongue is one of the smallest members of the body, but it has the most influence. Foolish tongues have caused much heartache in the world, while the words from wise tongues have prevented and eased many sorrows. The words that are spoken determine ways of lives and courses of history. Solomon wrote, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” The wise man added other gems of wisdom following these words and most of them involve the use of the tongue, either directly or indirectly. One’s heart is the source of emotions such as love, hatred and anger. Those emotions are then expressed by the wise or foolish use of the tongue. Taste your words before you speak them for you may have to eat them later.
There are more aspects to wisdom that merely acting upon one’s knowledge. “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction.” Wisdom even without worldly knowledge can lead a person to be industrious, righteous, humble and faithful. Also, a fool may possess enormous worldly knowledge, but be a scoffer, lazy, wicked, rich in worldly riches—but spiritually poor and proud. Much has been written and said about proper discipline for children. Solomon wrote, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
The wise man continued to show the differences between the wise and foolish. When a person opens his mouth, the fruits of his speech reveal whether he is wise or foolish. It is important that we refrain from scornful and hurtful words that can injure relationships beyond repair. Even though apologies are given, sometimes the scars from the pain last for a lifetime. One’s words should be truthful and edifying. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” God’s ways are always the right ways and man has no right to try to change them. The wisdom of God leads man in the right way. That is true whether it involves an individual or a nation of people. “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”
Man’s character is evidenced by his words. It has been said that if one keeps his mouth shut, people will think that he is a fool, but if opened, it removes all doubt. Solomon pointed out many contrasts between the words of a wise man and a fool. Self-control and slowness to speak when angry are marks of a wise person whereas, a foolish person is quick to express his thoughts. Words are like toothpaste—once they are “out of the tube,” they cannot be replaced. One may apologize and express sincere regret, but the damage has been done and may never be repaired. Solomon also contrasted diligence with laziness. “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.”
“A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.” The wise man wrote a series of contrasting statements. Wise and righteous are terms that describe the best characteristics of man. They are depicted as being loving, obedient, industrious and peaceful. Some of the blessings that accrue to those individuals are long life, riches, security, salvation, knowledge, understanding, life, gladness and strength. Fools on the other hand are wicked, shameful, violent, slanderous, hateful and lazy. Instead of blessings, fools suffer the consequences of their choices. They become poor, downcast, lost in sin, liars and destroyed with shortened lives.
“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” This is the first of a long series of directly contrasting statements presented by the wise man. It should be the desire of everyone to live positive lives before God and his fellowman and to reap the reward promised to the righteous at the end.