Proverbs – Practical Skills for Wise Living

Sept. 14, 2021 version

 

There were three parts to the Old Testament: the law, the prophets, and the writings, primarily for the priests, from the prophets, and from the wise. Proverbs is a part of the writings, and most similar to James, in giving practical instruction for an individual living a life pleasing to God. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.902 says some think Solomon wrote Song of Songs in his young years, Proverbs in his middle years, and Ecclesiastes in his older years.

 

Pre-Nicene writers who refer to Proverbs

Philo of Alexandria (20/15 B.C. to 50 A.D.)

Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) (allusion)

Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D.)

Origen (225-254 A.D.)

Ignatius of Antioch (c.100-117 A.D.)

Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.)

Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.)

Firmilian of Caesarea (256 A.D.)

Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.)

Dionysius of Alexandria (246-256 A.D.)

Athenagoras (177 A.D.)

Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.)

Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)

Dionysius of Rome (259-269 A.D.)

Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.)

Peter of Alexandria (306-311 A.D.)

Tertullian (207/208 A.D.)

Methodius (270-312 A.D.)

Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)

Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.)

Theodotus, probable Montanist (ca.240 A.D.)

Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)

 

Early manuscripts of Proverbs

Dead Sea Scrolls (-68 A.D.) 4Q102, 4Q103

Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.)

Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.)

Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.)

 

An outline of Proverbs

Prov 1:1-7 The purpose of writing

Prov 1:8-9:18 Proverbs to a son on the value of wisdom

- Prov 1:8-33 Warning for criminals not to value riches over wisdom

- Prov 2:1-22 The benefits of wisdom are more precious than silver

- Prov 3:1-35 The way of wisdom gives rewards, but wisdom itself is a prize

- Prov 4:1-27 Wisdom preserves from trouble and sickness

- Prov 5:1-23 Wisdom preserves from sexual immorality

- Prov 6:1-35 Wisdom preserves from what displeases God

- Prov 7:1-27 Take wisdom as your sister, vs. the adulterous woman

- Prov 8:1-36 Lady Wisdom’s call, the desirability of wisdom

- Prov 9:1-18 The invitations of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly

Prov 10:1-22:16 Other Proverbs of Solomon

- Prov 10-15 The Righteous vs. the Wicked

- Prov 16-22:16 The value of wisdom

Prov 22:17-24:34 30+ Sayings of the Wise

Prov 25:1-29:27 Proverbs of Solomon collected by Hezekiah

Prov 30:1-33 Proverbs of Agur – comparisons of wisdom

Prov 31:1-9 Word of King Lemuel that his mother taught him, on women, drink, and the weak

Prov 31:10-31 The Noble Wife

Chapter 1 is like a symphony overture. It gives a flavor of the motifs found later in the book. The fear of the Lord, a father’s instruction to a son, and wisdom’s call. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.906, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.791, and The New Geneva Study Bible p.923-924 for more info.

Proverbs Background and Context

 

1. In Prov 1-31, what is the value of this book?

 

 

 

2. In Prov, what is “wisdom literature”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. In Prov, was “most wisdom literature was ascribed to Solomon almost as a matter of course…” as the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.506 claims?

 

 

 

4. In Prov, given Solomon’s personal life, why should his writings be in the Bible?

 

 

 

5. Where is the Book of Proverbs quoted in the New Testament?

 

 

 

6. In Prov, how should we interpret this book?

 

 

 

7. In Prov, did Solomon write all of the proverbs?


 

Proverbs 1 – Why You Really Want to Get Wisdom

 

1. In Prov 1:1-7, what is the purpose of this book?

 

 

2. In Prov 1:1, what does the word “proverb” mean in Hebrew?

 

 

3. In Prov 1:2,7,20; 9:10; 14:27; Ps 111:10; Job 28:28, what is wisdom, and how is the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom?

 

 

4. In Prov 1:3, what is the difference between having a heart ready to receive instruction vs. not?

 

 

5. In Prov 1:7, are we to fear the Lord, or are we to love God?

 

 

6. In Prov 1:7, why do you think fools despise wisdom and instruction/discipline?

 

 

7. In Prov 1:8 does this mean we should obey our parent’s laws instead of God’s laws?

 

 

8. In Prov 1:8-9:18, since some parts are addressed to his “son”, was this Solomon’s foolish son Rehoboam?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 1:10, how do sinners entice others?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 1:11, why do some people join gangs?

 

 

 

11. In Prov 1:18, how do robbers and murderers lie in wait for their own blood?

 

 

 

12. In Prov 1:22, what is the difference between the three different types of fools here?

 

 

 

13. In Prov 1:29, why do some people hate knowledge?

 

 

 

14. In Prov 1:32, how does the prosperity of fools destroy them?

Proverbs 2:1-3:7 – You Have to Ask

 

1. In Prov 2:1, how do we “treasure” wise commands?

 

2. In Prov 2:2, to what extent should we talk out our problems vs. listening to the counsel of others?

 

 

3. In Prov 2:3, what exactly is discernment or discretion, and how does it differ from regular wisdom?

 

 

4. In Prov 2:4, one reason to desire wisdom is because of its rewards or “treasures”. What are some of the rewards of having wisdom?

 

 

5. In Prov 2:8,13, what are the paths of judgment and the paths of darkness?

 

 

 

6. In Prov 2:10, how does wisdom enter your heart?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 2:13-14, why would some choose to leave the paths of uprightness and prefer to walk in the ways of darkness?

 

 

 

8. In Prov 2:15, how can you trust people who have shown themselves to be devious in their paths?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 2:16-19, how do people tempt others to the path of the dead?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 3:2; 9:11; 10:21,27, how does obeying God’s law give you long life?

 

 

 

11. In Prov 3:5, why should we not trust ourselves, since many voices in modern culture tell us to do so?

 

 

 

12. In Prov 3:7, how can someone be wise in their own eyes, and why is this wrong?


 

 

Proverbs 3:8-3:35 – Wisdom and Money

 

1. In Prov 3:9, how are we to honor God with our wealth?

A: 28 ways, using the phrase: “Hope In God, not Wealth”.

Hearts free from the love of money

H1.

 

 

H2.

 

 

H3.

 

 

H4.

 

 

H5.

 

 

H6.

 

 

H7.

 

 

Integrity in Finances

I1.

 

 

I2.

 

 

I3.

 

 

I4.

 

 

I5.

 

 

I6.

 

 

I7.

 

 

Giving Our Money

G1.

 

 

G2.

 

 

G3.

 

 

G4.

 

 

G5.

 

 

G6.

 

 

G7.

 

 

Wisdom in Finances

W1.

 

 

W2.

 

 

W3.

 

 

W4.

 

 

W5.

 

 

W6.

 

 

W7:

 

 

2. In Prov 3:16, Prov 3:2, and Prov 28:16, since we are promised long life, should the lifespan of every Christian, be longer than the average lifespan of a non-Christian? If not, how about the average lifespan?

 

3. In Prov 3:27, how are we not to withhold good from others?


 

Proverbs 4 – Seek Wisdom, Above this world

 

1. In Prov 4:1-27, what is the structure of this chapter?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 4:3-5, why do you think Solomon knew to ask for wisdom in 1 Ki 3:13-15?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 4:6, how does wisdom preserve people?

 

 

 

4. In Prov 4:8, how are we to esteem wisdom?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. In Prov 4:9, how can wisdom give us a crown of glory?

 

 

 

6. In Prov 4:14-15, what is the warning here?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 4:14-17, what kinds of friends are corrupting influences?

 

 

 

8. In Prov 4:16, how do some have no sleep unless they do evil?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 4:17, how do some eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence?

 

 

 

10. How are Prov 4:20-21 different from the other verses here?


 

Proverbs 5 – Counterfeit Love Can Hurt you

 

1. In Prov 5:1, what seems strange about who is speaking this advice here?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 5:1, what are some ways today people follow the letter but not the spirit of the law?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 5:3-5, why did God [allegedly] make the woman go to Hell just for being a woman? (A Muslim asked this.)

 

 

 

4. In Prov 5:4, what is significant about a two-edged sword?

 

 

 

5. In Prov 5:8, what does it mean that we should not even go near the door of an adulteress’s house?

 

 

 

6. In Prov 5:9, how does fake intimacy take your honor and years and give them to others?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 5:10, how are strangers filled the immoral person’s wealth today?

 

 

 

8. In Prov 5:12-13, why do some people sometimes despise correction?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 5:15, what does it mean to drink water from your own cistern?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 5:21, why is God injected into this lesson here?

 

 

 

11. In Prov 5:22, who is it that traps an immoral person?

 


 

Proverbs 6 – Don’t be Ensnared by Money

 

1. In Prov 6:1; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26-27; 27:13, what is wrong with “surety”, or putting up security for another?

 

 

2. In Prov 6:5, why is putting up surety for another like a bird in the net of a fowler (bird-trapper)?

 

 

3. In Prov 6:6,9; 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13-16, what are the characteristics of a sluggard?

 

 

4. In Prov 6:6-8, was are we to look to the ant?

 

 

5. In Prov 6:9-11, why do the lazy favor sleep?

 

 

6. In Prov 6:12-15, what kind of person is this?

 

 

7. In Prov 6:16-18, what is interesting about these seven abominations to God?

 

 

8. In Prov 6:17, why does God hate so much haughty eyes, a lying tongue, bloody hands, wickedly scheming hearts, feet that rapidly run to evil, a false witness, and one who stirs up strife?

 

 

9. In Prov 6:17, why are these six or seven things?

 

 

10. In Prov 6:22, what are three different ways that God’s word helps us?

 

 

 

11. In Prov 6:24-35, how does adultery relate to the previous sins of co-signing, laziness, and being a con-artist?

 

 

 

12. In Prov 6:26, what does reducing a man to a piece of bread mean?

 

 

 

13. In Prov 6:33-35, why is there no assuaging the jealous spouse?


 

Proverbs 7 – Falling Examined in an Example

 

1. In Prov 7:2, why is this teaching compared to the apple (center) of your eye?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 7:7, what are the five types of fools in this book?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 7:8, do you think it was accidental that the young man went near her house?

 

 

 

4. In Prov 7:13, how are some people “impudent”?

 

 

 

5. In Prov 7:14, is this woman religious, and a worshipper of God?

 

 

 

6. In Prov 7:14, how can religion today degenerate into just a tool people use to excuse their actions and try to appease their conscience?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 7:16, why is Egyptian linen mentioned?

 

 

 

8. In Prov 7:19-20, what is the point of the husband?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 7:22-23, why is what they did so deadly?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 7:26, what does “many who were killed by here were strong” mean?


 

Proverbs 8-9 – Wisdom is Calling to You

 

1. In Prov 8:1-17, how does wisdom cry out?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 8:1-4, how does wisdom raise her voice loudly today?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 8:10-11, how is wisdom better than wealth?

 

 

 

4. In Prov 8:12-13, what is interesting about the contrast here?

 

 

 

5. In Prov 8:14-21, what are some good “side-effects” of having wisdom?

 

 

6. In Prov 8:22,23 does this refer to Jesus, and thus show that Jesus was created, as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim in The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived 1991, p.11?

 

 

7. In Prov 8:22,23, who does this refer to?

 

 

8. In Prov 9:1, what are the seven pillars of wisdom?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 9:2-6, how does wisdom have a banquet?

 

 

10. In Prov 9:2, how did wisdom “mix her wine”?

 

 

11. In Prov 9:8, why would a wise person love someone who rebukes him?

 

 

12. In Prov 9:12, what is this saying about wisdom and mocking?

 

 

13. In Prov 9:13, who is the woman Folly woman here?

 

14. In Prov 9:17, what does it mean that “stolen waters are sweet, and food eaten in secret is delicious”?


 

Proverbs 10 – The Start of Solomon’s Proverbs

 

1. In Prov 10:1, how does the honor of the child affect the parents?

 

 

2. In Prov 10:2, what does this say about the wicked and treasure?

 

 

3. In Prov 10:3, what does this promise, and not promise, about the righteous and the wicked?

 

 

4. In Prov 10:4, what are diligent hands, vs. lazy hands, vs. workaholic hands?

 

 

5. In Prov 10:7, how is a righteous name remembered, and how does a wicked name rot?

 

 

6. In Prov 10:8, what is a “fool of lips”, i.e., a “chattering fool”?

 

 

7. In Prov 10:10, what is wrong with winking here?

 

 

8. In Prov 10:12, how does love cover all sins?

 

 

9. In Prov 10:17, why do some people refuse correction?

 

 

10. In Prov 10:19, why is sin not absent when words are many?

 

 

11. In Prov 10:26, how is a lazy man like vinegar and smoke to the one who sent him?

 

 

12. In Prov 10:27 and Ecc 8:12, are the lives of the wicked shortened, or prolonged as Job 21:7 says?

 

 

13. In Prov 10:28, how does the expectation of the wicked perish?


 

Proverbs 11 – Good and Bad ways to Try to Get Ahead

 

1. In Prov 11:1; Am 8:5; and Mic 6:11, what is a false balance here?

 

 

 

 

2. In Prov 11:2, what does the word “pride” mean here?

 

 

 

 

3. In Prov 11:12, what are some ways people sin by despising their neighbors?

 

 

 

 

4. In Prov 11:14, how do good counsellors guide us?

 

 

 

 

5. What does Prov 11:16 mean?

 

 

 

 

6. In Prov 11:22, why does the Bible [allegedly] compare women to pigs? (an atheist brought this up)

 

 

 

7. In Prov 11:26, who would someone curse a person who hoards grain?

 

 

 

 

8. In Prov 11:28, how do people trust in riches?

 

 

 

 

9. In Prov 11:29, how do some people trouble their own house?

 

 

 

 

10. In Prov 11:31, how are the righteous rewarded in this life, as well as the next?


 

Proverbs 12 – Comparing the Wise and Foolish

 

1. In Prov 12:1 and Ps 92:6, what does “stupid” or “brutish” mean?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 12:4, how is a virtuous woman a crown to her husband?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 12:8, what is a warped or perverse heart?

 

 

 

4. In Prov 12:10, how should a believer treat animals?

 

 

 

5. In Prov 12:11, what does frivolity, i.e., following worthless things, do to a person?

 

 

 

6. In Prov 12:13, how can a person be ensnared by their own words?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 12:15, how is the way of a fool right in his own eyes?

 

 

 

8. In Prov 12:16, how are we to overlook insults?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 12:18, how are reckless words like the piercing of a sword?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 12:21, how does no harm come to the righteous?

 

 

 

11. In Prov 12:22 and 6:16-19, how is lying different than other sins?

 

 

 

12. In Prov 12:26, how should we be cautious in friendship, and how should we not be?


 

Proverbs 13 – The Wise Child vs. the Foolish

 

1. In Prov 13:1,18 how would you define the virtue of teachability?

 

 

2. In Prov 13:2, how does a wise man eat the fruit of his lips?

 

 

3. What is Prov 13:7 pointing out?

 

 

4. In Prov 13:8, what does it mean that a poor man does not hear a threat from which a rich man ransoms his life?

 

 

5. In Prov 13:10, how can you hear advice in a way that does not breed a quarrel?

 

 

6.. In Prov 13:12, how do deferred and fulfilled hope affect us?

 

 

7. In Prov 13:14, 14:27f, 29:6,25; Rom 7:11, Ex 23:3; Dt 7:16; how do wise words rescue from the snares of death?

 

 

8. In Prov 13:20 and 1 Cor 15:33, how can merely being the companion of foolish people cause harm?

 

 

9. In Prov 13:22, since we can give money to God, to what extent should believers leave an inheritance to their children?

 

 

10. In Prov 13:23, what are three different ways that injustice can sweep abundance away?

 

 

11. In Prov 13:23, what are ways to become wealthy by taking advantage of the poor?

 

 

12. In Prov 13:23, what are ways to become wealthy without taking advantage of the poor?

 

 

13. In Prov 13:24, what are proper and improver ways to discipline our children?

 

 

14. What does Prov 13:25 promise to the righteous?


 

Proverbs 14 – If You Aren’t Building Up…

 

1. In Prov 14:1, how do people sometimes foolishly tear down their own house?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 14:4, why is the manger empty when there are no oxen?

 

 

3. In Prov 14:6, why would a mocker seek wisdom?

 

 

4. In Prov 14:7, when should you be friends with a foolish person and when not?

 

 

5. In Prov 14:9, why do fools mock at sin?

 

 

6. In Prov 14:10 and 1 Ki 8:38, how does each person know their own bitterness and joy?

 

 

7. In Prov 14:14, how does God reward both the fool and the transgressor?

 

 

8. In Prov 14:15, how are some people gullible in believing every word today?

 

 

9. In Prov 14:17,29, 15:18, why are some people quick-tempered, and how can a person overcome it?

 

 

10. In Prov 14:20, why does this verse mention that the poor are hated by their neighbors?

 

 

11. In Prov 14:21, how do those who devise evil go astray?

 

 

12. In Prov 14:23, how does talk only lead to poverty?

 

 

13. In Prov 14:25, how does a true witness deliver souls?

 

 

14. In Prov 14:26, how does a parent’s faith affect their kids and how does it not?

 

 

15. What does Prov 14:32 mean?


 

Proverbs 15 – More About Words

 

1. In Prov 15:1, how does a soft answer turn away wrath?

 

 

2. In Prov 15:3, how should “the eyes of the Lord are everywhere” guide our life?

 

 

3. In Prov 15:4, how can a wholesome tongue be healing, or a tree of life?

 

 

4. In Prov 15:5,12,31-32, what are some examples of fools refusing to heed correction?

 

 

5. In Prov 15:16-17, how is being with friends more important than wealth?

 

 

6. In Prov 15:19, how is the way of the sluggard blocked with thorns?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 15:21, how is foolishness a joy to a foolish person?

 

 

 

8. In Prov 15:22-23, 11:14; 20:18; 24:6, how do you know if you have enough advisors, or else too many?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 15:23 and Isa 50:4, in contrast to a wise word, what is a timely word?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 15:25 and Jms 4:6, what is the warning for us here about pride?

 

 

 

11. In Prov 15:27, how are some “greedy for gain”?

 

 

 

12. In Prov 15:29, what is fitting justice in the ironic statement here?

 

 

 

13. In Prov 15:33, how does humility come before honor?


 

Proverbs 16 – The Lord is in Charge of Our Ways

 

1. In Prov 16:1, how does the reply of the tongue come from the Lord?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 16:3, will every work of ours succeed if we commit it to the Lord?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 16:4-5, how did God work the wicked for the day of disaster?

 

 

 

4. In Prov 16:6, how do we depart from evil?

 

 

 

5. In Prov 16:10 why is it important that we speak well?

 

 

6. In Prov 16:13, how do those in authority especially take pleasure in honest lips?

 

 

7. In Prov 16:14, as a believer who speaks honestly, when and how should we appease or mollify others?

 

 

8. In Prov 16:18, how does pride go before destruction?

 

 

9. In Prov 16:25; 14:12, how can a way that seems right to a person lead unto death?

 

 

10. In Prov 16:26, what are some ways that being hungry, physically or otherwise, can be a positive motivation?

 

 

11. In Prov 16:27, what are some examples of the sin of plotting evil?

 

 

12. In Prov 16:31, how is gray hair considered a splendid crown?

 

 

13. In Prov 16:32, who is a person who controls himself greater than a person who takes a city?

 

 

14. In Prov 16:33, should we cast lots for things?


 

 

Proverbs 17 – Contrasting Wisdom and Foolishness

 

1. In Prov 17:1, why is dry bread better than sacrifices?

 

 

2. In Prov 17:2, how does a wise servant rule over a disgraceful son?

 

 

3. In Prov 17:3, why are we compared to gold and silver here?

 

 

4. In Prov 17:5, does injustice cause poverty, or does laziness as Prov 10:4; 20:13; 21:17 say?

 

 

5. In Prov 17:8, 21:14 is bribery OK, or are bribes are wrong and corrupt as Ex 23:8, Dt 16:19, 17:25, and Ecc 7:7 say?

 

 

6. In Prov 17:9, what is wrong about repeating a past matter?

 

 

7. In Prov 17:12, why can a fool be more dangerous than a mother bear robbed of her cubs?

 

 

8. In Prov 17:14, how can starting a quarrel be like breaching a dam?

 

 

9. In Prov 17:15, what is the difference between justifying the wicked, which God hates, and being merciful to people?

 

 

10. In Prov 17:17, how does a friend love at all times?

 

 

11. In Prov 17:18, what is wrong with striking/shaking hands to make a commitment?

 

 

12. In Prov 17:19, how does a person who loves transgression love strife?

 

 

13. In Prov 17:21, why does having a foolish child bring such grief to a parent?

 

 

14. In Prov 17:27-28, how is it wisdom to restrain and temper what you say?


 

Proverbs 18 – Wise, Honorable Words, and the Alternative

 

1. In Prov 18:1, how does pursuing selfish ends defy sound judgment?

 

 

 

2. In Prov 18:2, why do some fools want to talk so much?

 

 

 

3. In Prov 18:4, how is the wellspring of wisdom a flowing brook?

 

 

 

4. In Prov 18:8, why is hearing gossip so attractive to some people?

 

 

 

5. In Prov 18:9, how is one slack in his work like one who destroys?

 

 

 

6. In Prov 18:14, how can a crushed spirit hurt more than adversity?

 

 

 

7. In Prov 18:17, what is the lesson for us here?

 

 

 

8. What does Prov 18:19 mean?

 

 

 

9. In Prov 18:22, since finding a wife is a good thing, why does it not mention finding a husband as a good thing, too?

 

 

 

10. In Prov 18:23, why does this say a rich person answers harshly to a poor person’s plea?

 

 

 

11. What does Prov 18:24 mean?

 

 

 

12. In Prov 18:24, who is the friend that sticks closer than a brother?


Proverbs Background and Context – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 1-31, what is the value of this book?

A: Many Christians can give many good answers, but here are words from a very early commentary by Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.): “Proverbs, therefore, are words of exhortation serviceable for the whole path of life; for to those who seek their way to God, these serve as guides and signs to revive them when wearied with the length of the road.”

   Hippolytus (170-235/6 A.D.) was a disciple of Irenaeus of Lyons (wrote 182-188 A.D., lived 120-202 A.D.), who was a disciple of Polycarp (wrote between 100-155 A.D.), who was a disciple of John the apostle, who died around 90-110 A.D.

 

2. In Prov, what is “wisdom literature”?

A: Today there are certain types, or genres, of literature, such as a novel, short story, historical chronicles, hymns, love poetry, apocalyptic, biography, etc. Some modern genres were not known in ancient times, and some ancient genres of literature are not written anymore today. One common ancient genre was “wisdom literature”. There are at least four types of wisdom literature, both inside and outside of the Bible:

Proverbs and Sayings (Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy (400-300 B.C.) 11:10 says “he who sends up spittle to the sky, upon his face it falls”)

Parental Advice

Why Suffering (The Babylonian Dialogue of Human Misery answers this by saying the gods made men evil)

Pessimism of Life (Ecclesiastes is a part of this sub-genre, except that Ecclesiastes also transcends this by pointing to God.

The Bible says that other cultures had wise men, too. For example, Egypt (1 Kings 4:30; Isaiah 19:11-12), Edom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 8), Babylon (Isaiah 47:1,10; Jeremiah 50:35; 51:57; Daniel 1:4,20; 2:13-14; 5:8) Here are some other examples of wisdom literature in other cultures:

Egypt

Insinger Papyrus (c.400-100 B.C.)

Onkhsheshonqy

The Harper’s Song

Dispute of a Man with his Soul

The writings of Prince Hardjedef

Instruction of the Vizier Phahhotep (Ptah-Hotep) ca.2450 B.C.)

Instruction of Kagemni

Merikare (2160-2040 B.C.)

Amenemhet (Amen-em-Hget) (ca.2000 B.C.) (father to son)

The Instruction of Ani (c.1100 B.C.)

The Instruction of Amenemope (=Amen-em-Opet, =Amen-em-Ope) (1300-900 B.C.)

There are similarities between Proverbs 22:17ff-24:22 and the teaching of Amenemope

Admonitions of Ipu-Wer (ANET p.441-444). A protest against the changes in Egyptian society, decline of morality, and destabilizing influence on the social order.

Protests of the Eloquent Peasant (ANET p.407-410) (21st century B.C.) nine speeches of a peasant’s protest against the Pharaoh for justice.

Sumerian and Akkadian

Instructions of Suruppak (Shuruppak) (ca. 1500-1000 B.C. or 2000 B.C.) gives points of court etiquette

Counsels of Wisdom (ca.1500-1000 B.C.)

Akkadian Proverbs (ca.1800-1600 B.C.)

Sumerian: Man and His God (why suffering) (18th century B.C. A photograph of a table of this is in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia vol.6 p.123. In this work, an innocent man has misfortune, prays for help, is finally saved and then praised his god.

Akkadian: I will Praise the Lord of Wisdom (sometimes called the Babylonian Job)

Akkadian: Dialogue of Pessimism (12th century B.C. teaching by contradiction) (ANET p.437f) a servant agrees with what his master says. When the master says the opposite, the servant also agrees.

Babylonian: The Dialogue About Human Misery (= The Babylonian Theodicy) 27 speeches between Shagil-kinam-ubbib and a group of friends about divine justice and human misery.

Hittite: Tale of Appu. Appu suffers because he has no children, and is criticized by his wife.

The Words of Ahiqar of Assyria (700-670/400 B.C. Aramaic, and possibly Akkadian) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.494-507).

Greek:

Pseudo-Phocyclides (200 B.C. - 200 A.D.) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.494-507).

Syriac:

The Sentences of the Syriac Menander (3rd century A.D.)

Jewish:

The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha

Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha

3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)

4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)

(3 and 4 Maccabees are classified as Wisdom Literature according to The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.vi-vii.

Within the Bible, wisdom literature is Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148. Some have tried to call the Song of Solomon wisdom literature, though it is really of the genre of love poetry.

   See The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.928-931, The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1815, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.905-906, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1067, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.883 for more info. See The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 for an English translation of the Words of Ahiqar, 3 and 4 Maccabees, Pseudo-Phocylides, and the Sentences of the Syriac Menander.

 

3. In Prov, was “most wisdom literature was ascribed to Solomon almost as a matter of course…” as the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.506 claims?

A: No, Asimov is showing his bias here. Here are the known examples of Jewish wisdom literature.

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Job

Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148.

The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha

Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha

3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)

4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)

Not counting Psalms, only two of the seven are said to be by Solomon. Some of the Proverbs are stated to be by others besides Solomon and the Song of Solomon is not wisdom literature.

 

4. In Prov, given Solomon’s personal life, why should his writings be in the Bible?

A: First let’s see what the Bible says Solomon did wrong

Sin 1. Solomon sinned by marrying alien wives (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Nehemiah 13:26-27; 1 Kings 11:1-2; 2 Chronicles 8:11)

Sin 2. By having too many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17; 1 Kings 11:3)

Sin 3. Wives turning his heart after other gods (1 Kings 11:4-6,10,33)

Sin 4. Building high places and idol temples for his wives (1 Kings 11:67-8)

Sin 5. Having many horses and chariots (Deuteronomy 17:16; 2 Chronicles 9:28; 1 Kings 10:26-29)

Here is what we can learn from this.

Lesson 1: Even with wisdom as great as Solomon’s, someone can have wisdom and still not be obedient to God. This is humbling to know that no matter how intelligence or learned we may be, that alone is insufficient to draw us to God; we all still need God’s grace.

Lesson 2: Someone can practice wisdom in many areas, and disobey in others. However, James 2:10-11 reminds us that if someone obeyed the law in every area, except that they broke it in one area, they are still a lawbreaker of God’s law.

Lesson 3: God has the freedom to choose anyone He wishes, even someone like Solomon, to transmit His word to us. There is no verse in the Bible saying God is restricted from doing this.

Lesson 4: We cannot think that because someone has some serious moral deficiency, we can ignore their words. God’s truth is God’s truth, no matter from who we hear it.

Conclusion: Solomon’s words should be in the Bible because they are God’s true word. Solomon’s sins do not invalidate God’s words, nor give us an excuse not to follow them.

   See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.250-252 and When Critics Ask p.245 for more info.

 

5. Where is the Book of Proverbs quoted in the New Testament?

A: Here are the ten places.

Proverbs 1:16

Romans 3:15

Proverbs 3:7

Romans 12:16

Proverbs 3:11-12

Hebrews 12:5-6

Proverbs 3:34

James 4:6

Proverbs 10:12

1 Peter 4:8

Proverbs 11:31

1 Peter 4:18

Proverbs 24:21

1 Peter 2:17

Proverbs 25:21-22

Romans 12:20

Proverbs 26:11

2 Peter 2:22

Proverbs 27:1

James 3:13

This list is taken from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.890.

 

6. In Prov, how should we interpret this book?

A: The book combines both deep and simple teaching with beautiful Hebrew poetry. As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.155-156 says, we should recognize that most of the sayings are both universal and general in character. The apply to everyone in every society, and the points are generally true, but not necessarily for every individual.

 

7. In Prov, did Solomon write all of the proverbs?

A: No. Solomon probably wrote most of the Proverbs, but Proverbs 30 is by Agur son of Jakeh, and Proverbs 31 came from Lemuel repeating his mother’s teaching. As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.886 says, there is no reason to think Agar and Lemuel are synonyms for Solomon. More than four-fifths of the Proverbs are by Solomon. Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 2 ch.15 also related that Solomon wrote Proverbs.

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.907 says scholars differ on whether the intro here refers to the first section (Proverbs 1:2-9:18) or the entire book of Proverbs, but that it probably just covers the first section, since other sections have their introductions.


 

Proverbs Background and Context

 

1. In Prov 1-31, what is the value of this book?

 

 

 

2. In Prov, what is “wisdom literature”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. In Prov, was “most wisdom literature was ascribed to Solomon almost as a matter of course…” as the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.506 claims?

 

 

 

4. In Prov, given Solomon’s personal life, why should his writings be in the Bible?

 

 

 

5. Where is the Book of Proverbs quoted in the New Testament?

 

 

 

6. In Prov, how should we interpret this book?

 

 

 

7. In Prov, did Solomon write all of the proverbs?


 

Proverbs – Background and Context – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 1-31, what is the value of this book?

A: Many Christians can give many good answers, but here are words from a very early commentary by Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.): “Proverbs, therefore, are words of exhortation serviceable for the whole path of life; for to those who seek their way to God, these serve as guides and signs to revive them when wearied with the length of the road.”

   Hippolytus (170-235/6 A.D.) was a disciple of Irenaeus of Lyons (wrote 182-188 A.D., lived 120-202 A.D.), who was a disciple of Polycarp (wrote between 100-155 A.D.), who was a disciple of John the apostle, who died around 90-110 A.D.

 

2. In Prov, what is “wisdom literature”?

A: Today there are certain types, or genres, of literature, such as a novel, short story, historical chronicles, hymns, love poetry, apocalyptic, biography, etc. Some modern genres were not known in ancient times, and some ancient genres of literature are not written anymore today. One common ancient genre was “wisdom literature”. There are at least four types of wisdom literature, both inside and outside of the Bible:

Proverbs and Sayings (Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy (400-300 B.C.) 11:10 says “he who sends up spittle to the sky, upon his face it falls”

Parental Advice

Why Suffering (The Babylonian Dialogue of Human Misery answers this by saying the gods made men evil)

Pessimism of Life (Ecclesiastes is a part of this sub-genre, except that Ecclesiastes also transcends this by pointing to God.

The Bible says that other cultures had wise men, too. For example, Egypt (1 Kings 4:30; Isaiah 19:11-12), Edom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 8), Babylon (Isaiah 47:1,10; Jeremiah 50:35; 51:57; Daniel 1:4,20; 2:13-14; 5:8) Here are some other examples of wisdom literature in other cultures:

MODERN TIMES

Benjamin Franklin’s sayings

Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book

EGYPT

Insinger Papyrus (c.400-100 B.C.)

Onkhsheshonqy (mentioned earlier)

The Harper’s Song (c.1160 B.C.) are eight stanzas that have been found on many tombs. Here is stanza 5: So seize the day! hold holiday! Be unwearied, unceasing, alive, you and your own true love; Let not your heart be troubled during your sojourn on earth, but seize the day as it passes!

Dispute of a Man with his Soul from around the time of Abraham is a man arguing with his “ba” (soul) about why he has to suffer. It has nine parts, and Wikipedia says it is considered one of the most important pieces of ancient Egyptian literature.

The writings of Prince Hardjedef

Instruction of the Vizier Phahhotep (Ptah-Hotep) ca.2450 B.C.)

Instruction of Kagemni (unknown date, but before 1895 B.C.) has four stanzas. Here is first half of the third stanza:When you sit with a glutton, Eat when his greed has passed; When you drink with a drunkard, Take when his heart is content. Don't fall upon meat by the side of a glutton, Take when he gives you, don't refuse it,

Merikare (2160-2040 B.C.)

Amenemhet (Amen-em-Hget) (ca.2000 B.C.) (father to son)

The Instruction of Ani (c.1100 B.C.)

The Instruction of Amenemope (=Amen-em-Opet, =Amen-em-Ope) (1300-900 B.C.)

There are similarities between Proverbs 22:17ff-24:22 and the teaching of Amenemope

Admonitions of Ipu-Wer (ANET p.441-444). A protest against the changes in Egyptian society, decline of morality, and destabilizing influence on the social order.

Protests of the Eloquent Peasant (ANET p.407-410) (21st century B.C.) nine speeches of a peasant’s protest against the Pharaoh for justice.

SUMERIAN AND AKKADIAN

Instructions of Suruppak (Shuruppak) (ca. 1500-1000 B.C. or 2000 B.C.) gives points of court etiquette

Counsels of Wisdom (ca.1500-1000 B.C.)

Akkadian Proverbs (ca.1800-1600 B.C.)

Sumerian: Man and His God (why suffering) (18th century B.C. A photograph of a table of this is in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia vol.6 p.123. In this work, an innocent man has misfortune, prays for help, is finally saved and then praised his god.

Akkadian: I will Praise the Lord of Wisdom (sometimes called the Babylonian Job)

Akkadian: Dialogue of Pessimism (12th century B.C. teaching by contradiction) (ANET p.437f) a servant agrees with what his master says. When the master says the opposite, the servant also agrees.

Babylonian: The Dialogue About Human Misery (= The Babylonian Theodicy) 27 speeches between Shagil-kinam-ubbib and a group of friends about divine justice and human misery.

Hittite: Tale of Appu. Appu suffers because he has no children, and is criticized by his wife.

The Words of Ahiqar of Assyria (700-670/400 B.C. Aramaic, and possibly Akkadian) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.494-507).

Greek:

pseudo-Phocyclides (200 B.C. - 200 A.D.) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.494-507).

SYRIAC

The Sentences of the Syriac Menander (3rd century A.D.)

JEWISH

The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha

Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha

3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)

4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)

(3 and 4 Maccabees are classified as Wisdom Literature according to The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.vi-vii.

Within the Bible, wisdom literature is Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148. Some have tried to call the Song of Solomon wisdom literature, though it is really of the genre of love poetry.

Conclusion: there were many wise people outside of the Bible. While they wrote wisdom literature also, or varying quality, Proverbs is wisdom from God.

   See The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.928-931, The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1815, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.905-906, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1067, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.883 for more info. See The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 for an English translation of the Words of Ahiqar, 3 and 4 Maccabees, pseudo-Phocylides, and the Sentences of the Syriac Menander.

 

3. In Prov, was “most wisdom literature was ascribed to Solomon almost as a matter of course…” as the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.506 claims?

A: No, Asimov is showing his bias here. Here are the known examples of Jewish wisdom literature.

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Job

Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148.

The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha

Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha

3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)

4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)

Not counting Psalms, only two of the seven are said to be by Solomon. Some of the Proverbs are stated to be by others besides Solomon and the Song of Solomon is not wisdom literature.

 

4. In Prov, given Solomon’s personal life, why should his writings be in the Bible?

A: First let’s see what the Bible says Solomon did wrong

Sin 1. Solomon sinned by marrying alien wives (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Nehemiah 13:26-27; 1 Kings 11:1-2; 2 Chronicles 8:11)

Sin 2. By having too many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17; 1 Kings 11:3)

Sin 3. Wives turning his heart after other gods (1 Kings 11:4-6,10,33)

Sin 4. Building high places and idol temples for his wives (1 Kings 11:7-8)

Sin 5. Having many horses and chariots (Deuteronomy 17:16; 2 Chronicles 9:28; 1 Kings 10:26-29)

Here is what we can learn from this.

Lesson 1: Even with wisdom as great as Solomon’s, someone can have wisdom and still not be obedient to God. This is humbling to know that no matter how intelligence or learned we may be, that alone is insufficient to draw us to God; we all still need God’s grace.

Lesson 2: Someone can practice wisdom in many areas, and disobey in others, at the same time. However, James 2:10-11 reminds us that if someone obeyed the law in every area, except that they broke it in one area, they are still a lawbreaker of God’s law.

Lesson 3: God has the freedom to choose anyone He wishes, even someone like Solomon, to transmit His word to us. There is no verse in the Bible saying God is restricted from doing this.

Lesson 4: We cannot think that because someone has some serious moral deficiency, we can ignore their words. God’s truth is God’s truth, no matter from who we hear it.

Conclusion: Solomon’s words should be in the Bible because they are God’s true word. We should not follow these words because we admire Solomon, or even because Solomon was a very wise man, but because like the flawed prophet Balaam, God could speak through Solomon too. Solomon’s sins do not invalidate God’s words, nor give us an excuse not to follow them.

   See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.250-252 and When Critics Ask p.245 for more info.

 

5. Where is the Book of Proverbs quoted in the New Testament?

A: Here are the ten places.

Proverbs 1:16

Romans 3:15

Proverbs 3:7

Romans 12:16

Proverbs 3:11-12

Hebrews 12:5-6

Proverbs 3:34

James 4:6

Proverbs 10:12

1 Peter 4:8

Proverbs 11:31

1 Peter 4:18

Proverbs 24:21

1 Peter 2:17

Proverbs 25:21-22

Romans 12:20

Proverbs 26:11

2 Peter 2:22

Proverbs 27:1

James 3:13

This list is taken from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.890.

 

6. In Prov, how should we interpret this book?

A: The book combines both deep and simple teaching with beautiful Hebrew poetry. As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.155-156 says, we should recognize that most of the sayings are both universal and general in character. The apply to everyone in every society, and the points are generally true, but not necessarily for every individual.

 

7. In Prov, did Solomon write all of the proverbs?

A: No. Solomon probably wrote most of the Proverbs, but Proverbs 30 is by Agur son of Jakeh, and Proverbs 31 came from Lemuel repeating his mother’s teaching. As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.886 says, there is no reason to think Agar and Lemuel are synonyms for Solomon. More than four-fifths of the Proverbs are by Solomon. Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 2 ch.15 also related that Solomon wrote Proverbs.

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.907 says scholars differ on whether the intro here refers to the first section (Proverbs 1:2-9:18) or the entire book of Proverbs, but that it probably just covers the first section, since other sections have their introductions.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Proverbs 1 – Why You Really Want to Get Wisdom – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 1:1-7, what is the purpose of this book?

A: Doing everything in Proverbs 1:1-7 is a tall order, but the book of Proverbs delivers on its promise. Arnot calls Proverbs “Laws from heaven for life on earth.” Proverbs is a practical book with both deep and simple sayings of wisdom. Every believer needs God’s wisdom, and this book helps us learn God’s wisdom.

   Proverbs 1:1-6 gives the stated purpose of the book.

“To know wisdom and instruction,

To discern the sayings of understanding.

To receive instruction in wise behavior,

Righteousness, justice, and equity;

To give prudence to the naïve,

To the youth knowledge and the discretion,

A wise man will hear and increase in learning,

And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.” (NASB)

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.902-903 and the Believer’s bible Commentary p.787 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 1:1, what does the word “proverb” mean in Hebrew?

A: A proverb is considered a wise saying. The Hebrew word for Proverb, masal, has two meanings, and both are in view here.

a) It can mean a comparison, as in parallel sayings. Most proverbs have two lines, with the second either being a close synonym of the first, or an antonym of the first. Some have three or four lines though.

b) The Hebrew word can also mean a by-word, i.e., a warning. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.903 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 1:2,7,20; 9:10; 14:27; Ps 111:10; Job 28:28, what is wisdom, and how is the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom?

A: Wisdom can be defined as applied knowledge for life. The word hokmah is used 45 times in the book of Problems It can be translated as “wisdom” or also “skill” as in the skill of the clothmaker on the tabernacle in Exodus 35:26, a woodworker or metalworker in Exodus 31:6, the skill of the seamen in Psalm 107:27, a general in battle in Isaiah 10:13, the skill or an administrator in Deuteronomy 34:9 and 1 Kings 3:28; and the advice of a wise counselor in 2 Samuel 20:22. The Book of Proverbs can be thought of as a book of skills for living wisely. We wish that more people would want to learn those skills. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.904-905, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.402, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.902,907 for more info.

   It is curious that nations are not considered wise, only individuals. Respect for God and obeying Him are the starting point of true wisdom. Proverbs 8:13 says that to fear the Lord is to hate evil, and that God hates pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and wicked speech. See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.328-331 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 1:3, what is the difference between having an open heart ready to receive instruction vs. not?

A: There are at least four aspects of a heart ready to receive instruction.

In humility, we realize that we do not have all the wisdom we could use right now.

Expectantly, we are open-minded and eager to learn more that could help.

Diligent to learn, even if the lazy way is just to remain ignorant. Learning can be hard work. One can think of “climbing the mountain of persistence.”

But not distracted by useless knowledge or having our time sucked up by meaningless things. Some people just don’t have time to learn things that are important; they have squandered too much time on trivial things.

 

5. In Prov 1:7, are we to fear the Lord, or are we to love God?

A: Both, properly understood. We are to love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength. Yet we are not to consider God as merely “our little buddy”. God’s commandments are not just His suggestions for us. Fear of the Lord is respecting Him for who He is, and being in awe of Him. Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 8:13 says that the fear of the Lord includes hating evil, pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

   True Christians do not need to fear that God will send them to Hell (Hebrews 12:18-24), but we still do need to fear for the eternal destiny of those who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For example, Peter was so concerned about the salvation of his hearers, that he pleaded with them in Acts 2:40. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.284 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.156 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 1:7, why do you think fools despise wisdom and instruction/discipline?

A: It could be for one or more of these reasons.

a) They don’t think they need it, since they are already wise in their own eyes.

b) They are too impatient to listen to it.

c) They wouldn’t want to do what wisdom tells them to do

d) In fact, they don’t want anything or anyone to ever tell them what to do

 

7. In Prov 1:8 does this mean we should obey our parent’s laws instead of God’s laws?

A: No. Rather, this verse is teaching that we should follow God’s teaching, which many learn from childhood through their parents’ godly instruction.

 

8. In Prov 1:8-9:18, since some parts are addressed to his “son”, was this Solomon’s foolish son Rehoboam?

A: The phrases “my son” or “my sons” is used 19 times in chapters 1-7, and only 8 times elsewhere in Proverbs. While Solomon had a great many sons, this was probably not addressed to any specific son but to younger people in general. However, it is both interesting and sad to ponder that someone as foolish as Rehoboam could have a father as wise as Solomon. All Rehoboam had to do to keep the kingdom together was not be a jerk. In fact, his wise, older counselors counselled him correct on this. But he chose to listen to his young companions. As the song, made famous by Frank Sinatra says, “I did it my way”. You might say, anachronistically, that Rehoboam went to the “Frank Sinatra School of Diplomacy”.

   A child becoming as wise as their parents is not automatic. The child has to desire wisdom, and the parents have to make it a priority to make the time to teach their children. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.902 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 1:10, how do sinners entice others?

A: Sometimes they use a logical argument to convince others, but that is not the primary method. More often, it is an appeal to sinful desire, and to peer pressure. Imagine how different TV, movies, and roadside billboards would be if there were no enticements to sin.

   The Hebrew word for entice is related to the root of “simple” or “naïve.” There are three parts to enticing: greed, fear, and peer pressure

   A point to ponder is that two people might be exposed to the same enticing influences, yet that can respond very differently. We might not have control over everything that tries to entice us, but we are responsible for how much we allow ourselves to be influenced by bad things. Do you turn off the bad music, or keep on listening?

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.908 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 1:11, why do some people join gangs?

A: Reasons could be peer pressure, boredom, looking for a thrill, or thought of the future. It is not necessarily to get a lot of wealth. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.793 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 1:18, how do robbers and murderers lie in wait for their own blood?

A: Many wicked people are short-sighted and consider the gains but not the ricks or consequences. What are the odds of them being found out? After that, what are the odds of retribution? They might not think about that. Thus, when they plot against others, they are ignorant that they are plotting their own doom.

 

12. In Prov 1:22, what is the difference between the three different types of fools here?

A: It is interesting to know that there are different levels of foolishness.

Simple-minded (peti singular and petayim plural) are like easy-to-mislead gullible children. They don’t know the way of wisdom. They can be changed just by instructing and correcting them.

Mockers, lesi or lesim, (also in Psalm 1:1) are defiant fools who know something of the way of wisdom and yet refuse it.

Total fools kesil or kesilim are stubborn fools so habitually foolish that they are hardened against any change.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.910 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.902,908 for more info.

 

13. In Prov 1:29, why do some people hate knowledge?

A: While some people are apathetic toward learning, others actually hate some knowledge. Knowledge that you are not supposed to sin, and why you are not supposed to sin, is undesirable to those who have already made up their mind that they want to sin.

   In a similar way, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 says that Christians are the “aroma of Christ”. To some we smell of death, and to others life. To those who reject the true God, we are unpleasant reminders of the coming judgment. To those who believe that sin is inevitable and normal, we are reminders that their view is narrow-minded and wrong.

 

14. In Prov 1:32, how does the prosperity of fools destroy them?

A: Money gives them the means of living out their desires. These can physically kill them, either through sickness (including cirrhosis), violence, or other means. In addition, a fool’s sin kills him spiritually. The NIV and NRSV translate this as “complacency”.


 

Proverbs 2:1-3:7 – You Have to Ask – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 2:1, how do we “treasure” wise commands?
A: This does not mean just reading once and then maybe forgetting it. As far as your mind goes, it involves re-reading, and memorizing. As for your heart, it means esteeming, and reflecting on these commands. Of course, we don’t want to be wise in our own eyes, but we need to actively ask God for wisdom, as James 1:5-6 tells us. But Proverbs 2:3-4 goes beyond that. It says to “cry out” for discernment, and shout to ask for understanding. Seek understanding as silver, or a hidden treasure.

 

2. In Prov 2:2, to what extent should we talk out our problems vs. listening to the counsel of others?

A: Talking about your problems to get them out is popular in counseling today. However, Proverbs emphasizes instead listening and following the wise counsel of others. While there is a place for talking too, the emphasis is not on getting answers within yourself, but getting wisdom from God. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.796 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 2:3, what exactly is discernment or discretion, and how does it differ from regular wisdom?

A: 1 Corinthians 12:8a mentions the gift of wisdom, and 1 Corinthians 12:8f mentions a different gift, of knowledge. 1 Corinthians 12:10 mentions yet a different gift, discerning of spirits. Since these are mentioned in three places in this list of gifts, they are different things, even though they also have some common aspects. Two things can be look OK on the surface, but one is in line with God’s commands and the other either is off, or else if about to veer off. Using just natural means, any mature Christian often should be able to tell, just by comparing with what God’s word says. But beyond that, 1 Corinthians 12:10 mentions a spiritual gift of discerning spirits. This is when God speaks to you, maybe even before you have any information naturally, telling you that this thing, situation, is the way to go, or this is not pleasing to Him. Sometimes God gives us some discerning in the heart of a person, if they are bound up in error or sin. But again, this is not natural to have; you have to ask God for the spiritual gift of discerning. On the other hand, every single Christian should have some ability to discern and keep themselves from spiritual peril by reading the word and seeing if this is compatible with the heart and teaching of God. We can see “landmarks” of what is wisdom by our experience; and we can benefit here from the experience of others. Good discernment preserves us from evil according to Proverbs 2:12. When someone wants to tell you what to do or entice you to do something, you should ask “Is what you’re telling me going to get me where I want to go?”

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.796 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 2:4, one reason to desire wisdom is because of its rewards or “treasures”. What are some of the rewards of having wisdom?

A: There are at least two different kinds of rewards of wisdom.

Negatively, wisdom is like a shield that keeps you from danger, spiritual and otherwise. It keeps you from walking down the wrong path, to your destruction.

Positively, wisdom preserves us, gives up understanding of righteousness. It is pleasant to our soul. It makes us upright, that we can dwell in God’s land according to Proverbs 2:20-21.

 

5. In Prov 2:8,13, what are the paths of judgment and the paths of darkness?

A: Paths are a key topic of Proverbs. Engineers today might call them processes. When you use good judgment, you travel along the path to being able to use more good judgment. When you sin, one consequence is that often you have a greater desire to do that sin again. In addition, sometimes you feel you have to sin a second time in order to cover up the first sin, as David committed murder to try to cover up his sin of adultery.

 

6. In Prov 2:10, how does wisdom enter your heart?

A: It does not say that you achieve or studied enough to get wisdom. Wisdom is something the LORD gives in Proverbs 2:6, and it enters your heart in Proverbs 2:10. A Christian told me that after she came to Christ she felt she really did not grow much in wisdom at first. Then she started to pray for half an hour a day for thirty days, and after that God gave her wisdom to discern what was true, instead of just believing anything and everything she heard. As we pray and study God’s word, and ask God for wisdom, God will have wisdom your need enter our heart. You need wisdom to preserve you and keep you from evil, both intentional and unintentional.

 

7. In Prov 2:13-14, why would some choose to leave the paths of uprightness and prefer to walk in the ways of darkness?

A: Many people would not want to walk in the ways of darkness, because they could be robbed or taken advantage of. But on the other hand, if a person wanted to rob and take advantage of others, they would prefer to walk in darkness. As verse 14 shows, it is not merely the desire of gaining the plunder, but the thrill and so-called joy of doing evil and seeing perversity.

 

8. In Prov 2:15, how can you trust people who have shown themselves to be devious in their paths?

A: If you learn nothing else from chapter 2 you can learn this. There is one way you can trust people who are devious in their paths. If they are devious towards other people, you can trust them to be devious towards you, if given a chance. When one investor who lost money in the Bernie Madoff scandal was interviewed, he said, that he knew Bernie was doing something unethical to be able to get the returns that he got. They though he might be front-running, or something else. But that did not bother them, because even though he was cheating others, they thought that would be for their benefit, because he was not cheating them. – or so they thought.

 

9. In Prov 2:16-19, how do people tempt others to the path of the dead?

A: One way is by flattery, telling you what you deserve.

A second part of that is trying to make you forget your commitments, or else convince you that your commitments are not very important.

A third part is by getting you to do something foolish, or invest foolishly, and then doing desperate things in the hope of getting back to even.

Another way is appealing to your fear of missing out on some pleasure. As a believer on the right path, it is quite true that we have missed out on so many things. We have missed out on so much pain, heartache, fear, guilt, shame, and even danger. We probably have no idea on how many seriously catastrophic things we missed out on by living righteously, but we can still be glad we missed out on those.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.910 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 3:2; 9:11; 10:21,27, how does obeying God’s law give you long life?

A: First, those who obey God’s laws are blessed by Him (Proverbs 8:32). Second, of course, living a godly life in general reduces your chance of dying of alcoholism, drug overdoses, smoking, AIDS and venereal disease, and even much violence. However, these are very insignificant benefits compared to having eternal life with God.

 

11. In Prov 3:5, why should we not trust ourselves, since many voices in modern culture tell us to do so?

A: People can say they believe in God and the truths of the Bible. However, you can believe without trusting in God. Trusting in God means trusting that God’s wisdom is the best wisdom, and trusting that God’s way is the best way for you and all your loved ones.

 

12. In Prov 3:7, how can someone be wise in their own eyes, and why is this wrong?

A: Ultimately, this means both trusting that your wisdom is more profound, more practical, or better than God’s wisdom. It also can mean that you think you have “arrived” and do not need to learn much more. Paul’s attitude was very different from this in Philippians 3:12-14.


 

Proverbs 3:8-3:35 – Wisdom and Money – some brief answers

 

Q: In Prov 3:9, how are we to honor God with our wealth?

A: A: First realized that God has everything and He has given us everything we have. So, we cannot really give to God; we can only give back to God. While work and time relate closely to money, those are different topics that are not addressed here. Here is a list of 28 ways we can honor God with our wealth. You can remember the four categories with the phrase, “Hope In God, not Wealth”.

Hearts free from the love of money

H1. Realize that God has the power, desire, and the promise to provide for His obedient children financially. Do not love money (Psalm 62:10) or have your heart focused on money (Matthew 6:21; Colossians 3:1-2), and do not be worried about money (Matthew 6:25-34).

H2. We are to recognize that all wealth ultimately belongs to God (Psalm 24:1; 50:9-12). God brings wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 10:22; 22:4; Malachi 3:10-12).

H3. While having wealth is OK (1 Timothy 6:17; Job 42:10-12; Genesis 13:2,6; Proverbs 10:4; 14:24), wealth can be a snare (Judges 8:24-27; Mark 10:21-25). We are not to love money (1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5; Romans 1:29), be greedy (Proverbs 15:27; Luke 12:15), or trust in our riches (Psalm 49:6; 52:7; Proverbs 11:28; 18:10-11; 30:8-9; Jeremiah 9:23; Luke 12:16-21). Be aware that the rich have a tendency to be wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 28:11).

H4. We are to store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21,24; 19:23; Luke 12:15-21; Revelation 3:11). Do not be afraid to lose your earthly treasures for God. (Hebrews 10:34; Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 2:15-18,33-34; Acts 4:32-37)

H5. Do not envy others, or those who have more. (How much is the billionaire … worth today?) (Psalm 73:2-17; Proverbs 23:17; Psalm 37:4; Romans 7:7-12; 1 Corinthians 13:4). Do not covet what others have (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 7:7-12). Do not view others simply as what monetary gain they can bring to you (Proverbs 6:26).

H6. We are to value wisdom more than wealth (Proverbs 3:14-15; 16:16; 20:15; Psalm 37:16), and a good name more than wealth (Proverbs 22:1), realizing how temporary wealth is (Proverbs 11:4,18; 23:5; 1 Timothy 6:7). Recognize that little with love and the fear of the Lord is better than much with hatred and strife (Proverbs 15:16-17; 17:1; 19:1).

H7. Do not kid yourself, thinking that your wealth can purchase with money anything of eternal value (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:37; Acts 8:20-21; Psalm 50:9-12; Micah 6:6-8).

Integrity in Finances

I1. Do not steal (including software piracy) (Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19; Ephesians 4:28; Titus 2:10; Matthew 15:19). Do not have or keep ill-gotten wealth (Proverbs 1:13,14,19; 10:2). If you have stolen, cheated, or done wrong, make restitution (Exodus 22:3-15; Numbers 5:5-8; Luke 19:8).

I2. Pay others what you owe (Psalm 37:21; Romans 13:8; James 5:4) and promptly (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15). Pay your taxes (Matthew 22:21; 17: 24-27; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; Romans 13:6), and any court judgments (Exodus 21:22).

I3. Do not oppress or unjustly use the courts against others who are poor, when it is in your power because you are rich (Proverbs 14:31; 22:22-23; 24:28; James 2:6; Ezekiel 22:7,13,29; 45:9; 1 Kings 21:1-15). (Paradoxically, a person or nation can give the appearance of generosity to the poor, and still oppress them at the same time.) Rather, we should defend the oppressed (Jeremiah 7:6; 22:16; Isaiah 1:17; 58:6). As an example, in old times miners were paid by the company, and there was no store around except the one owned by the company who charged whatever they chose. There is a miner’s song about “…sold my soul to the company store.”

I4. We should hate receiving bribes (Proverbs 15:27; 17:23; Psalm 15:5; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Ecclesiastes 7:7; 1 Samuel 12:3; Isaiah 1:23; Amos 5:12; 2 Chronicles 19:7), because they can corrupt our hearts (Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 15:27; 28:16; Psalm 15:5; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 5:13; 1 Samuel 4:3-4).

I5. Do not claim land that is not yours (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Proverbs 22:28; 23:10; Job 24:2) or other valuables (Joshua 7:1:20-24).

I6. Do not lie about what you are giving (Acts 5:1-11) or boast about what you do not give (Proverbs 25:14).

I7. Be honest and prudent in the use of the Lord’s money (2 Kings 12:4-16; Nehemiah 13:4-13). Avoid the appearance of financial impropriety (2 Corinthians 8:18-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Giving Our Money

G1. Do not be stingy (Proverbs 28:22; 2 Corinthians 9:6), rather give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). God views giving in proportion to what you have (Mark 12:42-43; Luke 21:2-3) and what it costs you (2 Samuel 24:21-24). Giving to God is not optional for believers (Malachi 3:10-12). Sharing things in common is good (Acts 4:32), but having personal property is fine too (2 Timothy 4:13).

G2. We are to give generously to the poor, though it should be without fanfare. (Proverbs 11:24-25; 14:21; 24:11-12; 29:7; 31:9,20; 11:24-25; 19:9-10,17; 21:13; 22:9; Psalm 41:1; Isaiah 58:7-8,10; Jeremiah 5:28; 22:16; Matthew 6:2-4; 19:21; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:18-19). Do not look down on the poor (Proverbs 22:2).

G3. We are especially to help widows and orphans. (James 1:27; Deuteronomy 15:11; Psalm 68:5; Job 29:12-13), other believers (1 John 3:17-19; Acts 4:32-35), and the sick, hungry, naked, and imprisoned (Matthew 25:34-46; Zechariah 7:9-10).

G4. Do not give money to a fool (Proverbs 17:16) or help those who refuse to work. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15), yet do not look down on them, and help them if they repent (Luke 15:18-30).

G5. We are to give to the Lord’s work (2 Corinthians 8:1-8; 9:6-11; Proverbs 3:9,10; 11:24; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Titus 2:13). However, you must respect God’s house (Malachi 1:10-14), be reconciled with others (Matthew 5:23-24), and do not give ill-gotten gifts (Deuteronomy 23:18; Proverbs 10:2).

G6. We are to provide for our family (1 Timothy 5:4,8; Proverbs 31:13-15; Mark 7:10-13;~Luke 15:18-30).

G7. Do not take money from unbelievers for God’s work (3 John 7). However, paying nonbelievers for work can be OK (1 Kings 5:3-18). Look for opportunities to repay people’s kindness (2 Samuel 9:1; Esther 6:1-4), yet do not expect to be repaid yourself on earth (Luke 6:30,34-35).

Wisdom in Finances

W1. We provide for our own daily necessities (Titus 3:14). God’s ministers are worthy of their pay (1 Corinthians 9:4-12; 1 Timothy 5:18; Galatians 6:6).

W2. We should plan and save for the future (Proverbs 6:6-8; 10:5; 31:16; Luke 15:18-30; Titus 3:14), including an inheritance for our children (Proverbs 13:22; 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14).

W3. We should not make rash financial commitments (Proverbs 22:26-27; 6:2-3) or put up collateral for another (Proverbs 6:1,3; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 27:13).

W4. We are not to squander our wealth or use it for sinning (Proverbs 20:21; James 5:5; Matthew 23:25; Amos 6:4-7). We should take care of our possessions (Proverbs 12:10,11,27). We should know the condition of our wealth, for it can be lost through neglect (Proverbs 27:23-24).

W5. Be careful of borrowing; realize that a borrower is beholden to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).

W6. Be wary of accepting gifts grudgingly given (Proverbs 23:1-3)We give to full-time godly workers & the Lord's people. 1Cr9:7-14

. Giving gifts (properly) can be advantageous to the giver (Proverbs 19:6; 21:14).

W7: Be wise: many people are tricky (Proverbs 20:14), resort to bribes (Proverbs 17:8), or financial dishonesty (Proverbs 20:17; James 5:4). Some can oppose the gospel for financial reasons (Acts 19:24-28).

   For people who need a plan to be free from the bondage of debt, an excellent book is Breaking out of Plastic Prison by James D. Dean and Charles W. Morris.

 

Q: In Prov 3:16, Prov 3:2, and Prov 28:16, since we are promised long life, should the lifespan of every Christian, be longer than the average lifespan of a non-Christian? If not, how about the average lifespan?

A: If a believer lived only a 100 years, or even 200, with their body and mind in their prime, that would be a rip-off for our lifespan is eternal in Heaven. See also the discussion on Ephesians 6:3 and Proverbs 3:2 for more info.

 

Q: In Prov 3:27, how are we not to withhold good from others?

A: This can refer to paying wages to people you employ (James 5:4; Malachi 3:5) as well as alms that cost you something, and favors to help others that cost you nothing. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.913 says it means literally, “Do not withhold good from its owners. The idea is fulfill an obligation such as paying wages to a hired laborer.”

   On a non-altruistic note, Proverbs 14:4 (NIV) says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty…”.


 

Proverbs 4 – Seek Wisdom, Above this World – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 4:1-27, what is the structure of this chapter?

A: This chapter has three speeches on wisdom.

Prov 4:1-9 Spare no effort to acquire wisdom and its benefits

Prov 4:10-19 Live Righteously

Prov 4:20-27 Concentrate on Righteous Living

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.922-926, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.801-802, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.913-914 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 4:3-5, why do you think Solomon knew to ask for wisdom in 1 Ki 3:13-15?

A: Surprisingly, these words were not originally all Solomon’s words! These are what David taught Solomon, and Solomon is recounting them. Solomon knew to ask God for wisdom, not wealth or long life, because David his father taught him the importance of seeking wisdom first. Despite David messing up with Bathsheba, having the census, etc. David at least taught Solomon to love wisdom and thirst for God’s wisdom. How good are we are reminding and encouraging our children, and others around us, to seek wisdom from the Lord? See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.913 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 4:6, how does wisdom preserve people?

A: Proverbs 5:23 shows that wisdom preserves people by keeping them on the paths they should go and off destructive paths. When you are in the center of God’s will, nothing bad will happen to you for discipline, and nothing bad will happen to you, except what God allows for His glory.

 

4. In Prov 4:8, how are we to esteem wisdom?

A: First of all, this does not refer to all wisdom, but to God’s wisdom. We are to value wisdom more than wealth (Proverbs 3:14-15; 16:16; 20:15). This means valuing wisdom over wealth for our children as well as us.

Physical benefits

Wisdom helps keep us healthy (Proverbs 4:20-27).

Wisdom helps keep us safe and gives us security (Proverbs 3:23-26).

Wisdom helps us have long life, including eternal life. (Proverbs 3:16; 4:10f).

Wisdom helps keep us from poverty (Proverbs 3:16; 6:1-11).

Wisdom saves us from calamity (Proverbs 1:10-33; 4:10-19).

Human relationships

Wisdom helps us live with others better (Proverbs 3:21-35; 6:12-19).

Wisdom gives honor (Proverbs 1:8-9; 4:8f).

Wisdom keeps us from sexual immorality (Proverbs 5, 6:20-7:27).

Wisdom helps us in finding a good spouse (Proverbs 31).

Long-term benefits

We are to see God’s wisdom not only as a means to an end, but it is also its own reward (Proverbs 3:13-15; 4:7; 9:1-6).

Wisdom enables us to live a life pleasing to God and draw closer to Him (Proverbs 8:35).

 

5. In Prov 4:9, how can wisdom give us a crown of glory?

A: It gives us respect on earth, rewards in heaven, and quite likely respect in heaven too. When you wonder if you should go to a place, you can ask yourself, “If Jesus returned right now, would I like to be found there?” See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.803 for more info.

 

Q: In Prov 4:14-15, what is the warning here?

A: This passage has some interesting “footwork”. You can only step until you stumble. As you take the first step towards wickedness, you will be less and less in control of what steps you are able to take.

   The insect-eating pitcher plant is like that. How does the pitcher plant thrive in poor-nitrogen soils, by eating insects, when, unlike the Venus flytrap, the pitcher plant typically has no moving parts? Insects walk on the inside of the “pitcher” down to the hollow middle of the plant to drink the sweet-smelling nectar that is there. It does not occur to them to be concerned at all that there are often husks of dead insects already there. Upward-facing “hairs” on the plant help the insect’s firm footing. As the insect descends, then the hairs abruptly turn downward and the surface becomes waxy, and the insect falls into the water, cannot get out, and despite struggling to get out, eventually drowns in the very place the insect wanted to go. After having achieved his desire, the very thing the insects crave very slowly dissolves and digests them. So, Proverbs 4:26 is good advice for insects as well as people: ponder the path of your feet.

 

Q: In Prov 4:14-17, what kinds of friends are corrupting influences?

A: Bad friends can corrupt in not just one but several ways.

Obviously, they can tempt you to sin and do wrong. Peer pressure can be a strong influence.

They can also discourage you. Gaslighting means try to persuade somebody they cannot do things or are of little value.

They can remind you to feel guilty, or angry, self-pitying, or other attitudes God does not want you to have.

They can slander others to you, and learn about you to slander you to others.

They can be a distraction to serving God.

 

Q: In Prov 4:16, how do some have no sleep unless they do evil?

A: While this can apply to people who are addicted to drugs, sex, or alcohol, the immediate context is planning on being violent or doing evil to others. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.802 for more info.

 

Q: In Prov 4:17, how do some eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence?

A: Some people make their living, and derive their enjoyment out of wickedness and violence. Some are proud of how they can fight. They ingest wickedness and violence such that it is a part of their identity and their inner being. They view their wickedness as normal and familiar. When people call evil good, and this is unchallenged, society will go from bad to worse.

 

Q: How are Prov 4:20-21 different from the other verses here?

A: Unlike the other verses, this is not about getting wisdom. Rather, this is about keeping the wisdom you have from departing due to neglect. We should be eager to learn more and get more wisdom, but we should be even more eager to follow the wisdom we already know. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.412-413 for more info.

 


 

Proverbs 5 – Counterfeit Love Can Hurt you – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 5:1, what seems strange about who is speaking this advice here?

A: Solomon is giving this advice. He obeyed the letter of this command, but not the spirit. His many, many wives, which he was not supposed to have, led his heart astray from God. Solomon followed the rule but not the intent. He followed the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

 

2. In Prov 5:1, what are some ways today people follow the letter but not the spirit of the law?

A: Financially someone cannot steal, but use the law and courts unjustly to legally, but wickedly, take what does not belong to them. We are not to harm others, but if they are slandered, that can harm their reputation and relationship with friends.

   Due to a “fear of missing out” or FOMO for short, sometimes people try to get as close to sin as possible without actually sinning. The trouble is, when you are trying to get as close to sin as possible, that itself is a sin.

 

3. In Prov 5:3-5, why did God [allegedly] make the woman go to Hell just for being a woman? (A Muslim asked this.)

A: It is not this way at all. When Proverbs 5:3-5 talks of “strange women” it is speaking clearly of immoral women. I am extremely surprised that the Muslim would want to mention this though, because of what the hadiths says on the topic of women going to Hell.

Muslim falsehoods on women and Hell

   “It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah observed: O womenfolk, you should give charity and ask much forgiveness for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of Hell. A wise lady among them said: Why is it, Messenger of Allah, that our folk is in bulk in Hell? Upon this the Holy Prophet observed: You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses. I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (At the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you. Upon this the woman remarked: What is wrong with our common sense and with religion? He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Your lack of common sense (can be well judged from the fact) that the evidence of two women is equal to one man, that is proof of the lack of commonsense, and you spend some nights (and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month of Ramadan (During the days) you do not observe fast, that is a failing in religion….” Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 1 no.143 p.47-48. See also Bukhari vol.2 no.161; vol.1 no.301, vol.1 no.28; Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 4 no.1926 p.417; vol.4 no.9596-6600 p.1431 Sunan Nasa’i vol.2 no.1578 p.342.

   “‘O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).’ They asked, ‘Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?’ He replied, ‘Your curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you…. The women asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle? What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?’ He said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’ They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in your intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses? The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in your religion.’” Bukhari vol.1 no.301 p.181. See also Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 4 no.1982,1983 p.432.

   In the false theology of Sunni Islam, most hell-dwellers are women. They are ungrateful and unthankful to their husbands. Most heaven-dwellers are poor. Bukhari vol.7 book 62 no.125,126 p.96

 

4. In Prov 5:4, what is significant about a two-edged sword?

A: A double-edged sword has multiple ways to cut. A single-edged sword is almost as useful as a two-edged sword, and it is less expensive to make. Sometimes to punish somebody, without hurting then them would strike them with the flat edge of the sword. It would knock them down, but not cut them. But a two-edged sword can cut the enemy both on the main stroke and the reverse stroke.

   In life people might try to do things for pleasure that they realize is a sharp danger going about one-way, but it is not very dangerous doing it a different way; a single-edged sword so-to-speak. However, many things that people thing are single-edged swords are in reality double-edged swords, it is just you might not realize that until you are sliced with what you thought was the flat end.

 

5. In Prov 5:8, what does it mean that we should not even go near the door of an adulteress’s house?

A: There are a number of reasons why we should not do this.

1. It could be a temptation to go into the house.

2. It gives the appearance of evil to others (2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Romans 12:17f), and it is a poor witness.

3. This could lead others astray. We do not want to destroy a fellow believer’s conscience.

 

6. In Prov 5:9, how does fake intimacy take your honor and years and give them to others?

A: On one hand, a scandalous person might no longer be qualified for an honorable position, so you one else gets to take that position instead. However, that is probably not the primary meaning. Your honor in the eyes of others is squandered. Proverbs 5:14 implies feeling shame in public. Giving your years to one who is cruel does not mean death, as Proverbs 5:11-12. It is the happy years of marriage that you won’t have.

 

7. In Prov 5:10, how are strangers filled the immoral person’s wealth today?

A: Blackmail is one way. Secondly, divorce lawyers are a part of a large industry. But besides that, many times houses, cars, and other things are sold at deep discounts when divorce occurs. There is the story of a wealthy couple, and the husband wanted to divorce for a younger woman. They husband left, and told the wife to sell the Lamborghini sports car and send him half the money.  So she did, and sent him the dollar. She was willing to destroy a lot of wealth she could have had, out of hateful spite to get back at him.

 

8. In Prov 5:12-13, why do some people sometimes despise correction?

A: People often want to be their own boss. Accepting correction means admitting you were wrong, you need to improve, and that you are going to change. Some are too proud to admit they were wrong in an area. Others might be willing to accept that they are wrong, but they are not willing to change.

 

9. In Prov 5:15, what does it mean to drink water from your own cistern?

A: A cistern was a large container for collecting rainwater. You should enjoy what belongs to you, and not covet what does not belong to you (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 7:7-12).

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.284-285 for why this is an allegory discussing marriage, and not just advice on water management.

 

10. In Prov 5:21, why is God injected into this lesson here?

A: without God a person can step into this trap. Proverbs 5:21 is the only verse in all of chapter 5 that mentions God. One reason to remain pure and stay free from entrapment is because you know that the LORD is watching you.

 

11. In Prov 5:22, who is it that traps an immoral person?

A: While Proverbs 5:3-4 suggest that an immoral woman traps a man, it does not actually lay the primary blame on her. Proverbs 5:22 says that the person is actually entrapped by himself. He is caught by the cords of his own sin.

   In southeast Asia they trap monkeys, either to eat or as pets but using a pot. The pot has a wide mouth, and they put a piece of candy or banana in the bottom. The wild monkey reaches in to grab the treat and eats it. Then they use pots with narrower mouths, so that the monkey can still freely reach in, but once the monkey makes a fist with the candy or banana, the monkey cannot take his hand out. But rather than drop the treat, and escape, the monkey stays there, trapped by his own greed, until the person collects the monkey, either to cook or to sell as a pet. But before you criticize the monkey entrapping his hand by refusing to let go, you should make sure you are not like a monkey, doing the same thing.

 


 

Proverbs 6 – Don’t be Ensnared by Money – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 6:1; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26-27; 27:13, what is wrong with “surety”, or putting up security for another?

A: This could collateral, held until a loan is repaid. It can also be an unlimited promise to pay any and all bills accrued that the person is unable or unwilling to pay. As a side note, in 1997 there were 30 million bankruptcies filed in the United States. When you are on the hook to pay off someone else’s debt if they default, you are ensnared by money. Don’t take on any liabilities you don’t need to take on. Sometimes an impulsive act of generosity can be a sin.

   What about pledging to pay for a child, or a college-age child? Even without signing anything, we are already responsible for the young children in our household, so we already pay for that. But there comes a point, perhaps in college, or perhaps after, where they are no longer our dependents and we should not provide surety for them.

 We might give a gift to our friend, or even an interest-free loan, but we are commanded not to be a signer on a loan for them. You might be helping them buy something they should not be buying, or cannot afford. You might be teaching them the wrong lesson, that they don’t have to be thrifty. If they default, and you are left to pay, it can hurt the friendship.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.805, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.414, The Expositor’s Bible commentary vol.5 p.931, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.915-916 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 6:5, why is putting up surety for another like a bird in the net of a fowler (bird-trapper)?

A: when a bird is trapped in a to be the next meal for the fowler, the bird has not been harmed – yet. But as the fowler approaches, the bird can slowly watch his doom come closer and closer. The consequences of some sins are that way. They don’t harm you immediately, except that you are trapped. And when your doom comes, you can watch it coming, but you can’t do much about it. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.916 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 6:6,9; 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13-16, what are the characteristics of a sluggard?

A: There are different kinds of being a sluggard; a person could be willfully lazy in one area, but diligent in another. There are different levels of being lazy, from the person who does something in half-hearted way, to the person who feels takes offense if they are asked to lift even a finger. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.916 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 6:6-8, why are we to look to the ant?

A: There can be two reasons.

First, it is not because ants are the strongest creatures in the world, though they are much stronger than us, gram for gram. It is because they do not let up working diligently even though they are unsupervised. They are motivated to work hard, but not because someone is watching them. They don’t need a chain of command, or humans (or ants) to reward them or punish them if they don’t work hard enough. Ants are not doing this work for themselves, but for the colony.

   Second, even though Aesop’s parable of the ant and the grasshopper was written after this time, as was a similar parable by Syntipas, there is an earlier Aramaic version, that perhaps readers might be familiar with. See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.141 for more info.

   See The Expositor’s Bible commentary vol.5 p.932, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.805 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.916 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 6:9-11, why do the lazy favor sleep?

A: With no hope, no concerns, and no thought to the future, what better things do they have to do? Laziness is only secondarily something you have (a bad habit). Primarily it is something you lack, any desire to plan or work for the future. Why work hard today, when you can always start tomorrow?

 

6. In Prov 6:12-15, what kind of person is this?

A: This is a classic con-artist. The con-artist not only used subtle and lying words, but is a good actor, well-practiced with the motions and mannerisms to fool people. There was a con-artist who actually pretended to be from the French government and sold the Eiffel Tower to someone to take down as scrap. Even though there were two other bidders, the victim who won the winning bid had reservations that this was genuine. The con-artist noticed this. Then the con-artist told him that times were hard for him, on a small government salary, and asked for a small bribe. The victim said he was convinced after that. If the “government-official” was trying to make money by taking a small bribe, then the government-worker “obviously” was not going to make anything major off of this. So, the victim paid the money; later he went to the government office, and found out that he had been scammed. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.414-415 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.917 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 6:16-18, what is interesting about these seven abominations to God?

A: The last one, sowing discord among brethren, is considered on the same level as shedding innocent blood. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.806 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 6:17, why does God hate so much haughty eyes, a lying tongue, bloody hands, wickedly scheming hearts, feet that rapidly run to evil, a false witness, and one who stirs up strife?

A: While Scripture does not explicitly say, this list is rather comprehensive of the basic kinds of evil.

   As J. Oswald Sanders in On to Maturity p.63 put it: “I cannot deny that my master was vain. He had to be the central figure in everything. If he went to a christening, he wanted to be the baby. If he went to a wedding, he wanted to be the bride. If he went to a funeral, he wanted to be the corpse.” This is quoted from the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.806. So maybe you don’t want to always be the center of attention.

 

9. In Prov 6:17, why are these six or seven things?

A: This is a literary device, also used seven times in Amos 1:3,6,9,13, 2:1,4,6. The list has seven items, do not take the list being “exactly” 7, since some could be combined together. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.917 says that this means the list is not necessarily all-inclusive, and special stress is laid on the final item. A modern literary device that is a little similar is “last but not least”.

 

10. In Prov 6:22, what are three different ways that God’s word helps us?

A: When we roam, either due to necessary travel or else roaming when we should not, God’s word will guide us, or guide us back.

They will help us when we sleep with our mind and dreams on good things.

When we are awake, they will speak to us and teach us, if you have read it and it is in your heart.

 

11. In Prov 6:24-35, how does adultery relate to the previous sins of co-signing, laziness, and being a con-artist?

A: The immoral can pay a costly price. Proverbs 6 emphasizes not so much these sins, but rather the stupidity and consequences of these sins. Proverbs 5 already said not to be immoral. Proverbs 6:24-35, rather than being a recap, tells some of the serious consequences, on earth, of doing this.

 

12. In Prov 6:26, what does reducing a man to a piece of bread mean?

A: This means the appearance of a relationship, friendship, and love is so shallow that the reality is the man is viewed as nothing more than an object by which to make money. All thoughts of the man as a human being are gone.

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.918 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.807.have a different view. It says this means that sinning with prostitutes is costly, and it can reduce a man to having only a loaf of bread.

 

13. In Prov 6:33-35, why is there no assuaging the jealous spouse?

A: The honor of their marriage is no more.  Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 say that both the sinning man and woman were to be put to death by stoning.

   Let me tell you how you can make millions of dollars. Invent a creme that completely “unburns” skin. When someone walks on hot coals, it can “unburn” their feet. If you can’t do it, because it can’t be done, that is the same problem faced by someone who commits adultery or other immorality and gets caught. If they say, “I’m sorry, I’ll just undo everything” that is not going to work.

 See The Expositor’s Bible commentary vol.5 p.938 for more info.

 

 


 

Proverbs 7 – Falling Examined in an Example – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 7:2, why is this teaching compared to the apple (center) of your eye?

A: The complex structure of the entire eye and optic nerve is rendered worthless is that part is stabbed. At even the slightest hint of danger, the eye automatically shuts for protection. Likewise, our life and testimony can be rendered worthless in the eyes of the world if we don’t protect this part. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.808 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 7:7, what are the five types of fools in this book?

A: The Hebrew uses five distinct words, and they have different meanings.

Simple peti in Proverbs 1:4,22,32; 7:7; 8:5; 9:4,13,16; 14:15,18; 19:25; 21:11; 22:3; 27:12

Fool k’ciyl in Proverbs 10:18,23; 13:16; 14:16; 15:14; 17:10,12,16,21; 18:2; 19:1,10; 23:9; 26:1,4,5,6,8,10,11,12; 28:26; 29:11,20

The hardened fool nabal is used 3 times in Proverbs 17:7,21; 30:22

Sluggard ‘asel in Proverbs 6:6,9; 10:26; 12:11,24,27; 13:4; 15:19, 18:9; 19:15,24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30-34; 26:13-16

Mocker Proverbs 1:22; 3:34,35; 9:7,8,12; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12; 19:25,28,29; 21:11,24; 22:10; 24:9; 29:8

 

3. In Prov 7:8, do you think it was accidental that the young man went near her house?

A: No, it was probably intentional. As he was passing along the street, it says “he took the path to her house.” Proverbs 5:8 says not to even go near the door of her house. But it is not “doors” that Solomon is concerned about. Why is he going to her house when it is twilight and harder for people to see him? As the night settles, he is like a moth circling closer and closer to a flame. What business did he have to urgently attend to, that he would have to not return until after dark? Also, we don’t know if this was the very first time he passed by her house, or if he passed by her house often, hoping to catch her available. In Proverbs 7:10,15 they seem to know each other well, already.

   See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.158,161, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.939, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.809 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 7:13, how are some people “impudent”?

A: Impudent here means not feeling any shame or guilt for their wickedness. While a person has a conscience, Romans 1:21-32 shows us that a person can harden their conscience by persistent sin.

 

5. In Prov 7:14, is this woman religious, and a worshipper of God?

A: Peace of fellowship offerings were given to the priests for God in Leviticus 7:11-21, so yes, she was religious. Peace offerings were to be eaten by the next day, so she had plenty of food that she needed help in eating. Offerings and vows are acts of worship, so yes, she had the form of worshipping God, though her heart was far from Him. You are not safe from being tempted by someone just because they say they are a believer. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.809 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.415 for more on this view.

    On the other hand, some suggest that she was an idolator who worshipped false gods. But against this, the term “peace offering” is not a pagan term, but from Leviticus 7:11-21. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.939 for more on this view.

 

6. In Prov 7:14, how can religion today degenerate into just a tool people use to excuse their actions and try to appease their conscience?

A: This is not just today, but all throughout history. Muslim armies were permitted to take (and keep) a fifth of the plunder. They were explicitly told it is fine to rape the women, even in front of their husbands. But it was OK because they were “fighting for Allah”.

   The Crusades also plundered, killed in battle even some that they knew were Christians, because they were “righting for God”. Strangely, after the massacre of the native village of Alamein, made up mostly of ‘Alawites and some Christians, the Crusaders and ‘Alawites became friends, and the Crusader army had predominantly ‘Alawite Muslim foot-soldiers. Then King Richard (called the Lion-Hearted) treacherously double-crossed the ‘Alawite Sultan of Damascus and took over his realm.

   A little-known fact about Henry VIII of England in 1533, was that he was genuinely shocked when the Pope refused to annul his marriage of almost 24 years. After all, in 1502 the Pope had recently done so for the King Vladislaus II of Hungary, as well as for other monarchs. The reason the Pope refused to do so was because he did not want to antagonize Spain.

   In England, Richard FitzRalph in 1300-1360 taught “dominion theology”. All dominion belongs to God, and if a ruler is not following God, you are free to overthrow him. This became all too convenient to justify attacking non-Christian kings and Indian tribes. When a European ruler wanted to attack another country, for basically no good reason whatsoever, he would often get the blessing of the pope first. So, for example, when the Catholic King Henry II of England wanted to invade Catholic Ireland, he asked Pope Adrian IV (who coincidentally was also English), who said “I don’t know why anyone would want to invade that land”, but then gave permission to the English.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.920 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 7:16, why is Egyptian linen mentioned?

A: First notice that the woman was looking for an honorable pretext, an excuse, to get the guy over to her house to do a dishonorable thing, so she settled on religion, that is eating the sacrifices. Second, the guy was going over for a high-class, cultured reason, to see the Egyptian linen. Almost all cultures made clothes, but Egyptian linen was a luxury made from very small diameter threads, and was very fine and uniform. It is sort of like micro-fiber today.

 

d8. In Prov 7:19-20, what is the point of the husband?

A: She is telling him not only will it be exciting and pleasurable, but it will be safe.

 

9. In Prov 7:22-23, why is what they did so deadly?

A: Even if the young man is not physically killed, as the jealous husband had a right to do, he will never be the same man again. But this sin can destroy his family, or destroy honorable marriage prospects, give him a guilty conscience, or sexually transmitted diseases. According to Leviticus 20:10, both of them were to be stoned to death, though the Israelites generally did not follow that by Solomon’s time. But if the husband found out who he was, it could still mean literal death.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.663, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.168-170 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.942 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.415 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 7:26, what does “many who were killed by here were strong” mean?

A: Simple physical strength is not relevant here. Strong men would be valiant warriors. Many believers, who were strong in faith and doing many good things for God, were spiritually shipwrecked by this kind of sin.


 

Proverbs 8-9 – Wisdom is Calling to You – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 8:1-17, how does wisdom cry out?

A: Given the troubles many people bring upon themselves due to lack of wisdom, the effects of this are one form of crying out for wisdom. However, this likely is not the primary meaning. God’s Word is telling us of wisdom, and the Holy Spirit is convicting the people of the world of their need to know God. While the Holy Spirit did not dwell inside of most believers in Old Testament times, God’s Spirit was not absent from the earth; it still convicted people of their need for God.

   This wisdom is not super-intelligent, bookish knowledge, but rather practical wisdom for all to learn and apply. As Derek Kidner says, “A chapter which is to soar beyond time and space, opens at street level … relevant here as heaven.” (Kidner, The Proverbs, an Introduction and Commentary p.76 quoted in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.943) Wisdom is especially appealing to two types of people here: the simple (peta’yim), and the fools (kesilim). It is not too late for even a simple person or someone already wrapped up in foolishness to turn to wisdom.

   In contrast to the adulterous woman who lurks in dark alleys and stealthily entices a man in secret, wisdom loudly calls out to everyone on the city streets and at the city gates. The city gates were where court cases were tried and public business was conducted. There is nothing hidden about wisdom’s call. Verses 1-4 do not just indicate that wisdom is whispering, but rather that wisdom is loudly calling publicly to all.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.664, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.415, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.943, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.921 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 8:1-4, how does wisdom raise her voice loudly today?

A: In a positive way, when people refer to the Bible, quote the Bible, or share godly teaching wisdom is crying out. When people we the contrast of the foolishness and evil of this world, wisdom’s cry is even louder. When people see the life of a Christian walking with God, they want to light of wisdom, and want to leave the darkness of their former ways.

 

3. In Prov 8:10-11, how is wisdom better than wealth?

A: While Proverbs 2-4 describes the rewards one can have by listening to wisdom; Proverbs 8 is different. In Proverbs 8 a first personal pronoun refers to wisdom sixteen times, for the reward is just wisdom itself. What good is having wealth if you are too foolish to keep it? What good is wealth if living foolishly takes away the health of you and your family? Riches and honor can come with wisdom in Proverbs 8:18 but it is not just getting riches, but mentions keeping “enduring riches”. Wisdom also brings honor and happiness, and wisdom is a richness greater than material wealth. The only caveat is that Proverbs 8 is not just about seeing wisdom, or trying out wisdom, but “walking” in wisdom. “Walking” in Hebrew is not just taking a few steps, but walking steadily.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.921-922 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 8:12-13, what is interesting about the contrast here?

A: Wisdom is “moral” not just “mental”. Wisdom has certain “companions” or fruit that accompanies her. Likewise, evil foolishness has certain companions too. The companions of wisdom are prudence, knowledge, and discretion. The companions of evil foolishness are pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth.

   In sailing through life, Prudence (‘ormah) is like a telescope, being able to see other points of view, and see all sides of a situation. Knowledge is like a map, giving the information needed to navigate through the challenge. Discretion is like a till on the ship’s helm, to steer it away from rocks, reefs, and hitting other boats. Just try to sail without those, and you will need to learn to swim in the ocean for long distances! However, there are things that can be worse. Pride tends to stir people up to oppose you. A loud, big mouth can make things worse, making you an attractive target to attack. One thing worse that swimming alone in the wide ocean, is swimming alone in the wide ocean surrounded by fish blood that attracts sharks!

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.416, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.921-922, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.810 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 8:14-21, what are some good “side-effects” of having wisdom?

A: Even though the reward is wisdom itself, here are some benefits of wisdom.

Good counsel 8:14a

Sound judgment 8:14b

Understanding 8:14c

More strength 8:14d

Leadership ability 8:15a,16a

Skill in judging 8:15b; 16b

Affection and companionship 8:17a

Riches that last 8:18

Honor and righteousness 8:18

Guidance in righteousness and justice 8:20-21

Guidance in getting wealth 8:20-21

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.811 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 8:22,23 does this refer to Jesus, and thus show that Jesus was created, as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim in The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived 1991, p.11?

A: No, Jesus was not created, and this does not refer to Jesus. The heretic Arius claimed this referred to Christ and tried to use this to prove that Christ was a created being. Actually though, the Hebrew word, qanah, can mean “God possessed wisdom” as well as “God created wisdom”. Wisdom in Proverbs is represented as female (Proverbs 7:4; 8:1,2,3; 9:1,2,3), and even Jehovah’s Witnesses agree that Jesus was never female. See the next question for more discussion, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.946, the New International Bible Commentary p.664, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.416, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.811, Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.183, and When Cultists Ask p.72-73 for more extensive info.

 

7. In Prov 8:22,23, who does this refer to?

A: While six pre-Nicene Christians, Athanasius, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.810 believe this refers to Jesus, most Christians today say it does not refer to Christ or any individual person, but this is a personification of an aspect of God’s character. The six Pre-Nciene Christians are Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, and Victorinus of Petau.

   The Jewish writers Philo of Alexandria, the Wisdom of Solomon 7, and Ecclesiasticus 24 said this was the “logos”, but they thought of an impersonal logos, not the Messiah. See When Critics Ask p.245-246, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.105-106, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.922, and the New International Bible Commentary p.664 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 9:1, what are the seven pillars of wisdom?

A: Scripture does not say. It probably simply means that the house was large and solidly built. Some might think it is the same as the seven spirits of God, mentioned in Zechariah 3:9, Isaiah 11:2, and Revelation 1:4.

   James 3:17 describes seven aspects of wisdom: “essentially pure, peaceable, sweetly reasonable, satisfied with less than its due, compliant, fully of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and free from insincerity.” (Wuest translation)

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.812 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 9:2-6, how does wisdom have a banquet?

A: Proverbs 7 tells of the seductive woman who calls to the foolish man and asks him to secretly come over and eat the sacrifices together. Proverbs 8 and 9 personifies the virtuous woman wisdom who openly calls upon all to learn from here and come to her feast instead. It is a good, honorable banquet where those who comes will benefit. She calls not only to the wise, but also to the foolish, to leave their foolishness and join her. This is similar to Luke 14:16-24, where Jesus tells the parable of the great banquet, where many invitations were given but few came. As Tony Evans says, “If you don’t feel hungry for wisdom, you are probably starving for it.”

   In Proverbs 9:13-18 the foolish woman also calls out indiscriminately to anyone to drink “stolen water” and eat in secret”.

   See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.587, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.416 and the New International Bible Commentary p.665 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 9:2, how did wisdom “mix her wine”?

A: Wine was stored undiluted, and it was mixed with one part wine to 3 or 4 parts water. Passover wine was one part one and three parts water. Wine was also mixed with spices. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.923-924 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 9:8, why would a wise person love someone who rebukes him?

A: A wise person would appreciate correction, and not let pride prevent him or her from humbly accepting correction. Being a fool is not just based on a lack of what you do not know, but even more importantly what you do not want to learn. A wise person seeks to be wiser still. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.587 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 9:12, what is this saying about wisdom and mocking?

A: Your attitude about yourself greatly affects who you are. As a man thinks, so is he. If you are trying to be wise, you might not always make wise decisions, but you will make wiser decisions than if you don’t care about wanting to be wise. See the New International Bible Commentary p.665 for more info.

 

13. In Prov 9:13, who is the woman Folly woman here?

A: Just as wisdom was personified as a woman, this other woman is a personification of foolishness. This is not just any foolish woman, but rather wisdom and foolishness are both personified as women. There is a second party going on here and you might be missing out on it. But you can only go to one, so which party do you want to go to?

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.950 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.589 for more info.

 

14. In Prov 9:17, what does it mean that “stolen waters are sweet, and food eaten in secret is delicious”?

A: There are three complementary interpretations:

Knowledge: Eclecticism is a false teaching that you should extract truth from many difference (and usually contradictory) sources. Knowledge, including false knowledge, is not necessarily a good thing. Even true knowledge, where you are only told part of the picture, can be bad.

Actions: There is no physical reason that water stolen from someone else tastes better, but people like the thrill of getting things. Sometimes rich teenagers have been known to steal sunglasses and other things, not because they did not have the money, and not because they did not already have sunglasses, but for the thrill of stealing. A Garfield cartoon shows Garfield the cat, his hands full of mice letting some go so that he can catch another. The caption says, “It is not the having but the getting”.

Guilty Pleasures are all the more pleasurable to the wicked because they are doing forbidden things. For example, a person might get special enjoyment out of having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone they snatched away from a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. However, once this has happened, then the newness supposedly wears off, and they dump the person. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.925 says this verse might refer to illicit sex, especially because of the reference to water in Proverbs 7:29-29. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.813 for more info.

 

 


 

Proverbs 10 – The Start of Solomon’s Proverbs – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 10:1, how does the honor of the child affect the parents?

A: It is hard to describe the heartache of a parent whose child brings shame on the family. How children choose to live their life has an emotional impact, or great contentment or great sorrow, on the parents. A child who grows up will brings joy to the father in Proverbs 15:20; 23:15,24; 27:11; 29:3 but bad child gives grief to the father in Proverbs 17:21, 25; 19:13.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.925 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 10:2, what does this say about the wicked and treasure?

A: While the wicked might get treasure, it will not last. Certainly, on the day that they die, they will not have any of their treasure. As pastor Jack Graham said, “You never see a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse!

 

3. In Prov 10:3, what does this promise, and not promise, about the righteous and the wicked?

A: It promises that the soul of the righteous will not be famished. This verse does not promise that the righteous will be materially wealthy, nor does it promise that the wicked will never be wealthy. But it does promise that what the wicked really desires will elude them. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.814 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 10:4, what are diligent hands, vs. lazy hands, vs. workaholic hands?

A: Diligent hands can be counted on to accomplish what they are supposed to do. This does not mean that they might do what they are supposed to do. Rather, it means you can count on them to do what they were supposed to do. Lazy hands might still get the job done sometimes, but many times not, and you don’t know which times it will get done. They often don’t spend the time to do all they should. Workaholics are the same in that they don’t spend the time to do all they should. They spend so much time on their immediate work, that they neglect relationships and other things.

 

5. In Prov 10:7, how is a righteous name remembered, and how does a wicked name rot?

A: Even after they are gone from this earth, the righteous are remembered, in a good way, more than the wicked.

   How many people do you know named Paul, John, Matthew/Mathew, or Timothy, and how many people do you know named Judas or Rehoboam? The only exception to this is that the bloodthirsty Muslims conqueror Tamerlane, who slaughtered everyone in many cities including the Muslim city of Shiraz, is still remembered fondly for building a famous white mosque in Samarkand. A number of central Asian Muslim boys are named after him, including the Boston marathon bomber.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.814 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 10:8, what is a “fool of lips”, i.e., a “chattering fool”?

A: This is a type of hardened fool, ’ewil, that does not know how or when to shut his or her mouth. Chattering fools cannot stop talking long enough to listen to others and learn from them.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.665 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.926 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 10:10, what is wrong with winking here?

A: Both then and now, winking means doing something by cunning and deceit.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.814 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 10:12, how does love cover all sins?

A: You should be able to forgive those who sin against you. James 5:20and 1 Peter 4:8 show that bringing a sinner back from his sin covers over a multitude of sins. Love can pave the way for reconciliation.

   Most importantly, God’s love forgives all sins against Him, for those who want to live in God’s forgiveness. God gave us this forgiveness, as well as other great blessings, through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

 

9. In Prov 10:17, why do some people refuse correction?

A: It would mean they have to admit they were wrong, or needed correction. But instruction, especially godly instruction, is advice on how to change to improve. As one co-worker would always say, “I reserve the right to get smarter.”

   Imagine being an airplane passenger where the pilot said this was his first time solo, and he refused to listen to his instructors.

 

10. In Prov 10:19, why is sin not absent when words are many?

A: The more we speak, the more opportunities for saying careless, slanderous, or hurtful words. Sometimes regular words can be said in a hurtful tone. These things happen more frequently when someone has a lot to say about someone else. The more you talk the easier it is to exaggerate or tell small lies, which are still sins. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.815 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 10:26, how is a lazy man like vinegar and smoke to the one who sent him?

A: Smoke hurts the eyes, and vinegar is acidic and wears away the enamel on teeth. Trusting in a lazy man, who cannot be trusted to complete the job, to complete the job is worse than not sending anyone at all. If you do not send anyone, at least you know task has not been done. But when you send a lazy man, you assume the task has been one when your confidence and trust are misplaced. Ultimately, the sender just wishes the lazy people were out of the way.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.927 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 10:27 and Ecc 8:12, how are the lives of the wicked shortened, when they are prolonged in Job 21:7?

A: In the most important way possible, every single unrepentant wicked person lives only a short time, because they will not have eternal life with God.

   On earth, while money cannot purchase more days of life, foolishness can cut short a life due to bad decisions. we see the lives of some wicked people shortened by violence, drugs, alcoholism, sin in general, etc. On the other hand, on earth we also see other wicked people who live a relatively long physical life before their judgment comes.

   See When Critics Ask p.258 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.587 for more info.

 

13. In Prov 10:28, how does the expectation of the wicked perish?

A: Here are a few examples. Alexandria the Great conquered from Illyria almost to India, yet he died when he was about 32 from what we think is malaria. Julius Caesar, who conquered all of France, was murdered by friends. Atila the Hun, who made Rome quake with fear, mysteriously died on his wedding night. Him executing his bride’s father the day before might have had something to do with it. Hitler and Saddam Hussein both were found hiding in bunkers.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.816 for more info.


 

Proverbs 11 – Good and Bad ways to Try to Get Ahead – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 11:1; Am 8:5; and Mic 6:11, what is a false balance here?

A: This was a very serious sin in the ancient world, and it still occurs in a different form today. A false balance is what a dishonest trader would use in measuring out grain or other things that were bought by weight. It is like a butcher in a grocery store weighing out your meat, with his finger on the scale.

   Today, when the buyer is told one thing about his purchase and given another, lesser thing, that is in effect using a false balance. Two slang terms for two types of sinful business behavior are “bait and switch”, and “shortchanging”.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.417-418, the New International Bible Commentary p.666 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.817 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 11:2, what does the word “pride” mean here?

A:This Hebrew word comes from the word to swell or to boil up, as in cooking. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.928, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.959, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.418 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 11:12, what are some ways people sin by despising their neighbors?

A: This word can also mean to deride, belittle, or cut down (verbally) your neighbor. Nothing is done for the glory of God out of people’s anger or spite.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.817, Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.236, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.961, for more info.

 

4. In Prov 11:14, how do good counsellors guide us?

A: The Hebrew word for guidance here refers to steering a ship. The till and rudder do not move the ship, they merely change the direction of an already moving ship. Steering a ship is crucial to avoid rocks that could sink it.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.929 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.962, for more info.

 

5. What does Prov 11:16 mean?

A: This short verse of opposites is complex because it has at least three complementary meanings.

1) People respect a kindhearted person, but they do not respect a ruthless person.

2) Among those who excel at being kind-hearted are many women. A majority of the ruthless people are men. Men need to watch out that they are not ruthless. Many men can be kind-hearted too, but that is the subject of Proverbs 11:17.

3) Being ruthless can in fact grab more worldly wealth than those who are kind-hearted, but respect and following God are a greater reward than just earthly riches.

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.929 says the word “kind-hearted” can also be translated as “gracious.

 

6. In Prov 11:22, why does the Bible [allegedly] compare women to pigs? (an atheist brought this up)

A: No, the Bible never says women are pigs. Rather, this verse says that an immoral woman, who is physically attractive, is similar to a gold ring in a pig’s nose. The gold nose ring was considered in that culture as beautiful jewelry. It looks beautiful, yet the entire person is unflattering. Moral ugliness combined with physical beauty is still moral ugliness. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.818, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.929, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.964 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 11:26, who would someone curse a person who hoards grain?

A: At the time when people most need what the person has to sell, they either take it off the market or price it extravagantly to profit from the misery of others. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.965 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 11:28, how do people trust in riches?

A: Some trust in their own riches to protect them or bring them happiness. Some know that their wealth does not bring happiness, but they fear that without wealth they would have certain unhappiness. Some see that riches really do buy friends, but they need to ask if those are the kinds of friends they want. Some people might not be rich, but if they become rich, then they think all their problems would be solved.

   If you are going to trust in riches, trust in true, eternal riches in Heaven, not the petty riches of this earth.

 

9. In Prov 11:29, how do some people trouble their own house?

A: It is easy for everyone to see, except perhaps themselves, how alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, the greedy, and jerks trouble their own family. They stir up discord in their family, and usually they and the family suffer because of it. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.819, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.966, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.930 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 11:31, how are the righteous rewarded in this life, as well as the next?

A: In a simple, non-supernatural way, it is easy to see that righteous people, who do not use drugs, get drunk, hurt their lungs, or risk sexual disease on average live healthier and longer lives on earth than those who do those things. Righteous people who do not spend their time chasing after those things have more time and energy for other things. Righteous people who do not spend money on evil things have more money to invest and use.

   In addition, God watches over the righteous, and nothing bad happens to them, except what He permits for His glory. See When Critics Ask p.246 for more info.

 


 

Proverbs 12 – Comparing the Wise and Foolish – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 12:1 and Ps 92:6, what does “stupid” or “brutish” mean?

A: The Hebrew word bā’ar means unthinking, unfeeling, or animal-like. Most animals do not consider the consequences of their actions past a day. Even ants, that store up food for winter, do so by instinct, not by deliberate thought. Just think how many things humans do without considering the consequences. Imagine if you had the ability, not to get people to see things they could not otherwise see, but simply for everyone to think carefully about the consequences of their actions. With just that one change, what a different world it would be!

 

2. In Prov 12:4, how is a virtuous woman a crown to her husband?

A: She not only honors and respects her husband, but her character brings honor and respect to her husband and family. Also, Proverbs 31:28-30 show that a good husband and children are appreciative of her and give her honor and praise, both to her and before others.

   A church leader one time said he was interviewing three potential candidates to hire for the role of a pastor. All three of the men were godly teachers, and it was hard to pick between them. Then he interviewed their wives. Then the choice of which one to pick became very easy.

 

3. In Prov 12:8f, what is a warped or perverse heart?

A: The Hebrew word here means “bent”, “crooked” or “twisted”. When you push one end of a twisted stick right, the other end might go up, or down. When you want to move in one direction, such as to make you happy, the other end moves in the opposite direction. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.931 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 12:10, how should a believer treat animals?

A: It is good to be kind to animals and take care of their needs. We should have respect for God’s creation. Here is a synopsis of what the Bible teaches.

Use a livestock is fine and beast of burden is fine.

Using an animal as a pet is fine.

Killing animals is OK. (Leviticus 3:8; 4:24; 5:8; 8:18; Numbers 7:71; John 21:12; Acts 10:12-13; etc.)

Eating animals is OK in Genesis 9:3; Leviticus 10:17; 11:9,22, John 21:6-13, Acts 10:12-13; etc.)

Threshing animals had the “right” to nibble grain, benefitting from the fruit of their labor in Deuteronomy 25:4.

Torture is not OK.

Under the Mosaic law even the cattle were not supposed to work on the Sabbath in Exodus 20:10 and 23:12.

You should help an animal in Deuteronomy 22:1-4, even if it belongs to an enemy in Exodus 23:3-4.

Respect the blood of the animal in Genesis 9:4 and Acts 15:29.

You can take bird’s eggs, but don’t take both the mother and the eggs in Deuteronomy 22:6-7

Respect motherhood; do not boil a goat in its mother’s milk.

Fools do not even know how to take care of their own animals.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.820, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.419, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.931, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.969 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 12:11, what does fantasy, i.e., following worthless things, do to a person?

A: Rather than being content with what meets their needs, it gives them an unfulfilled or unfulfillable longing for worthless things they do not actually need. They believe the lie that they are missing out on what would give them ultimate happiness, when the truth is that it ultimately would not make them any happier at all.

 

6. In Prov 12:13, how can a person be ensnared by their own words?

A: There are a few ways.

Unintentional rash talking, where you unintentionally cause harm or reveal a secret. For example, when actors and actresses give press interviews, it is in their contract what they are able to say and not allowed to say (such as spoiling the end of a movie). Rarely, an actor might mess up, and then they lose a lot of money.

Making foolish commitments can put you “on the hook” for things that you later regret and are of no benefit to you. A friend of mine, who was in the navy, said she got so many marriage proposals from her sailor patients, - who were drunk.

When lying, you have to remember things multiple ways. You have to remember that you told person A one thing, but you told person B a different thing. When A tells his friends, and B tells his friends, you had better hope that A and B don’t have any friends in common, or else you are busted and to trusted again.

   See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.257-258 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.970 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 12:15, how is the way of a fool right in his own eyes?

A: A foolish person usually is unaware of his or her foolishness. In one survey, business managers were asked to rate themselves, on which “decile” they were in as managers. Over 90% of the managers rated themselves as in the top 10% of managers. Actually, they probably were all correct, at least based on their own criteria. The book of Judges tells of a dark period in Israel’s history, when “each man did what was right in his own eyes.”

 

8. In Prov 12:16, how are we to overlook insults?

A: This does not mean to be unaware of them, but to ignore them, control your response, and forgive the person. Sometimes what is intended as helpful constructive criticism can be taken wrongly as an insult. It is better first to ask permission to give feedback. However, one should not let another cause others to despise you; Proverbs 12:16 should be balanced with 1 Timothy 4:11, where Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because he is young.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.820, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.931, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.971 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 12:18, how are reckless words like the piercing of a sword?

A: These are words that were not intended to hurt, or not intended to produce the consequences that happened. Rather, they were carelessly spoken, and the speaker unintentionally and thoughtlessly brought on those consequences. Proverbs 12:23 says that a fool just blurts out folly. Be careful with your words, because we will be judged for every careless word in Matthew 12:36. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.971 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.931-932 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 12:21, how does no harm come to the righteous?

A: Many wicked people receive some punishment in this life as a natural consequence of their actions. For example, more gang members are killed by other gang members than others. In general, the righteous escape consequence of wicked actions if they are not participating. However, sometimes the righteous are unjustly harmed by the wicked.

   Sometimes the righteous are afflicted by Satan, but God will vindicate them, reward them in Heaven, and sometimes also reward them on earth.

   See When Critics Ask p.247-248 and Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.226 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 12:22 and 6:16-19, how is lying different than other sins?

A: God does not want us to do any sin. However, these verses say that lying lips are especially an abomination, hateful to God. In Psalms 120:2 the Psalmist asks God to deliver him from lying tongues. You can do foolish things if you trust in a lie. If someone lies to you and you don’t realize it, even if you are wise, it can still cause you to do foolish things.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.821 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 12:26, how should we be cautious in friendship, and how should we not be?

A: The Hebrew phrase can mean “is cautious in friendship” or it can mean “examines friendships”. If your friends lead you away from God, and to do wicked things, and make your love towards God grow cold, then you need new friends. We should be cautious with friends who might get us in trouble, slander or gossip about us (or others), or otherwise backstab us. On the other hand, we should not choose friends based on their wealth, ethnic background, or what they can do for us.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.932 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.973 for more info.


 

Proverbs 13 – The Wise Child vs. the Foolish – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 13:1,18 how would you define the virtue of teachability?

A: Primary it is both the ability and desire to learn more about something, as opposed to either refusal or apathy. Secondarily, it also means knowing what to spend time wanting to learn, vs. things that are not worth spending time on. A person is not teachable if they already think they know best about everything.

   Finally, if a person is disciplined for something they should be disciplined for, is that the last time, because they will learn the lesson, or will they need to be disciplined for the same thing over and over?

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.974,980 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.821 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 13:2, how does a wise man eat the fruit of his lips?

A: Good things come to a wise man from his words. In contrast, the unfaithful want to take things that do belong to them; perhaps in part because their words are not getting them anywhere.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.975 for more info.

 

3. What is Prov 13:7 pointing out?

A: Often people are not what they seem. They can put on a façade. And this works in multiple ways. The term “unpretentious” means not to put on a false front, but what people see is what is really there.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.976 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 13:8, what does it mean that a poor man does not hear a threat from which a rich man ransoms his life?

A: This proverb is a favorite of mine. From the viewpoint of a rich man, riches are very important for security. They can ransom his life if he is kidnapped or threatened with death unless he pays.

   However, useful riches may appear, a not-so-rich person is in many ways much more secure than a rich person, because nobody wants to kidnap or threaten him.

   There is a more general principle illustrated here. Sometimes we insist on holding on to something because we are afraid, and having more of it appears to give us more security. However, if we let go, we can genuinely have even greater security. It is not talking about God doing miracles in this verse, only an unforeseen reward of prudent and generous living.

   All can agree that a starving person who gets some money feels more secure than a starving person with no money. So, more money always means more security and less worry, right? - Wrong. Consider the following: an expensive antique vase, an expensive car with a new paint job), an expensive house, more money in the investments. Without God giving direction to your life, each of these things can actually increase your worry, not decrease it.

   A wealthy man might be able to ransom himself or his family from kidnappers, but a poor man has no threat to worry about. Likewise, the more wealth you have, the more of a target you might be for not just kidnappers, but con-men and legitimate salesmen.

   We need to stop thinking of wealth as a blessing. Wealth can be used to bring blessings, but it can also bring sorrow and make you a target too, if you are not careful.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.823, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.933, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.593-594 for similar answers.

 

5. In Prov 13:10, how can you hear advice in a way that does not breed a quarrel?

A: There are at least five types of responses for advice you have be given.

Already going to do: For what you think is good advice, but you were already going to do that anyway, don’t be impatient. Thank them for their advice, says that you were going to follow that, and everything should be fine. Don’t tell them that they changed your mind, because that would not be honest.

Good to do: For what you think is good advice, and you had not considered before, thank them for helping you, and you can let them know that their words changed your plans.

Not good to do: For what you think is either bad advice, or else not the best advice, you can thank them for their advice but honestly tell them you are not going to do it and the reasons why. If you don’t say anything, and they assume you are going to do it, when they find out later that you did not that can cause problems. They will wonder if it is worthwhile to talk with you at all, since you gave the impression you agree and are going to do something, when in fact you won’t.

You need to think it over more: You can not sure if it is best for you to do or not. Tell them thanks you for your advice, and you will consider it.

Really terrible advice: This advice might have been given in complete ignorance, and perhaps even if they should have known better. Or, this advice was given, not to help you, but for an ulterior motive. This can be advice given to you privately or publicly. You should make it clear to everyone who hears that you are not going to follow that advice, and the reason why. Some people might not want to hear that, but at least they will know why.

 

6.. In Prov 13:12, how do deferred and fulfilled hope affect us?

A: Many people can go on a long time, under very difficult circumstances if they have hope and can see and end and purpose for their sufferings. But when there is no hope but despair, people can stop doing even what they need to do, and just give up. But Christians should always have hope, of the gift of eternal life in Heaven. That being said, sometimes believers have to hope for a long time. Abraham and Sarah hoped for a son for so long. Hannah hoped for a son, until she had Samuel. Elizabeth and Zechariah were childless, but in their own age they had John the Baptist. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.978 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 13:14, 14:27f, 29:6,25; Rom 7:11, Ex 23:3; Dt 7:16; how do wise words rescue from the snares of death?

A: The image here is that death is a hunter, setting traps for the careless. Wise words point out the traps, and tell how to go around them.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.979, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.933, and the New International Bible Commentary p.668 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 13:20 and 1 Cor 15:33, how can merely being the companion of foolish people cause harm?

A: If you think of yourself as one of them, then as a man thinks in his heart so is he. As they continue to give you advice, and shape your thinking, you will become more like them anyway. As the things that are precious to their heart become previous to your heart, you will be changed to be like them too.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.980, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.593, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.934 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 13:22, since we can give money to God, to what extent should believers leave an inheritance to their children?

A: 1 Timothy 5:8 shows we must provide for the needs of our family. Leaving an inheritance is good according to Proverbs 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14; and in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:12,31. However, we do not need to give so much that they do not have to work the rest of their life. We should also give generously to the Lord’s work (Proverbs 3:9; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-8; 9:6-12; Haggai 1:3-11). It is also good to give each child (male and female) the same amount to reduce any resentment. See When Critics Ask p.499-500 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.975 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 13:23, what are three different ways that injustice can sweep abundance away?

A: First, obviously unjust people, government, or laws can take away the money, yearly harvest, or permanently take away land.

Second, the formerly hard-working person can lose their motivation to work for what they think will just be taken away in the future; - even if it will not be.

Third, when other people see the injustice, it can demotivate them to work too.

 

11. In Prov 13:23, what are ways to become wealthy by taking advantage of the poor?

A: Someone can take advantage of the poor in a number of ways.

Threats: Besides regular threats of violence there are more subtle threats. Some companies in the United States hire foreign workers on H1B visas, and then pay them less than the regular rate, and exploit them, because they know how difficult it would be for the worker to start over on the visa process with another employer. Sometimes unscrupulous people exploit illegal immigrants because they think they won’t report it for fear of being deported.

Exploiting Loans: Loans are not necessarily bad. However, some banks, when people with loans get behind on their payments, the bank gives encouragement and promises to the people to encourage them to pay back as much as possible. And then, when they are almost caught up, the bank swoops in and forecloses the property or vehicle, and can sell it as a sweetheart deal to someone else.

Ignorance: they can take advantage of poor people, not paying what they owe, or getting out of a contract because of some condition, that might not stand in court, but the poor person does not know that.

Laws: Sometimes laws are passed that unfairly penalize people without money, but not people with money. As a simple example, most people have to pay income tax on their earnings. Thus, every year, they have to pay tax on their profits, and can only re-invest the after-tax profits. But wealthier people can put most of the income in a trust, and then only pay tax when they take money out of the trust. So, they still have to pay taxes on the profits, but they can re-invest their pre-tax profits.

Desperation: When a poor person has a desperate need for money, whether for a medical condition or some other reason, then a wealthier person might make a very lowball offer for something, because they know that the poor person is desperate.

   See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.594 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 13:23, what are ways to become wealthy without taking advantage of the poor?

A: There are many ways, and many wealthy people, who have not taken advantage of the poor.

Fair business dealings: You can still do business with poor people. In fact, it is to their advantage that people do business with them. But do business assuming they are financially OK, and not that they might be poor or desperate. Sometimes poor people lose their homes to a bank, which resells the foreclosed homes and only pays a small amount back to the bankrupt family. But if you were to buy the home instead, at a much higher price than then the foreclosure value, but still get a good deal, that is better for the poor person as well as good for you.

Honor your Commitments: Honestly honor your commitments and agreed upon wages and prices, even when you think the person would have no ability to fight if you did try to rip them off.

Fair trade and fair market value: Even if you know the person is in a desperate situation, while you can get a good price, it is wrong to take advantage of their desperation.

 

13. In Prov 13:24, what are proper and improver ways to discipline our children?

A: Discipline should contain both instruction and correction. But before you discipline your child, consider carefully why you are disciplining them the way you want to. Is it to vent your own anger; to do to your kids what your parents did to you? To make you feel better? Is it just to show other people how tough you are, and that you won’t stand for that? These are all bad reasons. They one and only reason to discipline your child is for their benefit. If you have lost your temper, it is perfectly fine to tell your child “I am going to punish you, but not right now; let’s wait until I cool down first.” It is important to be consistent, and not based on your mood that day.

   You want to discipline them to give them “encouragement” not to try doing that again. But be careful not to exasperate your children, as Ephesian 6:4 warns. But you do not want the discipline to be so severe that you crush their spirit; they want to give up, or they don’t think that you love them anymore.

   The best form of discipline can vary depending on the age of the child and the circumstances. There is a place for physical discipline, but any physical discipline should not give any permanent damage. A couple of centuries ago parents would sometimes “box the ears” of their kids. Sometimes this could result in permanent hearing loss. Sometimes disciple can be “time-out, but perhaps the number of minutes should be proportional to how old the child is. Sometimes the punishment can be logical consequences. For example, if a teenager drives irresponsibly, and due to their own foolishness wrecks their car, then the logical consequence is that they don’t have a car to drive. Don’t short circuit them learning a needed lesson by buying them another car.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.934, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.824 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.593-594 for more info.

 

14. What does Prov 13:25 promise to the righteous?

A: It actually does not promise that they will be able to eat fancy or expensive food. Rather, it simply promises that the food they eat will leave them content.


 

Proverbs 14 – If You Aren’t Building Up… – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 14:1, how do people sometimes foolishly tear down their own house?

A: Five ways are priorities, ignorance of evil consequences, destructive behaviors, greed, and spite.

Priorities: It is possible for a spouse to be so involved in organizations, the church, or ministry that the spouse neglects their children and mate. It is possible be so devoted to making money for the family that they lose the family.

Ignorance of evil consequences: They don’t want to tear down what they have worked for. But they are doing evil things, and they are not aware that as a person sows he reaps, and it will come back to haunt them.

Destructive behaviors: They might be aware that they are destroying their future, and the future of those around them, and they are not trying to do that, but their destructive addition has control of them. They might even see what is happening, but their stubbornness keeps them from changing before it is too late.

Greed: They are willing to risk all they have for the hope, however faint, of something better. Think of the gambler who goes to the casino and bets the entire investment in his house and loses. Proverbs 15:27 speaks of this.

Spite: This is different than the others. The person might be fully aware that they are burning up their future, so to speak, but they feel it is worth it in order to get back at someone else.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.824 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 14:4, why is the manger empty when there are no oxen?

A: This is a classic paradox. Since oxen eat the hay in a manger, one might think the manger would be always full without the oxen. However, with no oxen to plow, there is no food or forage, and thus the manger is empty.

   Proverbs 14:28 has a related thought. “A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.” (NIV)

   Spend your money investing in what can give you an abundant harvest. Do not spend it on things where there is little possibility of a harvest. And when you have prosperity, remember those responsible for your prosperity, and give generously to them.

   See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.292, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.825, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.595, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.934 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 14:6, why would a mocker seek wisdom?

A: This is truly unusual in Proverbs, to find a type of fool that seeks wisdom. As The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.934-935 says, his problem is not lack of desire, but rather of not fearing the Lord. It is not enough to want to follow God; you have to be willing to follow God on His terms, not your own.

 

4. In Prov 14:7, when should you be friends with a foolish person and when not?

A: Proverbs 14:7 says not to be friends with a foolish person (kesil); you will not gain knowledge from them, and they might influence you for the worse. But if someone is just ignorant, like a child, then you can help teach them. But if a person is not amenable to being taught, and they are not wise, then they will do you no good. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.825 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.935 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 14:9, why do fools mock at sin?

A: The Christian theologian and poet John Bunyon said it well. “They know not that it is the very spell - Of sin, to make them laugh themselves to hell.” See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.825 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 14:10 and 1 Ki 8:38, how does each person know their own bitterness and joy?

A: Each person knows that might plague them are make them bitter (marah), and they might not share it with others or might lie about what bothers them. The same goes for joy (simhah). Thus, we can never have perfect fellowship with someone else until we get to heaven.

   So, we can sympathize with another person, and we can empathize with some of how they feel, but we should not presume to tell someone we know exactly how they feel, because we cannot.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.419, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.296-297 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.985 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 14:14, how does God reward both the fool and the transgressor?

A: God gives them their “wages”, in other words, what they deserve. The NIV says the faithless will be “repaid”. Think of the bitterness of the prodigal son, who said in Luke 15:17, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.826 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 14:15, how are some people gullible in believing every word today?

A: A simple person (peti) does not question anything that comes from a source they blindly trust. Someone once said, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” We might have blind areas in our life, that are obvious to others, but we cannot see because we have chosen to overlook those areas. WE need God’s word and other people to help us, or rather remind us, to look what those spots. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.986 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.595for more info.

 

9. In Prov 14:17,29, 15:18, why are some people quick-tempered, and how can a person overcome it?

A: the Hebrew phrase, qesar-ruah, literally mans “hasty of spirit”. The quick-tempered man, in the moment, does not consider the consequences, both immediate and future, or his anger. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.826, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.990, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.935 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 14:20, why does this verse mention that the poor are hated by their neighbors?

A: This verse does not say how things should be, but rather how they often are. It is sometimes hard to be poor, and Proverbs 14:21 says that despising your neighbor, especially a poor neighbor, is sin. A cynic would think it did not matter. A naïve idealist would think this rarely occurs. The Bible does not want us to be either a cynic nor a naïve idealist. One should not think they will enjoy God’s blessings if they despise others.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.988 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.935-936 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 14:21, how do those who devise evil go astray?

A: Often it is the due to the consequences of “flowback” of their own plans. People spend more time looking at the potential success of a plan, no matter how improbable, than mitigation and contingency if the plan fails. For example, if someone gave you odds to gamble a 50% chance to you could make one and a half times what you have, or a 50% chance to lose everything, would you take that? – no. Not only should you not gamble, it would be foolish odds. Yet many people who commit crimes do so for odds much worse than that, because they do not think about it.

 

12. In Prov 14:23, how does talk only lead to poverty?

A: Just talking can be a great waste of time. Furthermore, when you thinking you are going to do something, but end up not doing anything, there is lost opportunity cost, when you could have seized the opportunity but failed to do so.

 

13. In Prov 14:25, how does a true witness deliver souls?

A: A truthful witness prevents innocent people from being wrongfully punished or executed. In addition, a truthful witness also helps convict the guilty and prevent more crimes from being committed.

 

14. In Prov 14:26, how does a parent’s faith affect their kids and how does it not?

A: It is said that “God has no grandchildren.” In other words, you are either a child or God, or you are not. But you will not get to heaven because of your parents. Each person stands or falls on their own, as Ezekiel 18 teaches. We do not inherit either the guilt of our parents, nor their righteousness. However, we often live under the consequences of our parents’ actions, whether good or bad. If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol while pregnant, the child can be affected with what is called “fetal alcohol syndrome.” They can be more likely to become an alcoholic themselves, if they stat to drink alcohol. Or a child can learn God’s word, be raised in a godly way, and be kept from doing evil things, so parents do have an effect.

 

15. What does Prov 14:32 mean?

A: This proverb of contrasts starts with a similarity: calamity of the wicked and death of the righteous. The wicked, who are generally disliked might not be getting help in this life, prior to meeting great disaster in the next life. Even the righteous who die early have the support and care from God in the next life. Psalm 116:15 (NKJV) says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”.

 


 

Proverbs 15 – More About Words – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 15:1, how does a soft answer turn away wrath?

A: Meeting anger with anger only produces more strife. However, a soft answer shows you are not angry at them and implies you are reasonable and perhaps the other person did not have so much to be angry about after all. A soft answer here does not mean gentle words, but rather conciliatory words.

   There are two types of angry words in Hebrew, and the word here is not a rash, violent word”, but rather a cutting or wounding angry word. An example of angry words that led to war as Jephthah in Judges 12:1-6. Remember, a gentle response can defuse an explosive situation.

 Here is an illustration by Charles Spurgeon. “I once lived where my neighbor’s garden was divided from me only by a very imperfect hedge. He kept a dog, and his dog was a shockingly bad gardener, and did not improve my plants. So, one evening, while I walked alone, I saw this dog doing mischief and being a long way off, I threw a stick at him, with some earnest advice as to his going home. This dog, instead of going home, picked up my stick, and came to me with it in his mouth, wagging his tail. He dropped the stick at my feet and looked up to me most kindly. What could I do but pat him and call him a good dog, and regret that I had ever spoken roughly to him?” Quotes from the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.824 quotes from A. Naismith in 1200 More Notes, quotes and Anecdotes, p.239.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.420, the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 p.315-316, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.937, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.992 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 15:3, how should “the eyes of the Lord are everywhere” guide our life?

A: Whatever you do, remember that God is watching. There is no place you can go to hide from Him, as Psalm 139 says. On the other hand, no righteous deed is overlooked either. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.993, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.596 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.828 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 15:4, how can a wholesome tongue be healing, or a tree of life?

A: Good words can illuminate to guide, provide correction, encouragement, and even rebuke. They can pinpoint the disease and keep a person on the right track. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.993 and the New International Bible Commentary p.670 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 15:5,12,31-32, what are some examples of fools refusing to heed correction?

A: The word for correction in verse 12 means “rebuke” more than “correct”. A scoffer will only go to people for advice that he or she wants to hear. Or a scoffer might say that we all need to be positive, i.e. never give correction. But when a person does that, they are in a sense despising themselves. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.937-938, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.993,995, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.830, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.829 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 15:16-17, how is being with friends more important than wealth?

A: As an example, imagine going to a simple, close-by resort with family, especially ones you have not seen in a long time. Hopefully it is a warm, happy feeling. Now imagine going to on a very expensive vacation, not in a tour group but alone, where the staff all seem to resent you. In which place will you have the better time?

   See and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.996-997 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.829 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 15:19, how is the way of the sluggard blocked with thorns?

A: There are two different answers, and both can be true.

Apparent blockage: The sluggard sees blocks, i.e., reasons that he cannot do something, everywhere, even where they do not exist.

Real blockage: There are genuine blocks in his way to go forward now, due to his lack of prior preparation and the other things he should have done but did not get around to doing.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.997 and the New International Bible Commentary p.670 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 15:21, how is foolishness a joy to a foolish person?

A: Just as a pig enjoys wallowing in its pig pen, a foolish person enjoys their sin, - at least for a while. An alcoholic can tell you how great a particular drink is. A drug addict can tell you how great a particular drug feels, etc. But the true measure is not how it feels now, but what are the consequences in the end. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.830 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 15:22-23, 11:14; 20:18; 24:6, how do you know if you have enough advisors, or else too many?

A: The key point is not the number of questionable quality advisors, but do you have multiple good and wise advisors, who are genuinely looking out for your welfare. It is better to have one less advisor than to have a foolish advisor.

   In verse 23, you might ask yourself, how many people are you currently a good advisor for?

 

9. In Prov 15:23 and Isa 50:4, in contrast to a wise word, what is a timely word?

A: A timely word is a wise word that is also spoken at the proper time. There can be a right and wrong time to say some things. Isaiah 50:4 speaks of giving a word at the right time to the weary. People, as they are, often are more receptive to taking wise advice at certain times then at others. Try to pick a good time. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.831 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 15:25 and Jms 4:6, what is the warning for us here about pride?

A: Most proud people don’t think of themselves as proud. We should carefully examine if there is any way we might be coming across to others as proud. We should also examine our heart, and see and repent if there is any way where we think we are more important than others, contrary to Philippians 2:3. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.596 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 15:27, how are some “greedy for gain”?

A: Desiring wealth is not bad, but sacrificing your family or others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to get it is bad. The Hebrew word for greed “to cut or break off” also suggest unjust gain or violence. Greedy also implies a get rich quick scheme. The number of people who think they have found a way to get rich quick is far, far larger than those who been able to get rich quickly. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.939 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 15:29, what is fitting justice in the ironic statement here?

A: A punishment of the wicked is that the Lord will be far from them. Actually, though the wicked want the Lord to be far from them, not realizing how desolate their future will be. See the New International Bible Commentary p.671 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.830 for more info.

 

13. In Prov 15:33, how does humility come before honor?

A: Humility before the Lord comes before honor by the Lord. On the other hand, pride leads to destruction, as Proverbs 18:12 says. James 4:10 says to humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will life you up. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1001 for more info.

Proverbs 16 – The Lord is in Charge of Our Ways – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 16:1, how does the reply of the tongue come from the Lord?

A: The word Yahweh, occurs nine times in the first eleven verses, so this section is contrasting our plans and behaviors with God’s plans. A person might think one thing, but for better or worse, what might come out of their mouth might be different. In general, people might plan one thing, but God can frustrate their plans, or “man proposes but God disposes.”

Balaam was going to say one thing, but God had him say another (Numbers 22:38; 23:7-10).

Caiaphas spoke a prophecy he did not intend to speak in John 11:49-52.

 See the New International Bible Commentary p.672, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.830-831, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1002, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.596, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.940 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 16:3, will every work of ours succeed if we commit it to the Lord?

A: That is like saying if a child politely asks a parent’s permission before doing something, will the please parent always say “yes”? - Of course not.

   See and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.940 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 16:4-5, how did God work the wicked for the day of disaster?

A: As we sow, we reap. If people sow evil things, they often will not reap immediately, or even for a few years after, but God will ensure that there will be payment. Fortunately, there is forgiveness as the cross! This verse is the flipside of Romans 8:28, where God works everything together for good for those who love Him. Ephesians 1:11 says that God works everything together as a part of His plan. Thus, even the fact that evil people are punished and sent to Hell is part of God’s plan.

The day of evil is not one specific 24-hour period, but rather “when disastrous days come.”

   See When Critics Ask p.247-248 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1003 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 16:6, how do we depart from evil?

A: We have to stop taking God causally and take Him seriously. We have to want to depart from evil. But when a person first tries to depart from evil, the discover something; it is very hard for them to do so because they are addicted to it. Bu what is impossible with men is possible with God (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27).

   See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.597 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 16:10 why is it important that we speak well?

A: Even if a political leader says a lot of good things and a few really foolish things, his opponents will publish far and wide the foolish things. For example, during the 2020 election I saw an election sign that said, “Vote for Biden, he won’t put bleach in your veins.” Was that fair? -no. Was that preventable by the president not talking about injecting something like bleach as a possible cure for COVID? -yes. When the people went to Rehoboam and asked for relief from the forced labor, and Rehoboam replied “my little finger is bigger than my father’s waist”, was Rehoboam even thinking about having the support of the people? No, and that would come back to haunt him, when ten of the twelve tribes broke away to form their own kingdom.

   Whenever we are in a position to speak from authority, or where our words will be amplified, either for good or ill, we need to be very careful of what we say. Sometimes it might make us feel good to make a strong statement. But we need to decided if we want to say things that feel good, or if we instead of that want to say what is best in the situation.

 

6. In Prov 16:13, how do those in authority especially take pleasure in honest lips?

A: Even wicked people are happy with those who speak honestly to them. But a good “king” and all Christians, male and female, are in a sense kings and priests, take pleasure in people who speak honestly to all.

    We should also recognize that for those in high positions of authority, it can be very difficult to know the truth because everything fed to them can be “spun”, distorted, or only a partial truth. It would be a breath of fresh air, not for someone just to speak honestly, but that they could know they could trust someone to always speak honestly to them.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1006 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 16:14, as a believer who speaks honestly, when and how should we appease or mollify others?

A: There is a time and a place to appease others, and a time and place where we must not. First the when, then the how.

Timing on when to appease: Someone in authority might have sudden anger for crazy reasons. Even someone you love might be very angry at you because of an accusation they heard about you; and the accusation is not true. Finally, someone might be made or disappointed in you for doing wrong, and you really did wrong. Don’t give them a “fake repentance”; but consider if you really should genuinely repent.

How to appease: don’t compromise the truth. Without lying, we should try to speak a soft answer to calm the situation. Where there are genuine differences, we might emphasize the common ground that we agree on. We might present our differences in such as tone as to imply that we can disagree and still be friends. Appeasing also includes leaving unsaid things that should be left unsaid.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1007 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 16:18, how does pride go before destruction?

A: As a tall tree attracts lightning the one who stands tallest is a most visible target for those who seek to build themselves up by bringing others down. In a sense we are all lightning rods; it comes with the territory of being a Christian. But there is no need to try to stand taller than you already are.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.832 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 16:25; 14:12, how can a way that seems right to a person lead unto death?

A: Can you imagine a person, standing before the Great White Throne Judgment, and telling God “I tried to follow everything in Your book.” And God responding to Him “You deceived and self-deceived fool! You followed the wrong book!” Think of all the people who rejected the genuine Jesus, because of what the Qur’an, Buddhist scripture, Vedas, or some Satanic Bible. It is not enough to believe a book was inspired; they need to ask “inspired by whom?”, as there are probably over a hundred counterfeit book out there someone has claimed as scripture. Whatever you may say about Satan, you can’t say he was lazy about this. In the dark times of the Book of Judges it repeats the refrain: “each man did what was right in his own eyes.”

   This verse also says “the way” leads to death. We know that God will punish wickedness, but on top of that consider this: the wicked often punish themselves.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1010 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 16:26, what are some ways that being hungry, physically or otherwise, can be a positive motivation?

A: When you are hungry for something, you are more willing to overcome obstacles, work harder, take risks, and single-mindedly pursue your goal. When you are not, it is often too easy to get distracted, or discourage from getting what you really did not want very much anyway. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1010 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 16:27, what are some examples of the sin of plotting evil?

A: Even plotting revenge is a sin, even if you do not go through with it. Planning how you would get revenge, how you would pull off a “heist” and steal something, get away with an immoral activity, or the best way to kill someone and get away with it are all sins, even if the person never gets past the planning stage. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1010 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 16:31, how is gray hair considered a splendid crown?

A: A righteous person with gray hair can mean a person who has walked with God for a very long time. Of course, this does not include old evil people, or an old person who just came to the Lord recently. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1012 for more info.

 

13. In Prov 16:32, who is a person who controls himself greater than a person who takes a city?

A: As an example, the Russian Czar Peter the Great, in a fit of rage, struck his gardener. A few days later the gardener died. Peter said, “Alas, I have conquered other nations, but I have not been able to conquer myself!’ (Durbanville, Henry, Winsome Christianity (1953) p.41. Taken from the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.834.

 

14. In Prov 16:33, should we cast lots for things?

A: This verse is not recommending casting lots. Rather, it points out that lots and other things can appear to be random chance, but God can move them as He wishes. If someone does cast lots, make sure you give a choice for God not to respond. For example, if you are flipping a coin, and heads means “God says yes”, and tails means “God says no”, what if God did not choose to answer, and you are putting words into God’s mouth?

   Proverbs 16 started with a statement about God’s sovereignty, and it concludes with a statement about God’s sovereignty.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.331-332 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1012 for more info.

 


 

Proverbs 17 – Contrasting Wisdom and Foolishness – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 17:1, why is dry bread better than sacrifices?

A: First of all, this is not stale bread, but dry toast (called zwieback) when you do not even have any olive oil or butter for it. The source of much of the meat of Israelites was from the sacrifices. So, the point was plan bread in peace was better than a meal of meat from the sacrifice where there is strife. But the application of this goes far beyond meals and eating. It is better to have modest support or wealth, without trouble, than to have great riches accompanied with great stress and troubles. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.942, the New International Bible Commentary p.673, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.834 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 17:2, how does a wise servant rule over a disgraceful son?

A: In ancient times a servant usually could not be accepted as a son for inheritance or other purposes. Notable exceptions are Abram’s banker Eliezar in Genesis 15:3; the slave who married into Judah and became an Israelite in 1 Chronicles 2:35; and Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba in 2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30. However, Roman family tombs show servants buried with honor with the rest of the family.

   In subsequent times Solomon’s family would know about this well. Solomon’s foolish son Rehoboam only retained control of Judah, while Solomon’s former servant Jeroboam became king of all of the northern tribes.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1-13 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.942 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 17:3, why are we compared to gold and silver here?

A: Technically speaking, we are not just compared to silver and gold here, but rather to silver and gold ore. Both ores do not look like much, except that they might have some streaks of the potential of what they could be. But with the refining process, the dross is melted away, and what is left is pure and valuable. It is interesting to think that the refining process to turn lackluster ore into precious metals actually adds nothing of value whatsoever to the silver and gold ore. The entire value of refining is in what it takes away.

   If you have become a Christian, and you have some natural gifts, and God gives you some spiritual gifts to serve, that is great, but that is only part of the story. The other part is what God needs to refine and prune, to take away, so that you can serve Him better.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.942 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.834 for more info.

 

4. In Prov 17:5, does injustice cause poverty, or does laziness as Prov 10:4; 20:13; 21:17 say?

A: Both are true because poverty has multiple causes. We are to help the poor regardless of whether their poverty is due to coming from a destitute family, injustice, or poor decisions. The only exceptions are that

a) We are not to help those who refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

b) Do not throw money away by giving it to those who would be foolish with the money (Proverbs 17:16), and

c) Do not help those who do wicked things (2 John 10-11).

See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.156 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 17:8, 21:14 is bribery OK, or are bribes are wrong and corrupt as Ex 23:8, Dt 16:19, 17:25, and Ecc 7:7 say?

A: According to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary p.1016 the Hebrew word used here, sohad, is never used of a disinterested gift. Thus, it might be a gift, but it is a gift where the giver is expecting something in return. This word is also used in Isaiah 1:23. There are gifts and there are bribes. Gifts are OK; bribes are not. Here is the difference

Gifts: Gifts can be open, or they can be in secret. They are not given to subvert justice, but out of love, or else to pacify someone’s anger at a real or imagined wrong (Proverbs 21:14). If a powerful king were about the attack a smaller kingdom, the weaker king might buy him off with tribute, and that is OK on the part of the weaker king.

   In some cultures, a future husband paying the family of the bride a “bride-price” or dowry” is not unbiblical. In Roman times, many Romans government leaders had to pay bribes to get their position. That money was not lost, as they could collect it as taxes from the area they controlled. In Catholicism, many Popes and cardinals paid a great deal of money to obtain their positions. These were not secret gifts, so this technically would be a gift, not a secret bribe. However, this was still despicable to pay money to obtain a position in the Catholic Church.

Bribes: can be for extortion or to secretly change a decision on a matter (Ecclesiastes 7:7). The matter might be legal, a business buying decision, or a grade in school. Some bribes are primarily to ensure that a decision is made in your favor, when the outcome otherwise is either unknown or certainly unfavorable.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.286-287, the New International Bible Commentary p.673, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.942 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 17:9, what is wrong about repeating a past matter?

A: Remembering some past events, and keeping on repeating it to others, has destroyed marriages and friendships. Sometimes true friendship is remembering things; sometimes true friendship is forgetting things and never bringing them up again. You can share something very intimate with a close friend, and have confidence that they will never repeat it. As The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.598 says, “A godly friend wants to lift you out of the mud – not leave you in it.” See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.834, the New International Bible Commentary p.673, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1016 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 17:12, why can a fool be more dangerous than a mother bear robbed of her cubs?

A: The analogy is interesting, because it is actually the male bear that is larger, stronger, and potentially more dangerous. However, a bear, male or female, typically will not attack you unless it is hungry and thinks you would make a good dinner. But, if a female bear is missing her cubs, and she has any suspicion that it was you who took them, she will aggressively attack until you are dead or she sees her cubs. If she thinks a larger, stronger, male bear took her cubs, she will go after the male bear.

   So as the female bear’s danger is not as much in her size and strength relative to a male, but rather that she will not rest until she destroys her target. Some fools are like that; they will do anything, even to their own harm, to get someone who they think has done them wrong.

 See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.835 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.943 for more info.

 

8. In Prov 17:14, how can starting a quarrel be like breaching a dam?

A: Even the smallest crack in a dam, if it keeps on getting bigger, can cause failure of the dam and destruction to all who are in the path of the watery consequences. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.942, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.835, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1018 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 17:15, what is the difference between justifying the wicked, which God hates, and being merciful to people?

A: Justifying the wicked means saying the sin is OK, no restitution is needed, and no repentance or forgiveness is necessary. God hates injustice, either way, but God is merciful and often asks us to show mercy. Being merciful acknowledges that the sin was wrong, restitution may be paid, and offering full forgiveness to one who repents. Repent means saying you’re sorry, committing to not repeating the offense, making amends as needed, and asking forgiveness. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1018 for more info.

 

10. In Prov 17:17, how does a friend love at all times?

A: Of course, if a friend did not love you, he or she would not be a friend anymore, but that is not the point here. One is a brother or sister by birth, but a friend by choice. Those who love by choice can be closer than brothers or sisters, who might or might not love by choice.

A sycophant is someone who is a friend, perhaps even a close friend, but a friend only for the advantages they get from you. As one narcissistic person said, figure out which friends don’t do you any good and drop them. Consider not just what you can get, but more importantly what you can give. Friends are for building meaningful and enjoyable relationships with. As one person said, some people use things and love people. Others love things and use people. Hopefully your heart is not so small, and lonely, that you are the last way.

   We should not try to be “lone ranger Christians”, but rely on other Christians for friendship, help, and support. Likewise, other Christians should be confident they can rely on you for that.

   See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.598 and the New International Bible Commentary p.674 for more info.

 

11. In Prov 17:18, what is wrong with striking/shaking hands to make a commitment?

A: In our culture this would mean a handshake to signify committing to an agreement. There is nothing wrong with striking hands, shaking hands, or signing an agreement. Rather, this verse is a very important warning not to make any commitment lightly or foolishly.

   Putting this verse right after verse 17, shows that we are to love, but we should still have discernment.

   Here is a catastrophic example of making a commitment and then backing out. Pennzoil and Getty had a ratified (but not yet finalized) agreement to purchase Getty Oil. Then Getty backed out wen Texaco came in with a higher offer. In 1985 a jury awarded $10.53 billion for Texaco to pay Pennzoil because of reneging on an agreement. Later they settled for “merely” $3 billion.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.836 for more info.

 

12. In Prov 17:19, how does a person who loves transgression love strife?

A: The truth of this verse has at least two applications.

Towards God: All transgression is sin, which involves a broken relationship with God. Think about it: whenever you deliberately sin, at that moment you are valuing that sin above your relationship with God.

Towards others: When people wrong others, either they do not care how others react, or sometimes wicked people might even enjoy the strife and bad feelings they cause.

 

13. In Prov 17:21, why does having a foolish child bring such grief to a parent?

A: Foolish here means wicked and making foolish choices. A godly parent loves their child, wants what is best for their child, wants to be proud of their child, and ultimately wants their child to be with God forever. If the child does rejecting God, the child did not get what was best for them, their child’s life had no lasting meaning, and they will be separated form their child for eternity. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1020 for more info.

 

14. In Prov 17:27-28, how is it wisdom to restrain and temper what you say?

A: The Hebrew literally means “sparing of words”. Don’t say everything you want to say, whether out of anger, jealousy, or other strong emotion. Simply say what is best for the situation, while still being truthful, and then keep the rest to yourself.  And sometimes the wisest thing to do, in some situations, is not to say anything.

   Sometimes you know you have to give rebuke or correction that will be difficult for the hearer to accept. When you are in that case; pray to God both for wisdom, and more importantly, that He would prepare their heart. Put yourself in their shoes. If you have been in a somewhat similar situation as them, let them know, and tell them this is what you wish you had been told. It is easier if you already have a relationship with them. Ask permission to share. Pick the best timing; when they are in the middle of a temper tantrum is not the best time. Sometimes a story and question can go farther than a sermon; remember how a than the prophet approached David.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1022 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.598 for more info.

 


 

Proverbs 18 – Wise, Honorable Words, and the Alternative – some brief answers

 

1. In Prov 18:1, how does pursuing selfish ends defy sound judgment?

A: An unfriendly person does not care about others, how much work they might have to do because of his selfishness, or even, how others can help him. It is obvious that a selfish person pursues selfish ends; that is not the point. The point is the pursuing those selfish ends can lead to some very foolish outcomes, to his own harm. A selfish person can lose the ability to consider how other people will act, or react, when they do certain things. They can under-estimate other people’s ability to affect things. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1022 and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 section 2 p.1-2 for more info.

 

2. In Prov 18:2, why do some fools want to talk so much?

A: Perhaps to keep with wiser people and try hide the fact that they do not know so much. One could summarize this proverb as “a fool as a closed mind but an open mouth.” This is the opposite of James 1:19. We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1023 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.944 for more info.

 

3. In Prov 18:4, how is the wellspring of wisdom a flowing brook?

A: It is not often that a foolish person says wise things; usually wise sayings correlate with wise people. A wise heart usually continues in wisdom, and wise sayings usually are not a “flash in the pan”.

 

4. In Prov 18:8, why is hearing gossip so attractive to some people?

A: This can be translated “choice morsels” or “gobble down greedily”. They have a craving for secret, inside information, that who knows, might work to their advantage. If they could “set a person down a notch” in their estimation by hearing a rumor about them, they would be eager to do so. They might do little to question if the rumor is in fact true or not. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1025, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.422, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.837, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.944 for more info.

 

5. In Prov 18:9, how is one slack in his work like one who destroys?

A: Laziness can destroy. Imagine someone who is supposed to produce something you rely upon, not performing or doing a poor job. If you buy a parachute to use, you hope they put enough stitches attaching the parachute to the harness. Taking a paycheck, and not putting in the hours you were supposed to put in is stealing. Spiritually, even a local church body could be destroyed through negligence. The point of this proverb is that even inaction can be destructive, when action was required. Even when others are pulling their weight, if you are not pulling your weight, on a task or project, the project might fail despite the best efforts of others. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.837-838, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1025, the New International Bible Commentary p.674-675, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.944, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.599 for more info.

 

6. In Prov 18:14, how can a crushed spirit hurt more than adversity?

A: Hope and a reason for living can carry someone through, when no hope or reason for living can kill someone. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.838 says, “A man who had faced the horrors of concentration camp with gallantry discovered after his release that it was his own son who had informed on him. ‘The discovery beat him to his knees and he died. He could bear the attack of an enemy, but the attack of one whom he loved killed him.’”

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1026 for more info.

 

7. In Prov 18:17, what is the lesson for us here?

A: You should not decide a matter until you have heard both sides. Whether a particular side is totally in the wrong, or both sides are partly to blame, you should not suppose you can know unless you have listened to both. If you just hear one side, their persuasiveness, and lack of mentioning some important facts, and give you a very wrong impression.

See the New International Bible Commentary p.675, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.838, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1027 for more info.

 

8. What does Prov 18:19 mean?

A: This proverb is interesting because you might think it ought to talk about an enemy who is offended. However, it instead says that the worse thing is an offended brother. A brother would expect you to be loyal and caring, and he would be especially shocked to be offended, while an enemy would not be shocked.

   We need to realize that people close to us can be offended. They might not get offended as easily as strangers, but when they get offended, they can feel more hurt than strangers. It is important to be careful not to take those who love us for granted, or take for granted that they know that we love them. We need not just to love others, but to express our love for others.

   A second application is that when someone close to us offends us, we can feel more strongly about it (perhaps too strongly about it) than when a stranger offends us. We need to understand our human tendency to be seriously offended, and then remember that 1 Corinthians says that love bears no record of wrongs. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.838-839 for more info.

 

9. In Prov 18:22, since finding a wife is a good thing, why does it not mention finding a husband as a good thing, too?

A: Obviously for every man who obtains a wife, a woman obtains a husband. Nevertheless, in that culture as well as in many cultures today, it is generally the man that does the finding and proposing. However, for a Biblical example where the woman did the finding, and God greatly blessed the marriage, read the book of Ruth.

 

10. In Prov 18:23, why does this say a rich person answers harshly to a poor person’s plea?

A: This is not saying how it ought to be, but rather how life often is. If you are down and out, you should not always be optimistic that a rich person will help you out. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.943, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1029, and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.6 section 2 p.16 for more info.

 

12. What does Prov 18:24 mean?

A: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.1029-1030 says that the Hebrew word lehitroea is difficult. It means ‘for being crushed’ or ‘to be shattered’ but not ‘to show oneself friendly’ (cf. KJV). It also adds the verse might mean there are friends to one’s undoing.” This is a pun here. The word for companion is re’eh and the word for break in pieces is ra’a.

   This proverb is somewhat of a surprise. One might think that many companions would guarantee success and prosperity. However, foolish companions be externally be a drain on your money credit, and reputation. Even worse, foolish companions by their advice and example, can be a drain on your motivation to serve God.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.945 for more info.

 

14. In Prov 18:24, who is the friend that sticks closer than a brother?

A: This verse contrasts different kinds of friends. It is easy to find fair-weather friends, but it is precious to find a friend who will stick with you, closer than a brother, through hard times. Of course, the friend who sticks closest of all to believers is Jesus.

 


 

Proverbs 19 – W – some brief answers

 

Q: In Prov 19:4,6, why does this verse say wealth makes many friends?

A: It is a sin to favor someone just because they are wealthy as James 2:1-4 shows, but Proverbs 19:4,6 is teaching the realities of life with sinful people. You must balance this with Proverbs 14:21, which says it is a sin to despise your neighbor, especially mentioning the poor neighbor.

   While wealth might make many friends, a wealthy person might always be wondering who his or her true friends really are.

 

Q: What does Prov 19:7 teach us?

A: Proverbs 19:7 does not tell us how to act, but rather teaches us a sad fact of life in this fallen world. A man might be shunned just because he does not have money, influence, or power. Sometime friends are only friends because of what they can get out of the relationship.

 

Q: In Prov 19:14, how is a prudent wife from the Lord?

A: There are so many aspects of a godly character that it is doubtful men or women know one-fourth of the character of their future spouse. Certainly, no believer should consider marrying someone without a lot of prayer to God for guidance.

 

Q: In Prov 19:17, how can people lend to the Lord?

A: While God actually has no need for anything (Psalm 24:1; 50:9-12), we can metaphorically lend to the Lord when we help others. In Matthew 25:35-45, Jesus said if you gave food, drink, hospitality, clothing, or care of the poor, strangers, sick, or prisoners, it was as if you did it for him. As a side note, Jesus did not say the recipients had to be believers for it to count toward a reward as being done for Jesus.

 

Q: What does Prov 19:22 mean?

A: Life is full of choices. If you had to choose between being loved and something else with no love, people really will want to be loved. The Hebrew word for love here hesed, means unfailing love, or a loyal, covenant love. A liar might get wealthy because of his lies, but he will never be loved because of his lies. It is better to be poor, and truly loved, than to be a rich, unloved liar. We should not envy other people at all, but it is especially silly to envy a wealthy person who has lots of friends but no real friends.

 

Q: in Prov 19:25, when the scorners are struck, who will learn from this?

A: Proverbs 19:25 does not claim the scorner will ever learn. Rather, naïve onlookers will learn, not necessarily the scorner himself. One use of prison is as a deterrent to crime. It is not only that the criminals are out of action for a while, but the unpleasantness of being in prison can make others think again before choosing to become criminals.

 

Q: Why does Prov 19:27 say to stop listening to instruction?

A: Not really; Proverbs 19:27 is ironic here. It is sort of like saying “go smoke and you will live a shorter life.” It is not really telling us to stop listening to instruction, but rather saying “if” we stop listening to instruction, we will stray. In fact, if we stop listening to instruction, not only will we stray due to ignorance, but we can even stray from what we know. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.948 adds that being wise is not a static state; a wise person keeps on growing and learning. It also points out that this is the only place between Proverbs 7:1 and 23:15 where the words “my son” occur.

 

Q: In Prov 19:27, is not all knowledge good?

A: No. Specifically, this refers to instruction in falsehoods that can turn one away from true knowledge.


 

 

by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.

 

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