This is part thirteen in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of this study is to learn what God has to say in this book about wisdom and discernment. Yesterday I learned that I need to be willing to face correction and be willing to correct others. I also learned that I prove my character by how I treat God’s creation, including animals. Finally, I need to choose my friends carefully, choosing people who are wise, for I will inevitably be influenced by people I spent time with.
“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”
Proverbs continually speaks of the value of being a diligent worker. This verse shows that a lazy man spends his time dreaming about what he would like to have rather than working hard to obtain it. A man who works hard will be rewarded by being able to attain the things he dreams of. God does not owe us me living; I am responsible to get it for myself. A similar verse is found at the end of the chapter. Verse 25 reads “The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.” The wise man will work hard and not only have food to eat, but have the satisfaction in his soul of having earned a living. The lazy man will not have satisfaction for his body or his soul.
“Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.”
I am to earn an honest living. To gather wealth through dishonest means is worse than being poor, for the poor can still be wise. To strive for dishonest gain is to turn my back on wisdom and I will suffer the consequences of living foolishly.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
Setting unrealistic expectations will bring dissatisfaction. When I put my hope in attaining what is unattainable I can only bring disappointment and hopelessness upon myself. I should strive to set wise and realistic goals, knowing that when I attain my goal I will be satisfied. Good goals are those that are made within the guidelines of wisdom and godliness. Similar to this verse is verse 19 which reads “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil.” Again, accomplishing something that I desire will bring satisfaction to my soul. Foolish men, though, will not turn from their folly to pursue worthwhile goals, for wisdom is an abomination to them.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
Reminiscent of yesterday’s study, this verse speaks of the value of wise friends. If I walk with people who are wise I will become wise myself. If, on the other hand, I choose to spend time with the foolish, their folly will influence me. Evidently both wisdom and folly are contagious.
“He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the child” is the way this proverb is most often rendered in the English language. This proverb evidently speaks of discipline beyond only corporal punishment. What is surprising about it is the strength of the words Solomon uses. We might expect him to say “He who spares the rod from his son is foolish” but he uses much stronger language. He says that to fail in disciplining a child is to hate that child. Our society seems to have the opposite view, teaching that to punish a child is to hate him. The Bible, the source of God’s wisdom, teaches otherwise. We are to express our love for our children even in discipline. Discipline is an act of love and concern, not of hatred. I am to discipline my child promptly, not allowing sins to pile up before in frustration I pour out days or weeks of anger upon my child.
Many times in this book the author has spoken of the value of correction and reproof. This verse shows that his concern is that I understand that correction and discipline are often necessary displays of God’s love towards me. God desires that I live an ever-increasingly godly life and He may have to discipline me to mold me into His image. I have to see this as an act of love, not hatred.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the thirteenth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- Rather than dreaming about the things I would like to have, I need to labor diligently so I may earn them.
- God does not owe me a living. I am responsible to labor to earn one myself.
- I need to set wise, realistic and godly goals in life so that when I attain those goals my heart will be satisfied.
- As a father I need to discipline my children wisely and promptly as an act of love. Similarly I need to be prepared for God to discipline me in the same manner.