This is part twenty three in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of this study is to learn wisdom and discernment from God’s Word. Yesterday I learned that God makes no partiality based on wealth – all men are equal in His eyes and will be judged by the same standards, regardless of their riches in this world. I also saw that if I train my children in the way of wisdom, they will learn to love it and not turn from it when they grow older.
“Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” This passage shows the folly of working myself to death for the sake of wealth. If I am wise I will realize that riches are only fleeting and seem to have a way of disappearing. To work myself to the point of exhaustion or illness simply to acquire wealth is a ridiculous waste. As I have noted several times in previous chapters, this passage passes no judgment on wealth, except to say that it is not work overworking for.
Many times through this book I have seen that fools are foolish by their own choice. Verse 9 speaks to this saying “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.” Foolish men hate wisdom, so when they hear it they will turn against the one who speaks it. It is better to share wisdom with those who are seeking to be wise than those who are content with their folly.
There are several verses in this chapter that speak of a parent’s pride in having a child who proceeds down the path of wisdom. Verses 15 to 16 read “My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice–indeed, I myself; Yes, my inmost being will rejoice When your lips speak right things.” As a parent, I know that my heart will rejoice when I see my children choosing wisdom over folly. I know there will be many times in life where they will forsake wisdom and choose evil, but I trust that generally they will proceed in the way of wisdom. When I hear wisdom from their lips I trust that “my inmost being will rejoice.” Verses 24 and 25 continue “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.” When my children were born I was as proud as any father could be, rejoicing in the wonderful gift God had seen fit to grant myself and my wife. I trust that as they grow older I will be able to rejoice in their wisdom when they make right choices as much as I did in their birth. I know I will weep with joy when they show their intention to follow the One who gave them life.
What a challenge this is to raise children that love wisdom! If I raise my children poorly and send them down folly’s path, I will be laying up sorrows for myself. Rather, I need to teach them wisdom so they can bless, encourage and cheer me throughout their lives.
The overwhelming theme of chapter 23 is drunkenness. The final seven verses contain an extended instruction regarding the love of drink. The author begins by showing some of the effects of alcoholism: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?” Certainly these are the foremost results of living a life of drunkenness. The author answers his own questions by stating that these symptoms afflict “Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.” Though alcohol may taste wonderful and provide momentary pleasure, overconsumption causes it to bite like a serpent and sting like a viper. After several verses describing what it is like to be drunk, the passage closes with these words: “When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” The irony of alcoholism is that despite the terrible consequences – sorrow, woe, contention, complaints, and physical ailments – the drunkard continues to desire drink. The moment he awakes he desires it anew.
That is quite a description of sin in general, for every sin follows a similar pattern. All of us are afflicted by various types of sin and all sin has consequences. The consequences may be greater or smaller than those for alcoholism, but no sin is free from some type of result. At the very least, every sin causes us to scorn our God and pulls us away from Him. Yet we continue to return to our sinful behavior (as the Bible says, like a dog returns to its vomit). May we have the wisdom to desire correction, the discernment to see where sin is in our lives, and the faith to trust that with God’s help we can overcome our sin!