This is part twenty seven 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 no proverb will apply to each and every situation, so I need to be careful in their application. I also saw that I need to be wary around foolish men for they are, because of their foolishness, untrustworthy. Finally I saw examples of how folly breeds delusion so that foolish men are unable to see or understand their own folly.
Chapter 27 begins with these words: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” There is evidently wisdom in knowing that as humans, it is folly to believe that we have any control over what tomorrow will bring. I grew up as part of a Christian culture that believed one should never make presumptions about the future. As a matter of fact, it was so ingrained in people’s consciousness, that anytime they spoke about the future they would say “Lord willing.” At the end of a church service, for example, the pastor would say “we will meet again, Lord willing, next Sunday.” I found that it became almost a superstition, so it seemed that if they spoke of the future with any sort of confidence, they felt they were making presumptions about God’s sovereignty. I do not believe we need to go to such lengths to heed the wisdom of this verse. However, it is wise to remember that God is in full control and His ways are not always our ways. We are wise to know that His plans may at any time trump our plans.
Verses 5 and 6 are similar to each other. “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” The first verse shows us that it is better for me to lovingly, respectfully rebuke a friend than to withhold necessary correction, thinking that this is an expression of love. If my friend desires to be wise, I owe it to him to correct him where I see him deviating from God’s will. This theme carries to the next verse, for there I see that hurts inflicted by a friend are faithful. If a friend corrects me out of love and in order to help me stay on the path of wisdom, the pain is valuable, for it has helped me stay close to God. An enemy, on the other hand, may say nice things, but what he says will be laced with his folly and will serve only to guide me away from God.
“A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.” This proverb reminds me of the words “he who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.” A mark of wisdom is that I will have discernment to show right from wrong. I will learn from what I have done wrong in the past and from what others have done wrong in the past and will be able to see when those events begin to repeat themselves. Wisdom will allow me to see and avoid evil before it overtakes me, rather than being blind to it and having it destroy me.
Any person who seeks to be wise must read the words of verse nineteen with fear. It says “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.” Just as a clear pool of water provides an accurate representation of my face, so my heart provides an accurate representation of who I am. My heart – my thoughts, feelings, desires – provides an accurate depiction of my character. If that is true, it should make me, as one seeking to be wise, to stop and consider my heart. What do I think about? What do I desire? What images do I continually pour into my mind? Are my thoughts focused on God and on obedience to Him, or are my thoughts filled with sin and rebellion? I need to examine my thoughts, for by these I will be able to learn much about my character. Where I find my thoughts are evil I must repent and seek to fill my heart with goodness, knowing that a godly heart is a reflection of godly character.