This is part nineteen 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 continued to learn one of the predominant themes of this book – I need to guard my lips and choose my words carefully, whether I am in a position of judgment or simply listening in order to give advice. Also, I am to put my trust in the Lord and find my refuge in Him rather than in material possessions.
One emphasis in chapter nineteen is family relationships. Verse 13 reads “A foolish son is the ruin of his father, And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.” A son who despises wisdom will bring grief to his family. Perhaps the most obvious Biblical example of this is Jesus’ later parable about the prodigal son. At a young age the foolish son demanded his share of the inheritance, left his family, and squandered all he had in wild, godless living. His actions caused his father untold grief.
Where a son brings his father to ruin, a wife who nags unceasingly is like a continual dripping. There are few things more annoying than the constant drip, drip, drip of water and the author uses this as an illustration to emphasize how he feels about nagging.
The purpose of these proverbs is not as much to make a statement about the son and wife as it is to show that family relationships cause greater joy or pain than distant relationships. There is much greater potential for me to be hurt (or blessed) by those who are close to me.
Continuing with the family theme, verse 14 reads “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD.” Though I may inherit wealth and all sorts of material possessions from my father, a good wife is a gift from God. A wise, godly wife is a precious gift and one I ought to be thankful for every day. How much more valuable is a gift from God than an earthly inheritance!
“He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.” Defying the fifth commandment, which instructs me to honor my parents, will bring me shame and reproach. I am to honor my parents throughout my life, being willing to sacrifice for them as they did for me. This proverb stands in stark contrast to the way parents are regarded in our society and helps me remember to honor God’s will rather than society’s.
Verse 27 serves as a reminder of the importance of heeding the wisdom in these proverbs. “Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” I need to heed God’s wisdom which is displayed throughout this book. If I do not, I will be leading myself away from the way of wisdom and down the road that leads to destruction.
Not all the proverbs in this chapter have to do with family. The third verse says “The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the LORD.” A man’s own foolishness “twists his way.” He ends up turning himself around and heading in the wrong direction. When he does this, how does he react? He frets against God! He brings sin upon himself and then blames God for it. I can certainly testify to having done this in my life and I scarcely think there is a believer in the world who has not done this at one time or another. How the human heart hates God that we would blame him for our own misfortune!
“Wealth makes many friends, But the poor is separated from his friend.” This is an interesting proverb for it states a fact without any moral judgment. Though our hearts recoil at the thought that those with wealth attract friends while the poor do not, it is an undeniable fact. The author simply points out this fact, leaving it for our meditation, rather than commenting on it.
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.” This verse stresses what a privilege it is to be able to use my wealth to serve the Lord. When I use what God has given me to help those in need, it is like I am lending it directly to Him. God rewards me for this, though it does not say whether the reward is here or on earth. We know from elsewhere in Scripture that the reward is both temporal and eternal. I am rewarded on earth by the knowledge that as I use my wealth wisely God will continue to provide for my needs. At the same time, as I give away treasures on earth I am storing up treasures in heaven.
I will end today with the eighteenth verse. “Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.” This harkens back to what I learned several days ago. To hold back the discipline that my son deserves is to hate him. I need to discipline him wisely, justly and immediately, lest I wait too long and find that it is too late. Eventually an undisciplined son will go beyond the point of no return and I will have lost him. When I refuse to discipline him, I show contempt for his soul, for I am sending him down the path of foolishness rather than training him to walk the path of wisdom.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- Family relationships offer the greatest opportunities for both joy and pain. I need to invest in those relationships and ensure that they bring me joy!
- When I turn from God’s ways my natural inclination is to blame God for the consequences that are sure to arise. I know, though, that I will have no one to blame but myself.
- To give my wealth for God’s purposes is to give directly to God. It is a privilege and should be a joy to give to the Lord’s work.
- I need to be a wise father, proving my love through diligently disciplining my children and setting their feet on the path to wisdom.