Welcome back! Look at verses 1-2: “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Let’s not gulp this down; let’s chew on verse 1 first. Notice how a lot of these verses say the same. It’s better to not have lots of belongings and to have a blameless walk. Walk where? Walk with God.
Now, let’s swallow verse 2. Zeal is a strong feeling of interest and enthusiasm that makes someone very eager or determined to do something. So, I thought at first it was talking about listening really closely and with great interest – but without knowing what you’re listening to. But now I know that it means that you don’t just say, “Hey, I’m going to South Sudan to be a medical missionary!” on a whim. You have no knowledge of South Sudan! Sure, you might have read a thing or two on the Internet, but you’ve got to get the knowledge of its culture and language.
Look at verse 3 in the NLT: “People ruin their lives by their foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” People do pay for their actions. Alcohol, cigarettes, etc. are bad for you, but you do it anyway! Then, when lung cancer, skin cancer, or other diseases befall you, you whine to God. He warned ya! Others did, too. On the side of a cigarette pack, it says, “May cause disease or harm”. Does anyone heed it? I will bet you 50% of all smokers have seen it, fewer have even paid attention to it.
Take a look at verse 6 (NLT): “Many beg favors from a prince; everyone is a friend of a person who gives gifts!” Now, jump back 2 verses and read the first of what it says (verse 4) : “Wealth makes many “friends”…” If you’re wealthy, who wouldn’t want to be your friend? Everyone wants to be friends with all the celebrities, but then they become unpopular and – there they go! Everyone wants to get rid of their stuff now!
11: “People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” Keeping a grudge is wrong – but it’s hard to throw them aside. Nathaniel Bowditch showed great restraint for most of his anger. If you don’t know who he is, you should google him. He had an interesting story! We need to restrain our wrath. I think it was Stephen Mally who said, “Anger: one letter short of danger.”
15: “A lazy person sleeps soundly – and goes hungry.” Doesn’t the first part sound nice? But your bills fall behind, you don’t have enough money, and you financially collapse. If you work diligently, though, you will prosper.
Look at 17: “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD – and He will repay you!” You want to help, but who can you trust? I was riding back to our church with two other people. Our driver saw a homeless man asking for money on the curb. She said, “I’ve got a feeling they’re not really homeless.” When they spend all their money on cigarettes and beer, why would you want to give them more money to waste away? There are people who have made it a “job” to stand on the curb and get money! Which is sad, because the frauds prevent the truly homeless from receiving the help they need.
Look at 18: “Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives.” Wow! This is very self-explanatory. I’ve seen quite a few who don’t follow this verse!
21: “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prosper.” Here we see God works through our plans again.
Here’s 24: “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!” (NIV) This is how lazy people are! I’m hardly that lazy when it comes to eating, but what about school? Chores? Extra responsibilities?
28: “A corrupt witness makes a mockery of justice; the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” The corrupt make justice a joke. What do you do if you see that happening? Look at 2 Corinthians 10:15: “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Our job is made clear: defend the gospel.
I’d appreciate your comments on this chapter. This is an interesting chapter, and I’d appreciate your thoughts. Any questions you have, just place them in the comments below and I’ll do my best effort to answer.