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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 17
17 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
2 A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
and will share the inheritance as one of the family.
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.
4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—
how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
8 A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
they think success will come at every turn.
9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person
more than a hundred lashes a fool.
11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God;
the messenger of death will be sent against them.
12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
than a fool bent on folly.
13 Evil will never leave the house
of one who pays back evil for good.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
the Lord detests them both.
16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom,
when they are not able to understand it?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge
and puts up security for a neighbor.
19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper;
one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.
21 To have a fool for a child brings grief;
there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accept bribes in secret
to pervert the course of justice.
24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father
and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good,
surely to flog honest officials is not right.
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
Like most of the middle section of Proverbs, Proverbs 17 offers many small but valuable suggestions on ways to live that can produce a better life. It jumps through feasting, wealth, grandparents, friends, fathers, momma bears…oh my. It can be quite overwhelming to take in each bit of advice and carry them with you throughout the day, so let’s try to focus on one theme in this chapter and glean all we can from it.
A primary theme we can grab from the passage is that of the peacemakers versus the troublemakers. It seems that the verses have this contrast of what a peacemaker is like, does, sounds like, etc. followed by that of the troublemaker. Even as we start this passage with, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting and strife” (v. 1).
We can see that the peacemaker is valued. Most would rather be in a peaceful home, where all they have to offer you is the heel of the bread loaf that has been sitting out for a few days, than in the home of someone always ready to pick a fight, but has a table with brisket and sausage and ribs and every Thanksgiving side and dessert you can imagine (you know, the ones you wait all year for). We usually try to avoid those dinners at all costs.
While we can see these contrasts throughout the passage, let’s re-read verse 9: “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” A peacemaker is someone who keeps short accounts. They are not easily offended and do not gossip about what someone has done to them or said about them. They promote love by assuming the best and/or going to that person in love to understand, not to win an argument.
This chapter (and this entire book) is chock-full of more examples of this. Let’s hold tight to these and be examples of our Lord’s peace here on Earth.
- What is one way you can practice being a peacemaker today?
- Did any of these proverbs stick out to you today?
- Are there any that were confusing that it might be helpful to dive deep into?
One way Proverbs 17 says we can be a peacemaker is to live with a cheerful heart. Verse 22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Pray and ask God to give you a cheerful heart today!
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