Proverbs 17

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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.

A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
    and will share the inheritance as one of the family.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.

A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
    a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
    whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
    and parents are the pride of their children.

Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—
    how much worse lying lips to a ruler!

A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
    they think success will come at every turn.

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.

Go Deeper

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.


  1. What is one way you can practice being a peacemaker today?  
  2. Did any of these proverbs stick out to you today? 
  3. Are there any that were confusing that it might be helpful to dive deep into? 

Pray This

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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6 thoughts on “Proverbs 17”

  1. It’s a bit uncanny how rereading Proverbs and the practical wisdom contained on its pages have divinely coincided with my present circumstances. I’ve asked God for fresh eyes to see, understand, and apply the wisdom of this book. My workplace has been challenging for awhile, and my heart has been stirred to bring peace into the chaos. I can testify that “the Lord has tested my heart (v3). It’s been a tough, refining process that began with humbling myself before him and others. Slowly the tide has turned and positive changes are happening. May our hearts remain soft, teachable and obedient as we not only hear the word but become “doers” of the word.

  2. Life is such a roller coaster of emotions. I guess it would be boring to always be in one state of emotion. One minute I think I got it figured out but then other peoples emotions are also involved and here goes the ride. Vs 27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. This is what I want to be like. This is my daily goal. With outsiders I am very close to that mostly but to family a little less BUT GOD and I are working that way. The tongue is a small but mighty member James 3:5, ESV: So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. It can start a fire or put one out.

    God thank You for today and my words. Let my words be of edification and exhortation. Thank You for me being a fruity tree where all the fruit of the spirit hang for Your glory! Thank You for Your love goggles to see others as You see them not in my earthly eyes in Jesus name amen

  3. Thoughts on Proverbs 17: A Whack on the Head of the Fool
    Ever listen to a message that makes you want to elbow the person next to you, to make sure they are paying attention?
    Proverbs 17 was one of those for me. Having spent many years struggling with a prodigal child, the following verses practically jumped off the page at me:

    “It is senseless to pay to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning. It is painful to be the parent of a fool; there is no joy for the father of a rebel. Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth.”
    -Proverbs ­17:16, 21, 25 NLT

    How I love it when God “gets” me!

    God knows and counts the cost with me of every penny we’ve spent, hours we’ve prayed and tears we have shed on behalf of our wayward child. He’s provided help and hope through his word, his provision and his people. He has continually comforted this heartbroken parent. 

    God also continues to instruct me that I am called to respond to my child’s foolishness with wisdom. He has taught me through this particular trial how essential it is to guard my heart, my temper and my tongue. To refuse to be defined by my child or directed by their actions. To meet lies with truth, defensiveness with humility and manipulation with integrity.
    To love them extravagantly—the same way God loves me in the midst of my foolishness.
    “Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.”

    -Ephesians 4:32 AMP

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