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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 19
19 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.
2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the Lord.
4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.
5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
6 Many curry favor with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading,
they are nowhere to be found.
8 The one who gets wisdom loves life;
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.
9 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will perish.
10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—
how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!
11 A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
13 A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
and a quarrelsome wife is like
the constant dripping of a leaky roof.
14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
15 Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless go hungry.
16 Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life,
but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.
17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.
19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
22 What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth!
25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.
26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother
is a child who brings shame and disgrace.
27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
We must be careful in our reading of the proverbs. They are written as poetry, not promises. They offer generally true wisdom principles, but they are more complicated than a simple to-do list. Think of a proverb like a photograph: it can show you what something looks like, but it cannot capture every facet of the scenery. Proverbs employ word pictures and comparisons to show us what is commonly true in life. Let’s look at some of the ideas that are repeated/emphasized throughout Proverbs 19.
There is wisdom in waiting. Self-control will keep us from rushing into sin (v. 2) and patience prevents us from overreacting in the midst of conflict (v. 11).
Over and over again, seeking wisdom is recommended and even urged by the author. And all throughout the book we see that seeking wisdom is rewarded. Verse 8 shows that those who value understanding will prosper, and verse 20 that listening well will make us wise.
There is a warning against slothfulness or laziness–that in the end it leads to hunger (v. 15). And verse 24 paints a picture of a sluggard being too lazy to even bring his hand back to his mouth to eat. Slothfulness will lead to hunger and to ruin.
Verse 5 and 9 share almost identical wording in their warning against lying. A false witness will not go unpunished. Lying is not without consequence and so much so that it’s stated twice in this chapter.
The last section of Proverbs 19 makes the comparison between the features of a good life versus the description of the scoffer or mocker. The good life is in store for those who listen to instruction (v. 16), are kind to the poor (v. 17), care for and discipline their children (v. 18), acknowledge God’s rule (v. 21), and fear the Lord (v. 23). The fear of the Lord leads to life! By contrast, the characteristics of a scoffer include: disrespecting one’s parents (v. 26), not listening to sound teaching (v. 27), rejecting all notions of right and wrong (v. 28). And what follows the life of a scoffer are often beatings (v. 25, 29). This comparison is helpful in showing us what leads to life and what leads to destruction. May we be people who pursue what leads to life.
- Who is the most patient person you know? What is the fruit of their patience?
- What could you do today to seek wisdom?
- Does your life have more similarities in the features of a good life or in the life of a scoffer? What would it look like to grow in fear of the Lord?
Learning how to overlook small offenses is an important step in conflict resolution. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
If you can overlook an offense, then choose to overlook it. How do you know if you can overlook an offense? Simply put, you overlook it. If you are having conversations in your head; if you feel the need to tell someone of the hurt; if the hurt continues to impact your mood and rule your thoughts, you may not be able to overlook the offense and you need to talk with the offender privately and lovingly with humility.
For more on how to be a peacemaker, check out Harris Creek’s Peacemaker Guide!
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