This chapter concludes the section on Solomon’s proverbs and starts the ‘Thirty Sayings of the Wise’, which were most probably compiled by King Solomon, but not authored by him. The first 16 verses are a mix of proverbs in the style we’ve become used to. Feel free to repeat the exercise suggested yesterday, especially if you might not have got round to actually doing it…
Some of the main themes of the book of Proverbs feature here:
Money and the rich - good reputation is better than pursuing money (v.1)
The poor - Proverbs connects the teaching about the poor to creation. God is honoured when the poor are treated respectfully, and not with contempt or exploited; those who oppress them and favour the rich will not end well (v. 2.16)
Contrast between folly and wisdom - prudence pays (v. 3); avoid the treacherous path (v. 5); God protects the wise (v.12);
Fear of the Lord - the most important teaching in the wisdom literature, which should amount to us “putting God’s preferences before our own. Such a reversal of our natural priorities is what the Bible calls ‘humility’… a tall order indeed!!!
Bringing up children - parents are encouraged to guide their children into wisdom, using appropriate discipline where necessary (v. 6.15)
Injustice - the oppressors will have their comeuppance – God does not leave the guilty unpunished
Laziness – funny excuses we make for not doing our work (v.13)
Immorality – seductive words can be a person’s downfall (works both ways) (v.14)
Proverbs 22:17 – 24:22 is a collection of sayings from a group called ‘the wise’, divided into 30 sections, bearing some similarity to an ancient Egyptian ‘wisdom’ composition of 30 sections, but adapted for the people of God. The reader is encouraged to listen, for not only will there be good practical advice, but he/she will be inspired to trust the Lord. That’s the message of the introduction in vs. 17-21.
This chapter then goes on to mention 5 Sayings, addressing the young hearer/reader directly, giving it a more authoritative tone. They touch on familiar themes:
(1) The poor should not be taken advantage of, or you have to contend with God.
(2) Beware of bad company;
(3) Be wise in helping others financially;
(4) Don’t cheat your neighbour;
(5) Work hard and develop your skills, for such people ‘will have the best jobs and work for the best people.’
Lord God, help us to keep these sayings in our hearts and ready on our lips, trusting you and doing good, in Jesus’ precious name, Amen!