A person winks for several reasons. Here a wink is a signal that a person is about to do harm, be deceptive, or speak malicious lies. When I interact with others do I intend to do them harm? A way to determine if am winking the eye is to answer the question, “Would I want this to be done or said to me?”
I do not want to be the subject of grief. Therefore, I should not be the cause of someone else’s grief. When I wink my eye, thus signaling I am about being malicious I should remember that a chattering fool comes to ruin and keep my mouth shut.
My mother use to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say keep your mouth shut.” A better thought is, “If you don’t have anything nice to say keep thinking and pray for that person and you will.”
The wise in heart accept commands (8). Accepting a command starts with agreeing with it, though obedience does not always require accord. Accepting a command continues with believing it, though obedience does not always require faith. Accepting a command is finalized by putting it into practice, the part that is a must. Yet God is not pleased unless we accept, believe, and put it into practice.
“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Though some say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:17-18)
When Jesus washed his disciple’s feet at the last supper on the night his suffering would start he told them, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Jesus was not saying agree and believe. He was saying agree, believe, and put love into practice.
A person standing on a pulpit chattering about love, but not practicing it is a fool who comes to ruin (8). “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10) “This is how we know what love is: Jesus the Messiah laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)
What do people remember about me when I am not around? What will people say about me when the Lord takes me from this earth to paradise? When others speak my name is it in love and respect or do they curse and swear?
Remembrance is important because “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked rots.” I watch drama and sci-fi movies and shows as much as I watch historical documentaries. History documentaries often revolve around people, wars, tragedies, and their dates. However, the Bible also talks about people; their life, their faith, and their character.
Men and women of faith and self-sacrifice are remembered as a blessing. Faithless and wicked men and women rot. Since I want others to remember me as a blessing I want to be a man of faith like Mary (Jesus’ mother), Abraham,. and especially my Lord Jesus.
God’s blessings; meaning his gifts and favors are the desire of all, though for many this hunger is hidden. Though all receive some blessings to see what we do with them; only the righteous are crowned with blessings. God put blessings on their head.
Crowns date back to over 2000 BC; the oldest being a copper headband found in Jericho that dates from about 2000 BC. A crown in antiquity represented high merit and honor. Tribal leaders, kings, and high priests wore crowns symbolizing power. When Jesus was crucified the soldiers put a crown of thorns on his head as they mocked him. God blesses the righteous to show that he honors them for they seek to live his way.
The head of the wicked is not honored by God. Violence and cruelty are hidden in the words of the ungodly wicked. Therefore, God lets all know that he does not give merit to those who live this way. Violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
“Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue, they speak deceit.” (Psalm 5:9)
Sometimes I consider the words spoken by others, especially if they have authority over me and others. Recently these thoughts had made me realize the importance of the motivation behind the words that I speak. In order to be crowned with blessings from God I need to control the words I say to others and about others.
The Lord indeed does not let the righteous go hungry (3). Yet that does not mean that baloney and cheese sandwiches will appear on the table every day. The Lord gave me abilities and provides situations for me to use those abilities to plan and obtain seeds, plant the seeds, and gather crops at harvest. Yet, he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:6)
So I work with the knowledge that God provides for he is in control. If I were lazy and remained a poor man expecting others to put baloney and cheese sandwiches on a table before me then I cannot blame God. “Lazy hands make a man poor (4) not God. “Diligent hands bring wealth (4)” as God enables.
Wisdom is not as hard as I think. In fact, verse 5 is very simple to understand. “He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” Wisdom is applying the truth, and that is often the hard part.
Two opposing and yet related claims are made in this proverb, a common proverb vernacular. A comparison would be looking in the mirror. The appearance is the same, except what is on the left in life is on the right in the mirror; one pertains to self-reality and the other is self-illusion. Understanding and applying opposing truths must be common.
The theme is hunger and cravings; the righteous and the wicked; the Lord’s control and interaction are opposite and equal. “The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” A bold statement.
Do I believe this? I have never gone hungry though several times in my life I didn’t know where my next meal would come from. And I do not personally know wicked people, though I have personally encountered wicked people. Also, I do not know the personal experience of everyone alive today let alone in all of human history. So my life experience cannot say these claims are absolutely true.
However, since I have never gone hungry I can say this has been true for me. During the times that I did not know where my next meal was coming from the peace of God had me comfortably believe that I would be given enough to eat.
Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-34)
As for the cravings of the wicked let me resist them. What are they? Galatians 5:19-21 states, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“Ill-gotten treasures are of no value.” I believe that the definition of ill-gotten has become confusing. The original Hebrew word for “ill-gotten” is “resha”. It is from the root word “rasha” meaning “wrong” and “wicked”. The KJV and LEB translate this phrase as “treasures of wickedness”. More simplified the two words mean “treasures gained dishonestly”. Determining the root meaning that God is portraying through Solomon by looking at the original words helps only a little in knowing what it means to obtain dishonestly as opposed to honestly.
All gaining is not included in this warning. God even tells us he will shower his people with blessings, which include pecuniary treasures. Though Jesus and the apostles were very poor by all standards of the definition other men with faith in God were monetarily wealthy; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and David (though not all of their lives), and even the author of this proverb Solomon was very wealthy through noble gain.
The eighth commandment helps in determining what is an ill-gotten treasure; “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) Stealing includes gaining through injustice (Proverbs 16:8), through a lying tongue (Proverbs 22:16), through hatching profit that someone else prepared to make (Jeremiah 22:13), as well as through unrighteousness, slavery, and underpaying workers (Jeremian 22:13).
James 5:1-6 clearly warns, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” God’s stern warning is that workers were not paid proper wages.
God considers covenants and contracts very serious. Hiring someone is definitely included. Seriously, I can only think of one or perhaps two people and companies that kept the promises they made when they hired me. This is true even of those who claimed to be serious followers of Jesus.
Something resides at the core of our being that is awakened when we gain authority over others. We either redefine or lose our sense of righteousness. Yet here God promises, “righteousness delivers from death.” I learn to maintain righteousness especially when I enter into a covenant and contract with someone that gives me authority. Ill-gotten treasures are of no value on judgment day.
The parent-child relationship is the subject of either much joy or much grief. The dynamics between parent and child are greater than pollen in the spring breeze. The actions of a child will affect a parent; age, location, society, and appearance does not deter this truth. The choices of a child are the cause of either joy or grief for a parent.
Which do I consider? How do I affect my parents or how do my children affect me? Both.
Looking toward the future is the most important thing to consider. Making wise decisions cannot change the past. However, they will affect the present and future of my parents and my children. Be wise today for the future sake of parents and children.
Folly makes it sound like the crap she offers is sweet. She is lying. As the serpent lied to Eve so Folly lies to me. The way of the fool from afar seems excellent. But in a close study, it is rotten and dead meat. No combination of spices makes spoiled food neither taste good nor stay down. No amount of incense and perfume stops a corpse from petrifying and revolting.
Folly is the religion that seeks to destroy those that leave them. Folly is the religion that promises secret ways (17). Folly is a religion that requires fees to obtain its stolen water. Folly is the religion that keeps hidden secrets for their special elite. Folly is the religion that separates families for the good of their organization. Folly is the religion that puts down those who do not belong to them.
Little do those that hear their folly religious deceptions know that the dead are there, that their guests are in the depths of the grave (18).
Folly is personified as a woman calling out invitations loudly just as wisdom was personified as a woman sending out invitations via her maids. Folly calls to anyone and everyone; no one is excluded.
Folly is leading an undisciplined life. An undisciplined athlete does not have victories. An undisciplined student does not get passing grades. An undisciplined artist does not produce satisfying and enduring work. An undisciplined worker occasionally does work, yet even then it is mediocre. An undisciplined warrior does not win battles.
Folly is without knowledge. Folly does not know the sweet taste of personal victories. Folly does not know the pleasant touch of learning new and exciting things. Folly does not know the excitement of mastering the artist’s technique. Folly does not know that steady purposeful work creates a legacy for her succeeding generations. Folly is a religion without the cross and resurrection of Christ.
Folly is loud. Yet that does not mean that folly cannot be ignored.
Jesus is the Holy One (10). Knowing him is understanding. The fear of the Lord is loving reverence and submission to him. This is the beginning of wisdom.
Jesus is life. Through him, my days are extended (11). Whether like James who was the first to be martyred (only a few years after Jesus’ resurrection), or his brother John who was the last apostle to be martyred, he was a very old man; Jesus promises eternal life through him.
Jesus proclaimed, ““I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 5:24) He also declared, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.” (John 6:44-48)
Instruction, teaching, correction, and rebuke are methods to help a person grow in character, knowledge, and sometimes wisdom. However, that is all dependent on the attitude of the supplier and receiver.
Just because I intend to help someone doesn’t mean I am wise. I need to weigh attitudes and situations. I could be well intended, but become destructive in the process.
Mockers are people with internal conflicts. They defy and renounce truth and good things, not only to their own detriment and destruction but that of others. They are provokers of others to wrong, strife, and evil. They are often wicked people though not noticeable on the outside. They demand respect while having little concern for others.
Wisdom instructs me to not correct a mocker or a wicked person. Doing so invites insult, abuse, and hate. Such were the reactions of the religious leaders to Jesus.
Flipping these verses to personal evaluations I learn that I am righteous when I am teachable. I can grow intellectually when I remember that I can learn from others. When I have a problem learning I need to examine my heart. What emotions and thoughts are keeping me from humility and self-value?
Just say yes. The simplest thing to tell someone. Sometimes the hardest to do. Self is the only thing keeping me from “Yes”.
How many times do I need to say yes? Every time.
Who’s fault is it when I don’t answer? Mine. Blaming others and excuses are for fools. A fool is an addict that has good reasons to reject wisdom.
Wisdom calls out every day, every moment, every fool-hearty decision, “Come… Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” (5-6). A fool’s first step is to admit they are the only reason they are where they are.
Impossible is the task of convincing a fool to say yes to wisdom for the only person to accept that they are a fool is themselves. Do not bother a fool as he dies in indecision and misery. He must find pleasure in rejecting wisdom as she calls,”I have prepared meat for you.”
Wisdom calls all people her sons. No one is excluded from listening to her (32). Anyone can keep wisdom’s ways. Blessed is the person who listens to wisdom (34).
When I was young I wanted to be blessed for to me this meant God gave me good things no matter what I had done, was doing and would do. Yet here I see that a person is blessed when they listen to wisdom (34).
Thus far in Proverbs, the daily path a young man or woman can lead is portrayed by two women; one adulterous and another wisdom. The former way is self-harm and death (36). The latter is life and receives favor from the Lord (35). The petition goes out. It is me to decide.
Wisdom is still speaking. She was brought forth first before anything else was created. Wisdom was created in the beginning. The principle of wisdom is woven into everything; a craftsman at the side of the creator (30). This is important to know for living by the principle within all creations is easier than fighting against it.
Wisdom continues her allocution to all mankind. She boldly declares “counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.”
Jesus next to a well pours out wise counsel. He told the woman there, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Jesus pressing his finger into the ground spells out sound judgment. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir” “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:8-11)
Jesus confronting hypocrisy displays understanding, “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:8-11)
Jesus standing next to tombs shouts out power. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:41-44)
Fear the Lord = hate evil. This is not hating others because they are evil nor because they do evil. These words are instructions to keep from thinking evil thoughts and from doing evil acts. Fearing the Lord is knowing that I will be held accountable for all my acts. The Lord is clear in his words that those who know more will have to stand before him and give an account.
Fear the Lord = hate pride. This is not hating others because they are proud or because they are boastful. These words are instructions to keep from thinking proud thoughts and from walking around with arrogance. The Lord is clear in his words that those who know more will have to stand before him and give an account.
Fear the Lord = hate perverse speech. This is not hating others because they are perverse or because they speak perversely. These words are instructions to keep from thinking perversely and saying course words. Fearing the Lord is knowing that I will be held accountable for all the words I say. The Lord is clear in his words that those who know more will have to stand before him and give an account.
The application of these three is subject to reason. What is evil? What is pride? What is perverse speech? It is easy to misunderstand and misapply all three. Such is the way of fallen mankind.
Wisdom and prudence dwell together like husband and wife (12). Prudence is care and good sense that is shown when making a decision or taking action and it is cautious care in the management of resources, economy, family, body, and mind.
Knowledge and discretion are another couple. They are owned by wisdom (12). Discretion is the power or right to decide or act according to one’s own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice.
God wants me to be an adult made in the image of His beloved Son, Jesus. I should not wait around for God to do something for me all the time as a toddler around his mother’s dress The Lord wants me to possess and utilize these two couples; wisdom and prudence; knowledge and discretion.
Jesus called disciples to him so that he could teach them wisdom, prudence, knowledge, and discretion. Every act, every word, every look, and every example was Jesus teaching his disciples what it is like to be an adult in God’s eye. Jesus lived the way God intends his children to live. I am Jesus’ disciple. I will follow his example and be an adult.
Wisdom declares that she detests wickedness. The Hebrew word “resha” (also “rasha”) appears 64 times in the Old Testament. The Greek word “poneros” appears 76 times in the New Testament. What is wickedness in the Bible? Wickedness and evil are that which is opposed to God and His purposes or that which, defined from human perspectives, is harmful and non-productive. Such is the life I want to live. I don’t want harm. I don’t want to be non-productive.
When I woke up this morning I didn’t want to sit down and read, think, and write. Yet I sat down to do just that. After reading the passage I thought, “I don’t want to go through Proverbs anymore. This is the reason why I had not prepared questions and commentary in FreeBibleStudyHelp.com; it is repetitive and sometimes requires much thought.”
Yet now I get a reason why it is good to do BDBD on Proverbs. I want to do right (9). I want that which is of the greatest value; more so than silver, gold, and rubies (10,11). I believe that following the words in this book will at times give me those. And even if it doesn’t peace of mind and heart is sufficient. Nothing I desire can compare to wisdom (11).
Wisdom is personified as a female calling to everyone who walks in and out of the city gates and this way and that way down the paths, streets, and highways (1-3). Her sister understanding is there alongside raising her voice (1). What is wisdom and what is understanding that anyone and everyone can hear?
Wisdom is more than the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Wisdom is even more than the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Wisdom is God; his nature implemented. Jesus is the embodiment and display of wisdom. Wisdom and understanding exist in all, around all, and before and after all. A person cannot go through any given moment without wisdom and understanding being there waiting.
Jesus like wisdom proclaims, “Here I am.” Nature is filled with evidence that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) No one can go through life and not hear wisdom call out, “You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.” Therefore, no one has an excuse before God for his wisdom and understanding is plain to all, all the time.
Can one have a covenant with God while breaking the covenant with a spouse? The woman witnessed had made a fellowship offering. A fellowship offering according to the law of Moses was offering to God part of the meat to God while being allowed to keep the rest to be eaten later by the offerer and their family (14; Lev. 7:12-15) She had made a vow to God (14). The adulterous offered to God and then offered a young man, not her husband to eat with her and then sleep with her.
Is anyone truly always faithful to God? Religion is the disguise and make-up of many. We paint ourselves to hide the shame that we carry with us. To others, religion is profit and gain. We dress lavishly to impress others for control, prestige, and influence (10).
If that is the way we treat our covenant with God it should not surprise us that that is the way we treat our covenant with our spouse. The simple young man enjoyed being incised and seduced. Deep in his heart, he wanted to step into the noose (22) till an arrow pieced his liver (23). Similarly, we go to religious gatherings while our hearts are far from God. We say, “Lord, Lord!” with the same mouth that we defame our covenant with our Lord.
“Going a little farther, Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39-42)
The Father again instructs his child to keep his teaching and wisdom. How many times should a parent repeat such things? Doesn’t it get to become “same old, same old”? Repetition to a child becomes boring. Yet repetition is important and in perfection.
Repeating wise teachings is important for we are slow to learn. Practice does make perfect. My failure shows that I need to hear it again. That is how I “bind them on my fingers and write them on the tablet of my heart”. (3)
Emotions can be powerful, more so than hunger. Hunger can drive a person to steal to eat (30). Though they know it is a crime and will pay sevenfold, meaning paying back much more than what was stolen, hunger will drive a person to take someone else’s food (31).
The drive for sexual gratification is another type of hunger. Yet sexual hunger is different than the hunger for food. Sexual hunger is not driven by the body’s need to survive. Sexual hunger can be controlled. Judgment can divert sexual hunger (32). Sexual hunger for the married couple is healthy and good. It should be explored and satisfied. But sexual hunger fulfilled by someone other than a spouse destroys themselves (32).
Jealousy aroused is more powerful than most other emotions. Jealousy arouses a man’s fury and he will show no mercy (34). Jealousy is aroused in a man when another man takes interest in his wife, even more, when another man takes his wife to bed. Jealousy is followed by revenge that is quenched by blows (33). The Father warns his child, “Adultery is followed by blows, disgrace, and shame that will never be wiped away.”
The father warns his child about the sin of adultery. The author of Proverbs has already instructed his son about adultery in 2:16-19 and 5:3-14 and will do so again in 7:5-27. The father tells his beloved offspring to keep from an immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.
Immorality is any illicit sexual activity outside of marriage. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament the word has a figurative meaning as well, referring to idolatry and unfaithfulness to God. Many believe that immorality concerns pre-marital sex. However, immorality has to do with adultery that first stems from thinking of another that is not a spouse in a sexual manner. Immorality is celebrated by most in today’s society.
A wayward wife is a stranger and a foreigner for the Hebrew word, “nokri” means just that for marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman before God.
A prostitute reduces herself and her partner to a loaf of bread. The father is telling his child that a sexually adulterous relationship is turning him from being a human to a lifeless paycheck. A man is more than an income for his wife and children. A man is love, joy, patience, goodness, protection, wisdom, compassion, companionship, laughter, and provision. He is also faithful.
The wisdom to keep sound teachings is enlightening (23). The responsibility of parents to say and display the way to life is vital. The next generation is the duty of the former (20). The prior generation is the guide and watcher of the next.
Binding words on the heart is akin to a baby craving its mother’s milk (21). Fastening words around the neck is akin to a beautiful young maiden adorned in brilliant necklaces.
Jesus’ claims about his words are extraordinary. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” (Luke 6:47-48) “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)
“…these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,” I have been ready to give over my life at times in the past. The only digestion I can take during those times is the milk of my maker. They are life.
The common theme in the six things the Lord hates and the seven detestable is that they harm self and others at the same time.
Haughty eyes is self-pride that causes us to look down on others as inferior, weak, and stupid. Saul had haughty eyes whenever he saw David. He was troubled by an evil spirit and committed suicide.
A lying tongue is deception that is associated elsewhere as witchcraft. God is truth and Satan is the father of lies. Judas lied to Jesus when he betrayed him. He hung himself.
Shedding innocent blood is associated with self-pride and hate. Cain killed his younger brother Abel who had done no wrong. The aftermath was a troubled soul and society.
Devising wicked schemes comes from an unsettled heart. They religious leaders of Jesus’ day plotted to arrest, publically humiliate, and kill Jesus. Less than 40 years later they lost their country, national city, the temple, and their loves.
Rushing into evil may seem like a good idea at the time but after the act is finished only misery and regret remain. Those who took a vow to not eat till Paul was killed either died or lived in shame.
False witnesses pull apart families and society. The false witnesses during Jesus’ trial saw Jerusalem burn and their children die.
A person stirs up conflict either hopes to gain something or is full of jealousy, fear, and hate. The spies Moses sent into the promised land ended up dying in the desert, never to step into the promised land again.
Reading these verses it is easy to forget that the Father is speaking to his child. The Father wants his beloved child to be mindful of the heart and the future. When the Father teaches about a scoundrel and a villain he wants his juvenile to look inward more than outward.
A wicked person uses their mouth, eyes, feet, fingers, and any other form of communication in devious ways to achieve the deceitful plots of their heart (13). Such ploys harm others. The Father does not want his children to harm others.
The heart is the source of evil plots with deceit (14). The heart is the wellspring of life (4:23). Jesus said, “Out of the heart comes all kinds of evil.” The remedy to a deceitful heart is to allow the word of God and his Spirit to sink into my heart. (Matthew 13:19-23) Then I will be able to produce fruit that pleases my father.
The account of sleep, slumber, and folding of the hands leading to poverty suddenly overtaking me in these verses is easy to apply to the need to have a profitable income. However, this can also be applied to having a profitable spiritual life.
Jesus taught, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-27)
Jesus called the servant lazy who did not invest his master’s property and wealth while he was away. The master took away the talent that he had given the lazy servant and gave it to another servant who had given a return on the master’s investment. Then the master ordered, “Throw that worthless servant outside, into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Matthew 25:16-30)
I am warned not to be a spiritual sluggard. It is wise for me to tend to the talent God gave me for him and his kingdom. Otherwise, poverty will come on me like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man at the resurrection of the dead.
A sluggard is a lazy person who refuses to work and whose desires are not met. The Hebrew word translated as sluggard in most English Bibles in this verse is “asel” which is translated as slothful elsewhere. A sluggard has either little willpower or their will is directed to unproductive, unedifying, and/or unprofitable occupation. They are motivated by little except ease. They choose to do little except rest and sleep. Anyone can become a sluggard.
The author, a father instructing his child points to a productive ant colony saying, “Go to the ant and consider its ways and be wise!” Ants have no commander, overseer, or ruler yet each work for the good of the colony. They store provisions in the summer and gather food at harvest. (6-7) The human equivalent is living a respectable profitable occupation, saving money, and investing for the future.
How to gain enough will to overcome a sluggard life? One must first decide to change one’s ways. The rut mindset of a sluggard is to say no to self and have low self-esteem. A sluggard doesn’t try mostly because they don’t believe they can succeed. They have low self-esteem. One can overcome this by having a positive role model. Someone who continued a long walk and succeeded in spite of hardship and obstacles in their path. Someone who tried and tried again until they made something good with the life God gave them.
“Putting up security for our neighbor” and “striking hands” are making a personal vow. They are personally securing someone else’s debt and/or life. Thus putting myself under an obligation.
Often there is good reason to put up security for another. Jacob was concerned for Benjamin’s life. So Judah in order to persuade his father Jacob to allow him and his brothers to go to Egypt for food promised him, “I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.” (Genesis 43:9)
Often it seems that such vows become hard to keep putting ourselves in harm’s way (2). When Benjamin was about to be jailed Judah had to offer himself into slavery in order to keep his vow of security to his father. (Genesis 44:34) Judah humbled himself and pleaded for his younger brother’s freedom (3).
Jesus enacted the greatest sacrifice when he put up security for his neighbors and his friends. He presented his well-being and life for them. He allowed himself to be arrested, humiliated, tortured, and crucified. Now I am encouraged in view of God’s mercy, to offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is my spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)