Bible: What Does Proverbs 13-14 Teach Us About Wealth, the Law, Wisdom and Folly, and the Heart of Man?
The Perils of Material Wealth
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Proverbs 13-14: Spiritual and Material Wealth; The Role of the Law; Wisdom and Folly; the Heart of Man
Spiritual and Material Wealth
Parallel with 12:1, the first verse here points out the nature of a wise son and that of a scoffer: the former child listens to instruction, but the latter does not.
A man (perhaps this wise son) must also learn how and when to speak; speak well, and he will eat well; speak cautiously, and he will live.
But it is not so with the unfaithful man of many boasting words (vv. 2-3; cf. 12:14).
Solomon again speaks about wealth in several places. He esteems hard work and diligence better than laziness and dishonesty as means of gaining wealth (vv. 4, 11).
Verse 7 alludes to spiritual riches as being the true wealth; the one whose god is money is poor indeed.
Poverty also comes to one who thinks he's never wrong (v. 18a). The writer also contrasts the good man's view of finances with that of the sinner.
The good man saves money to give it away to loved ones, while the sinner hoards it all, only to surrender it to the righteous (v. 22).
When one must wait an inordinately long time for some desire to come to pass, one's whole being suffers; but once it arrives, life springs eternal (v. 12; cf. v. 19a).
The Role of the Law
Verses 13-14 discuss the role of the law (that is, the word or commandment) in life, and how obedience to it brings reward.
Rebellion against it, however, portends destruction.
This perspective follows through in several subsequent verses.
Solomon emphasizes that difficult lifestyles, shame, trouble, poverty, destruction, and family dysfunction result from wickedness.
Favor, health, honor, wisdom, goodness, family love, and satisfaction, however, come from being, doing, and thinking what is right (vv. 15-18, 20-21, and 24-25).
[Some thoughts regarding the concept of “reproof” are in order:
(1) The idea suggests that one should realize one’s ignorance and blindness about many things;
(2) It includes willingness to humble oneself to receive correction, for pride does not receive reproof well (v. 18);
(3) One must make sure advice is biblically sound before one follows it (v. 20)].
Wisdom and Folly
Solomon continues to compare/contrast the right and the wrong way:
(1) Wisdom builds, but folly destroys the home (metaphorically speaking) [v. 1];
(2) Wisdom preserves the life of the wise; folly is punished (v. 3);
(3) Wisdom knows why it does what it does; folly deceives itself (v. 8);
(4) Wisdom fears and hates evil; folly treats sin lightly, rages out of control, and trusts in itself (vv. 9, 16b-17);
(5) Wisdom leads to wealth; foolishness results in more folly (v. 24);
(6) Wisdom is slow to wrath; folly is impulsive (v. 29); and
(7) Wisdom is at rest; folly seethes and explodes in rage (v. 33).
Your lifestyle reveals your attitude toward God (vv. 2, 31).
A God-fearing approach accrues the benefits of confidence and safety (vv. 26-27), but rash self-confidence characterizes a fool (v. 16b).
Knowledge, self-control, and a quiet, wise heart characterize the one who truly possesses understanding (vv. 6, 29, 33).
Besides contrasting the wise and the foolish, Solomon analyzes the ways of the wicked and upright (vv. 11, 14, 19, 22, 32, 34), the simple and the prudent (vv. 15, 18), and the rich and the poor (vv. 20-21).
He sees prosperity, satisfaction, victory, mercy, safety, and exaltation coming to the good, but destruction, self-absorption, subservience, apostasy, banishment, and reproach for the wicked.
Gullibility and foolishness reside with the simple; they need instruction.
But prudent people know enough to think through issues before deciding what to do (vv.15, 18).
Poor people are often oppressed and hated, but Solomon advocates that mercy be shown to them; the rich will always attract some sycophants as friends (vv. 20-21).
The Heart of Mankind
The topic “The heart of man” receives even more discussion.
Solomon delves into the depths when he considers the contradictions and loneliness of the innermost part of the human being.
Negative emotions that you must frequently bear alone often wreak havoc inside, even though you may try to cover up their effects with laughter.
But consider the other side of the coin: outsiders (“strangers”) cannot experience your joy (vv. 10, 13).
Thinking is also a function of the heart. You may think you are going in the right direction, but you end up apart from God (v. 12).
On the other hand, if your heart is healthy, your physical well-being benefits (v. 30).
Man's speech is vitally connected to his heart.
False testimony often occurs in court (vv. 5, 25), but a truth-teller sets the record straight and the innocent free (v. 25).
Abandon the fool to endure the consequences once you determine he is ignorant (v. 7).
Spend your time at work working, not talking about worthless things (v. 23).
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