Proverbs Bible Study Commentary

More wise lessons

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary)

on the Old Testament Book of Proverbs

(Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 31:31)

www.easyenglish.info

Keith Simons

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

 

About the Book of Proverbs

The Book of Proverbs has 6 main sections:

∑††† Solomonís wise lessons (Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18)

∑††† The proverbs (wise words) of Solomon (Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16)

∑††† 30 wise lessons (Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34)

∑††† More of Solomonís proverbs (wise words) (Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27)

∑††† The puzzles of Agur and Lemuel (Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:9)

∑††† A poem about a perfect wife (Proverbs 31:10-31)

This document contains the last four sections. The first two sections are available separately on our website, www.easyenglish.info

Chapters

Use these links to go to the start of each chapter:

Proverbs 23 | Proverbs 24 | Proverbs 25 | Proverbs 26 | Proverbs 27 | Proverbs 28 | Proverbs 29 | Proverbs 30 | Proverbs 31

 


30 Wise Lessons

(Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34)

v17 Listen carefully to the ĎWise Lessonsí!

Learn them well!

v18 Remember them!

Be ready to repeat them to other people!

v19 I am teaching you Ė yes, you!

I am teaching you so that you will trust God.

v20 Here are 30 Wise Lessons.

These lessons will teach wisdom and knowledge to you.

v21 These lessons are true and certain.

You will give good answers to those who sent you.

The last major section of the Book of Proverbs begins here. The section includes several different parts. There are:

∑††† short proverbs (wise words);

∑††† longer lessons;

∑††† puzzles;

∑††† and a poem.

Verses 17-21

Wise lessons are valuable. And they are important. We need to study these lessons. We should learn them. These lessons teach us how we should live. And they will teach us how to answer other peopleís questions.

There are 30 wise lessons in Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22. The number Ď30í was important to Solomon. It meant that there were many lessons. And they were great lessons. Other ancient books from different nations also contain 30 wise lessons. The people from these nations believed that their own books contained great lessons too. But the Bible is a special book. God provided the Bible to teach us how we should live. He helped the authors of the Bible to write the right things. And God guides us by the Bible today.

v22 Do not cheat poor people because they are poor.

Do not be cruel to them in the court.

v23 God will defend them.

God will attack those who attack poor people.

Verses 22 - 23

God looks after poor people. God does not think that poor people are less important than rich people. God considers that a widowís coin is more valuable than a rich manís large gift. (Mark 12:41-44).

Other people might not protect poor people. But God will protect poor people. He made them, and they belong to him. Jesus said, ĎI tell good news to the poor people.í (Matthew 11:5).

We too must care about poor people. The first Christians were not wealthy. (1 Corinthians 1:26). But they shared their money with poor people (Romans 12:13). And we too should help poor people.

v24 If a man has a bad temper, then do not become his friend.

If a man is angry, then do not go with him.

v25 You might learn his bad attitudes.

His anger could destroy you.

Verses 24 - 25

Anger causes many problems. Anger can cause fights and arguments. It can even cause wars. Avoid the company of people who have a bad temper. You will get into trouble.

v26 When someone else receives a loan,

do not promise to pay the debt.

v27 If you cannot pay, then you will lose everything.

You will even lose the bed that you are lying on.

Verses 26 - 27

We should be careful with money. Money is Godís gift, so we should use our money wisely. We should not risk our money on foolish schemes. We should not waste it on a bet. And we should not help jealous people who demand our money.

Verse 26 seems to describe a common problem at Solomonís time. See Proverbs 6:1-5; Proverbs 11:15 and Proverbs 17:18. Jesus also mentioned that we should be careful to calculate the cost of our plans (Luke 14:28-30).

We should help poor people with our money. But we should choose carefully whom we help. And we should decide carefully how to help them. So we need to ask God to guide us.

In verse 27, the man is lying in bed because he is lazy. We need to work in order to look after money. We must not be lazy about our money. And we must not be lazy about other gifts that God provides. Jesus told a story about this subject - Luke 19:11-27.

v28 Do not move an ancient fence.

Obey the ancient agreement.

Verse 28

Perhaps your boundary is ancient. Perhaps your family agreed the boundary with your neighbourís family, many years ago. But perhaps now, you need more land. And your neighbour will not sell his land. You could just move your fence. Your neighbour might not even realise that the boundary has moved. And you will have the land that you desire.

But before you act, think first! There was an ancient agreement. Perhaps, before the agreement, there were many arguments. Perhaps your family even fought your neighbourís family. If you do not obey the agreement, then these troubles might start again.

An agreement is like a promise. Everyone should respect an agreement. And you should respect your neighbourís property. If a neighbour does not want to sell his land, then you cannot buy it. And you are a thief if you take his land without an agreement. See 1 Kings 21.

In ancient Israel, the Ďlandí had a special meaning. God owned the land (Leviticus 25:23). Proverbs 22:28 repeats Godís command in Deuteronomy 19:14. So these ancient boundaries were not merely agreements between neighbours, like our boundaries today. The ancient boundaries in Israel were an agreement between the people and God. And anyone who moved a boundary was refusing to obey Godís law.

v29 A skilled workman serves kings.

He will not serve ordinary people.

Verse 29

King Solomon built many great buildings. His workmen built palaces. And they built the magnificent Temple (house of God) in Jerusalem. Solomon respected a skilled workman. He knew that skills are important. He knew that a skilled workman deserves honour. As the king, Solomon selected the best workmen to work for him.

We should learn skills. And we should learn them well. We should try to be experts at our work. When we work well, we honour God with our work. ĎIn every kind of work, work hard! You are working for God. You are not really working for men. And you will receive Godís reward, because you are serving Christ.í (Colossians 3:23-24). Paul wrote this to a group of Christians who were slaves (see Colossians 3:22).


Proverbs chapter 23

v1 When a ruler invites you for a meal, be careful!

Think, before you eat!

v2 If you might be greedy, then hold your knife near your neck!

v3 Do not allow the rulerís good food to tempt you!

His food is like a lie.

Verses 1-3

A ruler does not invite you so that you can taste his fine food. He invites you because he wants to discuss serious matters with you. You should not think much about his food or his wine. But you must think about your words. Your advice must be good. You need to speak wise words.

Solomon uses humour in verse 2. Normally you place your knife near your plate. But Solomon jokes that your knife should be near your neck. In your imagination, hold your knife there to warn you. Then you will remember that your life is short. You will remember not to be greedy. And you will remember to advise the ruler wisely.

Solomon continues his advice in verse 3. Be careful if an important person invites you to a special meal. He could want you to do something for him.

Nehemiah 2 explains this lesson. Nehemiah was the kingís servant. The king expected Nehemiah to be happy in the royal service. But Nehemiah had received sad news. So Nehemiah prayed to God. And he spoke carefully to the king. God answered Nehemiahís prayer. And the king gave to Nehemiah the things that Nehemiah requested.

v4 Do not work hard to become rich!

Be wise, and stop!

v5 Do not even glance at money!

Like a bird that flies away, money can suddenly disappear.

Verses 4-5

The Book of Proverbs encourages us to work hard. But some people work too hard, because they want to become wealthy. These people suffer because they use all their energy in their work. Their families suffer too. We ought to be sensible.

We can lose our money quickly. When we die, we cannot take our money with us (Luke 12:16-21; 1 Timothy 6:7). Many things matter more than money. Love is more important than money. Wisdom is more important than money. And God is more important than money or anything else.

v6 Do not eat a selfish manís food!

Do not allow his good food to tempt you!

v7 His thoughts and attitude are always about himself.

He says, ĎEat and drink!í But he does not really want you to take any of his food.

v8 This man will make you feel ill.

When you speak with him, you waste your time.

Verses 6-8

Some people pretend to be our friends. But they do not care about us. They might say the right words. They might invite us to their homes. But they do not want to share their possessions with us. Instead, they want to keep their things for themselves. This is not a good attitude. We should not copy it.

The first Christians were very generous. They shared their possessions (Acts 4:32-37). They did this because they loved each other. We might not copy their actions today. But we should still be generous. We should still invite people to our homes. And we should be glad to share our food with our guests (Hebrews 13:2).

v9 Do not speak to a fool!

A fool will hate your wise words.

Verse 9

Solomon uses the word Ďfoolí to describe an evil person. This person hates God. So this person hates wisdom. This person does not want wise advice, because that advice would tell him to stop his evil behaviour. He will not obey your wise words. See Matthew 7:6.

v10 Do not move an ancient fence!

Do not steal a field from a child that has no father.

v11 God will defend that child.

God will oppose you, on behalf of that child.

Verses 10-11

As in Proverbs 22:28, Solomon reminds us that the boundaries in Israel mattered to God in a special way. But verses 10-11 are also about a child that has no father. Perhaps the childís father died. Now the child has nobody who will protect the childís property. Perhaps nobody cares about that child.

But God is like a father to that child. God will protect the child. God will not allow you to steal from that child. God defends the child who has no parents. See Psalm 10:14. God cares for children.

Jesus said, ĎAllow the little children to come to me!í (Mark 10:14)

v12 Learn instructions! Listen to knowledge!

v13 Teach your child to do the right things!

A smack might save him from death.

v14 Smack him!

Save his spirit from death!

v15 My son, if you learn to be wise, then I shall be glad.

v16 I shall be glad when you speak the right words.

Verses 12-14

Sometimes you need to punish a child with a smack. A smack will not kill your child. But a smack will teach him the right way to behave. And your child will learn how to live wisely. Your punishment now may save your child from a much worse punishment later in life. You could even save him from the evil behaviour that might cause his death.

Perhaps you do not need to hurt your child in order to teach that child. The law in some countries may not allow you to hit your child. But you must teach your child. And you must stop your child when that childís behaviour is wrong. Then the child will learn to do the right things.

Verses 15-16

But you will be glad if your child learns to be wise. You will be especially glad if you had to punish your child. You must teach your child to be wise. You must teach the child to respect God. And if you do the right things, your child will copy your behaviour. And your child will also teach other people to be wise.

v17 When evil men seem to be successful, do not be jealous.

You should continue to trust God.

v18 In the end, your reward will be certain.

Your hope will not be in vain.

Verses 17-18

Perhaps you are jealous because some evil people are wealthy. Or they are famous, or important (Psalm 73:3-5). But you must desire the right things. So do not be jealous when you see evil people. Instead, think about God. Remember that God loves you. Remember the things that God wants you to do. And God will reward you.

v19 Listen, my son! Be wise!

Desire the right things!

v20 Avoid the company of those who spend their time with too much food and drink.

v21 People that love food and wine become poor.

They become sleepy, so that they waste everything.

Verses 19-21

The father warns his son. The son must not be greedy for food. And he must not be a drunk. This is because greedy people and drunks become lazy. They want only to eat and to drink. They do not want to work. Their expensive habits will waste all their money. This is how they become poor.

v22 Listen to your father! He gave your life to you.

Do not hate your mother when she is old!

v23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it at any price. Get wisdom also.

And get discipline and understanding.

v24 The father of a good man has great joy.

A wise son gives pleasure to his father.

v25 If you are wise, then your father and mother will be glad.

If you are wise, your mother will have great joy.

Verses 22-25

If the son loves his parents, then he should listen to them. He should obey their instructions. And he should learn to be wise. Then his parents will be glad. They will have great joy, because their son will be a wise man.

So, the son should choose the best things in life. He should not choose money or possessions. He should choose the truth. And he should choose wisdom, discipline and understanding. These qualities will cause the son to become a great man.

A wise son is better than a rich son. A wise son is better than a famous son. And a wise son is much better than a foolish son.

Verse 22 reminds us about Godís command in Exodus 20:12. Children should respect their parents.

In verse 23, we cannot buy and sell truth with money. But truth and wisdom cost much in effort to obtain. So do wisdom and understanding.

v26 My son, obey me with all your heart!

Copy the way that I live.

v27 A woman who sells sex is like a deep hole.

A married woman who tempts you is like a narrow well.

v28 Like a robber, this woman waits for you.

She causes men to do evil things.

Verses 26-28

The son must be careful about sex. Some women sell sex. They are like a deep hole that a hunter uses as a trap for animals. And some married women tempt other men. They are like a narrow well that a man cannot escape from (Jeremiah 38:6-8).

Wells and holes are dangerous whether they are deep or narrow. And sex is dangerous, unless you are with your husband or wife. Sex can cause many troubles.

In verse 28, a robber waits to attack. The wrong woman is as dangerous as a robber. The son might suppose that the woman waits to greet him. Or he might suppose that she loves him. But she does not obey Godís law. And she will cause him, too, to do evil things.

v29 Some people are sad and they cry.

They argue and they complain.

Their eyes are red and their bodies have bruises.

v30 These things happened because wine tempted them.

They went to taste the wine.

v31 Do not look at wine!

Do not say, ĎIt is pretty! It is red!í

Do not swallow it!

v32 In the end, wine will hurt you.

Wine is like a poisonous snake, which will bite you.

v33 The alcohol will confuse your brain.

Your eyes will see strange sights.

v34 You will shake like a man who sleeps at sea.

You will feel like a man who balances on a ship.

v35 You will say, ĎThe people hit me, but they cannot hurt me.

They whip me, but I feel nothing.

I must awake, because I need more alcohol.í

Verse 29

The writer points out a group of people. They are sad. They argue. They cry. Perhaps we suppose that a terrible event has happened.

Verse 30

The writer tells us what is wrong. These people drank too much wine. Alcohol tempted them. This is terrible, he argues.

Verse 31

Wine may look attractive. But it causes many troubles. When a person begins to drink alcohol, that person sometimes cannot stop. This is an illness called Ďalcoholismí. If someone cannot control alcohol, that person needs help. That person should learn not to drink alcohol again. Doctors might help them. A group called ĎAlcoholics Anonymousí might help. And that personís friends should explain the problems that alcohol causes. Alcohol causes many illnesses. Alcohol can cause death.

Verse 32

The writer tells us about a drunkís strange experiences. If someone has an alcohol problem, that person should obtain help early. That person should not wait until they suffer these strange experiences.

The writer seems to know these experiences well. Perhaps the writer himself suffered this problem.

Drunks may see strange things. Some drunks imagine that they see snakes. A drunk might imagine that the snakes are attacking him.

Verse 33

Alcohol confuses a drinker. A drinker cannot think sensible thoughts. Often, he thinks that he needs to drink more alcohol. Really, he needs to stop.

Verse 34

When the drinker drinks too much alcohol, he feels like someone on a ship. The drinker cannot walk in a straight line. He might shake. He might fall. He might be sick.

Verse 35

Now the drinker hurts himself. But he might not feel the pain.

The next day, he might feel terrible pains. These pains are called a Ďhangoverí. But the drunk does not learn from his error. He will make the same mistake again, many times.

This is because alcohol confuses the brain. The drunk does not realise that he must refuse alcohol. He thinks that he needs more alcohol. He supposes that alcohol will cure his problems. Really, alcohol causes all his problems.


Proverbs chapter 24

v1 Do not be jealous of evil men.

Do not try to meet them.

v2 They make cruel plans in their minds.

And they discuss how to cause trouble.

Verses 1-2

You should not join a group of evil people. Their secret plans are cruel. And they plot trouble with their conversations. You should not be jealous of these people. You do not want to suffer their punishment.

v3 Wisdom is like someone who builds a house.

And intelligence is like the person who establishes the house.

v4 Knowledge is like the person who furnishes the house

with rare and beautiful objects.

Verses 3-4

The writer describes a fine house. Perhaps the house is really a palace, because the house has rare and beautiful objects. This house can be like our lives.

A house is safe if its builder was skilled. And our lives are safe, if we are wise. And we should use our intelligence. And we should study to gain more intelligence. We need wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. Then, our lives will be good lives.

v5 A wise man is powerful.

A man who has knowledge is strong.

v6 Before you fight a war, get advice!

To win the war, you need many advisers.

Verses 5-6

You can count the number of soldiers in an army. But the number of soldiers does not win the battle. Your soldiers may be strong and brave. But this does not win the battle. The army needs a wise commander. And the commander needs good advice. One adviser is not enough. The commander needs many advisers.

You need advisers whenever you have a difficult problem. You cannot solve these problems yourself. You need other people to help you. Choose your advisers carefully! You need wise advisers.

v7 A fool does not understand wisdom.

When men gather at the court, a fool can say nothing.

Verse 7

In ancient Israel, the men from a city would meet at the city gate. They would discuss the cityís problems together. Sometimes they would act like judges in a court. Sometimes they would decide whether to fight a war.

All the men would gather. But the oldest men would speak first. The people thought that the oldest men would be the wisest men. Then the younger men would speak.

But a Ďfoolí is someone who hates wisdom. He does not even know the meaning of Ďwisdomí. So the fool would not speak at the court. He has no wisdom, so he cannot advise. Nobody wants to hear his foolish words.

v8 When a man makes evil plans,

people call him a Ďplotterí.

v9 Foolish plots are evil.

People hate the person who insults them.

Verses 8-9

This man makes evil plots. And the people hate him. They hate him because all his ideas are evil. Perhaps he wants to cause trouble. Or perhaps he wants to benefit himself unfairly.

v10 If troubles make you weak, you are never strong.

Verse 10

We must learn to be strong, even when we have troubles. We must learn to advise well, even when people oppose us. We must teach Godís message, even if people hate us.

v11 If someone is going to die, then rescue him!

Save him from death!

v12 You cannot say, ĎI did not know about this.í

God knows your thoughts.

And you need Godís help, because God guards your life.

God is a judge, and he knows your actions.

Verses 11-12

You should not pretend that you do not see someone elseís troubles. Help that person! Perhaps you can save him. God knows your actions. God will be your judge.

See Ezekiel 33:1-9. God told Ezekiel to warn the people about their evil actions. If Ezekiel warned the people, then Ezekiel would save his own life. But God would still punish the people if they continued their evil behaviour. But if Ezekiel did not warn the people, God would punish Ezekiel.

God has given a message to us (John 3:16). We must take this message to all the people in the world (Matthew 28:19-20). And God will help us to teach this message, because God is always with us.

v13 My son, eat honey!

Honey is good, and it is sweet.

v14 Wisdom is like honey.

Wisdom will make your spirit strong.

If you find wisdom, you will receive your reward.

Your hope will not be in vain.

Verses 13-14

Honey was a valuable food. Other foods do not taste like honey. And honey is useful as a food and as a medicine.

Wisdom is also special. Wisdom is precious. Sometimes we must study hard to become wise. But wisdom is good. We all need wisdom.

v15 Do not wait as a thief outside a good manís house.

Do not attack his home.

v16 Even if a good man falls 7 times, he will rise again.

But trouble destroys a wicked man.

Verses 15-16

In verse 15, the writer uses humour. He writes a lesson for thieves. Of course, the writer really thinks that thieves are evil. But he pretends that he is teaching thieves. He advises the thieves not to steal from good men. If they try to steal from a good man, they will fail.

But even if the thieves succeed, the good man will not suffer. If a good man falls, he will rise again. If he falls again, then he will rise again. This will happen many times, because God protects a good man. When the thief attacks, this is like a fall. So God will protect the good man. The thief will be fighting against God. So the thief cannot succeed.

But the thief himself is a wicked man. In the end, the thief will suffer for his evil actions.

v17 Do not be glad when your enemy falls.

Do not be happy when you see his troubles.

v18 God will be angry with you, instead of your enemy.

Verses 17-18

When your enemy suffers, perhaps you are glad. But you should not be glad. Instead, you should be cautious. Perhaps your enemy is suffering because God has punished your enemy for his evil actions. But if your own actions are evil, then God will punish you, too. We all must ask God to forgive our evil actions. Remember that God is the judge of everyone.

v19 Do not worry about evil people.

Do not be jealous of wicked people.

v20 An evil man has no hope for the future.

A wicked person will die.

Verses 19-20

Perhaps you are afraid of evil people. Or perhaps you are jealous of their money or importance. Then, remember what will happen to them. In the end they will die. God is a fair judge. And he will punish them for their evil behaviour. So serve God! And learn to avoid evil actions!

v21 Respect God, and respect the king, my son.

Do not oppose them.

v22 Both God and the king will suddenly destroy those that oppose them.

Both can cause great troubles.

Verses 21-22

God is like a king. God will punish his enemies. You might escape from an angry king. But you cannot escape from Godís anger. So do not be an enemy of God. God wants you to confess your evil actions. He sent Jesus to die for you. Jesus is Godís son; and Jesus suffered the punishment for your evil behaviour. If you accept Jesus into your life, God will forgive you. And you will become a friend of God.

Because we respect God, we also respect our rulers (1 Peter 2:17). We pray for kings and other rulers (1 Timothy 2:2). And we should try to be good citizens.

v23 Here are some more Wise Lessons:

A judge must be fair.

v24 A judge might say to a guilty man, ĎYou are innocent.í

But the people will curse that judge. The nations will hate him.

v25 However, the judge who punishes the guilty man does well.

God will be very kind to that judge.

Verses 23-25

The 30 Wise Lessons are complete. They are important lessons. But there is more wisdom that the writer wants to teach us.

An unfair judge is terrible. God will punish that judge. But a fair judge makes the right decision. He deserves honour.

v26 An honest reply is like a kiss on the lips.

Verse 26

If someone loves you, then that person will be honest. You might not like your friendís honest words. Those honest words might be bad news. You might even prefer someone who lies. But honest words are better than a kiss. Your enemy could kiss you. But honest words prove that your friend really loves you.

v27 First, work outside in the fields.

Afterwards, build your house.

Verse 27

This is good, practical advice. You need to work in the fields to grow your crops. Without food, you will die. If you still have energy, afterwards you can build your house. But the person that builds his house first will have no food.

We should carry out our most important work first.

v28 Do not oppose your neighbour in a court without a proper reason.

Do not lie about him.

v29 Do not say, ĎI will punish that man for his behaviour.

I will make him suffer because he was wrong.í

Verses 28-29

If you speak false evidence against your neighbour, your attitudes are wrong. You should not be opposing your neighbour without a proper reason. If your neighbour is guilty, then God will punish your neighbour. God is the judge.

So you should not punish your neighbour if he has upset you. Instead, you should forgive your neighbour. See Matthew 18:21-22 and Mark 11:25.

v30 I passed the lazy manís field.

I passed the garden that belongs to that unwise man.

v31 Weeds were everywhere. The plants were wild.

Even the garden wall had fallen down.

v32 I thought about the things that I saw.

I learned a lesson from that place.

v33 If you are lazy, you may say, ĎRelax and sleep!

Fold your arms and rest!í

v34 But such attitudes will make you poor, as quickly as a thief attacks.

Your losses will overcome you.

Verses 30-34

There ought to be crops in this field. But the lazy man did not sow any seed.

There ought to be food in this garden. But the lazy man did not look after the food plants.

Now the garden is wild. Now there are only weeds. The writer does not tell us whether the lazy man died. But we know that the lazy man had no food. So perhaps the lazy man starved.

So the writer learned a lesson. He learned that he must work hard. Rest is good. And sleep is good. But if we are lazy, then we shall suffer.

More of Solomonís Proverbs (wise words)

(Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27)

Proverbs chapter 25

v1 Here are more of Solomonís proverbs (wise words). The officials copied these proverbs, when Hezekiah was the king of Judah.

Verse 1

King Hezekiah lived 250 years after King Solomon. Hezekiah was a good king. He served God.

Hezekiah established again the temple (house of God in Jerusalem), which Solomon built. King Hezekiahís officials found some more proverbs (wise words). So they added these proverbs to Solomonís book.

Solomon wrote these proverbs (wise words). Or perhaps these proverbs were part of Solomonís collection.

The style of these proverbs (wise words) is different from the style of the proverbs in chapters 10 to 22. Some of these later proverbs are longer than the earlier proverbs. And many of these proverbs are in subject groups.

v2 Mysteries prove that God is great.

But a king is great if he understands a mystery.

v3 The skies are high. The earth is deep.

And nobody can know the heart of a king.

v4 Remove the dirt from the silver!

And the skilled workman will make a beautiful object.

v5 Remove evil people from the government!

And the king will rule well.

v6 Do not try to be important.

Do not sit with the great men.

v7 Then the king will say to you, ĎCome here! You are important!í

But otherwise, he will say, ĎGo away! Other men are more important than you.í

Verse 2

Mysteries show one way that kings differ from God.

We know that God is great. We see many mysteries that are the works of God. We see plants and animals. But we do not know how God made them. We do not even know how our own bodies work. These things are mysteries to us. But they are the works of God. Because of such mysteries, we realise that God is great.

But a king is great if he understands mysteries. The king needs to realise if his people are unhappy. And he has to decide what he should do. The solution to the problem might be a mystery. The decision may be difficult. The king needs the best advisers. But if the kingís decision is right, then he is a great king.

Verse 3

We cannot see all the stars, because the sky is too high. And we cannot know a kingís emotions or secret thoughts. In public, the king might seem bold. But in private, he might be afraid.

Verses 4-5

The workman cannot make a beautiful object with dirty silver. And the king cannot rule well if his government is evil. Paul taught us to pray for kings and governments (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Verses 6-7

This is similar to Jesusí words in Luke 14:7-11. We should be humble. Then God will give honour to us.

v8 When you see something, do not argue too quickly.

Perhaps you are wrong about your neighbour. Then you will be ashamed.

v9 Instead, discuss the matter with your neighbour himself.

Do not tell his secrets to other people.

v10 Otherwise, someone may hear, who can make you ashamed.

And everyone will blame you.

v11 The right words are like gold apples on a silver tray.

v12 A wise man corrects someone who listens.

The wise manís words are beautiful and valuable, like gold.

v13 Choose a man whom you can trust to deliver your message.

He will please you. He is like cool snow during the harvest.

v14 Sometimes there are clouds and winds, but no rain falls.

And sometimes a man promises gifts, but he gives nothing.

v15 A patient man can convince a ruler.

A gentle word is like a hammer that can break a bone!

Verses 8-10

If you are unhappy with someone, you should discuss the matter with that person first. You should not gossip.

Verse 11

We should always want to say the right words. The right words are beautiful, like gold. The right words are valuable, like silver. But the right words are also rare, like silver or gold. People do not often say the right words. Instead, they say the wrong words. For example, people speak their own ideas. Or they make evil plans. Or they gossip. Or they insult people. Or they lie, or they argue. And these words are the wrong words.

But the right words are wise. The right words teach us about God. The right words help us. They comfort us. Let us speak the right words!

Verse 12

Many people do not like correction. These people do not want to know that their actions are wrong. But when someone accepts correction, that person is glad. That person is glad because he will not continue to do the wrong things. So that person praises the wise man.

The wise person has taught a beautiful lesson to the other person. And the other person thinks that the lesson was valuable, like gold.

Verse 13

You can trust this man. He does the things that he promises. He will deliver your letter. And you will be as happy as a man who finds snow on a hot day.

As Christians, we should do the things that we have promised to do. Then other people will be able to trust us. And these people will learn from us that they can also trust God.

Verse 14

Solomon lived in a dry country. His people needed rain for their crops. So the people were sad when the clouds did not bring rain.

This man behaved like these clouds. He did not do the things that he promised. His promises seemed genuine. But he never gave the gifts that he promised. He should not have promised these things.

Jesus said, Ď ďYesĒ means ďyesĒ. And ďnoĒ means ďnoĒ. Any other ideas are from the devil.í (Matthew 5:37. See also James 5:12.)

Verse 15

A patient person can achieve great things. His gentle words may not seem as impressive as other peopleís words. But the patient person will continue until he succeeds. And, in the end, his gentle words are very powerful. See James 5:7-11.

v16 If you eat too much honey, then you will be sick.

v17 If you visit your neighbour too often, then he will hate you.

Verses 16-17

Honey is good. But too much honey will make you sick.

Friendship is good. And visits to your neighbour are good. But you must be careful. Your neighbour needs to meet other people. And your neighbour needs to do other things. If you visit your neighbour too often, then you will upset your neighbour.

We must learn how to control our own behaviour.

v18 Some people use a whip, a sword, or an arrow.

Other people lie about their neighbour.

v19 Some people have a bad tooth or a bad foot.

Other people trust a fool when they are in trouble.

v20 Some people will steal a coat on a cold day. Or, they will pour acid on soap.

Other people sing when someone is sad.

Verse 18

There are many cruel people who want to attack their neighbour. They could hurt their neighbour with a whip. Or they might use a sword.

But you can also hurt your neighbour if you lie about him. You might argue, ĎMy lie is merely words. Words do not hurt.í But your neighbour will suffer because of your evil words (Exodus 20:16).

Verse 19

A bad tooth causes pain. And it continues to cause pain. A fool is an evil man who hates wisdom. You cannot trust this evil man. He will not help you when you are in trouble. Instead, he will cause you to suffer. His advice will be evil. And his actions will be evil. So you will continue to suffer.

Verse 20

These people are all cruel.

If someone steals a coat on a cold day, then that thief is very cruel. If someone pours acid on soap, that person is cruel. He spoils the soap. Now, nobody can use the soap.

A singer might not seem cruel. But this singer is cruel also.

Someone is sad. But this singer is happy. The singer does not think about the sad man. And the singer does not try to help the sad man. Instead, the singer continues to sing. And this upsets the sad man. So the sad man becomes sadder. And the singer does not even realise that his actions are cruel.

v21 If your enemy is hungry, then give food to him.

If your enemy needs a drink, then give water to him.

v22 He will feel as if burning coal is on his head.

But God will reward you.

Verses 21-22

Do not attack your enemy! Do not fight him! Instead, trust God! God will protect you. Pray for your enemy! Love your enemy!

Jesus taught this lesson in Matthew 5:43-48. While Jesus was dying, he prayed for his enemies (Luke 23:34). And Jesus forgave a criminal who insulted him (Mark 15:32 and Luke 23:39-43).

Your enemy might be upset when you help him. He does not want to accept your kind gifts. He might continue to insult you. But God sees that your actions are right. And God will reward you.

v23 The wind brings rain.

A secret whisper brings an angry reaction.

v24 One man lives on the corner of his roof.

His life is better than the man who lives with an arguing wife.

v25 Good news from abroad is like a cool drink.

Both comfort a tired person.

Verse 23

Perhaps you do not want a friend to hear your words. So you whisper. Your friend might not hear your actual words. But he knows that you are whispering. So your friend guesses that your words are not good. Or he guesses that you are gossiping. And he is angry.

If you whisper about another person, someone else may repeat your words to that person. Then you can expect an angry reaction from that person. As the wind brings rain, your whisper will cause this angry reaction.

Verse 24

If your husband or wife always argues, life is hard. This man has escaped. He has gone to his roof, to avoid the argument.

We should try not to argue. Forgive other peopleís errors! Learn to be calm! Do not be like this manís wife who continues to argue.

Verse 25

We wait for news about our friends and relatives. They may be distant, but we still care about them. And we are glad to hear their good news. We ourselves may have many troubles. But their good news comforts us.

v26 Muddy water is more useful than the good man who supports a wicked manís plan.

v27 Too much honey is not a good meal.

And a man, who tries to be great, is not a great man.

v28 A man who has no discipline is like a city without walls.

Verse 26

This is terrible. This good man is helping a wicked man with an evil plan. The good man is not trying to do evil things. But he has not realised that he must oppose the plan. He has not realised the evil effects of the wicked manís plan. He did not know that a wicked manís plans are always evil.

You should not drink muddy water. It is not safe. But even muddy water is more useful than that good man. The good man ought to be useful. So he ought to oppose the evil plan.

Verse 27

You might like honey. But you cannot eat only honey. So you make a mistake if there is too much honey in your meal.

This man also has made a mistake. He wants to be a great man. So he pretends that he is already a great man. But he is not a great man. Instead, he is stupid.

This man ought to be humble. Then other people will decide whether the man is really great.

Verse 28

When Solomonís workmen built a city, they built strong walls round that city (1 Kings 9:15-19). The walls were important defences. They protected the city from attack.

We ought to learn discipline. Discipline is like the city walls, because discipline makes us strong. We may have many problems. But we shall act wisely if we have discipline.


Proverbs chapter 26

v1 Snow should not fall in summer.

Rain should not fall during the harvest.

And a fool should not receive honour.

v2 A bird does not stop as it flies.

And the effects of an insult do not pause.

Instead, the insult continues to cause trouble.

Verse 1

We all know the seasons in our own countries. We know when to expect rain or snow. We know what should happen.

And we know the reaction that an evil man deserves. A fool is an evil man who hates wisdom. And he does not deserve any honour.

Verse 2

A flying bird does not pause. It continues to fly. Otherwise, it would fall. An insult is like the bird, because an insult continues to cause trouble. Perhaps the insult was only one word. Perhaps you spoke that word many months ago. But the insult upset your friend. And he is still unhappy.

You ought to go to your friend. Ask him to forgive you. Otherwise, your stupid insult will continue to cause trouble.

v3 Whip the horse!

Control the animal!

Punish the fool!

v4 Do not answer a fool with foolish words!

You will become like him.

v5 Answer a fool with foolish words!

Otherwise, he will think that he is wise.

v6 Someone might cut off his own feet.

Or he might cause himself an injury.

Another person might send a fool with a message.

v7 If a man cannot walk, his legs hang down.

The man has legs, but they do not help him.

And when a fool speaks a proverb (wise words), these words do not help the fool.

v8 Someone might tie up a stone in cloth.

(Then, he cannot attack when he needs to throw the stone.)

Another person might give an honour to a fool.

v9 A drunk carries a thorn bush.

(A thorn bush is a weed with sharp points, which will cause the drunk to bleed.)

And when a fool speaks a proverb (wise words), these words cause pain.

v10 One man shoots arrows everywhere!

And another man employs someone that he does not know.

This man would even employ a fool.

v11 A dog returns to the place where the dog was sick.

And a fool repeats his foolish behaviour.

v12 A man thinks that he is wise.

Even a fool has more hope than that man!

These verses all describe a fool. Solomon uses the word Ďfoolí to describe someone who hates wisdom.

Verse 3

When a horse pulls a cart, the driver whips the horse. This is because the driver needs to control the animal.

A fool is an evil man. He refuses to listen to wise advice. If you are a judge, then you must punish this evil man. Unless someone controls an evil person, that person will continue his evil behaviour.

Verses 4-5

The fool is an evil man who hates your wise words. Solomon uses humour here, because verse 4 is the opposite of verse 5. But both verses are correct.

Verse 4 The fool hates wisdom. So his words are foolish. You do not want to be foolish. So do not answer him with foolish words!

Verse 5 Do not answer a fool with sensible words! Do not allow him to think that he is wise! He deserves only a stupid answer. So answer him with foolish words!

The truth is that this evil person will not obey good advice. He does not care whether your words are sensible or foolish. He will even use your own words against you. This man is very evil. Perhaps you should say nothing to him (Matthew 27:12-14). Or perhaps God will help you to know the right words (Matthew 13:11).

Verse 6

The person who causes his own injury is stupid. But the person who sends a fool is also stupid. A fool will not do the right things. Perhaps he will not deliver the message. Perhaps he will change the words. Perhaps he will deliver an enemyís message instead.

If you send a fool with your message, then you will suffer.

Verse 7

A fool might repeat a proverb (wise words). But a fool is stupid, so he does not understand the proverb. He says the right words, but he is still stupid. If he understood the words, the fool would stop his silly behaviour. But he refuses to do this. So his proverb cannot help him.

Even the devil can repeat a Bible verse (Matthew 4:6 and Psalm 91:11-12). But the devil did not understand the verse. He tried to use the verse to test Jesus. But Jesus told the devil that the devil was wrong (Matthew 4:7).

Verse 8

Solomonís father was David. David used a stone from a bag to kill his enemy, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40). But David did not tie the stone to the bag. This action would be stupid. This action would waste both the stone and the bag.

And only a stupid person gives honour to a fool. A fool is an evil person who hates wise words. A fool does not deserve any honours. The person who gave the honour wasted his time.

Verse 9

This drunk carries a thorn bush. (A thorn bush is a weed with sharp points.) The drunk will hurt himself. And he might hurt other people.

This fool speaks a proverb (wise words). But he is a fool. So he is evil, and he hates wise words. He repeats the proverb as an evil scheme. He wants people to think that he is wise. And he wants people to trust him. The fool will hurt people with his proverb.

Verse 10

The man who shoots arrows everywhere is clearly dangerous. But the employer might not seem to be dangerous. In fact, this employer is also dangerous. He would even employ a fool. The fool is an evil man. He might steal from his employer. And the fool might cause many troubles. The employer will suffer because of the foolís evil schemes.

Verse 11

You cannot cure a fool. A fool is an evil person. He will repeat his evil behaviour. This is terrible. You cannot change this man. Only God can stop the foolís evil behaviour.

A fool is not like a simple person. A simple person is someone who has not learned to be wise. But you can teach a simple person to do the right things.

Verse 12

Solomon thinks that this man is even worse than a fool. (But perhaps Solomon uses humour here.)

This man imagines that he is wise. But he is not wise. He thinks that his advice is good. But his advice is wrong. He tries to help everyone. But really, he causes problems for them.

We must be very careful when we advise. We must study well. We must listen to other people. And then we shall not copy this manís errors.

v13 The lazy man says, ĎThere is a lion outside!

The lion is angry. And the lion is on the streets!í

v14 A door opens. It moves, but it never goes anywhere.

The door is like a lazy man on his bed. He might move. But he will not go anywhere.

v15 When a lazy man has a meal, he puts his hand into the bowl.

Then he is too lazy to lift his hand to his mouth.

v16 A lazy man thinks that he is very wise.

He thinks that he is wiser than 7 intelligent men!

Verse 13

Solomon uses humour whenever he discusses a lazy man. The lazy man has his excuse. And perhaps there is a lion. But we know that, really, this man is lazy. He only wants an excuse not to work.

Verse 14

This man is very lazy. He is still in his bed. He might turn. He might even move. But he will not get up. He is too lazy.

So Solomon says, this man is like a door. The door moves. But it is still in its doorway. The door never goes anywhere.

Verse 15

Now, the lazy man has a meal. He is lazy. But he knows how to take things. And lazy people often take things from other people. For example, a lazy person might ask for a gift.

But the lazy person does not know how to enjoy these things. And he does not know how to use them. The lazy man takes the food. But he is too lazy to eat it.

Verse 16

This lazy man is like the man in verse 12. Both men think that they are wise. But the lazy man thinks that he is the wisest of all men. The lazy man thinks this because he refuses to work. But he is not clever when he avoids a task. The lazy man may become poor. He may suffer for his attitude. He might even starve.

The lazy man ought to work. He should learn a skill. Then people will respect him. Then he will deserve honour.

v17 Do not grasp a dogís ears!

And do not interrupt when other people argue!

v18 A mad man shoots burning arrows.

v19 Another man lies. Then he says, ĎI was joking!í

v20 Without fuel, there is no fire.

If nobody gossips, there is no argument.

v21 Wood starts a fire.

A man who disagrees starts an argument.

v22 When someone gossips, his words are like a favourite food.

The words, like the food, enter right into a man.

v23 A cheap pot might have a silky surface.

And an evil man might speak well.

Verse 17

A dog is angry if you grasp its ears. It will bite you.

Some people are angry if someone interrupts their argument. Perhaps that person wants to help. Perhaps he supposes that he can help them to be calm. But when he interrupts, he will have to deal with their anger too.

Verses 18-19

Everyone can see that this mad man is dangerous. But the other man is also dangerous. His lie caused trouble. Then he claims that the lie was just a joke. So his humour caused trouble for everyone.

Verse 20

A fire will not burn without fuel. When someone gossips, their words are like fuel. And an argument is like fire. So, if people do not gossip, they avoid arguments. We should learn to be careful with our words. See James 3.

Verse 21

You need wood to start a fire. A man who disagrees is like the wood. He can start a terrible argument.

But we cannot always agree with everyone. And we cannot avoid every argument. But we should think before we speak. If we say nothing, we might avoid the argument.

Verse 22

This verse is the same as Proverbs 18:8.

Solomon uses humour here. When someone gossips, their words are like a special food. People enjoy it when someone gossips.

Food enters the stomach. And when someone gossips, their stories enter the mind. People remember the stories. And they repeat the stories. So they gossip too. Soon many people will hear the stories, even if the stories are not true.

When someone gossips, their words cause many problems. We should learn not to gossip.

Verse 23

You cannot believe everything that you see. Some pots seem silky on the outside. But they are just cheap pots.

You cannot believe everything that you hear. Some evil men speak clever words. But they are still evil men. You must not trust them

v24 A cruel man uses his clever words to hide his true thoughts.

But there are evil ideas in his mind.

v25 His words may be beautiful, but do not believe him!

In his mind, he has 7 evil plans.

v26 His evil plans might be secret.

But soon everyone will discover that he is wicked. And the court will punish him.

Verses 24-26

Here is an evil man who speaks clever words. And some people think that his words are wonderful. They do not realise that his plans are evil. They do not know his evil ideas. And if they trust him, they will suffer.

Soon everyone will know the manís evil scheme. And a judge will punish that man.

v27 One man digs a hole (because he wants to hurt someone else). But that man will fall into his own hole.

Another man rolls a stone. But that stone will roll back over him.

v28 A man who lies hurts other people. He hates them.

Another man pretends that someone else is great. He causes trouble.

Verse 27

These men wanted to cause trouble for other people. But in fact, these men suffered because of their own cruel actions. Everything that went wrong in their lives was their own fault.

It is never good to hate other people. We should never try to cause trouble. If we do, we shall cause trouble in our own lives.

Verse 28

Both men cause trouble because their words are not sincere.

When the first man lies, the people believe him. Then they do the wrong thing, because of the lie.

The second person pretends that someone else is great. He does this because he wants a gift from that person. These words also cause trouble.


Proverbs chapter 27

v1 Do not become proud about your plans for tomorrow.

You do not know what will happen tomorrow.

v2 Do not praise yourself!

Let someone else praise you, if you deserve it.

v3 Stones are heavy. Sand is heavy.

But a foolís anger causes more strain than a heavy weight.

v4 Anger is cruel. It is like a flood.

But a jealous person is in a worse state.

Verse 1

See James 4:13-17 and Luke 12:16-21. God controls your life. You could die tomorrow. So trust God about the future. And be ready to meet God (Amos 4:12).

Verse 2

Do not say that you are important! Be humble! Jesus said, ĎIf someone wants to become great, he should become a servant. And if someone wants to be your leader, he should become a slave. I did not come as a king. I came as a servant. And I will die so that God will forgive many people.í (Mark 10:43-45)

Verse 3

The anger of the fool (evil person) causes great strain. But a good person should not be angry. See Ephesians 4:31. Instead, a good person should forgive other peopleís errors. (Ephesians 4:32)

Verse 4

Anger is terrible. But, like the flood, the anger will soon end. The waters of a flood will soon go away. And an angry man will soon become calm again.

But a jealous person is in a worse state. This feeling will not end quickly. Instead, it will continue to cause trouble for a long time. See Deuteronomy 5:21.

v5 A friendís word of correction is better than love that is secret.

v6 Do not trust the soft kisses of an enemy.

But a good friend will tell you the truth.

Verses 5-6

A word of correction might be unpleasant. You do not want your friend to see your error. And you may not want your friend to talk about such matters. But he warns you because you are wrong. He speaks the truth to you because he wants to help you. He does these things because he loves you. See also my note on Proverbs 24:26.

But your enemy does not love you. Even his kiss has an evil reason. See Mark 14:44-46.

v7 When someone has eaten too much, he will not even eat honey.

But a hungry man thinks that even bitter foods taste good.

v8 A man away from home is like a mother bird away from her nest.

v9 A beautiful smell causes joy.

And a friend causes joy, if he advises well.

v10 Do not forget your friend!

Do not forget your fatherís friend!

When you are in trouble, do not go to your brother!

A near neighbour is better than a distant brother.

v11 My son, be wise!

I shall be glad if you are wise.

And I shall be able to answer my enemy.

Verse 7

Our reactions depend on our circumstances.

A rich man cannot recognise the best foods. He has eaten too much. So he cannot even enjoy honey.

But a very poor man will not even see good food. He is glad to have anything to eat.

The rich man has a huge meal, but he does not enjoy it. The poor man has a tiny meal. But he is hungry and his meal tastes good. Sometimes a poor person enjoys life more than a rich person. But both men can have a better life if the rich man is generous.

Verse 8

A mother bird that wanders from her nest cannot look after her young birds. And a man who leaves his home cannot look after a family. That man may have no children. But if he has children, he cannot teach them to be wise. Such a man cannot establish a strong family.

Verse 9

We like to smell flowers. We like to smell good food. And many other smells give joy to us. These smells are beautiful.

And we have great joy when our friends help us. We are glad when their advice is good.

Verse 10

Some young people will not ask older people to help them. But often, a family friend is more willing to help than your own friends. Your fatherís friend used to help your father, and perhaps your fatherís friend would like to help you now. Older people have plenty of experience, and their advice is often wise. When you have troubles, such people may be better helpers than even a brother.

Verse 11

A father is responsible for his sonís good behaviour. If the boy develops well, his character is proof of the fatherís success.

v12 When a wise man sees danger, he stays in a safe place.

But simple people do nothing, so they suffer.

v13 If a man promises to pay a foreignerís debt, then take his coat.

If he promises on behalf of a foreign woman, then keep his coat! Otherwise, he may never pay.

v14 A man shouts a greeting and wakes his neighbour very early in the morning.

But his angry neighbour will consider that the man is a great nuisance.

v15 A wife who argues sounds like constant rainfall.

v16 You cannot stop the wind.

You cannot grasp oil in your hand.

And you cannot stop this wifeís constant arguments.

v17 You use an iron tool to make another iron tool sharper.

So one man improves another.

Verse 12

See Proverbs 22:3.

Verse 13

See Proverbs 20:16.

Verse 14

Solomon uses humour here. This stupid man will waken his neighbour. The man wanted to show how cheerful he was. But the neighbour will still be angry.

We must think about the probable results of our actions. And we should not waken our neighbours.

Verses 15-16

Wives should try not to upset their husbands. Some wives are always arguing. But a good wife is calm. She gently teaches her husband when he is wrong. And she works hard, so that he is content. See Proverbs 31:10-31.

Verse 17

Friendship is good. Friends should encourage each other. They should help each other. And they should teach each other about God. In the Bible, Jonathan and David were special friends. See 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19:1-6; 20:1-42; 23:16.

v18 The man that looks after a fruit tree will eat the fruit.

The servant who looks after his master will receive his reward.

v19 As water reflects a face,

so a manís thoughts show his character.

v20 Death and hell always claim more lives.

And nothing can satisfy a manís desire.

v21 Test silver with heat!

Test gold with fire!

If you praise a man, then you will test him.

v22 You can strike a fool as hard as you strike grain.

But he will still be a fool.

Verse 18

A good farmer deserves his harvest. And a good servant deserves a reward. His master should pay this servant well.

Verse 19

We see our own good and bad qualities when we notice the same qualities in other people.

Verse 20

Nothing satisfies a manís desires. And nothing can satisfy death and hell. Only Jesus can completely satisfy human desires (John 4:13-14).

But as Christians, we must learn to be content. See Philippians 4:11-13.

Verse 21

You can find out whether gold is real in a fire. Gold does not burn. And silver does not burn.

And you can test a manís attitudes. Some people are proud if you praise them. Some people are foolish if you praise them. And humble people will still be humble, even if you praise them.

Verse 22

You strike grain to make flour. A fool is an evil person who hates wisdom. A judge might order a cruel punishment for an evil person. But an evil person will learn nothing, even if you strike him many times. After his punishment, that evil man will still be evil. He will learn nothing from his punishment.

v23 Look after your animals!

Be careful on your farm.

v24 Wealth does not last.

Even a kingís family can lose their land.

v25 Store the hay! New grass will grow.

Gather grass from the hills.

v26 The wool of sheep will be your clothing.

The profit from your goats will provide the rent for your fields.

v27 You will have plenty of goatís milk.

The milk will feed you and your family.

And the milk will provide for your servant girls.

Verses 23-27

Solomon is describing a farm. He warns the farmer to be responsible. If the farmer does not work, he could lose his land. But if the farmer works hard, his family will be content. The sheep and goats will grow well. And the farmer will make a profit from his animals. The farmer will also obtain clothes and milk from his animals. The farmer will receive a good income. The farmer will live well. And his family will live well. Even his servant girls will enjoy their lives, because the farmer is responsible.

These verses teach us several lessons:

∑††† Do not only aim to make money (verse 24).

∑††† God created the seasons of the year. So plan your work at the right time of year (verse 25).

∑††† Use wisely the things that God has created. Then God will supply the things that you need (verses 26-27).


Proverbs chapter 28

v1 A wicked person runs away, even if nobody is chasing him.

But good people are as bold as lions.

v2 A country of evil people has many rulers.

But with one wise ruler, a country has security.

v3 A strong, poor man might cheat weak, poor people.

He is like a storm that destroys their crops.

v4 People that do not obey the law praise wicked people.

But people that obey the law oppose wicked people.

v5 Evil people cannot understand the word Ďfairí.

But people that respect God are always fair.

Verse 1

A wicked man has a bad conscience. And he does not trust God. So a wicked man has no hope for the future. And he is afraid of many things.

But the good man has a good conscience. He trusts God. The good man is not afraid that he might lose his money. He knows that God will provide. The good man is not even afraid of death. God will take the good man to heaven when the good man dies. So the good man has courage. See Daniel 3 and Matthew 6:25-34.

Verse 2

An evil country has many rulers. This is because evil people hate each other. So they oppose each other and they fight for power. Such a country is never at peace.

But a good country has one ruler. The people respect their ruler. And the ruler is fair. So that country is a good place to live.

Verse 3

Sometimes a poor man becomes powerful. But he might not use his power fairly. He might be very cruel. He does not remember that he is like the other poor people. He thinks that he is better than them. So he cheats them. He acts as if they are his slaves.

Verse 4

If you respect the law, then you do not want evil people to succeed. You want to stop their evil plans. If their evil plans succeed, then everybody will suffer. And other people will not respect the law.

Especially, the police should oppose the plans of wicked people.

Verse 5

Evil people do not know how to be fair. They do not even see why someone should want to be fair. But if you respect God, you will be fair with everybody.

v6 It is better to be honest and poor, than to be rich and evil.

v7 If you obey the law, then you are a wise son.

But if you are greedy, you cause shame to your father.

v8 One man charges excess interest (money for a loan). He becomes wealthy.

But his money will pass to someone else. And that person will be generous to poor people.

v9 God hates even the prayers of a man who will not obey Godís law.

v10 If a man plots against good people, he will suffer from his own evil scheme.

But a good person will receive good things.

v11 A rich man might think that he is wise.

But a poor man who is wise knows the truth about that rich man.

v12 When good people succeed, everybody is glad.

When wicked men become powerful, men will hide themselves.

Verse 6

Perhaps you can become rich by an evil method. Perhaps you can get more money if you lie to people. Or perhaps you have another evil scheme to increase your wealth.

But your evil deeds will ruin your relationship with God. See Isaiah 59:1-2. People can do many terrible things for money (1 Timothy 6:10).

So do not allow money to tempt you. A poor, honest man is better than a rich, evil man.

Verse 7

Money does not tempt everybody. Food and drink can tempt some people. In the second line, the son upsets his father. This is because the son only wants to eat. This son is greedy. And he does not care about other things. He does not even care about Godís law.

Verse 8

This wealthy man is an evil man. He lends money. But he does not charge fairly. So he obtains a big income. And the people who are in debt will suffer. (See Exodus 22:25.)

But, in the end, the wealthy man will die. Perhaps his son will be generous. And perhaps his son will care about poor people.

As we earn our money, we should be fair. We should not cause other people to suffer. And we ourselves should be generous to poor people.

Verse 9

An evil man refuses to obey Godís law. And even his prayers are evil. Perhaps he prays that his evil plans will succeed. Or perhaps he prays to an evil god. The true God hates these prayers. So God will not answer this manís prayers.

Verse 10

A man may have evil plans against good people. But God cares about good people. God will not allow evil plans to succeed. Instead, the evil man will suffer from his own evil schemes.

Verse 11

This rich man thinks that he is wise. He thinks this because he is wealthy. So he supposes that he is wiser than other people.

But the poor man who is wise knows the truth about the rich man. This poor man knows why the rich man is wealthy. This rich man is wealthy because he cheats poor people. If the rich man were wise, he would respect God. And he would respect Godís law. So this rich man cannot be wise.

Some wise people are rich. But many wise people are poor. And a poor person who is wise is better than a rich fool.

Verse 12

We want good people to succeed. We want good people to be in the government. And we want our rulers to serve God. Then our country will be a good country.

But if wicked people are the rulers, then the country is a bad place. The law is not fair. Everybody suffers.

So we should pray for our rulers (1 Timothy 2:2).

v13 Do not pretend that you are innocent.

You cannot succeed if you pretend this.

Instead, confess your evil actions.

God will forgive you if you stop your evil behaviour.

v14 God is kind to people who respect him.

But a man who refuses to change will suffer many troubles.

Verse 13

This is a very important lesson. You must confess your evil deeds to God. You must invite God into your life. God will forgive you, because of Jesus. You cannot stop your evil behaviour by your own efforts. But God will help you. Trust God now! Do not delay!

Verse 14

If you respect God, then God will help you. And you will become wise (Proverbs 1:7).

But some people refuse to obey Godís message. They do not invite God into their lives. They continue their evil deeds. They do not want God to help them. The Book of Proverbs calls these people Ďfoolsí. God will be their judge. And he will punish them for their evil deeds.

v15 A wicked man may rule over weak people.

He is like a cruel lion or an angry bear.

v16 A cruel ruler lacks wisdom.

But a ruler who refuses bribes (secret gifts) or unfair profits will have a long life.

v17 A murderer must always run away from people.

Nobody should assist him.

Verse 15

Lions and bears are strong animals. They attack. And they kill.

A wicked ruler is like these animals. He does not care about his people. He only cares about himself. He will attack his own people. He will even kill his own people. And the people are weak, so they cannot defend themselves.

Verse 16

A ruler should not be cruel. He should not attack his own people. If he does, he is not wise. A ruler needs his people to protect him from his enemy.

The rulerís own people hate a cruel ruler. So this cruel ruler is stupid.

A wise person is honest. He does not cheat. He does not steal money. He is fair with everybody. And God will help that honest person. The honest person will have a good life.

Verse 17

A murderer has a bad conscience. So he is afraid of people. At any time, they could guess what he has done. A murderer knows that he deserves punishment. His actions are very evil.

Godís law says, ĎDo not murder!í (Deuteronomy 5:17). So do not help a murderer to escape.

But God can forgive even a murderer. But the murderer must confess his evil deed. And he must humbly ask God to forgive him. See 1 Samuel chapters 11 - 12 and Psalm 51.

v18 An honest man will be safe.

An evil man will suddenly suffer.

v19 A farmer who works hard will have plenty of food.

A lazy manís imagination will only make him poor.

v20 If you can trust a man, that man deserves a rich reward.

But a man who only wants money deserves a punishment.

v21 Always be fair!

But some people will obey an evil request, even if their reward is a mere sandwich.

v22 A greedy man is eager to become rich.

He does not realise that his attitude will make him poor.

Verse 18

The honest man is safe because God protects him. God sees the manís honest behaviour. And God loves that man.

But sometimes, honest people suffer. See the Book of Job in the Bible. God allowed the devil to test Job. Jobís friends thought that Job suffered because of his evil deeds. But Job was an honest man.

God is a fair judge. He cared about Job. God did not rescue Job immediately. Job was patient (James 5:11). But in time, God helped Job. And in time, God will rescue everyone who loves God.

But an evil man will suffer. This man might not suffer immediately. But God is a fair judge. And in time, God will punish that man. And the punishment will be sudden. So the evil man must not delay. He must invite God into his life now. God will forgive the evil man, if the evil man humbly confesses his evil deeds to God.

Verse 19

Do not be lazy! Do not continue to sleep when you should work! You might prefer to imagine good things. You might not want to work. But your imagination cannot provide your food. So you need to work.

Some church leaders imagine that their churches will achieve many things. They speak about their ideas. But they do not want to work. They do not want to teach Godís message. They do not care about people who are not Christians. Perhaps these church leaders do not even invite people to come to their churches. They only want to enjoy themselves. And they only want to imagine good things. Such attitudes are not good.

Church leaders need to work. They must not be lazy. Then their ideas might become reality. And many people will hear Godís message. See John 4:34-38 and Matthew 28:18-20.

Verse 20

You can trust the first man. So pay him well! Christians should behave like this man. Other people should be able to trust a Christian.

But the second man only wants your money. He wants the money, but he does not care about the work. So he is not careful. He does not do the job well. And he does not deserve the money. Instead, he deserves a punishment.

As Christians, we should not love money (1 Timothy 6:10). And we should not love our possessions. We should love God. And we should love to do the right things.

Verse 21

A good person is always fair. But some people do not care whether their actions are good or evil. They only want money. Or they only want a reward. And if someone rewards them, they will do anything. They would even do evil things.

A sandwich is not a big reward. But even such a small gift is enough to persuade some people to do an evil deed.

Verse 22

This man is greedy. He does not want to share anything with other people. He supposes that this attitude will make him rich. But his scheme is stupid. He needs friends, but he will lose his friends. They will hate his attitudes. And the greedy man will waste his own possessions. And God will punish this man because the man is not generous. So the greedy manís scheme will fail. And he will become poor.

v23 It is better to correct a man than to pretend that he is right.

v24 A man steals from his parents.

He says, ĎI deserve this money!í

He is as bad as the worst thief.

v25 The greedy man causes arguments.

But the man that trusts in God will succeed.

v26 If you trust yourself, then you are a proud fool.

If you are wise in Godís ways, then you will be safe.

v27 If you are generous to poor people, then you will always have enough for yourself.

But if you avoid poor people, then you will suffer many insults.

v28 When wicked men become powerful, people must hide.

When wicked people fail, good people succeed.

Verse 23

We all need to know the truth. We need to know when we are wrong. We need to accept words of correction. These words may not seem pleasant. We might feel terrible when we hear these words. We might prefer to hear that we are right. But a lie does not help us.

Verse 24

This man ought to provide for his parents. He should look after them. See Mark 7:9-13. Instead, the man steals his parentsí money. And he imagines that he deserves the money. This is terrible. This man is a very evil son.

Jesus told a story about a similar subject in Luke 15:11-24. A young man took his fatherís money. This son wasted all the money. But he returned to his father. And he confessed his evil deed to his father. The father forgave him.

The father in the story is like God. And the son is like us. We all do evil things. But if we humbly confess our evil deeds, God will forgive us.

Verse 25

If you love your own possessions, you cause trouble. So trust God! He will protect you. And he will provide for you.

Verse 26

Do not trust yourself! Trust God! You will become wise if you trust God. And you will be safe, because God will protect you.

Verse 27

God wants us to be generous. If we are generous, then God will help us. See Psalm 37:25-26 and Luke 6:38.

Verse 28

See Proverbs 28:12.


Proverbs chapter 29

v1 A man might refuse to change his behaviour, even if many people try to correct him.

A terrible trouble will suddenly ruin that manís life. No remedy can save him.

v2 When good people succeed, everybody is happy.

When wicked people rule, everybody suffers.

v3 A manís wisdom brings joy to his father.

But a man, who loves to have sex, wastes his money on women.

v4 When the king is fair, his nation is safe.

When a king accepts bribes (secret gifts), he destroys his nation.

Verse 1

We try to help people. But they will not always follow our advice. We can try to teach such people. And we can warn them. But we cannot change their behaviour. In the end, they will lose their last chance. If they refuse to learn, then God will punish them. See Proverbs 1:24-33.

Verse 2

We do not want wicked rulers. We should pray that our rulers will be good rulers. Everyone will benefit if our rulers are good.

Verse 3

A father is glad if his son grows to be wise.

But some sons are foolish. They love pleasure. They love sex. And they sleep with many women. These sons waste their own money. They waste their own strength. Perhaps they even waste their fathersí money. So their fathers are sad.

Solomonís son did not grow to be wise. This son, called Rehoboam, was a foolish king. He loved pleasure. His selfish attitudes caused his country to split in two. His people suffered greatly because of him.

Verse 4

Solomon was a king. And he was also a judge. He believed that a ruler must be fair. He taught his officials to refuse bribes (secret gifts).

Later Hezekiah became king. His officials found this good advice and they copied it (Proverbs 25:1). Hezekiah was a good king who respected God.

And this verse is still good advice today. People do many evil things because of bribes.

v5 A man may praise his neighbour with words that are not sincere.

Such a man will cause trouble.

v6 An evil man will suffer because of his own evil actions.

But a good man can sing. And he will be glad.

Verse 5

The first man has an evil scheme. He uses words that are not sincere to praise his neighbour. So this evil man pretends that his neighbour is a great man. The evil man wants the neighbour to trust him. Then the neighbour will give gifts to the evil man. Or perhaps the evil man will steal from the neighbour.

We are not sure about the meaning of the second line. Perhaps it means that the purpose of such words is to cause trouble for the neighbour. Or perhaps the meaning is that the evil man will cause trouble for himself, as in verse 6.

Verse 6

This evil man causes his own problems. But a good person has great joy. So he sings.

v7 Good people want fair laws that will help poor people.

But wicked men do not want this.

v8 Insults will cause a cityís inhabitants to be angry.

But wise men will help the people to be calm.

v9 When a wise man opposes a fool, the fool might laugh.

Or the fool might be angry.

But the fool will not be calm.

v10 Cruel men hate an honest man.

They want to kill him.

v11 A fool can become very angry.

But a wise man behaves well.

Verse 7

If the law is fair, poor people will benefit. The law will protect them, so that they will not starve.

In England, 150 years ago, many good people worked hard to free slaves. These good people persuaded the government to make good laws. But many people opposed these good laws.

Selfish people will always oppose good laws. These people do not care about poor people.

Verse 8

People hate insults. The inhabitants of this city will be very angry. They might even want to attack the people who insulted them. But this reaction is not always sensible.

Wise men will help the cityís inhabitants to be calm. Then people can consider the situation carefully. And they will make a sensible decision.

When we are angry, we cannot always make sensible decisions. We should try to become calm. Then our decisions will be good decisions.

Verse 9

By Ďfoolí, Solomon means an evil man. This evil man does not like the wise manís sensible words. The evil man hates the wise man. And the wise manís calm words may upset the evil man. So the evil manís reaction is foolish. Perhaps he insults the wise man. Or perhaps the evil man is angry. But the evil man cannot be calm.

Verse 10

Cruel people oppose honest people. Cruel people do not want anyone to be honest. The honest person could ruin their evil schemes. So cruel people think that honest people are their enemies.

Verse 11

A fool is an evil person. And he has many evil schemes. If you upset this man, he will be very angry.

But a wise person should not be very angry. The evil person may try to upset him. But the wise man keeps calm.

v12 When a ruler listens to lies, his officials become wicked.

v13 There are poor people.

And there are evil rulers.

God allows them all to see the reality of the situation.

v14 If a king is fair to poor people, his nation will always be safe.

Verse 12

A ruler needs good advisers who speak the truth. The ruler should not prefer officials who lie. If he does, then the whole government will be evil.

Verse 13

These people are poor because their rulers are evil. God allows the people to know this. And God also allows the rulers to realise this.

Verse 14

A king should care about his poor people. He should defend them.

The king should not allow cruel people to cheat the poor people. Good laws oppose cruel people. Good laws defend poor people.

v15 A smack teaches wisdom.

A mother must teach discipline to her child. Otherwise, the childís behaviour will cause shame to her.

v16 When wicked people succeed, there is more evil behaviour.

But, in time, this evil situation will end.

v17 Correct your son! Then he will bring relief to you.

You will be glad, because of your son.

v18 People do evil things when they do not know Godís message.

But God is pleased with the person who obeys Godís law.

v19 You cannot teach your servant with mere words.

He can understand your words, but he will not obey you.

v20 Even a fool is better than a man who speaks without thought.

v21 If you give special luxuries to your servant, he will cause you trouble in the end.

Verse 15

See Proverbs 22:15. This mother is upset because her child is evil. She should punish her child. Then her child will learn good behaviour. Otherwise, the child will continue to do evil things, even when the child becomes old.

Verse 16

Wicked people will not always succeed. In time, God will punish them. Then good people will rule the country.

We see that some people are very evil. Perhaps there always seems to be some evil rulers. But, in the end, God will punish evil people. Even the countries that we know in this world last only for a short time. But Godís rule in heaven never ends. So he is always king. (Daniel 4:3).

God rules from heaven. In heaven, nobody is evil. In heaven, nobody suffers. In heaven, there is no pain. See Revelation 21:4.

Verse 17

See verse 15. When your child learns to do the right things, you will be glad.

Verse 18

If someone does evil things, then tell Godís message to that person. Tell that person about Jesus. Tell that person about Godís love. And tell that person that he must invite God into his life.

Some people will obey your advice. They will invite God into their lives. They will learn to do the right things. And they will serve God, because they accepted Godís message.

Verse 19

Sometimes people cannot understand our words. They need to see our actions.

This servant might be a child. So the master must punish his servant as a child. The servantís punishment should be fair. Then he will learn right behaviour.

Verse 20

Think before you speak! Perhaps you need to obtain advice from wise people. Make a good decision! Then, when you speak, your words will be wise.

Verse 21

This servant might be a child. Be sensible when you give gifts to your children. Give gifts that will help them.

This verse is difficult to translate. Other possible meanings are:

∑††† If you give your child only luxuries, he will become a servant. And he will suffer in the end.

∑††† If you give honour to your servant boy, in the end he will become your son.

v22 The man who has a bad temper is always ready to start arguments.

He will cause a lot of trouble.

v23 A proud man will become humble.

But a humble man will receive honour.

v24 In court, even a thiefís friend becomes his enemy.

The thiefís friend promises to God to tell the truth.

Then the thiefís friend does not dare to say anything.

v25 If you are afraid of people, then this fear will cause troubles for you.

But the person that trusts God is safe.

v26 Many people want judges to help them.

But only God deals fairly with everyone.

v27 Good people hate evil people.

Evil people hate good people.

Verse 22

Anger is dangerous. A bad temper causes many troubles. We should learn to stay calm.

Verse 23

The proud man wants to be a great man. But God will not allow such a man to become great. See Proverbs 16:18.

But God loves humble people. And God will give honour to them. See Luke 1:51-53.

Jesus was humble. Although Jesus is God, Jesus became a man. And he lived like a servant. He even died like a criminal. But God has given the greatest honour to Jesus. And everyone will know that Jesus is God. See Philippians 2:5-11.

Verse 24

The thiefís friend does not help the thief. When the thief is in court, the thief wants his friend to lie.

In court, the friend promises to God to tell the truth. The friend is not afraid of the court. But he is afraid of God. And this friend remembers that God will punish people who lie.

So, when the lawyers ask their questions, the thiefís friend says nothing.

Verse 25

People will cause many troubles. There are many cruel people. But do not be a coward! God will protect you. Trust in him. See Psalm 91.

Verse 26

Perhaps you trust judges. Perhaps you think that the court will help you. But there are some evil judges. And even good judges sometimes make wrong decisions. So trust God. He is fair with everyone.

Verse 27

Good people and evil people have nothing in common.

Do not suppose that evil people will support you. If you do the right things, then evil people will still hate you.

And do not support an evil manís scheme. His scheme will be cruel. Or his scheme will be evil. Or his scheme might even be terrible. It will not be a good scheme, because the man himself is evil.

Instead, warn the evil man. He must confess his evil deeds to God. And he must invite God into his life.


The Puzzles of Agur and Lemuel

(Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:9)

These passages are by Agur (Proverbs 30) and King Lemuel (Proverbs 31:1-9). We do not know anything about these men. The Bible does not mention them elsewhere. But we learn some things about them from these passages. And we learn many things about wisdom from their words.

Solomon was not the only teacher of wisdom. The Bible mentions other wise men who lived at the same time as him (1 Kings 4:30-31). Many people studied wisdom at this time.

Proverbs chapter 30

v1 These are the words of Agur (son of Jakeh). Agur said:

God, I am tired. Oh God, I am tired and weak.

v2 I am so stupid!

I do not even know the things that a man should know.

v3 I have not studied wisdom.

I know nothing about God.

Verses 1-3

Agur had been studying hard. He had seen many wonderful things that he could not explain. He had tried to understand God. And he had tried to understand the world. But God is so great (1 Corinthians 1:25). And the world is too difficult to explain (Job 38). Now Agur was tired (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

In verses 2 and 3, Agur was using irony. That is, he was using words in a special way. He was not really a stupid man who knew nothing. In fact, he knew many things about God (verse 4). But his own knowledge seemed like nothing when he thought about God. Wisdom is so wonderful that Agurís own thoughts seemed foolish. And the world is so complex that Agur felt stupid.

v4 Perhaps someone went up to heaven. And perhaps he came down to earth.

Perhaps he controls the winds, as if the winds are in his hands.

Perhaps he controls the seas, as if the seas are in his coat.

Perhaps he even established the north and the south.

But I do not know him

I do not know his name, nor his sonís name.

Tell me, if you know him.

Verse 4

Agur wanted someone to teach him. He so wanted to learn about God. Agurís ideas in this verse are like Godís questions in Job 38.

Agur knew that somebody must have created the world. But he did not realise that God created the world.

Agur knew that somebody must control the wind and the seas. But he did not realise that God controls these things.

Verse 4 is an important verse. The verse shows that God guided the Bible writers (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Verse 4 is about Jesus, who is Godís son. But Agur knew nothing about Jesus. Agur lived over 1000 years before Jesus was born. Nobody knew about Jesus then. But Agur mentioned subjects that nobody knew before Jesus.

The people of Agurís time did not know that Jesus is Godís son. They did not even think that God had a son. (See John 10:30-36.) But Agur wanted to know about Godís son. And Jesus is Godís son (John 3:16).

The people of Agurís time believed that God was in heaven. They did not think that God would come to earth. But Agur thought that God would come to earth. And Jesus came to earth to save us (Philippians 2:5-8).

Agur knew few things (verse 2). But God guided Agur, so that Agur wrote great words in the Bible.

v5 Godís words are always perfect.

He protects everyone that trusts him.

v6 Do not change what God has said.

He will correct you. And he will prove that you are lying.

Verses 5-6

Agur wanted someone to teach him. But Agur already knew some things. He knew that Godís word is perfect. And Agur was right. The Bible is perfect.

Agur also knew that we must teach the Bible accurately. This is also right.

Agur knew that God will punish our evil actions. This is also right. But Agur did not explain some important principles. He did not say that God loves us. He did not say that God wants to forgive us. Agur was afraid of God, because he did not know about Godís love.

v7 Oh, God, I pray for two things.

Do not refuse me! I shall soon die.

v8 Protect me from all lies!

Do not make me rich or poor!

Give me todayís bread, only!

v9 Otherwise, I might become rich. Then I would forget you. I would say, ĎThere is no God.í

Or I might become poor. Then I might steal. And I might fail to respect God.

Verses 7-9

Agur had a special prayer. But it was a strange prayer.

Agur had a particular reason why he did not want to become rich. He thought that he would forget God. But money does not cause people to forget God. Many rich people serve God. And they use their money wisely. They are generous and they help poor people.

There was also a particular reason why Agur did not want to become poor. He thought that he might steal. But if someone is poor, this does not cause him to steal. Many poor people serve God, and they do not steal. These people need many things, but they are still honest. And there are many rich people who are evil. Some rich people even steal from poor people.

Whether you are rich or poor, you should still serve God.

v10 When you speak to a master, do not insult his servant!

When the master insults you, then you will suffer.

Verse 10

This is sensible advice. But perhaps Agur was afraid. Agur did not mention that you could apologise. And Agur did not mention that the servant might forgive you. Agur also explained his fears in verses 11-14.

Another translation of the second line is: ĎWhen the servant insults you, then you will suffer.í

v11 Some people insult their fathers.

And they do not bless their mothers.

v12 Some people think that they themselves are innocent.

But they are guilty.

v13 Some people are proud.

They think that other people are hopeless.

v14 And some people, with their swords and knives, are like animals that attack.

They want to kill poor people.

They want to kill weak people.

God punishes all evil behaviour.

Verse 11

These people do not respect their parents. See Deuteronomy 5:16 and Deuteronomy 27:16.

Verse 12

Everyone has done evil things. We all must ask God to forgive us. See Romans 3:9-12.

Verse 13

God opposes proud people. We should be humble. See James 4:6.

Verse 14

These people are murderers. See Deuteronomy 5:17.

v15 A leech (animal) has a double tongue that constantly demands blood.

There are 3 things that you can never satisfy.

4 things will never say, ĎI have enough.í

These things are:

∑††† v16 hell;

∑††† a woman who has no children;

∑††† the soil; (The soil always wants rain.)

∑††† fire. (Fire always tries to burn more things.)

Verses 15-16

A leech is a small animal that drinks blood. The leech bites a person. Then the leech holds that personís skin. Then the leech drinks the personís blood. The person cannot remove the leech while the leech drinks blood.

Some people behave like leeches. These people are always causing trouble. They desire many things. So they try to obtain other peopleís possessions. And, like the leeches, such people make constant demands.

Agur used several lists in this chapter. The numbers at the start of each list are a type of poetry. These numbers are not important.

This is a list of things that make constant demands, like the leech:

∑††† Hell is never full. This is because hell is always claiming more lives. We must tell people about God. If they invite God into their lives, God will protect them from hellís punishment.

∑††† A woman who has no children always wants children. This is sad. But perhaps she can adopt a child. And perhaps she would like to help with childrenís activities at church. She has no children, but she can love other peopleís children. And we can encourage her.

∑††† The soil always needs more rain. Solomon lived in a dry country. Without rain, there would be no harvest.

∑††† Fire always tries to burn more things. You must control fire carefully. Otherwise, it will burn your possessions and your home.

v17 If a son insults his parents, he deserves to die.

His dead body does not deserve a proper grave.

Vultures and ravens (birds) will eat his body.

Verse 17

See also verse 11. Agur again warns that we must respect our parents. The behaviour of a son who insults his parents is terrible. Agur describes a terrible fate for that son. The son did not respect his parents. And nobody will respect the son, even after his death. Nobody will care enough even to bury his body. This fate would upset everybody in Israel. They thought that proper graves were very important.

v18 There are 3 wonderful things.

There are 4 things that I cannot explain.

These things are:

∑††† v19 an eagle (bird) that moves in the sky;

∑††† a snake that moves on a rock;

∑††† a ship that moves on the sea;

∑††† and a man with a woman.

v20 A woman has sex with a man who is not her husband.

She acts as if she has only eaten.

Innocently, she says, ĎI did nothing wrong.í

Verses 18-19

Agur did not know how these things move. They move smoothly in places where it is difficult to move. And these things leave no trace as they move. So Agur considered that they were great mysteries.

∑††† He did not know how a bird flies through the air.

∑††† He did not know how a snake could move without legs on a smooth rock.

∑††† He did not know how a ship sails on the sea.

∑††† And he did not know how a man loves a woman. This is not like the other things in this list. But love between a man and a woman is also a strange mystery.

Verse 20

Agur heard what this woman said. But Agur knew what she had done. She thought that it did not matter. But God also knew and he will punish this woman.

People often act as if their evil deeds are innocent. Often they even manage to confuse their own minds. Their behaviour was evil. But they may actually think that they are innocent. God knows the truth about what we have done.

v21 There are 3 things that upset everyone.

4 things disturb everything.

These things are:

∑††† v22 a slave who becomes the king;

∑††† a greedy fool;

∑††† v23 a hateful woman who marries;

∑††† a servant girl who takes the place of the masterís wife.

Verses 21-23

Each person in this list has suddenly become powerful. But they lack the skills that they need for their new situations. They may become proud. Their characters do not match their new situations. These events may disturb us. We do not expect such events to happen.

∑††† The slave does not know how to lead anyone. He has obeyed other peopleís instructions for his whole life. But now he is the king, and he must lead the entire nation.

∑††† The fool is an evil man. He does not deserve a good meal. But this fool eats plenty. And he is still greedy. He has no sense. He is proud. He does not know when he should stop.

∑††† A hateful woman has just married a man. But after she marries, she is still hateful. Her attitudes are wrong. She is a bad wife for her husband. And she will be a poor mother to her children.

∑††† The masterís original wife deserves her husbandís love. But he does not care about her. This is very sad. We soon discover why her husband does not love her. The womanís own servant girl has become the masterís new wife. The husband chooses his servant girl, instead of his wife. This is terrible. The two women will hate each other. (Compare Genesis 16:1-6.)

v24 There are 4 types of animals that are very small.

But they are also very wise.

These animals are:

∑††† v25 ants, which are tiny insects. But they store food during the summer.

∑††† v26 conies, which are small animals. But they make their home between rocks.

∑††† v27 locusts, which are insects. They have no leader. But they advance like an army.

∑††† v28 lizards, which are small animals. You can easily catch lizards in your hand. But lizards can even live in kingsí palaces.

Verses 24-28

Here are 4 types of animals. Each is both small and wise. So we can learn a lesson about wisdom from these animals.

∑††† Ants store food for the winter. And we should prepare for the future, too. See Proverbs 6:6-8.

∑††† Conies are weak animals. But they still have a home. They live together in small groups. And they appoint one animal as a guard to watch for the large birds that may attack the conies. We should look after our homes too. We need homes where we can bring up our families in safety.

∑††† Locusts march like an army but without a commander. Locusts work together. And we too should work with other people. See Hebrews 10:25.

∑††† Lizards are clever. They can even avoid the guards and live in palaces. And we need to be clever, too. See Matthew 10:16.

v29 There are 3 things that are impressive.

There are 4 things that are really powerful.

These things are:

∑††† v30 the lion, called Ďthe king of animalsí. Lions are afraid of nothing.

∑††† v31 a mating cock (male bird);

∑††† a male goat;

∑††† a king, who has his army to protect him.

Verses 29-31

These animals are impressive because they are bold.

∑††† A lion is very strong. It is bold. And everybody respects a lion.

∑††† A mating cock (bird) might not be strong. But the cock is still bold, because it wants to impress a female bird.

∑††† A male goat will attack anything. But a goat is not a wise animal. A goat attacks even when it does not need to attack. And even when the danger is great, the goat still attacks. The goat does not realise that it should try to escape!

∑††† A kingís words and actions are bold. But really, a king is very weak. He would not be bold if he did not have an army. Another man might have one or two guards to protect him. But a king needs a whole army.

v32 Perhaps you have been proud, like a fool.

Perhaps you have plotted an evil plan.

Then put your hand on your mouth! (That is, be silent.)

v33 If you stir milk, you get butter.

If you hurt the nose, you get blood.

So, if you cause anger, you get trouble.

Verses 32-33

Agur advised this evil man to say nothing. Mere words cannot save an evil man from his punishment. So Agur told the evil man to put his hand on his mouth. (That is, to be silent.) If the evil man spoke, he would cause more anger. Then the evil man would suffer even more trouble (verse 33).


Proverbs chapter 31

v1 These are the words of King Lemuel.

This section is a difficult puzzle that his mother taught to him.

v2 Oh, my son! My own son!

You are the answer to my prayers.

Verses 1-2

Lemuel was not a king of Israel. But his name means Ďhe belongs to Godí in the Hebrew language. (Hebrew was the language of the people in Israel.)

Lemuelís birth was the answer to his motherís prayers (verse 2). The prophet (holy man) Samuel was also born as the answer to his motherís prayers (1 Samuel 1:1-18). Samuel became a very great prophet. And Lemuelís mother wanted Lemuel to be a good king. She wanted him to be fair. And she wanted him to rule well. So she taught him this lesson.

v3 Do not waste your strength with women!

Do not go with women who destroy kings!

Verse 3

Many women try to tempt an important person like a king. Solomon himself loved many women. He thought that these women would make him happy (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). But Solomon did evil things because of these women (1 Kings 11:1-13).

v4 Oh, Lemuel, you are the king!

Kings should not drink wine!

Kings should not want beer!

v5 If kings drink alcohol, then they will forget the law.

Then suffering people will lose everything.

v6 Give beer to people who are dying!

Give wine to people in trouble!

v7 Let them drink!

Then they will forget that they are poor.

They will not remember that they are sad.

Verses 4-5

Kings must be careful about alcohol. In fact, everybody needs to be careful about alcohol. Alcohol causes people to make stupid mistakes. And alcohol confuses the brain. It causes many troubles.

But a king is also responsible for other people. So the king has a special reason to refuse alcohol. The kingís people need help when they are suffering. The king will be unable to protect them if he is a drunk.

Church leaders too always need to be careful. See James 3:1. A church leader must not be a drunk (Titus 1:7). And many church leaders have decided not to drink any alcohol. They decide this because they are responsible for other people. And these church leaders do not want to cause problems for weaker people (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).

Verses 6-7

This is a strange passage. Lemuelís mother knew that a king should not drink alcohol. But she supposed that poor people should drink lots of beer and wine in order to forget their troubles. But she was wrong. Alcohol cannot cure the problems of poor people. Their lives will not be better if they become drunks. In fact, their lives will be worse.

Poor people cannot afford wine and beer. They will become weaker if they drink alcohol. And they might be unable to do their work. These people are poor now. But they will become poorer.

Often rich people give stupid advice to poor people. The rich people are trying to help. But they are not poor. So they do not know the problems of poor people.

We need accurate knowledge to advise well. Our experiences are different from other peopleís experiences. So we must study their problems well, before we can advise. Otherwise, we might cause even more problems.

v8 Defend weak people!

Protect poor people!

Speak out on their behalf!

v9 When you are their judge, be fair!

Defend everyone who needs your help!

Verses 8-9

A king should care about poor people. In fact, everyone should care about poor people. But a king has greater responsibility. King Lemuel was also a judge. So Lemuelís mother advised him to help poor people in the court. Perhaps poor people cannot afford lawyers. Perhaps poor people do not speak well. So Lemuel should protect them, because nobody else would help them.

In Proverbs 30, Agur did not understand some important subjects. He did not realise that we need to confess our evil deeds to God. And he did not explain that God forgives.

In Proverbs 31:1-9, Lemuelís mother did not realise some important subjects. She did not realise that rich people should be generous. She knew that Lemuel must protect poor people. She knew that the law must be fair. But she did not tell Lemuel to give any money or food to poor people. See Proverbs 31:20.


A Poem about a perfect wife

(Proverbs 31:10-31)

The Book of Proverbs ends with a special poem. Men did the most important public jobs when Solomon was alive. The officials were male (1 Kings 4:1-19). The soldiers and workmen were male (1 Kings 9:22-23).

But women were important in their families. Women were important in their towns and villages. And women were even important in the palaces (1 Kings 10:1-13; 1 Kings 9:16; 11:19). In fact, Solomon even describes wisdom as a woman (Proverbs 8). Solomon does not write about a man called Wisdom. But he does write about a woman called Wisdom.

So someone wrote this poem to describe the perfect wife. Perhaps Solomon did not write this poem. Solomon had many wives. And his wives caused trouble for him (1 Kings 11). So Solomonís wives were not good wives.

The perfect wife in this poem was an important person. Everybody respected her. The people even respected her husband because of her. Women should copy this perfect wife. And men can learn things from her, too.

The original language of this poem is called Hebrew. This poem has a special structure because the poem uses the Hebrew alphabet. So, in Hebrew, verse 10 begins with the first letter of the alphabet. Verse 11 begins with the next letter. This structure continues until verse 31. Verse 31 begins with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

v10 You must search hard to obtain a good wife.

Her value is more than precious stones.

v11 Her husband always trusts her.

He has everything that he needs.

Verse 10

God wants men and women to marry (Genesis 2:18). It is good to marry (Hebrews 13:4). But God may not want everyone to marry. Paul was not married (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).

A husband and wife should look after each other. A husband should be glad if he has a good wife. A good wife will benefit her husband greatly.

A man who has great wealth does not always have a good life. But a man who has a good wife will also have a good life. So a good wife is better than great wealth.

Verse 11

The husband can trust his wife. She is careful. She will not waste his possessions. He will have everything that he needs.

v12 His wife always brings good things to him.

She never hurts him, during her entire life.

v13 She selects wool and cloth.

She is eager to work with her hands.

v14 She is like a trading ship.

She goes far to get good food.

v15 She gets up early, before sunrise.

She provides food for her family, and for her servant girls.

Verse 12

This wife selects good things for her husband. Verses 13-15 describe things that she obtains for him. She always tries to help him. She does not hurt him. She does not waste his possessions. She does not upset him with arguments (Proverbs 21:9). She does not cause trouble.

Verse 13

The wife makes clothes by hand. And she is happy to do this work.

Verse 14

She selects good food. But perhaps there is no good food in the local shops. This woman does not want to use poor quality food. So she travels until she finds the best foods.

Verse 15

She works hard, even before dawn. She does not only provide food for her husband. She also provides food for her family. And she even provides for servant girls. Everyone in the house has good food, because this wife works hard.

Another translation of the second line is:

ĎBefore sunrise, she provides food for her family. And she gives out work to her servant girls.í

This woman does not waste time. She uses her time well.

v16 She chooses a field. She buys it.

With her own money, she plants fruit bushes.

v17 She works hard.

Her arms are strong.

v18 She trades well.

At night, her light is on.

v19 She works with her hands.

She makes cloth for clothing.

v20 She is generous to poor people.

She helps those who are weak.

Verse 16

This woman is wise. She prepares for the future. Her fruit bushes will not provide fruit this year. And perhaps the bushes will not provide fruit for a few years. (Compare Leviticus 19:23-25. God told the people not to eat fruit from a new tree for 4 years. This is good advice for farmers. Young fruit trees are weak if you allow the fruit to develop too soon.)

But afterwards, the family will enjoy the fruit for many years.

Verse 17

She herself works with her hands. She has servants (verse 15), but she is not lazy. She works with them. So she becomes strong and healthy.

Verse 18

This woman starts to work before dawn (verse 15). And she continues to work late at night (verse 18). She buys and sells.

Verse 19

At this time, there were no machines to make cloth. So women would make cloth by hand. And clothes were precious.

This womanís work was very valuable.

Verse 20

But this woman does not work so that her family will be wealthy. She cares about everyone. She earns money so that she can help poor people. She is kind and generous. She looks after old people and ill people. She wants to help everyone.

v21 She is not afraid of snow.

All her family have good warm clothes.

v22 She makes covers for her bed.

She wears the finest clothing.

v23 Everyone respects her husband.

He is a judge, and he sits with the wise men at the city gate.

v24 His wife makes clothes. And she sells them.

She makes belts for the merchants.

Verse 21

Snow does not often fall in Israel. It is a warm country. But this woman is ready for cold weather. The whole family have warm clothes, because this woman makes the clothes.

Verse 22

But this woman does not just make practical clothes. She loves her work. She is happy when she works. So she makes good clothes. And she makes fine covers for the bed.

Verse 23

This woman is humble. You might suppose that she wants to be important. But she does not work for this reason.

Instead, she is happy to help her husband. He is important because of her. He does not worry about clothes or food. She provides his food and clothes. So he can do an important job. He is a judge. And he advises at the city gate. Nobody pays the husband for his advice. But he can do his important work because his wife looks after him.

Verse 24

This woman earns the money that her family needs. She makes belts and clothes by hand. And she sells these things.

v25 She has strength and honour.

She is not afraid of the future.

v26 She speaks wisely.

She teaches well.

v27 She looks after her family.

She is not lazy.

v28 Her children bless her.

Her husband praises her.

v29 He says, ĎMany women are good.

But you are the very best wife.í

Verse 25

Now the writer describes the womanís character. This woman does not worry about the future. She prepares carefully. Perhaps she saves her money. And she teaches her children to be wise (verses 26-27). So she is ready for future events. Even if the family suffer troubles, she is ready.

Verse 26

We know that this womanís husband is a wise man (verse 23). But the wife is also wise. She teaches her children. And perhaps she advises her friends.

Verses 27-28

Some people behave well in public. But at home, they do not behave well. But this woman does not care whether anyone sees her good works. Her own family see her in private. And they know that she is a good person. So they bless her.

Verse 29

Now the husband speaks.

He realises that some other women are good like his wife. But he does not want to be with these other women. His own wife is very special in his opinion. He loves her. He appreciates her work. He thanks her.

This husband does not want a younger woman. He does not want a more beautiful woman. He realises that some qualities matter more than youth and beauty. And his wife has these special qualities.

v30 Women may lose their beauty and grace.

So praise the woman who respects God!

v31 Give a good reward to her!

Her good work proves that she deserves honour from everyone.

Verse 30

In this verse, we discover why this woman is a great person. Her special qualities are not beauty and grace. When she is older, this woman might lose her beauty. And she might lose her grace. But she will still be a great person. And she will still be a great wife.

This woman is great because she respects God. The first lesson in wisdom is that we must respect God (Proverbs 1:7). Every woman needs to learn this lesson. And every man needs to learn this lesson too.

This woman has learned this lesson well. So this woman is really wise.

And we can see that she is wise:

∑††† She respects God.

∑††† She is not lazy.

∑††† She is not proud.

∑††† She works hard. And she is glad to work.

∑††† She is generous to poor people.

∑††† Her husband can trust her.

∑††† She studies carefully. And she has learned to be wise.

∑††† She teaches.

∑††† She uses her money wisely.

∑††† She is loyal.

∑††† She is skilled. And she has many skills.

This woman has learned the lessons in the Book of Proverbs. She is a model of a wise person. Every woman should be like this woman. And every man, too, can learn from her behaviour.

If we learn to act like this woman, then we shall be wise.

Verse 31

We, too, know that this woman deserves honour. And we should all try to be like her.


Book List

Various writings and sermons by C.H. Spurgeon, J. Wesley, G. Whitefield and other classic writers.

Notes on the Book of Proverbs - John Wesley

The Book of Proverbs by A.R. Fausset - in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown

Proverbs by S.S. Buzzell - in The Bible Knowledge Commentary edited by Walvoord and Zuck

Proverbs by G.W. Thatcher and other articles - in The Temple Bible Dictionary edited by Ewing & Thomson

Youngís Analytical Concordance

Strongís Exhaustive Concordance

Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by B. Davidson

Bibles - NIV, KJV, TEV, RSV, Moffatt, Jewish translation (1917), occasional use of Hebrew text and other translations.

Christ in all the Scriptures - A.M. Hodgkin

Theological checker: Norman Hillyer

 

© 2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

November 2005

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