Proverbs 24

1 Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; 2 For their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.

How do you decide who to hang out with?

Some people desire to hang out with people of intelligence and talent, or people of power and influence, or popular people, or people of beauty and good looks. They want to be like these people, and have what they have.

The wise person chooses to hang out with good people – people who are kind to others, and people who wish and do good to others, and people who help the downtrodden, and especially the people who know God.

3 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; 4 and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Building a house and making it a great home is not an easy thing.

I’m not talking about the size of your home, or its location, or its architecture. Rather, I’m talking about the quality of life in the home.

If you can build a home where the people are kind and considerate of each other, helping each other, not fighting with each other or complaining about each other, or tearing each other down, but enriching each other in different ways, a home where people honor and fear and love God, then you’ve got something really good.

To build such a home you have to have a lot of wisdom and understanding. You have to know how to help each member feel valued and secure. You have to show them how to have a relationship with God, and how to walk with Him. You have to teach them how to handle different situations in life. You have to teach them how to live in peace with themselves and with others. You have to teach them how to be and remain humble. You have to help them know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to make the best use of their strengths, and how to contain their weaknesses. You have to teach them the value of hard work. You have to teach them discipline. You have to help them have good values. You have to teach them how to think. You have to teach them about the different traps, and how to avoid them. You have to teach them how to choose wisely, and live rightly. How have to teach them how to handle different emotions. You have to teach them how to handle money and friends and enemies. There are so many things that are needed, and few of them are obtained automatically.

5 A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.

It is important to educate yourself as much as you can, because the more you know, the better decisions you can make, and when you make good decisions, you strengthen your position and increase in power (i.e. your ability to solve problems).

For example, if don’t know how the stock market works, you can’t make good investment decisions. If you make bad investment decisions, your financial position weakens, and you don’t have the power to solve tough financial problems in your home.

6 For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Whether you realize it or not, your life is a war zone!

We all have a flesh, through which we are tempted, and we have to constantly fight temptation so that we don’t destroy ourselves. For example, you get involved with a woman at work, and the next thing you know, you’ve committed adultery, and soon after, your marriage is destroyed. It can all happen very fast.

To avoid such a disaster, you need to have wise guidance – from God’s Word, and from God’s people – and only then you may escape such tragedy.

Therefore, enrich yourself by reading and meditating on God’s Word. Develop your relationship with God, and with the wise people in His kingdom, so that He may counsel you when you are in battle, and be victorious in every temptation.

7 Wisdom is too exalted for a fool, he does not open his mouth in the gate.

Some people would rather have a simple life. All they want is sleep, food, sex, money, and a good time. The moment you talk to them about serious stuff – God, sin, life, death, responsibility, wisdom, and similar things – they are gone!

Don’t be like that.

Learn wisdom! Talk about it with others who are interested. Ask deep questions. Answer deep questions that others ask. Think about topics, and arrive at rational conclusions. Prepare yourself for various situations. All these activities are a part of your education towards becoming wise.

8 One who plans to do evil, men will call a schemer.

What do people think of you? As you go around from day to day in life, people watch you, and draw conclusions about the type of person you are. If they see that you enjoy putting others down, or taking advantage of others, or acting in your best interests only, they’ll know, and they’ll treat you as such.

Take time to think about how you portray yourself to others. Don’t fake goodness that is not there; rather, be a great man or woman on the inside, and the outside will take care of itself.

9 The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to men.

It is not merely when you do something foolish that you have done wrong; even when you think of doing something foolish, you have already sinned. For example, a person who pokes fun at others, and makes them look small in front of others has sinned indeed; but even the person who decides to do such a thing as already sinned.

10 If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.

For some reason, there is a saying that is burned indelibly in my mind; it says, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It is in difficult situations (i.e. the day of distress) that everyone gets to know who is strong and who is weak.

When a heavy boulder suddenly appears over your head, if you get crushed by it, you are not strong. When something bad happens, if you curse God, or decide to do something dishonoring to God just to spite Him for allowing the bad thing to happen, then you are not a godly person.

Sometimes, God sends us difficult situations to let us, and Satan, know what we are made of. Evaluate yourself and see how good you are.

Don’t forget, that if your evaluation results in pride, you may have missed the ditch, but you surely fell into the pit.

11 Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back. 12 If you say, “See, we did not know this,” does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?

We have a duty to help save people from the wrong path. If you see an unwary person who is getting into trouble without knowing it, we must alert them, and try and save them, if we can do it without harming ourselves.

I say, ‘without harming ourselves’ because it is also written that a prudent man sees evil and hides himself’. It is foolish to enter a fight that you cannot win. On the flip side, not entering a fight that we can win such because it is inconvenient is not a righteous thing.

There are times when a person will sacrifice himself for another, but I don’t see this passage, or any other asking us to make that sacrifice for anyone. Such a sacrifice is a voluntary thing, and never a command.

God takes our responsibility seriously, and expects us to do so too.

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good, yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste; 14 Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Wisdom is a very precious thing, because it gives pleasure to your soul. If you’ve made wise decisions in your youth, then by the time you are middle age, you begin to see the fruit of those decisions, and you can look back and be very glad that you didn’t mess up in your youth. Similarly, if you’ve made wise decisions in your youth and middle age, then by the time you are old, you begin to see the fruit of those decisions, and you can look back and be very glad that you didn’t mess up in your youth and middle age.

Life is hard for those who mess up – any drug addict or alcoholic will tell you that. People who go to prison, and people who choose the wrong spouse, and people who make bad financial decisions will also tell you that.

If you’ve invested your time and money and talent wisely, then when you are older, you will be very, very pleased.

15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; do not destroy his resting place; 16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity.

What do you do when you see a righteous man (i.e. someone who is trying to do what is right) mess up? Do you gloat? Do you feel happy that it wasn’t you? Do you tell others about it? All of these are wicked things to do!

Don’t complicate things for those who fall. Encourage them, and lift them up if you can. That’s what God does too.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; 18 Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him.

Even if the person who falls is your enemy, you still shouldn’t rejoice and be glad. God doesn’t want to see you take joy in anyone else’s sorrow.

Another interesting thing to realize is that people fall when God is angry with them, and withdraws His grace from them. This happens because of our pride. No one who is being supported by God can fall. Therefore, when you fall, examine yourself and see where you’ve been proud, and repent and ask God to forgive you.

19 Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked; 20 For there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

What do you do when you see evil triumphing over good? I sometimes see Christians fretting over such things, and calling it ‘righteous anger’. Yet, here is a command that we should not fret because of evildoers.

Neither should we desire what the wicked have. When you see a rich man, who became rich because he cheated or took advantage of someone, don’t wish that you had what he has.

Why not? It is because, on the Day of Judgment no one will escape. All unrepentant wickedness will be punished. That is why it is also important that we make restitution for anything that we have stolen or cheated people off, or ask God to take from us an equivalent portion in some way or another.

21 My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change, 22 For their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?

We should respect the people who are in authority (e.g. the Lord and the king) and do what they ask us.

People who are your friend one day, and your enemy the next, and then, once again your friend on the third day exist. How should you deal with them? It is best to stay away from them.

23 These also are sayings of the wise: to show partiality in judgment is not good. 24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; 25 but to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.

When your friend does something wrong, should you take his side and insist that he did no wrong?

According to this passage, you shouldn’t. To do so, would be showing partiality, and that is not good.

Your loyalty should always be to what is right, and to God, and not to any human being. Beware of any friend who demands loyalty.

You can help your friend get out of his mess, or protect your friend from further foolishness, but never deny any wrong that he has done.

26 He kisses the lips who gives a right answer.

When someone needs information, and you give it, you have done that person a favor.

27 Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house.

Some people like to spend money that they don’t have. Others like to spend all the money that they have. That is not wise. First, spend your time going to college and getting a degree that will land you a well-paying job. Then get that well-paying job, and work hard there and save a lot of money. Then, live frugally for a long time till you have saved enough for retirement. Only then can you be a little relaxed in your spending.

Why do I say this? It is because we don’t know what can happen tomorrow. Sickness, financial disaster, whatever – anything can happen, and your savings can help tide you over such things.

28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.

If you’ve got an idiosyncratic neighbor (or an unusual student in the same class as you), and the rest of his neighbors join together against him, should you join them? Should you say things about that neighbor that are an exaggeration, or not quite true, just to get him into trouble?

Certainly not!

God doesn’t like people who lie to get other people in trouble.

29 Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.”

What do you do when people do something bad against you?

The natural reaction is to take revenge. If he spoke evil about you behind your back, you feel like doing the same to him, right?

Resist the temptation to do that. Leave revenge to God. That is the best and safest path for you.

30 I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, 31 and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 32 When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. 33 “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,” 34 Then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man.

Who doesn’t enjoy relaxing after a hard day’s work? No one I know. Yet, it is very easy to get into the habit of enjoying certain types of relaxation so much that we begin to engage in such relaxation even when we haven’t done any hard work. That’s when relaxation has gone too far.

A sluggard is someone who doesn’t want to do any work. All he wants to do is enjoy life and pleasure himself. Such people end up on the streets, begging for money, or maybe something barely better.

Such senseless behavior doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with ‘a little sleep’. So then, watch yourself as you relax. If you find yourself getting addicted to something that you do for relaxation, cut it off before it becomes overpowering.

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