We continue today reading Solomon’s wise sayings for wise practical living. He begins in 13:1 with a familiar assertion: the wise listen to correction, the fool does not. Solomon returns to this theme often because he knows the human heart. When corrected, even in love, our tendency is defense rather than introspection. Solomon then offers another refrain of his: speak less, listen more (v 3). Again, he knows the human heart (and what we speak comes from the heart!). In verse 4, we see another encouragement to work for what we want. Verse 6 speaks of both God’s preservation of he who acts from a wise (obedient) and righteous heart, and the sure end of the fool.
In verse 7, the better translation is “one makes himself rich…another makes himself poor.” We just saw this same theme run throughout Matthew’s Gospel account. Wisdom dictates that we count as nothing what we have in this world, and desire heavenly riches (see 10:16, 13:25, and Matt 6:19-24). Solomon expands upon this in verse 8. Holding onto earthly riches opens us up to earthly troubles. These troubles are no threat to the one rich in heavenly things which cannot be taken away. Verse 10 strengthens verse 1. Verse 12 should be read in light of verses 7-8 (see 10:3, 24).
Verse 16 tells us that our wisdom or our folly are on display (more clearly than we think). Verse 18 is another reminder of the wisdom from verses 1 and 10 (Solomon really hammered this point home!). In verse 19, we see that the wise who turn away from evil receive the desires of their heart. Why? Because they treasure heavenly things. Verse 20 us a reminder to consider the company we keep (see 12:26). Verse 24 encourages the loving discipline of children.
We see in 14:2 another recurring theme: the connection between wisdom, fear of the Lord, and obedience to God’s Word. In verse 4, we see that we can keep up appearances, or we can be practical. Keeping things looking “just so” has a cost. Verse 7 tells us what kind of company we should not keep. In verse 8, we see that the fool often believes what he is doing will turn out for the better, but he is fooling himself (see also v. 12). In other words, earthly wisdom is no wisdom at all. In verse 9, we see a direct tie in with the religious life. When the wise do wrong, they make it right through repentance (see 1:23). We’ve all experienced what is being described in verse 13. We have all tried to hide our inner hurts with a joyful exterior. But eventually, the inner hurt must be dealt with.
A fool believes easily, but the wise take thought for both what is outward and what is inward (v. 15). In other words, immediate reactions to new information is foolish (if only our society believed this). Verse 17 goes along with this. A quick reaction of anger is foolish. That is not to say that there is no such thing as righteous anger, but anger as an emotional response is often a foolish reaction (see v. 29). Verses 20 and 21 go together. How do we judge people, according to the earthly, or the heavenly (see Jas 2:1-13)? We have all known someone like the fool being described in verse 23. They are always “going” to do something. Usually something “great” or “big”. They just never do it. And they only hurt themselves.
Verses 26-27 go together. Fear of the Lord (the beginning of knowledge! – see 1:7) gives us confidence to act rightly and serves to give an example to those who look to us; and the result is life, for us and them. Verse 30 speaks of the root of much sin: envy. He whose treasures are in heaven has no need to envy anyone! Verse 31 calls us to generosity (see Matt 25:31-46). Verse 32 speaks of the sure end of the righteous (wise) and the wicked (foolish). I’m not so sure it doesn’t go with verse 31…
Chapter 15 begins with a reminder of what we saw in 12:16 and 14:17. Verse 2 goes with this. Verse 3 reminds us that nothing is hidden from God, good or bad. Verse 5 is our common refrain. In verses 7 and 11, we again see that words proceed from the heart. Do we speak wisdom or folly? In verse 8, we see that outward actions for the sake of the action mean nothing. God cares about the heart (see 1 Sam 16:7, Ps 7:9). This is strengthened by verse 9. In verse 10, we see again that sure end of the wicked. Verse 12 is our refrain once again. In verse 14, we again see that what comes from the mouth proceeds from the heart (see 11:20 and Matt 15:10-20), and in verse 16 a reminder that heavenly treasures are of infinitely more value than earthly treasures (see 13:25). Verse 17 strengthens this idea.
Verse 18 is another warning against reactions of anger. In verse 21 we see that folly breeds folly (like wisdom breeds wisdom – see 9:9). In verse 22, we have an encouragement not just to heed the wisdom of others, but to seek it (see 2:3-4). Verse 26 again speaks of the inward always being revealed in the outward. Verse 28 again warns against immediate, emotional reactions. In verse 31, we see that the willingness to hear reproof leads to life, and in verse 32 that how we react to this reproof affects us greatly. The chapter ends with a tie in between the fear of the Lord, a willingness to hear reproof, and humility (see 8:13).