Our reading today begins with another reminder that wisdom is of more value than earthly riches (19:1). Verse 2 literally says “a person” or “a soul” without knowledge is not good. The second half of the verse speaks again about the foolishness of hasty action. Verse 3 reveals human nature. When bad things happen, we tend to look to God for an explanation. Sometimes, our own foolishness (sin, hastiness, lack of prudence) is to blame. In verse 4, we see that money makes many “friends”, none of whom remain when the money is gone. This is expanded in verses 6 and 7. Verses 5 and 9 emphasize the foolishness of deceit. Verse 11 is our popular refrain of wise reactions to offenses.
In verse 14, we see again the blessing of a Godly wife. Verse 16 reminds us what wisdom is: obedience to God. Verse 17 again speaks of heavenly versus earthly treasures. Verse 20 is another exhortation to receive wisdom. Verse 21 points us again to the sovereignty of God. Verse 23 shows how the fear of the Lord leads to life, and that more abundantly, even on this side of heaven (see John 10:10).
Chapter 20 begins by telling us of the foolishness (and disobedience) of drunkenness. Verse 4 is another admonition of laziness (see v. 13 and 6:6-11). In verse 6 wee see what true love consists of. It is not mere words. It is acts of faithfulness. In verse 9 we see again the natural rationalization of our own sin (see 16:2). By framing this as a rhetorical questions, Solomon is giving the answer (such an important answer!!!). No one can make themselves clean from their own sin. We need someone else to do it.
In verse 11, we see the natural sinful nature of man. Even as children, our acts proceed from our hearts. This is why Solomon (and any good parent) knows that children need to learn not to be sinful (covetous, self-centered, etc.). Verse 12 speaks to the seeking of wisdom. God made our eyes and our ears. We should use them to honor Him, by seeking wisdom rather than wickedness. How do you use your eyes and ears? Verse 14 speaks of dishonesty in business transactions. When bargaining, is paying the lowest price a win, or is paying a fair price a win? What does wisdom say (especially considering verses 15 and 17)?
In verse 19, Solomon goes a step beyond warning against slander: he says not to even associate with slanderers. Verse 22 was the mantra of King David: leave judgment to God, our just Judge. Verse 24 is a reminder of what we saw in 16:1, 9. When making decisions and plans, we should seek wisdom from God and His Word, otherwise, how can we know what to do (see 21:5)? Verse 28 reminds us that God establishes rulers (Rom 13:1). Verse 30 is speaking of corporal punishment. It has its place, but must be administered with wisdom.
Chapter 21 begins by telling us that God not only establishes, but directs rulers and authorities (21:1). Verse 2 is a familiar refrain. Verse 3 echoes 15:8 (see also 1 Sam 15:22). Verses 6 and 7 speak of the sure end of the wicked. He may prosper for a brief time in this world, but failure to obey God ends in death. Verse 9 speaks again of peace in the home. While we (husbands) should never forget that our wives are our greatest blessing in this world, you (wives) should never forget that you are meant to be our greatest blessing in this world (see also 19).
Verse 12 speaks of God seeing all the ways of man, and punishing the wicked. In verse 15, we see that justice (see 1:3) is a joy to the one made righteous by God. In other words, justice (doing what it right) is not a chore to the people of God. It is a source of joy for us! Verse 20 speaks of the prudent use of what God has given us. Verse 21 gives a simpler formula: seek righteousness, and you will find righteousness (and life! – see Matt 7:7-11). Verse 23 again warns us of the power of the tongue (see 18:21). Verses 25-26 again contrast the sluggard with the one who works. One is never satisfied, and the other has so abundantly he gives generously. Verse 29 is another warning against rash actions.