Our reading today begins with a heading telling us “these also are Proverbs of Solomon” that were copied under King Hezekiah. This would strengthen the argument that the book of Proverbs is a collection put together by someone other than Solomon. Verse 2-7 speak of the king (which would make sense if Hezekiah commanded the copying of these wisdom sayings). Verse 2 speaks of the king searching out Godly wisdom (see 16:12-15). Verses 4-5 are a couplet. The wicked are compared to the dross (worthless contaminates) that are burned from silver. The vessel is the kingdom (reign) of the king. In other words, the kingdom will stand only in the absence of wickedness. Verses 6-7a are wisdom that Jesus taught (see Luke 14:7-11). Do not exalt yourself. Let others do it.
Verses 7b-10 advise us to handle differences interpersonally rather than go to court. Verses 11-13 speaks again of the power of words, but this time of their power for good. Wise and righteous words are valuable and refreshing. Verse 14 condemns making promises we don’t keep. Verses 16-17 go together. Just like eating so much we vomit (can’t take anymore), so is imposition on others’ time and into their space. Verse 18 speaks of the power of words for evil. Deceit destroys.
Verses 21-22 speak of doing kindness to those who make themselves our enemies. Not only is this right in the Lord’s eyes, but it will make him ashamed of being an enemy to you. Paul quotes this saying in Romans 12:20 to encourage believers to leave judgment to God. Verse 24 repeats 21:9 (not surprising if these were originally two different collections of Solomon’s sayings). Verse 28 encourages self-control, which includes not giving in to the enticements of sin and not acting (reacting) rashly (see Gal 5:22-23 and Titus 2:1-12).
Chapter 26 begins by warning against honoring fools (26:1 – see also verse 8). It makes as much sense as snow in summer. Verses 4-5 speak to the fact that the Proverbs are not promises, but general rules that must be applied with wisdom. Here, we see that there are situations in which answering a fool will show him his foolishness, and there are situations in which answering a fool will show everyone our foolishness. Wisdom and discernment are called for. This is strengthened by verses 7 and 9. Verse 11 provides a graphic illustration of the fool. A fool does not learn from his mistakes. After suffering the consequences of his folly, the folly entices him to do it again. It actually starts to look desirable.
Verse 12 warns against considering ourselves wiser than others. Such people are less inclined to reason than a fool. This is applied to the sluggard in verse 16. Verse 17 warns us against being nosey. Verses 18-19 warn us against using the “I was kidding!” defense when we say something foolish we regret. Repentance is the proper response. Verse 20 tells us that gossip and slander are fuel for the fire of discord. Verse 21 says the same about those who like to argue. Verse 23 speaks of how we follow our words. Evil words come from the heart, but they also harden the heart even more. This is expanded in verses 24-28. Note that the wicked have their sure end.
Chapter 27 begins with a reminder that our days are in God’s sovereign hands. This is an eloquent warning against counting our chickens before they’re hatched (see 16:1 and 21:30). Verse 2 warns against exalting ourselves (see 25:6-7). Verses 3-4 show the destructiveness of foolishness. Verse 7 tells us that excess actually deprives us of pleasure. Verse 9 compares the counsel of a friend to the enjoyment of a sweet perfume. Be happy with the correction of a friend. Verse 12 encourages a little foresight.
Verse 17 speaks again about the company we keep. Righteous people together encourage righteousness. Wicked people together encourage wickedness. Verse 19 reminds us that our hearts will reveal themselves in our character. Verse 20 compares wicked desires with the punishments of hell. Verses 23-27 talk about God’s providential care of nature, and how we should value what He provides through that care rather than valuing fleeting riches.