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Bible > Proverbs > Chapters 9-14

Introduction   Ch. 1-3   4-8   9-14  15-20   21-26   27-31   Truth in Action

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Solomon
The Poetic and Wisdom Books

Proverbs Notes 9:1-14:35

Discourse 9 [9:1-18] (HBH) The lady wisdom (9:1-12) contrasts with the woman folly (9:13-18). Once again we are dealing only with metaphoric personifications. Like vendors calling for customers to come to their shops, wisdom and folly invite the reader to choose which path to take. It is a decision of life and death.

Prov. 9:7-11 Examples of wisdom illustrated with practical experience; a series of situations in which it's proven that wisdom is worthwhile.

Prov. 9:7-9 See section 3 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 9:7-9 See section 1 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 9:12 For you...you alone: The individual has to choose; destiny is in his hands.

Prov. 9:13-18 Brief clauses that sum up all the earlier appeals to the simple and that end with a grave warning.

Proverbs on labor, prosperity, and wealth [10:1-32] (HBH) Wealth does have value as security from trouble (10:15), but riches wrongfully gained will not protect (10:2). Diligent workers enrich themselves (10:4-5), but lazy people irritate everyone (10:26). Above all, integrity and the LORD's blessing provide the most sure security (10:16,22). Several proverbs on the use of the tongue also appear in this chapter (10:18-21,31-32).

Prov. 10:1-22:16 The proverbs of Solomon: This section includes (until 22:16) a collection of what are surely original teachings of Solomon, not merely proverbs compiled by him from other sources. Although up to now the book has argued fundamentally about the importance of divine wisdom, with strong moral warnings interspersed (like those that refer to adultery in chapters 5; 6; 7; 9), now it's occupied with reviewing significant practical truths about many aspects of life, each one of which shines like a jewel with its own light. Literary note: Time and time again, singular truths are presented in double form, not from the viewpoint of the rhythm of the prose, but it's significance. The second part of each proverbs generally takes one of the following forms: an opposite or contrasting affirmation; a parallel truth; a simile that clarifies the stated truth; a more refined or detailed version of the truth.

Frequently, various proverbs that deal with the same or similar theme appear grouped, which converts them into a lesson in miniature about a particular lesson.

Prov. 10:1 Father...mother: Both parents feel the joy as well as pain. Attributing here the joy to the father and the sadness to the mother, apart from the poetic balance that is sought, could suggest that these reactions characterize each one of them. What one member of the family feels inevitable affects all the others.

LITERARY RICHES
Prov. 10:3 just, [to the soul of the just], (KJV-righteous), nephesh; Strong #5315: A life, a living being, the soul, the I, the person, the reason, the personality, the inner desires and sufferings. This substantive, which appears more than 750 times, is a biblical term of great significance. "Soul" is the word that is usually preferred when translating nephesh; "heart", "person", "life" or "mind", occasionally give greater sense to some contexts. In contrast with the English word "soul", which usually describes only the inner person and contrasts with the exterior person, nephesh describes the person in his totality, as a vital unity, a living creation. The first five times that nephesh (Gen. 1:20,21,24,30; 2:7) appears shows that the range of the word is full enough to include living creatures and animals and human beings. In Exodus 1:5 we are told that 70 "persons" went down to Egypt. The person or divine being (the I, his desires, his life) is described as a soul. The word nephesh is applied to GOD in Jeremiah 5:9 ("...doesn't my soul have to be avenged?) and in Amos 6:8 ("Jehovah the LORD has sworn by himself...[his soul]").

Prov. 10:4,5 See section 4 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 10:4 A clear teaching about laboriousness versus indolence: the first brings wealth; the second, poverty.

Prov. 10:5 Wisdom is presented for the second time as a synonym of foresight (see 6:8).

Prov. 10:8 Prov. 10:4,5 See section 3 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 10:10 He who winks...causes sorrow: Because it alludes to what should only be said with frankness. And the foolish of lips will be punished: Too much frankness or lack of justice are dangerous. See the notes for 6:12-15.

Prov. 10:11 Violence will cover the mouth: What the fool says is never heard or followed: his violence is annulled.

Prov. 10:14 See section 4 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

LITERARY RICHES
Prov. 10:16 unholy (KJV-wicked), rasha'; Strong #7563: Evil, bad, violent, sinful, culpable, condemned, someone who deserves punishment; vicious, unjust. This substantive appears more than 250 times. It comes from the verb rasha', which says "culpable", "evil", "condemned", and holds a certain sense of violent internal disturbance (as is the human being was evil due to internal conflicts that hadn't been resolved). The unholy are sometimes contrasted with the just, as in this passage and in Genesis 18:23, where Abraham knew that GOD considered these two groups as persons who required separate treatment. Rasha' figures some 80 times in Proverbs (see, e.g., 12:10; 15:29; 25:26). In 12:10 we read about a person so evil that even his heart is cruel.

Prov. 10:19,22 The babbler is associated with sin, but divine blessing is indelible.

Prov. 10:26 An indolent laborer is not only unproductive, but someone who causes irritation.

Prov. 10:32 Lips...know: The expression is intimately tied to perception.

Proverbs contrasting the nature and destiny of the righteous and wicked [11:1-31] (HBH) The righteous follow a clear path in life (11:3,5), are delivered from troubles (11:6), are generous (11:25), and strengthen their communities (11:11). The wicked hoard money but are not saved by it (11:4,18,24,26), are a curse to their families and communities (11:9-13,29), and face certain punishment (11:4,7,23,31).

Prov. 11:3-8 In the long run, retribution is assured and appropriate.

Prov. 11:10,11 City: The just is a good citizen, someone appreciated by the community.

Prov. 11:20,21 The perverse not only seeks problems by natural law, but because he arouses the wrath of GOD.

Prov. 11:24-26 Generosity makes people prosper; miserliness impoverishes.

Prov. 11:30 Fruit...souls: The wise will gain not only the temporal, but also the eternal (souls).

Proverbs urging discernment in dealings with others [12:1-28] (HBH) The wise know how to recognize and what to expect of various kinds of people. A good woman will help rather than weaken her husband (12:4), and a good man is kind even to his animals (12:10). The fool is always sure of himself, speaks without thinking (12:15-16,18,23), and is destroyed by his own lies (12:19). But the wise both listen and speak well (12:6,8,14-16,19).

Prov. 12:9 Wealth counts more for the world that a sense of honor.

Prov. 12:10 The just is sufficiently sensible as to care for animals (something rare in those times), but the unholy, although reasonable, behaves cruelly (in front of other human beings).

Prov. 12:14 Mouth...hands: Each one leaves fruit that, good or evil, constitutes his recompense.

Prov. 12:17-22 Words, which are powerful instruments, can do good or evil, please or displease GOD, in dependence on the wisdom and truth that they hold.

Prov. 12:26 Even the righteous is put in danger if he joins with evil companions.

Prov. 12:27 The energy consumed in the hunt is lost if one is so indolent that he doesn't roast his prey.

Proverbs on life's realities [13:1-25] (HBH) Things are not always as they seem (13:7). The wise must learn to look beneath the surface. Verse 23 does not sanction the plundering of the poor by the rich but shows a common tragedy in society.

Prov. 13:7 Miserliness is counterproductive; generosity enriches, in one way or another.

Prov. 13:18 See section 3 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 13:22 A good person can expect his descendants to bless him; a sinner accumulates, without trying, what will eventually wind up in the hands of the righteous.

Prov. 13:23 The poor suffers for his incapacity to take advantage of the resources that are within his reach; injustice snatches his goods.

Prov.13:24 See section 5 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 13:24 See the note for 23:13,14.

KINGDOM DYNAMICS
Prov. 13:24 Corrective discipline for the rebellious, FAMILY ORDER. Discipline is the flipside of teaching. Even children with a learning spirit need detailed explanations, much patience, opportunities to learn and experiment, as well as the right to learn through their mistakes. But a spoiled (Prov. 29:15), rebellious (I Sam. 15:23) or stubborn (Prov. 22:15) child causes problems that disrupt and shatter family harmony. The divine response is firm and loving discipline.

The Bible makes a clear distinction between discipline and physical abuse. Discipline can be painful, but not harmful. We must never damage a child, although, occasionally, pain may be part of effective discipline. GOD himself is described as a strict supporter of discipline. Although he always disciplines us lovingly and for our benefit, being corrected can cause us pain (Heb. 12:5-11). Likewise, GOD requires that parents correctively discipline their children. The eternal destiny of the child may depend on the discipline of his parents (Prov. 23:14).   (Eph. 6:4/Rom. 15:5-7) L. C.

Important lessons with touches of humor [14:1-35] (HBH) Oxen require feeding, and no one enjoys cleaning up after them (14:4). But their strength makes farming much easier and leads to a better harvest. Sometimes we have to give up something for a greater gain. Verse 15 shows that gullibility should not be considered a Christian virtue!

Prov. 14:1 Construction or demolition is what distinguishes the wise woman from the fool. Here we have one of the rare proverbs about feminine behavior. Her hands symbolize her attitude or conduct. She destroys herself and her family.

Prov. 14:3 See section 2 of "TRUTH IN ACTION" at the end of Proverbs.

Prov. 14:4 Where there is no action, there are no problems. To have power (the ox) has to bear the inconveniences that come with said power.

Prov. 14:10 Inner sadness and felicity are strictly private matters, not always understood by others.

Prov. 14:13 External appearances don't always express the true feelings of the heart.

Prov. 14:20,21 Human nature must seek the favors of the rich, but one who is concerned for the poor will be recompensed.

Prov. 14:23 In the battle of values laboriousness triumphs over mere empty talk.

LITERARY RICHES
Prov. 14:26 hope (KJV-confidence), machseh; Strong #4268: A place of refuge, protection, a fortress, an expectation; a site to protect oneself in evil times. This substantive appears 20 times in the Old Testament, more than half of them in Psalms. See especially Psalm 46:1; 61:3; 91:2,9; 142:5. Machseh is translated as "trust" in Psalm 73:28, where the psalmist has put his trust in the LORD (that is, made GOD his place of refuge). In Isaiah 25:4 GOD is described as a "refuge" in the midst of torment, and a "cloud" who protects from the heat, which is related to the concept of "protection against the elements of nature" contained in machseh. In this passage it alludes to a fortress.

Prov. 14:28 Without followers, leadership means nothing.

Prov. 14:30 The gentle heart (KJV-sound heart): A balanced mind leads to health; envy to ruin. Even at such an early time, health and the human attitude were seen as related.

Prov. 14:34 Such a thing as collective justice is a reality, and bring collective benefit with it.

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