Hasty shortcut leads to poverty. One lesson I learned in this chapter, chapter 21. A man cannot have a child immediately by getting 9 women pregnant. He would have to wait for about 9 months to have a child. This is life! There are things you would have to wait for and that’s what verse 5 teaches us. Success is not an overnight reward. In actual fact, it is the cumulative effect of days/months/years of hardwork. Read on to dig in
Verse 1: The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord;he guides it wherever he pleases.
Musing: Our lord Jesus is the king of kings — the one who reigns and presides over other kings & in all kingdoms of the earth and the influence of His government is in a globally increasing fashion (Isa. 9:7). He alone in His sovereignty & without recourse to any cabinet put kings on the throne & also decides to drop Kings as He wills (Dan. 2:21). See, no matter how much earthly influence & power that earthly kings may wield, we must remember that they are still men — vulnerable men whose breath can be taken of their nostrils at any time (Isa. 2:22). There is no comparing them in any way to the God of heaven — He is the Lord & creator of all flesh — including kings & they must do His bidding at any time & in whatever direction He wants. God will channel the thoughts of Kings like water currents in the direction of your good.
2 People may be right in their own eyes but the Lord examines their heart.
Musing: God is not a man (Num. 23:19) & He doesn’t see as men do — they may look @ external actions & performances but God looks chiefly at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Again, it is important to restate that the point at which we feel satisfied with the kind of life we are living is exactly the time to ask questions of God to see if He feels so to. You may feel so right & yet be so wrong because you are measuring largely with an earthly yardstick which is not necessarily God’s — He sees differently & we have to begin to also see as He does. Men including yourself may applaud your actions but God looks at the hidden motives of our heart — the ‘why’ behind whatsoever we are doing. Often times & even in the faith, a lot of seemingly noble actions are done with carnal motives and once this is so, we fall into the risk of missing out on what God will have us get back in return. No wonder Jesus was instructing the early believers in Matt 6 on how to Pray, Fast & Give alms in a manner that gets the heavenly rewards every of such inputs deserve. Like David, we must continually pray for the renewal of a right Spirit within us (Isa. 51:10), just like Caleb had that distinguished him from other of the children of Israel. We must be guided — God does not look at what we are doing but the reasons we are doing them. Very important!
3 The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
Vs 3: Obedience is always better than sacrifice & to hearken than fatness of lamb (1 Sam. 15:22). Same way, Justice & righteousness is more acceptable than sacrifice and once God accepts, the reward is sure. Often times, sacrifices may be accepted from new babes in Christ as part of God’s goodwill but not from matured saints — for the later, you cannot get ‘this’ without doing ‘that’, no matter how much you cry — you just must be responsible. Someone once said that God does not delight to do miracles & does them to endear young converts to himself. God is also delighted in fair balances & honest scales – He is a God of judgement & that is more acceptable to God than any sacrifice that we may give.
By more acceptable we mean: for example,
* In the expression of the need to have your needs met, God will rather that you get a job, work and get financial increase in return than your trusting for a financial miracle no matter the level of the seed you sow.
* If God also tells you His plans for your life — maybe say, He desires that you be a Preacher & you then decide that you will be a great business man and be sacrificing 90% of your wealth back to God while you reserve 10%, He may still accept it & as a matter of fact, it is still okay (goodwill) but it is more acceptable if one works in His detailed plan (perfect will). Roms. 12:2.
4 Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.
Musing: man has a way of distinguishing between low & high sin — in our smallness of mind, we rate one sin as small and another as big. In fact, said another way, there is popular evil that religion understands and there is unpopular evil that the God in heaven sees & the gods of the earth acknowledges & continually guard against. From this scripture, we see that sin is sin — both the eyes that are lifted up against God, proud hearts & the wickedness of the wicked. Think about the most vilest wicked action — from murder, to raping a minor, to theft; there is no difference between these and a man with a proud heart. I often hear a lot of people speak against the separation that a divorce affords, even when the life of one of the parties is seriously endangered and they make it look like it is an unpardonable sin, but what is true is that, the same reaction God gives to divorce is the same reaction He gives to lies — He hates them both (Mal. 2:16; Prov. 6:17). In fact, to take it further, those who know the truth of God’s Word know that in the line-up of sinners in hell fire, liars will take the first positions (Rev. 21:8). Of all these mentioned, none is a lesser evil.
5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.
The most lay way I understand the meaning of the Word diligence is consistent hardwork. For these ones, they think increase & multiplication in time. They don’t seek quick short cut increase as much as they seek a consistent, small + small + small kind of increase and it is actually these lot that experiences real growth. That’s the very way God designed even nature — no human being wakes up one morning to discover that just in a few hours he has become 6 foot tall. No. This comes only in time…no haste. The bible describes it graphically in Mark 4:28, as the ear grows, the blade and full grain but no one knows how. But for those who seek increase with haste — the ‘fast food generation’ all they want is Now…Now! To them, they think that, just as a wise man says, that they may get 9 women pregnant to produce a child in one month. That equation never works and the earlier we understood this, the better for us all. For those who are hasty and have refused to comply with the law of seed time & harvest time, they will always be in want. As they try to by-pass the natural time of life, they will unfortunately miscarry the harvest. Get rich quick schemes are never sustainable — the riches may depart as fast as it comes.
6 Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.[a]
Part of vanity is getting treasures by lies & deceit. No matter how much wealth this brings, it’s all vanity. Those who do this vacillate and dance to & fro on the brink of death – they are playing with fire & the result is that they will be burned. .
7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away, because they refuse to do what is just.
Musing: Righteousness preserves the life of the righteous while the wickedness of the wicked will also have an effect on them. For those who refuse to do what is right in any situation & circumstance, they will have to pay for their wrongs in their life time — sadly, sometimes at the cost of their lives. The truth cannot be buried — it will always fight for itself.
8 The guilty walk a crooked path;the innocent travel a straight road.
Musing: Man in his characteristic nature is naturally selfish & there is no good to him. By nature, he is evil, fraudulent, perverse & strange but the pure has a different Spirit in him that works out righteousness through him. He is helped by the pure Spirit of God to live in pure & upright life.
9 It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
Musing: Someone jocularly said that the words ‘complete’ & ‘finish’ though similar in meaning but are different in the context of marriage — if you marry a good wife, you are complete but if you marry a bad wife, you are finished. Today’s people need to know that there are a lot of other things that are more important than money, for example, Salvation of your soul (Mark 8:37), a good name (Prov. 22:1) & a good wife (Prov. 31:10). Money can get a man good house but it takes a good wife to make a home. They are two different things. With a quarrelsome wife, the contentions are unending & there is no shortage of strife which precedes every evil work (James 3:16). Every man in this situation must avoid confrontations at all cost and even if it means temporal separation in the search for peace, so be it.
To say another way, it is better to have a peaceful home in a small house than to have a quarrelsome home in a big house.
10 Evil people desire evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
Musing: It is risky to share a close friendship with the wicked & the bible calls it unequal yoking — interactions of light & darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). In fair weather, they may seem harmless but when the day of adversity comes and there is serious test of character, they will show no restraint in unleashing evil on you. Steer clear.
11 If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise; if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser.
Musing: People have often said that experience is the best teacher & what is not clearly elucidated is that this experience does not necessarily mean a personal one. In today’s world, we don’t need to go through an experience personally to be wiser but we can learn from the life of others and draw from their experiences. That’s why people write books, autobiographies, et cetera. A punishment meted out on a neighbour should be enough to make us wise. We must draw instructions from not just what come to us but the experiences of others. It works.
12 The Righteous One[b] knows what is going on in the homes of the wicked; he will bring disaster on them.
Musing: The wise righteous man considers & intentionally observes the wicked, including the realities of his household & learn from them. He sees how God overthrows the wicked for their wickedness & takes a cue from their life.
13 Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
Musing: No man can play a fast one on God & as it is said in the west — you cannot eat your cake & still have it at the same time. Scriptural principles are no respecter of persons — if we play by them we will be rewarded accordingly. For example, if we refuse to forgive people for their transgressions, God will not also forgive us and if we don’t sow seeds of mercy into the lives of people, it makes no sense expecting same from God. And some might think they have no material need so they are somewhat free but every man surely has needs that his natural efforts cannot carry out will often require a higher power — for them, when they place a distress call to heaven, they may never get a response. In life, you reap what you Sow – if you open your ears to the poor when they cry, when you do cry also, your needs will be met from on high.
14 A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.
Musing: There is a thing line between gifts & bribes and for wise people, it will be important to always ask that people define the gifts they bring to you. Often times, most people give out gifts with ulterior motives as to what they will get in return. When a gift is giving with pure motives, it has the capacity to do greatly in the heart of the receiver — it can go ahead of us to negotiate for peace & helps us create a room in the heart of the people we seek to find favour from (Prov. 18:16)
15 Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.
Musing: Justice has different meaning to different people — joy to the righteous & terror/great fear to those who do evil. Righteous people with clean hands cannot be scared of justice because they have nothing to hide but for evil people, they are so scared of light as they know it will expose their evil works.
16 The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead.
Musing: No one can ignore the safety rules of life and have his life with him for long. No. If you ignore your caution, you put your life in great peril and maybe also lose it if you are not careful. When wisdom calls, it is for the protection & preservation of our lives – if we feign ignorance at his call, we lead the path of destruction & death comes calling. It is as natural as the man who chooses to walk in the path of darkness — He is sure to stumble & fall (Jn. 11:10).
17 Those who love pleasure become poor;those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
Musing: God’s design for man is to work before pleasure that is why no herbs for food was allowed to grow before man came on the scene in readiness to work the earth (Gen. 2:5). It is not normal for a man to seek pleasure without putting higher level of commitment to work — by all means, he will need to eat like the Ox that threshes out the corn (1 Tim. 5:8) but he must face his work first. For a man that seeks & love pleasure as to think about it & indulge in it at the slightest opportunity, he will end up poor. For the one who despite his small status seeks to declare a feast banquet of expensive wine & oil — spending resources as soon as he gets, he will never be rich.
18 The wicked are punished in place of the godly, and traitors in place of the honest.
Musing: God has no concern taking out the wicked to give us the peace we deserve (2 Thess. 3:16). He said concerning Pharaoh that ‘if you don’t let my son go, I will kill your son’ (Exo. 4:23). Like he did in the case of Mordecai, the head of Haman had to replace him in the gallows. The reputation of our God is the one that kills & makes alive and if he needs to do this for our sakes, he will not hesitate.
19 It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.
Musing: A quarrelsome and short-fused spouse is not one to be desired and this must inform the choices of young people as they seek this kind of experience. That’s marriage to a wrong person can unleash hell on the earth for any man — it is not worth the gamble. Wisdom says, it is better to be single looking forward to marriage than the married and seeking the next way out.
20 The wise have wealth and luxury,but fools spend whatever they get.
Musing: A wise man manages a system of savings from the produce of his hands while the foolish does not save anything but consumes every increase on anything he likes. He is an Impulse Driven spender.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
Musing: The truly repentant believer who follows after righteousness & mercy will inherit Life, Righteousness & honour.
22 The wise conquer the city of the strong and level the fortress in which they trust.
Musing: Wisdom is not in physical strength but in mental weaponry — that’s the greatest tool. And for this one, they do not go against the enemy in the energy of the flesh because we cannot win them on such platform as our Kingdom mighty weapon are not physical but Spiritual (2 Cor. 10:4). It was how David killed Goliath by the stone shot Word of God and Joshua and the children of Israel by the wisdom of God that God led them to ‘praisefully’ bring down the walls of Jericho as broad as it was. They could have got the city down by sensual wisdom…not possible.
23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.
Musing: Even a fool is seen to be wise when he keeps his mouth shut. Your words say a lot about you. Your words can lead you into trouble or save you. So watch your tongue.
24 Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.
Musing: For the proud and haughty fellow, they so reject instructions and carry on their lives with passionate error. They do wrong with so much passion like it is a business for them, exactly as Jesus assumed his father’s business.
25 &26:Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!
Musing: Desire in the heart must be transferred to the labour of the hands, otherwise the result is frustration. For the lazy, he wants everything and he is not ready to do anything — He may die in lack & want.
Industry must be added to righteousness for one’s needs to be met. It must be stated clearly that Salvation maybe an escape from toiling but not from working. The first model man, Adam worked (Gen; 2:15), Jesus also worked as His father (Jn. 5:17). If we will have all things as God has promised as relates life & godliness, we must work (2 Pet. 1:3).
27 The sacrifice of an evil person is detestable, especially when it is offered with wrong motives.
Musing: For an unsaved person who ‘wickedly’ denies the person of Jesus, no matter what He gives or does, it is considered an abomination before God. Worse case is when he gives with an evil intention, he may perish with his goods…just like Simon who sought to buy the gift of God by giving money (Acts 8:18).
28 A false witness will be cut off, but a credible witness will be allowed to speak.
Musing: A false witness with a lying tongue will receive judgement speedily such that his word will mean nothing again both before the wise & fools. But for the one who says & reports things accurately, his words will carry weight forever — He will continually enjoy utterance.
29 The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act.
Musing: A wicked man stays unresponsive to God & His instructions but for the upright, He stays open to God and seeks His opinion always with a discerning mind.
30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.
Musing: All wisdom, counsel & instruction that there is must be according to & in line with God’s written word. Anything with a level of deviation from the ways of God is a shadow with no truth at all.
31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
Musing: every battle in life will require tools and the inputs of man but it will also require the part of God to establish such moves. Even though Moses was instructed to stretch His rod against the red Sea, it was not the rod that parted the sea but God — Moses had to play His part to commit God to His part. We must head out in all of lives affairs with all the tools in our arsenal but it takes God to give us the Victory, safety & Salvation from all our enemies. God must be involved.