Proverbs 18-19

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

August 25, 2004

Proverbs 18

:1 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

Separated himself - from others.

(Prov 18:1 NIV)  An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.

It’s good to isolate yourself from sin – we call this “holiness”, being “separated” from sin and “separated” for God’s special use.

It’s not good to isolate yourself from people.

:2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

(Prov 18:2 ICB)  A foolish person does not want to understand anything. He only enjoys telling others what he thinks.

When you are talking with another person – are you listening to what they’re saying or are you thinking about what you’re going to say next?

:4 The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

(Prov 18:4 ICB)  Understanding people's words is as hard as getting water out of a deep well. But understanding wisdom is as easy as getting water from a flowing stream.

:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

woundslaham – to gulp, swallow greedily; most translations change this to something like “dainty morsels” or “tasty bits of food”.

We all like to hear gossip and rumors.  It’s like candy – we can’t get enough of it.

Even when we know something is gossip or simply plain wrong, it goes down deep inside us and it’s hard to get it out.

(Prov 18:8 NLT)  What dainty morsels rumors are--but they sink deep into one's heart.

How many think that Scott Peterson killed his wife? How many think that Michael Jackson is a pedophile?  In reality most of what we know is probably just “gossip”, and yet we’ve already formed opinions.

:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

wastershachath – (Hiphil) to spoil, ruin, destroy

If you’re lazy, you’re just as bad as a terrorist who goes around blowing things up.

:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

LORDYahweh – “the existing One”; the proper name of the one true God

(Prov 18:10 ICB)  The Lord is like a strong tower. Those who do what is right can run to him for safety.


Calling His name

A strong tower is a place to find safety from danger.
Call His name when you’re in trouble.
Peter in the storm.  Paul in the shipwreck.  Daniel in the lion’s den.  Joseph in prison.  Jehoshaphat surrounded by his enemies.

:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.


Take time to listen and understand

Sometimes we don’t get the whole message in a conversation.

It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo.  The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington.  The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signal flags to find out how the battle was going.  One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral.

Late in the day it flashed the signal:  “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- - - D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -.”  Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog-clouds made it impossible to read the message.  The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city.  The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read.  The message had four words, not two.  The complete message was: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- - -D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- - T-H-E- - -E-N-E-M-Y!”

Too often we allow our actions to be swayed by what we understand at the moment.  Sometimes we don’t take the time to make sure we really understand what someone is saying.

Sometimes we simply aren’t paying attention.

Well-known Broadway producer Jed Harris once became convinced he was losing his hearing.  He visited a specialist, who pulled out a gold watch and asked, “Can you hear this ticking?”

“Of course,  Harris replied.

The specialist walked to the door and asked the question again. Harris concentrated and said, “Yes, I can hear it clearly.”  Then the doctor walked into the next room and repeated the question a third time.  A third time Harris said he could hear the ticking.

“Mr. Harris,” the doctor concluded, “there is nothing wrong with your hearing.  You just don’t listen.”

How true of so many of us today!  We need to learn how to listen to God.

-- Clifton Fadiman, Little, Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, Brown & Company (Boston, Toronto, London) pp. 266-267

Learn to take time to understand what is being said.  Learn to say, “I heard you say …”

:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

What is wounded, your physical body or your spirit?

(Prov 18:14 NLT)  The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?

If your physical body is hurt, your spirit can keep you going – like Joni Eareckson Tada.

But if your spirit is wounded, you just want to give up.

It’s important that we build up one another.

It’s important that we aren’t tearing each other apart.  In the family – not crushing a child’s spirit.

:16 A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

Some of the translations carry the idea of the “gift” being a present you bring to someone, like a “house-warming-gift”

(Prov 18:16 ICB)  Taking a gift to an important person will help get you in to see him.

But I wonder sometimes about the “gift” being the talents, personality traits, special abilities, even spiritual gifts, and how they affect our lives.

Find out what your gift is and focus on it.

“Now, Discover Your Strengths” – don’t focus on improving your weaknesses, though that can be helpful.  Focus on what you’re good at.

:17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

The first time you hear about a story, you tend to believe it … until someone begins to ask questions.

(Prov 18:17 NLT)  Any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight.

It makes me think of all the political attacks going on between presidential candidates.  When you first heard John Kerry talking about his Viet Nam record, you felt proud of him and his accomplishments.  Then you hear another side to the story.  Back and forth it goes.

Take time to ask questions.

:18 The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.

Who can argue with the toss of a coin?

:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

It seems that the hardest people to win back after a fight are those who are closest to us.

(Prov 18:19 NLT)  It's harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars.

:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

The use of words can be a powerful thing. 

As a negative example, Adolph Hitler learned this.  He learned early on how to use his words to influence a nation and affect the world.

(James 3:3-5 NLT)  We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. {4} And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong. {5} So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.

:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.


The blessing of marriage.

Sometimes we can get kind of sarcastic when it comes to marriage.

In his book Secrets to Inner Beauty, Joe Aldrich humorously describes the realities of married life. It doesn’t take long for the newlyweds to discover that “everything in one person nobody’s got.”  They soon learn that a marriage license is just a learner’s permit, and ask with agony, “Is there life after marriage?” An old Arab proverb states that marriage begins with a prince kissing an angel and ends with a bald-headed man looking across the table at a fat lady.  Socrates told his students, “By all means marry.  If you get a good wife, twice blessed you will be.  If you get a bad wife, you’ll become a philosopher.”  Count Herman Keyserling said it well when he stated that “The essential difficulties of life do not end, but rather begin with marriage.”

-- Joseph C. Aldrich, Secrets to Inner Beauty (Santa Ana, CA: Vision House, 1977), p. 87-88.

Yet God was the one who invented marriage, and it was part of what He called “good”.
It was at a wedding in Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle, turning something ordinary like water into something special like wine.  A marriage can just be an ordinary thing, but when God is involved, it’s got the potential to be something very, very special.

“I never envied Elvis, his mansion, and all that.  All those boys; Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison; they all lost their wives, their families.  People say, ‘What happened to you, Carl?  All of them went on to superstardom.  Where’d you go?’  I say, ‘I went home.’  And that’s a good place to be.”

- Rockabilly singer Carl Perkins, quoted by Insight, Dec. 9, 1996, p. 33.



Yep, that’s one word. It’s the name of a hill on New Zealand’s North Island. The word is Maori for “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one.”

How romantic.

:24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

The newer translations have this idea:

(Prov 18:24 NASB)  A man of many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

It’s important to have friends, but sometimes friends can be your downfall.

Proverbs 19

:2 Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.

soulnephesh – soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion

(Pr 19:2 NASB95) {2} Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs.

(Prov 19:2 ICB)  Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good. If you act too quickly, you might make a mistake.

Feed your soul with knowledge – feed it with the Word of God.

Take time to learn about things – be careful about being too hasty in your decisions.

Perform your “due diligence”.

:3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

(Prov 19:3 NLT)  People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.


Don’t blame God for your stupidity

It’s not uncommon for people to get themselves into trouble and then blame God.
It’s not God’s fault if you are making stupid choices.

:10 Delight is not seemly for a fool …

(Prov 19:10 ICB)  No foolish person should live in luxury. No slave should rule over princes!

And yet it happens.

:11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

discretionsekel – prudence, insight, understanding


Forgiveness, mercy

Sometimes we think that we shouldn’t overlook people’s mistakes.  Sometimes we think that we are showing weakness if we allow people to take advantage of us.
(Col 3:13-14 KJV)  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {14} And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
(1 Cor 13:5 KJV)  (love) …thinketh no evil;
(1 Cor 13:7 KJV)  Beareth all things…
(Luke 23:34 KJV)  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
(Eph 4:32 KJV)  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

:12 The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

Do you want to face the rage of a lion or the refreshment of the morning dew?


The gospel

We will all stand one day before our King.
Do you want Him roaring at you like a lion?
We can have His “favor”, His “grace”, through believing in Jesus Christ.
(John 1:17 KJV)  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

contentionsmidyan – strife, contention

(Prov 19:13 NLT)  A foolish child is a calamity to a father; a nagging wife annoys like a constant dripping.


How to change your husband

It’s not done by nagging.
(1 Pet 3:1-6 NASB)  In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, {2} as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. {3} And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; {4} but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. {5} For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. {6} Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
A “disobedient” husband isn’t changed through a wife’s nagging (her words) but by her behavior (submission).
Don’t just work on the outside (though that’s not bad), but work on the inside.
Sarah is an example – she wasn’t “silent” – she offered her suggestions to Abraham, but then she submitted to him.

:14 House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

prudentsakal – to be prudent, be circumspect, wisely understand, prosper

It’s great to get a gift from your father, but even better to get a gift from the Lord.

:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

If you help a poor person, then God “owes” you.  He will take care of paying back the debt.

:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

chastenyacar – to chasten, discipline, instruct, admonish


Keep disciplining them.

One of the toughest things about raising children is learning to be firm in your discipline.
When a child cries, you want to comfort them.
But if they are crying because of discipline, you need to hold the line.
Children can’t raise themselves – they need a parent to guide them, teach them, discipline them.

:19 A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.

(Prov 19:19 NLT)  Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.

(Pr 19:19 The Message) {19} Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger; if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.

Sometimes people need to experience the consequence of their actions.

An angry person needs to experience the consequence of their action.

:21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

(Prov 19:21 NIV)  Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

(Pr 19:21 The Message) {21} We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails.

It’s not bad to plan – it’s a good thing to make plans.

Yet understand that if it’s not God’s will, your plans aren’t going to happen (James 4:13-17)

:22 The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

kindnesscheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness

What each of us wants is “kindness”.

(Prov 19:22 NLT)  Loyalty makes a person attractive. And it is better to be poor than dishonest.

Be kind to one another.

:24 A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

bosomtsallachath – dish, bowl

(Prov 19:24 NKJV)  A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, And will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

He falls asleep at the dinner table!

We might laugh at this, but this is meant to be a picture of what it means to be lazy – you don’t care enough to see to it that you can even feed yourself.

:27 Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

Don’t listen to bad advice.