Proverbs 20

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 1, 2004

Proverbs 20

:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

(Prov 20:1 NLT)  Wine produces mockers; liquor leads to brawls. Whoever is led astray by drink cannot be wise.


Alcohol is a product of amazing versatility.

It will remove stains from designer clothes.
It will also remove the clothes off your back.
If by chance it is used in sufficient quantity,
Alcohol will remove furniture from the home,
Rugs from the floor, food from the table,
Lining from the stomach, vision from the eyes,
And judgment from the mind.
Alcohol will also remove good reputations,
Good jobs, good friends, happiness from children's hearts,
Sanity, freedom, spouses, relationships,
Man's ability to adjust and live with his fellow man,
And even life itself.
As a remover of things, alcohol has no equal.
-- Ann Landers column, The Columbus Dispatch, March 25, 1992, p. 2E


   I drank for happiness and became unhappy.
      I drank for joy and became miserable.
   I drank for sociability and became argumentative.
      I drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.
   I drank for sleep and woke up tired.
      I drank for strength and felt weak.
   I drank for relaxation and got the shakes.
      I drank for courage and became afraid.
   I drank for confidence and became doubtful.
       I drank to make conversation easier and slurred my speech.
   I drank to feel heavenly, and ended up feeling like hell.

-- Longtime Member of A.A., as reprinted in Dear Abby, 4-22-93

:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife

(Prov 20:3 NKJV)  It is honorable for a man to stop striving, Since any fool can start a quarrel.

Sometimes we get the idea that “real men” don’t back down from a fight.  And it is good to not back down from a fight that you should be fighting.

Yet Solomon says there can be honor is a man who chooses not to fight at the right time.

:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

(Prov 20:4 ICB)  A lazy farmer doesn't plow when he should. So at harvest time he has no crop.

:5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

(Prov 20:5 ICB)  Understanding a person's thoughts is as hard as getting water from a deep well. But someone with understanding can find the wisdom there.

(Prov 20:5 NLT)  Though good advice lies deep within a person's heart, the wise will draw it out.

:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

(Prov 20:6 NLT)  Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful?

It seems that really only time can tell who will be your faithful friends.

:7 The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

integritytom – integrity, completeness; fulness; innocence, simplicity

A great legacy to leave to your children is the example of integrity.

:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

(Prov 20:9 ICB)  No one can say, "I am innocent. I have never done anything wrong."

We are all sinners.

(Rom 3:23 KJV)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;


Journalists miss the point when they keep asking, after each new church scandal, if a preacher’s fall has shaken the believers’ faith. Sin rather confirms than challenges a faith that proclaims human corruption.  The drama of salvation is played out against the constant backdrop of original sin.

-- Gary Wills in Under God.  Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 12.

But we don’t have to stay stuck in sin.

(1 John 1:5-10 KJV)  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. {6} If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: {7} But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

(1 John 2:1-2 KJV)  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: {2} And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Only Jesus can take away our sin.

:10 Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.

A crooked merchant would have a larger weight to measure the things he was buying and a smaller weight to measure the things he was selling.  That way he’d make more profit.

God hates this kind of thing.

Double standards – not just for buying and selling, but also how you treat others as well, treating one group nicely and another group roughly.

:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

It’s not just what people say about themselves that counts, but what they do.

:13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

It’s good to get going and get to work.

:14 It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

(Pr 20:14 The Message) {14} The shopper says, “That’s junk—I’ll take it off your hands,” then goes off boasting of the bargain.

Seller, beware if someone starts talking down the quality of what you’re selling.

:16 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.

(Prov 20:16 NLT)  Be sure to get collateral from anyone who guarantees the debt of a stranger. Get a deposit if someone guarantees the debt of a foreigner.

(Prov 20:16 ICB)  Take the coat of someone who promises to pay what a stranger owes. Keep it until he pays the stranger's bills.

It’s not a wise thing to be co-signing on a loan, especially if it’s for a stranger.  If someone co-signs for a stranger, then make sure to get a deposit from them because they’re not doing a very smart thing.

:17 Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

(Prov 20:17 ICB)  When a person gets food dishonestly, it may taste sweet at first. But later he will feel as if he has a mouth full of gravel.

Earn your income honestly.

:18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

(Prov 20:18 ICB)  Get advice if you want your plans to work. If you go to war, get the advice of others.

Get advice when you are making tough decisions.

:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

A talebearer (someone who gossips) is a person who flatters you with their words.

(Prov 20:19 NLT)  A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.


Someone has said, "You can't believe half of what you hear, but you can repeat it."

-- J. Vernon McGee,

If you get too close to a gossip, they’re going to hurt you.

Sometimes we like to hang around a person who talks a lot because we want to hear all the juicy gossip.

But if they gossip about others, what’s to stop them from gossiping about you?

:20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

Honor your parents.  Respect the people who brought you into the world.

:21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

(Prov 20:21 NLT)  An inheritance obtained early in life is not a blessing in the end.

The Prodigal Son got his inheritance “hastily”.  He lived to regret it because he didn’t know how to take care of his money.

:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

(Prov 20:22 NASB)  Do not say, "I will repay evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.

(Rom 12:17-21 NLT)  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. {18} Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. {19} Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, "I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it," says the Lord. {20} Instead, do what the Scriptures say: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you." {21} Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.


A man was just told by his doctor that he had rabies, and he took out a piece of paper and started writing on it.  The doctor said, oh my, he’s making up his will.  And he said, “What are you doing, making up your will?”  The man said, “No, I’m just writing down every person I’m going to bite.”

Let God take care of the people who have hurt you.  Don’t bite them.

:23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD…

If you are a scuba diver, you might want to get rid of those weights…

:24 Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

(Prov 20:24 NLT)  How can we understand the road we travel? It is the LORD who directs our steps.

(Prov 20:24 ICB)  The Lord decides what a person does. So no one can understand what his life is all about.

You can’t see the big picture of your life without knowing the Lord.

If you know the Lord, be sure you are spending time with Him, allowing Him to speak to you and lead you.

Find out what God’s will is for you by:

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

:25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry.

(Prov 20:25 NLT)  It is dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost.

(Prov 20:25 ICB)  It's dangerous to promise something to God too quickly. After you've thought about it, it may be too late.

We make promises to God way too easily, with very little intention of keeping them.

People in the Bible took their vows to God seriously.  They didn’t tend to make vows that they would not keep.

(Psa 76:11 ICB)  Keep your promises to the Lord your God.

Jephtha made a vow to the Lord.  He vowed that he’d give to God the first thing that came out of his house when he got back if God would give him the victory in battle.  He won.  When he got home, the first person out of the house was his daughter.

(Judg 11:34-35 KJV)  And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. {35} And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.

The implication is that he sacrificed her.

I’m sure he wish he had been more careful about his vow.

Not just promises we make to God, but promises we make to each other as well.

(Mat 5:33-37 NLT)  "Again, you have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' {34} But I say, don't make any vows! If you say, 'By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. {35} And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. {36} Don't even swear, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black. {37} Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.

(James 5:12 ICB)  My brothers, it is very important that you not use an oath when you make a promise. Don't use the name of heaven, earth, or anything else to prove what you say. When you mean yes, say only "yes." When you mean no, say only "no." Do this so that you will not be judged guilty.

God wants us to be men and women of integrity, people who keep their word.


It was late, and my young sons, Peter and Paul, had been in bed for at least an hour. My wife and I had just returned from our Bible study group, and I snuck into the boys’ room to say good night.
“Dad, can I have some ice cream?”
“No, Peter, it’s late, way past bedtime.”
“But Dad, you promised.”
He was right. Peter had asked for ice cream earlier in the day, but we didn’t have any. And I had said, “I’ll get some for you later, I promise.”
Dinner came and went. We cleaned up the kitchen; the boys picked up their toys. The sitter arrived. And my wife and I left for Bible study.
I’d forgotten all about the ice cream. But Peter hadn’t.
So, even though it was after 10 o’clock, I hopped in the car, drove to the convenience store, got a half gallon, and hurried home.
Peter and I enjoyed that chocolate-vanilla swirl together. After all, I had a promise to keep.
-- Mark Moring, editor of Men of Integrity. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.

:26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

(Prov 20:26 ICB)  A wise king finds out who the evil people are. Then he punishes them.

:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

bellybeten – belly, womb, body; as seat of hunger; as seat of mental faculties

(Prov 20:27 NLT)  The Lord's searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.

(Prov 20:27 ICB)  The Lord looks into a person's feelings. He searches through a person's thoughts.

God uses His light to expose us for what we are.

(John 3:16-21 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. {19} And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. {21} But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

:28 Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.

mercycheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness

truthemeth – firmness, faithfulness, truth; sureness, reliability; stability, continuance

Mercy and truth are a key to enduring leadership.

(Prov 20:28 ICB)  Loyalty and truth keep a king in power. He continues to rule if he is loyal.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam was not “merciful” to the people when they confronted him about their hard labor.  He ended up losing ten of the twelve tribes as the nation split.

:29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head.

Go for the grey.

(Prov 20:29 ICB)  Young men are admired for their strength. Old men are honored for their experience.

Gray isn’t bad.


“The world stands aside,” said David Jordan, “to let anyone pass who knows where he is going.”  This applies to those, who learn where they are going late in life as well as for the young. At age 53, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female prime minister.  At 64, Francis Chichester sailed alone around the world in a 53-foot yacht.  At 65, Winston Churchill became British prime minister for the first time and started the epic struggle against Hitler.  At 72, Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel.  At 75, Ed Delano of California bicycled 3100 miles in 33 days to attend his 50th college reunion in Worcester, Massachusetts.  At 76, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli became Pope John XXIII and inaugurated major changes in his church.  At 80, Grandma Moses, who had started painting in her late 70s, had her first one-woman exhibit.  At 81, Benjamin Franklin skillfully mediated between disagreeing factions at the U.S. Constitutional Convention. At 80, Winston Churchill returned to the House of Commons as a member of parliament and also exhibited 62 of his paintings.  At 96, George C. Selbach scored a 110-yard hole-in-one at Indian River, Michigan. And on his 100th birthday, ragtime pianist Eubie Blake exclaimed, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

:30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

bellybeten – belly, womb, body; as seat of hunger; as seat of mental faculties

(Prov 20:30 NLT)  Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.