Proverbs 22

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 15, 2004

Proverbs 22

:3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Like a hurricane warning – will you flee from the storm?

Hurricane Ivan is closing in on the Gulf coast with winds from 160-190 mph.  Waves reported to be 45 feet high.  Storm surge of 20 feet above normal tide levels.  The city of New Orleans is mostly below sea level.  It’s the fool that doesn’t evacuate.

What kinds of things do we get warnings about that should affect us?

Health problems – shortness of breath, aches and pains

Substance abuse – growing dependence on drugs, alcohol abuse.

Financial problems – growing debt, no restraint.

In marriage – a growing distance between spouses.

How do you respond to warnings?

Do you ignore them?  Do you laugh at them?  Do you make excuses?

Are you willing to do something about the problem?

:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


Study your kids, train them for life

This verse has often been used to tell parents that if they lead their children to the Lord at an early age, then they’ll remain faithful Christians.  The heart breaking truth is that sometimes children do wander away from the Lord and never return.
But what this verse is actually saying (according to a more accurate translation) is, “Train up a child according to his particular way …”
The idea is that we as parents ought to be working to understand the “way” our children ought to be trained.  We ought to be looking for our children’s strengths and teaching them how to make the most of them.

If your child is good with numbers or science, then you encourage him in those areas.

If your child is good with people, good social skills, then you seek to see those develop further.

If a child has strengths in creative, artistic things, then you help them develop those areas.

Ruth Stafford Peale gives this advice for encouraging the uniqueness in our children:

“The secret is this:  watch to see where a child’s innate skills or talents lie, then gently (do not expect too much too soon) lead or coax him or her in those areas.  It may be difficult for a father who was a crack athlete to understand and help a son who would rather play chess than football.  But chess, not football, is what such a boy needs if confidence is to grow in him.  If he does that one thing well he will come to believe that he can do other things well, and he won’t be afraid to attempt them. Children are encouraged when we affirm their originality.  Some kids are athletic.  Some aren’t.  Some are musical.  Some aren’t.  Some are introverts.  Others are extroverts.  They are all different, but they are all gifts to us from God.  As the psalmist says, they are ‘a heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3).”

-- Ruth Stafford Peale, The Friendship Factor, p. 99.

This requires that we take time to understand our children.  It means paying attention to them.
A waitress was taking orders from a couple and their young son; she was one of the class of veteran waitresses who never show outright disrespect to their customers, but who frequently make it quietly evident by their unhurried pace and their level stare that they fear no mortal, not even parents. She jotted on her order pad deliberately and silently as the father and mother gave their luncheon selection and gratuitous instructions as to what was to be substituted for what, and which dressing changed to what sauce. When she finally turned to the boy, he began his order with a kind of fearful desperation. “I want a hot dog--,” he started. And both parents barked at once, “No hot dog!” The mother went on. “Bring him the lyonnaise potatoes and the beef, both vegetables, and a hard roll and—“
The waitress wasn’t even listening. She said evenly to the youngster, “What do you want on your hot dog?” He flashed an amazed smile. “Ketchup, lots of ketchup, and—and bring a glass of milk.”
“Coming up,” she said as she turned from the table, leaving behind her the stunned silence of utter parental dismay. The boy watched her go before he turned to his father and mother with astonished elation to say, “You know what? She thinks I’m real! She thinks I’m real!”  - Frederick B. Speakman
We need to be taking our children seriously enough that they know that we pay attention to them and that we “think they’re real”.
It’s when we pay attention to them that we learn how to train them according to their “bent” in life.  It’s not about squeezing them all into the same mold, it’s learning to bring out each one’s strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.

:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

scornerluwts – to scorn, talk arrogantly; to mock, deride

(Prov 22:10 NLT)  Throw out the mocker, and fighting, quarrels, and insults will disappear.

(Prov 22:10 ICB)  Get rid of the person who makes fun of wisdom. Then fighting, quarrels and insults will stop.


Critical Spirit

When there is a scorner around, everybody becomes critical of each other.
A salesman, visiting his barber for a haircut, mentioned that he was about to take a trip to Rome. The barber, who came from Italy, said, “Rome is a terribly overrated city. What airline are you taking and what hotel are you staying at?”
When the salesman told him, the barber criticized the airline for being undependable and the hotel for having horrible service. He told him “You’d be better off to stay home.”
But the salesman insisted: “I’m expecting to close a big deal, and then I’m going to see the pope.”
The barber shook his head and said, “You’ll be disappointed trying to do business in Italy and I wouldn’t count on seeing the pope. He only grants audiences to very important people.”
Two months later the salesman returned to the barber shop. The barber asked, “And how was your trip?”
The salesman replied, “Wonderful! The flight was perfect, the service at the hotel was excellent. I made a big sale, and I got to see the pope.”
The barber was astounded. “You got to see the pope? What happened?”
“I bent down and kissed his ring.”
“No kidding! And what did he say?”
“Well, he looked down at my head and then said to me, ‘My son, where did you ever get such a lousy haircut?”’

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 136-137.

Don’t be the person with the critical spirit.  Ask God to change you.  Ask God to show you the good things in others.

:11 He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.

(Prov 22:11 ICB)  A person who loves innocent thoughts and kind words will have even the king as a friend.


Making Friends

Looking to find a friend?
Work at developing a pure, innocent heart.

Stay away from things that would poison your heart.

Let God wash your heart and mind in the water of His Word.

Work at saying kind things to others.

Don’t be the critic.

Years ago there was a fellow who used to attend the Bible Study I taught at Calvary Anaheim.  At the end of each service he would come up and give me a list of all the things I said that were incorrect.  After a couple of months of this I’d get pretty filled with anxiety each week when this fellow showed up.  But after awhile I got to realizing that this fellow didn’t talk to anyone else.  He didn’t have any relationships with others at church.  His only way of striking up a conversation with me was to tell me what I said wrong.  That’s not a great way to win friends and influence people.

:13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.


Making Excuses

Do you have excuses for why you do things?
The Bible is filled with people who made excuses.

When Adam sinned, he blamed it on his wife and God:

(Gen 3:12 KJV)  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

When Aaron made the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, he had an incredible excuse:

(Exo 32:23-24 NLT)  They said to me, 'Make us some gods to lead us, for something has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt.' {24} So I told them, 'Bring me your gold earrings.' When they brought them to me, I threw them into the fire--and out came this calf!"

He was blaming it on Moses for being late and on the people for putting too much pressure on him.

Calling in Sick
Negotiations between union members and their employer were at an impasse.  The union denied that their workers were flagrantly abusing their contract’s sick-leave provisions.
One morning at the bargaining table, the company’s chief negotiator held aloft the morning edition of the newspaper, “This man,” he announced, “Called in Sick yesterday!”
There on the sports page, was a photo of the supposedly ill employee, who had just won a local golf tournament with an excellent score.
The silence in the room was broken by a union negotiator.  
“Wow,” he said.  “Think of what kind of score he could have had if he hadn’t been sick!” 
George Washington Carver said, “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”  Carver was no stranger to adversity and could have easily made excuses for not succeeding.  But that wasn’t his way.  Despite being born into slavery, he rose above his circumstances.  He earned a B.S. and then an M.S. in agriculture from Iowa State College, and he dedicated himself to teaching poor African-American farmers.  He developed an extension program at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute to take the classroom to the people in the South, teaching agriculture methods and home economics.  And his research resulted in the development of hundreds of products made from crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes.  He did all that despite working with limited resources and opportunities because of segregation.  Where others might have offered excuses, Carver achieved excellence.

-- John Maxwell, The Success Journey, (Nelson, 1997), pp. 156-157.

What are your excuses for not doing things?
Why not just admit your failure, ask God for help, and move on?

(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:14 The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.

I guess you could probably find out which gal is a “strange woman” by asking her to open her mouth and measure it, but I don’t think that’s what this is talking about.

(Prov 22:14 NLT)  The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; those living under the Lord's displeasure will fall into it.

(Prov 22:14 ICB)  The words of an unfaithful wife are like a deep trap. Those who make the Lord angry will get caught by them.

An immoral woman will catch you with the things she says to entice you.

:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.


Appropriate discipline

One of the most difficult things about discipline is finding the appropriate response to fit the situation.
Ruth Graham (in Homemade, Vol. 16, No. 11, November 1992) writes, “With our five children I had to decide what was a moral issue and what was non-moral and simply a part of growing up.  Tracking mud into the house is a no-no, but it's not a moral issue.  Children tend to be noisy when they're playing, and you feel like saying, "Hush!" -- but it's not a moral issue.  However, I would call disobedience a moral issue.  I would call respect a moral issue.  Of course, stealing and lying are moral issues.”

Sometimes spanking is the proper response.

When one of my children responds to a situation with total rebellion and malice, this verse comes to mind.  So does the paddle.  My personal theory is that you need to catch “foolishness” early.  It’s going to be more difficult if you don’t deal with it until they’re teenagers.

Tips on spanking:

1.  How old should a child be when you start spanking?  Old enough to understand what’s going on and why they’re being spanked.  If they’re not old enough to tell you why they’re being spanked, they’re not old enough to be spanked.  A three month old baby doesn’t know why it’s being spanked.  A two year old has the capacity to understand.
2.  How old is too old for spanking?  I’m sure it probably depends on the child, but I have a friend who occasionally had to spank his teenager sons, even though they got to be as big as he was.  And the spanking was effective.  The other week I had to actually mention the paddle to one of my sons, and if it weren’t for the fact that I couldn’t find it …
3.  A paddle is better than the hand.  If you spank with your hand too much, then your hand becomes something the child is afraid of instead of something that they look forward to.  If you use a paddle, keep it in a special “paddle place”, and out of sight.  It shouldn’t be out in the open like some kind of constant threat.  Yet often all we have to do is to start walking towards the place the paddle is kept, and the child gets the message.
4.  Never use the paddle when you’re angry.  There have been times when I’ve grabbed the paddle when I’m angry, but what I’ll do is just whack myself on the leg to make a loud noise (boy does that hurt!). If you can’t control yourself when you’re angry, don’t attempt to discipline your children until you calm down. Try listening to yourself.  Are you yelling?  Then slow down.  Never open the door to abuse.  Never hit anything but their bottom with a paddle.  If you leave a bruise on the child, you’ve gone way overboard.  The paddle is a tool for instruction, not a weapon for punishment.
5.  Only use the paddle in private.  Don’t embarrass your child in front of others.  Take them to a room where the others in the family aren’t watching.  This is just between you and the child.
6.  How often do I spank my children?  When I spanked them, I never gave them more than three swats at a time.  Usually one swat was enough.  Sometimes a second one was needed.  There were times when a child had been spanked once or twice in a week, but we’ve found that the more consistent we were with discipline, the less spanking they need.  If they clearly know where the lines are, they tend to cross them less often.  I frankly can’t remember the last time I’ve had to use the paddle.
7.  There’s more to discipline than a paddle.  You need to find what works with your child.  Some respond better to a time out.  Others will respond to a loss of privileges such as losing time with the TV.  Just find what works.
8.  End with love, not the paddle.  The biggest goal to “discipline” is instruction.  You need to be talking through the whole event.  You need to be hearing them tell you in their own words what they did was wrong.  You need to be convinced that they understand that what they did was wrong.  If they aren’t convinced that what they did was wrong, then the discipline was not effective.  If you are convinced they’ve learned a lessons, you need to tell them that they are forgiven and that you love them.  You need to follow up with lots and lots of hugs and kisses.

:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,

The phrase “excellent things” is actually a form of the number three.  This is why some of the translations carry the idea:

(Prov 22:20-21 NIV)  Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, {21} teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?

Actually, what follows are indeed thirty sayings that Solomon has recorded for his son to learn.  These apparently are not things original to Solomon.  These are proverbs he’s collected, things he’s learned to treasure himself, things he’s passing on to his son.

:22-23 Rob not the poor

The first saying.  Don’t abuse the poor.

:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man

The second saying. Don’t hang around angry people.  You will become like them.

:26-27 …or of them that are sureties for debts.

The third saying. Be careful about co-signing on a loan.  When the person taking out the loan can’t pay, you’ll have your bed taken out from under you.

:28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

The fourth saying.

Ancient landmarks were the things that marked out property lines. The deed to your farm would say that your property extended from the old oak tree to the three rocks to the pond over to the creek. But some people got sneaky and moved the three rocks.  Don’t do that.  Don’t take advantage of your neighbors.

:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business?

The fifth saying. The importance of diligence.

(Prov 22:29 NLT)  Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than ordinary people.