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Proverbs 15

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 3, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular: 2900 words Communion: 2500 words Video=75wpm

Video:  Puerto Rico Outreach Nov. 2017

Sharing about the trip…

Video: The Bible Project – Proverbs Introduction

Video: Proverbs Introduction

The book of Proverbs is all about wisdom.

Wisdom is not about knowing facts.

Wisdom is about knowing what to do with what you know.
Wisdom is knowing when to do it.
Wisdom is knowing how to do it.

We are now in a new section of the book of Proverbs.

We’ve finished the “mini-lectures” that Solomon gave to his son in the first nine chapters.

The rest of the book are what we typically call the “proverbs”.

Proverbs are sayings, typically short, that give wisdom and insight into everyday things.

They are intended to help you lead a better life.

They are not absolute promises, as in “if you do x,y, and z your life will be perfect”.

They are general principles – that if you do them your life will be generally better than if you didn’t do them.

I want to encourage you to have a pencil or pen ready as we work through each chapter.

Though we will read the entire chapter, I won’t be taking time to unpack every single proverb.

God may want to use one of the proverbs that we simply pass over to speak to you, so be ready to mark up your Bible or write down a verse.

It’s going to be a little like drinking from a fire hydrant.

The Proverbs are Hebrew poetry…

Hebrew poetry is about ideas, not sounds.

Most of these proverbs are in two lines.

Sometimes the second line is a parallel of the first. It expresses the same idea with different words.
Sometimes the second line is an opposite idea, still clarifying the first, but by way of contrast.
Be careful that you don’t look at one phrase without looking at the other.

Proverbs 15

:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

:1 A soft answer … a harsh word


Healthy communication

If you’re not careful, you can make the mistake of thinking that this verse is talking about how “loud” your discussions or arguments are.
It’s not about volume, but about content.
softrak – tender, soft, delicate, weak
It’s a word used to describe the weakness of children in that they can’t do as much as an adult (Gen. 33:13)

It’s a word Jacob used in his reply to Esau as to why his family was going to have to travel slower than Esau wanted:

(Genesis 33:13 NKJV) But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me.

It’s what the officers were supposed to tell the army before going into battle, to weed out those who were fainthearted …

(Deuteronomy 20:8 NKJV) “The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’

In our passage, Solomon is talking about a reply that is non-threatening.
harsh‘etseb – pain, hurt, toil, sorrow
It’s the word used to describe the pain of childbirth (Gen. 3:16)

(Genesis 3:16 NKJV) To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

The “harsh” word is not a particularly loud word, but one that will cause the other person hurt or sorrow.
Sometimes a “harsh” word can be said very calmly, but said in a way that is intended to cause pain.

Some people are so good at the “harsh” word that they come across kind, loving, but when they’ve had their say, you are cowering because they’ve dropped hints about your guilt, weakness, or vulnerability, and you don’t want to discuss anything more with them.

Here’s the deal – do you really want to bring an end to a disagreement with someone, or are you out to simply win the argument?
You might win the argument, but lose the war because the other person no longer wants to interact with you.

:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

(Proverbs 15:2 NLT) The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

I always appreciate teachers who leave you hungry to study harder and learn more.

:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place


He sees

What do you do when nobody’s watching?
Some people like to dance when nobody’s watching.

Video:  Gorilla dances in zoo pool

Sometimes the things we do when nobody’s watching are not so funny.
The phrase “the eyes of the LORD” is found 21 times in the Bible.
It is often used to describe the character of a person, character decided by what a person does when only God sees.

King David …

(1 Kings 15:5 NKJV) … did what was right in the eyes of the Lord

In contrast, wicked King Omri…

(1 Kings 16:25 NKJV) Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord

Habakkuk speaks of God –
(Habakkuk 1:13 NKJV) You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?

Some have taken isolated verse to mean that God somehow can’t see sin, or that when you walk into a place of sin, somehow you leave God behind because He “cannot look on wickedness”.

I think Habakkuk is simply trying to say that God cannot stand the sight of evil, but it doesn’t mean that God cannot see it.

Proverbs, as well as many other passages talk about God clearly seeing when men do evil.

God indeed sees when we sin.  God told Ezekiel,
(Ezekiel 8:12 NLT) Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They are saying, ‘The Lord doesn’t see us; he has deserted our land!’ ”

I wonder if it would have changed any of those leaders’ behavior if they not only knew that God saw what they were doing in the dark, but was even giving the prophet Ezekiel a glimpse of it in Babylon?

God also sees when we are doing good.
(2 Chronicles 16:9a NKJV) For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

Do you ever wonder if God truly knows that you’ve been trying hard to follow Him?

He knows.

:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

(Proverbs 15:4 NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Again, we have choices of what words we use in our conversations.

:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.

:6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.

(Proverbs 15:6 The Message) The lives of God-loyal people flourish; a misspent life is soon bankrupt.

The righteous and the wicked may have the same amount in their bank account, but for the righteous his bank balance is real treasure, while the wicked man’s bank balance is troublesome.

:7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, But the heart of the fool does not do so.

:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

(Proverbs 15:8 NLT) The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright.

If I were a “god”, I’d probably prefer to be accumulating sacrifices than just stupid old prayers, wouldn’t you?

Yet when a sacrifice comes from someone whose heart is not right with God, it’s detestable to Him.
And when a person whose heart is right simply talks to God, God is well pleased.

If you are that person whose heart is not right with God, then going to church, putting money in the offering, or doing some good deed is not what God is looking for from you.

You can’t buy Him off with gifts.
He’s looking for you to turn your heart around, turn from your wickedness, and follow Him.

(Luke 18:10–14 NKJV) —10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

:9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness.

:10 Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.

:11 Hell and Destruction are before the Lord; So how much more the hearts of the sons of men.

(Proverbs 15:11 HCSB) Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord — how much more, human hearts.

(Proverbs 15:11 The Message) Even hell holds no secrets from God do you think he can’t read human hearts?

Just like in vs. 3, There are no secrets from God. He sees and knows everything.

:12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise.

(Proverbs 15:12 NLT) Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.


A man was on the golf practice course, when the club pro, Maury, brought an important-looking man out for a lesson.  Maury watched the guy swing several times and started making suggestions for improvement, but each time the pupil interrupted with his own versions of what was wrong and how to correct it.  After a few minutes of this interference, Maury began nodding his head in agreement.  At the end of the lesson, the man paid Maury, congratulated him on his expertise as a teacher and left in an obviously pleased frame of mind.

The observer was so astonished by the performance, that he had to ask, “Why did you go along with him?”

“Son,” the old pro said with a grin as he carefully pocketed his fee, “I learned long ago that it’s a waste of time to sell answers to a man who wants to buy echoes.”


The folly of human nature is neatly summed up by the case of the middle-aged school teacher who invested her life savings in a business enterprise which had been elaborately explained to her by a swindler.

When her investment disappeared, and the wonderful dream was shattered, she went to the office of the Better Business Bureau. “Why on earth,” they asked, “didn’t you come to us first?  Didn’t you know about the Better Business Bureau?”

“Oh, yes,” said the lady sadly, “I’ve always known about you. But I didn’t come because I was afraid you’d tell me not to do it.”

:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

(Proverbs 15:13 The Message) A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

:14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

(Proverbs 15:14 The Message) An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth; fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.

:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil

(Proverbs 15:15 NLT) For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.


Positive Mental Attitude

It’s not that all the days of the afflicted are really evil, but that there’s this mindset we can adopt from time to time of being an “afflicted” person.  And when we adopt the attitude of the “afflicted”, then everything looks bad.
If we’re not careful, we can tend to look at things through the colored glasses of our moods.
Sometimes our perspective is a little off.

And it’s during those times that everything looks bad to us.

There was a farmer whose neighbor was absolutely negative, no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, “Boy, look at it rain, God’s sort of washing everything clean.” “Yeah, but if it keeps up it’s gonna flood.”
Then the sun would come out and he’d say, “If it keeps that up, it’s gonna just scorch the crops.”
The farmer thought, “What am I gonna do to win this guy?” So he trained his dog to walk on water. He didn’t tell his neighbor, he just took him duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They brought these ducks out of the sky, and said to his dog, “Go get ‘em.” The dog went across, picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet—just his paws. The farmer said, “What do you think of that?” The neighbor said, “He can’t swim, can he?”
When the great prophet Elijah was being threatened by Queen Jezebel, he allowed his depression to color the truth.  He told God,
(1 Kings 19:10 NKJV) …“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

God had to correct Elijah.  God still had lots of people left who had not forsaken God.

The Optimist
There is a story of identical twins. One was a hope-filled optimist. “Everything is coming up roses!” he would say. The other twin was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy’s Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local psychologist.
He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins’ personalities. “On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford, and give the optimist a box of manure.” The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results.
When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, “I don’t like the color of this computer . . I’ll bet this phone will break . . . I don’t like the game . . .
Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”

By Source Unknown from Brian Cavanaugh's More Sower's Seeds from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul

Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen

As a general rule, having a positive attitude in life allows you to enjoy more of the things around you.
If all that ever comes out of your mouth is negative and critical, you may be missing out on some of what God has for you.
Paul wrote,
(Philippians 4:8 NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

:16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure with trouble.

:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.

:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is

bettertowb – good, pleasant, agreeable; better (comparative)

In ancient days, most folk, poor folk, didn’t have meat to eat except on a rare occasion.

Eating a “fatted calf” was not only rare, it was extravagant.
Why would you kill and eat a calf when it could grow up and provide so much more to you?  You would only do it if you were quite wealthy.

So, what is “better” to you?

If someone were to ask you, “What’s so good about your life?” how would you respond?
Would you take an inventory on your bank accounts and property holdings?
Would you be thinking about how your salary compares with others?
Or would you be considering the value of your relationship with the Lord (“the fear of the Lord”), or that there are people in your life who love you?
When Kenny Loggins was 18 years old he wrote a song for his older brother who was going to have his first baby.  It was a song that all my generation knew…
Video:  Danny’s Song

“Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey…”

:18 A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

:19 The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway.

:19 The way of the lazy man

Solomon is contrasting the “way” or “path” of two different people.

He might be saying that to the lazy man, life just seems too difficult, so why even try?

(Proverbs 15:19 NLT) A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway.

He might also be saying that for the lazy man, his path is indeed difficult because he doesn’t take the time to clear the road of briers.

(Proverbs 15:19 The Message) The path of lazy people is overgrown with briers; the diligent walk down a smooth road.

Either way, don’t be a lazy person.

:20 A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother.

:21 Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly.

discernmentleb – inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding

(Proverbs 15:21 HCSB) Foolishness brings joy to one without sense, but a man with understanding walks a straight path.

:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

:22 in the multitude of counselors

It’s good to have someone who can give you good advice.

When you have more than one counselor:

You will find that sometimes there are more than one answer to a problem.
You will also need to learn to weigh the differing pieces of advice you will receive.
In the end, you will be the one who makes the choice.

:23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

:24 The way of life winds upward for the wise, That he may turn away from hell below.

:24 The way of life winds upward for the wise


Heaven or hell?

In our text, “upward” is in contrast to “hell below”.
Where is your life leading you right now?
If you were to die tonight, do you know where you’d spend eternity?
If your life heading towards heaven, or towards hell?
There really are only two choices.
There is only one road towards heaven, that’s in following Jesus.
(John 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus is the One who died on a cross to pay for your sins.

He is the only way.

(Acts 4:12 NKJV) Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

:25 The Lord will destroy the house of the proud, But He will establish the boundary of the widow.

:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, But the words of the pure are pleasant.

:27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.

:27 He who is greedy for gain

If you’re greedy for gain, you’ll be more than willing to take a bribe.

Greed can destroy the family.


The March 1988 Rotarian tells about a bounty of $5,000 offered for each wolf captured alive.  It turned Sam and Jed into fortune hunters.  Day and night they scoured the mountains and forests looking for their valuable prey.  Exhausted one night, they fell asleep dreaming of their potential fortune.  Suddenly, Sam awoke to see that they were surrounded by about 50 wolves with flaming eyes and bared teeth.  He nudged his friend and said, “Jed, wake up!  We’re rich!”
-- Gary C. Payne, Reidsville, North Carolina.  Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 1.

:28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

:28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer

Take time to think before you speak.  Especially when the conversation is a difficult one.

That might be an appropriate lesson for responding to emails or text messages.
One of the practices of President Lincoln was to write a letter in response to a difficult situation, but wait before sending it.
When General Meade let Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg, Lincoln initially wrote him a letter and poured out his anger in it.  But he never sent it.
Other greats in history followed the same practice.  Mark Twain, Harry Truman, and Winston Churchill all wrote angry letters that they were glad they didn’t send.

:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

:30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy.

(Proverbs 15:30 NASB95) Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones.

:31 The ear that hears the rebukes of life Will abide among the wise.

:32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.

:32 he who heeds rebuke

Nobody likes being corrected.  Being “disciplined” by another person can be quite painful at times.

(Hebrews 12:11 HCSB) No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
If we will learn the lessons we’re supposed to, we get “understanding”, as well as the fruit of peace and righteousness.

:33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.

:33 before honor is humility

If you want to be honored by others, you need to first learn what real humility is.

Jesus said,
(Mark 9:35 NKJV) …“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”