by Pastor Mark Hudson
24:3-12 Strength in Distress
24:13—22 Prohibition against involvement with the wicked
24:23-34 Further sayings of the wise (Bruce Waltke’s outline)
Part of this chapter deals with conflict, distress, and how one overcomes obstacles. First in 3-4, we gain wealth or a pleasant home by wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. This does not mean wicked people are not wealthy. But when one gains good things in life by honest work and being God-fearing, there is a sense of God’s favor. God’s best blessings are not in things, yet things are included in what constitutes God’s blessings. But the focus is not on a physical house or room but how we acquire a life. A life that is pleasing to God is one founded on wisdom. We display our understanding and knowledge by living in the light of His Word. We recognize, by the power of the Holy Spirit, why we are here, what God is doing, and how we fit into God’s plan.
When we say this, we are not implying we have complete answers as we contemplate such metaphysical concepts. Yet, due to God’s revelation, He has allowed us or given us some insight, so we are not left clueless in this world. He has revealed Himself and we are to place our faith in His Messiah and be obedient to His will/Word.
In v. 6, the wise person is a listener who seeks out advice. We never want to take these proverbs literally. Maybe a good way to think about the word ‘war’ is anything that requires a lot of planning, a significant event with serious and lasting consequences. So anytime you want to marry someone, make a career change, buy a business, or embark on a new adventure, ask people their advice. You might be surprised, if you are younger, what those grey-haired people in your life have gone through. You might be rubbing shoulders with someone who has gone through some issues you are facing. Seek out advice. Ask other’s opinion. But . . . “wise” is the adjective before “guidance” which means probably not just anyone should be giving you advice.
On the other hand, if you are the person who is asked, be that wise person. If someone asks you for your counsel, ask questions of them. Find out what is motivating them. Are they going toward something or getting away from something. When I talk to married men, I always ask what their wives think. I had a friend ask me why I asked that. I replied that God has given you a wonderful gift in your wife. Not that they are always right but you would be foolish not to ask for her input. One of the many questions I ask during pre-marital counseling is, “What do your friends think?” “What do your parents think?” In fact, most of pre-martial counseling is asking questions. Most advice giving comes after listening, probing, asking questions to the point that sometimes the person who asked you for advice almost comes away with answers to their own questions.
Next look at vs. 8-9. “Whoever plans to do evil . . .” We want to sin when we sin. We can never say, “I didn’t mean to” when we sin. We love sin unfortunately. Planning to sin is what we do. Remember that having a good name in Proverbs is a good thing. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” Prov. 22:1. But the evil person is called a schemer in v. 8 like the arrogant man in 21:24 is called “scoffer.” Does this suggest that people know us more than we realize? That while we think we can hide who we are from those around us, maybe we can’t fool everyone.
My guess is that in every age, “the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.” There are scoffer and schemers who are well-known and there are scoffers who are known only locally. But, they do not have a good name. They are not welcomed, respected or held up as an example. This was true after Adam’s time, prior to King Solomon, during the first century around the Mediterranean where Christianity started, or anywhere in the world today. You do not want to be a person like that.
There is something else that God (and we) do not like: schadenfreude which is what 24:17 tells us that God is so displeased with an attitude like that that He will turn away his anger from someone who deserves his anger. Schadenfreude (or epicaricacy) is pleasure derived from another’s misfortune. We do not like that when others express that pleasure nor does God. We should experience freudenfreude which is joy in other’s success. In fact, in heaven we will experience joy without a hint of jealousy in heaven. We will be free of the sinful nature of self or better selfishness.
Dear heavenly Father, as we read Proverbs keep us from trying, in our own efforts to be more moral, more giving, and more worldly wise. Remind us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7) and to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” 3:5). Yet, we do need to improve and grow in sanctification. We need to fully follow Jesus Christ who is wisdom. In Col. 2:2, Paul urges us to “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” We ask that your Holy Spirit led us to Christ because He is all we need and all we want. In His glorious, eternal name. Amen.