Verse 1 tells us that we should not suppose anything about tomorrow as there is no guarantee of the future. We have only this moment that we are in and in the next we could be in the spiritual realm. It is when we have life by the tail that the rug is pulled out from us. James spoke on this very truth. (James 4:13-16)
Verse 2 states that we should remember to exercise modesty. It is not for us to praise ourselves for there is no value in it. “Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13) Present your best before God and man and let them praise you. In verse 3 the provoking words of a fool are heavier than stone or sand. A fool is a burdensome person to be in the presence of.
Jealousy is a hard temperament to be in the presence of. In verse 4 the words wrath and anger are synonymous expressions. Such violent outbreaks may do their damage but are temporary and pass. But jealousy is a seething consuming emotion which burns on and is relentless. Anger is bad but jealousy is worse, as its destruction continues on.
In verses 5-6 commend transparency in relationships. It may seem as love when one who truly cares for you rebukes you. An open rebuke from love is better than a passive endurance of inappropriate behavior. Too many parents put up with a child’s bad behavior thinking to correct them is unloving and a lack of understanding. Such behavior is indifference to the character the child is growing to be. The “wounds of a friend” are truer than the “kisses of an enemy.” Those who flatter you are not the ones to be trusted.
Verse 7 teaches us that those who have too much soon become bored with what they have even when it is the best. But those who hunger, both physically and spiritually, will be eager to be fed with whatever is available. To this person “bitter is sweet.”
In verse 8 a man who wanders from place to place with no home base is as a bird that is lost from its nest. Verse 9 says that as ointment and perfume are pleasant to the senses so is the counsel of a true friend. Verse 10 teaches us that family and close friends are the ones we should rely upon. In line two we are warned to not over burden a brother lest we distance him from us. Line three tells us that it is better to have a close friend than a brother that is far off.
Verse 11 is the asking of the teacher to the student to make him proud by the wisdom he has learned. Otherwise the teacher would be reproached for not properly teaching the student. The true test for the teacher is the student he has taught. In verse 14 we see that too much meaningless praise is a curse that it has no true value. There are those who rise early in the day to go out and praise others for the benefit of receiving praise for themselves. It is of no value and causes suspicion of their motives.
Verse 15 is a reflection of the wise one’s view of marriage. There is nothing better than a good marriage and there is nothing worse than a bad marriage. Verse 16 continues on from verse 15. For one to restrain an argumentative wife is as possible as restraining the wind or grasping oil in the hand. Verse 17 is a reflection of the importance of having good associations. The associations that we have will have an influence upon us. It is important then that we chose to associate with good people.
Verse 18 makes the point that a good laborer is worthy of his hire. It is a Proverb that encourages the servant to be faithful to his master. A loyal servant will be fairly rewarded. Verse 19 is a beautiful picture of the effect of one’s inner character on his outward behavior. As water will reflect your face so your heart will reflect your character. In verse 20-23 we see that man’s constant craving as the subject. Man can never seem to get enough, no matter how much of life he has experienced. Man is always looking for more. So it is also with the abode of the dead, Sheol and the deepest pit of death Abaddon. People keep falling into the pit of death and yet, it is never filed.
Verse 21 tells us that man’s true test is how he responds to the praise that is given to him. Verse 22 tells us that a fool would have to be ground as flour for the folly to be taken out of him.
In verses 32-27 we are given practical advice about the values of the farmer or shepherd. One may not become rich as a farmer but riches and power do not last forever. For the shepherd when the winter comes the lambs provide clothing and the goat’s milk. This should be considered instead of the quick gains of commerce.