111-129 Proverbs Chapter 17
To have peace within the home should be the desire of every household. A full pantry does not bring peace but a content heart that is at peace with God does. Even as the plate may be full of worldly provision if there is contention and strife it is a curse upon the family. Verse 2 also speaks of the family household. A wise slave may be placed in charge of a foolish son who acts shamefully. The slave may even gain part of the father’s inheritance. The wise slave may even become adopted into the family as a son and inherit a son’s portion. The law in Israel provided that a son received a portion of the father’s estate. The exception was the first born son who received a double portion. In verse 3 we see a metaphor of life’s trials. As men will refine precious metal to purify it of the dross, the Lord subjects His chosen to discipline to purify them.
In verse 4 we see that one who is intent in doing evil easily falls for the one who is wicked. So too a liar will listen to one who uses his mouth to hurt others. People will find their own kind of people to associate with. Verse 6 witnesses to the great value placed upon the family in the Bible.
“Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, Much less are lying lips to a prince.” The key to verse 7 is a play on the words between fool and prince. In Proverbs the fool is not merely unlearned or simple and stupid. The fool is a perverted person and one who distorts the truth. A fool then would be a wicked person. “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)
In verse 8 we see that the briber believes that his money or favors will buy him whatever he pleases. The bribe that he gives is like a magic charm to him. Verse 9 excites the imagination with the wonder and power of forgiveness. For one to forgive someone who has an offense against them, they are making a powerful gesture of love towards the forgiven. On the other hand if you go around telling others what one has done against you, then you have alienated and lost a friend. To make things right between you and an offender is to talk to them not about them. This is the way to make it right between you and the offender. Verse 10 fits naturally with verse 9. It is a reminder that if we rebuke a sensitive person if affects him more deeply. The sensitive person takes his relationship seriously and strives to maintain them.
Verse 11 is in relation to rebellion against the king’s authority. A “cruel messenger” will be sent to the rebellious one and a dire calamity will befall him. In verse 12 we see a figurative description of the destructive consequences of folly. What could have more anger that a bear that has lost her cubs? In verse 13 the law of retribution is stated. To do evil will bring evil upon yourself.
Verse 14 speaks to little disagreements which grow to altercations. They often start as a minor unpleasantness that like water trickling from a small hole with grow to a gushing stream. One should avoid arguments and work to defuse a spat before it grows to an unmanageable proportion.
Verse 15 is pointed to the corrupt judicial system. A judge who finds the guilty innocent and the innocent guilty is an abomination to the Lord. The truth of this Proverb is applicable in that we either uphold or disown righteous causes. Verse 16 tells of what we should already know. We cannot buy wisdom as it is not for sale. Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord and is among the many things that cannot be bought.
A true friendship is a true gift. Verse 17 is one of the numerous teachings on this subject. The blessing of friendship is celebrated here in this Proverb. Friend and brother are one and the same in this proverb, as a friend is a true brother. The building of a house in a high place is a sign of pride and arrogance in verse 19. If you elevate yourself above others, then you can expect trouble from them.
In verse 22 we learn that illness is not only a physical problem. The mind of a person has much influence on the body’s condition. In this Proverb is an ancient insight that today modern medicine increasingly acknowledges. In verse 23 “bosom” refers to the secrecy of offering a bribe. A briber will pull his money from the inside pocket of his coat.
Verse 24 contrasts the singlemindedness of wisdom against the wandering of the mind of the fool. People should learn the discipline of keeping focus in their thought process. The Apostle Paul said, “One thing I do.” “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
Verse 26 tells us that there are times when the righteous will suffer because they are righteous. To impose a fine or to beat someone because they are righteous is a grievous sin. Verses 27 and 28 state the virtue of restrained speech. The wise honor the reserved speech. The wise will not tell everything that they know. They know how to discipline their mouths and speak only that which is appropriate. Even the foolish that has learned to control his mouth may be seen as wise. When the foolish does open his mouth it becomes known that he has nothing of value to say.